Writing Group: Beware the Empty Spaces

Hello, agoraphobes.

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 Open 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.

—Shawna

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!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
    6. No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
    5. Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
    4. You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
    5. Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
    6. You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
    7. Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.

Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.

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Adrian S.
Adrian S.
15 days ago

Inner-Peace
By Adrian S.

Mario watched Lupe slip into the other, better world with a bitter taste of jealousy in his mouth. Lupe’s body slid down onto the concrete as easy as if her bones had liquefied. Her eyelids were a slit, her eyeballs waxen. Lupe was gone — finally safe from the barbarous world that had birthed her — at least for a little while.

Mario smiled. Lupe looked beautiful. She lay on the floor of the abandoned warehouse with the hint of a smile on her face. Mario untied his belt from where it was knotted just below Lupe’s armpit and whispered, “Hold on, baby,”. He pulled the empty syringe from her bicep and prepared his own hit. He used the spoon and lighter to melt down a lump of heroin till it was a viscous dark syrup.

The world was a cruel and evil place as far as Mario and Lupe were concerned. No amount of preaching and therapy would convince them otherwise. Both had been abused too young, too often and for too long by the people that were supposed to love them.

Mario wheezed out a laugh remembering the first time they had met. He had just arrived downtown from the bus station when he saw her working the street. He knew her before he met her. Another lost soul adrift on a sea of sorrows. They had spent the night talking about everything but what had brought them to that moment. Neither one mentioned their family, neither one asked. They understood where their sorrows had blossomed, and though they hinted at things, everything was veiled and vague, like sculptures hidden beneath a sheet — showing the form, but hiding the flaws.

Mario took off his shoes and socks and looked for a place that wasn’t too scarred. In between the toes. No tracks for anybody to see. Mario pushed the tip of the needle into his pale skin and fed the liquid into his veins. Mario’s body melted down next to Lupe’s and euphoria washed over him like a wave and when it pulled back he disappeared in an ocean of emptiness.

Last edited 15 days ago by Adrian S.
G.J. H.
G.J. H.
17 days ago

The Rift
By G.J. H.

Horacio lit up the last candle and rose to inspect the chalk circle. All seemed well, he could not spot any error in the complex patterns surrounding the pentagram on the floor. He checked everything for one last time then took his position behind the lectern and began the incantation.
„Nox autem mater omnium daemonum…“
He knew the text by heart, he could not afford any error.
“Ab angelis in profundis vocant animalium..”
He felt the power in his mind and he felt its will to break free. It was strong, so strong. Horacio focused and strained to control it, and he succeeded. Then it suddenly struck at him with immense force. He had made a mistake in the incantation!
The power was shattering his mind, the pressure on his head getting higher and higher.
Then it was gone.
He was alive.
The whole rooms seemed unscathed by the powers that had, only a moment ago, nearly torn him to pieces. But the candles, their flames pointed inward towards the centre of the pentagram. Squinting, Horacio could make out a small patch of something dark in the centre. Watching the black spot growing he began to grasp what his eyes were seeing, and cold terror froze him in place. The fabric of the world itself had been torn and he was facing an ever-growing window into the void. The room had become noticeably cooler and Horacio’s breath formed into frosty clouds. Stale air brushed past him making its way out of existence.
The rift did not stop upon reaching the circle, it swallowed the chalk, the floor and the candles with an eerie silence that was more terrifying than any sound could have been. Even in the dark Horacio could make out where the rift was. He felt the void draw on his mind, a constant pull on his soul.
A Single tear ran down his face. There was no escape.

Lunabear
Lunabear
18 days ago

Participation Trophies
by Lunabear (Private Repost)

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?”

Last edited 18 days ago by Lunabear
DragonFish
DragonFish
19 days ago

The Spaces Left
By DragonFish

I was four when my grandmother died. She was the matriarch of the family and sole inheritor of both her father’s and husband’s estates both of which were worth no small
sum of money. This situation resulted in a fair amount of consternation amongst her children; of which she had a dozen. The family argued over how the future inheritance should be distributed, elder children demanded more than younger, those with many children demanded more than those with few, and as the feud grew so too did the family. I was born into this conflict as the last grandchild.

My grandmother, ever the wise woman, seeing how her wealth drove her kin apart had devised to cure their plight in one fell swoop. She announced to the clan that upon her death she would have all her family to be by her side and to accomplish this she had purchased a large portion of the cemetery and had begun work on a monolithic crypt made of black marble.

When the work was finished there was a place for every one of my grandmother’s children, their spouses and their children; 87 tombs in all. She had poured every spare penny into her magnum opus and what little was left was divvied amongst numerous charities. In place of an inheritance she had left her children a curse.

