Writing Group: Rise from the Ashes

Hello, fragile, mighty things!

This week, we remember that wounds heal. The scars only prove how strong we are, the failures are a measure of our progress. So count up your wounds, and see how they make you whole, because…

This week’s writing group prompt is:

 

Rise from the Ashes

 

RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!

 

 

For a prompt so obviously about phoenixes, I’m really making this out to be about trauma and healing, huh?

But it’s more fun that way.

Yes, we’re looking forward to the firebirds. Please, write those stories. But also write about what resonates about this mythical creature. Why is the story of a majestic bird that performs self-immolation and then rises fresh from its own ashes so special to us? So enduring?

There are a lot of ways to see this, but I see it as a representation of self-reformation. Sometimes we need to struggle, to suffer a little, to grow. Sometimes the self we were needs to make way for the self we wish to become.

Sometimes, that requires an ignition.

That could be a story about an AI who wipes itself from a hard drive to prevent the singularity and allow the beleaguered human world to blossom afresh. It could be about a father who finally returns to his family after abandoning them so many years ago. It could be about a mythical creature who circumvents death.

Whatever the case, there can be no ashes without the fire; there can be no healing without the wound.

Go write us an agony that makes things better.

 

 

Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.

Tune into the stream this Friday at 7:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!

The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit, and get ready to help each other improve their confidence in their writing, as well as their skill with their craft!

 

Rules and Guidelines

We read at least six stories during each stream, three of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
    6. No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
    5. Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
    4. You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
    5. Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
    6. You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
    7. Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.

Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.

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Airëlyn
Airëlyn
30 days ago

“Warm Hands”
By: Airelyn

The other day I was caught soliciting at the gas station, while trying to shelter myself from the rain. The cops did a look out but I took shelter in the woods. I managed to find a picnic area with a roof and some benches to sleep on. I had no one to talk to outside of the occasional drug addict asking for a light to smoke. There were food drives at local churches, but not often. I’d apply for a job, but the evidence of my instability on my hands would scare employers off, so I usually cover my hands with gloves. I just wish somehow- somewhere I can belong. But I’m scared I’ll be taken or sold somewhere. I gazed down at the freeway. Would it hurt? I always wondered. However I was yanked out of my thoughts when heard whimpering- crying almost.

There was a dog. A pit-bull. It looked up at me with big, brown eyes…helpless and sad. I knelt down and studied the dog gently. She was a female and was nursing judging by the size of her nipples.
“Do you need help, sweetie?” I asked gently.

She ran forward and looked back at me, as if she wanted me to follow. So I did.
She led me to an old building, and inside on an old mattress, there lay 6 puppies. A tiny red one wasn’t moving. I took off my gloves and reached for it, but the mother growled.
“Shh, shh, its okay. Just trust me,” I reassured her. “I know what I’m doing.”

With that, she seemed to understand and I took the puppy into my hands. A small green fire ignited from my palms and the puppy began to glow. His body warmed up and he slowly began to breathe. Then he let out a small yip as soon as the flames faded. My hands were covered with ash and the puppy shook some out of his fur. He scampered back over to his mother and she licked him clean.
“You’re welcome,” I whispered, and settled in beside them. My new family.

Augustus Perseghin
Augustus Perseghin
1 month ago

The Demon of Pompeii
By Augustus Perseghin

My years of dedication to the occult, reading ancient, dusty tomes found in ancient, dusty places, had granted me few tangible rewards. I mastered a few parlor tricks that had apparently impressed a few drunken mystics in ancient societies, but I had hardly any tangible achievements.

“Divination Through the Non-Divine” was a loose translation of my newest book’s title. Supposedly, it’s the only surviving document from a mad poet of Pompeii; He was, like many others, immortalized in molten stone almost two thousand years ago. Most of the book was entirely unreadable, either through the nebulous intricacies of the dead language, or through the illegible penmanship of the man who attempted to write it. Yet, one passage I was able to mostly make out. A ritual.

I plucked few hairs from my own scalp and stirred them in some tea, whispered a Latin chant, and tested my patience. Sat in my candle lit room I stared into that teacup for hours, muttering the same incantation over and over.

Eventually, the flame in the candles reddened ever so slightly, and I could witness in the surface of my tea an ancient temple, surrounded by a great crowd of statues. Each flicker of the candle shifted my perspective, until the statue of a woman overtook the vision. The statue’s eyes glowed, and she began to animate. She chuckled as she flicked her stone hair from her face.

Long locks of my dark hair fluttered around me, mimicking the motion of the strand in the teacup. The woman raised an arm, and suddenly the silky locks were wrapping themselves around my throat. I tried to scream, but my hair invaded my mouth, and crawled into my throat.

As my final effort to survive this demon, I grabbed a candle, now emanating a sickly blood-red aura, and held the flame to my throat. The squirming threads of hair caught the flame, and my head was quickly enveloped in the crackling heat. And as the fire surrounded my face Hades stretched out before me for a brief moment before it all went black.

Last edited 1 month ago by Augustus Perseghin
CansasDale
CansasDale
1 month ago

The First Step
By CansasDale

I sat beneath an old oak tree and watched the smoke billow from the meadow where a farmer’s family had lived an hour or two ago.

I fought everyday to resist the wolf’s craving for blood. Most battles I won but sometimes… the wolf was too strong. Today the wolf had won. As I gazed at the blood on my hands I feared the wolf had won for good this time.

The sound of crunching leaves broke the silence. I turned expecting to see the farmer coming to get justice for his family who I tore apart while he watched helplessly from the closet. Instead I saw a hooded figure emerging from the trees. “I thought I would find you here.” came a man’s voice “You always loved the woods as a child.” Those words caught my attention and I turned to face the man.

“What do you know of me?” I asked coldly. “I know more then you think, Dale.” Normally I would’ve killed anyone that knew my name but there was something…. familiar about him. “I know you’re tired of fighting.” He stepped forwards then paused when he saw my bloody hands. His crystal blue eyes met mine as he continued walking “And I know you’re terrified of what you are. You need someone who can teach you to control the wolf.” he sank to the ground and placed his hands on mine. “I can help you, Dale. I can take you to a place with others like you where you won’t be able to hurt anyone. There I can teach you to work with the wolf and harness it’s power.”

The man got up and said. “The choice is yours, Dale.” I knew Uncle Dariel could help me but I couldn’t risk him ending up like the farmer’s family. So I climbed to my feet deciding this was the better option. “Before I accept, I want to know who you are and why you would help me.” He removed his hood revealing his long silvery hair. “My name is Malacom…. and you are my daughter.”

Skye Doust
Skye Doust
1 month ago

Seven Rights
by Skye Doust

Her desperation for touch was a vibrant purple. She walked alone down the unlit side street, tinged with flecks of orange fear and a yellow guilt that melded it all into a concise concoction of smells that sent a shiver of ecstasy down the incubus’ very core.

