Writing Group: Map to Nowhere

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?

—Shawna

Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.

Tune into the stream this 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!

  1. Text and Formatting

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

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

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

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

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Arith_Winterfell
Arith_Winterfell
3 days ago

“Madness Ascending”

By Arith_Winterfell

We had arrived at the Mage Mental Asylum, a place for peaceful recovery for wizards suffering from mental illness. It was, however, not especially peaceful at this particular moment.

“Guards! Guards!” a man in white simple clothes, the garb of an inmate, was shouting while two guards struggled to restrain him. Upon seeing myself and the Asylum healer he immediately became even more frantic and shouted “Healer! I’ll have you know these guards have installed the new toilet paper in scratchy and extra-scratchy flavors!”

“Has he been eating the paper again?” the Healer sighed wearily.

“No,” grunted one of the guards finally pushing the man back into his cell and shutting the door. “He’s mostly been throwing it at us. Clean paper thankfully.”

“And this is Cornelius the Conjurer?” I asked as I looked over to the Healer.

“Yes,” the healer replied.

“And you said none of the healing spells you attempted could cure or even relieve his madness in the slightest? You’ve not been able to learn anything about what happened?”

The healer shook her head silently. I turned to Cornelius, who was now huddled in a corner of his cell shivering. “By the Arcane,” I muttered quietly, “what did you see beyond that summoning portal?”

The man looked at me, and silently pointed upward. My gaze slowly followed his direction only to see the brown sticky foul-smelling lumps somehow adhering to the ceiling of his cell. I looked back at him in confusion. In hushed tones as if he revealed some terrible secret, he whispered, “Like crawling squirming fire . . . it ascends!” At this he began sobbing.

I realized here, that this branch of my search had come to a dead end. My investigation was getting nowhere.

David Chamberlain
David Chamberlain
4 days ago

Guide book
By David Chamberlain

I awoke in the darkness, no light, no sky, no horizon. No sound, save the ringing in my ears. Suddenly, before me, a small, leather-bound book, the cover blank.

I grabbed it, first fanning the pages from back to front; all blank. When I flipped it back over, the cover showed a small, illuminated heart. It’s pulsing light synchronized to the beating of my own.

I open the first page, there erupts a plane of reality, totally enveloping me. A lush oasis in the middle of a desert. Simultaneously the sky above rolls rapidly to reveal a glorious sunrise.

Each grain of sand seems to have its own individual shimmer as if faceted and cut by hand. The desert is spotted with oases. Strung together like jewels by a small meandering stream. Each one more breathtaking than the last. Majestic mountains beyond the desert in all directions…

I follow the stream.

As I travel, the tiny heart icon tracks across the page of the book. About the time it reaches the X on the end of the page, I find myself standing before a sheer cliff. The escarpment perfectly delineates the edge of the page. There is a small spring feeding the stream. 10 feet above the small pool is a large opening in the cliff-face.

I turn the page…

I find myself inside the grand cavern. My surroundings transformed into glistening cave walls; thick veins of gold run throughout. Speckled with emeralds, rubies, and other precious stones. The cavern continues as I walk. About two-thirds of the way across the page the exit reveals itself. I step up to the opening and find I’m looking down over a lush forest, teeming with wildlife.

I turn the page…

A waterfall from the cliff creates a vivid prismatic display then flows to a small river that disappears into the forest. My first step on the trail startles birds that spring into flight among the towering trees.

The path ahead is open and clear, the terminus is not. I’ve begun to suspect that the journey holds far more value than the destination.

Makokam
Makokam
4 days ago

We’re Off To See C’thulu
By Makokam

There was nothing but ocean as far as any of them could see.

Jostica stood at the prow, map open and compass in hand.

“You don’t have to do that,” Shockwave said as he walked up. “GPS has it handled.”

“I linked this compass to the map. I trust it more.”

Shockwave turned and leaned against the railing. “I see people use magic all the time, but it still weirds me out. I’ll take tech any day.”

“Well the tech says the island isn’t there. The magic does.”

He looked over at her and smiled, “You’re not exactly making your case.”

She glanced up at the horizon then back to the map, “You do programming right? For your suit at least.”

“Not my specialty, but yeah, a little.”

“Magic is like that. You write a code, telling reality to do what you want, then attach it to a trigger.”
He snorted, “Yeah, that’s the part I don’t get. The idea you can just…change reality.”

“You built a device that created shock-waves strong enough to punch through walls. In prison.”

“Well yeah, it took a lot of work to get the materials and I wasn’t even 100% sure it’d work, but I could write down the instructions for you to do it.”

“I put in a lot of work attuning myself to the universe and learning how make it do what I want. I could write down instructions for you to do it.”

He smiled and shook his head. “Stick to your spells and I’ll stick to machines.”

She smiled and glanced to the horizon again, “Fair enough.”

He went back to the helm where Mira was keeping their course steady, “How’d it go?”

“She’s more confident than you are.”

She smiled and shrugged. “I do corpses and spirits. She does illusions and tracking.”

He checked the radar and satellite feed again, both still showing miles of nothing, “You’re one of the most powerful magicians on the planet.”

“And she’s right,” Mira pointed ahead to where the horizon twisted and the ocean spiraled down into itself.

“Well shit…”

Last edited 3 days ago by Makokam
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
4 days ago

Destiny’s Arrival
by i-prefer-the-term-antihero (Repost from private)

The prince climbed, an epic soundtrack playing in his head. He grabbed the final brick, tumbling into the window.