From then on death hounded my family. Rare diseases, unlikely accidents, and unspeakable violence all took their toll. Our numbers dwindled and never outgrew the number of tombs. All the grandchildren, myself included, never had children of their own. I saw death everywhere and so it became my obsession. I came to know signs of its approach, the same signs I now see for myself. Death knows that there is a set that must be completed, a space that only I can fill. Although I know of its coming I am afraid, dreadfully afraid of that endless void, of that black tomb, but I know not what I fear more: those spaces left behind or that space left for me.

Makokam
Makokam
19 days ago

What’s Left Behind
By Makokam

The room was empty. It had been for awhile.

Once they realized Johnathan wasn’t coming back, their parents started to avoid it. Their Mother had put some things of his back after cleaning the house, and that was the last time either had gone in.

Jostica was the only one who still went near it. Though she still didn’t enter. It had always seemed…sacrilegious? It was HIS room. She shouldn’t go in without him knowing. Even if he’d never had a problem with her going in. So no matter how many times she went to his room, she’d only stand in the door.

She didn’t know why she did it. Perhaps there was some hope that if she waited long enough, she’d catch her Brother sneaking in his window. Until he did, she supposed she’d just keep allowing herself to be drawn to his room, looking at what he left behind and remembering.

The books they read together. The desk where he helped her with homework. The nightlight he put in for when she came running from a nightmare. The dumb statue he bought to hide his cigarettes in that their parents still didn’t know about.

The missing photo of her last Birthday.

It hurt to know he cared enough to take it, but not enough to stay.

She shook her head. She knew he cared. He left because of his other secret, one he didn’t know she knew: He had super powers. Why he kept them a secret, or felt he had to leave because of them, she didn’t know, but she kept his secret anyway.

Did he think he was a danger to them? Was he losing control? Was he trying to protect them somehow?

She made a decision.

She went back to her room, booted up her computer, and typed into the search bar, “how to learn magick”.

BluePhireFoenix
BluePhireFoenix
19 days ago

Green sky at night, Sentry’s Delight

by BluePhireFoenix

The winter’s bite was sharp that night; as she sat and watched the trees, Hornir could feel the new flakes of snow sticking to her mask. She welcomed the cold, and the hard ground beneath her feet, as she tried to focus on being a sentry. She could not think of the warm fire or her sleeping sack, which she’d had to leave what felt like a few heartbeats ago.

The silver birches around her glimmered in the night, reflecting the moonlight so the whole forest seemed bright with ghostly light. The firs far off on the other hand looked like a dark pit, from which anything could emerge.

Hornir focused on what little she could see of the firs to try and keep herself awake, but it was hard. Even the cold and creeping dread couldn’t keep her completely conscious. But every few minutes, there would be a crunch in the snow, somewhere in the fir trees, and she would rouse herself. And stare into what she couldn’t see.

Above her, the aurora began to weave itself together, taking the impossible colours of the sky, and singing itself across the sky. Hornir looked up, to the dark sky, seeing the stars, the dust of the universe, and the brightening song of the sea in the sky.

It was as the aurora reached its brightest, and the thin bark of the birches glowed as if entirely composed of the green light, that Hornir first saw the skinless dog walk out of the fir trees, it’s teeth glinting in the moonlight, it’s exposed muscles wetly gleaming.

Arith_Winterfell
Arith_Winterfell
19 days ago

“Dancing in the Light”

By Arith_Winterfell

She danced alone.

The light of the sun fell upon Aleah’s lithe body, and flickered on the floor as her skirts spun round. The festival hall was quiet now, empty and dark in the shadowed corners. Light poured in from the thick glass windows set to the color of flame by the setting sun. The light caught the particles of dust dancing now in its evening glow. But it was not always so.

The light of candles and warmth of family gathered round against the darkened windows to the night. The cheers and songs of festival gathered in the hall. Jerard had made her heart race when he was near. They had been courting for some time, and he promised her the world. He whispered to her amidst the crowd saying, “Come away, my love. Let us go to where we can be alone together.” She smiled, but his propositions made her nervous and flustered. She simply shook her head. She knew what he wanted of her. She knew her own longing to give into that desire. She breathed slower and more deeply to calm her heart. He left her side then as she watched another round of dancing play out upon the floor with feet pounding upon the wooden boards.

The night wore on and she began to wonder where Jerard had gone. She had not seen him all evening after he had left her side. She headed to the stable nearby that he had mentioned earlier that night. She suspected he was there, and went in to find him. He was there, half naked, his body glistening with sweat in the moonlight while grunting in the dark. He was bedding some other girl, and Aleah fled without saying a word, tears running down her face.

A year had come and gone since then. A poor harvest this year and the coming of the Mistshroud cloaked the land. A hard winter lay ahead, but she remained still herself in the sun’s dying light.

