Writing Group: So THAT’S What it Does!

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.

Makokam
1 month ago

‘Till Death
by Makokam

“I’m going in.”

Rabat looked up from his beer, “You’re what?”

“I’m going in her room,” Xenadow repeated.

By now the others were paying attention. “Yes. Let’s!” Ukiyo said, gleefully clapping her hands.

“We shouldn’t enter her domain,” echoed though their heads as the Black Beast rumbled his disapproval.

Xenadow sneered, “She’ll never know. And why should we keep following her orders while she keeps us in the dark. The Goddess–”

Rabat snorted and Xenadow whipped his gaze around furiously. “Went down the wrong pipe.”

“Keep your insolence to yourself,” Xenadow snarled. He turned back to the door, only to stop as the Beast had sat down in front of it.

A blade of darkness materialized in Xenadows hand, “Get out of my way you…disgusting thing. She won’t know,” a disgusted sneer on his face, “especially if she spends the night in your…hole again.”

The tendrils making up it’s mane wriggled as the beasts eyes narrowed.

“Let them go in,” Rabat said, “She’ll know and she’ll deal with them.”

“Oh, are you planning to tell on me? I thought you wanted to know too.”

“I do. But she’s paying me, not you. Go in and see what happens.”

“Maybe I should just eat you then,” Ukiyo said, her skin starting to turn to scales.

Rabat flipped her off. “Seriously, don’t fight him,” he added to the Beast, “I don’t want this place ruined and neither does she.”

The Black Beast rose up on two legs, his head brushing the ceiling and looking down on Xenadow, before stepping aside..

Xenadow opened the door, Ukiyo at his heels.

The bedroom was large, but otherwise unremarkable. After a moment he was about to leave, finding nothing worth his time, until he noticed the photos. All of them were either Kat, or Kat and an older man. She smiled in all of them, in some they embraced, in one they married.

He and Ukiyo starred, confused, at that one, perhaps too long, as they jumped when they heard Kat’s voice, “Get out of my room so I can kill you without ruining it.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Makokam
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.

T.C. Holmes
T.C. Holmes
1 month ago

“What did I just do”, Lucy asked as she pulled out the spear head from her bag and threw it onto her bed,”if I’m found out I’m going to go to prison, or death row, or…”

Her thoughts spiraled out of control wondering what compelled her to steal that blade. She was standing in the back room of the museum waiting for her dad to finish talking with the curators when she saw it. It was poking out of a crate, and curiously she pulled it out and without thinking about it she knew she had to have it. It went into her messenger bag and now she was pacing back and forth not sure of what to do.

“I could just say it slipped in there”, she justified,”I found it in my bag when I got home.”

Her eyes were drawn to the shiny silvery blade sitting on her blanket and then just like before she felt like she had to have the blade it was hers somehow,”Why? Why do I want you? I don’t even like medieval weaponry!”

Lucy turned back to her desk, and sat down before putting her hand to her temples. She then looked to the right and at the tank that sat next to her desk, where her pet iguana Snapper was lazing under her heat lamp,”What am I gonna do Snap?”

The iguana didn’t even open its eyes, Lucy turned her chair around and once again regarded the blade, then almost in anger she stood and strode over and picked it up off the bed,”Why? Whats so special about you?”

The blade had no answers. Lucy growled angry gibberish under her breath, before her hands suddenly felt cold. She looked up to see mist pouring off the blade, and frost slowly spreading its way across it.

Lucy shouted in surprise and dropped the blade at which point the mist stopped and the frost began to melt. She looked down at her hands still slightly numb from the cold and then back to the blade,”What are you?”

CansasDale
CansasDale
1 month ago

Two Sisters And A Glowing Box
By CansasDale

“Put it down, Penelope! It could be dangerous.” Maylis said.

“You worry too much, MayMay.” Penelope said, tossing the glowing box to Maylis, who jumped back letting it fall.

“Cut it out! And don’t call me MayMay.”

Penelope bent over to retrieve the box and something on it caught Maylis’ eye.

“Wait a second. Let me see it.”

“I thought you were scared of the box.” Penelope teased.

Maylis rolled her eyes. “Just give it to me.”

Penelope handed it over.

“Was this button here before?” Maylis asked.

Penelope grabbed the box, “What are you talking about? There’s no…” Penelope stopped when she saw the glowing button on top of the box.

Penelope tried to press the button, but Maylis smacked it out of her hand.