“Your destiny has arrived, Princess!” He made sure to swoosh his hair and smile.
But, as he opened his eyes…no princess was there. If anyone had ever been here, it’d been a long while.

He ran his finger along the dresser, dust coating it, and frowned.

He pulled out his map and frowned.

Shoving the map into his satchel and pressing open the door angrily, he descended the spiral staircase, looking around for any sign of her. The only eyes that greeted him were those of portraits.

“Princess?” He called to the empty tower. “I was told I’d find you here! Only the bravest of knights could scale the tower, and slay the dragon! Well there was no dragon, but I did scale the tower, and I am in fact a very brave knight!”

A laugh echoed throughout the chamber.

“Princess!” He ran faster.

“Princess? Oh, no, dear. But you flatter me,” a feminine voice spoke from the shadows. “You’re…cute.”

He skidded to a halt at the bottom. “Well, I prefer handsome…but I’ll take it.”

“You really think that princesses sit waiting in towers for rescuers, beset by dragons, and happily marry the first man who enters?”

“Well…” His eyes darted around. “I read it.”

“Is that all?” She laughed, her heels sounding around him, though he couldn’t see her. “It’s a cute story, but nothing more. You really shouldn’t believe everything you read.

“If anything I think it’s bait to lure in innocent…idiotic princes like yourself to their demise.”

He scoffed.

“No, wait—” She held up a finger, pausing as the moon crossed her, revealing youthful, but too pale, features, canine teeth elongated. “That’s exactly what it is.

“So what’ll it be, pretty boy? Become my food, or join us bloodthirsty monsters?”

He squealed and ran back up the stairs.

“That wasn’t one of your options!”

She flashed up and pinned him to the ground with her heel. Her breath smelled like iron. “I’ll ask again. Friend or food?”

Michael Case
Michael Case
4 days ago

The Map and the Monsters
By MDC

“OWCH! Why do I have to be the map?” Cadalces Stated while painfully wincing from the knife being traced into his back.

Heraclinum quickly covering Cadalces mouth. “Quite you fool, or the creature will hear us. You’re the only one with a back wide enough to keep track of where we have been.”

Cadalces tried to see his own hands in front of his face while the group was trying to figure out a way through the labyrinth. Heraclinum on the other hand was found wondering around the unending maze of walls and pathways. He swore that there is a secret way out that he has been trying to find, while trying to evade the monster.

Heraclinum had traced his fingers along the lines cut into Cadalces back, then looking at other skin maps on his waste. Heraclinum seemed to enjoy tracing his fingers into the fresh cuts.

“Come on, we need to move.” Heraclinum said under his breath. The group started to move when Heraclinum spoke; “Stop moving.” He moved slowly to the wall. “The monster is coming, nobody move.”

Cadalces silently moved into the corner as well. Heraclinum did not notice this move by Cadalces. Suddenly the monster appeared, grabbing one person then another. Tearing at their bellies and feasting on the inners of each of them. The monster would touch the backs of each person as it ate them, then toss the bodies aside.

After all the other people were eaten, the monster turned to Heraclinum. “Your meal must have run off.” The monster’s voice echoed throughout the labyrinth.

“Don’t worry, you’ll find him. I was cutting into him so that you can find us better.” Heraclinum said to the monster.

Cadalces fell to the ground after the two had left. He started to wiggle around to get as much dirt into his wounds so that the blood smell was not as strong. He then went off seeking a way out knowing that his cut up back was nothing but a useless map to know where.

Last edited 4 days ago by Michael Case
Danny Gilhooley
Danny Gilhooley
4 days ago

The Road to Wade, Pennsylvania
by Danny Gilhooley

I sieved through the papers again, hoping the one we needed would turn up. It was past dusk. The road swayed through the woods. The trees we drove past stood like towers that pierced the heavens.

I looked to Michael in the driver’s seat. His hands gripped the steering wheel so hard I was afraid he’d break it.

“Maybe if we just—” I started.

“Nick. I don’t want to hear it.”

We’ve driven to our grandparents’ house in Wade, Pennsylvania since we were kids. Halfway through, and always halfway through, the cellphones lost service, so we needed paper maps to get us through. Our dad had hammered that into our skulls.

I looked at the papers again becoming more frustrated with myself. It was my job to pack the maps. I brought a whole map of Pittsburgh but not Wade.

Michael made another turn, and I felt the car slow down. I looked up. Two men stood next to their cars on the side of the road. The cars were caked in rust. One man was looking into the front hood of one of the cars. The other just stared at us.

He looked incredibly thin. I could see the ribs through his shirt before we came to a stop next to them.

Never stop for pedestrians going to Wade. Our dad hammered that point too. I had vivid memories of him almost running over a hitchhiker who tried to stop us.

“I don’t think we have a choice now,” I said.

Michael shook his head. Suddenly, I realized how dark it was overhead. It felt like the road we were on kept going through the woods. Forever.

“First sign of trouble, we’re gone,” Michael said. “Deal?”

I swallowed a knot in my throat. “Deal,” I muttered.

We walked out, leaving the car running. The one man kept staring at us as we walked closer while the other one acted like we weren’t there. Then he reached for something inside the hood.

“Fine night, ain’t it?” the man staring at us said. He started to drool.

Clio
Clio
5 days ago

A New Beginning
By Clio

“I don’t know why I came here.” ae said, looking out over the vast city beneath us. “I just needed to go somewhere, anywhere. I guess I thought there would be more for me here.”

“It’s beautiful, though, isn’t it?” I watched as people ran and walked and jumped beneath us under the strong golden sunlight. Each one of them going about their days, each one occupied with different dreams and fears and destinations. Ae paused for a moment to watch the city with me.

