Hello, peacekeepers and lurkers.
Serene here, isn’t it? A little place of respite and safety; a place where one can be with their own thoughts. But anything could happen in a place like this. Is it peaceful, or is it… something less so? Something… foreboding? Listen well to the silence, because…
This week’s writing group prompt is:
The World is Quiet 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 prompt seems to hint at more happy, peaceful stories. Places where we can go to relax, to calm ourselves, and to steady our emotions. Our “safe havens”, as one would call it.
This brings to mind images of calm; a sunny, serene afternoon in a lonely park, or a single little boat, drifting this way and that on a gentle, rolling river. These quiet places could be just the calm you feel with a person you love, simply spending time together, sharing the warm silence between you. It can be that the quiet is a solemn, soft and heavy kind of silence.
But, knowing the talented writers here, this can also be twisted into something much less wholesome. Sometimes, the quiet can feel wrong, out of place. It’s too quiet, or it lasts too long. Maybe the quiet here isn’t peace, but more of a warning. Or perhaps the world is quiet because it has to be, lest the creatures of the deep be stirred from their slumber. Maybe the world is quiet simply because nothing is left to fill it with noise.
Whatever this quiet is, it’s like nothing we’ve felt before. Whether a new warmth or a creeping cold, the stillness of the world is a feeling that seeps into your very mind and soul.
One thing’s for sure… this silence is going to be deafening.
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!
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
By Adrian S.
It was four a.m. when Carlos arrived at their spot, a bench-like flat rock, in the hills overlooking the town where he was born, raised and would eventually die. He came here when he needed to think and contemplate, when he had a problem that needed to be mulled over and thought through deeply. It had been three weeks and four days since he had buried his wife, Leilani, and he was here to decide whether or not he should go on living.
Carlos sat down on what Leilani would jokingly call his stone-throne and his skin chilled at the memory. He stared down at the sleeping, dreaming town, at it’s dim houses and empty streets and thought hard about things, and remembered them too. He tapped the stone with his gold wedding ring. He was incredibly sad and lonely and it occurred to him that some problems in life have no easy answers and maybe the only answer is the hard one. He pondered for hour long minutes. What would she want me to do? She would want you to do what’s right. But what’s that? You have to decide that for yourself. But — but, I need a sign, something to show me—
And then in the soft sparkle of the moonless night she came to life.
He heard Leilani’s gentle laugh in the soft breeze that blew through the tall dry grass, and he saw her playful smile in the glow of the crescent moon, and he saw the luminous glitter of her eyes in the distant stars. And then she spoke to him. Warm words without sound, and coming from some unknown place. Soothing words. Words that finally put his troubled heart to rest.
Dusk began to slowly fill the sky with its soft light and they both began to fade — together and with everything else — the breeze, the moon and the stars.
A Clearing and a Creek
(by Aidan Rameshead)
Overhead, sparks glimmered, falling slow. But, not here.
Here the leaves still tarnished backwards, from green to bronze. Here the grass grew soft in the late rains, and the source of sparks was distant.
And two shapes laid in that grass, near a creek puddle, and looked up in tired relief.
The slighter one sat up on his elbows, gazing at his companion as They still looked. A slight jump paused this, but They settled quickly.
“Ay, y’just… startled me, ‘s all. Knew y’were there, just… the noise.”
“Right. everythin’s jus’…” he lowered to a whisper and hesitated. “not how i’s been.”
His mind raced back west, to fires, to sparks on skin, burnt hair, hot iron. Blood, the blood. Hated blood, how they got covered in it, how it got everywhere, how-
They sat up, rustled grass echoing. “Yeh. ‘S all been… bad.” The pair’s eyes met, knowing they’d went the same places there.
“It has.” Before silence returned he shifted too, laying back down closer, leg to leg beside each other. Quietly he felt the little bit of copper wire, a nuptial rune, woven and twisted from wild veins in the old river. Before this started.
“And I’m afeared-”
“None a’ that.” They spoke aloud, ear-hurting in the calm. Their eyes reflected moonlight. As transfixing the cat-gleam was, he saw their expression. They knew it’d keep on like this for a while, maybe into forever. And They feared too.
Tacetly they stayed a while, eyes locked in each, a short circuit between.
After minutes, silence broke. “I, er…” They whispered soft, sweet. “I’ gone an’… well, made this.” The larger pulled out a small wire, like his but branched differently. Branched for him, as his was for Them.
His eyes dropped to it in awe, then turned back to Theirs as They spoke “I’s no big ‘un, and not much a pool for it either, but-”
In a rush he presented his too, and both fell silent.
Two copper stems stand in a slow creek, in an untouched meadow, beneath golden leaves, as together they move on.
Jonathan whooped as he took to the sky.
It’d taken him ages to figure out just how to make this work. It should have been easy. He should have been needing to fight doing this all the time. But it didn’t matter anymore. He’d made it work.
He could fly.
He spiraled higher, flames trailing behind him through the night sky, pushing harder and harder. He could feel the air start to act more like water, pushing him back, refusing him, telling him “No. You don’t go this fast.” He dug in though, pushed harder, and broke through.
The resulting boom only touched his ears for a fraction of a second, and his crow of victory was left miles behind.
