Ah, the vast expanses of the world. Lovely places, don’t you think? Endless skies, open fields and seas. It makes you feel so small, doesn’t it? So small… and so alone. What? Why do you look so nervous? Well, it might be time to face that fear of the open, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Beware the Empty Spaces
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 could be taken in a rather obvious direction, couldn’t it? The first thing that springs to mind is agoraphobia, or the fear of open spaces. But knowing this creative lot… it will be so much more than that.
This empty space could be anywhere, really. It can be the wide open ocean, where someone is stranded all alone on a single lifeboat. It can be a town square that’s abuzz with activity, making one feel very out of place. It can be a rabbit, dashing out into a forest clearing for that sweet green it craves so much, even knowing predators might be prowling about. Perhaps the empty space is that blindspot behind your back as you’re ascending the stairs alone at night, where anything at all could crawl along behind you. Perhaps it’s a vast arena that you need to battle and survive through.
Perhaps the empty space isn’t a location at all. Perhaps it’s just that gap between thoughts, where the most unlikely, and sometimes not very nice things like to crawl through and dig into your brain. Or perhaps it’s the blank canvas that you’ve yet to stain with your brush, and everything you imagine craves for you to open that door for them, tempting you with various thoughts. Maybe the empty space is simply the gap that you’re trying to fill with your writing, and you can’t stop before the page is full or the beast you’ve brought to life will claw its way through the page. Or maybe this empty space is simply a void that’s been empty for far too long, whether from a loss, a broken heart, or a missing object.
There are so many things you talented folk can do with this prompt. So swallow your anxiety, face your fears, and spill your mark on the empty page before you.
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 four stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and two 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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- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
by minergirl778 (aka frogfireFantasy)
Never trust an empty schedule.
It’s a lesson I learned pretty early in my life. Most people would look at a blank schedule and breathe a sigh of relief. But me? I take one look at it and worry about what isn’t there.
It’s silly. Yknow? I’ve been given perfectly good agenda books all my life. I’ve had parents with the most fabulous lists you’ve ever seen. I’ve been taught and coached all my life. But the action of making a checklist? That’s the hard part.
I always say I’ll do it, and then never do. Meanwhile, I’m left using my brain as an agenda book. A historically unreliable brain. One that mixes up dates, forgets steps, scrambles procedures and seems intent on causing my downfall. I try to keep everything straight in my head, and just end up tangling it up more.
But… why? Why am I so bad with these things? I guess it’s for a number of reasons, actually. Sometimes I say I’ll do it, but never sit down to actually do it. Sometimes I have so little work, it feels insulting to try and put it in an agenda book. Sometimes I misplace the agenda book itself, and end up being unable to write stuff down until later. It’s a complex issue.
A complex issue that’s also worsened by my own issues with the things. I guess a part of me sees getting everything done by my own brainspace is “Normal”. That if I actually pulled out a checklist, it’d be admitting I didn’t have the smarts to do it otherwise. I’d be seen as scatterbrained. Forgetful. Dumb.
And then there’s the thing of what happens when I don’t complete the checklists I’m given. I feel awful for not being able to complete my lists. There’s so many times I’ve forgotten things and just been unable to do them. If I don’t check them off, then I just leave them there until I can, leading them to just become more junk in the background. So, I check them off so I can move onto the next day, but there’s always that lingering feeling in the back of my head that I didn’t do it. That I’m lying. That I’m bad at this. That I’m bad at everything.
They do help me. They really do. I’ve been blessed by their presence in my life over the past few weeks. But there’s also a slight nervousness that comes at the idea of organizing stuff like that for me. Of the impossible levels of upkeep it might demand. Being organized feels like such a chore. But… I’m doing worse without it.
I’ve got a long way to go with them. I’m trying my best. Lets hope I stay on the ball.
Too Quiet and Lonely
Amrhysea set down in the alley, tucking her wings close but not dismissing them, for doing so would also have turned the avian claws back into soft fingers.
Even after the liberation of the city, it felt like folly to go unarmed.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped out onto the wider street.
So much had changed, which, given it had been nearly four centuries, shouldn’t be too surprising, but to Amrhy it felt like the island had been turned inside out.
As she stood in the middle of the street, people in dark grey robes flitted around her, carrying a variety of tools. They parted upon meeting her, but even so she found herself pulling closer in, keen to avoid contact.
She couldn’t stay here, not with so many penitents around. So the Aravwin hurried on, through alleys almost familiar and passages faintly reminiscent of her childhood. Everything felt wrong, not like a living city but some pale imitation like for a nobles grand stage play of life.
Eventually she found herself run out onto a wide open plaza, exhaling in relief at the relative silence. As her breathing slowed, Amrhysea looked about, taking in the place she had fled to.
With the penitent absent, the remnants of the last battle were still present. Her eyes wandered from burned out roof trusses, to molten cobblestones, across dark stains where at least the bodies of the fallen had been removed.
Slowly, the corner of her vision seemed to darken and despite the effort to calm down, she found her breathing grow shorter and shorter until it only came in pressed gasps.
In spite of her better knowledge, she found the phantoms of her past rise around her, writhing in the shadow and curling across the sky. As if she was back in that first horrible night, with all she knew burning around her.
