Hello, friends and foes.
They say “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” But what about frenemies? What are you supposed to do in that circumstance? What if the enemy you have just means so much to you? It’s time to see how you handle yourself against a friend turned foe, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
My Dearest Enemy
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!
Bit of an oxymoron, this prompt, hm? When you think of an enemy of any kind, you don’t expect to describe them as anything even remotely positive. But here we are.
The great thing about this prompt is that the “enemy” may not be an actual enemy at all. It can be a friend, simply playing a game of chess in a tournament. It can be the beloved pet who decides that four in the morning is the perfect time to do the 100 meter sprint. It can be a sibling that you need to share a room with and they just won’t stop touching your stuff. It can even just be the person on the other side of the screen, battling you online in a friendly fighting game. Maybe your “enemy” is you, testing out a card game deck against yourself to make sure it works the way it should.
But who says the enemy has to be a person at all? What if this enemy is the seagulls you always feed french fries to, and one gets too greedy and snatches your sandwich? Or perhaps it’s the usually faithful dryer that has somehow trapped your pants that you need to get to your very important meeting. Or your extremely comfortable bed kept you ten minutes too long, making you late for work or school. Maybe that old friend Writer’s Block decided to pay you an unexpected visit.
Whichever enemy you choose to introduce us to, let us see the connection you have with them.
Show us what they mean to 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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What to Submit
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Famine by Adrian S.
Hunger woke Johnny up at four-thirty three a.m. and wouldn’t let him rest till it was satisfied. His younger sister, Sarai, lay next to him and whimpered. Johnny looked at her and although her head was covered in a tangle of messy hair, it couldn’t hide the pain on her face or mask the sound of her hungry moaning.
I ate and she didn’t, Johnny thought. Sarai’s stomach groaned and she sobbed in her sleep. Johnny flinched. The sounds were like an accusation. “Why didn’t you save me a slice?” they seemed to ask.
Mom put you to bed and dad didn’t want to wake you up, he said without speaking. Dad said it meant more for us, he thought. But this was an excuse and he knew it. He had been selfish. He always was when it came to food. A week before Sarai had given him half of her candy-bar and he hadn’t shared his taffy with her. She was dumb for sharing. He turned over to try to sleep — but couldn’t.
Sarai’s pitiful cries made it impossible.
Hunger was a painful thing. And it had become a normal thing in their apartment. Their father, Ray, had not worked for a long time. So when he arrived home with a box of pizza it had been a surprise. Johnny’s mother had already given Sarai her cough syrup and put her to bed. The syrup was often the only way she would sleep.
Ray had served himself half the pizza and gave Johnny and his mother a slice each. When Johnny had reached for another his father grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back. “That’s mine,” Ray had said.
If I take dad’s pizza, I’m gonna have a black-eye like mom. Johnny thought and continued to consider the cost. I think Sarai would do it for me. She always does things for me.
Johnny left the bed.
For a long while the apartment was silent, but soon it came alive with the faint sounds of a brother and sister giggling between bites of pizza.
By Javier Del Villar
Stepping out from the building with a slip in hand, the gentle night breeze greeted him. Sighing, he let the slip fall to the ground. The light of the clinic’s sign stopped lighting his sunken frame as he walked away.
The streets were getting darker and the denizens of the night started to fill the sidewalks. Neon lights lit up, signaling a change to the wares and services. Walking down the street, the garishly dressed denizens glared at him, some whispering “there’s the street heretic, stay clear of him.” The heretic sighed softly and walked up to a woman dressed for business. He grabbed her behind suddenly. She screamed and turned to slap him only to stop midway. She started crying and holding his face, her tears so impressive they caught the light of her bionic eyes. Before the heretic could return the affection, the woman’s pimp comes running out of his car. Tackling the heretic to the ground with his massive lump of a body, he started punching him while the woman screamed for him to stop.
While blocking his meaty and ring encrusted fists, the heretic pulled out a shiv and stabbed into the pimp’s stomach deeply. His fat belly convulsed as he breathed his last. The heretic grunted as he twisted his shiv and took it out. With a swift kick to the pimp’s chin, the heretic got him off. The other women ran away screaming as fat burly men started pouring out of the pimp’s car, its neon lit frame buckling from the shifting weight. Before making a break for it, he told the woman with a smile, “Thanks.”
Cutting through some back alleys, he finally stopped to catch his breath. Nausea started to churn his stomach and he could taste blood in his mouth. He took out a flask from inside his jacket and stared at it. After a moment of reflection, he put it away, instead popping some anti-nausea meds in his mouth. Once his stomach settled, he sighed in relief.
They leapt from rooftop to rooftop, clashing every other step as they sought higher ground or an advantageous position.
Each impact was like thunder, the roofs shaking and cracking. Bursts of fire punctuated the fight, though the flames quickly died.
Brick and concrete shattered though their bones didn’t so much as crack.
They paused as they reached the top of the tallest building in the area, looking no worse than if they’d taken a casual stroll.
“I don’t want to fight you,” he said.
“I want you DEAD,” she spat.
“I’m well aware. And you should know by now your anger is based on a lie.”
“You still killed my mother.”
“I loved your Mother. I killed your abductor.”
“She was the only mother I ever knew! She raised me! Took care of me!”
“To turn you into a weapon against your parents. Because she had some ridiculous idea that we were abominations needing to be destroyed.”
She snorted, “And was she wrong!?”
He clenched his jaw. “Your Mother’s circumstance was out of her control. She didn’t even know what she was. I’m doing the best I can with the hand I was dealt.”
She let out a bark of laughter, “Says the man who glassed half of the middle east.”
His fingers clenched and flexed, “I wasn’t in control of myself. What you have been doing is all you.”
