Writing Group: I Shouldn’t Be Here

Oh no…

What are you doing here? Did you make a wrong turn, or?… You know what, nevermind. You’re here now. As strange as this whole thing might be, as out of place as you may feel, you may as well adjust, because…

This week’s writing group prompt is:

I Shouldn’t Be Here

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!

This one is downright invasive. 

We’ve all had this experience before. For some of us it was in the margins of a party full of strangers; for others it was our friends’ coming-of-age celebration in the traditions of a culture we know nothing about. For the very unlucky, it was at the family dinner table.

No matter who you are, at some point in your life you’ll find you don’t identify with the setting you find yourself in. You’ll feel like an alien, or a stranger, or heck the two aren’t mutually exclusive, so maybe you’ll even be a strange extraterrestrial trapped among humans doing human things, wondering what in the world all of it means, and how do I get away from it?

And even if your humanity remains intact, you might still have this revelation. It might come to you late one night, after you’ve climbed over the “DO NOT CLIMB” chain-link fence in front of the old warehouse. As you’re exploring the ruins, you might hear something strange—something like a three-throated horse whinny—from the stairs leading into the cellar. As the inhuman figure emerges into the glow of your flashlight, it might dawn on you that perhaps here, at this precise moment, is not the best place to be.

This is the good thing about being a writer. This is your opportunity to take that emotion and put words, visuals, symbols to it. Give it a life outside your memory.

Write something about a zombie among the living, who’s forgotten what it was like to feel all the things they do, and is made profoundly aware of all they’ve lost every moment spent in their company. Write about a faerie who defied the laws of her people, goes out into human territory, and ends up captured; a wonder in a museum of curiosities. Write about a kid who hangs out with the wrong friends, and ends up with a gun in their hand.

Whatever you do, find yourself in it. Find the time you can recall realizing that perhaps you were somewhere you’d be better off far away from…

And then let us experience it.

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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Red (EndlessVoid)
Red (EndlessVoid)
19 days ago

Everything turned Upside Down
By: Red (EndlessVoid)

Dear Diary,

My family has died. Not dead in the usual sense, rather the family I thought I knew, has completely changed. I needed space, so I retreated here. As I sit in the corner of this dark basement, illuminated by a barely functioning light bulb and devoid of any furniture, I ponder upon this situation. To think that a simple reunion with my family would lead to this nightmare. It has only been two years since I last saw them, so could they really change that much? Something about them was off. My father’s once stoic disposition was now replaced by an energetic, and eccentric personality. Mother became more closed off and anti-social then her bubbly self.

With the flicker of the light bulb, I shortly had a glimpse of something else. Forgive me for my vague description, but the light barely shined for me to make a proper analysis. Slowly and cautiously, I walk forward towards the contraption I saw, ever so slightly moving my feet by a single inch. To my horror, the thing I saw was not some ordinary furniture, but something far more sinister. I shouldn’t have come here. I shouldn’t be here. Were my parents hiding this from me since I was a child? Just writing this entry is hard for me to do, as my hands tremble uncontrollably. This thing I saw is simply far beyond what I can describe with normal words. What even is this?

As I gaze upon this sight, my heart sank, as I heard the door to the basement creek open. The light from outside crept its way here. With a raspy and monotone voice, I heard only my mother speaking. “What are you doing here my child?” She said, as I hear the sound of a blade being sharpened. I shouldn’t be here.

Cansas Smith
Cansas Smith
22 days ago

The Universe’s Mistake
By CansasDale

Dear Faramon,

You used to ask me so many questions, questions I couldn’t believe a boy so young was capable of asking. I answered every questions you had… all of them but one.

“Why am I here?” you asked me one rainy evening. I still remember how my heart pounded as I looked into your curious eyes. Remember I said I would tell you as soon as I knew. Well my boy, I know now. It took a trip to hell, a couple deals with the cosmos, my soul, my sanity and now my life, but was worth it. I finally understand myself and I may be able to spare you some pain.

You see, I discovered that I was never meant to exist in this world. The universe made a mistake when it put me here. Strange twist of fate, isn’t it? To grow up believing I was broken or crazy, only to discover the universe accidentally tossed a cat in the chicken coop.

I don’t belong here, I never did and that means… you don’t either. Deep down you may already know you’re different. You may feel the longing in your soul for things not of this world. I’m sorry to tell you but there’s nothing in this world that can quench it’s thirst. You’ll have to learn to live with the nagging at your soul and the loneliness of being different. I hope knowing you’re not broken makes the burden a bit lighter, but I make no promises.

One last thing, I’d like to give you to The Lykrus Chronicles so you might continue their story. Writing The Lykrus Chronicles always brought me peace and eased the longing in my soul. It is my hope that it does the same for you.

Now, I must bid you farewell. Don’t waste your tears on an old soul returned home. Instead, go marry that girl you spoke of in your letters, start a family together. Live a life, my boy. I’ll be waiting with some whisky to hear of your adventures.

Sincerely,
Agmore

Jay Davis
Jay Davis
23 days ago

Fairy Rings
by Jay Davis

“I shouldn’t be here.” It’s a poisonous thought. It spreads into everything. It’ll be there when you’re eating breakfast, or when you’re at work, or on the drive back home- “I shouldn’t be here.”

You start to see it in other people’s faces, too. People look at you like there’s just something a little bit off. Maybe you don’t talk like them. Probably, they can tell that your laugh isn’t sincere. And the more you think about it, the more you realize that you’ve never been like the rest of humanity. You look like them, but you think
different.

For most people like you, that’s where it ends. You’ll live the rest of your life knowing you don’t belong, but not knowing why.

Some of you figure it out.

You’ll go into the woods, maybe at noon or maybe at midnight, and find a fairy ring. You’ll feel compelled to step into it, even if you’ve never believed in fairy stories. And then she’ll be there. The Fairy Queen, Tatinia, Mab- your Mother.

She’ll tell you that you were born from her, or her descendants. And she’ll remind you of the old stories about mortal babes being replaced by fairy shapeshifters. She’ll say that you are one of these. A changling-child.

Not that it helps. They can’t take you back. You’re too human, now, having been raised with them. You could never dance with the fairies. And you can’t belong to the mortal world, of course, now that you know the truth about yourself. So you’re left on your own, in-between.

At least, unless you find someone else like you. We’ve formed a kind of community. We live hermit lives, most of the year. But on the solstices, at noon or at midnight, we’ll meet in a few secret places that mankind hasn’t touched yet, and play strange music that no human mind could make, and dance like the fairies do.

We’re out here. And if you, too, find yourself torn between this world and another, then come find us.

You’ll know by the music.

Makokam
23 days ago

Requesting Backup!
by Makokam

A lizard-man scurried by, climbing up and over a police car before leaping to a building and scrabbling across the walls. A sonic blast chased him as a heavily tattooed boy sang his lungs out.

A ninja flipped out of the way as magic blasted the street apart, then vanished. A second later she reappeared on top of another car, hands full of knives which were flung into the air and crashed against a hastily summoned shield.

A green mass of goo towered over everyone amid the chaos, smashing the many golems a pale, rainbow haired, girl was summoning out of the pavement.

A young man in a suit stood calmly amid a storm of debris swirling around him, “I don’t know how you blocked my powers, but be grateful for it, otherwise I’d just switch your brains off.”

“Big talk from a boy throwing stones,” said a handsome young man as he fired a plasma blast from his fist, burning through the stone shield only to be deflected at the last second.

The psychic’s expression turned furious as he turned a blizzard of stone on his opponent.

A leopard lunged for a man in a long coat, but was caught mid-air by its throat. It was held at arms length, struggling vainly before turning into an asian girl. “I want you to know I’m trying very hard to not break you all,” he said to her before tossing her in a gentle arc to land ass first through a car’s windshield.

The ninja appeared beside him, then grabbed him and turned him to block a barrage of plasma bolts that left him ruffled but unharmed.

“Get off me!” He snarled at her before blasting a wave of flame in retaliation, knocking the handsome boy back. “We should disengage!”

“No!” the psychic said, “We end these upstarts here,” as he glared death at the magic girl whose spells where holding back his powers.

“You’re all idiots,” the man said.

And under the police car, Officer Williams wished, for the dozenth time, that he was anywhere else.