“It is, but I wanted to be something, I wanted this all to lead somewhere, you know?”

“Where did you want to end up?”

“I don’t know. I wanted to go nowhere and everywhere at the same time. I wanted to self-destruct. I wanted to go somewhere big and bright and empty so that I could just blow up. Alone and forgotten, where there would be no one left to miss me.” ae paused for a moment.

“I’ve spent my whole life idolizing the icarus. I longed to fly too close to the sun. I established myself as the moth drawn to light, a light that would inevitably destroy it. I wanted to expose myself to vastness and to be burned by it. But now I am here. At the end, at the place I always wanted to go, and I don’t know why and I don’t know what I want to do with myself now. I don’t think I want to be the tragedy I set myself up to be.” the sun had set now. We were silent for a moment.

“You don’t have to be. There’s still time left. You can change things, if you want to.”

“Yeah. I think I do. I think I will.” ae smiled. “The sky really is beautiful when you stop to look at it.”

Claire Golder
Claire Golder
5 days ago

Traveler to Timberun
By Claire Golder

The stinging numbness from the icy winter wind on Garin’s exposed face and hands began to finally ebb away as he walked into the warm inn. Though he was tempted to go straight to the fire to bring back the feeling in his hands, he decided to first head to the barkeep and inquire about lodgings. Leaving a small trail of melting ice behind him, he approached the lone bartender, the man only noticing him once he reached the counter. “What can I get for you?” the man asked, giving him a polite smile.
“How much for a room and a warm meal?”
“Both of those together will be a gold and five silver.” Garin quickly handed over the money, the man giving him a knowing smile at his worn, frozen appearance. “Why don’t you go and warm yourself by the fire? I’ll have some food out to you in a minute.” Garin happy obliged, grateful for the chance to finally rest after his several day journey.
Several minutes later the man brought him a bowl of stew and half a loaf of bread, which Garin happily began to scarf down. “So, you must have really wanted to come here, huh?”
“What?” Garin expressed his confusion through a mouthful of bread.
The man pointed to Garin’s arm, the sleeve covering the forearm having been rolled up to get the wet cloth off his skin, exposing the word decorating it. “You’ve got the name of the town tatooed on your arm. ‘Timberun’. I assumed there was a reason.”
“Oh, uh, yeah. Yeah I had family from here,” he awkwardly lied. He was grateful when the man took that answer, walking away to get his room ready. With a sigh, and soon another mouthful of stew, he looked down to his forearm. The word ‘Timberun’ slowly faded away, another soon replacing it as if it had been there the entire time. ‘Freyton’. Well, looks like I know where I’m headed to next, he thought as he finished off his meal. Happy to have a comfortable place to stay, at least for tonight.

Last edited 5 days ago by Claire Golder
Tyler Desperado
Tyler Desperado
5 days ago

Meeting The Folks
By. CosmicDesperado30

The road continued to stretch out into the obsidian abyss, the rhythmic flashing of yellow dotted lines hypnotic. For the third time we passed the willow tree with the flaming leaves and the glowing skeleton trying desperately to hitchike. The initial shock had long wore off; now I was just irritated.

“Maybe stop by a gas station? Stretch your legs?” Molly asked. I bit down on a retort, I know she was just trying to help.

“The last time we stopped by a station, the attendant had no face and kept trying to talk with some weird sign language.” I sighed, “Maybe this was a bad idea…”

“Sweetie, you said you’d visit my parents and I told you they’re a bit secretive,” Molly remarked.

“I thought you meant they don’t do the social media thing or had a doomsday bunker or something.” I replied. Molly shrugged and settled into her seat, popping open another bag of Mystery Chips to inhale.

“Ooo, I actually recognized the flavor of that one.” She perked up in delight as the first chip entered her maw. “I wanna say diced bananas, kimchi, and sentient slime. Not a terrible mix.”

I let Molly indulge in her junk foodie behavior, it gave me time to cool down. Things were quiet for a while.

“Directions again?”

Molly dug around the back seat for a yellowed piece of paper.

“Let’s see, turn off eighty-one. Down the dirt road not marked by GPS. Into the abandoned mine until all light vanishes. Through the Klein Bottle toll booth-”

“Yes, yes, we’ve been on that toll road for five hours now.”

“It just says drive until you’re completely lost then make a right turn.”

There’s that burning willow and bony hitchhiker again. I screamed and turned off the road.

Right into a modest blue sedan parked outside a ranch house that sprung up.

“Hello Molly!” A voice called from the porch. “Is that your soulfire I see?”

“I uhhh…I’m sure my insurance can cover this.” I sputtered.

Last edited 5 days ago by Tyler Desperado
Cansas Wanderlust
Cansas Wanderlust
5 days ago

Nowhere, Know Where, No Hair
By Cansas Wanderlust (Repost from private)

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.”

Last edited 3 days ago by Cansas Wanderlust
Occultic;Z
6 days ago

Coordinates
By Occultic; Z

The realm between life and death resembled that of a desert in the dead of night, but no succulents grew in its sands, and no moon adored its sky. All that lit up the void-like plane were little wisps of light that replaced the stars. These lights seemed to gather around her as she stayed kneeling in the coarse field, despairing into her hands as the grains fell between her fingers.

She stayed motionless. She knew she would have to move but could not bring herself to do so. She felt too empty.

