Hello, risk-takers and daredevils.
That was certainly a little dangerous, don’t you think? Sure, you’re okay now, and everything turned out alright in the end, but what if it hadn’t? I can’t tell you what to do, of course. But I’m just saying that, if I were you, I’d think harder next time before pulling that little stunt again, because…
This week’s writing group prompt is:
A Reckless Decision
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!
Well, this prompt certainly seems easy enough, doesn’t it? Make bad decision, reap consequences. Pretty basic.
Only it’s not. Assuming so would be reckless in of itself, wouldn’t it? With the talent we have here, this can go so much deeper than that. It’s not just about being punished, or even narrowly avoiding punishment, for some crazy idea. It’s about what that crazy idea can involve, voluntarily or otherwise.
It can be as simple as a child deciding to ride their bike faster and faster, only to lose the steering and fall and scrape their knee. Or it can be as complicated as an in-debt father taking yet another IOU, despite knowing how much his family is hurting for money. Pulling some silly stunt to impress the girl, and either succeeding and making her laugh, or failing horribly and earning a different kind of laughter. A split-second decision to run out into the road to save a kitty from traffic, challenging someone who’s throwing their weight around, or even regretting sending your little friends on an errand for you. All of these can have unforeseen consequences that you never considered.
The reckless decisions can also be along the lines of thinking you know the consequences and pulling the stunt anyway. You know you could break bones jumping all those wrecked cars on your little bike, but if you made it, it’d be so worth it, right? Or maybe you know your soul would be up for the taking, but you sell it anyway, just to save them. And that ancient passage in that weird language will absolutely give you ultimate power and good looks… won’t it?
So go ahead and pull your crazy stunt. Pull us into whatever risky plan you have.
Consequences be damned, right?
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!
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Lights go on, Life goes out
By MDC (Michael Case)
The 911 call came in about a missing child. The report went on about how the child was last seen sleeping in his bed. The power outage, that night, had caused a backlog in the Emergency services. It took hours for the police to show up to the house. By then the power was back on.
It was around 2 in the morning when the knock on the door started. The Police had arrived there to investigate the disappearance. The child was seen in his bed at 8pm, and when the power came back on, one of the parents went to check in on the child. That was when it was reported that the child had vanished.
The Police were led straight to the bedroom where the child was last seen. Nothing was out of place according to the parents. Only the bed looked out of place. The pillow, sheets, and a blanket were made up nicely for sleeping in but were placed under the bed. The Father said that this was the only thing weird about the room, but then followed that up by saying that their child sometimes liked to pretend to be camping at bedtime.
The child’s room was located on the second floor, and the window was still locked. There were no signs that the child had left the room, and the Police conducted a thorough search of the house. This went on until daybreak when a K-9 unit was brought in that specialized in cadaver searches. The mother had to be removed from the house during this part of the search since she was crying hysterically. She went to the hospital for her own safety soon afterwards. No body was found.
At the end of the day as the last Police Officer started to leave the child’s room, they turned off the light before exiting. There, standing on the bed, stood a child pleading with the Police Officer not to turn the light back on.
More Than They Could Chew
Shouts of confusion, anger, and fear filled the air as bullets chunked into the building around Jonathan as he ran, shielding his eyes from the debris. A man came out of a door in front him and panic fired a shotgun into his gut. Jonathan grimaced as the pellets tore into him but didn’t slow down, taking the shooters head off without missing a stride.
Why were there so many?
Two more came around a corner and opened fire and he leapt to a roof. He could hear and see dozens more running through the streets and across the roofs, heavily armed and hunting him. Had he wandered into a trap or just gotten horrifically unlucky? The bleeding had almost stopped but it didn’t matter, he was going to have more holes in him soon enough.
A group came out onto the roof next to him and he pounced, smashing two of their heads in then knifing his hand through a third. He’d given himself away though and now more bullets were flying his way.
All of them were going to die and he was caring less by the second how much he’d get shot to do it.
Jonathan spotted a solo hunter looking for him and pounced, killing him instantly. A group rounded a corner, shouted, and opened fire. He whipped the dead man’s weapon at them, smashing one of their faces in, before leaping at them, shattering bones and rending flesh.
More shouting. More shooting. Kill them all.
He rushed another group, tearing them apart as well.
More prey on a balcony. He jumped across a square but was met with a hail of gunfire. He fell into the fountain in the center.
Jonathan roared as he stood up, black wings bursting from his back and throwing a fireball at the balcony, obliterating it.
He turned towards voices to see a rocket coming his way. His wings wrapped around him before it struck. The smoke and debris hid him, but the roar from within was heard across the city.
The Dragon was awake.
By Adrian S.
“I said 201 to the front,” Officer Williams yelled. “If I have to keep repeatin’ myself there’s gonna be problems.”
The detainees, in orange jumpsuits, stood in five by five rows in the dusty camp yard. Many were old and sick and didn’t understand English, they teetered precariously in the desert heat. Little children stood next to their mothers, fathers, brothers or sisters — whomever was left of the family — and cried silently without tears or sobs, their eyes too dry and their throats too parched for anything more than silent croaks.
Long minutes passed with 201’s number being called but no one falling out. Williams looked over the roll sheet and frowned. The numbers were all there and they weren’t missing anyone. Finally, frustration got the best of him and he walked among the lines of prisoners until he found him.
“Compadre,” said Officer Williams, “You e’speaky American?”
“Yes,” said the prisoner. Stitched into his jumpsuit was 201.
“Why didn’t you come when your number was called?”
201 could smell the nicotine and alcohol on the bulky guards breath. He looked into the guards red rimmed eyes and searched for some spark of humanity but in their reflection he saw only a vast emptiness.
“My name is Michael Ortiz.” said 201.
“Excuse me,” Williams turned to the other guards and laughed. “201 must be new here, fellas. It’s been a while since we had one of these — I guess we’re gonna have to break him in.”
Williams hit 201 with an overhand right that landed with a crack and dropped him. “When your numbers called — fall out.” He spit on 201 and walked away.