“Damn right it is! You’re a monster! And this whole world deserves to burn as well!”
“You know that’s not true. I know you were marri-”
She screamed and a torrent of fire surged from her, which he brushed aside.
“You shut the fuck up,” she said. “You don’t know ANYTHING.”
“I know you’ve suffered. I know you’re hurting and you don’t know how to deal with it.”
Her fists clenched as her whole body shook.
“Let me be a Father to you.”
“You can fuck off,” she hissed. “Soon I’ll be stronger than you. Then you will die and this world will burn.”
He shook his head, “You aren’t even close,” and his eyes began to glow.
Euology For The Mastermind
Well, this is awkward.
Some of you might know me through my relationship with the recently departed. The news coverage. The battles in the streets. That doomsday device on the moon last Christmas. But, that’s not why I am here today.
I didn’t know Doctor Leshin as a mother, wife, or respected member of the engineering, chemistry, and biology academic community. Instead, I knew her as Doctor Alecto, the mastermind who craved world domination. The woman who could drive you mad at a single glance who ranted on about punishing the world for their self-destructive anger.
Alecto… I can’t believe it took me that long to get the reference.
Considering how much of the recently bereaved are here today, it does make me question how much of this crusade was just an act. Despite all of the acts of selfishness I’d seen her perform, there are still people here who cared. Guess it just shows no matter how much you know someone, you never truly know everything. That she is…was still human.
You would think after all this time of fighting that I’d take some joy in this. You could practically hear the radio announcer right now. Good finally triumphs, evil is gone forever, and everyone gets ice cream, the end. But that’s a big lie. I didn’t want this. No one I know in this line of work ever really wants this. I wanted her to see how she could help communities heal. To take that longer road where we all become better. Every time we fought and she believed the only way to make things better was to inflict the madness she felt on others, it truly broke my heart. Who hurt you? Who made you think this was the only way? Guess I’ll never know.
Doctor Alicia Leshin, I am sorry that I couldn’t reach you. I’m sorry we couldn’t have been friends. And above all, I’m sorry that you couldn’t find a better path with the gifts you were given.
Good-bye to my greatest enemy. And good-bye to my greatest failure.
You Don’t Have to Like Me (also in private)
“Your landing was sloppy, Elise” Antoine’s voice grated my ears. “I’m surprised you haven’t broken your leg.”
“You’re right, but you also released my hand too early.”
We’d worked on our new trapeze routine for weeks, and still couldn’t nail the timing.
“Even if I hadn’t, your landing would’ve been sloppy with that form. You have the grace of an adolescent ostrich.”
“Oh, my heart!” I sighed dramatically, sarcasm lacing every word. “You wound me! How shall I ever recover from your shallow excuse of an insult?”
“Bite me.” was the only reply I got before he turned to wash up. The water in the bucket was probably ice cold, but didn’t seem to bother him.
Since the day we met, years ago, I’d hated his guts. I felt bad about it until I realised it was mutual. No rhyme or reason to it, we just mixed like water and oil.
“Let’s go again.” he called, heading back to the wires.
We’d made it about halfway through when, in a crucial moment, I froze and missed Antoine’s outstretched hand. I don’t know what it had been, the angle, or the lighting, but memory flooded my mind. Nico’s eyes, my precious partner, as he dropped me. I had loved him, trusted him. Why had he done that? Should I have apologised? Given him more attention, or respect? All this flooded my mind as I fell, time slowing painfully.
As quickly as the fall began, it halted. I’m jerked back to reality as Antoine caught me, lowering us to the ground with one of the spare pulleys. Antoine, not Nico. I feel lightheaded with relief.
“I am surprised you didn’t let me fall.” I could practically hear my attempted joke fall flat on the ground, my opaque mockery of a chuckle ringing hollow in my ears.
Antoine’s warm hands lead my face to his, forcing our eyes to meet. His eyes were not warm, his voice was not tender, but I will never forget what he said to me.
“You are my partner, I would never let you fall.”
Venom is Thicker than Blood
“Oh dear, what an absolute travesty.” I heard the viper dressed as my sister slowly descending the grand stairway towards me. My gaze, glued to the now lifeless corpse of my beloved, the blood still dripping from their head.
I couldn’t reply, my face, frozen in shock, slowly looking up at her.
“They were getting far too close to my baby brother for my liking. Why, they had you all but wrapped around their finger! In another year or two they’d likely attempt to use you to destroy us. So, I put an end to it.”
Her words slithered and squeezed around my heart. She couldn’t possibly mean…
Seeing me in my daze she shook her head and explained.
In seconds, my sword was aimed at her neck. Jumping to my feet while my other hand was still clutching my beloved’s body. As I stared at the thing calling itself my sister, my glare sharper than the sword at her nape.
“Why? Why must you take EVERYTHING from me?! Why does anyone who ever dared to take an interest in me wind up missing or dead?! WHY!?” I lashed out.
“Oh my dear brother, “ Gracefully she rose, moving the sword levelled at her away using her fingers before stepping around me. I wanted to pull the sword back before slashing at her pristine face, ruining it as she had ruined me. She had stolen my first love and made them her harlot. My second love disappeared in the dark of night and my current lover lay lifeless in my arms.
Behind me I felt her coil around me, her arms hugging me close. “Silly boy, only I can protect you from this cruel, cruel world. I know it may seem horrible now but in time I know you’ll agree with me. My dear beloved brother.” Her grip tightened around me until I could feel her warmth pressed up against me and the cold corpse in my arms. My sword fell from my grasp clattering to the ground as my eyes erupted.
The wails echoed through the walls into the dawn.
“Finding the way”
“Father,” I say.