Last edited 21 days ago by Makokam
MadAbz
MadAbz
23 days ago

To stop it all.
By Abbey Walton

The wind wildly whipped around the bridge I ran across. Almost sending me to my knees, yet I corrected my footing to continue on.
Soon I reached my goal, placing my hands upon the stone wall to the left of me.
It was only then I noticed how hard I had been breathing, the wetness on my cheeks from the tears I had shed.
Just how pathetic had I become?
The cold night air bit at my skin causing me to shake uncontrollably. With a great lot of effort I pulled myself up onto the wall, swaying as the view over the edge sent me dizzy.
At least twenty to thirty feet down, the waves of the Trent beckoned to me. A murky abyss of oblivion just one step away.
Then I heard it, hurrying feet scrambling towards me, stealing my attention away.
A beanpole of a policeman more breathless then I, stood just six feet out of reach.
“Wait, please” he took a gulp of air between each word “let’s talk for a minute, yeah?”
“Talk” I laughed as he corrected his uniform “I’m done talking”
“Hey! I know you’re in a bad place right now,” Beanpole edged slightly towards me “if you just come here”
“NO!” I stepped away almost falling, Beanpole letting out a hellish squeal
“OH SHIT!”
“Stay away from me, this is the only way” I shuffled closer to the edge
“How exactly!?” Beanpole steps in time with my own, causing a deep irritation within me.
“TO STOP IT ALL!” I bellowed looking down at my feet “I’m sick of being a disappointment, I’m sick of failing everything I do.”
I took the sleeve of my coat and wiped the gathering snot from my nose, choking out in a quiet haggard voice.
“I shouldn’t be here” my head fell into my hands, as soul wrenching sobs left me unable to speak.
Admits my overwhelming sadness, a hand grasped onto the back of my coat and a gentle voice pierced the darkness in me.
“Come on son, it’ll be ok.”

Lunabear
Lunabear
23 days ago

The Call of Battle
by Lunabear (Dragon’s Fire Universe)

Blithe felt his power rush through him following his emergence from the lava pit. He was whole again. The pit’s burn paled in comparison to Stephanie’s loving heat and strong embrace, however. Being without her had been more arduous than the battle.

He smiled for Stephanie’s benefit as he allowed her to lead him home. She spoke of silliness involving getting him into clothes since his clothing had burned away.

“What I have in mind doesn’t require clothes,” he said with a wicked grin.

Her husky laughter cocooned him, causing a floating sensation within his gut. Her smaller hand was solid and firm in his. Still, something nagged him.

Returning home, Stephanie checked him over with a critical eye. Finding his wounds healed, he immediately lost himself within Stephanie, their mingled purring and soft growls blissful.

He slept and ate and rested and loved for days on end, always keeping his beloved close. Yet, something sat heavy in the back of his mind.

He sat in a stuffed chair with eyes locked on the window. His claws shredded through the upholstery as his expression darkened. The door burst open, startling him.

“Blithe!” His younger sister, Amelie, threw herself into his arms with a glistening smile. “You’re ok!” She buried her face in his collarbone.

His parents and in-laws followed, varying degrees of joy and relief etched on their faces.

They surrounded him. His mother, Zymirah, and Glaya, Stephanie’s mother, showered him with kisses. Amelie laughed as she was caught between them. His father, Jaryll, and his in-law, Bertrand, respectfully stood beside and behind them. Each of them wore a subdued smile.

“The fight rages on,” Jaryll remarked.

“Do you think–”

“Ahem.” Stephanie undercut her father’s question. She moved before them all with her hands fisted on her hips. “He needs rest.”

Blithe scoffed. Amelie stood and they gave him room to stand.

“No. I shouldn’t be HERE. The war. They need me.”

Arguments ensued, but Stephanie’s sobs interrupted. “*I* need you. I… can’t see you hurt again. Not–”

Blithe tightly embraced his mate. He sighed frustratedly. “I’ll stay. For you.”

Skye Doust
Skye Doust
23 days ago

Constant Discomfort
by Skye Doust

My skin itches. It flakes and crumbles under my nails. It is too soft. I have calluses in the wrong places. None from the usual reasons of holding a pen, or a saw, or a hammer. Some are old, and on my heart. From back when I realised I did not belong.

I had tried more than I care to admit. The life everyone around me had was infectious, and I nearly fooled myself into belief more than once. I had been coaxed and teased towards them, and I wish I could have joined. But the tree was always too high, and the gorge was always too wide. The simple, but intense joy of such a human thing as achieving a goal you set for yourself was admirable, but it was never for me.

They had tried to pull me back, hold me down. I had smiled. The good people they are, they did not know.

I stand now, itching skin sizzling. The fire around me struggles to scar my flesh, but I have been tempered by the like before and will not burn so easily. This is a paltry heat. A fire that might not even leave a scar on me when I wake tomorrow. It does not want me here, but I am used to being unwanted. It is this that pushes my stubborn bones up the stairs.

When I find them, they are already dead. Their blackened bodies call to my own. If I lay here, they would take me away to where I belong. My eyelids char and flake away.

But I can not sleep. Not yet. There are still people I can save.

I turn and leave the enticing bodies.

Maybe one day I can rest.

Kate Elizondo
Kate Elizondo
24 days ago

Don’t be scared
By Kate Elisondo

A summer’s day, the campers’ voices filled the air with singing I couldn’t understand. As one of the camp counselors, I taught them how to tie different knots, carving with soap. It was ridiculous! Like they’ll ever use this skill for anything.

I hid behind a comfort room a little far of the camp and lit my cigarette. I couldn’t take it anymore. All the “praise the lord” and whatnot.

“Obnoxious kids.” I muttered, glancing towards the forest as what I thought a shadow, passed by the corner of my eye. I heard a rustle behind some thick shrubbery. Probably a raccoon.

I scoffed as I threw my cigarette on the floor, and walked back to camp. Another counselor waved at me. Katie, I think. I smiled a bit and waved back. Before I could be by her side, I felt a hard knock on the back of my head and fell on the floor.

When I came to, it was dark. I was tied down as I couldn’t move my arms. I heard more rustling and from the faint light of the moon, I saw silhouettes surrounding me. They were muttering something about me being a sacrifice.

“Hey. Wait! What do you mean sacrifice? I didn’t—” I felt someone grab me from behind and dragged me deeper into the forest. I tried swerving left and right to get his hands off me, screaming at them to stop, but to no avail. Soon they threw me inside a cave with a wooden door.

“Thank you for your service.” They said before closing the door shut. “Wait! Open the door!” I screamed as I tried to stand up and hit the door with my shoulder.

Inside the cave, I heard nothing. I was alone, of course I was. Does that mean I was gonna starve to death? I sat down the ground once more. It’s a prank. Of course it’s a prank. They’ll get me out in the morning. But as I lingered, I knew I could hear something breathing beside me.

I shouldn’t be here.

RVMPLSTLSKN
RVMPLSTLSKN
24 days ago

Carnomancer’s Plight
By RVMPLSTLSKN

Listen. It hurts, but listen and I’ll tell you of the Carnomancer’s Plight.
Picture yourself.
You are flesh and bone, ligament and vein. Fat and grey matter. You are, in a sense, meat. You are made of meat and everything you do is meaty. Your very breath and voice is meat.

This’s the first lesson for new carnomancers. But this isn’t a relevation, no grand or secret knowledge. It’s simply the mindset we must adopt. Carnomancy’s hard on the body and empathy is important. You’ve gotta understand the pain as much as the pleasure. Everything’s got a price.

Picture yourself now. You had four limbs, twenty digits. You’ve been through hell on earth. I’m not the best at this. You’ve lost all that. No, don’t try to scream. It doesn’t work like that anymore. This is, well, it’s my job. I’m sorry, not that it means anything. You know what you’ve done.

But that’s the Plight; we both know you deserve this. In accordance with our laws, you’re Meat. The good news is, you could always get it reserved, if you’re not guilty. Good behavior’s got perks too. Maybe they’ll give you a mouth, small lungs. Let you talk.

Ah, but I’m rambling and you’re quivering, Meat. The Carnomancer’s Plight: know what you’re paying. Simple really, but it doesn’t mean anything more than know the pain you’re inflicting. God, the pain I’ve caused. I feel it, you know. Empathetic spells require it. I felt the pain of removing your spine, recycling your limbs to war vets and giving your lungs to someone who deserves to breathe. No, you don’t deserve life, but now you’ve got a job now. Like I have mine.