“What are you thinking?” Maylis shouted. “You can’t just press random buttons that randomly appear on glowing boxes that randomly fall from trees, Penelope.”

“I know. But when I see a button I’ve just gottta….press it. Aren’t you curious about it?” Penelope asked.

“Yeah, but it could be a bomb or a missile launcher or a zombie virus or a—”

“garage opener.” Penelope interrupted.

“Yes, but what if it’s not? What if it’s poison gas or…”

Penelope stopped listening to Maylis and gazed at the glowing box that lay at her feet.

“Why shouldn’t I press it?” Penelope thought. “I found the box. It’s mine.”

Suddenly the box was in Penelope’s hand, her finger on the button.

“Penelope! No!” Maylis shrieked, but it was too late. Penelope had pressed the button.

“I can’t believe it didn’t do anything.” Penelope whined, shuffling her feet in the grass.

“You should be glad. It could’ve been evil micro bots.” Maylis sighed. “Your button pressing is gonna get us killed one day.”

Penelope smirked. “But it is not this day, MayMay.”

“Stop calling me MayMay!”

Maylis and Penelope chased each other through the rolling hills, forgetting all about the glowing box. Meanwhile deep in space….

“Hey, Monbing?”

“Yeah, Toptor.”

“Where’d you put the Power Button of Treectapie?”

“Over by the…..Bloomdore Teleporter.”

The power cuts out.

“Ah, flork!”

Last edited 1 month ago by CansasDale
CosmicDesperado30
CosmicDesperado30
1 month ago

What Dreams Are Made Of
By. CosmicDesperado

It had been three hours since the wellwishers and family left me to the darkness that was my father’s estate. The oil burned bright in every room, though the shadows that flickered continued to vex my senses, the setting of the sun seeping everstretching claws of the creeping unknown into my foyer.

I elected to become mobile in the vain hope of not letting more demons play games on my sight, ascending towards father’s bedroom. Well, my bedroom now, I suppose. I was greeted by portraits of his visage, his boisterous smile cast in sinister contrast by the dancing of my candle’s flame. The trophies he had claimed while overseas on expeditions exuded alien characteristics in my peripheral gaze, staring eternally into the void.

It wasn’t until my hand was on the door to the bed chamber that I discovered another door in the hallway. Whether it was by wishing to delay the night of bereavement ahead of me or curiosity, I found myself entering this beckoning part of the manor.

Scrambling in the dark, I lit more candles, their luminous sanctuary revealing a study. It was littered with obscure arcana and hastily scrawled notes like a madman obsessed. All of which appeared relevant to the brass syringe held in reverence at the table in the center.

There were four glass containers next to the device. One was filled with sickly green, merely gazing upon it gave me visions of plague and infection. One was filled with red; I believe I saw shark teeth and claws bubble to the surface. The third was a milky white, it felt cold and draining to the touch; it reminded me of coroner’s tools. The fourth was completely empty.

I felt my hands move on their own, compelled by what I had seen. Placing the syringe to my temple, the empty container slotted.

An instant of terror. A cool sense of calming release followed as if partaking in drink.

The container was filled with pure shadow.

I smiled.

I extinguished the flames and went to bed. The benign darkness lulled me to rest.

Last edited 1 month ago by CosmicDesperado30
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.

Liz C.
Liz C.
1 month ago

“The Mother” by Liz C.

Sublevel N of The Dovetail Institute was hundreds of feet below the ground, and the elevator’s descent took several minutes. Randall had never been fond of all the pomp and circumstance around entering the sublevels—how Esther was fine with changing in and out of a hazmat suit six times a day was beyond him—but she had insisted he witness what lay beneath their life’s work, and he couldn’t say no to her.

As Esther led him to the opposite end of the facility, she spoke loudly over the hums and beeps of medical machinery: “Now, the last time you came down here was—”

“2020.”

“Right.” She chuckled, though barely audible under her hazmat suit. “A lot has changed down here since then. We’ve been able to collect another hundred fifty tissue samples from the mother, and about half of them were successfully spliced with human DNA. We haven’t been able to expedite the processes within a human host—the forty weeks rule is pretty airtight—but in the lab, we can halve that time.” In front of a pair of massive metal doors, she scanned her keycard. “And we’re here!”

Randall stared in curious awe. “Oh, wow. She’s…”

“Gotten bigger, right? We had to move her to a new containment unit last year, and she’s already outgrowing this one.” Esther walked to the center of the room and placed a hand affectionately on the giant glass cage containing the mother.

