Writing Group: So THAT’S What it Does! (PRIVATE)

Hello, you curious thing!

I know you’ve come expecting something specific, but prepare your inquisitive little brain. All is not as it seems. The answers you receive here are bound to be quite different from the ones you seek, because…

This week’s writing group prompt is:

 

So THAT’S What it Does!

 

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!

 

 

My first thought was that this prompt was going to be comedic. Either you find out the doomsday device is actually just an alien salt shaker, or you find out that your salt shaker is actually an alien doomsday device.

But after chatting with everyone on stream about it, I’ve realized there are a lot of other angles to this as well.

You could play it straight—you actually just find out how something you didn’t understand works. You could play it for character dynamics—someone is preventing you from finding out how something works, for good or ill, and you find out anyway. You could play it for personal development—you had a lot of assumptions about something, but you finally allowed yourself to give it a proper shake and it isn’t at all what you built it up to be in your mind.

Lots of different ways to write this thing, and they aren’t all about some silly reversal, regardless of what the CAPS in the prompt title might have told you.

But there is one thing all these different approaches have in common: a revelation.

At its heart, this is a story about coming into information you didn’t have, or information you didn’t expect to have, and being very caught off guard by it.

So, surprise us. What can you lead us as an audience to believe, and how will it turn out actually to be so very far from the truth? Don’t just give your characters that moment of realization, give it to us as well.

I want to read your story and go “ohhhh, so THAT’S what this does!”

 

 

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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Brick
Brick
1 month ago

Indecision and Time Loops
by Brickosaur

So, time loops.

Y’know, those things where somebody goes back and gives their past self the deus ex machina and and you never figure figure out the actual origin of the item?

Yeah, those.

It seems like those loops are never-ending and presumably never-beginning. Problem is, that violates every known law of interdimensional society, not to mention physics. And it renders the looping object totally arbitrary. It could be anything. They saved the day with a peach pit once!

We’ve gotta be missing something. And that thing happens to tie into our only point of free will, and the sole thing that creates branching universes.

I’m talking
about Random Decisions.

These are, in fact, a native feature of the multiverse, down to the quantum level. An electron has a given spin and we there’s no reason for that — it just randomly developed one or the other. Superposition has particles in multiple places at once. Scale that up, and you’ve got all those thousand little moments every day where you make a decision totally arbitrarily. It could have gone the other way, and it does.

That’s where all these universes come from.

Indecision is the most powerfully creative force in existence.

Back to time loops.

Though you never see it in time travel shows, they DO have a beginning. Simply, these time loops start when one person decides to go back and change their past self’s actions in some way. When their task is done, they go on with their life, having casually created another timeline in parallel.

Since the person receiving the help is the same as the giver, they often conclude that they have to help themself in turn. And on and on, for any number of loops.

Until one of those arbitrary decisions is made. In the spiral, they all go the same way, or else small arbitraries cancel out.

But there is one critical point where
BOOP
New decision!

And the loop exits.

The person doesn’t do the past thing, no new timelines are created, and the universe balances.

But the multiverse is so much heavier.

Deviacon
1 month ago

“An Ancient Ritual”

By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)

The artifact felt like it was carved from bone, if bone were capable of being such a color. Dark and polished, smooth like oil, but when its edges and divots and carvings caught the light of the campfire they reflected a deep green.

“I’m tellin’ ya this was a bad idea. We shoulda’ never agreed t’ bring ya here.” The old man growled under his breath just loud enough for me to hear.

The small group of villagers that accompanied the old man and myself through the mountain paths had spent most of the day muttering to themselves, second guessing their decisions to aid the old man they revered so much.

“I told you, you didn’t have to stay with me, you could have set up camp a bit further down before it got too dark.”

“Hmph, y’re the one who just had t’ keep poking around. ‘Sides someone’s got t’ keep an eye on ya and make sure ya don’t do anythin’ stupid.” The old man uneasily eyed the clearing of the stony ruins where we were forced to set up camp. I rolled the dark object around in my hand. The air felt heavier than before.

“So, any idea what part of the old ritual this might have played?” I held up the small multifaceted artifact.

“Don’t know, don’t care. Should just get rid of it.” A young man next to me said with disdain without taking his eye off of my hand.

“Perhaps, but—”

“It’s bad luck! You’re messin’ with things you shouldn’t!” Another villager snatched the artifact from my hand and quickly tossed it into the fire.

Before I could open my mouth to protest the young man next to me cried out in horror and went running into the night like a madman. The rest of us looked around with trepidation and soon noticed ominous ephemeral images looming around us. As all of the villagers dashed headlong out of camp and into the mountainous night, I watched carefully as the flames refracted dancing emerald light off of the artifact.

Monty
Monty
1 month ago

Mightier than the Sword
By Nostalgic Novelist aka Monty

She has heard of books before, never imagining she would hold one in her very hands. She was one of the few people left in the world that could understand the content of this sole survivor, but it was what she found next to the book that got her intrigued.

What was this device? It looked just like a regular stick; only there was a point at the end. It was sharp but not sharp enough to stab a man. The other end of the stick had a removable tip that she realized could be placed on the more pointed end to make it look like a dull stick. She removed the thing and put it back on the end where it originated, so as she could see the pointed end again.

If she couldn’t use it for stabbing, then what the hell was the stick’s purpose?

She began to twist and turn the various parts of the stick before finding out she could remove both ends of it. By removing the pointed end, she found out that the stick was hollow; besides the screw that kept the stick together, she found nothing of importance except for a little cartridge that contained some kind of liquid. After some more twisting and turning, she managed to get the cartridge out of its place; in doing so, however, she spilled the liquid everywhere.