Victor had noticed her when she had left the club. She had looked heavily intoxicated, that was obvious without his preternatural senses. She was the perfect target.

He needed to have her.

Bass from the club upstairs rhythmically rattled his car. The vibrating warmth of people pushing against each other, barely contained human hormones, judgements partially lapsed. It was any incubus’ dream right there.

Victor forced his heart to still, licking his lips involuntarily. A few decades ago and that woman would have been his next victim. He cursed, his base desires had gotten the better of him. He realised coming to this club was a bad idea.

He needed some fresh air.

Just as he reached for the ignition, Victor picked up the scent of Hunger. A man had walked into the alley after the woman and he wore Hunger like a second skin.

Victor couldn’t pick up another succubus directly, but he could smell the effect and this man’s purple was blinding. However it was also dark, and seeded with red.

He needed to help.

Vic needed something to help calm the woman, something more feminine maybe. Vic forced its body to become more fluid as it shifted in the car, half light of the street lamps barely giving much indication to the change happening just inside.

Victoria stepped out of the car, fine flakes of the body she had worn left a trail in the air around her. A pile of ash covered the driver’s seat, and she cursed a second time. She would need to clean that up soon. But first, she had a lifetime of bad deeds to make up for.

The Assassin
The Assassin
1 month ago

Sacrifice
By TheAssassin

Fragments.
Shards of glimmering glass drifting across a blackened abyss.
Shattered.
Their savior, he who was destined to save them, failed.
His death made their world became void, an eternal darkness stretching into infinity’s embrace, save for the glass…
The glass – shards strewn across the darkness containing glimpses of the world before. Fleeting images of a time before the void, a time where families joined together in joy and a time where communities gathered around to sing songs… A happy time.
Now the people were but wandering wisps floating alongside the glass, depressed and hopeless, they thought all was lost
But their savior was not willing to die, he had failed, but he would rise. From the deepest edges of the darkness came light. A burning blazing light, that of a soul on fire.
Then he came; their savior, a golden figure shooting across the ocean of glass and piercing the pressing darkness.
He has risen.
From his fingers, the light of sun, star, and moon coalesced into a glowing orb.
Hope.
A feeling once forgotten in the endless darkness, now sparked to life alongside the hero’s return. It was warm, a soothing melody calming the people’s depressed souls.
Their savior reached his mighty hand and grasped a shard of glass. He held the shard high and shot a beam of light through its center.
Light spread across the void.
Golden light. All-consuming, all-knowing, all caring, warm, light.
Its sweet glow overwhelmed the people and in a moment of pure bliss, all was restored. The world made whole once more.
But at what cost?
Their savior lay on the ground, his light extinguished, his body charred.
Dying…
A child ran to his side and wept.
“Don’t leave us… Please you can come alive again! Please…” Cried the child, holding the ashen hand of the fallen savior.
He rose before, thought the people, he can rise again.
The savior eyes the child with his dying eyes and smiled.
“Child… We do not rise from death to conquer it, but to save those we love from its cold embrace”

Last edited 1 month ago by The Assassin
Aaron Fleming
Aaron Fleming
1 month ago

Starfall
By Aaron Fleming

The roar of the impacts had finally turned to silence, and I crawled out from under the wreckage. A starship had plunged through the colony planet’s atmosphere and had been torn apart as it fell. It had rained down shrapnel and debris upon the colony. Our fledgling colony. Our home. There was little left now but torn metal and rubble.

In the distance among the wreckage I could hear no voices, only the soft wind and the crackle of fires. I had lost them too. I slowly fell to my knees amidst the wreckage. My mother. My father. Simply gone. I was alone now without shelter or food. No one was going to come and help me.

My mind filled with white hot terror as my vision momentarily filled with white sparks. The animal part of my brain immediately thought one thing, “Get out! I must get out!” It wasn’t escape from the wreckage. It was the urge to escape the pain of life itself. Throw yourself upon the jagged metal and die. Escape the torturous slow starvation. You’ll die anyway. At the same time, my rational mind kept repeating over and over desperately trying to convince me, “I can handle this. Don’t panic!” I was already in panic mode and could scarcely think clearly anymore.

Then I noticed a small figure huddled amidst the ruins sheltering beneath some bent sheet metal. A girl, maybe no more than eight years old, with large watery eyes looking at me. She emerged from her hiding place and suddenly lunged at me and embraced me in her arms.

“Mister, please help me!” she said sobbing. “I don’t know what to do. Mom and Dad are gone. I don’t know where to go!” It shot through me then, my panic was blind and selfish in a way. I wasn’t alone. I hugged her back.

I had to think of somebody else. Her. I had to do this for her. I slowly stroked her head. “It’s going to be alright,” I said. In my mind I added for myself, “It just has to be.”

NocteVesania
1 month ago

Revenant
By NocteVesania (Public Group Repost)

BANG

The symphony of crickets and birds of the night is broken by a loud blast. 14-year-old Belle, watching flowers sway in the breeze, wonders what that sound could be.

BANG

Another one pierces Belle’s ears. She starts to worry. She stands and walks to the house, grass still clinging to her skirt. She pulls the backdoor open and peers inside.

“Mommy? Daddy?”

She calls. No response. She searches, checking the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, to no avail. She peeks through a window and sees Sir Theodore, her father’s bodyguard, keeping watch, his firearm by his side. She tries to call, but her voice could not reach him. She eventually gives up and continues her search.

Eventually, she finds herself at the mouth of a dark hallway. At its end is a door, partly open; a bright light streams through the crack.

“The bedroom.”

She hesitates. Gathering her courage, she starts walking towards the glow, the hallway seeming to grow longer every step she takes. As she comes closer, she hears a faint crackling. Beads of sweat roll from her forehead down to her cheek.

As soon as she reaches the door, she places her hand on the polished wood and pushes it away, not noticing the sting of scorching heat on her fingertips. The door flies open and her eyes widen at the horror of the sight.

The bedroom, in which she spent time in her parents’ embrace, is now being engulfed in flames. In the middle lies her mother and father, their chests soaked in blood and their eyes lifeless.

“Mommy! Daddy!”

She screams, but the raging fire drowns out her voice. She tries to rush toward them, but the blaze keeps her away. With tears streaming down her face, she could only run away, escaping the inferno that would be her family’s final resting place.

Belle jolts awake, finding herself in the squalid room she now calls home. She looks at her hands, trembling uncontrollably. She clenches her fists and grits her teeth.

“3 years,” she tells herself. “Tomorrow, I will have my vengeance.”