Massive, deep purple tentacles mottled with bulging veins writhed within, turning over themselves, pressing out against the bulletproof glass. A sonorous whale-like call emanated from the creature, loud enough to warble between Randall’s ears. Esther moved to the far side of the room and pressed a large red button on a complex control system. Sprinklers along the ceiling of the cage began to douse the creature in a dark liquid.

“What was that?”

Esther grinned. “Her mating call. We found that spraying her in iodine prevents her from getting agitated any further.”

“Ah.” Randall shifted his gaze to the now-silent creature. “So that’s what it does.”

NocteVesania
1 month ago

Dad’s Masterpiece
By NocteVesania (Public Group Repost)

“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, public group copy]
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.

Marx
Marx
1 month ago

Uh Oh…
By Marx

I might very well be the most powerful woman alive. The only reason time moves forward is because I exist to be an end point. I am feared. I am respected. I am neutral. I am Death. I am…

…lonely…

But my prophesied mate, my horseman, has recently been born into this mortal realm. I can’t remember a time I’ve been so excited. I wish that I could introduce myself to him, but… it would be rather awkward. Once he has a knowledge of what fear is, I’m sure I’ll be near the top of that list. But we’re fated. It will work out.

I’ve dropped in on him twice now. Once when he was born, just to see him. And once more the first time he used his powers. I thought I’d need to protect him as he was still rather young, but…an angel beat me to it. Ironically, the angel I thought I’d have to protect him from…

That’s fine.

It’s fine.

He’ll need me at some point.

But in a blink to me, it was a decade later and there were whispers. He’d taken a familiar. A demon. Silly boy. People will think you’ve chosen a side. We can’t do that. He’ll learn. So, I check on him again, surprised to see that he’s already taken a second familiar. The angel. That’s better. One from each side. His third should be neutral ideally, but it’s his choice.

But then I saw the most likely candidate. A fairy. And while I have nothing against fairies, this one rubbed me the wrong way immediately. The other two were happy to be chosen. Humble. But the fairy was…entitled. She felt that they were…fated. They are NOT fated. WE are fated. How dare this insignificant, bratty, jealous little creature-

Wait…

What’s wrong with me? It’s his choice… Why do I care? Why do I feel…slighted by her presumptuousness? Why do her jealous actions anger me?

Am…I jealous?

Is that what this feels like?

This…gnawing?

This…pain…?

It is very unpleasant.

I do not like it.

That fairy’s going to have to go…

Lunabear
Lunabear
1 month ago

A Loving Reminder (Reposted from Private)
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
Michael Case
Michael Case
1 month ago

The Golden Touch

By Michael Case

Kevin and Kathleen looked over the golden statue standing before them. Amazed at the craftsmanship of the goldsmiths that made it. The two adventurers stared at it for a good hour before looking at the cave behind it.

“Oh, look at all the details. They even crafted a King touching the ground, and it all looks like gold.” Kevin was mesmerized by it all. Kathleen was only excited about the gold.

As Kevin started to step pass the golden statue Kathleen grabbed him.

“Stop!” She said in a panicked tone. Pointing at the ground, “Look at the ants. Those can’t be crafted.”

Kevin dropped down to his knees and took a close look at the ants. He then tore a piece of paper from his notebook and tossed it into the temple.

“DO IT AGAIN!” Kathleen was overly excited by what had happened. She was struggling to keep calm as she watched the paper turn to gold before her eyes. “You don’t think that statue is actually King Midas do you?”

Kevin, looking confounded by what he had seen. He started to speak when they heard a muffled crunch sound. “We should make a note about all this and get out of here in case the cave collapses.” Kevin said.

As the two started to leave, Kathleen went back to pick up an ant so that she can have a trophy of this adventure. Kevin slapped her hand. “Didn’t you see what that ground did to the paper?”

“Yes, but I wasn’t going to touch the ground.” Kathleen said while rubbing her hand. “I was going to use a piece of paper to scoop it up into another piece of paper.”

“Fine then…” Kevin stopped talking. Not realizing that he had touched the temple ground while trying to save Kathleen. He had turned to gold.

Kathleen started to tear up over what had happened. “You fool, you stupid… stupid fool. You killed us both.”

Kathleen knew in an instant that she was doomed, Kevin had the map.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael Case
Aaron Fleming
Aaron Fleming
1 month ago

“The Toymaker” [Aethryn Fantasy Setting]
By Aaron Fleming
Once upon a time in the small barony of Marwether there lived a little girl named Adara. Adara lived with her father, the Baron of Marwether, and one day their home was visited by a travelling toymaker.

