Hello, Klutzes and Oopsie-daisies.
Hey, shouldn’t you be a little more careful? Yeah, I know you’ve watched how this is done, but– no no, I’m not doubting you. I would just mind your surroundings a little more, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
It was an Accident
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!
Ah, a prompt of familiarity. We’ve all been here. Broken mother’s favourite vase, or tripped on our shoelaces in the playground. And with every accident, comes a new story.
For example, you could regale us with the time you were playing in the sandbox and out of excitement for snacks, you trailed sand all over the floor. It could be that time you were rushing for work and your coat got caught in the train door. Perhaps an unlucky soul was running late for an appointment, only to be made even later by spilling the shampoo all over the floor. Or maybe even someone’s first ever car accident as she forgot to put the car in reverse, driving right into the garage door.
One thing to keep in mind is all the times we said things were accidents, when sometimes they weren’t. Like a bully crashing their elbow into someone’s lunch and knocking it to the floor. Maybe a witch lighting someone’s hair on fire, then shrugging and claiming it was the wrong spell. A vampire meaning to kill their prey, but they turned instead, and it’s the vampire’s duty to teach them. Maybe the cat that won’t stop knocking everything off the shelf because how dare you clutter his 57th nap spot. Or even just a child colouring all over the walls in permanent marker and every lipstick in the bag and claiming it was an accident, but you know that rouge and hot pink… puppy? Whatever it is, it didn’t draw itself.
There’s so many opportunities, and we could even get really meta with this one. We all have baby stories, after all.
So go wild! But within reason, of course.
You wouldn’t want to break something… would you?
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this 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.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Saturday.
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- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
Seven photos taken in rapid succession, accompanied by a dented disposable camera.
Photo 1: Two adults sitting in short canvas chairs, facing each other and smiling. In the chairs’ arms are glasses filled with a translucent golden-brown liquid. One is wearing a purple pointed hat with a wide brim, matching robes, and sunglasses. The other is in a pink tank top and khaki pants. He is severely sunburned. In the background is a half-collapsed tent and various trees commonly found in rainforests.
Photo 2: Both heads are turned toward the camera. Their poses are otherwise unchanged. The tip of a long, shiny, red tail can be seen in the top left corner of the image.
Photo 3: The pair is standing and facing front. One chair has been knocked onto its back, the liquid spilling across the dirt. The woman in purple is brandishing a polished stick, approximately eight inches long. She has an angry expression, and appears to be shouting. The other one is running toward the camera with his hands out.
Photo 4: The sunburned person is much closer to the camera. His face and hands suggest a placating gesture. The woman is pointing her stick at him with an accusatory glare. Her hat is falling toward the ground.
Photo 5: An unintelligible blur of colors and forms.
Photo 6: Close-up of a reptilian face, upside-down. The animal has bright red scales, wide eyes, and an open mouth with several sharp fangs.
Photo 7: A blurry shot, apparently taken sideways. A small, red, winged creature appears to be running toward shadowy brown shapes in the near distance, presumably trees. Several small figures are flying out of the trees, into a clear, cerulean sky.
End image ID.
The Butterfly Effect
By: Miss Roschen
“It was just an accident, I-I swear darling!” Harold’s fur bristled in dread. His wife’s temper flared as her goldenrod coat puffed up like a pufferfish. Strange since she’s tame as a rabbit.
“JUST an accident?!” She retorted. Her lioness ears pulled back in anger, her tail swishing back and forth. An universal sign for ‘I am very pissed off’.
“That was a Spectral Prismwing you just smashed. Even a Werlon like you knows how rare this species is!” The wife pointed down to an intricately carved wooden box on the floor. Right next to it was it’s cracked window with brass hinges and the trampled remains of a butterfly. Its tattered crystalline wings still reflected light in its signature prismatic fashion.
“Honeybeetle, please don’t claw me over this! All I did was drop and unknowingly step on it. I-I-I could see if we could find another sample or try to catch one or-”
“Sample?! The only sample I need is the scratches on your face!” His wife raised her left paw up in the air and snarled furiously. He shut his eyes tight and braced himself for the impact of professionally manicured claws.
“But… yet again… I only got it for the novelty,” One eye peaked open, her claws are not poised to strike anymore. In fact she didn’t look angry anymore either.
“I guess it really was just an accident, sorry for getting worked up like this,” Harold was relieved, at least she’s not clawing his face off.
“You still have to fix the box though,”
Crossroads (Tales from Adfidem – Book of Boghos)
By Alan Baker
Ahita burst into the room where Perchuhi and Almast were sitting at a small table. Velvet curtains closed of separated alcoves and silk cushions lay strewn all over the floor.
“The most amazing thing just happened,” Ahita exclaimed, trying to catch her breath.
Almast rolled her eyes at Perchuhi. “What is it?” she said in an exasperated but resigned voice.
“I was out on my way to our favourite inn when I bumped into this man.” She paused. “Well, when I say bumped I really mean I walked right into him knocking him to the ground. I was about to help him up when I noticed his ring, solid gold bearing the royal seal.”
“You just bowled over a member of the royal family and came back here?” cried Almast sending her stool crashing to the floor.