The shade before me, in the summoning circle, is indistinct and wavering like ripples of water. It seems to somehow turn its head to face me as I speak, but does not or cannot answer me.
“I have summoned you to say some things that need to be said.”
I pause gathering myself, “I am . . . sorry. Sorry I could not follow where you walked in your faith.”
“I have no faith, and I worship no gods. I feel alone now, and I miss you very much. The warmth of your hand. Your kindness. Your support of me, even when I turned away from belief in the glory of an almighty divine. I never heard you condemn me, even though I know my beliefs were so alien to you.”
I pause here to listen for a response, but none come.
“I chose learning, as we both loved that spirit of discovery. I learned father, the art of magic, and I am powerful! I wield the very monsters of the darkness and bind them to my will.”
I gesture and the candles about the circle grow in light, casting strange and twisted shadows on the walls.
“I know you would fear for my soul for working with such things. I in turn worry for yours. I cannot forget the faithful’s self-centeredness and the suffering you took on for the sake of others.”
I turn and face the shade.
“I cannot live as a martyr as you did. I will not bear their millstone around my neck nor their arrogance. I have to walk my own path. I have to walk away.”
“Dad,” I say softly, “I love you. Goodbye.”
The shade fades from sight and is gone. The candles gutter. Darkness fills the room. I am alone. I know that I will find my own way.
My Dearest Enemy
First of all, allow me to congratulate you on your victory. Your forces were able to operate completely inside our decision cycle. Allowing your fleet to react faster than ours.
When we created the Penetrator®, we thought we had developed a war-winning technology. It took us over three months to refit our space fleet with the weapon. It was no small task, let me tell you. Refitting all our ships without letting your forces in on the surprise in store for them.
I had to have my intelligence chief executed. We’d been taken completely unaware by your repulsing shields. Everyone was astonished as our new weapons bounced off… uselessly. We lost half our fleet in the engagement before the ships were able to affect a withdrawal.
We thought we had you with the regenerating shields though. What a breakthrough! And we had them all installed in less than six weeks. Of course, this was helped by the fact our fleet was now half the size it had once been. But once again, you were thinking ahead of us. The negative ray technology you created was the right thing at the right time. We all watched helplessly as each shot took out the shields on our finest cruisers. We could only observe as the incoming missiles converted them to ever-expanding balls of flame and light. Even less of our ships got away after this battle.
Let me tell you I was starting to run out of intelligence staff. You can’t effectively promote from within if there is no one left. But our huge new battlecruisers were coming online, and we were still confident of victory. At least until you jumped into our space and destroyed them as if they were paper airplanes encountering a flamethrower.
So, once again, I congratulate you. But I am still proud of my science staff. Who would have thought they could put such a powerful explosive inside a mere piece of paper? I’m told I should be able to see the flash when you read…
The Journey is Fun
By Mango Gravy
“Tears of a weeping willow…”
Grindelwind was hard at work, as he had been almost every hour of nearly every day for the past fifty years.
“Precipitate of tangible frustration…”
He toiled, in an effort to create what may be the most important potion in Wizarding history. A potion renowned, not only for how difficult the ingredients are to obtain, but for its purpose. Everwake.
“A splash of a dragon’s liquefied morning breath…”
The first entry in the Book of Droogs, it supposedly rids the drinker of the need to sleep, a godsend for any active researcher.
“Urine of a mountain god…”
The precise proportions of the ludicrous reagents had yet to be worked out, since repeated experimentation quickly depletes what little stock one may have gathered, prompting the collection of yet more ingredients at great risk to themselves.
“Shredded hyphae of a doom shroom…”
Grindelwind was dead set on solving this puzzle that many Wizards had given up on. He spent forty years gathering a veritable mass of the necessary ingredients and the last ten mixing and swirling and suffering the consequences of every failure. It was agonising, but he had something that few other Wizards seemed to have.
A love for the process.
“And a smidgen of liquid masochism.” He grabbed a recording device and spoke into it, “That’s the last of my stock for most of the ingredients. I’ll have to go on another expedition to gather more, if this doesn’t work.”
Grindelwind was unsurprised when the mixture made his torso violently separate itself from his lower half. He pulled a potion from his sleeve and sipped it, almost instantly restoring himself and his clothes to an undamaged state. He stood up, dusted himself off, and laughed. When he spoke into his recording device, his voice wasn’t morose. It was gleeful.
“My bags are already packed. Another adventure, another dance.” He looked at the recipe, pasted to the wall beside his alchemy desk, and smiled wholeheartedly at the challenge.
Because even though each failure stung, the battle itself was invigorating. It’s what he lived for.
The Shadow Of Sorrow
“You’re not good enough; you never will be,” said the shadow.
Looking away as the darkness crept in and dissolved the remaining splashes of sunlight against the buildings. I shivered, pulling my jacket closer as I ran down the empty street.
“You’re a failure. You have nothing to show for yourself,” hissed a voice from the shadows.
The inky darkness became tangible and oozed past my feet up to my ankles. Yanking my feet out, I stumbled backward. I turned and sprinted down the street.
The inky sludge chased me, threatening to drag me back down and swallow me whole.
“You’ll never make it! You’re past your prime. You’ll die alone,” it kept whispering.
From the blob, shadowy forms crept up against the walls, red eyes glaring. My heart was pounding in my chest, and my lungs felt like they were about to burst.
My home loomed overhead. A squat brick apartment complex that lurched free from the shadows. The ooze followed me as I pounded up the concrete stairs.
Slamming the door behind me, I turned on the bright overhead light, the shadows fading away.
Coughing hard, my lungs racking, I made my way to the restroom and splashed icy water on my face. A reflection stared back at me in the mirror, but it wasn’t me. She appeared to be me, but her eyes were completely black, her lips curled in a sinister smile.