The toymaker finished winding the key of a small clockwork doll. “Now watch!” He gestured dramatically.

Adara watched and the little figure sprang to life and danced freely across the floor of the room. It moved like no clockwork toy Adara had ever seen. It moved with human like grace and motion. Adara looked up and saw Papa and the toymaker talking in the next room their voices low and quiet. She hoped she would get to keep the doll though, it was beautiful. She turned back and watched it continue to dance, something it seemed to do for a very long time.

Abruptly there was shouting from the other room and the toymaker stormed out. His face red with anger, he moved as if to sweep the doll up in his hands and take it away. Suddenly he stopped and instead did the oddest thing. The toymaker crouched down and whispered in the doll’s ear something Adara couldn’t hear. Then he stood up and turned to Adara’s father.

“Ah, Baron Marwether I apologize for my earlier anger during our discussion. Seeing your daughter here I can’t simply take the doll away from her in a fit of anger like this. Instead I will give you the doll as a show of no ill will between us. I hope it will help to show you my craftsmanship, and better our working relationship in the future.”

The toymaker left very shortly afterwards. Later that night, as Adara slept she did not see the doll move on its own. Nor see it dance to her father’s bedroom. Nor did she see its hands extend into sharp blades. She did, however, find her father that next morning.

She would spend years afterwards hunting down the toymaker.

Last edited 1 month ago by Aaron Fleming
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
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.

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

Rules for the Ages (Armitage Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

Ladorestes walked amongst the other reapers, when his gaze stopped at two of the youngest. Felix stood and faced down this ancient scythe-wielder, who held his instrument much like an executioner would hold their sword. Rachel, the reaper next to him, seemed slightly less sure of herself, yet met Ladorestes with the same outward vigor as her colleague.

“Well,” he said coldly: “You two have brought us quite the conundrum.”

“Sir, I…” Rachel began.

“I don’t want to hear it!” Ladorestes cut her off: “I’m not interested in excuses! You lost us an entire halfway house of souls, one you assured me was safe, and you…”

He glared at Felix. Every muscle in his body screamed at him to get away, but defiance held him in place.

“You went and got yourself stabbed by some old hedge witch. What kind of reaper are you?!”

“I explained,” Felix replied: “That I am a caretaker. A counsellor for souls…”

“You are a pencil pusher, Felix. And a moron. A gods damned moron. This little support group of yours is taking away valuable time and resources, or have you forgotten that the reapers are dying?!”

Now Felix did back away, his head held low. Ladorestes pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed.

“I apologize,” the old reaper said: “I’m just tired. We’re all tired. Souls need our help and we can’t keep up anymore.”

“The Syndicate is growing out of control,” Rachel interjected: “Yuri is a problem we can’t do much about right now, but witches and Mafiosi are just people. Powerful, yes, but people. I have allies on Earth. Give me a few reapers and I’ll…”

“There isn’t anyone to spare. We can’t start a war, not now.”

“We aren’t getting any stronger,” Felix replied: “If not now, then when?”

“Enough! Both of you, just do your jobs. Properly.”

With that Ladorestes turned and left. Felix turned to Rachel, barely containing his anger.

“We just let the Syndicate keep doing what they do?”

“Yes”, she answered: “Because we were ordered to. That’s how it works. That’s how it’s always worked.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Alex
jellyrelic75
jellyrelic75
1 month ago

An Uninvited Guest
By Jellyrelic75

Charlotte walked along the path, heading home with her basket of fresh raspberries. She came to a halt before a strange glowing ball on the ground. Curious, she knelt beside it, poking it cautiously with a stick, “What is this?”

The ball was a sort of blue-white glass orb, about five centimeters in size. Charlotte picked up a stick and poked at it once more but it seemed not to do anything. She thought it odd, but continued home. She glanced over her shoulder, pausing in confusion. The orb seemed to be closer. She stared for a moment, then, remembering her basket of berries, shook off the nerves and marched on.

Immediately, something felt off.

She looked back again, and there it was. A few more steps. Still it followed. Groaning, she stood in front of it, staring down at the strange ball.

“Why are you following me?” She asked. No response.

She let out an exasperated sigh, eyeing it once more before breaking into a run. Once she was home, she slammed the door shut, leaving it on the front step.

“Finally…” she sighed, putting down the basket and walking into her bedroom.