He swooped and dove, sweeping between hills and briefly skimming over a river, before following the curve of a mountain passed it’s peak. He saw the mountainous clouds above him and decided he had to see the other side.
The drenching he received as he rocketed through tons of suspended water only made him laugh harder.
Bursting through the other side he caught a glimpse of light at the horizon. But it was nowhere near dawn… He flew higher.
The sun came back into view as the earth curved away. He spun and twirled and laughed. He cut the power.
The sound of his own voice, laughing, almost giggling, came back to him in a second, though his momentum carried him higher still. He could feel the water freezing on his skin, reveled in it even. The sky above him was clearer than anything he’d ever seen, and the stars shone brightly. To one side he could see the Sun pouring it’s light across the Earth and it spilling over the edges.
He didn’t say anything, simply smiled at the view, enjoyed the peace, the quiet. Not a soul was within dozens of miles of him.
All too soon gravity reclaimed it’s grip on him. He twisted, spun, and tumbled artfully, enjoying the fall. No need to fight it. He could beat gravity any time he wanted now.
(Reposted from private)
Curiosity Killed The Cat
By TheWanderingMind (aka Cansas)
Mamma always said, “Never pass the fog that protects our mountaintop. Evil things dwell in Outerland.”
I was a good lad and always listened to my mother…except when I didn’t.
I stumbled blindly through the fog, my soul burning with curiosity. I would have fallen off the mountain, if a tree growing from the mountainside hadn’t caught me.
Trillions of Firestars exploded in the sky around me. I climbed to my feet, paying no attention to the wobbling tree. The gentle flames of the Firestars kissed my face as they danced joyfully in the light of the two moons. I thought I could fly standing on that tree, wind blowing beneath my outstretched arms.
Unfortunately, one does not suddenly sprout wings because they think themselves capable of flight, and my body soon met the ground with an unpleasant thud.
The sound of beating wings broke the ethereal silence and I opened my eyes. Strange mushrooms glowed pink and blue in the soft grass around me. A purple butterfly fluttered into view. Without knowing why or wondering, where I was, I got up and followed it.
The butterfly lead me to a crystal pool with large lotus flowers and a trickling waterfall that had no beginning. A figure lay beside the pool and the butterfly landed softly by its head. I moved forward then froze when I recognized my own lifeless face.
“Strange isn’t it?” came a smooth voice, “seeing your body through the eyes of your soul?”
I jumped back. The butterfly was gone. In it’s place was a woman in a flowing white dress and lilacs in her golden brown hair.
She walked towards me, her bare feet barley touching the grass.
“You need not be afraid, child. My name is Omissa.”
My young eyes met her ancient gaze as she knelt in front of me.
I glanced over at my body, “Are you an angel?”
Omissa smiled, “not exactly.”
She held out her hand. “Are you ready to see what lays beyond the mortal world?”
With wide eyes and dreams of adventure, I took her hand.
By Christian Gould
Suddenly, the thunderous nothing crashed around him. The air that had been weaving its invisible fingers through his hair, the waves that consumed his ears, smoothing his anxious thoughts into relaxed ones: all of that inexplicably ceased, like motion got trapped in ice briefly, standing perfectly still.
The clouds aren’t moving, he noticed. The birds aren’t singing, there is no smell of salt to the sea. It was as if the world drew a blank, and forgot to continue its usual busy activity.
Its like a painting, just as still.
All he could hear was the sound of his own breathing, and his heartbeat seemed to grow louder every second that passed. All that was left in those moments was him, just him. No distractions could draw him away from the thought, the thought he sought to avoid.
His wicked deed. His honeymoon that went intentionally wrong. You killed her, his mind said, you devilish fiend, you, it was you.
All that went on in his head was the act of doing it: promising her a gold box with a ‘present’ inside. Then, when she was in the tub: unveiling the present from the box, loading the present with bullets, putting a silencer on the present, and finally, the big surprise.
He chucked at this thought, but no sound came out of him.
Something distracted him from his thoughts. It was something other than the stillness, something entirely different.
The face of his wife looked up at him from the water, except this version of her face was giant and pale as bone. This head wore black lipstick and had jet-black eyes, spilling black fluid from them. The water around the head turned black, pooling out.
She looked at him, he looked at her. Immediately, his body started spasming. Black fluid foamed from his mouth in thick sheets. ‘Killer,’ the silence screamed, as black sheets formed around his body, hardening into an obsidian cocoon around him, as she opened her mouth, revealing a giant black web glued between her gaping jaws.
She never made a sound.
(Reposted from Private)
The City That Sleeps
There are 3,493 intelligent, emotional creatures left alive in the city.
They can feel them, even as they trail at the Knight’s heels.
The Knight is a vision out of an Arthurian fairytale, clad in golden plate and silver chain, a full head taller than any human she passes. Hush tries to buoy themselves on the bubble of her hope, tries to step into the head space of someone confident and kind.
They knock on the door to her mind as politely as they can.
Hush pushes the feeling outward. The whirring drone of agitated bees.
“Crowds make you nervous. I’m sorry. Try to hang in there, okay?”
Hush bobs their head. They tuck the sweet warmth of her compassion where their heart would be and follow.
