Hello, explorers of all kinds.
It feels like we’ve been walking for ages. I’m tired, I’m hungry, and my feet hurt. You’re sure this is the right way? What if we’re lost? You better know where you’re going, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Map to Nowhere
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!
It’s always fun to just let the mind wander, isn’t it? To see where it can go when given just a few simple words to guide it. Essentially, we’re creating our own maps without even meaning to.
We can venture into brand new, uncharted lands, like an explorer on an excursion into the unknown, charting it out as he goes, paper in one hand and pen in the other. Perhaps someone is looking for a legendary treasure, but the map only leads them to empty sands or a crumbled pile of rocks. Maybe this person is just going to their secret quiet place in the middle of nowhere to be at peace and gaze at the stars, the map being the worn down grass they’ve walked so many times before.
This map could even just be an imaginary map, created by a very imaginative child playing pretend with all of their distant lands just being rooms in the house. Maybe this map is supposed to lead to some ancient and powerful weapon, and someone has ventured out to find it, only to arrive and see his prize is missing. Perhaps someone has only found a piece of a map, which leads them to a destination only halfway through their journey and they must figure out the rest on their own. Or maybe, just maybe, this map is your very own thoughts as you traverse them over and over, trying to come up with an idea but just ending up lost in your own mind.
Whatever path you embark on, whichever road or river you choose to set your course, bring us along on the adventure.
Just don’t forget to bring a compass, okay?
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 Saturday 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!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- 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.
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new (no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- 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.
- 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).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
It Was a Map to Nowhere
By Jesse Fisher
A blank void stretched out in a vastness that seemed both infinite and finite. Was it a two dimensional or was it three dimensional but with only a fixed angle of view? Was it a death or was it the place of birth? Was any of it for real or not? Were there pieces to a line to see the bigger picture?
These thoughts were not on the mind of a dark navy wolf, whom was directed to this location. He recalled being in a similar place before, a minor link to a world beyond even the realm of gods. Granted this seemed to still be in said realm of gods as this was in the bar for said gods.
“Korun said that he wanted me to try and make a place that might be more inviting to those of a similar nature to mine.” He spoke aloud looking at the near blinding white around him.
With a thought a ground was formed, stone-like with cracks randomly forming as bubbling hot liquid formed. A hum came from the wolf as he looked to the map he recalled having in his possession.
“So this seems to go to the main bar here.”
Once he pointed a metallic door appeared on the map with a structure beginning to form around it. A more dark/’evil’ looking bar formed around the wolf as he looked at the map moving more things around.
“Is the ‘hellish’ astictic a bit too much? I know the liches might not care for it but then again devils and other demons would think this was a place for Krampus and not them.”
He kept mulling that idea over with the outside shifting from fire to ice and then some of them both. Then some forest and swamps got mixed in and by the time he looked around he just gave up.
“There the darn thing is made and I can get out of here.”
Going for the door he stopped.
“Damn it, I’ve left nowhere to put the name, man this is a pain.”
An Unexpected Visit
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
The leaves rustled on an overcast autumn afternoon. The chilly breeze from those far away northern climbs weaved its way in and out through trees of dark orange and brown. The leaves jostled quietly in the afternoon sky undisturbed until a phone ring broke the silence.
“Hello?” A young man answered his cell phone after wrestling it from his pocket. “Yes, this is Michael.”
A few moments of silence followed the sudden drop in Michael’s expression. “Yes ma’am, I can go to the park. I can be there in…” He looked at his golden wrist watch. “Uh, maybe thirty minutes. I’ll see you at six.”
As he was talking, Michael got up and started preparing for the trip. He grabbed his bicycle helmet and slipped on a light coat.
“Ok. It’s… It’s good to finally be hearing from you again, Aunt Leslie. I-I’ll see you then.”
Michael mounted his bicycle and rode off. Though the trip went smoothly, he still found himself a little late by the time he arrived at the park near the outskirts of town. With a sense of urgency, he peddled harder and harder through the jagged trails of the park, weaving into the wooded paths.
As he turned onto the trail Aunt Leslie told him to meet her at the end of, he hit a stray root and came tumbling to the ground.
Getting up to inspect the damage, he found that the root had punctured his front tire.
He sighed and took out the small tire repair kit hiding under his seat. It wasn’t a permanent fix, but it could at least hold him til he got home.
As he finished his tire, he turned to continue down the trail.
Michael collapsed to the ground in pain. His right leg had been grazed.
“Hand over the watch, NOW.”
Michael looked up to see a rushing Aunt Leslie glaring back. She was holding a gun.