Despite the mess, she was more curious than annoyed. The liquid looked too dirty to drink, but it left marks no matter how many times she tried to wipe it away. Still not discouraged, she took a closer look at the liquid before noticing it got on the book.

Funny. The liquid left the same kind of color as the writing in the book.

Is it possible?

Furiously, she put the stick back together. After making sure it worked, she turned to one of the many blank pages in the book and brought the pointed end to the paper.

She gasped. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Surely it couldn’t be.

It was.

Amy Trow
Amy Trow
1 month ago

Mental Barriers
By minergirl778 (aka frogfireFantasy)

“Hey Daisy?”

“Hm?”

“How much control do you have over your magic?”

“Hm… well, I’m able to call it out at will to punch things!” Daisy demonstrated “That’s pretty cool!”

“Yes it is, but…” He continued. “But have you tried manipulating it beyond that? I imagine with the one skill mastered, you’d want to move on to more challenging spellwork.”

“I…Uh…” For the first time, Marshal witnessed her go sheepish. “I dunno. I guess I COULD… but I’m not sure if it’s the best idea.”

“Hasn’t stopped you before.” He quipped. She gave him a deadpan look over her sunglasses.

“I know, I know, but this is different! I like the idea of doing other stuff with my powers, but the Archangels always told me I shouldn’t do it on my own. They don’t really know how I work, so I should just stick to what I know. Can’t get hurt if you never do things differently!” She laughed sheepishly.

“But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Going through harrowing experiences to hone your skills? Why would you just use the one skill if things keep getting harder?” Marshal moved on his lawn chair, facing her. “Daisy, I know science. And science tells us you’ll never improve if you never experiment! If you never try to break boundaries, you’ll never be able to find where they truly lie. Now… who’s the one always telling me to do the very same? And dragged me out here to prove it?”

She laughed a little, making him smile. “I guess I could stand to be more adventurous with my magic… I’ll see if I can maybe try something next mission.”

They shared a mutual smile before sitting back down on their chairs. They fell back into their activities, Marshal reading his book while Daisy looked up at her hands. She still felt nervous about doing something new. What if the leaders found out? What if she did get hurt? She might not be able to do this…

Well…

Don’t know until you try. And trying was something she could do.

Last edited 1 month ago by Amy Trow
MysteryElement
MysteryElement
1 month ago

Innocent Questions
By MysteryElement

It’s amazing how a single question can take you from mind-numbing boredom to bone-chilling anxiety in a single moment. I stare at Pepper, trying to process if I had heard correctly.

“I’m sorry, what did you say, Sweetie?”

“Daddy, how did Mommy get pregnant?” her cheeks were puffed and red, lips pinched in a cute assimilation to a frown, looking very annoyed.

“This might be a better question for Mommy.”

“I asked already!” she whined “And she said to ask you.”

Thanks Leslie! I can see her in my mind’s eye, a devilish grin on her face as she prepares a snack and listens from the kitchen. That sassy, sexy troublemaker. Pepper still stared at me expectantly. What am I even supposed to say?

“Well, Sweetie, uh…” I become aware of my own breathing, raising my anxiety “When two people love each other very much,” dear god, I sound like the first half of a punch-line. “The Daddy will give a gift to Mommy, so that she can make a baby for them.”

“Hah!” Leslie guffawed from the kitchen, choking on her breath a bit.

I made a face in the kitchen’s direction before turning back to Pepper, her brow scrunched in thought.

“What did you give Mommy?”

No! No, nononono! I can hear Leslie squeaking, trying desperately to not laugh at my predicament.

“I can’t tell you, Sweetie. It is a special gift only a Mommy and Daddy share. When you are older Mommy will explain it a little better.”

…Ten Years Later…

It’s amazing how a single statement can take you from mind-numbing boredom to bone-chilling anxiety in a single moment.

“Oh my god, Dad!” Pepper shouts from down the hall before storming into the living-room. “‘A Daddy gives a special gift to Mommy?’ Are you serious?!”

I sit stunned, my eyes practically falling out of my head as I stare at my daughter, the memory of that long forgotten conversation resurfacing in my mind like a Kraken coming to devour me. From the hallway, I see Leslie emerge with a charming, evil grin on her face. Shit.

NocteVesania
1 month ago

Dad’s Masterpiece
By NocteVesania

“What the fuck is this supposed to be?” Jake, my older brother, asked as I set the device on the table. It was a white globe, smooth like polished glass.

“He said he’d show us once he’d finished it,” I answered. “I guess he never did.”

Dad was an electronics engineer. Whenever he was working on something, he would show it to us. I always loved it when the tiny bulbs lit up, coming to life in different colors.

“Figures.” Jake looked away, his brow furrowed as he stared out the window.

When mom left, dad started drinking heavily. One day, when Jake was 16, he got in an argument with dad. In the end, Jake left the house, never to return.

When dad was diagnosed with cancer, he locked himself in the basement, working day and night until he had passed. Now, with dad gone, Jake finally paid me a visit.

Jake spoke again. “So, you’re telling me he poured everything he had into this little project, and we—”

“So that’s why you came back? Inheritance?”

“No! I came to check up on you!”

“Why? Are you worried about me? What about all those years, when you left me to care for dad, all alone? Weren’t you worried about me then?”

He didn’t answer.

I sighed. “Why did you leave?”