Wings spreading, she shot high into the sky away from the quiet and too empty plaza.
She was not ready to face the silence of her past. She would rather choose the uncomfortable noise of the present.
“The Space Between the Stars”
In the skies above the world is wonder. The infinite myriad of lights, dazzling for the mortal eye to behold, hangs between the worlds of Man and the glory of Heaven. Each star radiates with the light of Heaven, guiding Men between the vast oceans of the Æther. In this Light, the warmth and protection of God fosters the growth of life.
But beware, then, the void between. Though the Light is infinite, the vastness of the Æther draws thickly over the stars. Between them dwells a darkness more vast and unassailable than the depths of the ocean, and more perilous than the dragon’s fire. What horror can call this emptiness home? What writhing monstrosity is so hideous to shun the Light of Heaven? How warmed by malice against the beauty of life must it be to survive in the frigid seas of the night?
How vast it must be, that which swallows all hope in the darkness. How cruel, and how terrible to behold, for witnesses to fall ill at its mere rumor! So terrible is its venom, or its poison, that all good will fails in the hearts of Men, leaving a base, degenerate thing in his stead.
I saw a man once, whose face was haggard with lack of sleep, stand before the village chapel. As the congregation left, he berated them, “Foolish is your entire lot! What good is your God now, against the truth I have seen? How great a Shepherd can One be to allow His sheep to be terrorized by such evil as I have witnessed? What is the warmth of the Sun but the sensation of fire upon the skin, and the darkness but a cool reprieve from the flames of an unjust Maker? There is nothing for any of us, and I have seen It!”
And so on he rambled before the constable was called to lead him off.
So look to the skies, and admire the beauty of starlight, but beware the Void between, and the nothingness that lurks within.
“An Underwater Encounter”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
The early morning sun painted the sea a rose color as a group of women wading into the freezing water. Huddling together for warmth, they carried their wooden rimmed nets into waist-deep water, their tools on their backs affixed by a rope belt. The shortest woman, a humanoid otter, walked in stride with her sisters. Suddenly, something in the water caught her eye. The woman leading the group, a pregnant oni, stopped and turned around.
“Ladies, you are about to enter the ocean. Remember your training: make sure you communicate, support each other, and never go into open water.”
The otter woman paid no mind, the silver darting shape in the sea capturing her attention.
“Yoki!” the oni woman shouted.
The kawauso snapped up, embarrassed. “Sorry, Big Sis Hana.”
The oni, Hana, massaged the bridge of her nose. “Just get to work.”
Yoki nodded and dove into the water. Bubbles rose as the kawauso headed for a cluster of seaweed. Jackpot. Yoki took out her knife and brushed her hand through the plants, looking for any shellfish to harvest. A few abalone slithered slowly through the underwater brush. With a smile, Yoki pried one off the rock, swam up to her net and placed it in the net, letting out a whistling sound.
Then, Yoki saw the fish again. She quickly dove and gave chase, her growling stomach and powerful tail propelling her forward. Yoki snatched up the fish as she passed the continental shelf. The kawauso’s eyes grew wide. Over the side of the shelf, an enormous pink mass crawled up. It moved from side to side, clouding the water with sand.
Yoki swam up, whistling an alarm to whoever might hear and waited. And waited. No replying whistle ever came. She was out too far, and they couldn’t hear her over the roaring waves. The kawauso knew she couldn’t swim in; she’d be eaten for sure.
Yoki cried as she waited for the creature to leave. She could barely look at the patches of red as she swam to shore. Ten women entered the water, one came out.
Charles hiked up Edwin’s grand staircase. He mopped his perspiring forehead with a dirtied handkerchief. Using the banister to steady himself, he took in great lungfuls of tepid air to reclaim his breathing.
To Charles’s right, double wooden doors crashed open.
“Ah! Charles, you old consort! Good to see you again!”
“Hello… Edwin…” Charles pushed back the nausea.
Edwin was rotund yet robust. His eyes sparkled with a curious light.
“Into my study with you! Don’t need you taking a tumble!”
Charles’s breathing was sharp and harsh as he ambled lamely behind Edwin.
“Grab a seat, ya gimp! How’s the family?”
Charles finally stabilized his breathing. “Lost Dad last year.”
“Damn shame, that.”
Charles’s heart tripped through his chest as he took in the room.
Knickknacks cluttered the desk. Skewed books occupied shelves in a far corner. Guns and swords hung in glass cases.
The adorned walls, however, captured Charles’s attention the most.
Animal heads. Horrendous displays for Edwin’s lewd pleasure.
Charles went from red to pale. “I-I see you’ve been hunting more, Edwin.”
Pouring liquid sounded from behind him. The malodorous perfumes of a struck match and cigar smoke encompassed the room.
“Damn straight! There are very few animals I HAVEN’T hunted. I’ve grown terribly bored with my recent acquisitions, though.”
“It’s a wonder there are any animals left.”
Edwin guffawed and spun Charles around to face four empty, polished wall mounts. A plume of thick smoke exited Edwin’s mouth.
“Look at these beauties.”