An intense beam of light cast itself upon her hunched figure. She tried to ignore it but found it futile. As she looked up to the sky, the wisps that once surrounded her now formed a constellation. The array shimmered clearly to her. She studied it. Each time she focused on a point, a memory of her life flooded into her mind. She traced each dot, remembering her childhood, but also her limited adult years. Eventually, she traced down to a chain of two coordinates, and as she watched the first, it all came back to her.

Her legs had moved without thinking. The lights of the truck still burned in the back of her eyes. It was a strong feeling but was not as strong as the feeling on her hands created from pushing the child to safety.

She came to her senses. She dwelled on what she had just witnessed and Became frustrated.

“Is that… it?” She cried out, “Is that where my life’s map leads? I never did the things I wished to do. I never achieved what I wanted to achieve. So why? Why must I be tortured with the images of the life in which I amounted to nothing?!”

She received no reply. Instead, she watched the final coordinate. The life of someone she had never met played in reverse. It filled her mind instantaneously until it reached the last image. The person was now a child; a child that lay motionlessly next to a road, beside a stationary truck.

Atlas_793
Atlas_793
6 days ago

Map to the Boonies
By Atlas (aka Atlas_793)

Maybe it was the four beers, maybe it was the ‘shrooms Hunt gave him a few moments ago, or maybe it was hubris, but Keaton was determined to prove something. No one ever leaves this little boondock just a skip from Clivesdale. Keaton knew that if he wasn’t getting out of this town, he was going to run it. And through the drugs and the beer, he had determined that Tyler Richard’s dad’s ’07 Shelby was how he was going to do it. The keys sat at the end of the kitchen counter under a heap of empty bottles and cans. All he needed was a distraction. Bryce was about six bottles in, and always willing to do that belly jiggle thing from Sandlot. The struggle-shuffle? The truffle-tuggle? Whatever. Bryce was drunk enough to forget he’s essentially a 260lb potato. Keaton drunkenly called out, “Snuffle-thruffle!”

Within moments the big guy’s belly was hanging out and jiggling all over the livingroom. People laughed and cheered as he danced, chanting “Bry! Bry! Bry!” while Keaton took the opportunity to haphazardly snatch the keys from the counter, knocking a few bottles over in the process.

As he raced out the front door to the car, he caught eyes with Tyler.

“Keet!” He shouted after him. But too little too late, with a bound and a tumble Keaton was down the gravel driveway and in the driver’s seat. No sooner was the key in the ignition did Keaton feel momentum pull him to the side. The world was spinning into a twister of colors. White, black, blue, red, and purple. Outside he could hear people shouting “Keet! Keet! Keet!”

Keaton turned and stared with eyes like a deer in headlights at the sheriff. His mouth was wide open, stupidly agape like he was stuck at the front of an announcement. His fingers tightened like vice grips on the steering wheel as his chest pulled towards his heart. He didn’t see his friends or anyone else from the party. Only the officer, the night, and the lights from his father’s cruiser flashing against the house.

Lucas Sanchez
Lucas Sanchez
6 days ago

Ashes of Home
by Lucas Sanchez

It was a familiar road I walked along, known to me only by the shadows of memories of a life so recent, but otherwise now, unrecognizable to all.

This was a street of ghosts, be them of man or of brick, haunted spirits of what had once been.

As my feet, firm in memory, guided me along the maze of streets towards what I knew my destination to be, corpses reanimated, vegetation regrew, and buildings erected themselves anew, my obstinate set on displacing reality with an idealized memory of yore.

Deception would fade, ruin the only thing now apparent around me, my haunting grounds of just yesterday now an axis of death and debris. The school in which I’d struggled to learn and appreciate social studies, the bakery that had taught me how to save for the sole purpose of a pastry every other week, the clinic that had saved so many lives until today, and all else that had formed the foundation of what life used to be just hours ago, suddenly gone in a flash of light.

Yet through that all, a foolish optimism, a naivete, still reigned, that just around the corner of town that I’d turn at the beginnings and ends of every day, where the center of my map of all life stood, the destruction would end there. That just beyond, all would right itself, and grant me solace from the wasteland of a lost past surrounding me.

And so, closing my eyes, knowing then where all was meant to be, years of life lived stationary in the only place I’ve ever called home, I walked straight through the front door that had been left open wide just for me, cutting through the kitchen, grimacing in jest as the smell of what meal awaited, past a working father at the dining room table, taking me then into the living room where I’d sit in preparation for the afternoon program. And so I sat, opening my eyes to the truth, longing for a mother, a father, a family, a life that would never be mine again.

Johnny Saguaroseed
Johnny Saguaroseed
6 days ago

Consulting the Mapmaker
by Johnny Saguaroseed

“The Archmage has retreated to his secret sanctum,” said Krothgur. “We need a map that will show us the way.”

“You won’t find it here,” said the mapmaker from his nest of charts and guides, atlases and topographies. Sketches of sea floors and Roman roads wallpapered the room, all torn corners and smeared curlicues. Clusters of globes congregated in the corners and among the rafters star charts held quiet conferences where they plotted the fates of man. The mapmaker placed his elbows on his desk, dislodging maps of the written world: dictionaries and encyclopedias and thesauri. He rested his chin on the back of his interlaced hands and considered them from under ink-stained eyebrows. “My maps only show real places. The archmage’s magic has secured him in a place that is no place.”

“Then how can we find him?”

“You must consult other patterns. The obvious start is to trace the strands of a spider web. That will give you an idea of a direction, though with webs one must always be careful not to be ensnarled. From there you might follow cockleshell ribs or serpentines inscribed in sand by passing desert vipers.