“I just couldn’t live like that. I felt there was something better for me out there.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“I figured you could handle it. You were always the smarter one.” He placed his hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry. I’ve always wanted to come back, but I was too afraid.”

Tears started streaming down my cheeks.

“What about this thing?” My voice trembled as I placed my hand on the device. I never liked baring my feelings, so I tried changing the subject.

“Let’s find out together,” he said as he wrapped his arms around me. “Don’t worry, big bro’s here now.”

We never really found out what the globe was for, but we found something it did:

It brought us brothers back together.

Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
1 month ago

“The truth” [Lily’s Story]
By gregovin

The Orb of Truth. Fought over. Guarded. Ignored for hundreds of years.

Then Doctor Maloron showed up and, as we fought them, we found it.

Supposedly, it grants whoever touches it access to some terrible, world-shattering revelation. There are even rumors that this knowledge is powerful.

I doubt that. Doctor Maloron touched it and broke down. He was an easy kill.

I maintain a reasonable distance from the Orb, noting its features as I move around it. It looks like a green gem, cloudy and mysterious. But perfectly spherical.

Edward speaks up. “Lily, what do you make of it?” He sounds… tired. Just done. I hope he’s ok.

“Uh, it’s a magical artifact and it’s absolutely terrif-” I trip over something and start to fall. I put my hands in front of me. Only a moment too late do I realize I am falling toward the Orb.

My hand grazes the Orb.

A memory drags me back. We’re walking by a mountain. The mountain disappears for a split second. I… remember this? I must have been seeing things? Why is the Orb showing me this? What is the revelation?

I realize something. The mountain did disappear. And the sign was scrambled. And the Grandma was supposed to remember us. It all… happened. What did it all mean? I… don’t get it.

Then my perspective is pulled out of my body. Away from the ground. Up. Up. Up. Past the highest clouds. Toward the moon. As I go up, I notice something about the moon. It looks… flat. Fake. Wrong. It is all of those things.

Does this mean our world isn’t real? No. It can’t be. Not possible. That doesn’t make sense.

Then I briefly see a rack of metal boxes with blinking lights replace my world, and I know my world is not real.

I’m brought back toward the world, this revelation crushing me. Then I notice the world is spinning faster. I’m seeing a future, I know it. The world starts to vanish, bit by bit, until it disappears wholesale.

I wake up. I KNOW.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gregory Hess
Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
1 month ago

An Unexpected Awakening
By Calliope Rannis

Inside her cage of exotic metals, Nyssa jerked awake.

“AGH-ah, ah…huh?” she breathed, trying to get her bearings. The cage was sideways, that much was evident. The side above her was concerningly distorted by the weight of whatever lay above it, and she could see broken stone through the porthole to her left. But – thank the stars – faint light permeated through the other side.

Struggling onto her hands and knees, Nyssa pushed her weight against the cage door, and with excruciating effort managed to shove it open. Crawling out of her failed tomb, she stood and looked down at herself. Cuts, bruises, marks all over her body…so why didn’t they hurt?

Well, some hurt. That cut on her arm burned, a large scrape on her belly radiated pain, a bruise just behind her ear throbbed through her skull. But so many other wounds had minimal to no pain. Why? WHY??

Then she remembered something else. She gingerly pulled her dusty robe away from her chest, shuddering at what lay beneath.

A black, perfectly circular burn mark, surrounded by a ring of reddened skin, where she had touched a metal cable to the flesh directly above her heart. It was completely numb.

Nyssa spun her gaze away from her body, turning around to face the ruin she had staggered out of. There laid the shattered wreck of her device, mixed with the broken rubble of the tower she had housed it in.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. None of this. It wasn’t meant to- She was meant to-

She looked back at her shaking hands. As she stared, a tiny rivulet of electricity jumped from one finger to the next. Then another, and another, jumping across her palms and radiating up through her arms. She flicked her wrist, and a single errant spark leaped from a finger, fading into the air.

Somehow, the one thing Nyssa had never expected to happen had occurred. The one thing they had all told her, to the point where she had even believed it herself, could never actually happen.

The experiment had succeeded.

DesOttsel
DesOttsel
1 month ago

Seeing with New Eyes
by Gage Jarman

Alice stood in front of the mirror staring at herself in the changing room in the back corner of a Victoria Secret. She grabbed the pudge poking out over the top of the lingerie. She looked up and down her lanky body, her gut that slightly poked out, her pale skin which only made the body acne more apparent.

“I look like a fucking goblin…”

Alice turned away from the mirror and put her clothes back on.

She walked out to see her boyfriend waiting for her.

“Didn’t find anything?”

“No, they just weren’t comfortable.”

“That’s too bad. I can never find pants that fit either.” He laughed.

The couple walked through the mall before seeing a small booth labeled “Dream Bods” shoved off into the corner.

“Oh babe, let’s get a photo.” He tugged on her arm.

“Why? We can take one anywhere. We have phones.”

“Come on, I’ll buy it. It’ll be fun.”

Alice sighed. “Fine.”

They stepped through the curtain. There were several filters, none of which made sense. Alice chose “Acceptance” and watched the timer count down. The screen flashed four times. Alice reluctantly put on the helmet.

Her goggles were black for some reason. She wondered if it was broken, but there was sound playing, a peaceful droning, like the ocean or rainfall. Her head felt a little dizzy. She rested it on Marco’s shoulder. She felt calm. She didn’t know the last time she felt this good. Marco was saying something to her, but she just wanted to sit here for a while longer.

Marco pulled the helmet off Alice. “You alright?”

Her eyes refocused. “…Yeah I just really liked the music.”