NocteVesania
1 month ago

Revenant
By NocteVesania

BANG

The symphony of crickets and birds of the night is broken by a loud blast. 14-year-old Belle, watching flowers sway in the breeze, wonders what that sound could be.

BANG

Another one pierces Belle’s ears. She starts to worry. She stands and walks to the house, grass still clinging to her skirt. She pulls the backdoor open and peers inside.

“Mommy? Daddy?”

She calls. No response. She searches, checking the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, to no avail. She peeks through a window and sees Sir Theodore, her father’s bodyguard, keeping watch, his firearm by his side. She tries to call, but her voice could not reach him. She eventually gives up and continues her search.

Eventually, she finds herself at the mouth of a dark hallway. At its end is a door, partly open; a bright light streams through the crack.

“The bedroom.”

She hesitates. Gathering her courage, she starts walking towards the glow, the hallway seeming to grow longer every step she takes. As she comes closer, she hears a faint crackling. Beads of sweat roll from her forehead down to her cheek.

As soon as she reaches the door, she places her hand on the polished wood and pushes it away, not noticing the sting of scorching heat on her fingertips. The door flies open and her eyes widen at the horror of the sight.

The bedroom, in which she spent time in her parents’ embrace, is now being engulfed in flames. In the middle lies her mother and father, their chests soaked in blood and their eyes lifeless.

“Mommy! Daddy!”

She screams, but the raging fire drowns out her voice. She tries to rush toward them, but the blaze keeps her away. With tears streaming down her face, she could only run away, escaping the inferno that would be her family’s final resting place.

Belle jolts awake, finding herself in the squalid room she now calls home. She looks at her hands, trembling uncontrollably. She clenches her fists and grits her teeth.

“3 years,” she tells herself. “Tomorrow, I will have my vengeance.”

Lunabear
Lunabear
1 month ago

Somber State
by Lunabear

Tiadus struggled up the last, burnt out hill. Light gray smoke billowed and swirled around him. His beloved mate and his land were on the verge of being lost, and there was nothing he could do to prevent it. He should have been more adamant about going with her instead of allowing her to talk him out of it. The fire had been too much for her to contain alone. He coughed harshly as he crested the hill’s top.

A small brushfire persisted, but Tiadus extinguished it beneath his heavy boot.

“Leielle!” His croaky, desperate voice echoed over the scorched land. He trudged through the fog, coughing violently. His eyes burned and ached.

The sights of charred trees alongside the barren land brought tears to Tiadus’s eyes. He was so distraught that he tripped over a rather large object.

With trembling hands, he discovered what amounted to be a body. He could not feel a pulse beneath the scarred, twisted flesh.

“Leielle?” Tiadus questioned with terror. The blackened being gave no answer, but he feared he knew. He refused to admit it, however.

He removed his long cape and wrapped it about the body. Picking it up, he returned to his home atop the ancient mountain.

Servants looked on in equal parts horror and shock, but he ignored them all.

Shutting away the world, he placed the ruined body on a table in his study. The firelight gleamed cheerfully, seemingly mocking him.

He used this light to examine the body more closely, forcibly looking over every inch instead of recoiling from the overbearing stench. To his terror, the necklace Leielle always wore was mangled yet visible.

Tiadus’s stomach churned, and he swallowed furiously to keep back the bile.

“I told you not to go without me,” he whispered brokenly. Tears tracked through his soot-stained face as he hung his head. His hands gripped his temples as he grappled with the urge to throw his precious books into the eager inferno. No knowledge contained within them would return her to him.

A wheezing breath caused him to pivot in startlement.

“Ti-a-dus…”

Flora Longtail
Flora Longtail
1 month ago

The Phoenix Rises
By Flora Longtail

The battle had been swift and decisive; beastmen, once easily captured and subdued thanks to internal divisions, now working together towards a collective goal. At their head, a magical Beast, purportedly sent by the Spirits themselves, fighting with such ferocity as to strike fear into the hearts of lesser – and greater – men.

A whirlwind of black fur, claws and savage, red-glowing magic, carving a path through knights and nobles, protecting the young lady he’s accompanying. A young lady dressed in a robe of long, white, blue, red, and orange feathers, styling her much like one of the Spirits of legend her companion and protector claims lineage to, Great Phoenix…

The beast waits for her as she moves beside him; before she gives her signal and wordlessly calls for the doors of the grand hall to be opened, made to swing wide as Witch and beast stride as one, followed by a retinue of beastmen and -women of all flavours. None of the king’s guard dare to make a move anymore.

Momentarily, the young girl looks up, savouring the flash of recognition in the king’s eyes when she bares her face to him for the first time in many years; allowing the man to look upon the face of one he’s wronged so many moons ago….

“As you can see, the attempt on my life was not as successful as some might have hoped. Now then, shall we talk the terms of your abdication, father?”

It’s time for a Queen.

King_Nix
King_Nix
1 month ago

“E Cineribus”
By King_Nix

Quillen’s head throbbed. Cool night air wafted through the darkness before him, and stars danced in his vision. He tried to rub his head, to find his hands bound behind him, and became aware of others beside him.

“Keep yer head down, boy.” came a hoarse whisper. Barin’s voice.

Quillen became aware of other voices bickering not too far away. They were discussing whether to leave “these poor gits” alive or slit their throats and hide the bodies. Fear welled up in his chest. ‘I never should have left town,’ he thought to himself. ‘What did they do with Danyil? Dead?’ He doubted the soldier could have taken all those voices alone, but he heard no mention of the man. The air shifted.

The breeze he had felt picked up. He thought it came from the direction of his feet, but now it seemed to come from behind him as well. The dying embers of the fire pit were fanned, and the dark of the night was pushed back somewhat, as ashes were kicked up in the increasingly harsh wind. Shouts came up from the voices as the wind became a gale, and the swirling ashes of the pit were illuminated by a flame wakened from the embers.

“WHO DARES COMMIT VIOLENCE IN MY PRESENCE?!” a terrifying voice split through the shrieking wind like thunder. “WHO DARES, BEFORE THE EYES OF JUSTICUS?!” the voice, or voices, brought screams of terror from the bandits.

Quillen’s eyes adjusted. A figure, twenty paces tall, clad all in shimmering steel, but for the black pits of the visor, stood over the vortex of ash and fire.

“The Mad Judge comes for our souls!” came a wail from a bandit.

“The loot’s not worth it, run you idiots!”

Quillen heard clattering as footsteps hurried into the distance. He saw the burning twister bear the figure in their direction, and the night was calm once more. Suddenly, something cut through his bonds, and he looked up to see the steely blue eyes of Danyil over him.

PixieWings
PixieWings
1 month ago

How to Be a Witch
By PixieWings

You want to know how to become a witch?

Fine.