My job was to get you ready for yours. Your job is to be a living petri dish. I hope they get an especially nasty disease to cultivate on your meat.

It’s people like you, Meat, that make wish we had capital punishment. I’d lose my job, but at least the pain would end. You shouldn’t be here. You might deserve this, but we shouldn’t be here.

Tyler Desperado
Tyler Desperado
24 days ago

A Wrong Turn In The Collective Unconscious
By CosmicDesperado30

I shook awake to the sounds of industrial grinding and some poor soul being passed through it. My thoughts were awash in a haze, my body as delicate as an eggshell.

I stood up in the middle of an endless school hallway. The lights slowly blew out one by one, the sadistic giggles of an ominous stalker soon followed. I closed my eyes and focused, the orichalcum of my staff reshaping to fit a new desired form.

Cold hands gripped my throat, numbing paralysis began to spread. I inhaled, focused my magic, and in a quick bark of defiance I twirled my silver sword in a wide arc behind me. The thing that looked like my mother speechlessly fell before melting away into twisting shadows.

The endless darkness shifted to an impossible city with signs written in alien text. Lucidity was quickly returning. Finally, an anchor to all this madness.

I passed through the streets at a brisk walk, wrapping myself in a hoodie and hiding my weapon. I had to get out of here

“You seem lost, dreamwalker.” A sultry voice beckoned from the alleyway. Rubbery tentacles gripped and pulled me into the darkness an instant later.

In a panic, I punched my captor with my right hand, a flash of silver flame flew from the point of impact. It reeled and shrieked before tightening its grip.

She stepped into the glow of my bracelet, her teeth like needles, her eyes blood red.

“Lost your way it seems. Perhaps for a bit of that delicious power of yours…I can show you the way.”

“And let you corrupt innocent lives? I’d rather die.” I spat back.

Her smile was too wide. “There are worse things here than death.”

I felt claws pull into my head, then nothing.

I shook awake to the sounds of industrial grinding and some poor soul being passed through it. My thoughts were awash in a haze, my body as delicate as an eggshell.

The screech of rusted metal and the smell of brimstone overtook me….

Amy Trow
Amy Trow
25 days ago

What’re you looking for? (Froggyquest)
By minergirl778 (aka frogfireFantasy)

Why am I on this journey? It’s a bit personal, but I guess It couldn’t hurt to tell you.

Well, for starters, you gotta know a little bit about me. I grew up in this little farming village on the coast, Marigold. Ever heard of it?

No?

Exactly.

Marigold’s a great place! Tons of sunshine, No crime, friendly folks… well, mostly friendly. People are people, yknow? Nosy, Blunt, Persistent…

…Kinda mean to folks different than them…

A-Anyway, I was raised there by an older couple. They tried to treat me like a normal kid and get others to do the same, but you can only go so far when your kid’s bright green and sneezes sparks.

I grew up, suppressed my fire powers, and started planning the rest of my life. I never really knew there could be anything different than how I lived. Sure, some people thought I was a monster, and the looks stung, but at least I was alive! What else could I ask for?

Then, this little glowing frog showed up on my doorstep one day. And it just wouldn’t leave me alone. It followed me everywhere! I tried to ignore it, but eventually I just gave up and let the little guy do his thing. He led me in the middle of the night to this one pond far out of town, and…

He showed me an image of my family. My real family. A big bunch of frogs that looked like me. More like me than anyone I’d ever seen. They were all standing there, smiling and laughing and being happy. They all fit in with each other.

All my life I’d seen myself as something weird. Someone different. Alone in the world. Looking down into that pond, seeing a whole crowd of people who looked exactly like me, and seeing them happy…

Longing wouldn’t even begin to describe it.

That’s why I’m looking. I’m here to find the place where I belong. I know it’s out there. I’ve seen it.

There is something better. And I’m going to find it.

T.C. Holmes
T.C. Holmes
25 days ago

Pictures in the dark…
By T.C.Holmes

The flashlight was beginning to dim. “No!”, thought Lorelai smacking it on the side trying to get it to brighten again, futilely. A short moment later it went dark leaving her alone in the mine-shaft, light-less.

Lorelai was a photographer, and her subjects were abandoned monuments to human achievements. What she was down here photographing was an old goldmine, and now after a cave-in that separated her from her guide she was trapped. Through a gap in the rubble he told her to stay put while he went and got help, that was 3 hours ago, and now Lorelai was alone in the dark, with nothing but the stone around her for comfort.

It felt like she sat for an hour, checking her phone it had only been 20 minutes, and her phone told her it was at 20 percent itself,”Should have charged it”, she silently cursed, and that was when she heard it. For all the time she’d sat here she hadn’t heard anything but now she heard a noise echoing off the walls of the mine a lite clicking noise like metal on stone.

She turned her phone in front of her but the pale light only illuminated so much in front of her, so thinking quickly she fumbled in the dark and brought her camera up, she turned the flash on and then took a picture of what was in front of her. Just the mine, then the sound came back, louder, closer so she flashed the camera again. Nothing, just the mine, then the sound came again no more than perhaps 10 feet in front of her so she took another picture and…

Lorelai’s camera was all that was found of her on the ground in front of the cave-in. She had taken 3 pictures of the mine from where the camera was found, all 3 were only pictures of the mine. It was presumed she attempted to escape on her own and wandered deeper into the mine. Investigation into her disappearance is still ongoing.

Last edited 24 days ago by T.C. Holmes
Mango Gravy
Mango Gravy
25 days ago

No Pity for a Broken Soul
By Mango Gravy

Oshun turned back to look at his village, warm and radiant in the setting sun. His home, and home to everything and everyone he knew. Everyone he loved. He was waiting for someone. Hoping. But hope faded quickly as the stark reality bared its teeth.

“She isn’t coming,” he muttered.

“Of course not,” said a raspy voice. His guide, Egun, stood beside him, hunched over and swaddled in red robes that billowed in the evening’s wind. Cold blue light shone gently from his eyes, deep set in his dark, bony face. “You are a danger to everyone there. Your existence is despicable.”

Oshun understood this, but had hoped his case would be different. “I didn’t think so much could change so quickly,” he said, voice cracking. “I thought at least she would care to say goodbye.”

“It can never be so.” Egun hobbled closer and placed a skeletal hand on Oshun’s shoulder. “Our ‘Ori’ are tainted and scarred. We can no longer have a place among them, or else we risk corrupting theirs.”

“I know. But she…”

Egun interrupted harshly, “You are nothing to her now, less than nothing. And she must be nothing to you.” His hand tightened on Oshun’s shoulder, and the voice softened, “This is the way it must be. For their sake, for hers, you must let go.” The serene blue glow in his eyes was calming and made clear what had to be done. “It is time.”

Oshun hesitated for a long moment, then nodded sullenly. He breathed deeply, closing his eyes to clear his mind, as the guide had taught him. The pain of having lost everything faded and when he opened his eyes, they were glazed over with apathy and radiated cold blue light.

Oshun turned away from the shimmering, vermilion sun that wrapped his home in its glow to the ever darkening violet of the fast approaching night. The warmth that remained there wasn’t meant for him. He no longer belonged. Perhaps he never did.

He never turned back. He had no reason to.

Last edited 25 days ago by Mango Gravy
Nychelle Schneider
Nychelle Schneider
25 days ago

Death and a Kitten
By: Nychelle Schneider

The dirty and stained sack weighed heavy with fluid as he pulled it from the river, the hooded figure inspecting the knot before releasing the now squirming contents onto the ground below.

Soft mewing rings out in the silence, like an echo within the stillness of the forest as he reaches down and picks up the small creature to inspect it.

Damp fur as dark as obsidian coal and deep jade-like eyes look back at him before producing another mew.

“There there little one, you are under my charge now…” The deep voice of the figure says as he strokes behind one of its ears. “You shouldn’t be here… with me,” Death says as the kitten begins to purr. “You should be with your brothers and sisters.”

Another mew this time stronger than the last seems to answer his question.

“How could someone not want something so perfect…and warm. No matter, I am going to take care of you.” He says before setting the kitten up onto his broad shoulders. “You are now responsible for helping me take care of others on their journey, and to greet any other unwanted felines like yourself who’s nine lives were prematurely taken by others simply due to a lack of a spine.”