“Music?” Marco furrowed his brow. “Mine was just some cheap slideshow.” He shrugged.

“Weird. Anyways, let me see those photos.”

“You want to see?” Marco smirked. “You never want to see your pictures.”

“What, I love my body!” Alice snatched them out of his hand, smiling, and looked down at the photos. “I really do have a nice smile,” she thought. “I should get something to flaunt at Marco.” Alice smirked.

Last edited 1 month ago by DesOttsel
jesse fisher
jesse fisher
1 month ago

Right Lever?

By Jesse Fisher

“I’m getting deja vu on this hallway.” The dragoness commented as she and her armored companion moved deeper into this arena that they found themselves in.

“Demon’s happy place?” The armored one replied as his helmet darkened his face yet his missed matched eyes seemed visible.

Peering over the corner both of them noticed the lack of anything stopping them. The sounds from deeper in did tell them that there were living things around but this area seemed to be left unguarded for some reason.

“Correct my warrior in war armor.” The metallic sand yellow dragon purred. “But this is very much a complex that he could not have been to.”

“Aren’t dreams minor doorways to other worlds that we might never visit?”

“Please don’t go down that rodent tunnel, I get enough of that from my brother at home.”

Having moved from one section to deeper in it was then that they did find a group of mixtures of avian and feline creatures. Griffins, as Korun called them from under his helmet, dressed in white robes near a lever of some type.

“Oleander,” Korun spoke in a very hush voice not knowing how good the sound from deeper in the building would cover his voice. “I’m going to try and feign being one of the guards while I am doing that. I want you to put them all to a sleep that won’t lift until we get Demon out of here.”

The dragoness nodded as the armored god marched to the group, and almost as soon as they noticed him, the griffins bare their claws, ready to attack. Oleander did a quick cast to stop them all, and hit Korun in the same blast.

Orlander picked up the love of her life and woke him up.

“You know it is hard to tell when a dream ends when you are around.”

“Save the sweet talk for later.”

There was this lever, unguarded and ready for the pair.

“Wonder what it does?” Korun asked.
“One way to find out.” was the response as she pulled it.

A shaking ground replied.

Last edited 1 month ago by jesse fisher
Connor/Dragoneye
Connor/Dragoneye
1 month ago

“Crappy Sketches” Submitted by Connor/Dragoneye

So, I was scrolling through piles and piles of old papers that I kept for who knows how long, when I stumbled upon some real ancient stuff. The classic battlefield sketch, where a whole host of characters are clashing in battle, many of them wielding absurdly large blades and accompanied by dragons. Lots of dragons.

“Oh, man, what a throwback,” I thought to myself as I immersed myself into the old lore of these once crumpled pieces of line paper, like they were ancient tomes in an archive, containing a long forgotten history. From battle to battle, there seemed a couple of recurring characters among the roster. A Sauron-looking titan with a mace, mounted on a wyvern, and a winged dual-wielding figure, floating in the sky and tearing a rift in the dimensions.

Hold on a second. Was I making lore before I began my normal endeavors? I mean, I made worlds and settings beforehand, but one that’s mostly original? That sounded a little crazy.

I remember that I essentially ripped off whatever piece of media I was obsessed with at the time, but something that’s its own thing made by me before I began the lore of Auvus sounded odd. But, there it was, a cast of characters that appeared in a world full of dragons, giant spiders, and angelic beings.

“Oh. I was building a world when I was 12… I feel old now.”

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago

The Perfect Date
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)

The day had grown very late. The sky turned several brilliant shades of red and purple as the sun made its journey to the other side of the planet. Below the beautiful heavens, on a park bench near a cliff, Rebecca and Ollie sat arm in arm watching the elegant display.

Rebecca laid her head on Ollie’s shoulder and sighed. “See? Aren’t you glad you let me choose the date this time?” she asked in a relaxed tone. “Instead of tempting some esoteric god to deliver us goodies, we get to watch the sunset together.”

Ollie said nothing as he sat beside her.

“Seriously, though.” Rebecca said, a bit louder this time. “I feel like I’ve died and been trapped in a Monet landscape painting. It’s bliss.”

Ollie remained perfectly still.

Rebecca shook Ollie gently, and he snapped back into reality. She cried, annoyed. “Ollie, did you fall asleep on our date?!”

Ollie looked apologetically at Rebecca. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t sleeping. I was meditating. I guess I was a bit too relaxed.”

“Meditating? I thought that was just something monks did in movies?” Rebecca asked, confused.

“Oh, trust me. Meditating is a real thing.” Ollie assured. “Here. Try it with me.” He sat up in a relaxed position and closed his eyes. Rebecca copied his position the best that she could and closed her eyes. Everything went dark.

She waited a bit, but felt nothing. “Pssst.” she whispered loudly to Ollie. “It’s not working! I don’t feel anything.”

“That’s just it. You aren’t supposed to feel anything.” Ollie said in a sweet tone. “Vacate everything from your mind and just focus on life.”

As she sat there, emptying her mind, she suddenly became aware of the sensations around her. She felt the warmth of the day, and the hard wooden chair below her. She felt Ollie’s warm hand. She felt the happiness of watching the sunset fade away be replaced by a new sensation. It was strange, yet somewhat familiar, like it had been there all along.

Then it hit her.

She was just happy being there with him.