“Don’t worry. I was about to run away before he could get up, but then he spoke. His voice was so peaceful. ‘Be not afraid, child.’ He said. I looked back, and his eyes stopped me in my tracks. Not angry or resentful but kind. I started blurting apologies as he was getting up. I couldn’t stop myself. ‘No harm done. Where might a lovely thing like you be going?’ he asked, but I felt he already knew. I felt myself turning red and didn’t answer. ‘Would you show me the way to the palace?’ he continued. ‘You a nobleman need directions to the king’s halls? Wouldn’t it be better if you showed the way?. I answered. ‘My way leads through a lonely desert, but on the other side, an oasis of freedom awaits.’ He said, and I answered: ‘Tell me of this way so I may also reach this oasis.’ And he answered:’I see that your soul yearns to change the path your body is choosing. Go, take this ring. Use it to pay your debts and come and follow me.’
Ahita took out the ring and showed it to them. ‘We should go and find him.’
By Cansas Wanderlust
Blood dripped down the obsidian blade like morning dew from a leaf.
Dale knelt in a pool of thick crimson, her eyes sweeping the room. The once lively bar was now dark and dead. The bartender’s body lay across a table. Beneath were the remains of his daughter.
“Kid?” A deep voice came from the door.
Dale was too lost in her thoughts to notice. It wasn’t until the man put a hand on her shoulder that Dale acknowledged him.
She whirled around and kicked him hard in the chest. He went stumbling back into a wall. Within seconds, Dale was on top of him, pinning him to the wall with the obsidian blade pressed to his throat.
Her face was hard as stone, her eyes sharper than any steel.
“Hey hey hey, kid. You remember me?”
Her features softened.
“Yeah, kid. It’s me.”
Dale’s eyes grew wide with realization. She dropped the blade and staggered away from him.
Stranger rubbed his throat. ‘Risking my live for a killer, oh if mamma could see me now.’ he thought.
The girl was running bloody claws through her mangled hair. Stranger was surprised at how young and fragile she looked. He put a hand on her shoulder. The first time he did that he’d nearly lost the hand, and had the scar to prove it. This time she looked up at him with bright orange eyes and all but collapsed against him.
“I-I didn’t meant to. I tried to stop, I-I really tried, but I can’t fight this. I can’t beat him, Stranger. You have to find a way to kill me.”
“Come on now, kid.” Stranger said, wrapping his arms around her trembling form. “I’m looking, you know I am. But even if we find a way, he will keep terrorizing the Four Corners even after you’re dead. You are our best shot at putting down that son of a bitch.”
Dale took a few shuddering breaths, then with Stranger’s help, got to her feet.
“Before we go, you better bind my hands.”
Stranger nodded solemnly. “As you wish.”
The Radiant Artist
The air was thick and hazy with methane. The universe had cooled down enough to allow for the formation of planets and stars a while ago, and this collision-scarred planet only just got the memo to follow suit. This was nothing new to the visiting Deity, who had visited thousands of planets like it before. They had been travelling to completely random places to observe the progress of this art project for billions of years.
The Deity radiated a divine energy, causing the molecules around them to shoot around randomly. Violent crashes between atoms created new molecules not seen on this planet before, and the molecules in the ground under them occasionally combined into long chains. This resulted in a white glow around their presence.
The most unique thing about this planet was the water. Water was not an uncommon element, but it was rare to see it in liquid form. Underwater, a crack in the planet’s crust spewed hot chemicals into the soup. The Deity observed for decades, which was only a moment for them. The radiant energy was not kind to the chemicals in the water, either. Nitrogen, sulphur, and carbon smashed together to form RNA. Amino acids were knocked into impossible configurations. Sometimes these configurations would interact with other amino acid arrangements, the RNA, and a plethora of other new molecules that also formed by chance. One of these complexes could even make a clone of RNA. Another complex could create impossible amino acid arrangements itself. Lipid bubbles would bump into molecules and swallow them whole. The Deity wreaked havoc on the soup, not even realizing it.
A gas cloud on the other side of the universe gave birth to a star. This place was a lot more interesting to the Deity, who had abandoned the young planet. There was no reason to stay for longer than a few moments, as the universe was filled with way more fascinating objects. As the Deity bathed in the fresh star’s heat, the first cell division occurred in the primordial soup on the young Earth they had just left.
By Claire Golder
Technically, it was an accident. Or at least that was what he was gonna keep calling it until he was sure he wouldn’t get in trouble.
The winter chill was just taking its final breaths, the crisp air growing slowly warmer as the weeks ran down to the beginning of spring. While the moisture began to return to the air, Avalan used it to his advantage to apply the final morning layers of frost to the plants in his assigned area of the wood. Though the blooming nymphs and their encroaching green were slowly growing closer to his area, he paid it no mind and focused his attention on his duties. At least, he normally did.
It wasn’t his intention to leave his post. Honest, he hadn’t even realized he had crossed from Winter’s forest into Spring’s meadow. But… he wouldn’t say he was sorry that it happened. It was a strange sensation, experiencing the feeling of warmth on his limbs for the first time, but he wouldn’t call it unpleasant. On the contrary it felt… nice.
And then, there was her. Avalan would eventually learn her name to be Vitae, but in these first moments he knew her name to only be beauty. The first flowers he ever saw were the ones growing in her hair. The image of the sun shining down on her, making her green skin come to life in this alien world made him almost never want to return to his own world.
He hadn’t meant for her to see him, and had almost expected her to be frightened of him. But instead, she smiled. He felt a different warmth then, one that could have competed for the sun’s rays. The idea that this interaction could destroy him, a winter spirit, or possibly change his very being certainly came to mind. To his surprise though, in the moment he didn’t care.
The first time was an accident. All the others that followed, those were life itself.
By Michael Word
To say that Julia Simmons’ life had gone downhill in the past year would have been the understatement of the century. No, her life hadn’t just gone downhill, it had taken a headfirst dive off of a cliff, somehow surviving by landing in a giant pile of dirty diapers rank with the smell of urine and feces.