Charles dispersed the smoke by fanning it. “Where are the… uh… ‘trophies’?”
“That’s the magic; I haven’t hunted them yet!” Edwin reached over and sipped his brandy.
“Where will you be hunting this time?”
“Locally.” The word was a rumbling purr.
Uneasily, Charles met Edwin’s shadowed eyes.
“Nothing like a good hunt, old sport.”
Charles tasted bile.
They were interrupted by three colleagues stepping into the room. Two women, one man. All wore jovial smiles.
“Miranda! Julie! Ian! Wonderful to see you all again!”
They returned his pleasantries with genuine affection.
Edwin’s gaze shone with excitement.
“Now, who’d like a tour of the grounds?”
ACCIDENTALLY POSTED IT UNEDITED. PLEASE DISREGARD THIS! ITS A PLACEHOLDER UNTIL I CAN EDIT MY STORY
By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)
Blake loved the empty spaces. All those places hidden in plain sight. Doorways of locked rooms, around corners; the gaps in the scenery. Whenever he felt the creep of anxiety grip at his chest, finding one always helped calm him.
Blake scratched meticulously at the arm of the old tweed chair of the reception area. He needed this job, and he was never very good at interviews. He had been waiting for over two hours, nerves building with each passing moment until he finally couldn’t take it.
“Uh, excuse me,” he approached the receptionist “How much longer is it going to be? I don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve seen several people come and go after me while I’ve been waiting.”
“Oh! My dear I’m so sorry, I don’t know how I missed your name on the list!”
“So I’ll be next?”
“I’m afraid not honey, the interviewer has already left for the day, but we can reschedule. Don’t worry, she’ll understand, it was my mistake!”
As he began to make his way out of the building, Blake began to feel a panic attack coming on. He ducked into a doorway, resting his hand on the stiff door handle. When the doorway and his concentrating breathing weren’t enough, he tested the door. The handle gently gave way.
The room was empty, the only light poured in through the cracks of the blinds and the doorway Blake had just come through. He stayed there counting and tracing every crack of light with his eyes until his breathing slowed and his mind settled.
“Best be careful now.” A smooth voice called out in the empty room. Startled, Blake turned to meet the voices’ source. A thin man, in a non-descript suit with features Blake would later be unable to recall, stood silently in the corner. Blake was certain he was alone when he had entered.
“You spend too much time nowhere, and you might just become no one.”
Blake looked around the room.
“You mean—” And as Blake turned back to face the man, there was no one there.
The war within
by Gage Jarman
The morning air nipped at his tired face. His boots beat to the pangs of his heart along the cobblestone streets. He shifted his rucksack. It seemed to get heavier with each advance up the hill. It was exactly how he remembered, maybe a little more warm, like there was this glow about it, but then why did it feel so sorrowful?
Everywhere there were flashes. He didn’t want to remember. He didn’t want to be left behind. Faces and figures filled the shops. He heard their laughing and shouts and bickering. It was non-distinct, but so close to real like a song you know the tune but not the words. He saw them living their old lives, but there wasn’t a soul in sight.
These streets basked in early morning light, they were too bright for him. The trampled stones felt holy, as if he was walking on their graves. Why did he return? Out of everyone, why did he survive that hell. He fought and struggled to survive as best he could, but had he done more, had he shot with more haste, had he yelled a warning quicker, would there be at least one companion returning with him.
He didn’t want to be home, not yet. He couldn’t bear that empty house, alone with his thoughts. The echoes of the past hung over him. He wanted quiet, true quiet, but when distractions left him, they came. In the peaceful places, they whispered to him. Unintelligible, but filled to the brim with emotion. They hounded his existence. He felt them creeping over his shoulder even now, even in the golden hue of The Lord’s day.
He sat outside the steps of the pub and waited.
People began walking home from mass.
“Cillian!” Seamus wore a sad smile. “I didn’t know anyone was coming back today. It’s uh, it’s good to see ya. Did nobody else…”
“Yeah.” He smiled weakly. “Could I trouble you for a drink? I know it’s early—”
“Don’t say another word.” The door unlocked with a heavy thunk. “Come inside. It’s on the house.”
What We Left Behind
By L. L. Marco
The carpet beneath me is a bloody, red river that slowly drags me down the hallway. I’m shaking. I don’t want to go. Something awful is waiting for me but inevitably I find myself entering a bedroom. It’s just as dark as the hallway but the faint outline of two twin beds are crouching in the shadows. The floor beneath me drags me further in. Dread boils my mind. Everything is blurred and dark save a single sliver of light screaming out from beneath the closet door.
I pass a mirror. To catch my own reflection would be a blessing in this wave of uncertainty, however, a black empty nothing stares back at me.
I’m cowering in front of the door. My body tenses as the hinges wheeze; the door slowly opens of its own accord and for a moment there is nothing but blinding light.
When I can finally see again I find nothing but an empty closet. Well… nearly. A noose dangles from the vacant rod, taut as if the ghost of someone dangled from it. A shadow puddles underneath, a lifeless memory of a host long gone–
I woke up screaming, alone, in my bedroom. Cold sweat pools on my trembling skin as I throw my arm over the side of my bed, smacking the wood of the table beside me. Finally, I found my phone, and in my delirious sleep-deprived state I had already dialed the number I knew by heart. It rang once, twice, three times.