Michael got to his feet. His lip was split and he swayed but he remained standing. He understood the consequences of defiance and accepted his fate.
Before Williams could reach the front of the formation a defiant yell bounced off the walls and froze him mid-step. There was no denying the cry of a fellow human-being. The words would haunt him forever, even after they killed the man.
“My name is Michael Ortiz!”
Upon the Tip of a Blade
I was broken. Beaten down. The enemy stood before me in their brilliant radiance. I could still see their face and the callous eyes which stared into mine as I though to ask, ‘why?’ I had not yet lost my breath. My consciousness remained intact. My sight was fading. My throat burned with smoke from the smoldering piles of machinery scattered about that desolated field.
Slowly I rose to my feet as I felt the pain gripping my legs. It threatened to drag me back down to the floor.
“Stay,” it whispered to me, beckoning me to remain upon the dry soil and accept fate for what it was.
As I endured my body’s betrayal, I witnessed in horror the enemy raise their weapon to strike. Reacting quickly and pulling myself free from the shackles of pain I did deflect the blow. In a desperate bid for time I gambled my life for precious second with which to defy my fate.
I choked as the pain grew. There was a burning in my lungs. My skin slick with sweat was warm to the touch as I overworked my body just to stay alive. Leaning upon the handle of my sword I kept myself above the tempting ground where eternal rest awaited.
My vision blurred as I honed my gaze upon the enemy. I could hear the crying voices behind me. The frightened weak and wounded that only I was able to protect. There was no one else left. And yet they begged me to stop. They begged me to lay down arms and surrender to fate. They begged me to negotiate their freedom. But no matter how much I heard their desperate pleas I could not abide.
I could not sheathe my blade. I could not simply lay down like a dog to be trampled upon. A fire burned within me. A fire that would lead me to failure were I not able to tame it. As my life dangled upon the very point of the enemy’s blade I roared like a lion and charged into fray of fate again
Ring of Fire
The low trill of crickets in the Alabama scrub was interrupted by a loud pop from a wet log. Jen snatched her leg away from the cheap Walmart fire pit and then calmly swept her right calf under her left thigh staring into the embers and then across the flames at a dirty ball cap.
“Hmm?” Still relaxed and laid back into a dark green plastic Adirondack chair.
She clenched her teeth under an expressionless face.
His head lifted, eyes staring across the flames with a concerned look. “Know what?” She couldn’t handle it and she cut away back to the ground where the blades of grass spread from cracks in the red pavers. A pause to fiddle with the band on her finger.
Then a slow raise of her head, staring at some dark place off behind his head.
“All of it”
For just a just a few seconds they stare back at each other with muscles tensed like a deer shocked to find a mirror in the woods. Then a sigh and an audible click as the plastic blue band from Rob’s hat clicked against the dry-rotted chair.
“So what now?” He barley tried to hide a smirk as he said it.
Returning to the same peaceful position as before he closed his eyes. There was no point in acting like he didn’t know exactly what she was referring to.
She continued to stare.
The phone calls, internet investigations, and shrouded questions of the last few weeks all flicked through her mind as totally ineffectual. It wasn’t the first time; it wouldn’t be the last. The anxiety that had pressed down on her lungs when she sat down was somehow gone. In just a few seconds, replaced with what can be described as a mixture of reverence and pity for this shell of a person.
The fire made another crack as embers scattered, one landing on the leg of her jeans. She sat completely still with her arms meeting in her lap as the amber light smoldered.
She slipped the tarnished ring off and set it on the stainless-steel counter with a calm resolve.
By Almost A Shark
Day 6 of falling, so at this point, the whole affair had grown rather stale. It was certainly gripping for the first two day, considering that my throat was still unrecovered from the screaming. Might have even gone a little deaf from all the sound being trapped in my helmet, but given that there was nothing to hear down here it’s hard to tell.
Real mystery what possessed me to don this damn diving suit and cast myself into the gate to hell, as most called, and what else are you to call a hole with no bottom and a barrier that by some inscrutable process lets not air or rain or even dust to pass, but open to any fool too dull to look where he’s walking.
Strange things they say about this place, mostly what you’d expect, brimstone, torment and a few things about pitchforks. Course, those aren’t the only things people will say, that it goes all the way through and out other side, that side generally changing between tellings. And other say that its just so deep that by some strange virtue or another, dug back into itself, and so the saps that fall in never get anywhere, just keep falling.
Course, I know those weren’t the stories that drove me to stuff myself into this person shaped casket. No, there are a few quiet stories, passed around by hushed voices, to small and young to explain were the story came from, only knowing that it was true because the idea that it couldn’t be was the purvey of parents, and they didn’t really dream, not like a child.
Those small, half spoken stories say that the hole leads to the stars, or the sky, or even the moon, but were it leads doesn’t matter so much as the reward for getting there, wings. That’s what sent me over the edge those six days ago, the thought that I could, at least for a moment, rise up into the air and dance with the clouds. Droll? Perhaps, but if everything works out, I’ll let you know.
The Cherry on the Fruit-cake
by Mango Gravy
Elasha was coming to the realisation that the older a wizard gets, the more daring they become. The time spent with her five hundred year old master, Grilderum Stormgrunt, had made it clear that being apprenticed to the most wizened wizard in the seven nations was akin to babysitting a sugar pumped child that can belch fire.
Of course, being a wizard, sprinting down stairs was unspeakably mundane. Grilderum instead preferred excursions that could only be described as…
“Reckless,” yelled Elasha. “Ferociously stupid. I barely got here in time to stop you! If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’ve devolved into a beard-brained buffoon!”
Grilderum stoked his beard proudly, as if that last remark had been a compliment. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about,” he said. He sat, cross legged, frighteningly close to the edge of a ravine, turbulent wind tugging at his robes, threatening to lift him over the edge. He shook his hands in the air, displaying the glowing, rune-etched fabric thereon, “I carried my gloves.”
“Yes, brilliant! You brought enchanted gloves to help you scale the cliff. But what were you going to do about the bloody trolls all over the place?”