“You can’t fight me forever. I’m part of you now. We will be as one. You are my dearest enemy.”
“One day, you might, but not today,” I said, gagging down the pills the doctor prescribed to me.
The shadows dissolved from the reflection, leaving only me.
A Friend? Or an Enemy? It’s Hard to Tell.
“I know I haven’t always been the greatest, geez, I’m really not. But I really do want to work as a team, together. This past year, we have nooooot gotten along. I know you’re blaming me, for all our, uh, troubles…”
She paced the ongoing floor. It seemed to stretch for miles, just like her apology. “What else should I say? Maybe talk about why it’s all my fault? But it’s really not!” She banged her head against the wall.
Maybe an apology wasn’t the way to go? “I’ll give them both something to complain about! I’ll yell and vocalize my opinions, just like I was taught! And I’ll—” She yelled but the floor beneath her slipped away, and she tumbled to the empty ground. Pulling herself up against the wall, she looked up. A gentle breeze drifted from above, through the empty ceiling. The sky was so dark, so scary, but so beautiful at the same time. She tucked her knees under her chin.
“Okay. I’ll try again.” She breathed in and out, readying herself to try to recite this apology one more time.
“Hey. I know you don’t want to talk to me. I know the two of you—” she sighed. “I know you both blame me for how everything’s gone down. I wanna apologize… I really, really do. But this ain’t my fault. You keep blaming everything on me,” she sniffled. “When it’s really how you keep overreacting. Maybe if—”
“Okay. I can assure you, I will make an effort.”
“What?” She popped her head up, and looked towards the voice. “You… how long have you been there?”
“The whole time.”
“Oh.” She pulled herself in. “You weren’t supposed to hear any of that yet.” She squeezed her eyes shut, overthinking all the possibilities.
A warm body wrapped its arms around her. It was all safe and warm. And no matter how dark they may have been, in her eyes, it could all be so beautiful too.
(Reposted From Private)
Golden brown crust woven into delicate latticework.
The sweet-tart smell of cherries, chased with warm spice and bitter almond.
“You’ve outdone yourself, honey.” Tom called from the kitchen sink, elbow deep in dinner dishes, and Mary Ann had to agree.
The pie had come out beautifully.
“Just something I whipped up.” She dusted off her apron, plucked a knife from the block. “Couldn’t let the day go uncelebrated, after all!”
“Oh? What’s the occasion?”
“You know very well what the occasion is.”
There was a creak from the loose floor board by the cabinet. A grin pinched Mary Ann’s cheeks. Four years and he was still trying to sneak up on her. She knew what she’d do. She’d wait, and wait, and then, when he was just behind her-
The cast iron whisked past her face, smashing a hole in the wallpaper where her head had been.
“And if someone wants pie,” she teased, tapping a fingertip to his cheek, “he’s going to have to do better than that.”
Tom snapped his fingers, lips pursed in mock surrender.
“You’re just too fast for me, dear!” He cradled his chin in his palm. “Let’s see. A special occasion for my wonderful wife. That would be-”
She lunged, driving the knife, already spattered red, up towards his throat.
It pinged off the silver vase he drew from behind his back.
“Oh Thomas!” Mary Ann gasped, scooping up the overflowing bouquet. Carnations and snapdragons, chrysanthemums and roses. All wine red and stark white. “They’re beautiful!”
“Happy anniversary, Mary Ann.”
She flung herself into his arms, raised herself on tiptoe to share a chaste, sweet kiss.
“That,” she decided, “deserves pie.”
“Couldn’t agree with you more!”
She presented him a plate and he took a bite, closing his eyes as he smiled and hummed around the prongs of the fork.
He chewed a moment.
He peeked at her.
“Poison, darling?” Tom grinned.
Mary Ann tittered.
They both knew it was poison.
The Thrill of Battle
By Elver Galarga
“You know what your worst enemy will always be during a battle, boy?” would ask the man in black to his pupil the following day, “The thrill of battle, the boiling of your blood in your veins as you face death and grasp for life, what some may even call enjoyment.” That would be his last lesson as he’d submit to his wounds dealt by the man in red.
The man in red. The last he’d remember of the previous day, and of most of his life. He had been chasing him far and wide through the country, losing many of his comerades, men he had come to know as friends,. But it was finally over. The two men finally met in the middle of autumn, surrounded by trees with barely any leaves left and with no other sound than that of the wind.
The man in black raised his sword and his oponent followed. A couple seconds went by in which the warriors did nothing but stare at the other, then their blades met.
The man in black’s strikes were pricise, calculated, each blow delivered to be the last, the scarlet man, on the contrary, always made sure to be as fast as possible and strike as much as possible, his blade moved as fast as thunder making it impossible for his adversary to block all attacks, but none seemed to touch him, none seemed to hurt him. The man in black only required one blow and the scarlet armour of the man he’d hunt for so long was cut like paper, so was his wearer who fell to the ground and stood there forever.
It wasn’t long before the man in black fell too, once the thrill of the fight wore off he noticed his multiple wounds. His pupil tried the best to safe him but it was useless.
In his final moments he tried to remember the friends he’d avenged, but his only thoughts went to the man in red, to his cold blade, fast as thunder.
He closed his eyes and faced one last time.
I See You
By Twangyflame0(Repost from the Private Group)
To My Dearest Enemy,
I must say that I am quite tired of seeing your face every day. It does not help that we live in the same building and even in close proximity to each other. Those inscrutable noises you make and all those distractions you have up are absolutely atrocious. I try so hard to work, and yet you seem to always be in the way with all that noise.