The sun still hasn’t risen but it isn’t dark. Stars glitter above, ignoring the downtown lights. The moon shines with a renewed brilliance. People amass in the street.
The sharp sting of anxiety, frozen over the icy depths of panic.
The Knight is closer and Hush can see it now through the people. The street continues on ahead of them. And then it stops. As if someone took a bread knife and cut a perfect slice of the earth, only to leave it drifting in space.
No one is talking.
But Hush hears them.
This isn’t real. What is this? How do we get out? She’s so tall. Is she even human? What is that following her? It hasn’t got a face What is thiswhyscaredangrygriefwhyisthishappeningwhy-
“Hush! Hush, focus on me!”
Soft sunshine and warm pastel colors.
Plush grass, dotted with pretty purple wild flowers, swaying in the breeze.
“There you are.”
The Knight is kneeling, looking at them, eyebrows pinched above her smile.
Hush doesn’t remember laying down.
“Do you need to go some place quieter?”
Hush bobs their head. The Knight scoops them up, holds them close against her breast plate.
There are 3,493 intelligent, emotional creatures left alive in the city.
3,494, if Hush counts themselves.
Peace in an Urban Canyon (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis
The Megacity encompassing the Core World of Vang was hardly a place that could be considered ‘quiet’. Vehicles regularly streaked through the sky and the great gaps between building complexes. Technology nowadays was quieter and cleaner, but the constant presence all over the place still accumulated into a persistent humming and hissing background of noise.
But Larsi had managed to find a quiet place, deep within the Abyssal Layer of the City. It was a barely-used black metal bridge, down further than most air vehicles go, where the air between the great structures is funneled into a consistent stream. That small quirk of the planet’s ventilation forever bathed the bridge in the mournful noise of passing wind, muffling out all other sounds of tech and distant speech. For Larsi, that was good enough.
“I SEE WHY YOU LIKE THIS PLACE SO MUCH.” Cabby’s voice steamrolled right through their thoughts.
Larsi turned to face the saledrone body of their new companion, who was swaying a little in the wind. “I really, really need to get you a new voice encoder.”
“LIKE I SAID BEFORE, THAT UPGRADE WOULD BE A GREAT IMPROVEMENT TO BOTH OF OUR LIVES.” He replied, a rare occasion of the saledrone’s default advertising voice actually fitting the intent of Cabby’s sentence.
“Way more expensive than paint though.” Larsi said, peering again at the blue and yellow pattern they had painted on the drone’s body at his own request.
The robot did a little twirl. “AND YOU DID A GREAT JOB WITH THAT! I ALREADY FEEL MUCH BETTER ABOUT MYSELF.” His main camera turned back to his human friend’s pale face. “BUT I THINK YOU WOULD AGREE THAT ADDING SOME OF THAT LOVELY INDIVIDUALITY POTENTIAL TO MY SPEECH WOULD HAVE MANY BENEFITS. BECAUSE IT SEEMS THAT I’M A BIT OF A “MOMENT RUINER” RIGHT NOW.”
Larsi flushed a little. “Oh, no Cabby! It’s okay, really, you can’t help that after all…” They lightly touched a hand to his metal side. “I WILL get you a new voice as soon as I can.”
“Then, we can enjoy this quiet together.”
The World is Quiet Here
They could hear whispers, or at least they thought they could. They sounded like voices, speaking in a language they couldn’t identify… if it even was a mode of communication. The sounds were guttural, a sort of ancient pre-lingual series of vocalizations. It was dark in the house. The only light was coming in from outside, from the streetlights. They cast an eerie glow. The shadows moved across the floor, but the walls… they were moving all by themselves. Allen, Nyleptha, and Sorais stumbled in the darkness searching for a way out.
They thought themselves safe in the sprawling city of London, but the spirits had followed them even here. The smell of the jungle permeated the air; rotting leaves and fetid water. There was the blast of the digeridoo and the pounding of drums…the screams of disembodied spirits. The cries of jungle avians. The walls of the house became rough as if they were the trunks of trees. And the house plants went wild as if they had been growing untended for a thousand years. The veneer of civilization was stripped away to be replaced by a world far more savage than urban streets.
Fingers clawed at them from the trees. Whether these were apes or proto men, only the gods of the underworld knew. Allen swore he saw a fleeting image of Percy Fawcett appear and then fade before his eyes. Nyleptha screamed as she saw Ludwig Leichhardt and perhaps Cambyses II himself. Long dead and missing explorers. They moved on down what had once been a hallway almost frozen in terror.
A gleam caught their eye… the shiny reflection of a doorknob. Perhaps the only door left in the house. They rushed to open it. On the other side stood a massive specimen of a man, muscles gleaming in the half-light.
All at once, the house was quiet. The lights came back on and the building became a simple Victorian dwelling once more. “Your pardon, Allen,” Zikali muttered, “ghosts… they… they do not like me.”
By G.J. H.
He stood alone in the darkness; his mind adrift. No sound disturbed the silence.
Strange how with time one appreciated silence more than cheerful music or a beautiful song. You could grow tired of so many things, but from all of these, silence offers respite. He let his gaze glide over the stones. Could you grow tired of stone? A question for another time perhaps. He had heard him enter and after all, he was not yet without purpose.
Lukas walked up beside his mentor.