Last edited 1 month ago by Matthew
GJFuller
GJFuller
1 month ago

The Harmonica of Chaos
By Giovanna J. Fuller

“The Harmonica of Chaos or To Órgano Tou Erethismoú: Made of stolen leprechaun gold. Forged by ancient dwarves. Part of countless dragon’s hordes. The first note blown by the first Siren Queen. Considered one of the most valuable artifacts in the world. The Harmonica of Destruction was lost when Phaedra of Athens stole the instrument from the invading wizards of Sparta and hid them in one of the numerous rooms of the Infinite Hallway. Which door she chose and where in that world she hid it, was a secret Phaedra took to Hades. Even as the wizards of Sparta stormed the entrance to the Hallway.”

Marshall looked up from the book.

“So…I shouldn’t play it?” Angela had stopped with the harmonica close to her lips, poised to play.

“No.”

They stared at each other for a few seconds before Angela began to slowly inch the harmonica closer.

“Ange, no!”

“Come on!” She groaned and flopped half of her body onto the kitchen table. “Don’t you want to know what it does?”

“No!” Her human said, horrified.

Angela jut out her bottom lip, quivering it slightly. Then she widened her eyes. “Pweese!”

“No!”

The red haired witch huffed and straightened. “Imma do it.”

Marshall couldn’t even let out a cry before Angela raised the instrument to her lips and blew hard on three or four notes at once. A sound, somewhere between a baby’s cry and nails on a chalkboard. It hit the back of the brain, specifically the brain stem and temporal lobe. It wasn’t painful, more like an itch you can’t quite reach.

She stopped blowing almost immediately. “Hmm. That’s weird. Did you-.”

The sound had affected only Marshall. He was massaging his head and moaning.

“I thought chaos would ensue!” Angela said, slightly disappointed. “It’s called the friggin’ harmonica of friggin’ chaos for Frigg’s sake.” She took the book. “Oh….”

“What?” Marshall whined.

“It’s a mistranslation.” She flipped the book and showed him the Greek words. “To Órgano Tou Erethismoú means ‘the instrument of irritation’, not ‘chaos. Silly writer….”

“Yeah…silly writer,” Marshall wheezed. “Got any aspirin?”

Lari B. Haven
Lari B. Haven
1 month ago

I know them very well
By: Larissa (Lari B.Haven)

It was nostalgic to see the new girls training in the repair room. Alexandria could remember well: the rush of excitement, seeing how things worked for the first time.
It’s been a while since she saw anyone learning how to dismantle the engine and clean the pipes.

Through the window’s door, she could see the two fourteen-years-old, with unfitted uniforms and the green tie on their necks. Paula the mechanic, walking them through the steps of using the mechanical wings in the gigantic company workbook.

They clearly were not having the best of times. All those tedious hours in the cluttered room, looking at the blackboard with no actual practice. It could be a daunting task to do when you are just getting the hang of learning about air routes for this job.

“Alexandria! Are you here for a quick fix, or just to see me suffer?”

Paula was impatient and harsh as always.

“I can’t resist going back to basics, can I?” She enters laughing.

She greets the girls and puts their hands on her wings, making them touch the metal parts.

“Close your eyes, now tell me, what are those?” She guides their hands and puts them over the wings propellers.

“The thing that makes them flap?” One of them responded unsurely.

“Correct, now where’s the button that starts the engine?”

Both run their fingers through the shell until the other one finds the small button hidden between the right-wing pair.

The engine heats on, and the steam slowly runs through the pipes.

“Can you hear its humming?”

They listen to the sound of the mechanical buzz in complete awe. Finally opening their eyes, observing it flailing by itself like an awakened butterfly, lifting Alexandria off the ground in the tiny room.

“Your wings will tell you everything you need to know about them. Just close your eyes and listen!”

She turns the engine off and turns to Paula, smiling.

“You are a good teacher…”

“I just know them very well.”

“The wings or the kids?” Paula gives a sly smirk.

Alexandria responds with pride: “Both.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Lari B. Haven
Astrid Jones
1 month ago

Three-Cider Night
By Astrid Jones

Tanya held the cold bottle to her temple, trying to ease her headache. Henry set another bottle on the bar and slid it to her.

“Two-cider kind of day?” he asked.

Tanya nodded, groaning.

“Just don’t drink them too fast.”

“One’s for holding, one’s for drinking. Both are for my head.”

Henry nodded and wiped at imaginary stains on the countertop. He knew his friend. She rarely drank. When she did, she was upset. He had time to listen to her troubles.

“How does someone make it to their 30s without knowing how to fill a kitchen sink up with water?” Tanya burst out.

Henry blinked. He hadn’t been expecting that to be the underlying reason for the rage seeping from Tanya.

“Or how to get ice out of an ice tray? Or how to unclog a toilet? Or how Windex works?”

He decided to hazard a guess. “New room-mate?”

Tanya put her head down into the crook of her elbow, moaning. “Yes, and I’m stuck with her for a year. Stupid no-break lease.”

“Didn’t you vet her before she moved in?” Henry reached for a glass to polish.

“Stacy highly recommended her,” Tanya said without looking up. “I’m never listening to Stacy again.”

“When did she move in?”

“Last weekend.” Tanya picked her head up. “At first it was just tech stuff. You know, what does this remote do? How does this DVD player work? Those I can understand. But, when I asked her to do her own dishes, she complained that the water wouldn’t stay in the sink.”

“I take it the sink wasn’t leaking.”

Tanya drained half the bottle she wasn’t holding to her head. “She hadn’t even plugged it. When I showed her, you know what she said to me?”

Her friend waited patiently.

“’Oh, that’s how that works,’ she said,” Tanya all but wailed. Both bottles clinked down on the counter. “I can’t live with her for a year, Henry. I’ll strangle her the next time she says it.”