Speaking of diapers, it sounded to Julia like her son needed a fresh one. She could hear him shrieking in his playpen from all the way across her parents house. Grabbing her baby bag and slinging it over one should, Julia made her way toward the noise.
It had all started the night of her senior prom. Julia and her boyfriend of the time, Jason Jenkins, had been caught up in the moment. Both had been dizzy from the magic of the night (and the various bottles of alcohol being sneakily passed around in the restrooms) and they’d decided to finally go “all the way.” Tom had accidentally forgotten to wear protection and Julia had accidentally forgotten to care.
One short, awkward romp in the back of Jason’s ’98 Ford later and the two of them had unknowingly conceived their future son, William Michael Jenkins. They’d accidentally gotten pregnant.
Jason had run off almost as soon as he had gotten news of the pregnancy. Julia’s dad wanted to “kill the little deadbeat,” as he would so elegantly put it at most dinner table conversations. Julia had been allowed to continue living with her parents after graduation, all three of them agreeing that it would be a temporary arrangement until the new mother got things sorted out, though nobody could quite define what “things sorted out” looked like.
Julia had reached the doorway of her and her son’s shared bedroom. Lying in the crib was little Billy, her “pride and joy,” her “little angel.” His face had turned a deep purple with the strain of how hard he was crying. Julia tried to take a step forward, but she found she couldn’t do it.
There was no maternal bond, no great welling of love for her child, nothing like that. Julia found nothing but a seething rage filling her chest as she continued to stare at the shrieking, hateful little thing before her. The cause of all of her problems, in a five pound, nineteen inches long package of flesh and excrement and piss.
Julia’s eyes slid their gaze from the crib to her bed. Her attention was focused on the pillows laid atop her sheets. Her thoughts screamed and tore through her mind like a hurricane, but one in particular was at the forefront as she continued to stare at the pillows;
Maybe this was one accident that she could take back.
When I First Met You
By Danny Gilhooley
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“You’ve been staring at me for the past ten minutes.”
“Wait, I have?”
“Yeah, if you want to talk to me, you can just talk to me. You don’t have to watch from over there. It’s creepy.”
“Creepy? Oh no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. Parties aren’t my thing. I’m new to this.”
“I can tell.”
“And that’s the worst part!”
“What is? There’s no need to be upset.”
“I come to college not knowing a thing about going to parties and the first time I try I mess it up! The moment I see someone sitting by herself and I have an opportunity to introduce myself, I act creepy!”
“You take yourself too seriously.”
“I know. I just don’t want to make a dumb mistake or look like a clueless outcast.”
“Way too seriously.”
“You’re laughing at me now.”
“Laughing with you! You think everyone here knows what they’re doing? You don’t think people here haven’t looked like fools before?”
“I don’t want to look like a fool. That’s just the way I am.”
“I get you.”
“I didn’t even want to come here. My roommate dragged me. He said I need to get out more and stop studying all the time.”
“Who’s your roommate?”
“Oh God, him? How do you get anything done!”
“You know him?”
“Ten bucks says this whole place knows him. Again, how do you get anything done?”
“Just concentration. When I’m focused on something, I’m determined to finish it.”
“What do you study?”
“Computer science. You?”
“Oh, that’s cool.”
“You don’t seem one for conversations either.”
“Oh my God, loosen up! I’m just messing with you, that’s all!”
“Sorry. You’re right. I’m not good at conversations.”
“Well, how about you tell me your name next?”
You Always Remember Your First(CW: Domestic Abuse)
Jonathan turned the corner towards his home and walked down the alley behind the houses. Ahead he saw a man arguing loudly with his wife, again.
He was furious about something, as usual. The wife was sobbing, as usual. He grabbed her by the throat and growled something at her before pushing her back through the high fence’s gate and slamming it shut. He turned, picked up a bag and threw it into the trunk of his car.
Jonathan tensed as he walked closer to the man, and couldn’t help glaring at him as he passed. The man looked down at him, “What’re you looking at you little brat?”
Jonathan sneered, “A pile of shit that walks like a man.”
The man’s eyes widened and his nose flared, “Fuck you! You disrespectful punk!”
The thoughts came roaring to the surface of his mind, as clear as a voice whispering in his ear. Rip his throat out. Tear his limbs from his body. Crush his skull. Jonathan’s fists clenched as he tried to resist the strongest the impulses had ever been.
“Oh? You wanna take a swing at me? Come on, I’ll beat you until you know you place!” The last word came out more as a yelp as Jonathan closed the distance between them instantly. The man flinched back at the cold fury in the boy’s eyes. The man reached out to shove him back. Johnathan’s fist snapped up faster than a blink, hit the man in the jaw, and knocked him off his feet.
The man hit the ground and scrambled back, reaching for something on his belt. Jonathan launched at him, wrapping his fingers around the man’s throat and squeezing. The man’s eyes started bulging out of his face. He heard a loud bang, felt something dripping down his fingers, and could smell burning…and then he heard several cracks and his hands came together and the man went limp.
Jonathan blinked, and leapt back, horrified. He stared at the body for a moment then bolted away in a blink.
He wouldn’t notice he’d been shot for several hours.
Slip of the Tongue
“What do you mean,’accident’!” Jaka shouted, coiling her serpentine body in agitation.
Seeth stared at her with a complex look on his face. Jaka was too young to see the regret, pain and shock. All she saw was shame. He had spoken hastily, and now there was no taking it back.