Another mew.

“I like to think black is the best color too.” Death looks down at his robes before addressing his charge once again. “It also has the added benefit of hiding stray fur you wish to deposit on my persons.”

This time the kitten simply rubbed her chin on her new master’s hood.

Death pulls out a carved bone hourglass from beneath his robes, the crystalline sand almost depleted from the top cup and full in the other. Though from this angle it appeared to be flowing upwards under a different gravity. “Another soul nearly departed, let us go meet them.”

A meow.

“Someone who loves cats you think? Then you should be the first to greet them. You are more…comforting than I and a kind soul greeting another brings peace.”

Another meow as they vanish from sight.

Aaron Fleming
Aaron Fleming
25 days ago

“Their Eyes in the Darkness” [Repost from Private]

By Aaron Fleming

I stood in the Precursor ruins that I’d been searching for the fugitive Alkadin. I couldn’t help but pause at the cyclopean statue, a mostly humanoid figure, vast in size, made of ancient carved black basalt. It stood as it had for many millions of years longer than mankind itself had as a species. I turned my sight away from the unceasing gaze of its single eye.

My environmental suit muffled outside sounds, so I could only hear my breathing and heartbeat. I reached out with my telepathic senses trying to find the hiding fugitive, but the psionic energy residue from the Precursor machines lingered even now and made it difficult to sense his mind amidst the echoes. This was likely Alkadin’s hope in coming here, that he could hide from me amongst the shadows of the past.

I walked beneath a tall archway into another equally vast side chamber. I swept my light across the chamber, only to freeze for a moment when I saw what was left of him. His head was intact which was how I recognized him, but the rest of him looked as if he’d been turned inside out and used to clothe one of the statues. I rushed forward and collected some tissue samples, looking around me into every dark corner. That would be proof enough of his death. I hurried to leave quickly, not wanting to meet whatever Alkadin had.

I left the ruins as quickly as I could, back through the twisting corridors and gargantuan rooms filled with alien statues that gazed at you through the dark. I finally emerged from the ruins into the surrounding barren dusty plains. Out here it seemed as if nothing lived on this world. Barren gray wastes stretched on for miles. It had been scoured of life long ago, probably by whatever killed the Precursors as well. I returned to my starship and left that world behind. I couldn’t shake the feeling though, the eyes in the darkness, and the emptiness of that long dead world.

IsaDragon337
IsaDragon337
25 days ago

Even Space Dragons Sometimes Stumble over Synapses
By IsaDragon (gerbilz337)

Carath took a deep breath of the sulfur-rich volcanic emissions that circulated the ship just for her, and exhaled her guilt.

It wasn’t selfish, she forced herself to think, to want to breathe. She needed those waste gases to live.

One of her hands twitched, where it wrapped around the handrail. She itched to climb the walls, get up higher. But she was better than her instincts; she could make herself walk on the ground with two legs like the civilized species she was. She could, just—

Her stomach gnarled.

She should have eaten cycles ago. Alexi called cycles ‘hours’, but the conversion was off, there were ten cycles per planetary rotation, not twenty-four. Humans and their stupid conversion factors.

She shouldn’t be standing in the hallway, thinking about the mass-produced substandard food of the mess. Plants were easy to grow on ship; animal products were nearly impossible to have, if they weren’t grown in a lab. She loathed that practice. No last rights, no lifeblood to sap. All the food was so dry and squishy… she missed crunching the shell of a living cacydid.

She put one foot forward, and instinct snarled that she couldn’t let go of the bar. She would fall, and her exoskeleton would break open. Three points of contact, minimum.

She wanted, so badly, to just walk with at least four limbs. But that would be unsettling to everyone else, setting off ‘prey’ instincts everywhere. It just wasn’t…worth it.

Her stomach thrashed.

Maybe she could get to the kitchens without anyone seeing her. Three limbs grasped the handrail, another on the wall, and she tested the ducts in the ceiling. Most other spaceships she had been on, the vents were not structurally sound and she had to take maintenance corridors—