“There are trolls here?”
“It’s called Troll-home ravine, for Merlin’s sake!”
“I knew that,” he mumbled.
Elasha threw up her arms and sat down beside the old wizard. “Listen, master.” She paused to consider the words before deciding on brutal honesty. “You… are old.”
“Your best days are far, far behind you. You’re better off tending to your library than adventuring.”
He crossed his arms and stared daggers at the grass, pretending not to listen.
“But since you’re not going to take care of yourself, at least don’t go gallivanting without me.” His ears perked up at that, so she continued, “You need someone to keep you alive, or just to make sure you don’t die alone.”
With his petulance at an end, Grilderum agreed to return to the cliff after a spot of tea, content to be a little patient.
In Case of Emergency, Cast Spell
by: Preserves Roses
It was past time for Ruth to be leaving the city. With a twist of her fingers she locked the door to her rented room using a familiar spell she shouldn’t know. Hurrying her steps she began stuffing things into a worn green pack. As an unsanctioned mage she wasn’t permitted to practice magic anywhere under the Duke’s control.
Ruth slipped her pack on her back and started for the door, planning to slip down the back alleys and head for the city gates. The shouting in the streets gave her pause, she looked out her window to see mage enforcers heading towards her boarding house. She needed a new escape plan. Now! She dug into her pack and pulled out a well used book. From the book she pulled a yellowed piece of paper that was ragged, and much creased. Unfolding it carefully she read the spell over.
It had taken some very cautious research to translate the ancient runes the spell was written in. It was a portal spell, most mages, considered portal spells to be a dangerous myth. The rune that indicated the destination was the one that made her the most nervous about casting the spell. Somehow the rune translated to mean nowhere, everywhere and always. All at the same time. She wasn’t sure that was somewhere she wanted to go. With a firm and clear voice she recited the ancient words. To her surprise the air in front of her started to shimmer, and then turned a rippling black. She hesitated, to consider other options, what if she had gotten some part of the spell wrong. The heavy feet pounding in the hallway outside her door frightened her into action. Holding her breathe Ruth jumped across the black rippling threshold. She screamed as her skin sizzled.
In the now empty room, rippling black turned to swirling green and collapsed in on itself.
In the shadows of golden halls stood captain and king together at last. Once opposed, now united, their fear spoke clear; doom drew near. Two friends rived by time reunited against inevitability. Their alliance stood as humanity’s last hope.
The captain, scarred and grizzled, wept. At last came reconciliation of woes long-held, only for death to again arise. Peace came not for sinners as he, but perhaps for his friend, it might return.
The king, regal and poised, grieved. At last, his friend stood by his side, only for his kingdom to burn. Men no longer followed nobility as he, but perhaps they would follow his friend.
Neither man spoke, for what could one say? All they loved would soon collapse and naught could be done but hope. Even hope seemed a distant reality, for how could one hope when all things seemed to fall.
All things seemed to fall except…
Except their fellowship forged anew.
With eyes alight did each man see, their minds cleared of doubt, and their hearts beating true. A grave hour may approach, but heedless of ancient warnings would they stand. Without reckoning, without time for doubt, they would defy the darkness itself. Where once fell legions shall stand brothers, for brotherhood is alone eternal.
The captain silenced his tears and reached out his hand. The king nodded and received the gesture. They shook that day on destiny. They shook that day on death. They shook that day on hope. An alliance of defiance, for in darkness fellowship shines as light.
Yea, they may yet die, but it shall not be a fall. What can one lose when one fights alongside his brothers to protect all they love? Is their no greater fate? Is there no greater purpose? Even in death, their spirits shall linger together. Nothing can destroy brotherhood but itself. No darkness will prevail, for the soul will not be touched.
Captain and king, friends again, marched to war against the darkness. There came a battle of brothers on a field of fellowship. And on that day, against that army, the darkness trembled.
The Final Run
The ship lurched hideously, the hull flaking off violently from entering atmosphere as the Captain continued its manic plunge.
“Are you out of your mind!?” Jaska yelled over the protesting tools and instruments on the panel. Captain Dren’s expression did not change. She grabbed him by the shoulders and tried to move him. Failing that, she tried to wrest control of the yoke. Failing that, she dared to reach into the wires beneath the cockpit to disable his control. Puffs of black smoke and flame pushed her to ground, her expletives drowned out by the high-pitched whine of the ship’s internal pressure fading.
A few switches were flipped by Dren and the deadly whine began to subside, the descent towards the war world continued undaunted. Jaska had heard of such madness overtaking Captains before; classic hero or martyr complexes. Maybe if she spoke reason and logic to him, he would pull back and just deliver the shipment.
“Captain…think this through,” Jaska chose her words carefully. “Be smart about this. Logically, the company makes weapons. Companies make money, and we were hired to do a job because we need money. Wars need weapons. That’s just business, it doesn’t concern us at all.”
Captain Dren’s stone face persisted. That same scowl that stayed on him since he saw where the shipment was going.
Jaska sighed and pulled out her pistol, pointing it to the Captain’s temple. “Turn this ship around right now or else.”
Dren’s eyes snapped to her.
“Do you know how to fly?” he grunted in a tone that could freeze Hell itself.
Jaska holstered her gun; he had called her bluff.
“You idiot! You wanna be a big shot or something!? Save some people! Be a big hero?! You’re a glorified delivery man for stars’ sake! What difference can you possibly make?” Jaska snarled with fury upon seeing the evacuation suit get shredded to ribbons by aerial bombardment.
Dren spoke plainly, “They took everything from me. I will not let them take more from anyone else.”
The shipment was primed to blow….
(Repost from Private)
(Aden and the Fae)
“I’ve decided.” The Voice sighs through Aden’s lips. “Not that there’s a choice. You’re awfully good at getting yourself into trouble.”
They wander slowly under the dappled green filtering through the canopy. Though “wander” may be the wrong word. The Voice seems to know where they’re going. “Slowly” is also questionable. Times that aren’t “now” bleed together in his head.