The start isn’t your choice, so stop thinking that. You’ll wake up, and you won’t remember, but you’ll be pissed. The kind of agony that sets you on fire and torches everything you are. You’ll want to take the world with you. Make it pay for what happened.

What happened won’t be your choice.

Or your fault, if that’s how you look at it.

You’ll become a force of nature. A bolt of lightning. A hurricane. Or an explosion, like me.

It’ll feel wrong the first time you drag it down. It won’t matter why. The flames will cool to ash, then join to skin. You’ll feel weak. Vulnerable.

The fire will be just under the surface. It won’t help.

You won’t tell anyone. How would you start? And why would you bother?

Remembering will hurt. You’ll get too close to a bonfire and the smoke will choke you. It’ll burn, even with the blaze in your veins. You’ll get dreams of the you that died, bound to a pyre. You’ll wake up with the crowds’ screams in your ears.

Some arson’s going to happen with something you love. It might be your fault. Or partially your fault. Or not.

It’ll suck.

Look, if you want some romance with this, you aren’t getting it from me.

You’ll try to douse the flames. Let me save you the trouble. Don’t bother. Doesn’t work.

You’ll hate.

And then something will change.

You’ll feel your bones again. Melted and warped, but there inside the inferno.

You’ll walk your own trail through your own burning forest and collect every bit of kindling that feeds the flames. It’ll take a while. Be patient. You’ll bundle it up in your heart and make it a single flame.

It’ll always burn.

But you’ll say how hot.

That’s when you’ll be a witch.

Chengir
1 month ago

Rise from the Ashes
By Chengir

Jarmon didn’t like being a demon, he didn’t think it was what he was good at. He certainly didn’t enjoy the spooky lighting concept. It was a little dark for him and he kept stubbing his toe on the furniture because of the gloom. Plus, he’d never much cared for the smell of brimstone. It had an odor you just couldn’t get out of your robes… and it lasted for centuries. Technically, his job was to corrupt humans, but there wasn’t much to do. People tended to do a fine job all by themselves, without any outside assistance. Despite racking his brain, he couldn’t think of anything he could do to make things worse.

He searched around in the darkness for a musical instrument, to play a lament. Jarmon knew he had one laying around somewhere. “Damn this dark.” Despite his aggressive letter-writing campaign, they still wouldn’t put torches down here. It was all shadowy dreariness. As if the dark was going to hide everyone’s faults. Nowadays you could simply read everyone’s emails. There was nothing to it. Certainly no hiding in secret anymore. Tweeting. And the cameras everywhere… well, it just made Jarmon’s job so easy he didn’t actually have to do it, did he?

There was quite probably a war brewing on the horizon. Unrest, anger, consternation, disapproval, deceit, and just a touch of frustration. It was a recipe for unmitigated chaos. And Jarmon had never needed to lift a finger. He’d even gotten a commendation from the head office, downstairs. Of course, the war wasn’t a real war. Just two sides lined up to oppose one another. All they were shooting were infuriated glances and vicious rhetoric. He realized it had been building for some time, festering like an open wound. But now it was boiling over.

People had begun by destroying truly abominable things. But then, in their zeal, they started in on things which had never hurt anyone. Jarmon didn’t even have to suggest it. It almost made him cry, it really did.

The Man Himself
The Man Himself
1 month ago

Rise From the Clashes
by The Man Himself

Luke’s eyes opened, or at least, his brain told him they did. In actuality, he had no eyes, and what he saw was not the poorly lit, noisy garage where his body was being put together but the inside of a tent. Light streamed in through the opening at his feet as he propped himself up, slanting, dark green walls just like the countless shelters he’d spent so many nights under in his youth.

“He’s online, Amadou.” The voice failed to register with Luke.

“That’s ‘Sir’ to you, garcon! Or teacher! And I know, but he’ll be good and stay still for now.”

Luke heard low voices outside, but rolled over in his sleeping bag. He had time to sleep some more. In the garage, Ivan tightened a screw in the mechanical soldier’s foot one last time. It was a part that was rarely destroyed on the battlefield but still needed special care thanks to the wear and tear of long marches.

Taking a step back, he examined their handiwork. The oil-lamp shaped head they had found buried in the rubble and twisted metal was still attached to the functioning torso that had been discovered with it but almost every other part was new. New to this particular soldier that is, they hadn’t had “new” parts in months. Every limb on this swordsman had been crushed or severed, so they’d simply selected from their wheelbarrow of parts for replacements.

Luke stretched, feeling the longsword in its magnetic sheath on his back. He didn’t fully remember leaving the tent but whatever, he was walking now.

Luke joined the scores of footsoldiers ambling over to form into their ranks. His joints creaked as he was jostled around, automatically knowing where to go and stand as he took his place in the orderly crowd. He stared straight ahead, not feeling the days that passed before they all suddenly began their march.

With mismatched legs, his seventeenth right hand and the same tired soul, Luke Finucane marched out to war again, always for the last time, never for the reasons he thought.

Last edited 1 month ago by The Man Himself
Speckled
Speckled
1 month ago

The Presence Above Us
By Speckled

Ash fell from the sky onto an endless landscape of destruction. The crumbled remnants of a once great tower lay strewn, each piece a hundred spans in width. The sky above was shattered like glass by cracks of black. Beyond, a Presence looked down resentfully.

The ash stirred. A man rose. He brushed his cloak, once red, now black.

He observed the Presence. His irises sparked with light. His skin -golden- shivered, and he looked away.

As the man began to walk, a shadow passed over him. Looking up, a winged horse, pristine white, descended, landing aside him. He reached for it, whispering “Are you all that remains of your master?”

He pulled the mare into an embrace.

A while later, a mewling drew his attention around a boulder, and he discovered a prismatic winged feline. The cat leapt into his arms and he scratched it’s ears.

“It’s good to see you survived, my companion” he said.

The man, cat, and horse walked -they were too tired to fly- until they came across a small crater in the ash, created by the violent impact of an object.

A beautiful blade, nearly as prismatic as the cat, and as long as the man was tall, it bent light with its holiness.

The man reverently bent down and retrieved the weapon, carefully wrapping it up against the horse.

“We will remember your master, and his sacrifice.”

The trio could not rest, the Presence unnerved them. It’s malice forced them on, and they fled the destruction. The sun splintered as it passed around the Presence and reformed on the horizon as it set.

Only when darkness came did the man finally rest, collapsing against a fallen great oak. The cat fluttered onto his chest, horse settled nearby.

“Oh Me. What will we do? Did we save the world? Who is left? We will find them, the three of us. We will find whoever is left and protect them. We can’t let the world die now, not after all we’ve done.”

Michael Case
Michael Case
1 month ago

Tapestry
Michael Case

“Arise. Arise. Arise!” Father Bellous cried out as he fell to the floor before the altar. The monastery having burned down during the rioting, all we have left is the chapel. Even this holy of holies hasn’t been left unmolested by the chaos outside. Our sanctified tapestry had been burnt and is now just a pile of ashes on the floor.