I must suffer through your presence. You go about eating constantly and fattening up. Don’t you have a sport you need to do? I thought you were an athlete of sorts. I was obviously wrong in some way.
Of course, that last point is incorrect because you are always wrong. Chronically so. Week by week, I keep seeing those mistakes you make, and laugh. This is why I am on top, and you are on the bottom. Each day, I fill up pages of all the different mishaps and problems you have caused. All the situations you have avoided because you “didn’t feel like it”. All the times you missed the deadline on your assignments. All the times you lounged about doing nothing and wasting time.
It is no wonder why hate is the only thing you deserve. You are scum. Worse than the worst. I am surprised that God or whatever creature rules existence allows you to walk this beautiful earth. You’re appalling in almost every possible way. In no way entertaining, intelligent, patient, or virtuous. You hide behind the words you construct. You collect people’s pity because you haven’t learned to deal with your problems. You are sick. Disgusting. I hate you. You should just disappear. Never exist. Be gone. No one loves you. Go away. Why are you like this? Always behind. Never in front. You aren’t special. Worthless pile of trash. Just disappear. No one wants you. I hate waking up with you every day. I just can’t wait till the day I get up and see no more because it means you’re no more.
Your Worst Ally
A Letter Found Among the Stars
By: Claire Aslesen
My dear brother, Arone,
How long has it been? Decades, centuries? Ah, what does time matter to immortals like you and me? I know those mortals of yours have treated you well. But how have the others treated you? Probably as a hero, right? A conqueror over their “evil” brother.
Yet enough platitudes. Down to business.
As you read this, you can tell by the infernal scrawl of my hand that I am free. How or why is of no consequence. What is, though, is that the time has come to play again, younger brother.
And it is my turn.
This dance that we are in, this tangle of fate, it’s beautiful, isn’t it? Chaos and order flung together and in their wake, creation. We are opposites. Yet, we cannot indeed exist without the other’s presence. One only knows light because of the darkness behind it.
It is a hard lesson to learn, yes. And eventually, you shall come to understand it as did I. The key to bringing balance is not to extinguish the vile flames but to let them burn brightly. Let them consume, let them feast.
And feast they shall! What chaos has wormed out of my dreams and morphed into action to thrust upon your precious mortal world! You will fight it, of course. But once, just this once, try to enjoy it. For your brother? Your endless vows of vengeance are frankly dull. As is your “perfect” world, but that is an argument for another time.
Now, it’s time to play. I shall begin with a plague-you’ll hate it, I’m sure; it’s a nasty thing-in the port city. You know the one. As you read this, death should already be ferrying a few hundred young souls to the afterlife.
Your move, brother.
Thine Greatest Nemesis
For close to 9 years now, I have tried to keep this city safe like my predecessor. I have stopped crimes in progress and have helped people of all walks of life, even those I helped to catch. The Mayor calls me a vigilante but secretly the citizens and the police applaud my efforts. They have named me Vigil.
But for the last year now, one master criminal thought long retired or dead, a supervillain to match me, has come back to haunt the city. He has struck banks, money transports, and even ATMs. He has become my sole focus in fighting crime.
My police radio lights up. “All units, bank robbery in progress on Montange Boulevard. Confirmed Thunder.”
Here we go again, I thought to myself. I couldn’t let the police handle this one. When I arrived, the police officer in command asked me what I was going to do.
“I’m going to walk through the front door,” I answered.
“Is that wise?” He asked.
I put my hand on his shoulder. “I’ve done this before, trust me.”
He didn’t ask any further questions so I walked calmly up to the double doors and pushed my way through. Inside I instantly put my hands up but kept walking until Thunder turned around and noticed me.
“So, the great and mighty Vigil has come to stop me again?” He asked with an arrogant smile.
“I’ve just come to talk,” I answered calmly.
Thunder laughed. “Talk? If you must. Come closer, my hearing isn’t what it used to be.”
I closed the distance until we were within arm’s reach of each other.
“So then, Vigil, what is it you wanted to talk about, hmm? Surrender?”
It was clear as day to anyone that Thunder was old. I believed he only had a few more years. I removed my mask and put both hands on his shoulders while looking him dead in the eye.
The smile faltered. Instead were the forgetful eyes and confused expressions of an old man.
“…Kevin? Is that you?”
I smiled weakly. “It’s me, dad…”
The sound of falling bombs thundered in the distance, we knew they weren’t coming for us but it brought the war home. Even though the frontlines were hundreds of miles away, it reminded me of what we were fighting for, what was at stake.
The night was that of a bitter and cold December, the chill that ran through the air only bringing us closer together. As we lay in bed together, I looked at her large azure eyes shining in the moonlight and I knew that I would love her forever. I ran my fingers through her red curling locks before making love as only those that straddle the line between life and death can.
After our two souls became one we lay there in perfect rapture, the lassitude we shared dissolved all earthly barriers between us. She turned over to face me and said, “Will you marry me… When this is all over?”. I didn’t know how to react.
“What do you mean? How can we possibly make any plans in all… this?” More explosions echoed in the distance.
“Well, maybe I shouldn’t say this but, at the lab, we’re working on something, something big. The sort of thing that could put an end to this dreadful war.”
“Really?” I was stunned. She nodded with an ambiguous smile. “Then of course I’ll marry you, I don’t have a ring but… maybe we could celebrate with that bottle of champagne?”
“I’ll go get the glasses.” Her smile stretched from ear to ear. She pressed her lips against mine as she slinked out of the bed.
She put on her nighty as she walked out into the hallway. Without her noticing, I crept behind her as she was making her way over to the stairs. With a single forceful thrust, she tumbled forcefully down the stairwell. I made it look like an accident just as I was taught. I photographed the documents in her bag and removed any trace that I was ever there. I didn’t want to do it, but I had no choice. I was only following orders.