Aden’s legs are all pins and needles. The sensation of another will.
It’s strange that he’s getting used to it.
“You follow a woman made of sunlight into the woods during a thunderstorm.” The Voice counts on his fingers. “You give her your name. You chase a Puca into a faerie ring.”
“No, I mean, you’ve decided?”
“Yes.” The Voice continues. “You lend your name to someone else.”
“You said I would die!”
“I said you were marked for death. I said you could refuse but if you got me out of the ground, I’d help you.” They rest a hand on the iron sword, tucked into the loop of his belt. “Your choice.”
Aden swallows down a whine. The feeling returns to his legs, and he draws to a stop in a shaded spot under an oak. He rubs his palms into his eyes, then lets them fall to his neck, where the painted knot sits atop his skin.
“I’m trying.” He murmurs. “But I feel…blurry.”
A hum in his throat, almost sympathetic.
“I’m not surprised. You gave your name to the queen of fae. Your Puca friend and my borrowing you are the only things keeping “Aden” here now.”
“And if I’m going to trust you, I need you to be honest with me.”
“Never trust the fae.”
“So you’re a fae too.”
“What’s left of one.”
Aden stops talking.
The voice stops talking.
A sigh through his lips.
“I’ve decided to free you.”
His hand goes suddenly numb. It takes the sword, raising it so his face is reflected in the polished iron.
His eyes are sharper in green.
“I’m going to free you.”
It’s strange that Aden believes them.
A Reckless Decision
“Take a look at this baby,” the salesman hawked. “If I was looking for a Recreational Space Vehicle, this would be my choice.”
Julio and Edna Wallingford took a step back and examined the cigar-shaped, silver metal spacecraft. It looked somewhat foreboding, almost haunting. When Julio touched it, the gleaming metal was ice-cold. But he could feel the hum and vibration of the engine; it almost came alive. The smell of oil and grease filled his nostrils.
“This is surplus from the Great War of 2973,” the salesman continued. “Boy, what a mistake that one was. Once they found out the Rodans had masers … probably the shortest war on record.”
Edna squinted at the windowless monstrosity. “Doesn’t seem right to me. There’s not a single window or door anywhere. Not much for taking in the sights,” Edna complained. Mrs. Wallingford’s shrill voice was enough to cause a comet to change course. No one was quite sure how Julio tolerated it. Even to a salesman’s ears, it sounded grating.
“Wait till you see this.” He took out a black piece of cloth from his Savile Row suit. He unfolded it and dropped the cloth to the ground. “Go ahead, step in.”
Once the three stepped into the circle, they were instantly transported to the cockpit of the spacecraft. “How’s that for a security system for you?” He smiled relentlessly as they stepped off the circle. “No worries about space pirates boarding this baby, no sir. Without the entry gateway, there’s no way into this model.”
Edna and Julio were too overwhelmed with the view to listen. You could see the cows grazing three farms down. “Nice, huh? One way viewing hull material. It magnifies too. I’m telling you this is the way to see the universe.” He joined them as the three gazed out at the surrounding countryside.
Julio happened to glance back. “It’s a little crowded, don’t you think?”
“Oh,” the salesman muttered, “If you just take out those nuclear missiles, you’ll have all sorts of room.”
Kebran could feel the rush in his body as he seemed to soar through space unaided, his mind telepathically projected into the sleek drone’s body. The danger was real though, the destruction of the drone could risk neurological damage to his brain from the backlash. Still it just felt so incredible every single time! Time felt slowed down around him, as his mind was assisted by the cybernetic amalgam of brain tissue and computer that his mind projected into. Time had to be slowed down as otherwise there is no way a human’s reaction time could be fast enough to respond to the chaos.
He could feel the roar of his body’s engines as there was no real sound in space and he was approaching the enemy drones. Squads of drones from both sides raced into the fray with each other as shots fired earlier tore through the empty space around him. His body soared past an enemy drone, he wheeled around moving at velocities that would crush a normal human body to pulp. From his perception he was hanging upside down above the enemy drone having circled backwards over it, he unleashed an energy weapon blast that tore the enemy drone apart in a silent flash of light.
Suddenly he felt a realization, there was another enemy drone behind him as his drone’s sensors picked it up and relayed the information to his brain. This one was dogged. Kebran twisted, turned, and rolled to one side burning through his precious delta-v reserves. No matter what he tried the enemy stayed with him matching speed and trajectory. He could only think of one more risky maneuver he could make, and it was a foolhardy one. He fired his thrusters in reverse hoping to fall back behind and his enemy would overshoot him. It failed as his enemy closed and fired before he could complete his move. He could feel the burning sensation of his body being torn apart. The agony was incredible and his mind went blank as he plunged into oblivion.
A Craving for Macarons (also in Private)
“Okay, so the recipe says we need to whisk the egg whites to soft peaks before adding superfine white sugar one spoonful at a time.”
“Superfine?” Marci asked confusedly “as in, granulated?”
“I don’t know,” Kari shrugged, turning on the electric mixer “I’ve never made macarons before.”
“Okay Google.” Marci’s phone beeped in response “What is superfine sugar? According to google, it is the smallest crystal size of granulated sugar.”
“So it’s granulated sugar.” Kari started measuring out the sugar on the scale.
“But, how do we know it’s ‘superfine’ sugar? Wouldn’t it say so on the bag, or something?”
“I don’t know.” Kari replied, continuing to weigh out the sugar. “But I don’t think I have any sugar labeled ‘superfine.’ I wouldn’t even know where to find that in the store. Besides, we’re already halfway through the recipe, a small substitution shouldn’t be too bad.”
“Okay, sugar is ready. What comes next?”
“We’ll need to sift almond flour and confectioners sugar before adding it slowly.” Marci read over the instructions carefully “Then we can pipe them onto parchment lined baking sheets.”
“I don’t think I have anything to sift with.” Kari said thoughtfully.
“Should we run to the store?”