Henry set a third cider on the counter. “Sounds like it’s a three-cider night.”

The Assassin
The Assassin
1 month ago

Impotent Shrine
By TheAssassin

The shrine of our forefathers. Prophesied to bring us light in the darkest night, to bring us power in our weakest hour, to help us upon receiving the greatest sacrifice. It was meant to save us.

It didn’t.

We offered unto it the sacrifices of man. The blood of all beings stains its cobble and the ashes of our harvest lay scattered before it. The great statue laden with gems and carvings has yielded us naught but false hope. Lo! Even its stone is useless to us!

Our borders are crumbled, and our castles burn upon green hills. Our people are chained. Men grovel in the dirt under the whips of cruel masters. Children do not laugh, and birds do not chirp. Nothing remains for us here but the ruins of our forefathers.

Forefathers who failed us.

The final sacrifice will soon be offered. It is not a beast, nor plants of the field. It is us. A final immolation for freedom. If our deliverance does not come, then so shall we fall. It is the way of things. Death in the purifying flames is better than living under torturous masters.

And so, we pour the oil atop the shrine’s altar. The statue looms above us, its cold form imposing in the dark night.

The fire-bearer will soon arrive. He will have stolen a torch from our sleeping masters. The night is our only peace from their gaze. If only the shrine did as was prophesied, then we wouldn’t need to burn quietly in the darkness. Perhaps then we might ride upon radiance in the day. Alas, no such fate will us befall.

And so, as the fire-bearer approaches and ignites the oil, we burn. Our bodies tremble with weakness as we look into the dark skies. But no pain comes.

Instead, we see light.

Instead, we feel power.

Light in the darkest night, power in our weakest hour, the shrine channeled the flames of our greatest sacrifice.

Flames that will free us, flames that will save us.

Last edited 1 month ago by The Assassin
PitL
PitL
1 month ago

Notice: (E19)-657
By PitL

Notice: despite rumours, the item (E19)-657 to Station 31 shipping route is not a punishment detail. Should you desire confirmation, please contact your local manager, who will bring it to the attENtiOn oF uPPeR MaNAgeMENT –

Bzzzzzzzzzzzt.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzt.

access_granted

file_retrieved

type: audio_visual

re:E19-657, Incident 13: Multiversal Transit Truck 27, ID 000918273

It was a hell of a lot of work for one crate.

Ana Pérez waited patiently in the rear of the truck as the ninth security inspection crew of the day vetted the cargo, probing it from every direction with biohazard scanners. Granted, the full-body protection shields were more disconcerting than the scanners, but the shields weren’t putting her behind schedule.

“So, is anyone going to tell me why we’re all here?” Pérez slid between a pair of inspectors standing off to the side. “I’ve got places to be, you know. I’m already nearly two hours late… ” she cut off.

It was impressive how well the man could glare, despite the facemask.

The scanners beeped in unison, suddenly casting a pale orange light across the hold. The man beckoned at the rest of the crew, before scribbling on a form and handing it to her. His voice warbled quietly, modulated by the mask.

“We’ve finished,” he said. “You’re clear. Station 31’s through the next universal intersection – just follow the ridge in space-time and you’ll be there within an hour.” He paused. “Also, we’re leaving you a biohazard suit up front. Try not to need it.”

He waved to the rest of the crew, and they filed out, leaving Pérez alone with the crate.

Of course, given the situation, there was only one logical thing to do.

“Let’s see what this does, shall we?”

Addendum:
Re: Route -657 to S31
Secrecy: Regional+

The route was completely unauthorized. I’m insulted you thought I’d know. Still not sure who had it shipped – the poison used was on our blacklist. Pérez is definitely dead – send regrets to family, universe ID is 154-679. Have -657 locked down at 31. Will report when further progress is made.

WolfsbaneX
WolfsbaneX
1 month ago

“Dark Apotheosis”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

The young man sat in the light of a single candle. Chalk circles inscribed with polygons and runes he barely knew surrounded him. In his hands was an onyx cube with gilded edges the size of an apple. Slowly and softly, he chanted the words written on the box, turning it end over end to follow them with his fingers. As he spoke, the light of the candle waxed and waned as if breathing.

Then the flame turned violet. The young man chanted louder as the candle fell over and the flame danced and followed the circles drawn on the floor. Ignoring the heat, he carried on, his chanting almost yelling. Finishing the chant, he took the box and held it at eye level.

“O, box, reveal to me your secrets!”

Suddenly, a black shadowy tendril wrapped around his ankle. The young man watched in horror as his legs sunk into the floor. He grabbed at the floor, clawing for his life. But the force was too great. As he entered into the floor, a black nothingness greeted him.

For days on end he screamed for help, but no one came. He found immediately that he no longer needed to breathe, but his hunger and thirst grew exponentially. After a week, mad enough to eat anything, he realized he could feel the shadows. They spoke to him of the town he lived in, and what went on in the seedy underbelly.

Slowly, he traveled through the shadows into the house of a rich man and made his way to the kitchen. It was perfect; a loaf of bread sat on the table. He grabbed it and ate it without a second thought. Ashes. It tasted like ashes. He forced it down, but his body refused to keep it down.

Something in him snapped. He was starving, but he couldn’t eat. Then, he caught the scent of food. Ravenous, he rushed to the source: a man sleeping in a bed. The young man opened his maw, and the man’s body disappeared into shadow, filling his belly. And yet, he hungered still…

Last edited 1 month ago by WolfsbaneX
Glaceon373
Glaceon373
1 month ago

“Animals”
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

Poof!