Bee’s Got My Back
The flushing of the toilet leaves relief and shame warring within my hated gut.
“Feel better, Piglet?”
I glare at Bee through the mirror. Her grin is haughty yet comforting. I rinse away the evidence of my crime, scrubbing my teeth with more vigor than necessary.
I rush through cleaning up and getting ready, ignoring Bee all the while.
I’m barely able to catch the city bus. My burning lungs and watering eyes warn me against running anymore. I block out the snickers and whispers thrown my way with my headphones.
Bee grasps my hand, and a warm smile blooms on my lips.
I’m already thinking of lunch despite the huge breakfast I had inhaled. My flabby belly rumbles in agreement.
We hop off the bus with other students. I keep my eyes to the ground while heading to the campus library before my first class.
A few people in the smoking section shoot me leers. I pretend not to notice. Bee’s too busy checking her reflection in the windows.
I dread the usual trek around the huge campus. Especially the stairs. Today is going to be another challenge.
My classes go by in a haze of lectures and hunger. I breeze through the work.
I drop off a few finished assignments to my professors before heading to the quad. I pass students playing cards and chess or talking loudly.
My stomach urges me to get food.
“Do you reaaaalllllllllly need TWO cookies, Piglet? You already have that sandwich and fruit punch.” Bee arches a condescending brow.
I return a cookie with guilt and pay the cashier.
I find a secluded area and enjoy my meager meal in silence.
“You don’t look like you enjoyed that. Bathroom then the gym, Piggie?”
I want to disagree, but she’s right. The enjoyment has already faded. I didn’t deserve the food, anyway.
Against my better judgement, I nod.
“Good! Forty-five minutes, at the very least, of cardio is a great start.”
I beam at her enthusiasm. “I’m glad you’re always looking out for me, Bee.”
“No one cares more than me, Piglet.”
We shall always be Friends (Darkspell Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
Rachel jumped, as she heard footsteps approach. She brandished her sickle against the silhouette in front of her.
“Relax. It’s just me.”
She breathed as her fellow reaper, Felix, stepped into the dim light of the crypt.
“Don’t sneak up on me like that,” she chastised, shifting to shield the room behind her from view. “I thought you were a Syndicate enforcer.”
“Sorry. I’m not used to working with someone anymore.”
At this, Rachel’s gaze fell to the floor. She hadn’t realized, how much she’d missed Felix.
“What’s taking so long?” he asked. “We’re ready to move.”
“Yeah, just give me a minute. Wanna make sure there aren’t any stragglers.”
“Alright. I just…”
Felix broke off, avoiding her gaze. Rachel walked up to him.
“Hey. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I… just hurry, okay?”
“Yeah. I’ll be right there.”
She moved closer to the room behind her, further obscuring Felix’ vision. He eyed her, before turning around and making his way back upstairs.
“Felix!” she called after him. “You know you can always talk to me, right?”
Rachel practically tasted the falseness of her words. She hoped, Felix never took her up on that offer. It would only complicate matters. For once, she felt glad that her best friend wasn’t the talkative sort.
She couldn’t tell him what she was doing. She didn’t think she could take his hatred and disgust, if he ever found out. As much as it hurt, she had to think of him as a potential adversary.
Felix simply nodded and walked further up the stairs. His back was to her. One strike with her sickle and he wouldn’t be a problem anymore. No risk of him ever getting too close. He’d never even feel it. She could easily pin it on a Syndicate hedge witch.
As he rounded a corner, Rachel turned into the room, where the mutilated bodies of three humans and the remnants of several obliterated souls decorated the scenery. All failed experiments, tortured for nothing. But she had to keep trying.
The reapers would die, if she didn’t figure out how to make more.
The Last Word
By MDC (Michael Case)
“DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU TO HELL!” An overly excited Bill shouted into the sky. His fist clinched so tight that blood stopped flowing to his fingers, his arm shaking so violently that he almost hit his own head several times during this outburst of anger.
After the funeral, Bill slowly walked away from the grave of his greatest rival. Their last fight never having been fought; their final anger filled discourse never argued. Bill hated that Grace’s final words at the rest home was that she won. It dug into his head like a bullet being fired from a sniper. The grief of possibly losing the discussion sprayed from his eyes like blood spraying from the bullet hole exiting from the wound.
Bill stopped at his car and told his driver to just go on without. He won’t be going home right now. Bill needed the time to think about his moment in time and what it means to be alone. Without someone to fight, argue with, or manically stare across the table at. The walk home was empty of feeling or meaning.
Grace was claustrophobically incased in her coffin, but this house now feels like Bills personal tomb. Silently trapping Bill inside it’s now meaninglessness. Bill walked inside the house, hearing the empty, hollowed echoing of his footsteps. He looked around his mausoleum slowly taking in the loss of memories to be made. There is no future in this place.
Bill walked into the dinning hall, grabbed a chair, and dragged it to the closet. He placed the chair inside and sat. Closing the door and sitting in the dark Bill just sat there quietly. Sometime a few days later Bill got up from the chair and walked out of the house. His driver stood there ready to go as always. Bill never remembered his name, he never really cared to, but he and Grace depended on his driver for everything.
“Here Driver. The house is yours now. Take care of it.” Bill then quietly walked way.
By RVMPLSTLSKN (A Tale from Hizkanamun’s Flesh)(Repost from Private)
There are two windows to every soul so there are two ways to see every soul. One way is slow and wending, for the distillation of our essence requires time to see. The other is the harder travail and can only be seen from within, soully.
They say gods use neither way. This is true of Hafit, whose soul communes with those Unforgotten he carries.