“We don’t really have time, since we’re already whipping the egg whites. It should be fine though, we’ll just have to keep an eye out for lumps. How are the eggs looking, Marci?”
“They look kinda stiff, but not very? I guess that means they are ready.”
“Okay, so you add the sugar while I measure out the rest.”
“Maybe we should have thought this through, Kari.” Marci said tentatively, adding a spoonful of sugar to the mixing bowl. “We’re not very prepared.”
“Stop worrying so much! We’ve got this. How hard can it be to make a few cookies?”
By Javier Del Villar
Waking up coughing, she immediately held her chest feeling as if she drowned. Feeling a wet spot, she slowly looked at her hand, only to see it covered in blood. Letting out a scream, she frantically searched her dimly lit surroundings, spotting a body near her. She quickly reached for it, noticing it was cold and pale as it sat atop what looked like a pool of blood.
She stumbled backwards at the sight of it. Her eyes adjusted quickly and noticed the body was that of an initiate’s. She had been told the society was suspicious, that there had been too many strange occurrences surrounding them. And now she was in the thick of it. That scholarship suddenly wasn’t worth it anymore.
Trying to recall what happened, she could remember up until the initiation ceremony. A smoke was released from the stage the society members were going to appear on. That’s when her memory became fuzzy and couldn’t recall more.
Hearing footsteps in the distance, she scrambled to the wall behind her. She only just noticed the room had a door with a barred window. Someone was talking with a voice that sounded low and crackly, which sent a shiver down her spine. She heard it before. When the room where the ceremony was held filled with smoke, shadows flew out of the stage and began attacking people.
Her eyes widened when one of those shadows came for her, suddenly attacking her with something that knocked her on her back. She screamed and tried to crawl away. The shadow that attacked her swooped low over her, saying something to her in that low, crackly voice then opened its mouth.
Back in the room, the footsteps stopped behind the door. Her heart was pounding. Through the barred window she could see the same face that spoke to her before. It flashed an inhuman smile, one she could not forget anymore, due to its long fangs. The fangs that punctured her neck already.
A Factory to Surpass All Expectations
By Fredrick H. (Challeng3r22)
“But what of our profit margin,” the elderly man cried from the other end of the table.
“I assure you, Chairman Smith. This plan will only cause minimal harm to our bottom line before greatly increasing it in the long run,” the young man responded, as he turned back to his presentation.
“Come now, Mark. I remember when you used to play in the corner with your crayons and design roller coasters. You really expect me to believe that engineer with no actual work experience outside of stumbling around in his father’s shoes can design a factory that will surpass all known expectations.”
“Chairman Smith, with all due re-”
“I’ve heard enough I vote against the construction of this factory. And I advise-”
“THAT IS ENOUGH!” Mark screamed before quickly regaining his composure, “Arianna, can you come in here, please.”
With a the sound of whirring gears a feminine figure cast in bronze appeared in the doorway and inquired, “What is it you desire, Sir?”
“Just come in here and stand beside me while I finish this presentation.”
With metallic steps and faceplates positioned in a smile the automaton took her place beside her master.
“What is the meaning of this?” Chairman Smith demanded, “Some prank that lacks any sort of humor?”
“Come now, Phil. I remember when you used to sit at the end of the table and hog all the donuts. This is what I’ve been working on in my spare time since taking control of the company. ”
For once there was silence in the boardroom.
“Now, with the technology demonstrated with the lovely Arianna we should be able surpass all the limitations upon a normal factory. Now, who here is ready to vote for the future?”
And so on that day Parkerson Pharmaceuticals began their transition to Damacles Industries a mega-corporation in the fields of automation, space exploration, defense, and, of course, pharmaceuticals.
It not just eats, devours
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
Leonard washed his palms. The pink water was warm, making his stomach turn. He seemed like the blood wouldn’t wipe off from his hands anymore. It was sickening. He felt the knot in his throat tightening. That project was becoming too taxing, with few results to be regarded as a success.
“We can send the papers and say it’s ineffective. We can prevent more lives from decaying.” Leonard replied.
“One more, one less… Why does it matter?” That monotone again. Albert never sounded so bleak.
Albert was calmly cleaning the blood off his hands, and Leonard could see his vacant stare through the mirror. His body was there, but the mind was absent. Another patient lost, and he didn’t even have the strength to care.
It has been four years of hard work in secrecy. The design was virtually perfect, yet the death count was still too high. The synthetic organs were almost working, but he couldn’t assure an extended life to his patients beyond a couple more years.
“They’re demanding the results, and soon. We’re almost there, aren’t we, Leonard?”
“They want to experiment on children, because of survival rates.…” His voice almost perished.
“Why would testing on kids matter now and not back then?” Albert shouted, looking at him through the same mirror.
“I know I drowned us in this!” He yelled back. “I admit I was blind by it, deceived even! If I could go back in time and tell the fundraisers what we did, I would! That guilt; it’s eating me, Albert!”
Albert laughed. “It was your choice, Leonard, your fault.”
“Doctor, is everything ok? I heard shouting.…” A nurse opened the door in distress.
“Miss Nunes….” He glanced at the mirror, and only his reflection remained. “I’m alone in this room, right?”
“Yes, sir.” Her concerned tone made his heart sink. “Are you feeling well, doctor?”
Albert was dead, but the visions of him were unforgiving.
Zeke, the Bravest Man Alive
by NocteVesania (Public Group Repost)
Guns blaze and cannons thunder as two airships clash. Belle and Zeke, aboard the Iron Rose, battle the Imperial Navy’s remaining flagship, wanting to prove once and for all their supremacy over the skies.
The Navy ship turns to face the Iron Rose head-on. Its engines roar louder as it increases speed, gunning straight into its foe.
One crewman throws his hands into the air. “They’re gonna ram us!”
“Brace for impact!” Belle looks into a spyglass and finds uniformed men, blades in hand, as if ready for a brawl. She unsheathes her own. “Swords at the ready! They’re boarding!”
With a boom and a crack, the ships meet and soldiers stream into the Iron Rose.