She danced alone.

Aidan Rameshead
20 days ago

The Page
Aidan Rameshead

White. Blind white, blank white. Just pure white staring back. I mean, I know it’s not pure, I’ve scanned enough maps to know the grain. Thought about it as I wrote… stared, sometimes.

Lots of staring lately. The little motor whirrs, but no keys move. Ink ribbon dries up a bit more. Beige and white really go together, typewriter designers had their stuff together. Not much to do with it, though, without filling that space.

I look toward the file box. That stuff’s not blank, white blank, empty blank. It’s full. Old scribbles, scraps of ink and graphene all filed away. Just… nothing to do with it.

Sun’s gone now. Lights aren’t so harsh, but still… It’s just white. Blank. Something itches in my mind as I stare, eyes twinge a bit. The lights, maybe, that must be it. I pull the machine onto my lap, feeling how warm it is. How still, beside the hum. The kettle starts to boil.

Would be good to get a pick-me-up, keep going. For nothing, but hey, here’s hoping.

I wonder if they have coffee or tea there? In the other world, that is, if I’d put anything like that in the files. Would it be from Ix or Al-Azrika? I should check, jot that down…

I like it this late. Once everyone’s gone to bed. Feels more alone, more free. Shouldn’t type, though, I guess. Clacking might wake someone.

But the paper. I’ve tuned down the lights, dim orange now. But it’s still just… blank white, glaring empty, stinging bare. I know I should put it away but I just… can’t. It’s gotta be here, I’ve gotta…

My head hurts. What should I do? Maybe something about… no, that’s dumb, tear it off.

The edge is rough now. Torn. Feels broken. At least I did something. Should sleep, but I can’t look away. It’s just… Clear. Blank. Exposed. Hollow. Unfilled. Unfillable.

Open.

It’s staring at me. My head hurts. It feels like it’s just… bleeding nothing, radiant blankness. Can’t look away. Blinding. It’s moving. Toward me. Head hurts.

Trinity Knight
20 days ago

The Silence
By Trinity Knight

“Ranger Base! Ranger Base come in!”

Silence answered back from the dark side of the radio.

“Come in Ranger Base! Ranger Base, do you read?”

Her voice was shaky as her visor fogged with every panicked breath. Condensation dripped down the screen as red letters flashed warnings in her face. Frantically she patted down her neck, seeking the emergency release. Blood dripped from her nose and her ears. She pressed the button on her collar. The visor shot out from the helmet and she gasped for breath, falling to her knees in the white sand. She screamed out in pain. Her voice carried itself up into the cloudless blue sky.

The dark side of the radio answered her with only silence and static. She stood up off the ground and looked around. There was nothing as far as the eye could see. She looked back and saw the way she came had been shut. She was all alone now.

In a flash an idea came to here. To she reached for her PDA, retrieving it from the utility belt on her suit. She tapped it twice to wake the screen up.

“Come on, come on, come on…” she muttered as she prayed for data to just magically appear on screen.

“Location: Unknown,” answered the PDA.

She shouted at the top of her lungs as she hurled the PDA like a fastball. It tumbled through the sands, rolling over the edge of a dune.

“Oh no… No, no, no!” she screamed as she broke into a sprint after the device.
Nearly stumbling over herself, she stopped just a few meager inches behind the precipice. Her eyes widened as she gazed into the depths below. The dune had sloped downwards steeply into a deep abyss shrouded by grey fog. She swallowed her fear and searched for a rock to grapple herself to.

Slowly, she rappelled down into the slope. She could barely see an inch past her nose as she descended. Strange sounds pierced the fog. Hungry beasts lurked in the shadows. She closed her eyes and prayed to whoever was watching.

Almost A Shark
Almost A Shark
20 days ago

There was a hole in the sky

Almost A Shark

There was a hole in the sky. It didn’t make sense. I could see the great blue edge of the day, with the sun shining down, and then there was nothing, not even stars, just a black so deep it made me want to fall to my knees and clutch the grass for fear that the dark would swallow me whole and slowly dissolve me into the same hungry dark. It was wasn’t a clean cut either, it was a violent gash, jagged and cracked, like a hole in the ice on a pond. There were even small fragments of the firmament floating in the dark, dim and fading, like crumbs leftover from a past meal.

Worse still, some of the sky survived whatever vile sin was taking place, but not without losing something to the dark. The clouds slowly drifting through the gentle blue, grew dark and angry the longer they floated into the great void, until they gather near the horizon, and boiled in the largest storm I’ve ever seen (resolve tense: drifting, floated, gather). A storm so violent, I could feel it all the way to the edge of the vile darkness, a cutting wind blew without reprieve, telling all poor souls that all that lay ahead was misery and sorrow that would cut you to ribbons if some devil in the dark didn’t do me in first. And even if I did live long, it would only give more time for the world to grind my soul to dust.