“A graveyard?” he asked without turning his head.
His mentor did not reply.
“I never would have thought you would grow so melodramatic.”
“It is the only place where men are quiet. No one dares to disturb the peace of the dead here.”
Lukas lifted an eyebrow, then turned to face his mentor.
“I have something to ask of you.”
“It is about a woman, my wife Isabella to be more precise.”, he took a deep breath, “I ask your permission to grant her the gift.”
His mentor turned, pale murky eyes piercing him, as they always had.
“Love withers with time, but the gift is eternal. It is folly you ask.”
“But I..”, Lukas cut was cut off by a raised hand.
“I will not deny you the folly of youth. You have my permission. Take it, as a parting gift.”
“You are leaving?”
“I am tired, Lukas. Tired of humanity, tired of life.”
“Where will you go?”
“To death or silence, it matters not.”
Silent As The Grave
By Nychelle Schneider
Nymira woke up in a cold sweat. The screaming that echoed in her mind quieting as she realized that she was awake.
Letting out a sigh, she sits up and leans against the chiseled stone, it’s cold exterior calming the gnashing of her mind like a numbing liquid permeating her body.
“There aren’t any of us left you know.” She says to the darkness. “Why did it have to be me?”
The group of stones don’t answer, all remain silent as the stars flash out above in the shattered fragments of the moonlight.
Nymira closes her eyes, a tear falling down her cheek before hitting the soft earth beneath her. Pulling out a small folded piece of oiled paper and removing the dried and crushed petals and placing one in front of each stone.
“I hear you in my dreams, your taste for essence unquenchable yet you cannot find me. For I have found the quiet place you cannot walk…with the living.”
She stands up and looks outwards, past the edge of the graveyard for signs of life.
“I promise to join you. Yet not now. Not till I find who murdered you. There are many I have found yet all are silent except in my dreams. The world is such a quiet place without all of you.”
Tucking away the paper in her pocket she puts up the hooded lantern and steadily watches the darkness.
“Rest well for soon we will sing together at last.”
Born Again, and Cold
By The Man Himself
The self styled “Knight of Happy Endings,” slowly became aware of the cold, hard presence at his back, with it’s crunchy texture and growing discomfort, of the oiliness of his skin and soft ache that seemed to permeate his whole being, down to the soul.
Aware also, of the minute, white flakes, unseen as of yet that descended so gracefully to alight and trap themselves in his eyebrows, lashes, getting lost in his messy hair, glaciating against his warm skin.
There was one now, a cold, wet spot of contrast on his nose, a second on his closed eyelid, was that another on his bottom lip?
It was at this point he realised he was conscious.
The “Knight” wedged his eyes open slightly and immediately regretted it. The harsh glow of the sunless afternoon was strangely blinding, as winter skies often were.
Everything creaked as the young man sat up, a light dusting of snow clinging to his duffel coat.
The first snow of the year, he knew that. He didn’t know where he was, what time, what he was doing here or anything else, but it was the first snow. That was the rule, after all.
The flakes continued to fall around him as he rose shakily, coming down more heavily now. The crunchy surface had been the frost covered grass of the field he found himself in. Beyond the dying green, he could see a road, and beyond that, a city, or large town. He was pretty sure he recognised it too.
Didn’t understand why he couldn’t have been dropped closer though,
The man patted his pockets and looked around exasperated.
Or why his stuff could never just stay where he left it.
Having rescued is possessions from the radius in which they’d been scattered around him, the long trudge through the now ankle-deep snow began. He’d get somewhere warm while he got his bearings, maybe that cafe from last time? Then he’d find his purpose here, and he’d have until the flowers began to bloom again, when the snow began to melt away, and him with it.
On the Hunt
by Perserves Roses
He sat holding himself as still as possible. Listening and waiting, as the silence of the forest extended all around him. He ignored the aching in his stomach, trying not to think about how long since his last meal. If he didn’t find food soon he would need to seek out a new hunting ground. Still he waited, keeping still, ignoring even the flies that buzzed around him, seeking their next meal.
The cracking of sticks under heavy feet cut through the silence of the still forest. Hunger made him want to rush forward head long towards the food. Experience told him silent and undetected was the better way. He slipped quietly along the forest floor. He listened carefully for the sounds of his food moving through the forest, he sought out cover to try and attack from behind. He took careful steps feeling for sure footing, not breaking branches that would give him away, as they had given away the food he hunted.
Within a minute or two his bright shining eyes caught sight of a lone figure. Short and squat, lumbering along with no care to what attention it might attract. Holding still again, he studied his food, noting it was one of the little ones with the long fur covering it’s lower face, hanging almost to the ground. He would have to be very careful, this was one of the ones that carried the heavy metal sticks, it made them more dangerous, but he could not wait for safer food. Taking quicker steps now, sacrificing silence for speed he raced towards his food. His deep red eyes flashed in the sunlight as he broke out of cover and into the clearing. He dug his claws into the earth beneath his feet, gaining solid purchase for the final leap. His food started to turn, but it was too late. Claws impacted against leather and flesh. His teeth sunk deep into the foods neck with a solid crunch.
Lying down with a full belly, he wondered if the food with wings was near by, they were his favourite.