“En garde!” Zeke brandishes his blade as it shimmers in the light of the sun.
The fighting is fierce, but despite their larger numbers, the Naval forces are thinning out faster, until finally, the captain stands on a railing. With a shaky voice, he shouts, “Fall back! Retreat!”
The captain jumps back onto his deck and the remaining soldiers turn tail. Before Belle and Zeke could give chase, the Navy ship is already speeding away.
The navigator shouts out, frantically turning the helm, “They’re getting away!”
Zeke looks around and spots one of the cannons beside Belle. He runs up to it and tries to step into its mouth. Belle sees this and gives him a puzzled look.
Zeke looks at her. “It’s the only way we’ll catch up!”
“That’s crazy! There’s no way I’m shooting you out of a cannon!”
“Do you have anything better in mind?”
Belle pauses, then helps Zeke into the cannon. “Just promise me you’ll be alright.”
Belle aims at the enemy ship and lights the fuse. Zeke closes his eyes. Belle covers her ears. The fuse grows shorter until it ducks into the metal and—
“Erina! Supper time!”
Erina puts her dolls down, a look of disappointment on her face. She stares at the shoes she calls “airships”, figurines lodged into them.
“Food’s getting cold, Erina!”
Erina stands and starts running to the kitchen. “Coming, Sam!”
By Mr. Jingo
It wasn’t the most expedient way to dispose of her corpse. On the other hand, he’d never forgive himself if he just tossed her into the incinerator like they had with their father. The twin morning suns accosted Geddy as he let the final shovelful of dirt fall onto his mother’s grave. She’d passed last night in the living quarters, shortly after his sister Nilda had fallen asleep. It was just the two of them now.
They were the only children the mineralogists brought along to the isolated planet, their parents being part of the expedition. Digging began straight away – some craving fortune, others hoping to find discoveries bearing academic merit. But in those circuitous, geothermal caverns, weeks went by with nothing to report. Whether due to corporate greed or negligence, they increased the pace at which they mined.
Some months after the initial landing, the scientists blew up a particularly obtrusive rock wall, not thinking much of it. However, something happened in the cafeteria that afternoon. It started innocently, a few people here and there coughing. Yet within two days, half the camp found itself afflicted with full-on hallucinations. They existed in a world of nightmares until their bodies gave up. Geddy had been there to witness it all. So had Nilda.
As the days drew on, she found herself talking less as the scientists dropped one by one. When her father died, she thought of it not as an unexpected tragedy but an inevitability. Now, on the empty world, she stood hand in hand alongside her brother. He could feel her hand shaking. His probably was too. In one year, Geddy would be thirteen, susceptible to the sickness. There was still so much to be said, but he wouldn’t have the time.
The Oishi Eastern Mining Company had billions of operations ongoing simultaneously. Even if some passing ship did receive their signal, it would likely take two years for them to arrive. They were an expendable drop in a monolithic ocean. They continued gazing into the heavens, praying for anyone to come.
Why You Should Do Your Research When You Have Humans to Visit
“Captain, I insist you don’t go down there.” Germonia glared up at Alexi through his thick, smokey glasses.
“I agree with the Quartermaster.” LSAT, the ship’s AI, spoke up. “It is too dangerous. We don’t need two stranded crewmates planetside.”
Alexi flung their hands up. “You’re ganging up on me! Fine!” They spun to the viewscreen of the planet, and the blinking lifesign tracker. “Talin, how are you holding up?”
“I think I’m sunburnt.” The comm crackled.
Down below, Talin squinted up at the blue sky. The exile planet was surprisingly Earth-like, with the exception of the high radiation in the atmosphere preventing ship entry.
“The break in the current was about a mile spinward, right?”
“Yes. I hope you passed gym.” Alexi was scratchy in the com.
“Yeah, yeah.” Talin sighed.
“But— he said he’s burnt! From the sun!” Tack’kal wailed from the com.
Talin started picking his way over the rocks as Alexi laughed.
LSAT cut in, “What Captain means is that by human standards, this is mild-to-high UV radiation. Talin will get mild burns or a ‘tan’, but he will be fine.”
“Might even be good for him!” Alexi cackled. “Vitamin D overdose!”
“News from Othala, Medbay is prepped,” LSAT beeped.
“I’m fine.” Talin gave a long suffering sigh, and started to jog. “What did I even do to piss our hosts off so bad they dropped me out here?”
Alexi abruptly stopped laughing.
“Tell him, Captain.” Germonia called out.
“How was I supposed to know it was an irreplaceable antique? It looked like a hand towel!”
“It didn’t help that your smell was offensive. And then you survived the poison.”
“They tried to poison me? Wait— was that the spicy tea?”
“It was laced with alcohol, yes.”
Talin snickered into the mike. “Wow, they gave me that too. Shoulda researched human recreation.”
“I’m almost there, Tack’kal. I’ll meet you in Medbay. Bring the aloe plant, that’ll help.”
Talin winced at the scrambling sounds from the other side of the com, then smiled at Alexi’s spluttering.
It was a good day to be stranded.
Fatal Risk (Cursed Brothers Universe)
Remy was beckoned by an attractive, painted up woman. Cal rolled his eyes at his older brother’s open excitement.
Cal wouldn’t bother admonishing Remy about their low funds or needing rest. Remy never listened, anyway.
Remy sauntered up to her with a cocksure curve on his lips. He trapped her by framing her head with his arms against the wall of the Lady’s Domain. “I’m certain time with you will cure my ails.”
The woman unflatteringly giggled as she pulled Remy through the fluttering curtain.
Cal continued out of the bustling town, outlining details in his sketchbook of their last fight with an ogre. They had barely escaped, but the beast’s horns had fetched them a decent price. Smartly, Cal had taken his share up front.
He scrutinized his work, dissatisfied at how flat it looked. Even a slight magic tweak didn’t improve it. “More practicing, I guess.”
An orange and blue butterfly floated past his line of sight, giving him a small startle.