The ringing was barely audible above my raging heartbeat. Then, finally, a familiar voice on the other end. My heart ached as my sister’s bubbly, bratty voice filled my ears. The smart-ass voicemail she’d left behind was so precious now. The phone slipped from my hand and I choked back a sob, tears flowing freely down my cheeks.
She was gone. I knew that and yet I kept leaving empty messages on her voicemail.
It was unbearable. There were only nightmares to fill the empty space she’d left behind.
Eyes in the Dark
“The young boy was told not to go out at night, less something bad happened to him. His mother and father warned him countless times over and over, ‘Don’t sneak off at night. Night belongs to the rats.’
The boy tried his best to listen to his parents. He ate his supper and arrived for prayer. He gave thanks to the Goddess and was kind to his friends. However, he had one major vice, and it was one most sinful. His appetite for food of all kinds was insatiable. He ate and played everyday and grew quite plump.
One night, he played for so long with his companions that the day settled into dusk and then the sky became a void with only small light pelted throughout it. He looked around and saw that his friends had all but disappeared in the night.
The boy then heard a voice as a hunched figure came out of the shadows. The boy talked back to the man, asking if they knew where his friends were. With that he sealed his fate, the protection of the Goddess far gone, and only the darkness to hear his cries of terror.” Saint Luxia closed the book as the story finished.
Secundus looked at the other kids and shook his head. He had been at the orphanage long enough to know all the scary stories the priests told to get them to sleep.
“Now children,” Saint Luxia stood up as she spoke, “Blow out your candles and go to sleep. Let the angels’ feathers give you good rest and protection.”
Everyone followed suit and went to bed, some even praying to the Goddess to protect them. Secundus rolled his eyes, remembering all the times the Goddess never answered his prayers for a family.
He rolled on his side, looking out the window, “What’s so scary about the dark anyway?”
The night seemed to pass as he looked outside. The stars glittering in the void. There was nothing out there. Nothing at all.
The Voice in the Void
Nabiki sat at the bus stop, staring at the white portal floating around her. She had been used to seeing the cracks in reality since she was a small child. It had gotten to the point that her brain had filtered them out, like they never existed.
But now the cracks had opened.
The past month had been an ordeal to get through. The death of her mom, Dad sent her to a new band camp, and she learned a new instrument, so she could stop playing the violin.
And then she met Yuriko. Nabiki didn’t know where she and Yuriko stood, now that camp was over. They texted each other every day after they got back, but Nabiki never received a text from her today. Yes, it was going to be difficult to maintain a friendship, let alone a romance, with the two of them living so far apart. But it was too soon for Nabiki to lose someone else.
She doesn’t want you anymore. You’re a nuisance.
Nabiki started at the voice. She didn’t hear it. But at the same time, it felt like it came from the portal.
“Hello?” Nabiki asked.
No one wants you around. Even your father considered abandoning you. After your mom died, you’ve become a burden.
Nabiki shook her head. “That’s not true. Dad loves me.”
Do you want to bet?
Nabiki stared at the portal. She was certain the voice originated from it. She glanced around, and seeing no one around, she approached it.
“Look! I don’t know who you are, but if you’re in there, leave me alone!”
I’m the only one that understands.
Nabiki shook her head again. “No! That’s not true.”
You don’t have friends anymore.
“I can’t be with my old friends. They’re all in orchestra. It hurts to much to be around them.”
You have no one but me.
Nabiki looked around again. There was no one around. Gingerly, she stuck her head in the portal.
Inside, it was a white void. And the voice was much more intense this time.
EVERYONE MUST DIE!
Read Between the Lines
Two sugars, heavy cream, and the perfect cup of coffee is ready. I Deftly balanced my biscotti over my mug, grabbing the morning paper on my way to the table. Say what you will about the modern age, nothing beats the smell of ink in the morning.
“Beware the empty spaces, they will spell your doom.”
What kind of hokie fortune telling was that? I don’t put much faith in horoscopes, but sometimes give them a quick glance before leafing through to the crosswords. If nothing else they give me a chuckle.
The morning light warms the kitchen as I savor my sweet coffee, filling in as many of the easy words I can to start.
12-down: 4 letters, Possessive Pronoun.
10-across had been Edys, so it starts with a Y.
Why do people put so much stock in horoscopes and fortune telling? If the stars had anything important to say about my future, I wouldn’t find it in the local paper. And besides, they hardly ever change.
16-across: 4 letters, Unfortunate Fate.
I almost feel bad for the people in charge of horoscopes in the newspaper. It feels like such a dull job. Okay, unfortunate fate can mean a lot. Maybe another word can clue me in.
10-down: 9 letters, Astronomer, Sir Arthur Stanley …
I have no qualms about using the internet for names. Almost everything else I will try to puzzle out. But, I have no way of solving a name, I either know it, or not. I search the name on my phone while retrieving another biscotti. Eddington, okay then.