I suddenly stumble forward, towards the night, as the man with eyes the color of the hungry dark yanked on the chain about my neck.
“Best get your gawking over now, heh. it’s your home now,” he said with a grin.

Trinity Knight
20 days ago

The Silence
By Trinity Knight

“Ranger Base! Ranger Base come in!”

Silence answered back from the dark side of the radio.

“Come in Ranger Base! Ranger Base, do you read?”

Her voice was shaky as her visor fogged with every panicked breath. Condensation dripped down the screen as red letters flashed warnings in her face. Frantically she patted down her neck, seeking the emergency release. Blood dripped from her nose and her ears. She pressed the button on her collar. The visor shot out from the helmet and she gasped for breath, falling to her knees in the white sand. She screamed out in pain. Her voice carried itself up into the cloudless blue sky.

The dark side of the radio answered her with only silence and static. She stood up off the ground and looked around. There was nothing as far as the eye could see. She looked back and saw the way she came had been shut. She was all alone now.
In a flash an idea came to here. To she reached for her PDA, retrieving it from the utility belt on her suit. She tapped it twice to wake the screen up.

“Come on, come on, come on…” she muttered as she prayed for data to just magically appear on screen.

“Location: Unknown,” answered the PDA.

She shouted at the top of her lungs as she hurled the PDA like a fastball. It tumbled through the sands, rolling over the edge of a dune.

“Oh no… No, no, no!” she screamed as she broke into a sprint after the device.
Nearly stumbling over herself, she stopped just a few meager inches behind the precipice. Her eyes widened as she gazed into the depths below. The dune had sloped downwards steeply into a deep abyss shrouded by grey fog. She swallowed her fear and searched for a rock to grapple herself to.

Slowly, she rappelled down into the slope. She could barely see an inch past her nose as she descended. Strange sounds pierced the fog. Hungry beasts lurked in the shadows. She closed her eyes and prayed to whoever was watching.

MysteryElement
MysteryElement
20 days ago

Read Between the Lines (also in private)
By MysteryElement

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…

DOOM.

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.’

Last edited 20 days ago by MysteryElement
Chengir
20 days ago

Beware the Open Spaces
By Chengir

“If only the Royal Geographic Society could see me now,” I spat into the dry wind. There was no one to hear me but I didn’t care. All I could smell was the tang of the sandstone and the dust… always the dust. To the north, there lay a tall and unusual red and yellow rock formation, carved out by the endless wind on this dreary plain. Straw-like grass scrapes my calves as I stumble forward. The lower parts of my trousers have long since worn away. I fantasize row upon row of Society members waiting with bated breath upon my every word. Fame is a fickle mistress.

“Gentleman, I… Eduard Vogel… have discovered a wilderness of… torment.” Swerving, I narrowly miss falling. Upending my final water bag for the 100th time, not a drop descends.

In the distance I see it. It can’t be a mirage. “That’s too strange,” I muttered hoarsely. It looks like an unholy alliance between a wagon and a vicar’s house. Resting on wagon wheels, it ascends two stories, complete with corner towers and windows. My heart rises into my throat. Strapped to the outside of this aberrational carriage are barrels and leather bags. The type used to transport water.

I run. I leap. You would have thought I’d lost the capacity some time ago. Even the natives had taken to calling me ‘Deadman Who Walks.’ Nearby the wagon I find the remains of some previous explorer. With his dying strength, he’d scratched ‘Beware the open spaces,’ in the hard sandstone. Pushing past him, I head for the barrels.

But my way is blocked by an explosion of dust and earth. Before me rises a ghostly form, little more than a dark storm cloud with two flickering red glows where eyes would rightly appear. I scuttle backward like a crab. I don’t even remember falling. I regain my feet as it lets out an ear-piercing scream.

I fly. My imaginary society colleagues now laugh uproariously. It was fame that was the mirage.

Beware the open spaces indeed.

Cansas Smith
Cansas Smith
21 days ago

The Mind Of A Writer
By TheWanderingMind (repost from private)

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.

Fredrick H.
Fredrick H.
21 days ago

Out of Bounds (Set in the Crossroads City Canon)
By Fredrick H. (Challeng3r22)

Urashima slid his blade between the cracks in the veil and slid the katana downwards. A rift opened to the void, that he was quick about jumping into. Behind him the fabric of reality healed itself like some massive beast. Soon he was floating in the eternal void that surrounded the skin of the universe.