“I won’t ask twice, boy.”
Michael turned to scream for help, but there was no solace.
Another shot rang out and he fell over, dead.
A Hole In Space
“I have it!”
Erykah rushed into the room, a roll of parchment clutched in her hand.
Melissa and Su glanced up from their seats.
“Sorry, but what do you have, Erykah?” Su asked.
“It’s probably something stupid,” Melissa said with a smirk.
Erykah stuck her tongue out. “No! It’s not stupid. It’s a map!” She swept the coffee table clear, and unrolled the map across it.
Su leaned forward and examined it. “What’s this a map of?”
Erykah traced her finger over the map. “This is the Sawtooth Range. Over here is a small, remote valley known locally as The Cistern. And somewhere in there is nothing!”
Melissa snorted. “You’re right, Erykah. That definitely sounds not stupid.”
Erykah glared at her friend. “No, you don’t get it. This is a map to literally nothing!”
Melissa rolled her eyes.
“What do you mean by nothing?” Su asked.
“There’s a hole in reality,” Erykah said.
Melissa slowly turned back to the map. “A what?”
“There’s a spot in The Cistern where nothing exists. I want to go investigate it. Like, it might be a dimensional portal. Or it might be a reality black hole. Like if we go into there, we might suddenly be erased from existence.”
Su suddenly pushed back into her seat. “That…that doesn’t sound like something we should investigate.”
“No, this sounds like exactly the kind of things we investigate!” Erykah countered. “And you need to be in on this investigation, Su!”
“Because you’ve got true sight. Hopefully you should be able to see something in the nothing. Or why the nothing exists. Or something interesting that we can’t see.”
Su looked back down at the map. “I don’t want to be erased from existence. And I won’t be happy if you get erased either, Erykah.”
Melissa stood up with a sigh. “I’ll go talk to Sonja, see what she has to say about this. Erykah constantly has these ideas, and sometimes Sonja can talk some sense into her. At the very least, we’ll come up with some safety protocols to prevent us from being erased.”
By Derek McEldowney (Deviacon)
I felt the dull jolt of impact run through my entire body. The smell of damp earth filled my lungs as I gasped to reclaim the breath that had been shaken from them.
I opened my eyes to a cacophonous abyss painted every swirling color of the sky. Reflections of choices wafted through the air like leaves. Large chunks of earth stretched and spider webbed like roots in every direction; constantly growing, spreading, and crumbling before beginning again.
“Where am I?” I sputtered, pulling myself to my feet.
“Where do you think you are?” A cheery voice asked. I turned to find the small silhouette of a child. They looked as if they had been cut from the night sky, a crescent moon mouth waning and waxing in time with their speech.
“I-I don’t know. How did I get here?”
“How do you think you got here?”
“I don’t fucking know!”
“That—is exactly it.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Precisely. That sense of panicked desperation and confusion when you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing.”
The figure held out its arms, gesturing to all of its surroundings.
“It’s not all bad, once you get acclimated to the idea you’ll never be acclimated to any of it.”
“Helpful. Just gotta get control of this… situation.” I muttered.
“Control is an illusion, you know that right?”
“Chaos is the only true constant. And you can’t control chaos. But, if you have the right eye for it, and feel it out with consideration, you can navigate it, maybe even guide it in the direction you want.”
“Isn’t that control?”
“No, it’s symbiosis.”
“Could you hand me that rock at your feet?”
“This one? Uh, Sure.” I passed the stone to them.
“Would you say that I just controlled you?”
“No, you asked me to do something.”
“And you chose to help me. Symbiosis. Ya know there’s more room to move around if you go with the current instead of fighting against it just to stay stuck.”
I sighed dreamily. “I guess the view isn’t so bad.”
Nowhere, Know Where, No Hair
By Cansas Wanderlust
The wheels of the night bus rattled. City lights buzzed past the window.
A man in a trench coat sat in the back, gazing into space.
“Do you know where this bus is going?” He asked to no one in particular.
A tall man beneath a top hat answered from the seat across. “No. where?”
“He was asking if you know his hare,” said the little girl with a pig’s tail in her hair.
A man wearing the boots of cowboys thought she was talking to him.
“How’m I s’pposed ta know yer hare girl?”
Two rows back a man whose head was bald sighed, “I know, no hair.”
“Why don’t you just wear hair?” A man with circle glass eyes asked.
“I know nowhere that sells hair for no haired heads.”
The man with circle glass eyes smiled, “I know where to find a hair maker who makes hair no where else can make.