“A pappus riding the wind can show you the way, just make sure you follow one afflicted with wanderlust and not those that desire to take root close to home. Likewise murmurations can reveal much of the pathways of air, a decennium or two spent in the study of augury should be sufficient to read their twinings.

“Solve the labyrinth on a tortoise’s back to discover the route, or join the waltz of the honeybee. If these fail street signs can be found in the longitudinal veins of insect wings and green folioles. If nothing else, simply follow the footpath of a life lived, for the trail from cradle to grave is well worn and clearly marked.”

“But these aren’t maps,” said Krothgur. “You’ve merely listed aspects of nature!”

The mapmaker sipped from an old coffee mug branded with the faded logo of the London Underground. “And that is why the Archmage has already lost.”

Last edited 6 days ago by Johnny Saguaroseed
Chengir
6 days ago

Map to Nowhere
By Chengir

The Yucatán Peninsula is a verdant green jungle nightmare. Its canopy shadowed the floor until even in the brightest sunlight it was nearly dark. Only enough light shimmered through the growth for a mishmash tangle of vines, shrubs, and small trees to survive.

The sound of the machete added to the discord of wild sounds across the wide flat plains. Still, Alonso Quixano remained convinced one of the last treasures of the Mayan people lay within easy reach. Since his youth, Alonso had read all the stories of the great explorers and archeologists of the past. He was captivated by tales of vanished Mayan cities, uncharted adventures, and attracted by the lure of gold. “I’m going to usher in a new age of exploration,” he would tell his brother growing up. “I’m going to find lost cites filled with gold.”

His brother would only laugh. “You’re going to be eaten alive by insects.”

His university colleagues also laughed. But Alonso pushed on in the pursuit of self-discovery and genuine experiences he believed only true explorers obtained. Reaching into his pocket, Alonso pulled out an old piece of parchment. Intricately folded and wrinkled it contained a faded series of lines and symbols. It was those symbols, the mysterious writing that attracted Alonso the most.

Alonso continued his useless attempts to ward off the clouds of mosquitoes. “I should have spent more time at the university translating this.” He pointed to some symbols on the periphery. “These must be the Puuc hills. I don’t understand.”

Sancho shook his head.

The explorer narrowed his eyes. “You disagree?”

He shifted the massive backpack he was carrying, readjusting its weight. “It’s not my place, Señor,” the tiny man muttered.

The older man looked disgusted. “Well, let’s say it is your place… for the moment.”

“The title, Señor.”

“What are you talking about?”

Sancho sighed. “The part at the top you didn’t translate, Señor.”

“What about it?”

Sancho used his one good eye to look Alonso in both his wide-open orbs. “It says ‘a map to nowhere,’ Señor.”

Caius Cossades
Caius Cossades
6 days ago

Asteroids in Mirror are Closer than They Appear
By Caius Cossades

Curling his toes with considerable effort, the pilot breathed a relieved sigh as the cramps in his muscles eased. Long-haul cargo runs are never easy on the feet. At least for now, he could relax and push the thought of the many light years between his current position and target destination at bay. As luck would have it, the planned route passed not far off from his favorite spot in the quadrant, and he had the time to spare for a wholly unnecessary detour. As the ship coasted amongst the asteroids, his legs swung onto the dashboard, sending the precariously positioned ration wrappers on it tumbling to the floor. With a few nonchalant flicks and twists, he dimmed the interior lights and turned down the arrhythmic humdrum of the ship to sit back and take in the silent expanse on the other side of the hull.

Finally. Solitude.

In some forgotten system, on the outer planes of some M Class, under the shadow of a perfectly inconspicuous gas giant, was a small asteroid cluster he had discovered on accident after a near death experience with a busted drive and too much alcohol. He had almost died then; in the middle of nowhere, completely indistinguishable from the billions of identical systems out there somewhere.

Strangely, that was the one moment in space and time he felt truly alone and at peace. He came back after and charted the entire cluster, the map of which he now closed on the main display as he shut his eyes. Normally, he’d be able to doze off yet this time his mind and gut were uneasy. Something was off about this run. His client was a peculiar character and was oddly paranoid about this shipment. He had been resisting the urge to peek into the containers until his anxieties got the better of him. Wishing to put his mind to rest, he rose just as the dashboard became alive with proximity alerts and weapon signatures. He chuckled nervously to himself. For all the emptiness in the universe, it’s surprisingly difficult to feel truly alone.

Preserves Roses
Preserves Roses
7 days ago

That’s what the Unicorn Said!
By: Preserves Roses

“What are ya scribbling Twerp?”

Margret glared up at Robbie, “I’m drawing a map to the treasure so that I don’t forget the way,” Margret said. “The leprechaun, told his Mommy where his treasure was hidden, and the unicorn overheard them. Since I shared my cookie with the unicorn he told me where to find it,” Margret switched to the purple crayon.

“I saw you in the backyard after lunch, you were out there by yourself there wasn’t even a cat around,” Robbie said in a mocking tone.

Margret turned her nose up at her brother, “That’s because you aren’t a Virgil.”

“ A.. What.. who’s Virgil?” Robbie shook his head at his sister.

“A Virgil,” Margret stated with emphasis,” Only Virgil’s can see unicorns, everyone knows that, and obviously I am one and you are not, so you didn’t get to see the unicorn.”

Robbie looked down at her drawing again, “So how does this lead to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?”

Margret sighed at her brother, “ Leprechaun’s don’t hide their treasure at the end of a rainbow. You have to start at the end of the rainbow.” Margret pointed out the details on the map. “ From the rainbow you walk across the fairy flower field being very careful not to step on any fairies. Then you get to the pond, and you skip around it twice, to find the rock with the red X. That’s where the treasure is buried.”