Slowly, he floated through the endlessness keeping the pack of fey gold on his back secure. Occasionally, he’d have to twist to avoid being sucked into a rift that was slower in healing or one of the strange creatures that occupied this reality. Perhaps they were infant realities just waiting for a spark to set them off.

In time he came upon the spot that would bring him to the completion of his job and enough otherworldly favors to have him set for his natural life. Quickly, he made the incision and leapt through the tear. Taking a sigh of relief, he checked the nearest newspaper and found that he had indeed landed in 21st century earth.

“Return to the ashes, invader!” Urashima heard cried behind him, before dodging out of the way.

In front of him now was a destroyed newspaper dispenser, and a girl. She turned to face him, strangely glowing sword held aloft.

“And you are?” Urashima inquired.

“The Chosen One,” she responded before charging him again.

He side-stepped it easily, “Then you have no worry. Earth is my home too.”

“Really?”

“Well. 15th century Japan, but closer than Gehena or the Fey Wilds.”

“Explain.”

“I’m a reality cutter. If you want an explanation, check the Eternal Library,” he responded before leaping to nearest rooftop.

With a sigh she watched him go. It appeared that there was an issue the manual forgot to teach her about.

Isa Dragon
Isa Dragon
21 days ago

Space is Mostly Empty (crosspost)
By IsaDragon337

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 deep 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.”

Last edited 21 days ago by Isa Dragon
Skye Doust
Skye Doust
22 days ago

The Bottom (Emptiness Filled) Half of A Letter I Found
by Skye Doust

…forms patterns that we ourselves ascribe beauty to, without really looking too closely at it. For the letters themselves mean nothing unless we ourselves give them that very meaning.

Any gap can be filled.

It means nothing to itself. All interpretation by others and inwardly absent. It is dull, callous, and indifferent.

The warning I’ve given you here cannot be understated. I know there’s inherent danger in the gaps between the words I pen, and in the smaller gaps between the letters it doesn’t matter where you are in those words, and in the gaps between the molecules that hang suspended in the ink drying before me, and in the gaps between the atoms on those molecules…

Forgive me, the spaces missing I will find you terrify me with their possibility.

Still, ink on paper is less whoever is reading this dangerous than the dead air of the too lengthy pauses of spoken word. For that is where Nothing exerts most of its influence, forcing your future is sealed itself into the spaces in between what is said and what is meant.

I fear that merely telling you of the in between the words of the very thing you hoped would protect you existence of Absence, I have accidentally sealed your fate to its inevitable gravity. All I can do is warn you, and hope you heed my advice.

Destroying this letter will only I am already here introduce more emptiness between the words, more place for It to seek you from.

Please stay safe. Tell the Lawyer nothing of this letter, tell him it was just sentimental. Nothing of relevance. I do love you. I just wish right behind you I could give you more protection than my death allows.

Don’t pause so long in between breathing.

Love
Grandpa

bemk
bemk
22 days ago

Don’t fall
By Bemk

Right hand, finger tips, resting on a tiny ledge.
Left foot twisted into a crack barely wide enough to fit.
Left hand moving up to a tiny pocket.
Cram the right foot in just above the left.
Grab a quickdraw from the right, and clip calmly it.

Just above this bolt, the crack widens into a chimney, a ledge I can stand on at the base. I crawl onto it. The last moment of respite before the crux begins.

I look up, trying to figure out the route.

The crack narrows again, this time to finger width. The next bolt is just above where the two walls come together. I can probably squeeze my way up the chimney, but how do I work my way out of the crack again?

I decide to take a closer look. The downclimb to the ledge shouldn’t be too hard if need be.

At the top of the chimney, I’m stuck.
The next bolt is just out of reach.
I don’t see the sequence back out onto the surface.

I look down. I’m 3 metres above my last quickdraw, 25 metres off the deck.
On the ground, the girl I started dating just yesterday.
She’s got no experience belaying lead climbers.
Would she hold a fall like this?

I play it safe, and go down to the ledge again.

I lean out to find a route around the chimney. I’ll have to skip a bolt. If I fall it’s a 16 metre drop… assuming she holds the catch. The chances of me pulling this one off are a bit better though.

I move out to the right, using the surface textures of the rock.
I pass the bolt to the left of me.
The wind picks up, reminding me of the empty space below my heels.
I move back left again.
My feet are now mere centimetres above the bolt I’m skipping.
I’m committed now.

Lari B. Haven
Lari B. Haven
22 days ago

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.