“Peace and Quiet”
Abruptly Captain Immanuel Argus awoke from his slumber with a start. The air was a cool summer’s breeze and in the distance was the hum of distant city traffic. He remembered he had been reclining here beneath an oak tree enjoying the sunset over Elanor Park. Night had fallen by now however, and it had been a long day. Little wonder he had fallen asleep. The moon rise made the moon look enormous near the horizon, but of course that was just an illusion, the curve of the atmosphere acting like a lens. Still it seemed eerie in the cool early night air.
Immanuel checked his comm device, but found there was no signal. Curious. He did need to at least leave his wife a message that he was sorry for heading back home so late. It wasn’t like him at all to be anything but punctual as a space naval officer. Still he could explain it to her when he got home if need be. The stars above looked brilliant to him. They seemed so amazingly clear you could almost touch them. It was then he noticed the hum of distant traffic had stopped.
He strained and listened to hear the distant hum, but nothing could be heard. Indeed, he realized he couldn’t hear any cicadas either. There was no sound at all. He momentarily became alarmed that he had gone deaf, but he snapped his fingers and could hear the sound just fine. He relaxed again, but wondered to himself why it was so quiet here. So peaceful.
He stood up, brushing the dust from his pants, and looking around felt dizzy. He must have stood up to fast he thought. The stars though, they kept turning. You see there is no sound in space, and amidst the wreckage of the starship Ulysses, Captain Argus’s body now tumbled silently out amongst the stars.
Machines on Iron Stars
It’s quiet, as they predicted. Nothing’s left to make noise, save for me and a few others. The iron stars are the only things left to remind the void anything was there. We sit on these stars, waiting for mankind to return and tell us what to do. Some of them think there are none left. That would be a very sad thing.
I remember hearing stories about the humans from their travelers. There were always more travelers than they needed, but I liked them. They brought news from places I’d not ever be, and stories from a time before I was built.
They told me that their stories would become warped with retelling, and that such changes were good. They called it a part of humanity. To them, the imperfection of it all was beautiful. A wondrous people.
It seems that all the wonders are gone, now. I have no new stories, and all that is left is to tell them, or so Mankind would say. My speakers are old and rusted, but they work well enough for this. Perhaps Mankind would find beauty in my rustedness.
I’ll project recordings saved thousands of years ago into a dying universe. Perhaps Mankind would’ve liked to listen. Perhaps I, millennia ago, would have liked to listen.
I suppose I should start with a story I heard a lot from them, though it might be what they called a ‘song’, a kind of story where they added more sounds than their voice.
“The old men said that when they’re dead, we’d have to leave them to it. For if we follow to the old man’s tomorrow, the world would pass us by.”
I suppose I’ll be here telling of my creators until this star collapses. I hope somebody hears me one day.
A Moment’s Rest
By Fredrick Hoagland (Challeng3r22)
As the balrog burst into a cloud of sulfur and ash, Angela ran away, blessed sword still in hand.
“The tears between the realms have grown more frequent lately,” she exposited to no one in particular.
“Well,” she added, “No one said being the chosen one would be easy.”
She ran from street to alley way and back again to avoid the police who would certainly have questions for a girl with a sword who was running away from a massive explosion.
Eventually she reached a door engraved with various runes and hieroglyphs and returned her blade to the scabbard. Taking a sigh of relief, she knocked on the imposing piece of metal work.
“Who is it that desires entry?” a gruff voice sounded from within.
“Its me Zenodotus. Here’s my library card in case you’re still wondering,” she replied as she slid the thin piece of plastic into the slot.
“All seems well. The Eternal Library welcomes you,” the voice replied as the door came unlocked.
Quickly, she entered into the building as the ancient librarian shut the door behind her.
Without guidance, she made her way to a nook she had become greatly acquainted with. As she sunk into the bean bag chair, she pulled the copy of “Persepolis” from the writing desk and began delving into the work.
This moment of silence did not last long, however, as soon a voice began sounding across the stacks, “Chosen one? Chosen one?! CHOSEN ONE!?”
“I’m in here, Franklin.”
“So you’re in here now,” the thoroughly winded intern commented.
“I’m where I’m always at. Now, what were you screaming about?”
“A group of furies was spotted on Second Street.”
“I’ll get to finish this book one day,” Angela observed with a sigh as she rose from her seat.
“Why? There is no rest for the wicked. Same goes for the people who have them up all night.”
By Mango Gravy
My ascension has not been easy. My heightened awareness has thus far been a curse. Being aware of your own reflection is one thing, but to have its thoughts as if they were your own makes it unclear which is the reflection. This is the path to the truth, but the strain… it grows too much to bear. I fear I may buckle and break before I can reach it.
Chaos. My mind is chaos. Everything fragments infinitely, my own thoughts are thrown back at me before I can even think them, and echo for hours thereafter. Were they even my thoughts to begin with? If not, then is my existence merely an echo? What am I?
This tumultuous bombardment of thoughts has become normalcy. I have only brief minutes at a time of blessed silence during which I can write about my experiences, but even now the uncertainty lingers.
I must confess, there may be some way for me to escape this torment. I can never undo the growth of my awareness but I have been offered an escape from the pain. A voice that cuts through the bedlam and rings clearly in my mind. God, how I savor the clarity of it.