If 10-down is Eddington, unfortunate fate would start with a D. And, if the possessive noun is YOUR, which it almost certainly is, then the third letter is O. The most likely answer is…
I stare so long at the page my eyes itch. What the heck? At the bottom of the crossword, I seek out the small print. I see the name ‘Arthur Cobblesworth’ before flipping the pages back to the horoscopes. ‘This week’s horoscope readings by Arthur Cobblesworth.’
Holes[Aleph null sci fi universe, inspired by stories from the antimemetics division of the SCP foundation, specifically the introductory antimemetics tale]
It’s my first day on the job at the rotating habitat. First lunch.
Twelve people sit in the immaculate cafeteria with me. Shouldn’t there be more? A habitat like this requires at least forty workers, and this cafeteria is way too big for twelve. They must have some really good automation. One person comes over to me. They look perfectly and absolutely average.
They sit down next to me. “I’m Grey. Who are you good fellow?”
A light headache overtakes me. It’s probably fine. I reply “I’m Kyle. Hell of a first day, huh?”
Except I just got here. I haven’t actually done anything yet. How did I get here?
How how how how how?
Grey leans in close and says “And it will be your last”. He pulls out a knife.
I scream. No one notices. Why doesn’t anyone notice?
Grey’s strange voice talked again. “You used to know four languages, now one. Soon Zero” He approaches me slowly and calmly.
I need to get out of here now. I only know english. My headache increases.
I wave my hand in front of people’s faces. No one notices.
I rush over to the elevator. It opens up. He’s still coming.
I get in and press a button as fast as I can. The door closes. I go down. Something lands on the roof. Fuck.
The numbers are barely making sense to me.
The door opens.
I run. Some instinct draws me to a room I don’t recognize. It has weird devices with barrels and weird semi-rectangular objects. I am half way through putting these things together before I realize I have no clue what I am doing. Muscle memory guides me through the process anyways.
I point the weird object at the door on instinct.
The door opens. Or does it? As I think, I squeeze my finger.
Grey appears on the floor, bleeding. From the back of my mind, I know I killed him, and I know I used a gun. How could I have forgotten?
It’s not my first day, is it?
There’s something in the Forest
by Mathew (Handsome Johanson)
A groggy, orange-headed girl shuffles a bit in bed before falling back to sleep.
“Anna, wake up!” the voice cries as loud as his whisper allows.
The girl turns over to face the window. She can see the enthusiastic face of Ollie on the other side. He can see a look of pure unamusement on Anna’s face.
“What do you want, Oliver?” She sounds exasperated.
“You’ve got to come check this out! There’s something in the woods!” Ollie’s excitement causes him to raise his voice. Embarrassed, he quiets back down. “It’s worth it. I promise.”
Anna rolls back over.
But a few moments later she rolls back around and gets up. “Fiiine. Let’s do this.” She gets up out of bed and heads to the window.
“But first I need to change.” She closes the curtains on him and gets dressed.
A few moments later, she climbs out of the window, taking Ollie’s hand as she falls to keep her balance. Together, they quickly make their way into the forests beyond Anna’s house.
As they walk, the trail becomes more and more desolate until only the trees remain with a thick carpet of leaves strewn across the floor.
“What the heck were you doing out here anyway, Olls?” Anna asks, breaking the silence.
“What else am I supposed to do at night?”
“Maybe get some sleep?”
He laughs. “You know I’m a night owl.” He winks, but Anna just rolls her eyes.
Soon, the trail widens into a large clearing.
Ollie stops in his tracks and points to the clearing. “Notice anything strange?”
Anna just gives Ollie an unamused face. “Just tell me what’s unusual.”
“Ok. Ok.” He laughs picking up a rock. “This clearing wasn’t here a few days ago, and if you throw a rock.” He tosses the rock into the clearing. It flies through the air until it collides with nothing and ricochets back. “It collides with something in the field that we can’t se-, Anna?”
As he turns back to Anna, he notices that she has already run the other way.
Tales from the Infinite Hallway: Every Moment
By Giovanna J. Fuller
“Aaaaand…OPEN!” Angela swung the closet door open and frowned.
“It’s a storage closet,” Adam said in an unamused monotone. “May I go upstairs and do my homework now?”
Marshall took hold of the doorknob from Angela. “Let me try.” He closed the door and opened it again only to find the same thing as before. There were a couple winter coats, a box of Angela’s Benjamin Franklin busts, and some baskets filled with mittens and scarves. “When was the last time we were allowed in?”
“Dunno, it’s been a while.” Angela leaned over and pulled out a long, sloppily knitted, green and pink scarf. She wrapped it around her neck before taking hold of the doorknob again. She closed and opened the door several more times while her brother and best friend spoke.
“May I please go upstairs and finish my homework?”
“You still have six days left of spring break, what’s the hurry?” Marsh asked.
“Last time I spent spring break with Angela, she distracted me until the last day and I had to stay up until midnight to finish.”
“You had fun and you know it!” Angela let out a huff and slammed the door shut. “Poo! I really wanted to show you the room with all the books and stuff.”
Adam sighed. “Are you really going to wear that?”
“Auntie Tisha made it.”
“Auntie Tisha can’t see color.”