“Your mother…” Seeth choked on his words.
He had always felt a kinship with the adolescent naga, but now what could he possibly say? It was rare, but every once in a while a non-human child was born outside of the city. Along with orphans and abuse victims, the CPS(changeling protective service) was in charge of retrieving them and trying to find them a home.
“You were born outside of city limits, Jaka.” he continued, watching her golden, angry eyes fill with tears. “And, I was sent to bring you back, to keep you safe.”
He saw Jaka’s small fists clench in anger before he looked away, his shame swelling in his chest. He felt suffocated. She had looked up to him, admired him, gave him more love than he had any right to claim after stealing her from her mother’s arms. This was all his fault. Losing her mother, earning her trust, and breaking her heart.
“How dare you.” her quiet voice quivered, filled with so much anger, hate and tears. He could not stand it, yet could do nothing to stop it. “I was alone, no family but you, and now you tell me you’re the one who took me from my family? My REAL family?”
He should have stayed away, remained cold, let himself become the villain of her story. But… haunting memories of her, crying alone, reaching out for someone, anyone to love her. Why could he not spare her from this cruelty? Why did his love for her have to be a curse?
“I HATE you Uncle Seeth!” She shouted before bursting out the door, leaving Seeth frozen in place.
Needing to chase her. Insufficient to comfort her.
I give you my most sincere apologies, my friend. For you, I am eternally grateful, and it pains me whenever I should cause you grief. I pray you will forgive me, as I have forgiven you for those past years of neglect and abuse. I know you still suffer from those old habits, and it is unfair of me to compound them with my curiosities regarding the transmundane.
I think, for a moment, I forgot your mortality while I dreamt of my eternal home. Being invested in the prayers we have learned together, it was natural for me to drift towards the place I belong, only brought back to you by your fear of my absence. Already it is too much to bear that my home is untainted and resplendent, while yours seems to decay and rot each day before our very eyes. With every passing year, I grow in majesty while any moment could be your last.
There I go again, don’t I? What is to me a mere fact of our existence draws your heart into the abyss of dread. I cannot help it, we both know. Lying is a sin, after all, and would wound us both. Remember, however, that whether you perish suddenly or live so long that you forget even yourself, I will remain with you every second to the utmost end. Only then, when you are laid to rest, will I return to our Master.
Then one day, when all is finished, we shall be united once again, and live in perfect unity as we were made to.
By The Assassin
I sit silently before an empty page. The world around me stills, calm, a breath before the storm. I raise my pen, a sword of truth ready to carve the cosmos. Infinite possibilities swirl around me, stretching into forever. Creation’s heart beats.
A story is a world of woven words, and I am the weaver. Worlds, characters, and ideas blossom, singing to my soul. The fabrics of reality wrap around me. The strings of destiny my instrument to strum and play, to make of it what I desire.
The infinitudes beyond, the reality of worlds within words, coalesce. Their dance gaining shape, taking form. My hand trembles. The world beyond, the dance, the song ever singing, becoming one, merging into a singularity.
The tip of my pen, the gateway. My hand, the guide. Creation’s heart beats. I look into that world, so close, so distant, just beyond reach. In it, I shape beauty, colours swirling to lives emerging. To create; to destroy: my duty.
My hand moves. My pen, my sword, my truths abound in the ink yet to drip. The vastness of realities eternal. Manifested in mind; to manifest in life. Creation’s heart beats.
My pen touches page, the brush for paint of ink. For a moment, all the realities beyond converge, a single vision, a single idea, a perfect world. I grasp that world, distilling it through pen and onto page and…
Creation’s heart stills.
Reality spins again. I see my paper, blank as though never touched. I feel my pen, cold as though never held. I hear the world around me, lively as though never stilled.
I stare at the empty page.
The ink yet to flow; worlds yet to live. I reach for what once was yet find nothing. I search for a spark to rekindle the flame, yet I see only ash.
And I weep.
I weep for the words I do not know, for the ideas that will never be.
By Preserves Roses
Lucy and Liam stood in the kitchen staring at the thing sitting on the pristine counter top. Slanted slightly to one side. Lumps of white, and crumbs of black showed through the slickly pink icing.
“Is it someone’s birthday?” asked Lucy, unable to look away from the red and green blob on top, that might have been a rose.
“I don’t think so. Is there anywhere else we can go for supper on short notice?” Liam said, looking hopefully at his sister.
“Maybe she got it right this time,” Lucy said slowly, “ Why don’t we just check and see.”
The twins inched forward as if the offending cake might be dangerous. Liam took a small swipe of icing and Lucy took a pinch of crumbs off the plate, a little taste that couldn’t be noticed.
“COUGH… HACK… ERUGH.. Oh god it’s burnt.”
“What are we going to do?” asked Lucy.
“There is only one thing we can do.” Liam reached out and tickled his sister. Lucy squirmed, gave him a shove and tickled back, soon shrieks of laughter rang through the house, as the twins scuffled with each other in the kitchen.
A voice drifted from a nearby room. “Kids watch out for my …”
Lucy and Liam froze in place staring at the splatter of pink and black on the floor. The white cake plate somehow remained unbroken, and had landed in the middle of the mounded heap of crumbs and icing standing like a ceramic tombstone.
Their mother appeared in the room, as if she had teleported there. She started in horror at the mess on the floor. “My cake! I have company coming after supper.” Her voice cracked with emotion.
Liam ran for the closet of cleaning supplies. “Don’t worry Mom, I’ll clean it up.”