The man wearing the boots of cowboys sighed heavily. “I’d never known, no man who wanted some hare on his no haired head.”
The man in the trench coat suddenly shouted, “Does anyone know where this bus is going?”
The tall man beneath the top hat looked over at him. “No. Where?”
The man in the trench coat huffed and walked to the bus driver.
“Do you know where this bus is going? Surly, you must have a map.”
The bus driver gave a soft chuckle and said, “I’ve got no clue where this bus is going, son.”
The man in the trench coat felt his face growing hot with rage. “Can I see the map?”
The bus driver reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper.
The man in the trench coat grabbed it. When it was unfolded, the map was bigger than he was, and it was completely blank.
“What is this?”
“Why, it’s a map.”
“It’s empty. There’s nothing on it!”
The bus driver looked at him, eyes like the sun. “Then what you should be asking, is do you know where you’re going, son.”
No Roads to Nowhere
By PitL (In Collaboration with Twangyflame0 and Hemming Sebastian Bane)
Multiversal Shipping Route 13, as it turned out, didn’t go anywhere.
Wait. That came out wrong.
It… didn’t go anywhere, it was true, but it didn’t exactly go Nowhere either. And wasn’t that a hell of a contradiction?
The truck careened through the darkness. I leaned across the dash, eyes locked forward. Ronzhof’s voice screeched in my ear, tight and frantic.
“What do you mean you want to try using the map? Damn it, Penny, I need that!”
I just had to hang on. It would be alright.
I pulled a scanner out of my pocket and leveled it towards the window. Nothing. It might help if I knocked it around a bit, made sure it wasn’t a misread –
Penny hummed from the opposite end of the cab. “Huh. I wonder if this is Nowhere? We should shove the box out the back. It might be, after all.”
“And what if it isn’t? I don’t want to get in trouble with Management…” Ronzhof muttered. “I’m already stuck on this circuit. I’m not sure how much lower you can go, but I definitely don’t want to find out.” He leaned back against the seat, squirming and trying to unfold the map without blocking the windshield.
How long had it been since we had driven off into the darkness? It was difficult to remember – I’m not sure I wanted to.
I slumped into the chair for a moment, and then steeled myself. “H – hey – ” I stuttered. “Lay off it, Nigel. We’ll be fine. We don’t even have a deadline… that we haven’t already missed, anyway. Let her have a turn with the map.”
“As if you’re one to talk, Mark. We’re definitely going nowhere fast right now – and not in a good way.” I could feel his stare drilling into my head.
I sighed. “Just give her the map. We’ll figure it out. It’ll be alright.”
‘We’ll figure it out.’
I hope so, I thought, staring out into the abyss. I really hope so.
“Highway to Nowhere”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane (In collaboration with TwangyFlame0 and PitL)
The truck zoomed through the portal, the sound of the engine changing as dirt became asphalt. Penny squinted as the purples of the portal turned to bright blue sky, green grass, and a yellow sun.
Penny jumped before sighing and glancing over to the man on the other side of the single cab. His eyes were wide with fear as he stared out.
“Sleep well, Nigel?”
Nigel chuckled. “You thought I fell asleep?”
Penny shook her head in confusion. “Never mind then. How’s the box?”
Suddenly, the cardboard box in Nigel’s lap shook. “Bacon! Feed me bacon!”
Nigel hucked the box with a shout. It harmlessly bounced off the dashboard and into the face of the man sitting in the middle of the truck. The man fumbled the screaming object until it fell into his lap.
Penny smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, Mark.”
Mark rubbed the sleep from its eyes. “Nigel freak out again?”
“You’re acting like a talking box that can eat anything is normal!”
Penny shrugged. “I mean, with the Multiverse how it is, is anything really normal?”
As if on cue, they heard a soft guitar starting to play a pattern. Nigel nearly jumped out of the truck.
“What is THAT?!”
“It’s an interlude. They’re pretty common in my world. It means someone’s about to sing.”
Nigel went pale. “I can’t sing! Also, why does the sun have a face?”
The music stopped and Penny slammed on brakes. “What?”
Nigel pointed to the sky. Sure enough, the sun had a smiling face with two simple dots for eyes. Suddenly, the three heard a siren as a police car pulled behind them. Nigel dove under Penny’s feet.
“What are you doing?”
“Not getting arrested, that’s what!”
Suddenly, a jaunty tune started as someone knocked on the window. Standing there was an anthropomorphic weasel in a police cap and shades. Penny rolled down the window.
“Papers?~” the weasel sang.
Penny looked at Mark, who shrugged.