“It’s cool and I’m wearing it.” She skipped off to the front counter. “Want to help me organize the jewelry case?”
“I’m going upstairs to finish my homework.”
When Adam had gone, Marshall walked over to stand behind the checkout counter and next to Angela. “You ok?”
She nodded, and began distracting herself with organizing some antique rings so that they formed a smiley face in the display case. “It…it’s just…I wanted to do something with Adam that he’d enjoy. I haven’t seen him since school started and,” she frowned, “I missed him. Every moment is precious!”
“Every moment doesn’t have to be filled with your…hijinks. You don’t have to ‘do’ something every second.”
Space is Mostly Empty
Alexi hated the quiet. They didn’t hate much, but quiet empty places, still and somber, were the antithesis to their whole being, and yes they learned that word just to say that. There was calm in the storm, and then there was a tomb.
As such, they had a strong attraction and repulsion to deep space travel.
On one hand, it was beautiful. Hundreds of thousands of stars and nebulae and uncountable planets and asteroids and things to see and places to go. On the other, it was harder to get quieter than in a space suit, surrounded by a vacuum with your radio out. It was so quiet you couldn’t hear yourself think for the silence.
Alexi did not do spacewalks.
When Alexi finally got enough funds to acquire a spaceworthy vessel and leave their colony, the first thing they did—well, after thoroughly exploring the entire ship with childish glee—was vow to fill the empty space with living things. Like their monster of a spider plant. And a trustworthy crew.
It took time. It took a lot of time, and Alexi was not the most patient of people. But it was worth it—all the pain and heartache and endless nights of frustration and betrayal, to be able to walk through the halls and see friendly faces, see the crew, and be able to just sit and listen to the noise of people going about their lives in a space that Alexi created.
And who cared if the crew wasn’t perfect. Carath was cold on a good day, but a softy inside. Othala was the best medic they could hope for, who cared that she was technically illegal. Even grumpy Germonia was willing to put up with Alexi and keep them on track and the paperwork in order.
Alexi had a good feeling about the Komothian, Tack’kal, that he had talked with. He was cheerful and bright, so when he asked if he could bring his best friend, a human named Talin, Alexi just laughed.
“The more the merrier! It’ll be nice to not be the only human onboard.”
by Astrid Jones
Bridgette approached the door, left unlocked for her by her husband. Afternoon light filtered through the screen door, pooling on the carpet inside the doorway. She stopped with her hand on the latch. Something was missing. The now-familiar ache rose in her throat, but she forced it down and pushed inside.
“Hey, honey,” her husband, Mark, said as he came down the hall to greet her. “How was work?”
Bridgette kicked off her shoes. “Long. Tiring. How’s…” The ache came back, stopping the words she did not need to say anymore. “How was your day?” she asked instead.
Mark’s gaze softened. He knew what she had been about to ask. “My day was okay. House is a little empty. But you’re home now, so it’s better.”
Later, during dinner, Bridgette absently dropped a bit of turkey into the empty space next to her chair. Mark reached out and touched her hand. She looked at him questioningly.
“You did it again,” he said, tilting his head toward the floor between them.
“Ah,” Bridgette said. “So I have.” She picked up the piece of meat and placed it with the other two she had dropped earlier.
When they finally went to bed, Bridgette could not fall asleep. There was too much pillow, too much bed, too many blankets. Even though Mark turned on the fan and a podcast for the night, the silence in their room was loud. Bridgette felt the ache in her throat rise but did not fight it for once.
“I miss him, too, sweetheart,” Mark said. He brushed one of her tears away as she sniffled.
“It’s so… empty here, now,” Bridgette said when she caught her breath. “So empty.”
Shadow of Ash
“We’ll discuss it in the morning captain, now good night.” Baron Cyrus slumped against the door as he closed it and released a fatigued sigh. He’d been dealing with quelling rebellions and land disputes all day, not to mention having to meet with nobles from the Empire who were beginning to doubt his capability as a baron. To say it was exhausting would be putting it lightly, a pack of feral dogs would have been easier to deal with. Seeking respite, he picks up a nearby candle and retires to his bedchambers. As he slid beneath the covers he felt the tension exude from his tired body.
“Finally, some peace and comfort.” Cyrus said before shutting his eyes.
“My, my baron, your duties seem to have taken quite the toll on you.” Cyrus nearly jumped out of bed upon hearing the voice. “You really should find more time to relax.”
“I was about to before you so rudely interrupted,” The baron said scanning the room for the source of the voice. “Now what the hell are you doing in my house?!”
“Merely helping relieve you of your burden,” The candles around the room were extinguished with these words, plunging Cyrus into a void of darkness. “And fulfilling a contract.”
Fumbling with a match, Cyrus managed to relight a single candle. The empty void danced and undulated in response to the lone flame that dared to penetrate its vast expanse. The tension returned to Cyrus’ body, stiffening his limbs and crushing his spine. “Show yourself, quit skulking in the shadows and face me!”
An ashen hand reached out from the darkness and plucked the flame from its wick, submerging the baron back into the endless murk of shadow. Cyrus felt something coarse slither around him, crawling up his spine and over his shoulder before feeling the cold sting of steel on his throat. A ghostly ashen face and a pair of burning amber eyes pierced the darkness.