Lucy dashed for the pantry and started pulling out ingredients,” I’m so sorry Mom, I’ll make you a new one, which recipe should I use.”
The Devil on Red River
The sun sank below the tree line, leaving us in inky blackness. They assigned Private Nelson and me the first watch that night. The last few nights had been hot and miserable but quiet. We made camp, and I set up my rifle for a long few hours.
Nelson and I took shifts. I went first, watching the river. The heat and the exhaustion lulled me to sleep—the sound of distant gunfire cut through the buzz of summer insects.
My eyelids snapped open, and my heart beat faster. I quickly glanced around to find Nelson snoring nearby. I checked my watch, 0300. It was well over Nelson’s turn for the night watch. As I nudged him awake, I heard a rustle in the nearby vegetation.
Nelson shot awake as well, aiming his rifle in the darkness. The Red River was ink-black in the evening, and we saw what looked like a raft floating on it.
“Sh,” said Nelson, putting his fingers to his lips.
I nodded as we saw the raft head toward the other side of the river—the shadow disappearing into the darkness.
“VC?” I asked.
“I’m going to scout it out,” he said.
“Are you sure that’s safe?”
“Nothin’ here is safe. I’ll take my chances.”
He got up to leave. I kept my post until I heard a blood-curdling scream cut through the night. It was Nelson. Running toward’s them, I listened to his howls growing louder and louder.
“Watch out for the hole, Cox!”
I looked down and saw that Nelson was at the bottom of a pit. Sharp punji sticks carved out of bamboo skewered through him. The smell of blood cut through the acrid smell of the jungle.
“Nelson!” I screamed.
“Tell mama I love her. I want my mom. Mom,” he whimpered through tears.
“I will,” I said. Aiming my rifle carefully, I put Nelson out of his misery.
Screaming, I ran toward the river and saw the mysterious raft on the water. Just as it was about to slink off into the night, I fired my rifle into the darkness. A tall shadow on the raft slumped over before splashing into the water.
“Cox!” screamed Seargent Banks as he tackled me to the ground.
“Man down, we have a man down,” Banks screamed into his radio. “Friendly Fire.”
The raft belonged to a neighboring platoon across the river. Another soldier was scouting the area for VC. I would return home with the sick on the Jolly Green Giant tomorrow and await my court-martial.
Another man of circumstance, just like me. Another mother would get the news that I killed her son. Another girl left, cold and alone. Another father without a son to carry his legacy, another brother went. I had made a terrible mistake not burning my draft ticket.
Time To Explain
I knocked on Darren’s door for the third time, jogging in place. My mind was in full panic mode, screaming in sirens and klaxxons. You shouldn’t be here. What if you break his heart? Worse, what if you don’t? You should have just said nothing and moved on. It was a party; stupid stuff happens at parties all the time.
Well, knocked three times, guess he’s not home. As I made my way back to the car, I heard the creak of the hinges and his voice.
“Jack? Is that you?” he replied. I froze mid-step. Last chance. Just get in the car and keep driving.
“Hey,” I blurted out with a weary wave. Congratulations, idiot. Turning back, I saw Darren poking his eyes out of a crack in the door. Almost immediately I felt the sirens die down.
“Do you mind if I..come in? Talk about what happened?”
In the blink of an eye, the door fully opened. A few moments later we were in his kitchen. Coffee was made, even though it was two in the afternoon. I wanted to say something but… he looked so nice in that shirt I left here.
“So…some party last night, huh?” Darren broke the silence as he sat down.
“Yeah…” I looked away. I wanted to say it was the beer talking, but that only goes so far. I felt a blush come on as last night played out in my head. I never knew he could be so gentle…
“Hey umm…what exactly happened last night?” I asked.
“One of the best nights of our lives,” he smirked and winked.
“That’s not what I mea-” Darren put his hand over mine and squeezed it gently.
“I…I mean… are you okay with this with…us?” I kept stuttering, “I mean…it was just a one-night thing with drinks…right?”
Darren leaned forward and pecked me on the lips.
“It doesn’t have to end like that does it?” he asked.
“No…” I beamed, “No I guess it doesn’t.”
Charlie, tapped her foot by the floor, awaiting her mother. Crossing her arms, sitting on a dull bench. She groaned. Thinking about it.
Ever since Dad died, Charlie’s mother was traumatized. Planning on something, by destroying dad’s native town and lied to the mayor that she wanted to remodel the town, but she plans to destroy it. Why won’t her mother just live her life?
About a minute, her mother passed her, and Charlie came slithering after her. “Mom, don’t do this. Please. Have you ever considered to sit and think about it?” Asks Charlie.
“It’s for Dad. Besides, I ordered the mayor to evacuate the area.” Charlie yanked her mother’s wrist.
Her mother quickly tottered to a laboratory while her daughter chased her. “Mooom.” She called and noticed. Of course, her mother will supply nuclear bombs for the town. “MOTHER!”
Charlie’s mother turned her head to glare at her. “Please.”
“It’s for your father. So shut up.”
“Bullshit! Would you think father would like this if you destroy his home?”
“Honey, I have too.”
“I know your plans. And you went too far, mom.”
“Honey, please. Don’t-,” it’s just then when Charlie noticed an off button.
Her fingers slightly went for the button, as her mom came shouting, “DON’T!”
Charlie quickly clicked the button as her mother gaped at her hands as a bottle of liquid knocked over her. Charlie groaned as Charlie’s mom was pale dead. What has she done?