When the mist cleared, a black cat, a terrier, a raven, and an armadillo stood in the living room where Kai, Charlotte, Glenn, and Darian had been.

“So THAT’S why it said ‘only open in the presence of your enemies,’” Darian said, holding the cork to the ornate glass bottle in an armadillo paw.

Kai screeched and hissed, fur on end. “Why am I a cat?! Change me back, idiot!”

“Oh, YOU’RE mad?” Charlotte yipped. “I’m a freakin’ terrier! I’m small and nonthreatening and I hate it already! And we wasted the potion thingy, too!”

The raven, Glenn, sighed. “We know this will wear off in twenty-four hours. Until then, I believe we should lay low and relax, as four talking animals would cause quite a disturbance.”

“Oh shut it, you have nothing to complain about,” Charlotte yipped. “You get to fly. I get to let my tongue hang out of my mouth like an idiot and have everyone think I’m adorable. At least Mr. Stupidity turned into something exotic.”

“Hey!” Darian whined. “I didn’t think THIS would happen!”

“Guys, seriously,” Glenn squawked. “Arguing isn’t getting us anywhere. We need a plan.”

“Fine.” Kai huffed and curled up on the floor.

“So what do we do, bird brain?” Charlotte asked, tail wagging slightly.

Glenn ignored the insult. “Well—”

“Wait!” Darian jumped, which looked ridiculous. “You could fly around the city and look for, uh, bad guys?”

“…I’m listening.” Glenn adjusted his feathers.

“And Kai,” Darian turned to her, “you could still do sneaky things as a cat, right?”

Kai flicked her tail. “I see where you’re going with this and I absolutely approve.”

“And I could be lookout?” Charlotte pitched. “Dog barks aren’t suspicious.”

“And I’ve got a protective shell!” Darian curled up to prove it. “So I’ll be, uh, safe or something.”

Kai jumped on the table and knocked some paper and pencils to the floor. “We’d better start planning.”

“Oh, this is gonna be the best mission of our lives!” Charlotte’s front paws tapped excitedly. “Four animals thwarting villainous plots? No one’s gonna suspect a thing.”

revisis
revisis
1 month ago

Field Experiment
by Exce

Excelsius hid in the thorny branches of a berry bush. He had reduced his own aura to less than a candle flame, trying to remain inconspicuous as he watched the Angel.

The man was watching over a small construction site whilst leaning on a golden spear, and only after a few minutes did it dawn on Exce that it was the beginnings of a mine. Returning his attention to the Angel, he recalled everything Luciel’d revealed to him. Go for the wings, surprise them, don’t let them get into the air.

But Luciel hadn’t been able to tell him what those golden weapons that hurt to look at did, as he had been forced into exile before he could see them in use…or before one could have been used on him.

And now Exce was itching to find out.

He carefully retreated deeper into the undergrowth, sneaking through thick foliage before crossing the street of  hard-packed dirt. He spread his weight and crouched, keeping a small profile to avoid getting spotted by miners or other overseers.

A few more steps, then he leapt forward, allowing his energy to flare up.

Excelsius closed one hand around the main wing bone, jerking it backwards and down, causing the Angel to scream out in pain.
Quickly bringing his hand up, he slammed it down onto the Angel’s throat whilst closing the other around the spear, tearing it from the Angel’s grasp as it loosened.

Whilst the man was still gasping, Exce spun the spear around, his eyes beginning to glow with magical insight.
Then he buried the weapon in the stomach of the Angel, driving it through until the tip hit the ground.

He watched closely, observing how the bright aura of the Angel seemed to flare painfully brightly…before it just vanished.
It spread outwards like a wave, the Angel stilling as it did. Finally, it reached the eyes, and they blazed before turning a black-spotted, sightless grey.

As the spear began to disintegrate, Excelsius stepped back, giving a whistle whilst shouts rose behind him.

“So that’s what these do…”

Lunabear
Lunabear
1 month ago

A Loving Reminder
by Lunabear

She had been cold. Lifeless. Two things I can never attribute to her. But… that’s how it was, no, IS.

I let my son and myself into the house, its frigid, stale air familiar yet empty. Because she’s not here. Not anymore.

Aaron asks for food, and I make him lunch. My mind is blank, and my hands work on autopilot. He sits and watches TV while eating. I sit in her recliner and stare distantly at the wall.

My siblings and I had thanked everyone for coming to see her off, but where they had cried and wept, I had not.

I pick up the gift she had left behind before her final stay in the hospital. I’ve been ignoring it since she got sick. I thought maybe if I didn’t open it while she was still here, it would somehow keep her from passing away. The card reads:

I may not have always shown it, but I love you. Stay together and stay strong. ~Mama.

The small box trembles in my hand, the blue and pink dots becoming blurred as tears well. I beat them back like before, but this time, the floodgates burst, and I tear into the little box with wild abandon. Little crooning noises escape my throat. I swallow them down. I don’t bother wiping my face.

Inside the box is a sphere. I roll it around in my hands, looking for some kind of mechanism or button.

“I finished my food. Why are you crying, Mama?”

“I just miss Granny, Sweet Pea.”

“I miss her, too. What’s that?”

Aaron sits on my lap, prodding the gift.

Together, we find a switch that opens one half of it. Out pops a pink, spinning ballerina, and twinkling music plays.

“It’s a music box!” Aaron exclaims, his head swaying to the lullaby. “It’s beautiful, Mama!”

A picture is taped to the mirror behind the ballerina: my mother and all eight of her children, each wearing an enormous smile.