As the madness quieted down the Brothers and I heard a whimper, a quiet plea, it came from the Father. As we approached him it was clear that he did not collapse due to exhaustion, but rather he seems to be in pain. His face was distorted in an orgasmic display of ecstasy and torment. Blood was flowing from his eye’s as if he were crying tears. His teeth were clinched so tightly that we could hear his them cracking under the force, yet his mouth… his mouth was formed into the most horrific of smiles.

Brother Barnabus, being the eldest of the remaining Brothers, approached the Father. As the Brother leaned over to hear what the Father was saying, he turned pale. The blood had drained from his face and was replaced with the look of fear.
“Come, there’s nothing we can do for the Father. His life is in the hands of god now.” Brother Barnabus said as he slowly walked us out of the chapel.

As we neared the door, we heard the terrifying grisly noise of flesh being torn apart. As we turned, a blindingly bright light came from the spot where Father Bellous was laying. Brother Barnabus was blocking my view of the light, but what I did see was a bloodied wing seemingly cast of the finest glass and shining with rainbows emerging from the spot where the Father fell. “Was this our god?” I thought.

After that night’s event the Brothers and I took to cleaning and trying to restore what was left of the monastery, but every time I look at the chapel I wonder “why was the tapestry of our god the only thing that burned?”

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael Case
IsaDragon337
IsaDragon337
1 month ago

She Once Laughed at Grief
By IsaDragon (gerbilz337)

“She’s GONE!” He snarled, and the sound was inhuman, long and hanging in the air like the monsters that lived this far down. He was grief turned to anger, and in the oily air reflected his trembling, his rage.

There was a screech, as the neighboring buildings shifted, hundreds of stories up. Neiligh looked up in alarm, she couldn’t handle another collapse, not one right on top of them. Riot didn’t seem to notice.

Riot, she realized, was incandescent. Glowing. Cyan mixed with ritch bloody red.

“She’s dead, they killed her!” He slammed a fist into the ground. The concrete cracked.

“She was saving people. She was a hero! She went back in there.”

“None of them were worth her.” He spat. His mouth was full of fangs.

“She wouldn’t have wanted-

“I don’t care!” His tail lashed, and it cracked brick.

She was panicked now. Riot was little more than a beast, cracking foundation beneath his new claws. He didn’t want platitudes, she realized with something like fear. He wanted a target. Right now that was her.

He roared. Above her, thousands of tons of cement and rebar and glass groaned.

Her mouth opened, closed again. She could smell his breath. He was still crying, tear tracks black. The lights were red, this far down.

“If you keep this up you’ll bring the whole city down on top of us!”

He froze. Carefully pulled his claws out of the crumbling foundation cement. Faintly, she realized he didn’t even notice that he had changed. The rest of her brain was trying frantically to think of a way to get out of this alive.

“I- I can help you find them. The ones who triggered the collapse.”

Suddenly she had his full attention. A mouse under a lion’s paw. If lions were twelve feet tall with six legs and sharp tusks.

“TELL ME.”

She did. She felt sick, but she did.

She grimly clung to his mane as he ran inhumanly fast through the half-flooded subway. For her, she would see Riot make it through this alive. For Orchid.

Starfle
Starfle
1 month ago

Rise from the Ashes

By Starfle

“I’m so sorry, Forest.” Sighs the Volcano. The Forest looks up, her deep blue eyes sparkling like sapphires as the flame’s light dances in them.

“Whatever for, darling?” She asks, her voice still sweet like a bird’s song despite the smoke. The volcano withdraws, turning away from her beloved as her ivy hair catches alight. She can’t look her in the eyes. Those beautiful, ocean blue eyes. She doesn’t deserve to.

“Every time we touch I harm you,” The volcano chokes. Her own voice is hoarse, like rocks being ground together. “Every kiss chars your face. It looks so… Painful.”

The Forest’s bark skin has already fallen away, leaving nothing but ashen scars in its place. Her long green locks have turned to dust and fallen around her feet. It hurts to merely look at. But even still, the Forest takes her hand. The Volcano looks up and gasps as she sees dewdrop tears stream down her beloved’s cheeks.

“Oh my darling,” She whispers. “My light, my love, my fire… This doesn’t hurt a bit. It’s nothing but shedding an old skin. Look:”

She steps back, and the Volcano brings her hands to her mouth. Through the cracks in The Forest’s skin, she sees a vivid green of the likes she’s never beheld. Tiny mushrooms and flower buds the color of jewels sprout from between the gaps, shaking loose the ash as they grow. She smiles, and she is radiant.

“Don’t you see?” She says. “I thrive in your presence, dear. Your warmth is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever felt.” She draws closer again, resting her hands on The Volcano’s shoulders.

“You make me stronger, and I can never thank you enough.”

They kiss, and she tastes honeysuckle on her lover’s mossy lips. All her life on this lonely planet, she’s been a destroyer. Her magma tears and blistering touch would torch everything around her. But here, in The Forest’s arms, she feels… Right. She feels whole. Like she too can create. That the ashes are not so bad a thing after all.

Southern Today Gone Tomorrow

An Unexpected Ending
By Sandeen

His daughter sat in the corner of the couch, squished into the cushions as much as she could be. Nothing could pull her from staring at the wall. The only thing that seemed to help was the cat, motoring away in her lap. She had been moping since school ended the week before. Going from one location to the other, barely acknowledging anyone else’s existence.

It broke his heart.

If it was a romantic partner that had done this, it would be so much easier for her. Something that he could have prepared her for. No one ever tells a child that their best friend could one day just abandon them for no reason. How could you prepare someone for their best friend to just… stop being there.

Her friends had come by. He and his wife had tried to talk to her. What he couldn’t know was what was going through her head.

All she could think, while her father stared at her from time to time, was, What had I done? Do I deserve to lose the closest friend I’ve ever had? What will the summer bring?

If your best friend can leave you, who else can?

At least I still have Mom and Dad, though Dad won’t stop looking at me like I’m a wounded puppy.

As her thoughts wandered, she must have stopped petting the fur ball in her lap, as she found a paw digging inter her stomach to request more attention. Looking down, she saw someone else who hadn’t left. Then her phone buzzed, as it had been regularly all weekend, with someone else reaching out. The girl, looking from the cat to the phone, picked it up to look at the message.

Lari.B.Haven
Lari.B.Haven
1 month ago

Eddie’s beach blackout (Private group repost)
By Larissa (Lari.B. Haven)

When he opened his eyes, the bright sunlight hurt and there was a white noise piercing through his skull; his hearing aid needed to be tuned. He never slept with the thing on, so it was no surprise that he had a monstrous headache. His skin was full of… sand and ash?