Last edited 21 days ago by Lari B. Haven
Gamesolotl
Gamesolotl
22 days ago

Deepest Challenge
by Gamesolotl

“Depth: 8,370 meters. I have landed.” Samuel communicated to his distant team. Before the sand had a chance to settle, the submersible began scurrying along the ocean floor.
“I haven’t encountered any fauna on my way down. No sharks, no lanternfish, hell, not even any schools.”
“You have 4 hours to find some, Dr. Horn.” A colleague responded through the speakers.
“I know, I know.” Samuel said as he shined his lights to and fro in the pitch black darkness. Soon enough, his lights illuminated bright purple tubes. Salmon colored trees. Unnaturally red plateaus. A dense forest of all colors and shapes surrounded him. “…Coral reefs don’t occur more than 60 meters down, right? I’m- I’m not going crazy, right?”
“We’re just as perplexed as you are.”

A black oily smog rolled in, completely blocking out Samuel’s lights. It blew away just as quickly as it came in, and the coral reef had grown. Samuel piloted the submersible towards the coral, and found a decaying isopod trapped inside a growth of coral. He joked to the crew above that he didn’t have to worry about finding fauna anymore.

Samuel spent the next 4 hours exploring the coral reef, taking samples and finding more and more animals fused with the corals. Eventually, the smog rolled in again, but wouldn’t leave. Samuel sat in darkness for several minutes, until his colleagues alarmed him of the time. “Dr. Horn, if you don’t want to run out of oxygen before surfacing, leave now.”

He put the submersible in full throttle and headed for the surface almost thirty thousand feet above him. A long while later the smog dissipated, and Samuel found himself still at the bottom of the ocean. The reef had grown immensely. It now encompassed chunks of the submersible, trapping Samuel in the dark abyss.
“Mayday mayday mayday. I’m stuck, send help immediately!”
The silence from the speakers seemed to last an eternity.
“We can’t send help in time. You’re too late…I’m sorry, Samuel.”

ThatWeirdFish
ThatWeirdFish
22 days ago

Null
By Claire Aslesen

Joseph sat shivering in the sealed room. He had waited for this day for months, years even. Ever since Joseph found that scrawl of text tucked away in the ancient tome, he had been obsessed with finding it’s truth. And now he would, even if he died trying.

With a quick slash, Joseph cut the raven’s throat. It croaked and flapped helplessly as dark blood dripped down its white feathers to stain the dust from an empty tomb laid bare before him. Joseph said nothing, barely daring to breathe, as he watched the candle, made from the wax of an abandoned beehive, flicker before him.

He waited anxiously as the flame slowly shrunk away into a whisp of smoke.

Then darkness. Joseph still waited. Had he done the ritual wrong? Was his timing off? Was-

There. There it was! He felt it surround him, seep into his bones—the void. It was empty, of course, but the stillness soothed him. At last, he had escaped. At last, he could rest. He closed his eyes and embraced it.

“I have not been summoned in an eternity.” The voice shattered Joseph’s ecstasy. “Tell me, little life-bearer, why do you seek me?” Joseph’s eyes snapped open, but he couldn’t see anything. Yet he felt it. Something was with him.

“G-god?” He stuttered. His eyes strained against the pitch black, searching.

“Oh, I am much older than that.” Did it seem amused?

“Show yourself to me!”

“As you wish.” A figure approached out of the darkness before him. Its form was as a tall humanoid, yet with a cluster of fixed stars where its face should be. “What is it that you seek?”

“I…” Joseph paused, mind reeling in the presence of the cosmic entity. “I want to become nothing.” Escape. Death. Release. Whatever it was. He wanted the void.

“Are you certain of this?” The entity asked, a deep sadness hiding behind his words.

“More than anything.”

It paused in thought. Then, slowly, regretfully, it placed its hand on Joseph’s shoulder. “Be at peace, little life-bearer.”

Joseph vanished from all existence.

Timberwolf
Timberwolf
22 days ago

Guardians of the Void
By Timberwolf

“Beware the open spaces,” they warned through broken translation. “Beware the sleepers.”
Much to their chagrin, no one would listen. None would heed their words. Everyone considered them the words of a scared people. Fairytales told one too many times. With communication between the stars becoming more and more commonplace, so did their warnings. Still, none would listen. Years turned to decades and eventually even travel between stars became possible as well. Civilizations and species would come together to see and speak with each other at last, but they still failed to see merit in these warnings.

“Do not wake them,” they repeated to deaf ears. “They are older than time. They were here before us and shall be here after us.”
Of course, research had been done. Scientists had poured over their claims and they found nothing. Nothing was hiding in the space between stars but wisps of dark matter that bind the stars. Their claims slowly became the stuff of children’s stories as their civilization turned inwards. While others in the Federation expanded, they withdrew. As others boasted about their travels and explorations, their warnings grew more fearful. But there was nothing to fear, there was nothing out there. The universe was theirs for the taking. Or so they believed.