They were sturdy enough. She closed her inner eyelids in content relief. Humans, overbuilding everything. She could do this. In, grab food, out. Nobody had to see her eat.

~~~

Alexi watched their new engineer scuttle quietly along the ceiling, and smiled. Getting those parts modified wasn’t easy, but it was very worth it.

Chengir
25 days ago

I Shouldn’t Be Here
By Chengir

I should never have made it this far. My starfighter weaving and dodging blast after blast. I wasn’t following orders, but at this point in the war, I didn’t care. Every time an enemy fighter got in my way, I was able to blast it into interstellar dust.

Back in the day, when I was taking advanced flight training, I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. I was truly terrible. But my engineering team stepped up to save the day. They adjusted the COMM system and linked it to the incoming sensor data. Now, whenever I fire a blast, I hear a laser sound effect. It was reassuring in the silent vacuum of space. Somehow, it gave me the confidence I needed.

Only last week, they added explosions. Now, when an enemy ship is reduced to scrap, I can hear it in my headphones. I can almost smell the whiffs of cordite. It’s enough to get me pumped. I was always good at video games. It’s what convinced me to join the fleet in the first place.

But I never imagined I’d ever be here, not in my wildest dreams. The big cruiser is now looming before me, growing larger in my view screen. I adjust the Japanese scarf I am wearing over my forehead. My engineering crew gave it to me for good luck… I’m going to need all the luck I can muster. Because this… this is the hard part.

I swing my fighter into an arc and accelerate. My target, the launch bay, is right in front of me. Anti-ship fire from the cruiser intensifies. They really don’t want me anywhere near there. But I make it. My engines and wings disintegrate. My weapons tear off as I enter the bay. Crashing into the deck, the wreck of my ship grinds to a halt.

I shouldn’t be here. I can barely move. Blood is pouring into my eyes. But I find the button and press it. The world dissolves into a light brighter than a thousand suns…

Preserves Roses
Preserves Roses
25 days ago

I Just Wanted A Coffee
by: Perserves Roses

Mallory groaned and picked herself up off the floor. She closed her eyes for a moment trying to remember… Coffee, the last thing she remembered was turning on her coffee maker. She stood up slowly, groaning as her muscles ached. Her head hit something with a thump. She groaned again, this time a bit more loudly. Brushing her long auburn hair out of her eyes and staying hunched over slightly, she touched the clear dome over her head. It didn’t feel quite solid, she squinted at it in confusion in the odd, flickering, golden light. She followed the curve of it down to where it met the floor.
The odd dome seemed to be standing on a stone floor. Around the inside of the dome was drawn a strange black circular pattern, with detailed swirls that led in towards where she was standing. Turning her attention to what she could see outside the dome she noted the source of the flickering light coming from what looked to be 6 black pillar candles spaced evenly around the circular drawing that extended outside the dome.

Finally Mallory turned her attention up to the room beyond. She looked in shock at the three figures staring at her from outside the circle. They were small and almost child-like in their appearance; only their skin appeared to be an odd greenish blue color. They were staring at her with what she took to be a wide eyed expression, each was holding a slender wooden stick in a tentacled arm.

“Hey, where am I?,” asked Mallory hoping they could hear her.

The little beings squeaked in fright, dropping their sticks and started to back away in little scuttling steps.

“HEY!” Mallory yelled, hoping to get them to stop.

At her raised voice they turned and started to run, making more little squeaking noises.

“No wait,” Mallory whispered, as they disappeared into the darkness.

She slowly sank to her knees on the cold stone floor.

I’m not…” her voice cracked, “ I’m not supposed to be here,” Mallory sobbed helplessly.

Fredrick Hoagland
Fredrick Hoagland
25 days ago

Welcome to the Afterlife
By Fredrick Hoagland (Challeng3r22)
“I never missed a service, and always went to confessions,” Mary insisted.
“And I’ve been telling you that you’re going to hell anyway,” the imp repeated as he looked down at her from his dais.
“If I cannot enter into heaven than how can anyone else?”
With a sigh the demon replied, “It’s quite simple, nobody else has made it either.”
“What?”
“Heaven is for the most part a lie. The Greek idea of everyone going to the underworld was close enough to reality, and the Catholic idea of Purgatory simply added the idea of a release from the suffering.”
“So you’re saying I’ll needlessly suffer for all eternity.”
“I didn’t say that. Most people just have to deal with a minor inconvenience in their now eternal lives. Take Dante, for example, his punishment is that he can never be within a mile of Virgil.”
“But where is the bright side?”
“All of the best artists, thinkers, and partiers throughout history are down here so you’ll just be living in an eternal rave with a minor inconvenience.”
“Well. I guess this won’t be so bad.”
“Great. So please proceed to booth F66 and tell Milton I said hi when you see him.”
Inside of the booth was a simple table with a chair on either side and a sharply dressed succubus.
“Well, aren’t you the cutest thing, Little Mary.”
“You know who I am?” Mary replied, surprised.
“Well, of course. I’ve been personally assigned to your eternal punishment, and have thus memorized your file.”
“So what is it? Because I’m really interested in what’s going on downstairs.”
“That party’s been going on since the death of the first human, and will keep going until entropy devours the universe. But let’s figure out what punishment is bested suited for your sins that include: murdering every priest you’ve ever confessed to, selling drugs specifically to children, setting several libraries on fire, getting into a gun fight with the police that resulted in your death, and so on and so forth.”
“Oh. So I really do deserve to be here.”

Roman Rivero
Roman Rivero
25 days ago

Spiked Walls
By Roman Rivero

The room had rustic spikes coming from walls, ceiling and floor. They spun and moved all around, as they slid on the surfaces. Just so close to touching each other. The door was on the other side and the only thing not covered in danger.

I held myself as I shuffled forwards, sliding my feet as iron brushed against my legs and feeling scrapes from my sides. I could only hold my breath and stare only at the clean exit.

With every creak from the floorboards it felt as if their whispers sped the spikes as they slithered from wall to floor to ceiling like a beehive. As more shifted and lightly cut, I slowed and so did they.

Quiet was the simple rule in this room but did not stop any of them. The more I moved the more they cut into me. I curled onto the floor to feel any kind of comfort but the spears above me made sure not to, as they dripped into larger points just an inch away from my head.

Only the ceiling stopped moving, but the floor kept pushing me and I could only crawl. My back felt lines as I was so close to the end and my hands felt splinters and I cried at my slowly gaining injuries. They moved faster at my misery, kicking me with their sides. I blocked my head as I nudged with my elbows on the ground. The spikes finally decided to collide.

I felt out of breath as the sounds of bashing lines echoed and my head rang in their tune. Wall banging into ground like constant tuning forks. I had more bruises and cuts as the door was so close within reach.

Finally my shoulder touched the door and with a push from my body, I was on the other side. There was silence, as the doorway muted the spikes. I was relieved at last and I could breath soundly and safely.

Ouroboros
Ouroboros
25 days ago

Block
By Ouroboros

The night was that of a dreary English winter. I had recently published my first novel and was signing books in my hometown. I hadn’t been able to write for months and I hoped that a visit to my hometown would rekindle the inspiration I had in my youth. I barely recognised the place I once called home, but remembered the bookshop vividly, my work now sitting on the shelves that I used to explore as a youth. The small shop was full but I wondered whether they were genuinely interested in my work or just wanted a signed copy to sell online. Despite my embarrassment, I did a reading from my book, it was clunky, pretentious, and the ending dragged on. I shouldn’t have been there and I certainly wasn’t qualified to answer questions about the writer’s craft.

It was the last signing of the night, in front of me stood my former English teacher his old face smiling back at me. The bookshop was closing so I invited him to join me at the ‘Red Lion’.

“I always knew you’d make a great writer.” He said sipping his ale. “I still have all your old short stories.”

“I remember they weren’t very good.”

He chuckled. “You’re right, but each one got a little better.”

“It came easier back then.”

“Are you joking? Every week you told me that you could never write again.”

“I can’t write the story that I need to write.”

“It’s the job of a writer to entertain, it doesn’t always have to be art.”

“Can’t it be both?”

“Well at the moment, it seems to be neither.” His comment annoyed me, but only because I knew he was right.

“If I were truly a writer, it wouldn’t be difficult.”

“No, it’s because you’re a writer that you do it despite it being difficult.” Just like when I was a student, he told me what I needed to hear. “Although I must be honest, I thought your ending dragged on a little.”

“You’re right, I never did know where to end a story.”

Lari B.Haven
Lari B.Haven
26 days ago

The wrong one
By: Larissa (Lari B. Haven)

She and the Professor were visiting the factory’s construction site when she was hit from behind and fell off the guarding rails.

It was a miracle she wasn’t dead, stuck knee-deep between two pipes, being held in place by the steel ropes and chains like a mangled puppet.

She saw a hooded figure looking at her from the ground; they had something long and metallic in their hands.

A loud bang startled her; the figure was jumping from one duct to another. Each jump louder and heavier than the other.

Her heart was racing, she wanted to move away, but her body would not respond.