“Actually, we’re headed to Nowhere.~”
The weasel nodded. “Left on Main Street. You can’t miss it!~”
“Thank you!~” Penny waved as she drove into town.
Empty Co-ordinates (Tales from Alsuria)
Dresden looked at the co-ordinates for the third time. “Are you sure this is where we’re going?”
“Aye.” Said Marx. “It’s what she gave us.”
Dresden cast a glance at their passenger. She stood in the corner of the cockpit, her blaster rifle cradled in her arms. He could feel her stern gaze through the dark visor of her helmet.
“But there is nothing there on the map.” He whispered to Marx as he punched in the co-ordinates.
“I think that’s the point, sonny boy,” Marx whispered back. “Co-ordinates set. Ready for jump speed.” Marx announced as he readied the ship.
The Comet gave her usual complaining routine before gaining speed. With a lurch, the ship entered the jump stream. Time passed in relative silence. Eventually, curiosity pushed Dresden to ask questions.
“So… what’s your name, stranger?”
“… Conor.” She said hesitantly.
“Why do you-hey!” He rubbed the shoulder, where Marx smacked him.
“No questions were part of the deal, sonny boy.” The aging captain gave Conor an apologetic nod.
“I was just trying to make conversation.” Dresden protested. More unbearable silence.
As they eased out of jump space, a massive debris field surrounding an unknown planet appeared before them. Pieces of warships and astroids hung as floating tombstones to the battle’s dead. They coasted, gently dodging obstacles until they reached the co-ordinates.
Conor stepped forward between the two smugglers and stared out the viewport to the planet below. “Land there.” She said.
“Ya sure about that, miss?” Marx asked. “It doesn’t look like none live there.” The nod from her blaster rifle was all the answer he needed.
As they prepared their descent, a large ship suddenly appeared from jump space above them.
“GFV Atlas to transport ship UTCV Comet,” blared a metallic voice through the coms. “Cease your decent and prepare to be boarded. Surrender fugitive 0936 or be terminated.”
Dresden swore sharply. That’s why Conor was secretive- She had an enemy bounty. “Punch it!” Marx snapped.
“Hold on!” Dresden yelled as they dived into the atmosphere.
“Welcome…” Conor gasped above Dresden, “to nowhere, kid.”
Backroads to Nowhere
By Twangyflame0(In collaboration with Hemming Sebastian Bane and PitL)
Nigel shakily held that map as they moved through the new area. Penny and Mark heeded nothing around, but Nigel knew better. He could see the danger all around them. Even though they had been hopping across dimensions, these plants were unnatural. No! They were dangerous beyond a doubt!
Penny simply plucked some fruit off of a bright pink plant. It was quite plump and juicy, before Nigel quickly slapped it out of her hand.
She simply gave him a look, “Really?”
“We don’t know what anything is! And if we don’t know what it is, we shouldn’t touch it!”
“But that’s… basically everything.” Penny tilted her head, her small brain quite confused.
“That is exactly why I have the map and I am leading us through this hellscape.”
“I don’t know, I’m not getting anything dangerous on the scans.” Mark said, looking around the brightly colored forest.
“WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT TOUCHING THINGS!!” He was about ready to tear his hair out. “LET’S JUST GET BACK IN THE TRUCK AND GET OUT OF HERE!”
His screams caused something in the bushes to run away. He pointed wildly, “See! See what I mean!”
“Ugh, I can’t even listen to some nice nature walking tunes with all your screaming.” Penny said as she started to walk back, “If I sit in the truck, will you stop?”
“Yes, because we’ll be able to get to Nowhere faster via this route!” Nigel said, his voice close to shouting.
“I honestly don’t see the problem you got with this place, Nigel. It’s pretty alright.” Mark smiled at all the bright flora around him. “I wouldn’t mind taking a few samples for–”
“HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THE MISSION!? HAS THIS WORLD SEDUCED YOU WITH ITS GAUDY AESTHETIC?! HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN OUR MISSION TO DELIVER THE–”
“Don’t worry, I haven’t.” Mark said calmly, rejoining them, “I’m just a bit sad I couldn’t research this world. I guess it’s just instinct.”
As the truck drove off a very tiny, bright blue bunny looked as they drove away… before being swallowed whole by the ground itself.
A Simple Mistake.
“No, NO!” he snarled at the map. “Water but not Doors, and not the Histories either!” He spun, scattering papers of carefully translated documents.
He rushed back over, eyes flashing in the candlelight. He traced a rune, and flipped a heavy dictionary open.