The first journey to another galaxy had begun. The culmination of decades of work. Despite desperate warnings to let the sleepers lie, the mission began in high spirits. But those spirits were not to last. What began as a normal journey through accelerated hyperspace turned to horror when their ship fell out of hyperspace in the black between galaxies. Immobile. No matter what they tried, something was holding them in a tight grip. All they could do was watch through their windows and viewscreens as millions and millions of kilometers in front of them a great number of stars seemingly appeared like eyes. Their sensors telling them in alarm that the dark matter between galaxies, in open space, began to swirl. Began to move.

The travellers had awoken a great many somethings, and they looked angry.

Last edited 22 days ago by Timberwolf
Alex
Alex
23 days ago

Enter, the Nightguard (Darkspell Universe; renamed from Armitage Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

Things go bump in the night. That was not an expression, but a fact. And among them was the Nightguard. Dressed in her usual midnight blue, with a thick blindfold over her eyes, the vigilante was currently standing in the dark empty ruins of a temple.

She was waiting, gauging the surroundings. There was nothing around her, save for maybe her pursuers. There were four, all of them tall, broad and looked more than capable of tearing her to pieces with their bare hands. Not that they’d have to. She knew that each of them carried a loaded firearm and had absolutely no qualms about using it on her. After doing more unspeakable things to her. She knew how these men treated people, especially women. They approached her.

No. No time for doubt. This was what she trained for.

Her hands shook, as her fear increased. In her youth she had always run from the monsters in her nightmares. She had been terrified and still was to this day.

Yet, she turned and faced them.

“Nowhere to run now, girl,” one of them taunted.

“True,” she answered. “No exits, no witnesses. Completely empty space, if you will. Nobody to see what I will do.”

The men closed in. She took a deep breath. She was the Nightguard and she was in control. The first man tried to grab her, but she simply vaulted over him and landed on a pillar, where she remained standing on the vertical surface.

Time to dream.

She grabbed one man by the head, somersaulted over him and tossed him into a pillar. At the same time, she sent another to the ground with a flying kick. One man tried to swipe at her legs, but she simply glided in the air, grabbed him by the jaw and flung him to the floor with inhuman force. She heard a gunshot, as a bullet was sent her way. It slowed, as though moving through honey and she easily dodged, dispatching the last man.

Life was but a dream. Also, less expression and more fact in her case.

Alexander
Alexander
23 days ago

The Edge of the World
By Alexander (BrokenEarth)

“What a view, eh?” Ethan said.

And he did have a point. The edge of the world was just like it’d been described as. Magnificent waterfalls, a solid cliff marking the boundary between everything and nothing, and a great void below.

“Yeah.” I said, softly.

Ethan turned to me. “This is it. The place where every journey ends.” His voiced was lined with the sadness that came with the end.

“Yeah.” I said, softly.

“Over here, sit down. I want to give you something. Adventures always end with a gift, right?” Ethan sat on the edge of the cliff and tapped the ground next to him. He had a small parcel on his lap.

“Okay.” I said, softly. I sat next to him, and we paused a moment to look out at the infinite nothingness. I felt like crying, but there were no tears. I was exhausted, but at the same time I felt well-rested.

“I… Enjoy, kid.” Ethan said.

Inside the parcel were two things. A cracked pocket watch, and a shiny, silver-plated harmonica. I picked up the watch first.

“That was meant for Isaac, on his next birthday,” Ethan chuckled, “I was going to have him keep track of all the time he wasted.”

Then his face fell again.

“Of course, after what happened I would look at it and think of all the time I should’ve spent with him.”

He looked up from the watch and into my eyes.

“I broke it on purpose. I want you to live in the present, and live for the future. Don’t hold on to the past. I’ve learned that it’s too heavy for any one man.”

I tenderly put the watch in my pocket, and picked up the harmonica.

“You told me once you knew how to play. I thought it’d be nice to have a bit of music before we part.”

I giggled, for a moment. “Any requests?”

“It’s up to you, minstrel.”

I thought for a moment, and began to play Hallelujah.

These two weeks really were fun, I thought. Thanks, Ethan.

tryman159
tryman159
23 days ago

The twig

By Tryman159

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.

Michael Case
Michael Case
23 days ago

The Light in the Darkness
By MDC (Michael Case)

It smiled, full of bloodied teeth, staring at anyone who dared look at it. Turn the light on and this menace vanishes into the shadows, ready to pounce on anyone casting a shadow over its smile.

When I came to check out the house, I thought that was just a play of light. Some cracks in the wall causing a weird pareidolia effect on those who might have come under the spell of this old house. I had examined this convergence of walls, a corner of the empty basement, this hidden space that when you focused on it for too long, it would seem to transport your mind into oblivion.