Soon she saw a pair of legs quickly landing on the duct in front of her. The disjointed pose inside the heavy cape showed how huge they were. The hooded figure was not a man, or at least they weren’t human.
She couldn’t breathe, and if she could stop her heartbeats, she would.

“Was not supposed to be you.” Its voice was thunderous and distorted.

“H-help!” Alexandria tried to shout.

“That old man, he was quicker than I thought.”

They lowered the cape, and they confirmed her thoughts. The creature was a mass of wires and gears. Connected to each other by patches of what used to be skin. One of their eyes was a red light, covered by something bulbous.

“But perhaps you know him, right? You came with him.” They continued, their icy hands touching her skin. “He chose well. You look like a painting.” They grinned. “So you will do my little bird, you will do…” They snatched her by the hips and its metal arms lifted her, snapping the ropes that imprisoned her with ease, as the mechanical man hybrid held her like a rag-doll.

She tried to fight them off, slapping them in the face but the thing let go a laugh, and with one hand choked her until the air left her lungs.

“That Professor and I, we have debts to settle…” They said as she lost strength.

The pain consumed her mind. Soon everything was darkness.

Last edited 26 days ago by Lari B.Haven
The Man Himself
The Man Himself
26 days ago

The Field of Pikes
By The Man Himself

“T-Tomás. Tomás there’s people! Wake the hell up!”
Tomás Burke struggled out of his sleeping bag and felt around for his sword, his skin instantly crawling with terror.

He and Luke were crammed into the tent side by side but his friend was sitting up. Even though it was too dark to make out more than the bulky silhouette, he could picture Luke’s expression from the subjugated quiver in his voice. His eyes wide, flicking around the tent’s interior, his hair sticking up.

Tomás grabbed the long knife, which his hand found before his sword and the two modern-day adventurers carefully undid the tent flap to peek outside.

“There’s people outside! I-I woke up suddenly and I could hear them! They sound like they’re everywhere!”

“It’s probably just cattle!”

“Listen for a second! They’re talking!”

As his heartrate slowed to a slightly more reasonable tempo, Tomás focused on the shuffling feet and low voices that drifted through the thin walls. He couldn’t understand a word but they sounded panicked. Yet, subdued? He could tell they were way too close for comfort but still somehow far away.

They put their heads through the flap together.

The crowd washed over the field like water, hurried steps bringing shape after shape past the men. So many times one would pass frighteningly close only for their course to divert ever so slightly, avoiding the tent and its two terrified occupants.

No one acknowledged the campers. Other than the pairs of legs that moved right by them, it was nearly impossible to make out individual figures in the black night. In the scrap of moonlight that made it through, a couple of long poles were visible, held aloft, pointed to the sky.

“Go back to sleep.”

Tomás’ words shocked Luke more than the hushed grumbles of the crowd.
“What!?”

“Go back to sleep. There’s no one there.” He pulled back from the opening. “They’re probably O’Neill’s men. Retreating from the Battle of Kinsale.”

Luke lay on his side, mind reeling while Tomás sat up waiting for the spectres to pass. He put the knife back.

Last edited 25 days ago by The Man Himself
Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
26 days ago

Captured[Aleph null, public group copy]
By Gregovin

No no no no no no no.

My captors drag me along labyrinthine metal corridors to a cell and leave me to my thoughts, locked up and alone as the ship accelerates.

I should not be here. I just tried to help her. Why are they enabling his horrible behaviour?

Why? Why why why why why!?

A man in dark glasses and a suit comes to my cell.

“Do you know why you are here?”

“No, unless protecting people from assault is a crime” I say with as much spite as feasibly possible.

“Breaking the arm and attacking a foriegn diplomat. That’s how you start a war.”

“Ah, so you’re too scared of a negative reaction to even try to press them into removing the diplomat for criminal behavior.”

“Yes. Last time a micronation did that their habs were completely obliterated.”

Suddenly, the man received a call.

“What did you do?” They asked incredulously.

“What do you mean?”

“There’s a video of the encounter and the diplomat trying to assault that woman. How did you post it?”

“I didn’t. Someone else must have recorded it”

The man murmurs into their earpiece for a moment. I barely hear an operator respond “We’ll enter the gravity ring in 10 minutes”

The man runs off. Left in my own thoughts again, I zone out.

I hear a clang. After a few minutes, a person I don’t recognize appears.

They open the cell and tell me “Hello, you can call me Firewall”. I prepare to respond, but they cut me off “no need to introduce yourself, freedom fighter”

We go to the bridge, discovering it empty. They think it’s a trap. She has a plan to collapse the gravitational wave packet before we reach the destination.

We gain control of the weapons systems and fire the railguns at the edge of the gravitational wave packet. Soon, we pop out into normal space with a little shudder.

Soon, I’ll be home. Soon, we’ll be out of the spectre of war.

NocteVesania
26 days ago

Little Soldier Boy
By NocteVesania (Public Group Repost)

“Take cover!”

Those words signaled the first mortar shell, the herald of slaughter. Then came the barrage, blasting us into oblivion. Those left standing ran for cover behind rocks and trenches, hoping for a glimmer of salvation, while I stood there, awestruck from the turmoil. Their shouts and cries, mixed with the gunshots and blasts, create a certain cacophony, a symphony of death and destruction.

“Private! Get down!”

I heard the captain’s call, his stern tone now overcome with fear. I looked at him, his face covered with blood and grime. I tried to run to him, but my legs would not move. My mind screamed of danger, but my body would not respond. The thunderous blasts fell closer and closer, but I stood there, frozen in fear, until finally, one fell close to my feet.

There was a boom, then deafening silence. I opened my eyes to a bright blue sky. The serenity of the moment reminded me of the quiet life I once lived. I remembered my family, my father’s stern but caring voice, my mother’s warm embrace, my sister’s cheerful laugh. All of them seemed so far away, like the white clouds rolling away from my grasp. Tears fell as I realized my fate, that I would never see them again.

How did everything turn out like this? Was this from those sweet words of the glory of battle, of laying your life for the country? Or was this written in the stars, that this boy be taken away to die, lost and forgotten? What am I fighting for? Was my demise in vain?

In my last moments, amidst the madness and fire, I could only smile at the thought of this farce. With a painful chuckle, my final words escape my lips.

“I shouldn’t be here.”

Joseph Kharms
Joseph Kharms
26 days ago

“Blowing A Raspberry In the Face Of Writer’s Block”
By Joseph Kharms

I shouldn’t be here, sitting in front of an empty page. I need to write something, anything. I’ve been experiencing writer’s block for quite some time now and I need to not overthink. I need to write something even if it’s rubbish. I need to become lucid and just write what’s in my heart:

You are a frog!
Don’t tell me you aren’t. Do you think I don’t see you? I’m your next door neighbour for Northfolk’s sake! Every night I watch you sneak into your back garden, rip off your clothes and jump into the pond. Once I even watched you catch a fly with your tongue whilst you were trimming your hedge sculpture of a foot.
You are a frog! Don’t tell me you aren’t.

But don’t worry, your secrets are safe with me, I won’t tell your wife. I need your help. I too want to rip off my clothes and swim in ponds, I want to be a frog as well. The truth is, I’m not a very good human. I hate wearing suits, I don’t like the British Royal Family and I’m not very fond of tarmac and concrete. I think I’d be a better frog than a human. We can be frogs together! Don’t tell me we can’t.

(Dramatic and emotional closing music plays that sounds like this: Dum Dum Daaaa Da Dum Dum Daaaaa)
(The Two men rip off their clothes and run hand in hand towards a pond)
(They jump into the pond and the credits roll)

Written by Susie Wallpaper
Directed by Benjamin Fly-corpse
Produced by Certainly Steve and Phil X-Ray
Frog 1 played by Greg Tinfoil
Frog 2 played by Dog-Meat Jenga

Funded by The Frog Foundation.

“AND IT WAS ALL A DREAM.”

Dalfor
Dalfor
26 days ago

Selaphobia
By Andrew P (Dalfor)

The rockets blazed forcefully upward. The man braced himself for the inevitable. He closed his eyes, inhaling air sharply. The blast came and he shuddered violently. Slowly, he dared to steal a glance at his surroundings. He was there again. The burnt-out shells of several cars littered the scorched tarmac. Debris from neighbouring buildings was scattered haphazardly across the road. Then the screams began.

He looked to the floor. An elderly man attempted to prop himself up, blood and bone pouring and protruding from his broken body. A young girl cried out, stumbling as she walked with no clear direction. He began to wipe the phantom soot and grit out of his eyes and turned around. He knew what came next. Rifles strewn in odd locations, bodies incomplete and the remnants of the uniform they once wore. Dead. Still dead…

The faces of his friends were contorted in agony, the pain of their last moments stamped forever in their expressions. Their eyes were open, yet remained unseeing to the hell that he found himself in. He opened his mouth yet no words came, unable to process the scene that was playing out before him. Faint echoes mixed with static began to come through on the radio, though he did not try to respond. He knew that this was only the first wave. He begrudgingly sought cover, leaving the fallen in the open and prepared for the second bombardment to begin.

The crowd gasped with excitement as the firework display began to draw to a close. The man stooped, eyes shut firmly tight again. He felt a sharp tug at his coat sleeve.

“Dad you’re missing it! Look at all the colours.”

He opened an eye to see the boy beaming up at him, the glare of the rockets reflecting in his innocent eyes. The man smiled at him and took his hand.

“Ok son, I’ll promise to watch.”