“Perhaps…‘entrance’? but then… locks. Locks need keys, to keep things…” He stared directly into the candle flame for a moment. Whatever answers he was seeking, he did not find in its depths.
“…Light. I hear your call.” He cooed, chapped lips near enough to burn.
He tore his eyes from the flickering flame, and lurched to the sagging shelf of research materials.
“Key key key… metaphorical key is risky but necessary, perhaps—”
He raised a necklace, strung with yellowed human teeth. It glittered as it swung, and he discarded it just as fast for a scrap of paper. He exhaled, touching the single sentence written there with trembling fingers. The secret that inspired his journey.
“This. I… I could use this.”
He staggered back to the map, pushing aside tomes to clear the surface.
By luck, the moon was dark tonight as described on the map. He had studied the pieces, he had solved this puzzle. All that was left to do was perform the ritual.
The lines were drawn with a fine white sand, and he knelt on the table before the Lantern’d Eye.
“A sacrifice…” he whispered. “In the name of the Light, to open the way.”
He knelt, and whispered a forbidden secret.
The candles, the lantern, the electric lights in the rest of the building, suddenly flared white-hot, and the cultist covered his eyes with a cry.
With a sudden thud, they all blew out.
Trembling, the cultist looked around at the complete darkness. He murmured a spell.
The expected ball of light failed to form. No, not failed. The darkness swallowed it whole.
An eyeless dog nudged open the door of the basement. She sniffed the air, and set out to find something to eat. The Abyss was a very empty place to live, she was glad to be out.
by Gage Jarman
The man was skittish. Michael’s eyes were not unlike those of a squirrel’s, darting around to catch any possible threat. He had been laying on the couch, drinking a PBR, when they called his numbers for the powerball, but his familiar dwelling was gone.
Sparse oil lanterns hung in a path through the dark forest. The orbs of light illuminated the trunks of massive trees which disappeared into the black expanse above. An arrow of mushrooms pointed forward. Michael looked at the nothingness behind, turned, and followed the lanterns.
He felt light. Walking was almost effortless even though he was thoroughly out of shape. He had the gut to prove it. Even still, he practically floated along the mossy forest floor littered with cedar needles and lined with ferns.
The forest floor faded into large stone slabs. The stones were polished until they were glass still water. Michael almost thought he could dive into them if it wasn’t for their faint seams. He continued through the arboreal pillars, watching the lanterns pass, reflected in the smooth stone.
A staircase rose out of the forest. The canopy concealed the summit, but warm light glowed over the edges. The sounding of drums, the roar of people celebrating with abandon, the pop of fireworks rolled over the stairs. Michael climbed. The summit had a pull. He felt warm, peaceful, exhilarated.
Before the man was a festival. There were stands with meats and drinks and bells and charms and trinkets and games. Music played from somewhere deeper, but they were not human. The beings looked like the heavens, stars and nebulas suspended in black nothingness. Michael watched them for a while, not knowing what to do. He took a step backwards. A blob formed at his feet before a being rose up from it.
“Welcome Michael. It’s been sometime since you were last here, almost 32 years, but we’re glad you’re back. No, no, it’s alright. You’re not actually here, and most don’t remember their visits. You didn’t. Nonetheless, enjoy bliss while you can. You won’t stay; after all, no emotion ever lasts.”
Get In, Loser
by Astrid Jones
A horn honked as a dirty Ford Ranger pulled into Darla’s driveway. She peeked through the blinds and huffed, recognizing the vehicle and its driver. She had told him she didn’t want to do anything or see anyone, yet here he was. Why couldn’t he just listen to her for once?
“What do you want?” she asked, stepping onto the porch to meet Carl as he bounded up her front steps.
“Is that any way to greet your best friend? Why, Darla, I’m positively wounded.” Carl clutched at his chest in mock agony.
She felt the corners of her mouth lift slightly. “You’re so dramatic.”
“There’s that smile. I knew you still had one.”
Darla crossed her arms and turned away, uncomfortable that he had pointed it out. Had it really been that long since she’d smiled?
“Well, come on. Let’s go!” Carl grabbed her hand and tugged her toward the truck. She followed a few paces before pulling free.
“I said I wanted to be alone.”
Carl turned to face her, suddenly serious. “You said that three weeks ago. You haven’t talked to me in days.” He put his hands on his hips. “Now get in, loser. We’re going driving.”
It was no use arguing with him. Darla knew her friend was stubborn, and she didn’t have the energy to put up a fight. Besides, she admitted to herself as she belted in, she’d missed him.
“So, where are we going?” she asked.