Red fur grows in Charlie, cat ears popped, a raccoon tail swing, as she becomes a monster. Her mother stepped back. Charlie roared and knocked over some tables, as she gave a glare for a minute at her mother. She roared once more and headed for the walls, crashed through, as she disappeared through the darkness. She’s gone.
Charlie’s mom couldn’t forgive herself but kept looking at the hole in the walls. SHE was the real monster. She fell to her knees and sobbed. Her child was a creature all because of her. Tears fell from her eyes.
Charlie’s mom huffed and breathed out, “I’m sorry. It was an accident.”
It was an Accident
The ruins of Jerrod was the current home of the Gruünt Clan. Goblins love ruins. But what genuinely excites them is eating. A goblin horde can decimate a herd of cows in minutes… although they generally prefer gnomes. Goblins, as a race, are scrawny green creatures with oversize heads and a serious attitude problem. They’re not particularly tall and Runt was smaller than most, hence the name.
But while the other goblins were busy poisoning their blades and keeping the points sharpened, Runt was busy cooking. The air around his dwelling was always filled with the smells of spices and Sulphur. But Runt wasn’t particularly successful with his culinary efforts. It’s not that he was a bad cook, he was a terrible cook. Still, he was determined.
He experimented with every combination he could imagine trying to find edible combinations. He did his best work with pigs. Although he found they generally tasted better if you wiped the mud off them. Something which struck him as too much trouble. His goat was almost palatable, but it left you feeling hungry ten minutes after you ate it. He’d tried horses, but they kept kicking him in the head when he tried to cook them.
Brugal was a hill giant. They usually get worked up and try to kill things. Brugal’s interaction with the Gruünt Clan was typical. As he stomped on the remains of the Jerrod ruins, the goblins kept running out of his way. This had a tendency to annoy Brugal. Tiny arrows filled the air. Most of them just bounced off Brugal’s tough hide, but about one in ten got irksomely stuck in his skin.
But when someone stabbed his foot with a spear, Blugal when after him with a vengeance. He crushed Runt’s house. But then he noticed a bubbling cauldron. Runt’s latest experiments with skunk meat. Brugal drank the concoction and immediately fell over… dead.
The Gruünt Clan raised Runt on their shoulders, screaming and cheering.
“No,” Runt protested, “It was an accident… an accident, I tell you.”
By RVMPLSTLSKN (repost from Private)
“You’re familiar with the idea of dragon psychology, of course?” The advocate asked.
Colton out of place in the gray and wood room. The dark desk matched the leather chairs, both with polished brass points. The metal was warming under his sweaty palms.
“Of course. Hoarding and prestige, for its own sake,” Colton said. His gaze flicked to the paintings above them. They were fakes; not prints, but copies hand-painted by a skilled amateur.
“Good,” the advocate across the desk nodded. “Now, how about tyrant philosophy?”
“Uh, can’t say I’m familiar.” Colton refocused on the balding, confident man. He’d done well in art and psychology. Philosophy always felt too soft for him, intangible. Well, unless he was talking about politics with a potential client, which he desperately tried not to do. He just had one of those faces, he supposed.
“It is very simple; tyrant philosophy states that everyone has the moral duty to challenge each other. Only the victors can rise and the victors are the tyrants who rule.” The advocate lifted his hand. “I know what you’re thinking, ‘how inefficient!’
“It is. This is how so-called ‘problem patriarchs’ are made.”
“I don’t see how this is relevant to my situation,” Colton said. “Are you saying my father is a problem patria—.”
“Your father is dead. He was, however, a dragon. He spent his wealth hoarding art, lesser pieces mostly. But all by skilled and well known artists, with a couple exceptions.
“Your sister is the tyrant. You are a challenger. Do you understand?”
“You make it sound like we’ll be fighting.” Colton laughed. The idea played out like a DBZ episode in his head.
The advocate leaned forward. “You will.”
Colton’s smile faded.
“Not physically, but you’re claiming to be older than her and her father—your father—was very particular about his Will. It aligns with his heritage. Sons get equal shares, but the oldest takes two shares and takes care of the unwed daughters.”
“But I thought she was the only child.”
The advocate sighed and leaned back in his chair. “So does she, Colton. So does she.”
Curse my Words
by Lunabear (Private Repost)
The intricately carved glass door shatters as it’s kicked open. A tall, red-faced man storms into the cavernous library.
“Damn Faelon you!” His electric green eyes shoot daggers at the winged creature before him.
“Ah, Colton! How wonderful to see you again!”
Faelon dismisses the trembling maid in the hallway behind Colton.
The door reassembles itself and closes after Colton stomps over the threshold.
“Is this what?! Did do what you?!”
Faelon hides his smirk behind a lace handkerchief. His glowing gray eyes dance with mischief.
“It would appear you’re having syntax trouble, dearest Colton.”
Colton’s large hands curl into white-knuckled fists.
Faelon sets down his wine glass on the floating crystal table before pulling down the puffed sleeves of his ruffled shirt.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Faelon heaves a dramatic sigh.
Rising from his oversized chair, he throws his long, black hair over one shoulder.
“It was an accident, you see. I was practicing a new spell, but I lost my concentration.”
Colton growls at the touch of falsehood in Faelon’s tone.
Faelon glides to Colton’s side and throws a casual arm around his bunched shoulders.
“Distractions do that, you know.”
“You wound me, Poppet. And after everything I’ve done for you?”
Colton tries to push the annoyance away, but he floats out of reach.
Colton turns his fury towards the bookshelves. He rips tomes from their slots and flips through pages, uncaring that he’s ruining the valuable items. He flings them angrily behind him when they provide no answers.