“Well, aren’t you beautiful. I’d like to draw you, if that’s ok.”
The insect fled, and he chased it to a lone building: Calliope’s Curiosities. Something compelled him to enter. No one was to be found, so he freely roamed.
Horrific oddities in jars of liquid and other containers lined rows of shelves. Cal was entranced, his fingers skimming over some of the relics.
He came to a large, cased spellbook. His eyes caressed it. Purple binding with goldish-blue trim. A flourished symbol decorated the cover. His heart galloped.
He reached for the latched case. A knotted hand caught his.
“This one is NOT for sale, boy. No good will come of it.”
He turned to the young looking woman, her eyes glazed beneath her scraggly hair.
The bell over the door jangled, drawing the woman away.
The book enticed him.
Cal made sure she was gone before his minor magic zipped the lock open. Licking his lips, he raised the glass and eased the artifact behind his sketchbook.
He snuck away into a rolling fog, never noticing the book’s symbol etched into his neck.
A Reckless Decision
by RVMPLSTLSKN (A Story from the Worldsoul)(Repost from private)
Fryseld ran alone. This wasn’t strange for a child in the Windlands colony. Neither was Fryseld ever truly alone, not even when she wanted to be. There were always the frogs chirping in the trees, though the amphibian tryllts said the frogs were stupid.
Fryseld wore a bonnet most days to keep her skin safe, but she’d lost it to Hylga–a manly girl if ever there was one–and so she ran between trees to be alone.
She stopped to breathe the dense, tropical air. The scent of decay consumed her smelling as the sound of mosquitoes consumed her hearing. She knew she was where humans weren’t allowed, that place where tryllts went to die: the swamp.
She should go home, but she thought she heard Hylga behind her–she would say so later to make it true–and felt her decision made for her. She went on, careful to stay dry, certain the wetland water was what killed tryllts.
The sound of muck behind her. She turned and saw a tryllt, brown and huge, with a crown of mossy treelimbs on her back. A nest of salamanders crawled and fell from the limbs. Fryseld gaped.
The tryllt spoke, but Fryseld couldn’t understand the sound, just the meaning as the communication pressed on her reality.
-Unwelcome, child of death.
-Humans come and bring death.
“But I’m not here to hurt.”
‘I’m lost.’ She longed to excuse, but she couldn’t lie.
Witch also meant priestess. A name as much as a title.
“You’re a Mancer?” A mage.
-I’m the guardian of life.
The tryllt’s hand flashed forward and came up with a serpentine creature called a mosuhuma, a salamander wriggling in its mouth.
-You bring death, to this place of life.
“I don’t understand.”
-Humans are made of death. You excrete it. Leave and don’t befoul this place.
“But how can I–?” Fryseld wiped sweat from her brow.
-If you die here, nothing will grow.
Fryseld saw a salamander swimming away from another mosuhuma. She clutched it up, saved it, only to watch it die of the salt on her hand.
Hubris in the Face of a Godkiller (Armitage Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
The cameras of the remote control drone could pick up even the slightest deviation in the grassy landscape beneath, including their target. He saw the man without any distinguishing features in his long coat, standing in the middle of the meadow. The Colonel’s hands balled into fists.
They had only recently been made aware of this… thing that called itself Yuri. Several of their mystical experts had advised extreme caution against this enemy, but the Colonel had complete confidence in his technology. There was no way Yuri could even perceive the drone cloaked by magic and tech, much less reach them here miles away.
His thoughts went to his family, waiting upstairs. He had promised to take his wife and children to dinner tonight. Under normal circumstances, he would have asked them to wait at the restaurant, but they had insisted on picking him up at the military base. And why not? This Yuri couldn’t reach them here. Not even he could travel hundreds of miles in seconds.
He gave the order. A missile detached from the drone and shot straight at Yuri. He turned around, when the explosive hit him and erupted into a fireball. At the same time, however, the camera feed turned to static.
“Can we still see him?” the Colonel called.
“One moment, sir,” his Lieutenant answered.
They both recoiled, as a human face appeared in the camera, its eyes seemingly drilling into them.
“I see you,” Yuri growled.
A hand shot out of the screen and grabbed the Lieutenant’s face, crushing her beneath his strong fingers. Another hand grabbed the table, as Yuri began to peel himself out of the monitor screen. His mouth opened wide, as he began to suck in the surrounding air. The Colonel reached for his sidearm, but the soul-eater dashed forward, crushing him into the wall.
His soul exited his body, but was swiftly caught in Yuri’s fist.
“You wanted me? Here I am. We…” he broke off, his inhuman eyes directed towards the ceiling: “Is that your family, upstairs?”
The Colonel could do nothing to prevent, what happened next.
“Mirror, Mirror In My Mind”
By Joseph Kharms
I feel guilty. It all happened inbetween Lunch and Dinner. I did something unforgivable.
“YUGOSLAVIAN DELIGHTS ARE YUGOSLAVIAN YUMMY. BUY NOW!”
My wife was working that day, I was home alone and bored. I watched movies and did housework, but I couldn’t help but feel… Peckish.
That’s when I saw the advert on the TV, and it reminded me what we had in the fridge.
“YUGOSLAVIAN DELIGHTS, NOW MADE WITH 15% LESS OPIOIDS!”
There they were, unopened and gleaming with promise. I had been trying to eat less, I’d been feeling myself getting fatter. But they taste so good. “Just the one”, I told myself. I innocently grabbed the packet of Yugoslavian Delights; I’d committed now.
“YUGOSLAVIAN DELIGHTS, THE TASTE OF CLASHING REGIONAL AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES WITHIN A COMMUNIST REGIME!”
As my wife came through the front door that afternoon, she called out my name and received no response from me. She took off her coat and entered the kitchen. She frowned and picked up an empty packet of Yugoslavian Delights that lay discarded on the floor. Temptation got the better of me! She walked into the living room to find the curtains were drawn. The room was dark so it took her a while to realise what she was looking at. She let out a scream.
“YUGOSLAVIAN DELIGHTS, it isn’t your fault.”