The finale began and together they faced the explosions, the man’s eyes fixed firmly on the fireworks. For him, he thought, thinking of the young life next to him. For them.

Last edited 25 days ago by Dalfor
Jamie Clausen
Jamie Clausen
26 days ago

Promises (A Genre Break Story)
By Jamie (MooseRunner)

The island, known as Ifu Shima, was a small and unremarkable tropical island located off the coast of Southern Japan, and was normally deserted. A Japanese sailing ship had beached itself on the island. A moment later a tall, thin figure emerged. He was elven, with grey skin, and long hair the color of molten magma.

Shedo, the Ash Ninja, stretched as he disembarked. He motioned with his hand to another individual, a short man with a pointed nose and black hair.

“Why did it have to be Eleventh Century Japan?” The Crow’s rapidly moving fingers asked. “I really miss Ronald burgers and toilet paper.” He transformed into his namesake, and flew off to survey the island.

We all have things we miss, Shedo mused with a sigh. At least some things were dependable.

Shedo glanced back with his glowing red eyes, at the old, bent woman climbing up on deck. Other things were less so, he concluded.

Without so much as a second glance at her son, the crone disappeared into the forest.

Looks could be deceiving, Shedo thought, as he looked at his mother rushing off. No one would guess her to be the Kami of Choas. Shedo reluctantly followed after her.

It took Sin’ya only about twenty minutes to find the small star shaped portal in the forest. “As I hoped, the portal is here,” Sin’ya said, rubbing her hands together eagerly. “The sanctuary of my planet calls, and thus it begins. You know what to do Shedo. Don’t fail me.” A moment later she disappeared into the portal.

Shedo began to make his way back to the ship. The Crow had returned, and signed that all was clear.

Shedo enjoyed the fact that he always had the last word with his deaf friend. “We shall rebuild the Kazan clan,” Shedo promised.

“What of your mother?” the Crow asked.

“She had her chances. This dimension is our time. If she gets in the way, well…” Shedo looked at the Crow and smiled. “She won’t cost us anything or anyone else again.”

Alex
Alex
26 days ago

Dunning’s Cave (Armitage Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

No matter what everyone else said, Amelia knew that she should be here. Down in these caves, she was at home. Today, she was traversing a previously unexplored underground system, known as Dunning’s Cave. She was surprised, therefore, when she came across a structure that couldn’t possibly be natural. Above the entrance, she saw two words engraved in the stone: Azamod Aerenhardt.

The famous inventor. What business did someone like him have in a place like Dunning’s Cave? Unable to contain her curiosity, Amelia ventured into the tunnel.

She stopped dead, as her light fell onto the space in front of her. She saw a large rock, with a figure chained to it. He was barely more than skin and bones. His eyes were sunken into his hairless skull. As the torchlight fell onto his face, Amelia almost recoiled at the vicious smile he displayed.

She turned and ran. As she did, she felt her body stretch like a rubber band. Her leg jerked forward and she stumbled. She saw several tufts of her dirty blonde hair falling to the floor. Her bones felt like they were all breaking at once.

Even as she screamed in pain, she heard her voice grow deeper.

The shadows of two tall men loomed over her.

“Say, what have we ‘ere,” one of them said: “Tryin’ to escape, are we?”

“What, no, I…”

They grabbed her, dragging her back into the caves. There, she saw… herself? She stood pressed against the wall, her face fearful.

“Don’t worry, ma’am. We aren’t vicious golems. Let’s get this scumbag back on his rock.”

Amelia watched helplessly, as they chained her to the rock. It was now that she saw that her body wasn’t her own.

“Wait,” she yelled, in a voice that was not hers: “I shouldn’t be here!”

“They all say that.”

Her eyes fell onto the thing that looked like her. Her face contorted into a twisted smile, as it placed a finger on its lips. As she was left alone in the dark, the last thing she heard was a high vicious cackle.

PixieWings
PixieWings
26 days ago

Sinking Feeling
By PixieWings

It’s the middle of summer, and it’s too damn hot to be throwing a formal banquet in an outside garden.

Or at least James thinks so.

Still he crosses to the park gate in his dress slacks and his-

-tie’s been used to bind his wrists to the anchor behind him and he’s sinking, sinking down into the cold murk of the lake-

“Relax! It’s a party.” He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Just a fancy-ass party for rich people.”

He wants a cigarette, but it’s not worth the fight it’d cause.

The garden’s bigger than he expected. A few dozen guests dressed in suit jackets and summer gowns amble through the rose hedges. If they’re upset he’s here, James doesn’t get close enough to see.

There’s a refreshment table in the gazebo. He’s thankful, if only for something to do with his hands. The punch bowl makes him a furtive offer, but she’d crucify him if he got drunk. He feels eyes-

-somewhere in the silt and Something knows he’s there. It’s prevalence strikes him in the chest. His last breath escapes up towards the pinprick light of the moon and he plunges down he’s going to drown he’s going to die-

“The invitation said eleven.”

“Hi to you too, Ma.”

“It’s half past noon, but I guess I should be grateful you’ve shown up at all.”

She catches his arm as he reaches for a scone. Her eyes travel from his rolled sleeves to the painted tentacles twining his forearms, resting where they curl in his palms.

“Could you cover your art?”

“Ma, it’s a hundred degrees. We’ve been over this. They aren’t tattoos. They’re pact shackles.”

“James, is this a sex thing?”

“No, it’s not a sex thing! I almost drowned, remember?!”

It’s like talking to a wall. He needs a drink. The punch bowl-

-is a brackish green grey. Something roils underneath the surface-

“I’m sorry! This was a mistake! I shouldn’t have come!”

If his mom objects, James doesn’t hear it.

He’s running.

It’s summer.

But he feels so cold.

Christian
Christian
26 days ago

The Scream
by Christian Gould

Michael knew he should have stayed put.
His heart became a detonator. His adrenaline spiked, and sweat from the hot sun bore down upon him.
He knew what he heard, however:
It pierced the air like a knife through flesh. The tortured scream exploded from the throat of what sounded like a dying animal.
The hairs on his arms stood on end. His mind seemed to go blank as if the scream stabbed the thoughts from his head and paralyzed him.
He came back to his senses. Suddenly he was running, his feet loudly crunching stones as he went up a very steep hill.
He ran fast in the direction of the screams.
By the time he reached the destination, his body was drenched in sweat.
The scream was on the edge of the hill, which cut off into a sharp drop.
Yet nobody was there.
That’s what he thought at first. Then he saw it, where he knew the screaming was coming from.
A shadow stretched over the edge of the cliff, forming the shape of a hand. The fingers looked one dimensional, but extended off the ground, curling fingers into gravel.
Michael’s mouth dropped to the floor and his eyes widened.
What is this?
A person? Why do its fingers look crushed? How could a person look so flat?
It looks more like a shadow, he thought.
The screaming continued. Should he help it?
He couldn’t bear the screams anymore. His heart was pounding, telling him to run.
But the cry of agony filled him, making him move
Why am I moving? he thought. Why am I helping something that I don’t even understand?
The scream seemed to be inside him. He didn’t know if the sound made him move or if he did.
Two voices argued inside him but the decision was made. His feet should not have moved, his body should not have bent down and his fingers should not have wrapped around the dark, one-dimensional thing that gripped the stones for dear life.
Michael knew he should have stayed put.

Last edited 25 days ago by Christian
King_Nix
King_Nix
26 days ago

“No Regrets”
By King_Nix

Liam sat, looking out over his property. A light breeze swept through the field of wheat. In the late Summer heat, the shade of the patio provided some respite from the Texas sun. How long had he owned a farm?

BEEP

A year or so, he figured. Yes, it had to be. He and his-

BEEP

“Sofie?” he called, looking back to the door of…his?…house. Liam went to stand, but fell face first onto the floor. Where were his legs?

BEEP

He stood up. There they were. “Hey, Sofie, what’s that dreadful-”

BEEP

On the floor again. His wife came out to him, but when had they gotten married? The last time he had seen her was…when? She didn’t…or did she? His head throbbed. She knelt down to him, and he thought she was speaking, but he only heard-

BEEP

Liam opened his eyes. That’s right, he thought, memories rushing back to meet him. The sterile room around him was all too familiar. The machines keeping him alive beeped periodically. He dreamed frequently of Texas now, being bound to this bed, but he knew that his nation was only a distant memory here. Betrayed, broken apart by those who dared call themselves Americans, the fledgling republic had died years ago.

He should have stayed. He should be back in America with Sofie, even if she didn’t love him. He shouldn’t be here, a thousand miles away. But he had found a new purpose, a new nation, here, so far across the ocean from the ruin of his home. Liam had found his nation in the Roman Legion.

Still, his legs taken from under him, the stump resting where an arm should be, his very being kept alive by these machines, he shouldn’t be here.

He should be dead. Even so, he regretted nothing.

Marx
Marx
26 days ago

That Fairy’s Going to Have to Go…
By Marx

The last thing Lynette remembered were the razor-sharp teeth. And pain. Lots of pain. And then she was here. This place. This…empty void. There wasn’t so much as an echo when she tried to speak. It was the epitome of nothingness. An endless abyss.

“I know what you’re thinking.” A voice echoed from all directions.

“This isn’t right.”

“This isn’t fair.”

“It’s not my time yet.”

Lynette tried to respond, but found her own voice to be silent.

“While normally I’d listen to these musings with the utmost patience, I’m going to be frank.”

A feeling of dread came over Lynette when a woman appeared before her. Despite never having met, she immediately knew who this being was when those black eyes, only broken up by glowing white irises, stared back at her.