“Why not skip that other stuff and go straight to the pond and find the rock?” Robbie asked.

“Because, the red X will only be there if you follow the path properly, ‘specially the part about skipping around the pond twice. Walking won’t work the unicorn told me so.” Margret rolled her eyes at her brother. “Why are you even in my room?”

Robbie turned and started walking out of the room, “Mom told me to come get your for supper, so come on.”

Margret tucked her picture away carefully for the next rainy day, then followed her brother.

Last edited 7 days ago by Preserves Roses
ThatWeirdFish
ThatWeirdFish
7 days ago

Empty Co-ordinates (Tales from Alsuria)
(Repost from Private)
By ThatWeirdFish

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.

Light.

Scream.

Crash.

“Welcome…” Conor gasped above Dresden, “to nowhere, kid.”

Last edited 7 days ago by ThatWeirdFish
Insania404
Insania404
7 days ago

Grael’s Library [Oneiron Universe]
By: Insania404
(Repost from Private)

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.

The Assassin
The Assassin
7 days ago

Alone on an Endless Road
By TheAssassin

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…

Last edited 7 days ago by The Assassin
Lari B.Haven
Lari B.Haven
7 days ago

Welcome to Diemount
by Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
(From the private chat)
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”.

Last edited 6 days ago by Lari B.Haven
PixieWings
PixieWings
7 days ago

(Repost from Private)

At Some Point, The Pencil Snaps
By PixieWings

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.

I did.

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.

I did.

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.

I did.

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.

T.E.
T.E.
8 days ago

The Path
By T.E.

I began in oblivion. Unaware of my existence.

When first I passed out of the mists of nothingness, and I beheld my surroundings I couldn’t help being enthralled with what I saw. The Path. Flagstones of gold, and a blue sky above. Where it led I knew not, but I had to reach its end.

Forests of huge iridescent stalks bearing juicy purple fruit. I plucked a few and bit into their ripe flesh, bliss, like nothing I had ever experienced. If only I could’ve stayed, but curiosity pushed me forward, towards my final destination.

Giants walked beside me, marveling at my very existence, even as I did nothing but follow the Path. They extended their hands, tried to veer me off the course, wanted to take me in as one of their own. I pushed through, even though in hindsight, I should’ve accepted their offer.

Verdant forests and gloomy caves. Barren moorland and arid tundra. My travels took me through all the world had to offer, and more still. Yet nothing could make me step off the Path. I was dead set on reaching its end, immune to the real beauty that surrounded me.

Only grey lichen-covered cliffs kept me company when up ahead I saw the end. A portcullis, that stirred my memories. I had walked the Path before and would do so again. A perfect circle that went on until the end of time, and further still. A doomed wanderer, indigenous to nowhere. A lonely unlife. There could only be a short respite before my next lap. I would be cleansed of my memory, reset so that it would all seem wondrous once more. A slave to my determination.

It would end in oblivion. As it always did. Soon to begin anew.

Last edited 8 days ago by T.E.
C. M. Weller
8 days ago

No Ruby Slippers Necessary
C. M. Weller

“I’m headed out,” I said, grabbing my essentials.

“Where are you going?” said Ma.

“Nowhere.”

“In that case, you’ll need this.” Ma handed a folded piece of paper. Great. A Honeydew list.

I opened it and found it blank.

“You’ll need a map if you’re going nowhere,” she grinned.

I was already halfway out the door, so I tucked it into my purse rather than litter. “Hardy har har.” I had planned to toss it or use it, whichever happened at the time, but I never got to do that. I turned a corner into another world.

Think… Alice in Wonderland meets Sandman meets the golden age of psychedelia. With no ruby slippers or friends to make along the way. At least, not in the beginning.

I’m not into the drug scene, so my first thought was a dream. I turned around to go back to reality, but reality wasn’t there any more. Okay. Fine. Dream logic means check the ‘map’.

What do you know, there was an X in the middle, and a big arrow and friendly letters that said, YOU ARE HERE.

There was a distant X in a corner with the friendly legend, EGRESS.

It wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Nothing ever is. Over the course of an adventure and -yes- the friends I made along the way, I learned that this was another realm I could access at will. It’s also the source of my power.

When I finally got back home, there was only one way to react. “Ma! What the flying HECK?”

Honestly, there are worse ways to find out you’ve inherited a legacy of mythos and magic. I just can’t think of any right now.

The late Writer (G.J. H.)
The late Writer (G.J. H.)
8 days ago

Nothing
By The late Writer (G.J. H.)

Sarah passed through the looming archway, carefully lighting the way with her lamp. Sean followed close behind and nearly bumped into her as she suddenly stopped.

“What is it?”

He walked up beside her and froze. The room they had entered, if you could even call it a room at all, was breath-taking. A narrow arch bridged over to a small plateau that he could barely see in the lamps light. Bellow the bridge and to either side of it was absolute darkness.

“This room must be enormous.” Sarah said in a hushed voice.

She shook her head and looked at Sean.

“It must be on the plateau.”

“Yes, it must be.”, Sean turned to face her.

“I have a weird feeling about this place. It seems so incredibly empty.”

“Don’t think about it. We’re almost there.”

They carefully crossed the bridge, the sound of their falling footsteps dissipating into the void.

On the plateau was a woman. She stood motionless facing away from them into the black void that lay on the other side. They carefully approached her, but even when they stood next to her and Sarah shone the light into her face, she did not react. Her eyes were fixated on something in the distance. Sean followed her gaze and tried to see something in the darkness ahead. It was a weird sensation, looking with open eyes and yet seeing nothing at all. You could even begin to doubt whether you were looking at all.