“Do we have to be going somewhere?” Carl looked over at her as they pulled out of the driveway. “Just relax and enjoy the journey.”
Alone on an Endless Road
A man wearied by walking a long road stopped upon his journey. He looked first to his feet, weathered by his march. He looked then to his clothes, dirtied by his hike. He looked finally around him and found he knew not where he stood.
How long ago did this trek begin, he wondered as the night sky shimmered. He looked to the distant horizon and noticed spears of golden radiance pierce the darkness. First, the man smiled, drinking of the beauty, yet this smile soon faded to the frown he so often wore. How many of these sunrises did he see? How many did he remember? None, he thought. For all the surrounding beauty, he remembered only his aching feet and the dirty road on which he marched.
How many gorgeous sights did he miss as he walked? How long had he walked? He could not remember starting this journey, nor could he even remember why. Where did this road lead and why did he want to arrive?
Suddenly, the man’s heart ached. So much time lost and he couldn’t even remember why. Haunted by the shadow of yesterday, standing before the corpse of tomorrow stilled the man’s once beating heart of today. A suffocating pressure constricting the chest, a void into which all things fall.
The man cried out in agony!
When did tomorrow grow so gloomy? Another day dragging his body across an endless road to a destination he did not know. Another day of throbbing feet, burning legs, and a heavy heart.
Did any even care where he was going? Who in this life loved him? Did he love any? The man could not remember, and this thought crippled him. Did he spend so long walking that he let slip those for whom he cared?
He wanted again to laugh and love; to feel the passions of life. Yet these things seemed so distant.
He was alone, lost on an endless road.
The man wept.
If only someone still walked with me, he thought, then I wouldn’t feel so alone.
If only someone still loved me…
At Some Point, The Pencil Snaps
Everyday, I wake to the walls.
They’re soft off-beige, calming and bland, and there’s a radio speaker in one corner where they join, but no door.
“Do something,” says the voice over the speaker.
I used to draw.
I would take my pad and my pencil and sit, hours on end, running one over the other. Sometimes the lines were broad and fast. Other times they were slow, detailed meticulously to perfection. The motion and the making. This is what I’d spend my life on, I’d say.
For a while.
At some point the pencil snapped.
“Do something else,” says the voice over the speaker.
I used to play.
The stringed ones were my favorite. The sharp, pleasant sting of the wire against my fingers. The vibrant twangs they would make. The noise made me nervous, as if I would be caught, but there was a thrill in being too loud, in being noticed. This time for sure, I’d say to myself.
But the sound faded.
Now it’s quiet.
“Do something,” says the voice over the speaker, “or this is all you will have.”
I used to write.
I would grab the things I knew from inside, and they would flood the page. Things I remembered, but different. Things I had felt, but not quite. There was a power in that. A reinvention of myself. I knew it, I’d say, I had always known.
But I hadn’t known anything.
Now even the words are gone.
“You have to begin,” says the voice over the speaker.
Today, I connect the dots. I place a pinprick of ink on the floor. Then I trace a line to the next one. And then the next. It’s easy. It feels good.
But they don’t make a picture.
“Do something with your life,” says the voice over the speaker. “Do anything.”
So I trace another line.
Tales from the Infinite Hallway: Surprise for Marshall
By Giovanna J. Fuller
“Not even a-”
“It would ruin the surprise!” Angela gave a pout that would have been adorable on a five year-old, but just looked ridiculous on her. Still, it worked on Marshall. He crossed his arms, gave a frustrated sigh, but stayed quiet.
Angela turned and knocked on an oak tree three times, paused, and then kicked it twice. The tree split in two, leading to a crack that she wriggled through. He watched her disappear and dragged his feet to the other side of the narrow doorway and frowned. She wasn’t there. He walked back to where he had seen Angela slip away and cautiously approached the opening.
Like a bullet from a gun, a hand shot forth from the crack. “Marshall…join me….” Angela’s echoing voice came to him as the hand opened and closed as though it were a mouth speaking.
“No. I’m not going into the strange tree.”
“Why not?” The hand mouthed. He heard a grunt and Angela poked her head back through the crack. ”We rode out of New York on a bus full of trolls, gone through the Statue of Liberty’s Toe, had to pay off the pixie mafia, and NOW you’re chickening out on me?”
Marshall snapped. “We’re in the middle of NOWHERE! I’ve been FARTED on by trolls, tackled by security, stepped in a puddle of who-knows-what, and I don’t even want to mention what the pixies made me do.” He shuddered. “Tell me where that leads or I’m going home!”