No longer is he called Warlord, not yet God. He wears nothing. Where nakedness is taboo, his bare metallic bones are profane.
A wind that is not a wind blows through his ribs. If he had flesh, it would shiver.
He asks the Unforgotten, What is it?
Among the cacophony of honored dead, he listens to only two.
Adyn: The Brightlings come.
Tsaji: One final chance.
-I’ll be victorious.
Tsaji: You’ve never beaten them.
-I’ve been cursed to fight them, but I’ve always beaten you. Your plans end here, so I’ll be victorious, foreteller.
Adyn: I pray Mornghynia herself comes for you.
He meant, “I wish death and immolation upon us all.”
Hafit’s grim grin was all the acknowledgement he would give in the gathering mountain winds.
-What’ll they call me after this, Tsaji?
He felt her essence withdraw.
Tsaji: They will say gods fought here.
Tsaji: I refuse to speak.
-You see Beyond. I honor you in death by giving you life and I expect what is mine for that blessing.
Tsaji: I would rather die.
Hafit reached within his chest and removed a glowing skystone.
-That can be arranged.
He pressed his mind and Called on that crystalline prison. What more could he do?
Tsaji begged then—what more could she do, she wanted for death—and Hafit knew he’d win.
-But who would I fight after? I’ll defeat this Brightling and you’ll still be my favorite opponent.
The wind coalesced. Hafit felt his curse manifest. It was Time.
A Brightening stepped from the winds, her form bare as Hafit’s. This is how a goddess walks to war: clothed only in power, in pride.
Hafit could have smiled.
-Finally, a worthy challenge.
Detective Lauren Valentine followed behind Doctor Potok and his two assistants through the barren, dim halls of the Asylum.
“I should warn you, Miss Valentine.” Potok sighed as he stopped at a locked mahogany door. “Mr. Nelson’s conditions is great unstable, he mentions something about a master, and he-”
“This is for my client.” Valentine cut the doctor with a shrew coldness. “I need to investigate him.”
“Very well.” The doctor sighed again and unlocked the door.
As light seeped into the dismal, windowless room, there was the scrawny figure of Nelson leaning against a battered sink; his sickly pale face and mangled blond hair were pressed onto a dull mirror that warped his reflection.
“Ah, there you are!” The man gasped, his eyes never leaving the mirror. “The Master said you would come!”
“Yes, your boss called me regarding the death of your colleague, Richard Blake.” Her voice was as cold as ever.
“Ah, you mean when I murdered Richard Blake!” A hallow laugh echoed from Nelson, his face still leaning on the mirror. “It was to prove to the Master that I was worthy of ascension! Poor Richard, he could have the best acting career that the stage has ever known, but what was done was done!I am worthy of the Master now. I know everything, see everything he plans!”
A mixed of grievous wails and howls of laughter erupted from Nelson. The mirror shattered as his fist met it, and with a swift motion he lunged himself at Lauren. Even if his approach was sudden and quick, Potok’s two assistants rushed into his room and held him back.
“I see a ship!” He wailed in upmost agony. “The crew, the crew have all been slain by the Master! The captain is trying to fight the Master, but he is no match! The Master is looking for something, but what? Why are you hiding this from me, Master?”
Before Nelson could continue, the doctor grabbed the detective by the arm, and slammed the door behind him followed by the sound of Nelson’s laughter.
An Age of Development (Set in the Crossroads City Canon)
By Fredrick H. (challeng3r22)
With a thud the knight settled into place to strike down the king.
“Checkmate, Chosen One,” the wizened old librarian stated.
“I lost. Then again, I wasn’t around for the games inception, Zenodotus,” the young lady replied.
“Now that you’ve bribed me with an easy victory. What is it you’d like to inquire that you were too lazy to research yourself?”
“More of an inquiry into the reasoning behind my stronger foes actions that I doubt I could so easily find in a book.”
“Ah,” the century-worn bibliophile exclaimed. “You’re wondering why none of them have actually tried to kill you yet. This is best described with a diagram.”
From his pocket he withdrew a piece of parchment and fountain pen. Quickly, he sketched out a simplistic sword.
“This is the chosen blade of this era and space.”
Hastily, he drew branching lines off of the blade that reached the edge of the page.
“This blade is connected to the very fabric of reality. Allowing it to withdraw great powers beyond that which unselected mortals can use.”
Finally, he outlined a heart attached to the hilt.
“Now, as you have probably seen, the blade essentially acts as an extension of yourself. If you were to fall to the ideas deemed profitable by the darker powers like pride or self-doubt this piece of reality would be simple to push one way or the other.”
“So I’ll never face a proper challenge? Then why did they bother with the manual?”
“Correction. You won’t face a proper challenge, yet. Once you end your currently turbulent age known as adolescence they’ll begin to focus on the task of killing you, to begin the era of the next chosen one.”
Dance with the Devil
Daisy was the one who set her tragic fate into motion. She sought Alex out. She started ridiculing him because he refused to respect her authority, self-proclaimed as it might have been. She continued to poke the bear because he seemed so docile. How was she to know Alex was a demon?
She was just one in a long line to fall into his trap. Three was indeed the magic number. Alex allowed for two unopposed offenses. And only on the third, did he retaliate. He magically tethered her to him, draining her free will. She fought him for the first few days. That was all it took for her to completely submit, as all thralls eventually do. Thralls are designed to be demonic servants after all. They’re just usually willing.
Daisy’s humanity faded bit by bit as she endured everything she could to gain his favor.
She learned Alex’s sadistic peculiarities very quickly. Not that it helped. He was very, VERY inventive in how he sated those desires.
But Daisy grew to love her anguish. To love him. It was merely another layer to her agony. The more she adored him, the more she paid for it. The more Alex toyed with her affections for his amusement.