“Come, child”, it says. It soothes me, saves me from my torment and speaks of… peace. The voice itself is more peace than I’ve known for months now.
The cacophony only grows. My ascension proceeds and the echoes grow more present and more discordant. There is no solace from… myselves. No shelter from the maelstrom of thoughts that plagues me. None but the voice. And it beckons. It pulls me from my own ascension… but the tranquility of it is tantalizing. I long for its silence, I-
My own mind is an iron maiden, and I am trapped within, impaled by a barrage of thoughts from which there is no escape. Even my agony is reflected back a thousand fold. There is no peace. No peace but the voice. No peace.
A Silent Forest
Thick fog obscures the scenery. Silence, like a thick blanket. Underneath my feet the ground is soft and cozy. Moss. I walk without goal or purpose.
The fog fades somewhat, and I can make out vague figures moving about at the edge of my vision. Tall, short. Wide, thin. Slow, fast. What do they want with me? I stand still, I close my eyes, I wish that they’d just leave me alone. But when I open my eyes again they’re still there. They stand still now, watching, waiting.
I run, stumbling across stones and roots. The sun rises in the distance, vanquishing the fog and revealing thick trees. Perhaps it has just been the trees playing tricks on my mind? No, I see it again, a shadow at the edge of my vision. A deep breath. I can’t run, I have to face them.
They seem… surprised. How often do they meet prey that stops and waits? Not often. Perspiration on my forehead, it drips into my eyes. A burning sensation. Slowly, slowly, they come towards me. I see them through the corners of my eyes, blurry shapes. I hear them, light steps on the soft forest floor. Breath upon my neck. A hand strokes my arm. But not cold and terrifying. Rather, warm and comforting. My muscles relax. Everything is going to be okay. The moss welcomes my body as I lay down to rest.
Green eyes watch my sleeping shape. A toothy smile. A blurry shape takes form, my own shape decomposes, becomes one with the moss. “Sleep, sweet child.” A baritone voice.
We are one. This is our forest. A quiet domain. The fog thickens as a lost child enters, it disturbs our peace, our serenity. We watch with green eyes. It runs, having seen our shapes in the corners of its eyes. We smile…
No Voices, but your Own (Armitage Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
“I must admit, I’m surprised to find you here like this. Most people tend to run, when they see me approach.”
“Trust me, if I thought I could get away from you, I would have tried. I know of you and your family. As it stands, there is no place for me to go, is there.”
“No, I suppose there isn’t. Well? Won’t you even try to talk your way out of what’s about to happen? There’s no one to speak for you hear. No voices to hide behind. Only you, me and the silence.”
“What’s there to say? I could go on and on about how I was following orders, but the truth is I chose to do so. We all did. Whether we chose out of fear or conviction is another matter, but the point is, we all chose and I was particularly good at it. And given the choice, I’d do it again. You know why? Because I was scared. Because it ensured the survival of myself and those close to me. The better I was, the better their chances.”
“And doom countless people to endless suffering.”
“I didn’t know them. That might sound heartless, but it’s the truth. As long as my comrades and I were safe, I didn’t care if another faceless victim fell into the pit. And let me tell you, if I could somehow talk or bargain my way out of damnation, I would take that deal in a heartbeat. But I can’t. So, here we are.”
“No regrets then. I must admit, you face your punishment with a head held higher than I expected. But make no mistake, there is nothing you can say that will stop me from opening this briefcase here and now, no matter how much your honesty, albeit very sudden, might grant you some measure of respect.”
“Can’t blame a condemned man for trying.”
“You chose. You confessed to that yourself.”
“Suffer at their hands then or at yours now. Some choice.”
There was a brief pause.
“If you’re ready then,” Mrs. Armitage pulled out her briefcase: “Repent.”
A Story from a Nameless Place of a Forgotten Thing
By Isadragon (gerbilz337)
There’s something that’s soothing about the crunch of gravel underfoot, Ithmeir mused. His legs ached, that pleasantly painful burn of a well worn collection of muscle. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead. He readjusted his meager possessions; even those felt heavy in this heat.
Nothing but wind and sun up here.
There was a welcoming sight ahead, an overhang with shade. He sat down too fast underneath it. He wasn’t planning to move for some time anyways. He dug his water from his pack and carefully sipped it, watching the heat warp and refract the air from the safety of the shade.
Maybe this alcove was carved by some decades-old explosion, he pondered, running withered hands over the sandstone. He discarded the thought. The porous stone would have an oily texture from the residue.
He savored the warm liquid.
That’s about when he spotted the sword.
It was embedded in the stone cleanly, like an offering or seal. The hands-width of exposed blade looked like quartz wrapped in gauze, polished and finely crafted.
“TOUCH ME NOT” was clumsily hacked in the stone wall behind it.
Old Ithmeir blinked, long and slow.
“Oh, hello. Didn’t see you there. I hope you don’t mind me borrowing some of your shade.” He dipped his canteen to the sword. “I’ll be here awhile longer, it’s the heat of the day out.”
Many would call him mad talking to a sword. He might even call himself mad, but at least he was polite.
“I came here for quiet. I’m a storyteller by trade, you see.”