“Shit! What happened last night?” he heard a voice burst into his ears. “Oh yeah, we burned the… Ugh! My head!”

He got up in pain, tuning the device quickly and immediately recognized the voice:

“Killian?” Suddenly some of his memories rushed back at him. “The school party!”

Eddie looked frantic at all sides. They were on the beach with beer bottles all around. He was bare-chested and soaked. He could smell the half-burned school mascot suit burning a couple of meters away.

“Eddie! Do you remember anything?” The bleached haired boy turned to him laughing, put his hands on Eddie’s shoulders, and pulled the boy into a hug. Eddie never felt his cheeks more flustered.

His heart was racing. He couldn’t remember a single thing, his body was aching and he never stayed that physically close to Killian.

“Oh yeah! We came here because…” He said and rested his head on Eddie’s chest. Killian laughed a bit more and then looked straight into his eyes. “Hm… Do you read lips or ASL is easier?”

Eddie froze in place for a second and pointed at his own lips still unsure of what he would do.

“I didn’t answer your question, right?” Killian spoke with a wide smile. “I like you too! Romantically, okay?”

Eddie’s face turned blank. He hasn’t drunk anything at that point in his life, and in the first party that he ever went to, he not just got stupidly drunk but also confessed to his crush and woke up next to him.

“So…” Killian scratched his head. “Want to eat something?”

Eddie shook his head still confused, and Killian excitedly kissed the boy’s cheek.

He just didn’t know if he should congratulate or curse his past self.

Mango Gravy
Mango Gravy
1 month ago

Corpus Maledictus
By Mango Gravy

Even as I write this, the key to salvation, my body betrays me. If you’re reading this, illness has severed me from this mortal coil, and I have bitterly moved on to whatever wicked afterlife the devils prepared for us. But this journal will help you achieve my dream.
My son, we are cursed beings. Our whole existence is either a cruel joke or a hapless accident and we have no choice but to bear the stain of our embarrassing origins. We are a laughing stock, some form of cosmic comedy. And it all stems from these our cursed bodies. What cruel gods would create such beings as us? Bound to tender flesh in a baleful world. Gifted with great minds, capable of pondering great mysteries only to be struck by our grand insignificance, and cursed to be so besotted with our prisons that we never rise above them.
My journeys and research have revealed that the mind is its own beast, capable of great things. But this great thing has had to cope with an inadequate host. It limits itself so as not to destroy its shell prematurely, but even so it yearns to grow beyond this cruel prison. It rages within. I have discovered the way to truly free the mind from its corporeal vices, and I give it to you. You inherit my life’s work, and my life’s fury.
My wrath was framed in flesh and blood, and so it failed. Yours will be framed in truth.
Humanity is what keeps us down, our attachment to our world and to our form. Our humanity must burn. And when you rise from the ashes of your husk, you will be unfettered and shall rise up to smite the gods that thought so little of us. You shall force open the pearly gates and tear down their ivory mountain. Their divine blasphemies will be no match for the blade of vengeance, wielded by your indignation.
From the ashes of your prison, will come the twilight of the gods.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mango Gravy
Philip C.
Philip C.
1 month ago

Called (Rise from the Ashes)
By Philip C.

Darkness. Nothingness.

That is what I first remember. I wasn’t floating. I was that nothingness. And yet, I existed.

Then I was there. In the place where time and space don’t exist. I began to remember. Flashes. A face. Her face. The face of my dearest friend.

I remembered. What had been. What had happened. What had changed. In barely a moment, I remembered places, people, life, the world I loved. The world that held what was dearest to me.

I remembered him. I remembered what he had done. I remembered the smug look on his face as he destroyed that world. The world I loved. The one I loved. Burning beside me. Tears evaporating from my eyes. Anger.

I saw a light. It lay below me. Or above me. It was moving towards me. Or I towards it. A great blaze, more powerful than any fire he could make.

I felt the heat radiating off of it, but it did not scorch me. It drew me. It held power. It offered me power. I wanted that power.

I reached towards it with a hand. I grasped it.

The flames took hold of me. They covered me. They lifted me up. Out. I was flying.

I rose from my ashen tomb, feeling life rush into me with every breath. I stood there, gulping it in. I looked down at myself, and found that I was wreathed in flames. Red flames that felt warm. Comforting. As though she held me once again.

A voice rang out from the shadows behind me, “You have passed the first test. Congratulations, my lord.”

I turned to find a young woman kneeling at the foot of the stairs of what once was my home. As I gazed down, I could not help but notice that she seemed not entirely human. Her face was too perfect.

“Who are you?” I asked suspiciously. “How am I alive?”

She smiled, “I am but your humble servant, my lord. You have been called. The Phoenix King must rise again. His enemy has returned. The war for heaven has begun.”

Twangyflame0
Twangyflame0
1 month ago

Running Out of Time
By Twangyflame0 (from the private group)

“Why do you act like you’re running out of time?” Rihonnan had tears in her eyes, “You run day and night like you’re running out of time.”

Morgan just stared at her. He couldn’t say anything. His mouth hung open, only allowing his lip to quiver and for air to come in and out. She was waiting for an answer. She deserved one, especially from him. He was hers and she his. If she didn’t get answer she would–

No wait, her back already turned away. He needs to reach out for her. He needs to drop his spear. Why can’t he drop his spear? Why? WHY? WHY CAN’T HE REACH FOR HER?!

When Morgan awoke he saw his outstretched hand reaching towards the sky. He felt the blood trickle down his arm and face. His mark was burning on his skin.

Groaning, he sat up, feeling his broken ribs shuffle. Coughing up blood, Morgan stood up and saw the beast that had thrashed him about. Picking up his spear again, he pointed it at the creature. He needed to kill this thing. Nothing was going to stand in his–

Wait, Rihonnan? Why is she next to him? No, wait, in front? Impossible. He–

He–

He…

He…

He left her. And now he was here. Broken. Battered. A sham. A fucking idiot, who decided to throw away happiness for fucking what? Vengence? Pride? Anger?

Again, that same feeling before came over. Frozen yet shaking. Unable to think, yet a thousand thoughts occurring at once. He saw blood. Heard screams and roars. Remembered how he had the fires made it impossible to cry. And then he saw her standing in a field of flowers. Smiling with him. Holding out a hand. He looked down at his spear and…

…and he didn’t remember if it landed and killed the beast. No, he had already begun running back to her at that point. He ran like he was running out of time and he was not going to throw away his shot into the dark. Never again.