She only received his approval when she acted like him. When she brutally inflicted pain on others. He still hated her, but at least her efforts were acknowledged. What little humanity she had left was gone. She gave it gladly. Alex was her obsession. Her tormentor. Her god. When she closed her eyes, his glowing golden irises stared back…
Daisy awoke with a scream, her chest heaving and her brow dripping with sweat. She was free of him. She chanted it in her mind. That horrible part of her life was over.
She was free.
Her now golden eyes lit up the darkness, a demonic remnant of her time with him.
Tears began to fall down her cheeks. Alex was still out there somewhere. And part of her missed him. But she knew that part was poisonous.
By Alexander (BrokenEarth)
“It’s over now. We can’t fix it.” I said softly. My bitter rival, my greatest enemy, my brother, looked at me with sad, broken eyes.
“Look what they’ve done to our city.” He said, and he cried.
All the battles we’d fought, good versus evil, superhero versus super villain, and it ended like this? With the city I swore to protect, and he vowed to rule, in ashes?
I pulled him onto the pile of rubble to stand level with me.
“I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.” I hated myself for that. What kind of hero admits defeat? What kind of hero sat amidst the destruction of everything they love, and gives up?
“I… I know. I’m not here to ask for help, or beg forgiveness. You’re the only one left I can go to. Everything I’ve worked for…”
“But there’s one bright side to this,” He wiped away his tears, and looked at me with resolve in his eyes, resolve and hatred. “Now we have nothing left to lose.”
I widened my eyes for a moment, then nodded. We’d both held back in the past, to keep damage down and keep the innocent people out of our fight. Now there was nothing we could hurt. I wondered, then, what the true limit of my power was?
“And you’re ready?” I asked.
“I am.” He answered.
“Then let’s give them a one-way ticket to the afterlife.”
He chuckled. “You won’t curse, even now? Some things never change.”
Then we took off, into the sky, leaving the rubble as dust and the ground a crater in our wake. The sound barrier broke in an instant.
A titanic machine stood before us, and when we struck it was as though two atomic bombs had gone off. Punches flew at nearly the speed of light, as the two of us pushed ourselves to the limit with one single goal: Destroy the beast that ruined our home.
And maybe he became a hero that day, or maybe I became a villain.
In the end, I don’t think either of us cared.
“On My Word” (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
Marcos did not know how long he ran for, but he eventually tripped over a root and tumbled forward. As he pushed himself up, he heard laughter. He frantically got up and looked around for the source, then stopped on a figure.
“Well, I did not expect this.”
Marcos stared at the deer skull, panic flooding his brain. Every fiber in his body told him to run, but his feet would not move. Where was Cecil?
The Wyld sauntered towards him. “You should consider yourself lucky. Not many humans make it past the patrols.”
“What… What do you want with us?” Marcos cursed his shaky voice.
“I wish to know who sent you here. Surely you had some assistance?”
The sound of crunching leaves caught their attention. They looked to the source and saw Cecil pointing the sword at the Wyld. “Leave him alone.”
The figure tilted his head. He walked to Cecil and grabbed the sword’s blade. It burned his hand, but he managed to take it from Cecil and cast it aside.
Marcos did not process what happened at first, but as Cecil collapsed and stared at him with clouded eyes, it dawned on him. In a rage, he lunged at the sword, somehow avoiding the Wyld’s sweeping arm. When he had a solid grip on the hilt, he spun around to point it at the attacker, only to cut off the Wyld’s hand in the process.
He howled in pain. As he clutched the stump, he almost did not notice Marcos drop the sword and run away. He considered following, but he needed to treat the wound. Instead, he called out, “You fiend! On my word, I will find you again!” Then he retreated to find a medic.
Marcos pulled out his wand and managed to open another portal. When he stepped through, he looked down at his arm and saw a burn scar where the magic circle once was. He could not go back for Cecil’s body now.
Tears ran down his face as he said, “I’ll find you first. On my word.”
Giving Up (Mary’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
“Wait – Father wait, come back!”
Through the bars of Mary’s cell, the gaunt face of her father turned to face her. “What IS it, my dear?”
“……I, I give up. I won’t misbehave anymore.”
A long pause, as his distant eyes peered suspiciously. “You won’t simply run for the woods?”
She gave a bitter laugh. “Pointless. Your servants would find me and drag me back. Or you would just,” she glanced at the gnarled staff he held, “control me. Make me walk all the way here myself. So no, I won’t run.”
He continued to stare. “Are you really telling the truth, my dear? Let me look at your face. I always know when you lie, Mary.”
Gesturing with a shrivelled hand, the zombie by his side started turning a crank. Mary retreated as her manacled arms were pulled against the back wall, before her father entered her domain.
“So, my daughter…do you promise to behave?”
“I-I won’t shout, or scream at you. I won’t say those terrible things I said to you before. And I won’t, I won’t run from you anymore.”
His dim eyes brightened. “My dear…it is wonderful to finally hear you say these words.” A frail smile. “My beautiful Mary…I will never let you die, again…You will never leave me, again…
She smiled sadly. “No. I won’t.” Then she pulled hard against her chains, where the manacles held her hands tightly in place.
Or they would have done, if she hadn’t intentionally broken both her wrists.
Her hands crunching as they slipped free, she slammed her father to the ground, pinning his arms. Before he could make another sound, her teeth were tearing into his throat, his blood drenching her face, biting and biting and biting until the snap of bone in her mouth brought her back.
She recoiled as his head fell, completely severed from his body. Then, with ugly, tearless sobs, she cradled his remains.
Mary had never wanted this. She had hoped that the person she loved so dearly could still come back.
But eventually, she had given up.