Faelon pulls Colton away from the books like a child dragging their favorite stuffed animal behind them.
Colton attempts to free his wrist from the other man’s marble grip to no avail.
“You won’t find it, and I refuse to remove my spell.”
The quiet sincerity halts Colton’s struggles.
Their gazes clash, and Faelon blinks away his hurt before Colton sees.
Faelon releases Colton and gathers up his books. He replaces each one lovingly.
Colton watches from a significant distance.
Faelon finally faces him. “Because. Of. HER.”
The Silver Apples
by Johnny Saguaroseed
The thwack of his shot yet echoed through the pavilion as Eurybotas, disguised, bowed to the lady paramount. Nine arrows he had placed in the center of the mark and should he place one more he would win the prize—the princess’s hand and with it half the kingdom, the restoration of his good name and entitlement to his family’s ancestral home, and, most importantly, the silver apples the king had promised to any man who could land ten bull’s-eyes at a distance of 500 yards. There were three reasons why Eurybotas would not miss his final shot, which are as follows:
1. He was Eurybotas.
2. His bow was made from a branch of Irminsul, secreted away and kept hidden by Saxon pagans after its destruction by Charlemagne.
3. The fletching on his arrows came from Scandinavian geese, which are not born from eggs but arise from fir timber tossed by the sea.
Yet as I watched Eurybotas test the wind and secure his footing for the upshot it occurred to me that Time and Fortuity have often played games with the maturation of natural species. At any time an accident of ordering in the betwined genetic ladders of the Barnacle Goose, which—despite the opinion of Vincent of Beauvais—emerge from eggs like any other bird, might have an influence on the properties of lift and buoyancy their feathers achieve, and might distract an arrow from its true flight. And so, with thoughts of how the fate of Troy could be traced to Helen’s pulchritudinous nucleotides, I watched Eurybotas select his final arrow.
Thirteen (Oneiron Universe) [Private Repost]
The Architect looked the kid over again. Everything pointed to him being Deprived, from the emaciated body that looked like it would collapse into a pile of bones at any moment, to the dark circles dancing around his bloodshot orbs.
“Thirteen, how did you beat the Madness? I mean you look like-”
Thirteen stopped drinking and cut him off. “I look like I’ve already lost myself don’t I – I didn’t beat the Madness – H.C – I don’t think anyone really can – I was just lucky enough to stumble on a way to hold it off.” He seemed to never take a breath and spoke as if someone had hastily sped up an online video, but that was likely due to the coffee.
The Architect eyed the nearly empty mug that Thirteen held in his shaking hands. “You need more coffee? I was about to get some myself.”
“Nope – Can’t have anymore – I reached my allowable limit for the day – I’m trying to hold on to this cup as long as I can – Thank you for offering.” Thirteen stared intently at the words that flickered on the monitor, entranced by the methodical pattern of the scrolling sentences.
“How did you stop the spread? Anyone else would have been consumed or in the cell with the others, if they even survived.”
Thirteen responded, his eyes still fixated on the monitor. “It was luck – An accident if you will – My obsession with routine finally paid off – When I heard voices – I noticed they abated when I drank coffee. Eventually – I learned to limit my intake enough to function at least.”
“And what of the times that you cannot drink coffee? What then?”
“I suffer – These voices are relentless – H.C – but I can’t lose myself to their pull.”
“I agree, but there must be something you can do to keep yourself sane between cups.”
Thirteen took another sip. “Believe me – I’ve tried everything I possibly could – There’s no way to control this Madness – You either strictly manage it or give in – It’s so much easier to give in if you believe the voices.”
It Will Never Happen Again (Nyssa’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
The room was suffocatingly dark. Nyssa could barely see Professor Sianairra from across the table. Her old Elven superior sat with her right side to Nyssa, staring into the featureless black with a cold blue eye.
“You never listened to anything I said, did you,” the Professor said, a sharp certainty to her voice. “Nothing of any actual importance, in any case.”
Nyssa shuddered. “I-I thought, I thought that it would just–”
“That it would just be you? That nobody else would be hurt? That you could utterly desecrate not just your own body, but also the holy artefact of a God, and then just amble off to the afterlife like none of that would matter?” A harsh laugh. “You were always a stubborn, self-centred brat.”
“If I had known that the effects would spread–” Nyssa’s voice shook.
“You did not know. You could never have known, but you did it regardless. Renovaire and its people are ruined and drowned, because of YOU.” The Professor’s head turned towards her, and Nyssa tried to look away from that awful face, but the darkness wouldn’t let her.
“Quelvara…I promise you, I’ll do everything, everything to make this right – I’ll help everyone I can, I’ll try to save lives, I’ll make this world a better place – I-I’ll never cause such destruction ever aga–”
Another acidic laugh. “Do you expect me to believe anything you say? You lied to everyone for years, and you lie to yourself just as easily.” She leaned a little forwards, her half-crushed features becoming clearer. “If you REALLY wanted it to never happen again, you would have burnt your notes, consigned your dire machine’s memory to ash. Instead, you keep them. You modify them. You IMPROVE them.”
“-No, it’s not like–”
“You want this. You want to try AGAIN.”
“You will never change. You will never help anyone but yourself. You should just end it now, before you–”
“STOP!!!” The room was suddenly drowned in light, and Quelvara Sianairra was gone. The only thing left was Nyssa lying in her bed, blinking blearily in the morning sunlight.
C. M. Weller
I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry. It just happened like that. I’ll do better next time. It’s amazing how far phrases like that can carry someone past the horrific reality and into the secure arms of someone whose job it is to care.