“From ashes we rise and to ash we shall return.” The voice whispered as the dagger sunk into Cyrus’ throat.
The Mind Of A Writer
Special Ones, that’s what I call them. The voices who wander the mountains and meadows of my mind. They search for things in the mist to bring back and use in my books.
The Special One named Tibby, found a purple butterfly sitting beside a sleeping boy. Flowers glowed red and yellow around them in the grass, and crystal waterfalls fell forever into stars beyond.
I took the purple butterfly and made it Death. The sleeping boy is now a soul for Death to bring home.
The day before last, old W.L came in riding a storm of black white and grey. Hooves thundered on soft blades of green, and long manes whipped wildly in the wind.
That is how the species Mystein came to life.
New Special Ones appear at random, bearing hidden gems they find in the mist.
Many moons ago, one brought with them a funny kind of thing. The Special One had no name of its own, but it brought to me the name Egard, from god knows where.
I still don’t know what to do with the name, so it stays on the refrigerator with my other strange oddities; names and locations, even a tree, snippets of dialogue and death here and there.
That nameless Special One is nameless no more. I gave it the name Enasni, which is backwards for insane.
I protect my Special Ones with my life, but there are some things I cannot protect them from.
Within the mist, lay pitfalls of the past. They whisper words like breadcrumbs and lure the Special Ones into Ynaffit. A place where demons dance to the devil’s tune, and sing songs of end times, death and doom.
I wish I could destroy that evil place, so no longer would my Special Ones suffer their wicked lullabies.
However, no one can escape the hell of their own creation.
I cannot destroy my demons, nor protect my Special Ones from their hate. Therefore, I write. I turn their pain into plot so some good will come of the war inside.
The Abandoned House
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
“Um, wh—why are we doing this again?” Ronnie whimpered.
“What else are we gonna do on Halloween but explore an old, empty house?” Katie giggled.
“What, you scared, little bro?” she teased.
“N—no!” he said stubbornly.
“Then let’s go!” She pulled him inside.
The place was decrepit. Every step they took kicked up dust, the floorboards creaked under their feet, and in the darkness everything could have been something ready to jump at them. Katie held the flashlight while Ronnie squeezed her free arm, quivering.
“Stop shaking so much, Ronnie! We’ll be fine!”
“D—did you hear that?” his voice broke.
“V—v—voices, from upstairs…”
“Ronnie, you’re hearing things, it’s just an old house,” she said kindly. “There aren’t any…voices…”
From the expression on her face, Ronnie could tell she was hearing them too. Low and scratchy, echoing down the half-rotten staircase. A full staticy chorus of them, and they seemed to be getting louder.
“Um, Ronnie?” Katie said. “Why don’t we just…go…”
“Y—yeah…” Ronnie murmured.
The siblings ran for the entrance hall, only to find it blocked by a tall figure closing the door behind them, face hidden by the hood of their long black coat. They skidded to a stop, Katie dropping the flashlight.
“Hello?” the figure hissed.
Ronnie screamed and buried his face in Katie’s side.
“Uh, p—please, we were just leaving…” Katie stammered, reaching for the flashlight.
The figure was silent. Then they stepped away from the door, beckoning them forward. “Fine. Don’t come back.”
“THANK YOU!” Katie and Ronnie ran into the night and didn’t stop until they got back home.
Back at the old house, the figure sighed and took off her coat. “Not again…”
“Oh, Irene, you’re back!” Deborah turned off the scratchy TV upstairs. “How was work?”
“It happened again, dear, and you didn’t even notice!”
“What? Oh, children sneaking in here thinking the place is haunted?”
“Yes! The townsfolk are suspicious enough already! Maybe you could consider turning on the lights, or cleaning, or something? ”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
Laughter echoed through the old, not-so-empty house.
The Private Library
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
The dim lantern light made no difference; it was impossible to see much ahead. Every step took her as far and away from the entrance point. In those dark corners, the rows of books of the Private Library felt more like menacing monsters than welcoming friends.
She had been there before and loved to glance at all those books on display. That place filled her with wonder. But the very rare volumes; she only ever saw the Library’s curator reading and handling them. Alexandria’s job was only to deliver them to others.
Yet the curator had asked her, in person, to pick a certain book. He never did it to anyone else. It was one that even he seemed afraid of.
“It’s a raw leather-bound, with no inscription on the cover!” He said in a disturbed tone. “It’s in the conservation chambers. Be careful.”
She wasn’t being watched or heard. But she felt accompanied by something in the utter silence. The clanking of her shoes was unnervingly loud against the marbled floor.
What could she fear, but old dusty books?
After a while, she found the heavy wooden door. Its noise echoed through the deserted halls. The cold air escaped from the room, and the scent of mold entered her lungs.
Her heart skipped a beat. She was alone; the library was vacant. There was nobody there to hurt her. But the feeling was there. Crowded and barren. Safe, but on the verge of chaos.
She shone light into it and stepped inside. Nothing.
Only the book gently resting against the table, unperturbed. She picked it up and thought about opening it. What was the deal with it?