And yet again, there it was, sitting on her bed.

“Oh come on!” She exclaimed, “What do you even do?!”

“I’m simply here to keep you company.”

Her blood ran cold. “Y-you… you just… talked…”

“I did.”

Cautiously, she picked up the orb. Upon contact, a relieving wave of comfort flooded her, letting her entire body relax.

“What are you?” she breathed, sitting down on her bed as she studied the ball.

“A friend.”

Connor A.
Connor A.
1 month ago

“Machinas” (Tales of Marow)
By Connor A.

“I thought you were going to fix his voice.” Tala walked in as Medrash opened SP1K3’s chest to reveal a smaller protective covering.

“That was the original plan.” Medrash’s movements were slow, possibly from a combination of his wounds and the cold weather at Ela’s Base. “However, your machina friend here seems to have a damaged mage box, so that became my top priority.”

Tala walked to the opposite side of SP1K3 to get a better look for herself. “Not familiar with it.”

“Think of it like… a second brain.” Medrash tapped the side of his head with his uninjured hand. “While the first brain controls ‘thoughts,’ the second brain tends to body maintenance.” He removed the covering to reveal an empty, cube-shaped cavity. “That’s… not good. The mage box should be here.”

Tala tilted her head and pulled out a black cube with blue inscriptions. “This?” She handed it to Medrash so he could properly examine it.

“Yes.” He turned it so that a magic circle was visible and placed it in the cavity. When the inscriptions glowed, he replaced the covering.

SP1K3’s eyes blinked on as a deep voice spoke, “Self-repair ritual initiated.”

“So that’s what it does.” Tala watched what she could of the process.

“Why did you have the mage box?” Medrash asked. “If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Stole it.”

“I see.” Medrash pushed himself off the ground. “This will take awhile. Do you want to join everyone else for a bit?”

Tala shook her head, suddenly looking more tired. “Just did that.”

Medrash gave her a sympathetic smile. “Alright. I’ll check in later.”

“Hey, Medrash?” Tala kept her gaze on the engravings on SP1K3’s hand. “Could you teach me more about machinas?”

“I don’t see why not.” Medrash began walking out. “Make sure to get some rest.”

“You too.” Tala folded her arms as a makeshift pillow and rested her head on SP1K3’s chest, picking up the faint sound of the mage box whirling around inside.

Last edited 1 month ago by Connor A.
Joseph Kharms
Joseph Kharms
1 month ago

“The Apocalypse Of Matthew”
By Joseph Kharms

It was as if the world was stuck in a permanent nightmare, Matthew felt a sharp pain in his arm.

-PATIENT NAME: Matthew Artaud

The now yellow rivers were surrounded by toxic mustard mist… The trees were no longer made of wood, but flesh and bone… The sun was a deep blood red… Under the red rays of the sun, terrible eyeless black horses roam the wasteland…

-DATE ADMITTED: 4th September 1896

“Matthew?” I call out desperately to the mirror, my reflection has gone. I continue to shout at the mirror for what feels like hours, but the mirror remains empty. My reflection now only exists in other people’s expression of horror.

-SYMPTOMS: Patient showing signs of depression and psychosis. It is as if the patient is stuck in a permanent nightmare, when injected.

I was lucky to find a house. The Wasteland was unforgiving, not many houses still stood. The Twisted wooden house I had made shelter in, was on the brink of collapse. The strong wailing winds made the whole house move and shudder.

The wind stopped. The Mirror broke. A loud squeaky screech, as if a giant mouse had been maimed in a giant mouse trap, emits from outside. I clutch my ears to block out the sound as it gets louder, the sound makes my teeth chatter. A swarm of grey moths, the source of the noise, smash through the window and flood the house.

I try to shout above the sound of the moth’s screams.
If I can hear my own voice I’ll be fine.
If I can hear my own voice I’ll be fine.
NO.

-PRESCRIPTION: Opium

The apocalypse disappears before my eyes like a drawn curtain, I look down at my arm to see a doctor injecting a syringe into my veins.

The liquid enters my bloodstream.

-I am confused
-What about?
-What is the injection for?
-Armageddon.

The hospital melts away. Nuclear bombs rain down like arrows. Disease burns away the population. Electricity runs through my brain. A fate which will torture the last generation of humanity tortures me; generations before.

I am the condemned, for who there is but one judgement: opium.

L. L. Marco
1 month ago

The Illness (cross-posted)
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 beneath 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.