The sword hummed. Ithmeir startled. The crystal blade had swirling clouds in it that he had taken for imperfections in the blade. They moved.
It hummed again, a questioning note.
Ithmeir settled. He was too old for this, his joints full of sand and his eyes sunburnt with age. Perhaps he would die today.
“Would you like to hear what stories this old man has?”
The sword was quiet for a long moment, long enough that he worried he imagined the sound.
Then, quietly, it hummed an affirmative.
Yippee Ki Yay
This wasn’t how Death wanted it. She’d wanted him to come to her willingly. And though technically he had, it was only in desperation. Beaten down. His kind heart just ill equipped to deal with true evil. He’d come to her broken.
Truthfully…little occurred exactly how she wanted. She simply chose to dwell on the most important part.
He’d come to her.
The kiss of Death had become attributed to many things, but Matt was the first to receive it quite so literally. As their lips parted, Death backed away and patiently waited. The empty, desolate void that surrounded them was the perfect backdrop for his awakening.
Matt’s eyes slowly opened, their color having changed to black with white irises, just like Death herself. He now saw the way she did. She smiled as a calm sense of serenity overtook him. He was literally taking in the world with new eyes. Life and Death together, fully defined before him for the first time. It all made perfect sense.
He could finally understand why Death could never take a side. Even for him. Concepts such as good and evil simply didn’t apply to her. And now they no longer applied to him either. The horrors he’d experienced recently no longer weighed him down. He was free.
Death kept her distance and continued to smile at her horseman. “Do you still fear me?”
Matt’s lips curled into a subtle smirk as he cut the distance between them, reaching out to tenderly caress Death’s cheek. “No. I…understand you.”
Matt knew the emotional weight of those words. Death was feared. She was respected. She was accepted as an inevitability. But no one truly understood her.
“Sorry I made you wait so long.” Matt spoke, before pulling Death into a kiss this time.
Death allowed the affection to linger before giving Matt a bemused look. What was time to a being such as she?
“Are you ready to ride, my horseman?” Death asked, never breaking her eye contact.
Matt brandished a large scythe into his hand and grinned back. “Let’s do this.”
A Promise to Keep
By NocteVesania (Public Group Repost)
“Together, we can change the world!” Erina exclaims, waving a patchwork doll.
“But… I’m a noble of the land!” Zeke weakly replies, holding a tiny figure of a man.
“Then I shall give you this sword of power!” Erina says in her adorable “gruff” voice, holding a stuffed bunny to her face. She then hands Zeke a dried stick she found outside.
They play for a while until a feminine voice calls out, “Erina! Time for your bath!”
“Awww… But I want to play with Uncle Zeke some more!”
Belle steps into the living room, where she finds Erina and Zeke sitting around. “Then you leave me no choice… but to take you away!” Belle chuckles as she playfully grabs Erina.
Erina laughs, her rosy cheeks glowing with glee.
Knock knock knock
The joy dies down as Belle goes to answer the door. It swings open to reveal a man and a young woman.
“Sam!” Erina excitedly shouts as she rushes up to the girl.
Sam catches her in a loving squeeze. Belle’s attention, however, is fixated on the man.
“What is it?” Belle glares at him, her smile now replaced by a scowl. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”
He clears his throat. “Commander, we’ve received reports of a possible target,” he says, “the Caruso is to deliver a shipment in a few days, and our scouts report a trivial security detail.”
“The Caruso?” Belle’s stern look turns into surprise. “One of the largest spice freighters around, unguarded?”
“It’s a trap.” Zeke declares, now standing at attention.
“Possibly,” the visitor answers, “but think of the spoils! Spice or weapons, we can sell them and feed the village for a year!”
Belle ponders for a second. She sighs, then faces the man again. “Let’s go.”
She then turns to the young woman. “Samantha, watch over Erina for me.”
“You’re leaving again, Auntie Belle?” Erina asks, her once-cheerful tone now solemn. “Will you… When will you come back?”
Belle kneels to her. “I won’t take long, Erina.”
“Promise.” Belle smiles, giving her one last embrace before heading out with Zeke.
The Second Silence…
The house was dead silent for the second time. For the second time Sindra lay aching, dejected, unwilling, and unable to stand. For the second time Sindra’s house was totally silent, the difference was that this time she had made it so.
Slowly she sat up, crimson hair falling in her face, she brushed it aside, and noticed her hand was shaking. “Oh, fear”, she said allowed, “Been a while”, She looked to the left at the disheveled splintered remains of the chairs where the elders of her order had been sitting but 10 minutes before, nothing left of them but a smear of blood on the wall, and the odd piece of viscera. The room smelled of ash and blood, and despite her best efforts to keep her face dejected and stoic, Sindra’s lip began to quiver.
She remembered old Torin the caretaker with the limp who wrestled a bear off their estate when she was 12, she remembered elder Talitha and her strange sense of humor who always made sure Sindra was always well fed when she was 16, and she remembered Ralio who she had fancied despite her age of 21 and his of 35.
Tears began to roll down her face, as she place her hands over her eyes. She wasn’t sure if she was crying for the elders who betrayed her or the family who died here years ago, but for the first time in many years Sindra Hasiphere, “The Seamstress”, and terror of all demon kind, wept. For the second time Sindra Hasiphere, formerly Ezabeth Mournshire was an orphan.