A resounding thud came from behind her, comparable to oil drums crashing against the cobblestone. Reverberating in the hallway’s darkness.
Alexandria packed the volume between her hands and closed the doors. Even if it was just her imagination running wild and it was nothing. Even if it was just an old book with nothing special inside… She didn’t want to figure it out.
There was this small twig. Washed up by dust and blessed by the sun. It had a great time being there, simply existing for its own sake. He had been a larger being before but as time came, its grandeur shattered, broken in million pieces. Other twigs had some remnants of their past glory. A hard shell to carry their future, but not this one. This one was small and frail and had fallen decades earlier to the mystery of The Great Shatterer, the one who blows. Stories would not be written about him, maybe mentioned as an empty space or a trap of some sort with a board written ‘’Beware the empty spaces’’
In that case, he might become the most famous empty one then. The invisible twig overshadowed by the very dangerous warning. A legend for ages among his peers, though his frailness would surely be his doom. He might learn from a magician walking by. Dropping his book a few moments to the ninja twig, maybe glimpse a few words and learn a spell or two. But no magician passed by, making his sneak attack the more dramatic as he lingered there for days. Waiting ever more under the sun during the mornings and in the shade of the evening. This according to the book gave him a bonus to his stealth of 10 in the afternoon but minus 10 in the mornings.
Then one day as a survivor of the village passed by he took notice of this paranormal activity from the twig.
‘’This one will start the fire quite well’’
Ahh, the twig had become now the symbol of devotion. The one who started the fires. A sacrificed hero to the greater cause. But this twig was now more than a simple light match. It had risen to the new height of spy twig. The one who listens and leans in the shadows. To have seen him, the man must have been quite the inquisitor. None could have an eye so precise to see his hidden form but those of the Woodsmen Inquisition.
Lost In Transmission (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis
A blinding flash of white.
I take a couple of steps out of the metal booth before I realise something’s wrong.
Blue walls. Bright lights. Loads of busy grown-ups in every direction.
I have no idea where I am.
“Ah, there you are Sandy! I can always depend on you to be early at least.”
Someone knows my name? I snap my head towards whoever spoke, my vision landing on a smartly dressed lady with blonde streaks in her brown hair.
I have never seen her before.
She walks right up to me. “Okay, so first we’ve got some dataforms I need you to fill in before we start the project, and I’d also like you to help…me…with…?” Her sentence stalls as I continue to stare at her face. “Sandy? Are you feeling okay?”
“Uh, um – who are you?”
She blinks. “Wha-”
“What is this place? W-why am I here?”
“Sandy, this isn’t funny-”
“What’s going on? Why do you know my name? I don’t – I don’t know what is happening!” My voice is getting loud and shrill. Everyone is beginning to stare at me.
“Oh, by the stars…” The lady looks scared as she abruptly runs to the booth behind me and slams a button on the side.
Immediately a painful noise rings out, along with a harsh, metallic voice: “WARNING. CRITICAL TELEPORTATION ERROR REPORTED. THIS TELELINK IS OUT OF ORDER.” The noise and the voice repeat over and over, and I can’t bear it. I clutch my hands to my ears and run.
I don’t get far. Other grown-ups quickly close in, grabbing onto me and trapping my arms. I struggle, tears falling down my face as I desperately ask more questions. “Where’s mum? Can someone find my mum? I need my mum!!”
A blur of voices.
“Someone try to calm her-”
“This is exactly why those things should be banned-”
“Wait Skye, isn’t Sandy’s mother-”
“Freya! We need your help!”
But my voice screams over them all. “MUM! MUM I’M HERE! I’M SCARED!! I WANT TO GO HOME!!!”
But she isn’t there. I am alone.
By Jesse Fisher Edited by Lunabear
Some of us try to ignore a ping in the back of our heads that say this is meaningless. A thing that speaks so loud that you can’t be shut out; it makes the tears flow while you just stand there not knowing where it comes from only to go back to normal.
The dark void we keep at bay just to live life. Behind that smile, you could see it in others. They laugh and say, “My day is going great!”
Only to find them at the kitchen table, a bottle in their hand, a somber song playing, and a pile of similar bottles on the floor as they cry about their mother that they had not seen in ten years.
Then there is the mortality that hits you when you are at your highest point. The words of condolences seem to be half genuine and veiled attempts to keep their minds off of their own impermanence. The looks of strong people becoming husks and closing themselves off from the world.
Believing there is nothing there was the first step to a false mask worn to let others feel at ease and allow them to think you healed. It is only when the mask cracks that they see the hollow vessel that was once a loved one. Some adapt to live lives as a husk and only give brief moments of trueness before wearing the mask again.
Others try to vent this emptiness so others might fill it, but ignoring and feelings of inadequacies only deepen this void. Kind words seem like matches in a downpour. Constructive criticism seems like knives driven into the heart, and after doing it all just to be left out in the cold while others have warmth.
Life is empty without others to enjoy it with, but the emptiness is still there and can come at any moment. It matters not how many lights surround you, for the shadow will always be there. Now should this stop you from being happy?
No, but it is sometimes better to see the emptyself and hug it.