Sarah examined the woman. She was wearing sturdy clothing, not unlike their own and in her right hand she held a piece of paper. Sarah gently took it from her, the woman did not resist.

“Look! It’s another Map, just like ours.”

Sean dind’t reply. He was still staring into the void unblinkingly, only shallowly breathing. Sarah followed his gaze into the darkness. It was hard to focus on something when all that is there is nothing. You could easily loose yourself in this Nothingness, but she kept looking.

VeryBoringName
VeryBoringName
8 days ago

In Nowhere
By: VeryBoringName

He edged forwards, a sheet of blank paper before him, he was asking himself in his mind, constantly, why did he trust that map, it’s no guardian angel, nor a treasure map, and now, with every step even more of it was erased.

He locked up from the map suspiciously, he could see the cliff edge before him, was that truly the end of his journey, an unthinking suicide as dictated by that map, no, it couldn’t, he walked for years not to find despair and suicide.

He looked back onto the map, now only a couple of barely visible lines could be seen, a line with a destination at the end, a mark indicating a cliff, no, he would not waste his life, even though the map took years, blood and sweat, he would not give it this final victory.

He turned back, for the first time in his journey, only to be greeted with nothing, not the arid and scorched desert he just traversed, nor a wall of darkness he couldn’t hope to scale, just nothing, plain nothing.

For a second he thought, maybe he wasted his life, but no, couldn’t be, it wasn’t a light at the end of a tunnel, nor a bleak and dull void, it was simply nothing, incomprehensible nothingness. He took a step back, horrified at the prospect of this cliff’s edge, and him being the only thing in the world.

He turned away from the nothing, and towards the cliff, it was still there, he looked at the map again, it beckoned to the end of the journey, he didn’t want to end it, not like this, however, there was no other way.

He took a step forwards, fully expecting to fall, his foot found, nothing, not ground nor air nor water, he stood on nothing, there was nothing, except him, suddenly a booming voice spoke from every side and direction, though he was unsure if such thing as directions existed still

“Welcome to Nowhere, the grand prize of nothing”

BluePhireFoenix
BluePhireFoenix
8 days ago

A Short Tale of a Gargoyle That Never Existed

by BluePhireFoenix

Crusty flew from the top window of the tower, managing to maintain their height from the ground, and from the witch hunters. One of them held a torch while the others aimed spears.

Flapping their wings hard, Crusty managed to get a few feet higher before the spears were thrown. The breath of the witch hunters below condensed into a cloud, as they threw their spears high, but not high enough. With a sigh, the gargoyle tucked in their wings, and tried their best at a controlled fall.

Crusty was able to take out the first two of them, with a swipe of their claws. Landing on the frost stiffened ground, Crusty bit the throat from one, and then swiped the chest of the other, reducing their chain mail and insides to glittery paste.

The last person, the torch bearer, held the fire in front of them, tears streaming down their face as their eyes fixed solidly on the gargoyle.

“Go,” Crusty said. It had been a while since they had said anything other than “Yes, sorcerer”, “No, sorcerer”, and “I ashamed of myself too”. Saying new words was like how Crusty imagined enjoying food would feel: warm and strange.

The torch bearer shook the torch at Crusty, and they sighed. They brought their hand up to the arm not carrying the torch, and cleanly broke it in half. The torch bearer screamed, and garbled words too fast for Crusty to understand, clutching the limp limb to themselves.

“One survivor,” they repeated their orders from before. “Then you tell rest. Nothing here, is nowhere, no-one alive. Or Master visit. Bring me.”

They didn’t really know what the words meant. Only that the Master was to be left alone, as was Crusty. For the best.

The torch bearer took one shaking step. Then another. Then a few more, and then broke into a sprint. Crusty walked back to the tower.

Job done.

Last edited 7 days ago by BluePhireFoenix
Marx
Marx
8 days ago

Hello Darkness My Old Friend
By Marx

“I… understand…” Teriana mumbled, dropping her head.

“I don’t.” Mara growled in frustration. “I think its reckless and you’re going to get yourself killed.”

“I just…” Laila sighed in defeat. “I don’t think you realize how dangerous this is…”

“Of course I do.” Matt grumbled. “Alex needs to be stopped and I can’t go after him directly anymore. I have to try every avenue.”

His familiars gave a look of mutual resignation and remained silent. His mind was made up. Matt hated worrying them like this but he wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t necessary.

Truthfully, this would be the first time Matt had gone there on purpose. He’d previously felt the pull when he tried to bring back Lynette and he actually went there when he tried to bring back his father. He could do this. He closed his eyes and focused on it.

The cold.

The emptiness.

The lifelessness.

And that was when it triggered in him. It wasn’t just some endless empty void. It was the absence of life. It wasn’t merely her realm. It was HER.

That comprehension alone allowed him access. But there was a wall. She didn’t want him there this time. Technically, she didn’t want him there the other times either but they were going to talk if he had to punch through this damn wall. He didn’t care how powerful she was. She was going to see him.

He could almost hear her exasperation as he forced his way through. He looked around. It was as he remembered. An empty blackness going on into infinity. He’d made it.

“Yes. You made it.” Her voice echoed from every direction. “And as far as your familiars can sense, you’re dead. Body and soul gone. You’re scaring them. Go home. I’m busy.”

Matt rolled his eyes. “They’ll be fine. Also, you’re Death. You’re always busy. We need to talk.”