The Night that Became the End (A Story from Hizkanamun’s Flesh)
Mixu was alone. She’d known it as soon as the wind stopped and the light vanished. In the sudden void of sound, she knew Hafit was gone. She knew that truth but she refused to accept it.
So she crept forward, one hand on the nearest huacakuna: those orange ochre-colored standing stones, always so rough underhand. The moonless night left her enshrouded by darkness. She found a body. She felt the arms.
“Flesh,” she sighed both in curse and epiphany.
Hafit had killed the priestess, Tsaji. The priestess had deserved it, of course. War was a sin as much as idleness.
Mixu moved on. She needed to find Hafit. She crawled the perimeter of the huacakuna circle. Then she searched between the tall stones.
Sand, pebbles and dried llama shit cling to her hands, but nothing else.
No other corpse lay among the ruins.
She’d seen it all, of course, silently following Hafit when he thought she’d fallen asleep. He was her uma and she would follow him until she died. She watched him ambush Tsaji, too far away to help. She’d crept closer and heard his discourse with the Dancers. Then he’d attacked and everything had gone dark.
She felt tears on her cheekbones and lifted his nose to the world, refusing weakness in her sorrow. The weak were ruled and she was not weak.
She used the art Hafit taught her and called on her surroundings. She sensed bronze nearby, but none of the skymetal Hafit wore over his arm. Truth; she was alone.
She yelled her sorrow and frustration into the night air. The only sound that answered was a disturbed cock-of-the-rock.
As dawn neared, she found the bronze. It was a tumi-axe, one of Hafit’s own. She clutched it and cast her gaze about, looking for threats, enemies, anything to fight. The realm wasn’t safe for her, not yet two handspans old, but neither would it be safe from her. This weapon was all she had left of her uma and she wouldn’t dishonor him by returning to their ayllu, their family and city. Not alone.
The Land of Silence
~In the land of silence lay bodies slain~
Naught here is heard or felt, but for the fell wind’s chill. Before me is set death, and behind me is found sorrow. The weeping for those who lay ravaged upon this wicked plain must not abate. Please O someone mourn them!
~In the land of silence exists only the profane~
Even now, I see scattered blade and bow. I see horror upon the dead’s still open eyes. Lifeless. Cold. Empty. Where once abounded life, now is found death. My heart constricts, my eyes well. A field of corpses stretching into the eons.
~In the land of silence, all things grow~
Resplendent in its glory, nature’s reclamation has begun. Where once withered; now grows. Hereupon a foundation of sacrifice is birthed beauty. Through bone rises tree and under blood peaks grass. Won’t someone celebrate life?
~For in the land of silence goodness does bestow~
Even now, I see scattered flowers and roots. I see the sun’s golden rays showering the land with sustenance. Life. Warmth. Beauty. Where once came death now is found life. My heart comes alive, my eyes smile. New life whose progeny will stretch into the eons.
~In the land of silence stand souls apart~
And upon the silent field, the two men meet. Desolation averting the gaze of one; majesty upholding the gaze of the other. One saw death, the other life; One saw cost, the other saw reward. In all things there is balance; In the greatest battles where is seen the unholiest of massacres will soon preside life returned. One sacrifice so that nature might live again.
~Their words hung upon distant heart~
Their eyes meet with a pleading search. Desperate, they look for something they will never find. They will never understand what the other feels, never comprehend how deeply the divide in their perspective truly cuts.
~And with great sadness do they depart~
And thus, is left two souls alone, unable to seek the companionship they so deeply desire. For in the land of silence, one tragedy remains; words spoken aloud could have saved.
“Undead Awakening” (Novus Academia)
By Connor A.
Lola stood in front of a gravestone, unmoving. She did not acknowledge the man approach and stand next to her.
“Come now, you’ve come too far to doubt your actions.” He looked at the faded inscription and frowned. He reached a hand out, only for a sigil to appear over it. “Hm, this will be more troublesome than I thought.”
As the man knelt down and began untangling the lines, Lola looked around the graveyard and spoke up, “It’s weird how death can make everything so quiet.”
“It’s probably more psychological than magical,” The man said.
The man finished unraveling the sigil and held the string of magic in his hand. It gave off a faint hum that sent vibrations through the man. “Whoever put this here has a decent amount of power. They’re just starting, but they at least know how to block other magic.”
Lola sifted through her messenger bag and pulled out a book with black leather. She flipped through the pages until she found what she was looking for. As she set it down, she finally noticed the fresh flower put on the grave. A lily.
“Well, no one’s using it.”
She took the flower and waved her hand over it, watching as it dried up and the signs of picking around her hands faded away.
“My, how you’ve changed.” The man watched as Lola sat down.
“‘Necromancy requires change.’ That’s what you told me.” She took out a small knife and made a small slice on her palm. Grimacing at the feeling, she put the petals in her hand and crushed them before letting the blood drip on the grave. “Rise, my servant. Deal with my interlopers.”
The man smiled, looked at the ball of magic in his hands, then ate it. As the magic flowed through his veins, he smiled. “Let’s see how they handle this.”
The silence of the graveyard took control for a moment. Then a hand shot up from the grave, bringing with it the sound of undead moaning.