“Yes, it is beautiful, Buddy.” I snuggle him close.

More tears fall as the song concludes.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lunabear
L. L. Marco
1 month ago

The Illness
By L. L. Marco

The academy’s infirmary walls began to shift and warp. A wicked, powerful aura filled the room until it felt like nothing was solid but me and my friend lying comatose on the bed. Inky veins slithered in from the doorframe and encased the room, pulsing against me from my hiding place beside his bed. Suddenly the room stilled. With that came unbearable silence. My ears rang; I wanted to grab my friend and get out of there but the only exit was the doorway and I could feel the presence of… something. It was too late to run. The Illness was coming to take him just like it had the others and now… it might take me too.

It lurched in from the hallway. Something that crawled on all fours, something that perhaps had been human once. Its body cracked with each movement and black, aged skin stretched across its bones. There was no fat or muscle. Just dry flesh and skeleton. Nothing more than a corpse. Its face was… haunting. Its jaw hung in a silent scream and empty eye sockets sank into nothingness just above. Even so, I could feel its gaze hungrily searching, lingering over my hiding place before falling upon my friend. The ghoul crept closer; the hideous sound of its joints echoed off the walls. In a few jerky motions it had scuttled on top of him. Its emotionless hollow face looming over his. I knew something bad was happening to the sick students but I never suspected something like this…

That mouth stretched. A blast of a power I couldn’t comprehend shook the room. My friend… it was hard to see, but the ghoul pressed its dried lips to his forehead and.. He was gone. Not physically, but I felt his life flicker out.

The creature grabbed his leg and dragged him towards the doorway. It didn’t even glance my way. The sound of its joints were joined by the dead weight of a fresh corpse. I was overjoyed to be alive even as the empty eyes of my friend slid out of view.

Last edited 1 month ago by L. L. Marco
Twangyflame0
Twangyflame0
1 month ago

Inconsequential
By Twangyflame0

Erin swung the blade around and examined it in the moonlight. It was very disappointing to her. If it wasn’t for the fact that it helped William control his magic, she wouldn’t have let him have it. Though the blade was incredibly old, it seemed as if it was made out of bronze and the effects of the outside world had turned it dark green. The hilt didn’t protect the hand on the grip; it was just a circle with a hole in the middle of it. The grip was alright, but it wasn’t fantastic either. The straps were old and looked like they should be replaced.

The more she looked at it, the more she was disappointed with the weapon. William had been trained in swords, but an easier weapon to learn for beginners was usually a spear–

Erin dropped the weapon as it suddenly transformed into a spear.

“Hmm. How unexpected.” Nerg came out of the brush like a ghost, his voice almost having emotion behind it.

Erin turned and almost pulled out her own sword. “Did you know about this?”

Nerg looked, “Yes, but–”

“You gave this with no thought of what might happen!” She was in his face now. “If that thing transformed in the middle of combat, it could kill him!”

He backed up. “If you would–”

Erin jabbed a finger into his chest. “Aren’t you supposed to be some great and all-knowing leader? How exactly did this oversight happen?”

His back hit a tree. “Because it is impossible for William to unlock the full power of that weapon.”

“What?”

Nerg eyed the weapon lazily, “Enchanted weapons like that tend to be picky about their wielders. I guess it likes you.”

“What are you talking about?”

“It doesn’t really matter.” He pushed her aside and picked up the weapon. “As long as William holds this weapon everything will work out fine.”

“What do you–”

He threw the weapon at her. He continued talking as she barely caught it. “Just like you, your questions are inconsequential. Now change it back, Paladin Lupa Sanguinae.”

MasaCur
MasaCur
1 month ago

The Incantation
By MasaCur

Virshael flitted up the steps of the tower as fast as her wings would carry her, a scroll clenched tightly in her arms. The tiny gargoyle finally got to the door she needed, and threw it open with her clawed feet.

“Rikuto! I have the research from Doyen Thornga!” she called out.

Rikuto looked up from the desk. “Excellent. Bring it here.”

It was weird seeing him in his current disguise, but Rikuto was wary about being back in the Elven Kingdom, and had a number of people he wished to avoid.

“Perfect!” Rikuto said as he scanned over the scroll. “This should hopefully work!”

“I hope so,” Virshael said. “Then the key will be safe, and you can leave. I’m sure it has been stressful hiding yourself away like this.”

Rikuto nodded absently, continuing to study the script of the scroll. He was so engrossed that he didn’t seem to notice the knock at the door.

“I’ll get it!” Virshael loudly said, and flew to the door and cracked it open. On the other side was a beautiful, tanned elf girl. “Oh. Elincia is here!”

“Acolyte Zozai, you were expecting me?” Elincia asked.

Rikuto started upright upon hearing his alias. “Oh, yes. Please, come in. I think we’ve figured out how to remove the key and chain from around your neck.” His manner seemed furtive to Virshael, causing her once again to suspect that Rikuto had some kind of past with Elincia.

Elincia nodded and entered the chamber. “What should I do, Zozai?”

Rikuto looked around nervously. “Oh, nothing. Stand perfectly still.” He went to the desk and grabbed the scroll, concentrated for a moment, and read off the incantation.

Upon finishing it, he lowered the scroll and looked at Elincia. “Try pulling off the key.”

She reached up to the chain around her neck, but stopped, her mouth agape.
Virshael looked over to where she was looking and saw a white portal in midair right behind Rikuto.

“Oh no! Was that supposed to happen, Zozai?” she asked.

Rikuto looked behind him. “Shit!”