Death suddenly appeared in front of him. Her eyes glowed with overwhelming power, dramatically lighting her features and more importantly, showing that she was glaring. “You do NOT want to ‘talk’. You want a favor.”

LewdCharizard
LewdCharizard
8 days ago

Darkhaven
by LewdCharizard

There is pounding on the doors and huddled, kneeling around the candle we are afraid, but we dare not open our eyes. The pounding stops.

Silence.

“OK, open your eyes,” says the travelmaster. And we do. We are no longer in that room. We are in a place without ceiling or walls. It is black above us, and below us, and everywhere except ourselves and the candle the guide had placed in the middle of the room, now exhaling a gentle, windless smoke.

We follow our travelmaster’s every command; we eat when he says eat and we walk when he says walk. Now, we each turn about in a circle then lean over and put our hands to the ground. The crumbs from my meal, which were like starlight on the ground, are gone. A woman briefly screams thinking her sister lost, but then her sister slips into our notice as though she was there the entire time. We lost a pilgam fifteen meals ago.

We have become accustomed to the strange light, but by torchlight our acclaimation became apparent. The torchlight casts shadows upon our clothes where before there were none. I clap my hands. There is no echo, but why would there be.

I ask the travelmaster, “How much further do we have?”

“Six torches,” he says.

“How do you know we’re going the right way?” I ask.

“Because,” he says, “I know how to get there.”

“Can you see-”

“No. There’s nothing there.”

I don’t question him further.

When we stop to eat, I face my waterskin in the direction we were walking. The travelmaster leads us slightly to the left.

“Spit on it,” he says, and we spit on the spent torch he had laid on the ground. There’s dirt beneath our feet; unseeable to our eyes, but unmistakably rough and uneven. We have arrived at Darkhaven! And there, a tower illuminated by the shadowless light, a lighthouse with no need of fire.

Alex
Alex
8 days ago

The Cartographer (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

“Come on you stupid thing. Work.”

Newton was lying on his back on the cold hard floor of the bridge of the Fugere, trying to come to grips with the mass of cables in front of him. He fumbled around with several lose pieces of metal, without making much headway. His bandaged hand, where he’d cut himself on a shard of glass, throbbed.

Tears began to form in his eyes. Some were out of frustration. Others out of grief.

He wanted to go through the names of everyone they’d lost, but he didn’t know them all. So, he recited the names of the survivors instead. Precious few they were.

The tool he was holding slipped from his fingers. He cursed, held all the cables in one hand and bent down to try and reach it.

“Ah!”

A jolt shot through him, as his finger touched an exposed piece of copper wire. The ordered mess he had been holding a second ago fell lose, as he lost his grip. He let out a cry of frustration and got up.

Back to square one.

He looked at the screen in front of him, which was supposed to display a star chart. It flickered, refusing to focus. This was pointless. He was a navigator, not an engineer. He didn’t know anything about machinery.

But they were relying on him, even if he was only a cadet, like the rest of the survivors. They were at the fringes of known space and a partial map was better than nothing. Newton reached down and tried to find the cables he needed. His tool fell from his fingers again.

“Useless piece of junk,” he shouted at his fingers. “Work!”

Frustrated, he slammed his hand onto the console. He screamed, as his stitches tore. The already damaged screen cracked. The image was replaced by incomprehensible spirals of colour.

“Shit. No, no, no.”

He wanted to fix the damage, but didn’t know where to start. His face grew hot with shame, as he activated the intercom.

“Jade? Do you have a moment? I could use some help.”

RVMPLSTLSKN
RVMPLSTLSKN
8 days ago

Map to Nowhere
By RVMPLSTLSKN (repost from Private)

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.

Connor A.
Connor A.
8 days ago

Clue After Clue (Novus Academia)
By Connor A.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Eleanor motioned towards the graveyard.

Jason zipped up his jacket as the cold wind picked up. “Unless you have any other ideas of what our mystery writer meant by, ‘Obtain the denizen from Nowhere.’” He walked in, shortly followed by his taller friend.

“If this is what it means,” Eleanor whispered, “they could have said, ‘Hey kids, let’s go grave-robbing!’”

Jason shrugged. “It’s full of weirdly written instructions. Like—” He pulled out the note from his pocket and unfolded it. “‘The mourners’ and lovers’ choices shall suffice.’”

“This guy would be an insufferable cooking channel host.”

“My favorite is the fancy version of, ‘If you can’t get human blood, cow blood is fine.’”

Eleanor stared at Jason. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

Jason looked back down on a note and used a dramatic voice, “‘The life tears of fellow man are strong, but even that of cattle will be welcomed.’”

“…If we meet the guy who made this spell, I need you to let me punch them.”

The two talked and laughed at the other odd phrases in the note. They stopped when they saw an open grave. Curious, they made their way over and looked at the engraving.

“Nemo Dakkar. May he still have incredible journeys.”

Jason and Eleanor looked at each other.

“At least it’s thematic,” Jason said. He knelt down and looked inside the hole for any clues. Another piece of paper caught his eye, and he leaned forward to get a closer look.

He fell face first into the hole with a resounding, “Fuck!”

Eleanor clutched her sides as she held back her laughs.

“I’m fine, thanks for asking,” Jason raised his voice to be heard. “Now get me out.”

She took a few deep breaths before reaching in and pulling Jason out of the hole. “Whatcha got there?”

He looked at the new paper and squinted. “Something… in another language. That isn’t Irish.”

“To Avi?”

Jason pulled a rock out of his hair. “To Avi.”