Angela frowned. “It’s a-”
“That’s it!” Marshall threw up his hands and began to stalk off. However, before he could walk away, Angela grabbed the back of his collar and yanked him through the tree.
In an instant, Marshall found himself in a place full of music and multi-colored lights. There was the sound of laughter and the occasional explosion.
He saw a sign that read ‘Wizard’s Magic Wonder and Amusement Park’.
“Surprise!” Angela raised her arms in front of the sign. “Happy Birthday!”
The mortal couldn’t keep from smiling.
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
“We’re approaching the location, Knight Vanessa!”
“Not so loud, Keaton?”
“Right, sorry…” Keaton mumbled.
From behind them, Renee growled. “For the last time, we don’t need some stupid amulet to beat Grathorn. We can just fill him with arrows and stab wounds and, uh, soot.”
“Renee!” Vanessa gasped. “Any leverage we can obtain over Grathorn is a valuable asset!”
“So some weird guy’s story and a pricy piece of paper count as ‘leverage’ now? This all feels like—”
A crossbow bolt thudded into the tree trunk right next to her head.
The three adventurers formed a defensive triangle, Vanessa drawing her sword, Renee knocking an arrow, Keaton’s hands cradling orbs of fire.
Six hooded figures emerged from the trees. Vanessa recognized the badges on their cloaks: Yelvetrow Bandit Guild. All but one pointed crossbows at them. The oddball, their leader, stepped forward with a grin.
“Silly travelers, you’ve walked right into—”
“We get it!” Vanessa exclaimed. “Now leave us be, or perish.”
“Oh, cutting to the chase, are we?” the lead bandit stepped forward. “Well, I guess my men and I will have to,” he pulled a whip covered in spikes from his belt, “make this quick.”
The battle was over in approximately three minutes.
“The amulet was fake…” Vanessa said solemnly.
“Well, obviously,” Renee took a throwing dagger from a dead bandit’s belt. “I guessed it was a scam going in, but I knew you wouldn’t listen, so…”
“Ugh! How are we going to defeat Grathorn now?” Vanessa sat down on a fallen log with a thud.
“If I may,” Keaton piped up from across the path. “People are quite flammable, and Grathorn IS a person. Just a thought.”
Vanessa sighed. “Okay. Cremation it is. If we somehow get through all of his guards without dying.”
“Pessimism isn’t a good look on you, oh honorable knight,” Renee mocked, tossing her new dagger between her hands with a smile.
Vanessa chose not to comment. “Can we at least kill the guy who scammed us?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Keaton’s fingers flared with flames.
The trio headed back to town.
Map to Nowhere
Vienas sat in the lifeless library and breathed deep. She tasted the staleness of vellum and paper and ink, smelled the decay of dry knowledge.
It was night, but not dark, not for her. It was the strangest aspect of her sightlessness. She would get glimpses—there is no better word for it—of red-yellow light when warmth from the sun or Everflame touched her, but darkness was an absence of light and she existed without either.
A nightbird howled.
She sat in reverie. Padas was sleeping. The birds were calling. It was night.
How simple her life was now. How primal. Before, as the goddess of Ziniu, she was respected and listened to, like a mistress of her own land and prophetess of city gossip. She’d been like sea—though the comparison made her shudder now—powerful and beautiful.
Now she lingered like a revenant among the scrolls she once read, memorized. A memory herself.
She would die without Padas and so she made his life as carefree as she could. She carried water and hunted the once-green eggs among the ruined structures of the high city.
Not much had been left. Guineas once intended for the priesthood now ran feral through the streets. They were vicious things and Padas had given her a stick in case they attacked her. She’d killed one with it, but mostly it was useful for extending her senses. She could feel the vibrations of things it touched and she used it to, well, to see a little further.
That’s how she said it. She found herself stymied by the verbiage of her condition. She was the high priestess of Ziniu, God of Knowledge and Language and she’d stepped into a condition for which there were no appropriate verbs. She saw with her hands; looked with a blank, sightless gaze; and the only words to color her existence were profane.
There were no words to help her understand her new world. No experience for the loss of a sense. The most basic of senses. The most shared.
She was still human, still a priestess, and language could change.
A Pit to what’s been Forgotten
By Exce (checked by Wvlf and Luna)
William followed the boy who had come to his house at the cusp of morning, after apparently having watched his younger brother getting swallowed by the ground whilst fetching water .
William did his best to memorize the way, in case he had to get the boy to safety quickly.
But as the child led him further, he actually recognized his surroundings again.
Finally, they reached a clearing, near the river.