“I don’t like you.” Death finished, her eyes narrowing. “And when I don’t like someone, the universe has a way of…taking care of that for me. It is probably why the only person who could have stopped your ‘untimely’ demise was so…conveniently preoccupied. Regardless. Take my hand.”

Lynette shrank back at Death’s offer. She instinctively knew what accepting it would mean. She instead glared at the being before her. “So, I’m dead because of you?” She asked, surprised to have her voice back.

“Everyone dies because of me.” Death rolled her eyes apathetically. “You just happened to be personal. Now… Take. My. Hand.”

“No!” Lynette snarled. “This isn’t fair! I don’t deserve this!”

“You tried to kill him.” Death stated, reaching her hand out once more.

“No!” Lynette stamped her feet in the void. “No, I didn’t! I tried to kill THEM. I never would have hurt him!”

“Killing them WOULD have hurt him, you selfish creature. You, he won’t miss. Take my hand.” Death’s eyes narrowed menacingly. “I won’t ask again.”

“What are you going to do if I don’t?” Lynette asked, petulantly crossing her arms. “Kill me?”

Death smiled and withdrew her hand. “There are much worse fates than me, my dear. Goodbye.”

And so, Lynette found herself abandoned in the void.

…blind…

…mute…

…alone…

Last edited 25 days ago by Marx
The Assassin
The Assassin
26 days ago

Dead
By TheAssassin

The grey clouds coiled overhead, and the cold rains splashed the ground. Kneeling in a field of graves, dark and hollow, the old captain wept alone. None more to solace him, none more to soothe him, for all that once could are gone – Buried beneath the dirt on which he cried.

He alone lived. He alone suffered. If happiness there truly be, why does it not linger with those who most need its touch? Why does it abandon us? If happiness there truly be, then it is a cruel trickster preying upon the broken. For none more than the broken need it, yet none to the broken is sent.

The man unsheathed a knife from his weathered belt. Since happiness would not now him find, then he would to his fallen friends flee. None to stop him, none to caution him, for all that once could are gone. He was alone. He held the knife against his gut, closed his eyes, screamed, and pushed.

Something held him. A warm, but firm hand holding his arm and preventing him from moving the knife. Another hand fell upon his shoulder. Another upon his chest. Another upon his back. They came and embraced him, holding him. Keeping him from falling apart.

He opened his teary eyes and saw light. Blue ethereal light dancing in the rain. And in that light of life, he saw the dead. His fallen friends. His brothers. He saw them holding him together and they smiled.

How could this be? He saw them die. He felt their lifeless corpses limp in his hands. But these specters, they did not waver. His hands shook and he whimpered. Even in death, they were with him.

“My old friend,” the familiar voice gently echoed with the wind, “you are not alone. We are with you. You carry us now. Be strong. You are our brother. We love you. Forever.”

Their warm touch did not let go. They were there to solace him and soothe him. To save him. They were with him. Always.

And they did not let go.

Last edited 26 days ago by The Assassin
The Assassin
The Assassin
26 days ago

Dead
By TheAssassin
——————-

The grey clouds coiled overhead, and the cold rains splashed the ground. Kneeling in a field of graves, dark and hollow, the old captain wept alone. None more to solace him, none more to soothe him, for all that once could are gone – Buried beneath the dirt on which he cried.

He alone lived. He alone suffered. If happiness there truly be, why does it not linger with those who most need its touch? Why does it abandon us? If happiness there truly be, then it is a cruel trickster preying upon the broken. For none more than the broken need it, yet none to the broken is sent.

The man unsheathed a knife from his weathered belt. Since happiness would not now him find, then he would to his fallen friends flee. None to stop him, none to caution him, for all that once could are gone. He was alone. He held the knife against his gut, closed his eyes, screamed, and pushed.

Something held him. A warm, but firm hand holding his arm and preventing him from moving the knife. Another hand fell upon his shoulder. Another upon his chest. Another upon his back. They came and embraced him, holding him. Keeping him from falling apart.

He opened his teary eyes and saw light. Blue ethereal light dancing in the rain. And in that light of life, he saw the dead. His fallen friends. His brothers. He saw them holding him together and they smiled.

How could this be? He saw them die. He felt their lifeless corpses limp in his hands. But these specters, they did not waver. His hands shook and he whimpered. Even in death, they were with him.

“My old friend,” the familiar voice gently echoed with the wind, “you are not alone. We are with. You carry us now. Be strong. You are our brother. We love you. Forever.”

Their warm touch did not let go. They were there to solace him and soothe him. To save him. They were with him. Always.

And they did not let go.

Michael Case
Michael Case
26 days ago

Crossing the Line
By Michael Case

For as far as the eye could see, there was nothing. No sky, no grass, no wind or even a sound to be heard. Nothing, just white blankness filling every inch of this place. I alone am the only thing here with a form to see.

When that Witch told me not to cross the line, I thought she was being metaphoric. Instead she was being literal about it. If I had only left her alone, and not tried to confront her about moving into the community last week, I would not be here. Now I am stuck here in… I do not even know where this place is.

If I turn around, I can’t even tell if I am moving at all. Without references to judge movements by, I’m just guessing that I’m not moving at all. I could be moving around, spinning out of control and not even be aware of it. The overwhelming awareness of nothingness is distorting my thoughts.

Maybe, just maybe that Witch could return me. She might be my only hope in returning me to Earth, or at least away from here. I should not have made such an issue with her moving in next door, nor should I have given in to peer pressure by the community and tried to comfort her in an attempt to force her to leave. This was all just a bad idea.

Elsewhere, in her house, the Witch picked up a broom and swept up the dirt line she drew on the floor and took a drink of tea while looking out the window. “What a nice Neighborhood this will be.” She said out loud as if anybody else was in the house with her.

“What a nice neighborhood indeed.” A voice replied from the shadows in the window.

Last edited 25 days ago by Michael Case
Connor A.
Connor A.
26 days ago

“An Act” (Novus Academia)
By Connor A.

Jason leaned on the stall wall and tried to calm himself. He almost missed the sound of someone else entering the bathroom, but felt his anxiety return in full force when he heard footsteps approaching him.

“I take it the crowd got to you?” Avi’s voice brought some reassurance to Jason, but not by much.

“I shouldn’t be here,” Jason finally admitted. “All these people are so… professional. I’m… not.”

From the gap in the door, he saw Avi’s shoes move to the side.

“I can empathize with that predicament.” Avi’s voice was a bit softer. “So many people make a big deal about one’s social life to the point where a small mistake seems bigger than it really is. It‘s suffocating.”

Jason looked down at his own shoes. “At least you don’t have to learn an entire set of skills from scratch.”

A moment of silence passed. Then Avi asked, “Did you know it’s an act to some of these people?”

“What?”

“The professionalism. I can’t speak for everyone, but the few people I’ve seen outside of work aren’t always like that. They’re just as nervous as you are.”

“Even Mr. Poe?”

“I could write a novel on the times I walked in on him reciting monologues to calm himself.”

Jason tried to hold back a snicker at the thought, but failed.

“Do you think you’re ready now?”

“Yeah.” Jason stepped out and checked his reflection in the mirror to make sure he still looked decent.

“I’ll be talking to Balthazar.” Avi walked out, leaving Jason alone.

“‘It’s all an act,’” Jason repeated to himself. “You can act. You’ve done it since middle school.” He rubbed his face and did his best professional pose. He eased into a lower voice, “Let’s hope no one saw how I acted earlier.”

With that settled, Jason walked out of the bathroom.

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
26 days ago

Learning To Live Again
By Calliope Rannis

Nyssa used to love sitting out at the edge of the coastal cliffs of her home. Looking out over the sea, feeling the breeze on her face, smelling the salt in the air. Now, on the cliffs of a new continent far from home, that pleasure was impossible to recapture. She wouldn’t let herself within 30 feet of the cliff’s edge, too scared of what her thoughts would tempt her to do. Her numbed face could barely sense the breeze. But the air still smelt salty, at least.

“Oi.” A hand touched her shoulder. Nyssa jerked her head to the side, a few sparks spitting from her body in surprise. Beside her was the craggy tavern’s innkeeper, holding a plate in callused hands. “Yer need’ta eat.” She placed the plate beside the gnome, who looked down to see a couple of bread rolls, torn open and lightly buttered.

Nyssa stammered. “I…I can’t really-”

“Yeah yer a cheapskate, I know. But yer haven’t eaten a single thing since’ya got off that ship. Like yer forgot how or summit.”

Had she really? Nyssa hadn’t noticed. The three days since her arrival at Edgewin had blown by like dust in the wind.

“…Anyhow. This is on me.” The innkeeper turned and strode off, shouting “I’ll need the plate back when yer done!” as she left.

Nyssa kept staring at the plate. The food on the ship had been awful, but she had deserved that. But this was…kindness. Something that actually looked enjoyable, given to someone who…shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy it. Not after everything she had done.

But the more she looked at the food, the more her insides gnawed, until eventually she stuffed one into her mouth. The bread was soft, so soft, and the butter was warm and flavoursome. Her numb fingers and skin couldn’t feel the world around them anymore, not really. But her nose and tongue, they still could. There was still a connection to the world and her, an anchor she could cling to.

Maybe, just maybe, she still belonged in this world after all.