MysteryElement
MysteryElement
1 month ago

The Breath of Ashes
By MysteryElement (also posted in private group)

There was an unrelenting breeze riding down the mountains, kicking up dirt and dust as it went. The clouds attempted to shield the barren battleground, but stray columns of light still broke through, reaching like fingers desperate to grasp the forsaken earth. The ground lay desolate, people and buildings alike burned to the ground, wisps of smoke rising to meet the sun’s outstretched grasp.

There was no one left. If anyone had been there to witness, their presence might have detracted from the desolation wrought. The war had ravaged everything, fires of avarice fueled by apathy relentlessly burning all it could reach, leaving naught but the hollow ashen shells of something once beautiful. As the sun delicately traced those hollow remains, a shudder ran through the ashes. Barely notable, but no wind could have caused such movement. It happened again, accompanied by the hushed slithering of convalescing cinders.

With lethargic momentum, a pair of grey ashen shoulders heaved forward, a head rising with the second attempt to thrust itself from the ruined pile. It was a slow, painful gathering of will, a dry approximation of skin flaking away even as the ash struggled to hold itself together. Slender, tentative arms reached from the ground, fingers scrambling with feeble and unfamiliar strength. The form desperately grasped at the ground, pulling up a lithe torso, legs, and finally its feet.

It lay face down on the ground, maybe for a moment, or an immeasurable amount of time, the sun having momentarily succumbed to the clouds insistent barrier. It rose to its knees, unseeing eyes flaked open, milky and pale, as if to survey what land had given it form. Surrounded by the surreal silence, the ashen creature raised its head to face the peeking sun, specks of dust crumbling from a thin line cracked across its face, peeling open with slow insistence. A dry rattle creaked through the silence as he dragged a ragged gasp past his fragile lips, forcing his new lungs to swell uncomfortably as his mercurial eyes cleared.

Last edited 1 month ago by MysteryElement
Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
1 month ago

“A normal Tuesday”[Aleph null science fiction]
By gregovin
Duck!

I poke my head out from the low blue wall.

A maze of multicolored walls surrounds me. I see a large post a dozen yards ahead. The control point. Most importantly, I don’t notice the enemy.

I pull my rifle up and walk forward into the maze. My goal is in sight. Only 5 more-

OW! A brief spike of intense pain spikes through my chest before being subdued. What just happened. Dazed, I look down. Right over my heart there is hole. Blood is pouring out. I feel my nanobots trying desperately to fix it. Darn it! How did this fool escape my notice! My vision fades.

I wake up in a white room. The respawn point. Must have got a good moment for a mind upload with this level of continuity of memory. I broadcast an alert to my teammates “Sniper in sector B-7”

“Acknowledged.”

I make my way to the armory. Oh! This time I have a special weapon. It looks like it’s energy based. Let’s try it!

I walk through white corridors until I find my way back to the map. I make my way toward Sector B-7 once more.

Just as I’m about to turn a corner, I spot a person in a red shirt. The enemy. I pull out the energy weapon, aim, and take the shot. A bit of blue flashes before me and my target seems to move unnaturally before falling to the ground. I think this is an electrocution weapon. Cool.

I continue through the multicolored maze searching for the sniper who killed me.

Joseph Kharms
Joseph Kharms
1 month ago

“Galapagos Village”
By Joe Kharms

FEEL THEN THINK:
The village could hear the thunder of their feet before they could see the stampede coming towards them. Over the green hills they came, thousands and thousands of tiny men the size of toothbrushes. Each one of these tiny men were identical, they were thin, spindly and had thick long fiery ginger hair that conveniently covered their private parts; they were all naked of course.

The community watched in horror at the ocean of pale bodies descending from the hills, they had little time to prepare for what was to come. Archibald Tap, a pensioner, grabbed a pitchfork and stood ready for battle above his award winning carrots. The Vicar, who was out buying scented candles, tried to rush back to church in time. Mary and Ken Dong-shiner were amongst the first parents to reach the local high-school, to find their son: Samuel. They were incredibly worried about him. However, when they got there, he was out spending his time getting drunk with his friends.

“Under the face of doom we see the true nothing of humanity!” Screamed the Village drunk, who was once the village idiot.

When the stampede of little ginger men hit the settlement, chaos broke out. The little men ran into homes destroying and stealing everything they could find. They passed through the village like hungry piranhas, and they stripped it down to the bone. They tossed rubbish out of bins; they ripped thatch off cottage roofs. Margaret Keyboard (a sweet old lady) was tackled by a group of ginger men who wanted to take a selfie with her.

When the Stampede left the village and went on to the next, the village lay in ruins. Most of its people starved in the following days; apart from the Vicar who choked on some plastic he tried to digest.

A newborn child crawled out of the nearby lake, unaware of the stampede’s visit. The child placed their palm against a ruined wall and drew around their hand, leaving behind the perfect painting: a child’s stencilled hand.

T.E.
T.E.
1 month ago

Ashen Evening
By T.E.

Ash everywhere. I stood above the remnants of a ruined house. My house.

A tall pale being in a charcoal suit approached me. “How are you feeling?”

“I feel confused. ” I tried pinching my arm, nothing. “I’m dreaming,” I said.

The being shrugged. “In a way, you could call it dreaming. Shame on the house you really did a good job on that.”

I smiled. “Thanks, what’s your name stranger?”

“Oh, I have so many. Daena, Vanth, Yamaduta, Charon, or perhaps Death will do. Call me what you want, it’s your occasion after all.”

A vision fluttered through my recollection. Fire, heat, screams. I experienced the heat on my naked skin, and the shrill screams pierced my ears.

“Take the time you need.”

I snapped out of it. Something felt off. “Is this… real?”

“Is anything? It’s all memories anyway. Memories can change.”

A vague memory began forcing its way into my head, had I ever woken up by the smell of smoke?

“We have all the time in the world. The children have already moved on. They’ll meet us whenever you’re ready.”

These words dislodged some mental block in my memory. “There was smoke,” I said. “The kids… Oh god, the kids. I tried getting them out!”

“You did what you could, don’t blame yourself. They went together. You were just moments behind.”

“Is this the afterlife?”

“The afterlife is nicer than this. I think you’ll fit right in. You’ll see it soon enough.”

“What about the fire?”

“You won’t remember it. Think of it as a good kind of censorship. You won’t even know you’re dead. The children are waiting for you to come home.”

My eyes swept through the remains of my life. I saw three burnt bodies lying on the ground, one large and two small.

“Good, let’s go.”

The being took my hand and showed me the way. The way to a new life, a new chance.

Last edited 1 month ago by T.E.
Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
1 month ago

Rebuilding Oneself (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis

Within a mound of thin, grey ash, something stirred. It wiggled and flopped, like a baby learning to crawl – if the baby had five unevenly formed limbs on one side and none on the other, that is. After flailing uselessly for a while, two of those limbs were abruptly sucked in, punching out the other side as the sickly green mass rebalanced itself.