Nothing, there was nothing there that would seem to project an image of a bloodied smile when the lights where turned off. With the lights on this smile was no where to be seen. The realtor said that a group of paranormal investigators had once tried to capture on tape whatever was in that corner. I tried to contact them, I was told to leave them alone and was declared by the person on the phone, a sicko.

The prior owners of the house had not been seen leaving the house, nor did anyone in the neighborhood remember them moving out. The rest of the house came fully furnished in genuinely nice, classic furniture. The costs seemed like a steal of a deal. The house had a lot of owners though, and nobody ever remembers any of them moving out, only moving in.

After I bought the house, I thought about that corner of the basement. I wanted to know what was going on in it, but it freaked me out too much to spend much time on. I just piled a bunch of boxes on it and left it there for the next owner to worry about. That was twenty years ago, and to this day those boxes just sit there, and I… Well I haven’t felt better about buying a home as I do with this one

Connor A.
Connor A.
23 days ago

“Catching Up” (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.

Kentol hummed to himself as he piled the last of the dirt on the grave. He read the name to himself and smiled. “Ah, good ol’ Andrew on Allan Way. I didn’t think you would come this way for another five years. How are the kids?”

He heard the whispering from behind him, “Why’s he talking to a grave? The soul’s already long gone.”

His smile fell a little, but the sound of gentle footsteps brought the smile back. “How long has it been?”

A gloved hand held a bottle of rum next to Kentol’s arm and a voice answered, “About a month. I would have visited sooner, but I have been busy trying to locate King Henry’s soul.”

Kentol took the bottle and pulled out the cork with his tusk. He turned to face the cloaked figure. “Any word on his body?”

“I assumed it was already buried?”

“That’s what the public assumes. The body vanished after the news of his passing. Casket’s still above ground just in case it’s a kidnapping situation, but you didn’t hear that from me.”

“I see.”

The orc took a swig from the bottle. “It’s more unnerving this way. Every time I visit Grogtol in that chapel, I keep thinking that I’m gonna be pushed in.”

“Is that why you warn people to keep their distance from unused caskets?”

“More or less.” Kentol, sensing that that conversation ended, gestured at the figure. “Why are you dressed up like that? I already know you’re Death.”

An empty eye socket peered out from under the hood. “Wizards are skittish at best, and I want to run an errand in peace.”

“What kind of errand?”

“Retrieving the chosen one from Merold Academy’s library before he starts a wizard duel.”

Kentol took a moment to mull over the answer. “What have you been up to?”

“I can explain later.” Death turned around to leave. “Meet me at Salty Lou’s. I can bring the chosen one so that you can meet him.”

As Death walked away, Kentol spoke up, “You got yourself a deal.”

Marx
Marx
23 days ago

“He’s the guy all the bad guys want.”
By Marx

“Hello Bartelby.” She unenthusiastically greeted, slowly turning towards the archangel who suddenly appeared before her.

“Hello… -” Bartleby began before remembering that she had no name. Knowing that she wasn’t a being for small talk, he immediately got to the point. “The horsemen of the apocalypse are among us. However… the horseman of Death has… not decided to be neutral. He can be swayed, and the rest of the horsemen with him.”

“I know.”

Bartleby glared for a moment and took a deep breath. “Of course you know. My apologies for the repetition.”

“Everything is repetitive to me. Also, you are not sorry.”

Bartleby made an exasperated face but didn’t say anything further. There was no point. “You know why I’m here.”

“The same reason my sister, Lilith, has been chosen as Hell’s emissary to ‘sway’ him to their side.”

Bartleby’s eyes bulged in shock. “What? When?!”

“She’s with him now.”

“Are we too late?” Bartleby asked, clearly panicked.

“No. He’s wary of her intentions.”

Bartleby raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Will he be wary of ours?”

“I know everything that has ever happened on Earth. And I know everything that is happening now. The future, as you know, is beyond me.”

Bartleby glared again. “Then you know how he thinks. Why don’t you take a guess?”

“A guess?” She paused, looking up thoughtfully. “I would guess… that what is destined to happen… will happen.”

“How… completely unhelpful.” Bartleby rolled his eyes.

“On the contrary. I will, in fact, help you.”

Bartleby gave her another skeptical look. “…Why?”

“Since the moment Adam rejected me, I became the only being in creation without a purpose. The world is ending. In truth, I have nothing better to do.”

“Works for me.” Bartleby reached out to take her hand. “I do hope you’re wrong about the world ending.”

“No. You don’t.” She said, accepting the gesture. “You simply wish to be spared.”

“…and you don’t?”

“The future is inevitable.”

Bartleby sighed. “True, but perhaps this could be-”

“I have no use for concepts like hope.” She interrupted.

“…Understood.” Bartelby accepted before whisking them away.

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
23 days ago

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.