Against William’s expectation of a beast, the clearing seemed innocuous enough.
Until the still-panicked boy pointed out a dent with a hole near the center where the ground didn’t look dug up as much as torn.
“Stay here. I’ll get to the bottom of this.”
William walked closer to the hole. He had meant his words quite literally, and after taking a deep breath, he hopped down.
He hadn’t been able to see the water, ready to stop his fall himself, so the cold impact took him by surprise.
It took a few seconds to regain his orientation, then he looked around.
The hole was more spacious than expected, and looking a lot more intentional with its moss-covered masonry and cracked columns.
“A subsurface building that has been buried by plants and mud…?”
Well, he couldn’t see anyone.
So he swam over to an old set of stairs, going up and into the building.
Creating a small flame, he was shocked at the explosion of colour around him.
People in a variety of clothing and skin tones, accompanied by animals he had never seen before.
The hallway became wider, and William stepped into an enormous chamber.
He grew his flame, illuminating the room, revealing a small curled-up figure by the hind wall.
And a grand floor mural, its colours untouched by age.
Beneath his feet he recognized the shape of Moriesha, a small strip of land at the bottom, dwarfed by other expansive landmasses. Landmasses he had never seen before.
As the brother stirred in the light, William’s eyes grew wider and wider, taking in the map of a world that had gone long before his had been created.
Grael’s Library (Oneiron Universe)
Did you expect to find answers in this forgotten library? If it’s any consolation, you aren’t the only one who has believed those lies. I’m sure you heard about it from the hushed whispers of the Deprived, as you call them. They haven’t lost their minds, you know. They’ve entered a new existence, one with more purpose than you could ever imagine.
Is that your car outside, or did you “find” one on the side of the road like the rest? I’d expect as much from civilized people such as yourself. They told you to travel alone, didn’t they? Like a fool, you believed them. If there was a cure for the Madness, don’t you think your beloved corporation would have already found it within these walls? I assure you, these tomes have already been scoured and your search will lead you nowhere.
Of course, you are still welcome to look. Just be aware that the contents of the library have drastically changed after the explosion. There is a good reason why this part of the city has been abandoned. I’m sure you’ve heard about the Madness or the Haze. It means the same thing, regardless of what name it chooses.
Whether it has infected the books or just the mind is up for debate, but the result is the same. These tomes hold information that cannot be expressed in mere words. They have a living, breathing quality to them and if you hold them close, they’ll whisper secrets that cause even the most grounded individual’s sanity to falter. Those who are already deranged can hold on a bit longer, but they succumb just the same.
Are you still convinced that you’ll find something of value here? Fine, have it your way. As it is, you’ll probably never find your way back. I’d cast you out if I could and spare you from the inevitable, but it’s quite difficult to do much of anything without limbs. I’m sure you understand.
Welcome to Diemount
by Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
The road was dark and the headlights could barely illuminate the way. They had been traveling for a while and Maria and Andrew were tense.
The road sign read: Diemount in 5 miles. Maria looked again at her phone and at the map in her hands. The maps didn’t match at all. There was something about the worn-out carved wooden sign called her attention. She searched again.
“This next city’s not supposed to be here, honey.”
“Cut me some slack, we’re not that lost.”
She pushed the map into her husband’s face and showed her search results.
Andrew was annoyed enough and decided to turn off the car engine.
“Honey, you don’t get it! The sign said Diemount!”
“The coastal city that disappeared in 1957? That Diemount?”
He looked outside the windshield. The temperature had dropped now, and the fog started to form faces on the window’s reflection.
“You’ve been wrong before, Maria… Remember when you thought we had a Beelzebub situation when it was just a loose hellhound?”
“Andrew, I have never been more sure in my life!” Maria rifled her purse in search of her spellbook.
She breathed and clenched her husband’s hand, pricking their fingers with a pin. Her heart was racing. They desperately wanted her to be wrong. But she already knew the answer.
Maria whispered the spell, the droplets of blood started swirling in complicated patterns. This was the sign of energy escaping from the other dimensions.
“It doesn’t stop swirling! It’s Elder energy all around us!” Maria let go a nervous laugh, the tears on her face pronouncing the worst-case scenario. “No demon hunter ever came back, Andy… They disappeared when they hit this city.”
Whatever map they followed now, it only would take them to that city.
They shared a sad smile and looked at their teen son calmly sleeping in the back of the car.
“It was supposed to be a family vacation…” she sighed.
“It was never just a family vacation with us,” he answered.
They turned the engine on again. The road sign now read, “Welcome to Diemount”.