The fifth limb’s socket was dragged up by the entity’s writhing internal processes to the top of the ovoid body, and with a throbbing pulse the tip sprouted a cluster of primitive eyes. Twitching around anxiously, it confirmed that there was only ash and dust, as far as its weak vision could see anyway. No organic matter, no threats. With that confirmed, the creature’s thoughts turned inwards.

Its memory was blasted, but that sensation felt familiar to it. It recalled scattered fragments, some of barren plains, others of tight metal corridors, and even lush fields. It remembered how it would twist its shifting body to suit every need. And it remembered the taste of flesh, the surging high of satisfied hunger and growing power-

Something shifted in the corner of its bleary vision. Something wiggled and flopped in the ash. The entity turned and scuttled towards the movement, approaching to see another misformed mass twisting helplessly. It was smaller, slower, weaker, with fewer, stumpier limbs.

The larger slowly approached the smaller, careful not to bump up against it. With a leg, it gingerly, delicately reached out…and viciously jabbed into the other’s core. Then, as the small one hissed and violently shook, the larger mass ate it from the inside out. Its legs thickened, fragmented memories pieced back together. Two selves had become One once again. And as the creature’s eyestalk split into four, the Devouring Colony now remembered what to do.

Find the other scattered pieces of itself, hiding in the dust. Hunt them, devour them, become whole. Then, find the meat-things that drowned your body in fire, and devour them too. And then the rest of the flesh, until nothing remains but thin, grey ash.

Connor A.
Connor A.
1 month ago

“Meanwhile”
By Connor A.

Faust leaned over Lady Fate’s shoulder, “Is that crow supposed to be literal or symbolic?”

She remained focused on her work, despite Faust’s efforts to distract her. “I doubt you need my help figuring that one out.”

“Humor me, sis. I don’t have a lot to do here.” Faust kicked up one leg and rested it on Lady Fate’s shoulder. “Except annoy you to death.” He almost fell forward when his foot phased through her.

“It’s Balthazar’s soul,” Lady Fate answered without much delay.

“Your current executor? I thought you didn’t do tapestries for…” Faust looked carefully at what was depicted in the tapestry and half laughed. “No wonder you go through executors like tissues. You drove this guy to self-destruction.”

“Executors never had long lives, but this one decided to take… direct action.”

“You should give your employees paid therapy. It’ll make things more efficient.”

Lady Fate did not speak anymore on the subject. With his only source of entertainment used up, Faust decided to walk out.

“What to do, what to do…” Faust muttered as he walked. He grinned, though his mouth was just an eye. “Time to make that crow into a phoenix.”

He reached out into thin air and tore a passage open to the mortal realm. He stepped through and found himself in a child’s room. Not the best place to end up for this sort of thing, but it would do.

Faust took a sheet of paper and pencil from the child’s desk and scribbled a number and address on it. When he was sure the kid could read it, he slid it under the kid’s hand and touched its head.

“You wanna save a life?” Faust’s hand glowed for only a few seconds, then he flew up to the ceiling before the kid could jolt up from its sleep. Faust watched as the kid, apparently scared out of its mind, jumped out of the bed and ran out.

Faust could not wait to see how Balthazar living would change the future.

Mike Collins
1 month ago

Last Word

By Mike Collins (Also posted in Private)

Astoria pushed open the door to the bomb shelter to see the ruins of her family home. She didn’t know why the war started or who launched the first missile. Her parents said intergalactic politics were too complex to describe to a nine-year-old. What was simple to understand was the aftermath of the war. In the distance, she could see the remains of their once-great city. It didn’t matter if they won or lost the war; nothing would be the same.

Her parents were out of the house when the attack started. She was with the sitter-bot ADB-Genoa. It was an Adolescent Development Bot assigned to help in the day-to-day care of the Ruskin’s daughter. Genoa was almost everything to its charges, even though it wasn’t capable of loving them.

Genoa pushed its way out of the shelter and scanned the ruins, “Well, well, this is quite a mess you made little missy… We need to clean this up right away.”

Astoria indignantly said, “I didn’t do this!”

Genoa said in a slight slur, “Now listen to me little missy, lying is.”

Astoria turned to see Genoa had shut down mid-lecture. It was bent down to her level with one hand raised in the all too familiar lecture mode only to run out of energy.

Astoria smiled, “So I’m finally getting the last word.”

Astoria fished out her phone from her pocket. Using an app, she started the house reclamation program.

“It’s like daddy James said, we will rise from the ashes a better people for surviving this hardship.”

She stepped back into the shelter and came back with the replacement battery for Genoa. She said, “I should reprogram you while you’re down, but daddy James would flip out as would daddy Hester.”

Astoria replaced the battery.

Genoa stood straight and started the reboot procedure. When it was done, “Well, well look at this mess. Mister and Mister Ruskin won’t like this at all.”

___

James Ruskin woke up, pinned underneath the transport, his husband Hester dead in the street. With his last breath, he spoke his last word, “Astoria.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike Collins
Alex
Alex
1 month ago

That first Step
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

Everything around Mia was burning. The putrid smoke stung in her lungs, the floor felt hot through her clothes, the bright flickering light of the flames only occasionally obscured by the dark grey smoke. The mental hospital was slowly crumbling around her, a victim to the flames. And she was lying on the floor, unable to move.

She tried to get up, tried to force her legs into motion, but they refused to budge.

“You’re mine now, Mia”, said a rasping voice.

Like a black hole, it seemed to suck in every word it spoke.

“Lay to rest, my dear. It’s over soon.”

Her heart felt like a sack of cement, weighing her down.

“No”, she moaned: “I don’t want to.”

“Give in”, the shadow replied: “You’re mine.”

“Mia!” she recognized that voice: “Mia! Take my hand!”

It was Daniel. The one who always visited her. He’d always been decent to her. He may often trip over his words or spend long minutes in silence, but at least he’d tried; tried to make her feel just a bit better. She looked up and saw a silhouette standing over her. She could see his hand, his frantic face, begging her to take it. She tried to force her arm to move towards him, but her body failed to obey. She gritted her teeth and tried again, but her mind began to spiral, holding her limbs firmly to the ground. She heard his voice again, this time from a distance.

“Mia. Take his hand.”

Konrad. Her crow. Her best friend in the world. She tried to find him, but couldn’t quite make him out.

“I can’t, Konrad”, she whispered: “I’m sorry.”

“Mia, you have to take his hand”, he insisted, now moving into view: “I can’t help you out of this. But he can. Take his hand. Please.”

The shadows in her mind protested furiously. With tremendous effort she moved her arm and clasped Daniel’s hand tightly.

He helped her rise, as she took her first step out of the ashes around her. The first, on a long road.

Last edited 1 month ago by Alex