My wife continued to scream at the monster before her. There it was, a hideous bloated pig-like creature hunched in the corner. It attempted to crawl on it’s six flimsy and fleshy legs towards her, but she turned and ran away in horror. She runs away from the monster. The monster which is me.
I hide from the world often. I don’t expect many people to have time for a creature as disgusting as me. At night, I open my mental fridge and consume the guilt and self-disgust which warps my cognitive mirror. The only reflection I believe to be true, is the image of a monster; that can be seen in tears.
Too Late To Stop (TW: Contains a suicide attempt, and a description of suicidal thoughts.)
By Calliope Rannis
Everything was ready. Finally.
The Transaugmentation Machine was complete, and it was beautiful. Two cages lined with a rainbow of exotic metals, connected by a chain of crystal spheres. One cage for Kord’s holy sword, glowing with divine power.
The second cage was for her.
The lightning rod was in position. No need to waste time. You’ll see them again soon.
Nyssa entered the cage, and lay herself back against the metal table, her legs comfortably between the open rings of the metal restraints around them.
Reaching up, she grabbed at a thick silver cable. Pulling her robe away, she placed it directly above her heart, wincing from the cold metal. Four pins drew blood as they secured the cable. That done, the gnome relaxed her arms into their restraints.
Not to trap her, of course. But the process would make her body spasm, and she wanted this to be dignified.
With nothing else to do, and the noise of the oncoming storm building outside, Nyssa allowed herself to smile. It was so nearly time! She couldn’t wait.
She’d make scientific history, for sure. Oh, they’d mourn her, but they would recover. It would break Kord’s prized toy, and she could gleefully imagine the look on his godly face. Most importantly though, she would get to meet her parents again. It had been almost 30 years, and she couldn’t wait a day longer.
(Would…would they want her to do this?)
It doesn’t matter. Her parents would still love her. No matter what.
She closed her eyes and tried to relax her shaking body. Nearly time.
Lightning struck the tower from above. Electricity surged into the machine, instantly slamming her restraints shut. An emerald light shone from beyond, along with sounds like tearing metal and unearthly screaming.
I don’t want to die.
Her eyes widened.
I don’t want to die!
Her limbs strained against her bindings.
I DON’T WANT TO DIE!!!!!
The energy howled through the cable and slammed into her heart, and her head was flooded with searing light, heat, her screams, before everything went black.
It wasn’t an easy place to find, but Shayna had experience locating demons. It was her calling. Not to mention, it was just…abnormal for a demon, an angel, and a goddess to be in the same place. It stood out if you knew what to look for. She stood before the forgotten temple and as she expected, the inhabitants were waiting for her.
They didn’t look how Shayna expected, but she could feel the power coming off the four of them in waves. It was humbling. She immediately fell to her knees, prostrating herself before them.
“I know I’m insignificant to ask anything of a being as great as you.” Shayna pleaded. “All I have to offer in exchange is my purity. But I willingly offer it and my service in any way you wish to make use of me!”
“…um…what’s…going on…?” He asked his three companions.
“I…think she’s a virgin sacrifice, Master…” Giggled the demoness.
“A…what…?” He asked incredulously before turning to the goddess. “You take virgin sacrifices?! Not cool!”
“I’m a harvest goddess, Master. Even at my apex, the biggest sacrifice I’ve ever received was a goat.” The goddess corrected. “She’s here for YOU.”
Shayna finally looked up to see him dumbfounded by the realization. But it WAS him on whom she focused. The only entity on Earth powerful enough to bring such supernatural beings under his thrall. The horseman of Death.
“She…is correct.” Shayna nodded. “Please. I’m desperate. Ask anything of me.”
He knelt to Shayna’s level, flashing her a kind smile. “And what makes you so desperate?”
“A demon.” Shayna answered. “He’s too powerful for me and no one will help! They all say he’s not worth the risk no matter what evil atrocities he commits!”
“She said the ‘e’ word.” The angel finally spoke, rolling her eyes. “I’ll get my sword.”
While the demoness laughed, the goddess merely smirked knowingly. “My dear girl. You should have just opened with that.”
To Shayna’s surprise, she saw that her attempted sacrifice was completely unnecessary.
“Pleased to meet you. Now…tell me more about this demon.”
“About Death” (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
Death dropped Marcos onto the bed.
“I told you,” Marcos spoke, sitting up to go back to what he was doing, “I’m not that tired.”
“You have been working on locating the sword since yesterday,” Death reminded him. “I assume you stayed awake the entire time?”
Marcos opened his mouth to answer.
“Short naps do not count.”
He closed his mouth.
“Tell me where your notes are, and I will continue the search.”
Marcos considered it, then said, “Only if you answer a few questions.”
“What are they?”
The wizard pulled out a piece of paper from one of his many coat pockets and unfolded it. “Do you need to fulfill basic human needs? If not, do you do it for fun?”
Death was taken aback by the nature of the question. “Uh, no. To both.”
“Biggest myth about you?”
“That I am omnipresent. If that was true, I would have located the Sword of Nyx by now.”
“What’s up with the ‘kiss of death’ saying?”
Death groaned at the memories that flooded back to him. “That was a joke. I have no clue if there’s truth to it.”
That seemed to pique Marcos’ interest.
“Do you have any other questions? Or can I have the location of your notes?”
The wizard thought about it, then he asked, “Can we test the ‘kiss of death’ saying?”
Death stared at Marcos. “I beg your pardon?”
“I mean, I’m guessing you never actually kissed anybody.”
“I find that lips are an important part of the process. Besides, there is a chance that it could kill you.”
“Is… that a no to the kissing?”
Death sighed, “Is this the last thing you will ask of me?”
He hesitated for a moment, then leaned down. He was about to press his teeth to Marcos’ forehead when the wizard gave Death a kiss of his own.
Before Death could react, Marcos pulled away, said, “Top right drawer,” then collapsed on the bed and fell asleep.
Death, still stunned from the sudden kiss, only left when he saw Marcos breathing.