I admire people like that. People who can care. Those who can care outside themselves, that is. The skill eludes me. I’ve tried to study it, like any scientist might study a specimen in captivity, or under glass. Like an anatomist might study a body under their scalpel.
I didn’t mean it. Not the first time. I’m not sure what I intended at the time, not really. Perhaps I wanted to see what their teeth looked like on the outside of their mouth. Perhaps I wanted to see horror in their eyes. I don’t know. It was so long ago, now. I do remember the red and blue lights reflecting off of all that blood. It shouldn’t have done that. The red light should have been invisible. Blending in with the red of the blood.
Afterwards, there was… attention. People whose job it was to care. People who wanted to talk about how I felt. I didn’t know what to say, then. I’ve practiced the correct words since then. They said I was traumatised then. They said I had disassociated from the psychological pain. They said a lot of things. I watched them. Studied them. Learned to say the right things.
Learned, eventually, the right things to do. Learned to make it all look like a preventable accident. Learned to turn their bad habits against themselves. Learned to set traps that looked, to an outside observer, like a mistake.
How was I to know that someone like me was setting up the same thing for myself?
They meant it, just like I did. My own blood is as beautiful in the night as the others.
I’ll do better next time.
“Don’t worry Bell, I’m sure you’ll make that jump by the end of the year, or die trying!”
Bell laughed. The professor laughed. My fellow students laughed.
I wasn’t supposed to be there.
One week earlier—
I watched the courtyard from my hiding spot in the trees. It was a tough looking building to crack. A sprawling wood thing with a jumble of architectures. But, if I didn’t make my move tonight, Johannes would nab the psychic ball. He was a Southern District native and damn good at the finding game. He knew it, too; the smug bastard. Last time our ball had materialized in his district, he had it before the end of the day. Well, this time the ante was two B-grade ration tickets, and I was hungry.
I could see guardsmen by moonlight. Seven in total, and four blind spots. Three of those spots would have guards if they knew what they were doing. Still, the yard looked built for breaking into. The garden shed unwatched on the west side, the patch of grass, the long shadow of the mansion itself, the ground level window leading to the basement… It wouldn’t be without risk; I could see the tip of a sheath under the nearest guard’s cloak. But, I could outrun swords if I had to.
I reached the window in good time, but as I crouched about to gain access, I heard a yelp. I scanned the yard and- yes there, in one of the blind spots! There was a person writhing on the ground. Please, not Johannes. One guard walked towards the body, crossbow in hand. There was no alarm. No shouting. Even so, they would be scanning more closely. Shit and whiskers! I opened the window and dropped inside. It was cave-black, and blood pulsed in my ears, deafening me. I let my eyes acclimate to the dark. Was that…
“Congratulations, and let me be the first to welcome you to our academy!”
His shadow-clad figure leaned forward conspiratorially.
“You’re the fourth, you know. Excellent work.”
In My Defense, It Was a Huge Spider
(Repost from private)
“Now, don’t panic, but there was a spider,” James said as he stopped Ruth from entering the lab.
“Okay.” Ruth’s nose itched at the smell of sulfur.
“A huge spider.”
“Yeah, right, just let me in already.”
“So big that I had to use drastic measures to banish the beast!” James stalled and pressed up against the door with a nervous smile.
“Look,” Ruth frowned. “I can tell you’ve already done something stupid based on the stench coming from there. Just let me in so we can fix the mess before the professor shows up.”
The nervous flush on James’s cheeks faded to a fearful pale. “Couldn’t we… just… um… tell the professor that there was a break-in?”
“Seriously? The lab is six flights up and golem guarded, and that’s your excuse?”
James shrunk under Ruth’s skeptical glare with a nervous chuckle. “Ha… yeah. It does sound kind of silly when you say that…”
Ruth sighed and ignored James’s protests as she opened the door. The instant wave of sulfur fumes almost made her gag. Through the green haze of whatever explosive concoction James had used, she could see the remains of the alchemist’s lab. Shattered glass lay everywhere. Diminutive golems scrambled to clean up spilled chemicals and elements. Their golem assistant, G-five, limped about on a twisted leg as they put out the rest of the flames.
And there, on the far wall, was a speck of charred spider dust.
“What did you DO?” Ruth exclaimed. “This is at least a level five disaster or worse! Do you understand what could have happened to the city if we didn’t have golems to save your ass?”
“I… but… there was a spider.” James withered under Ruth’s angry lecture. He flinched at the familiar taps of his professor’s cane as they approached.
“James Bullwick.” The professor said as they cast a disapproving glance between the wreckage and the teen. “We need to talk.”
Anything but Friendly
By Lucas Sanchez
Snipers never work alone. They have spotters, for the purpose of identifying targets, helping the rifleman adjust aim, and essentially everything that a gunman with unwavering attention isolated to a small plot of land through 20x magnification wouldn’t be able to do alone.
Sniper teams could be paired with the same people with whom they trained with during basic, but this was the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, the selection was randomized, and sniper teams were assigned regardless of the comfort they felt with one another. That hadn’t been the case with Perez and me. Fate had decided that I would be paired with the same man I trained with, with the same man I knew since elementary, with the same man I felt most comfortable with in this world. His mother, his father-family I felt closer to than even my own, and Perez, my brother.
It was an early Thursday evening, the sun already setting, when it came time. Perez was late, as usual, so I took the job of setting up into my own hands: deployed the tripod, mounted the rifle, ran a brief inspection-short jobs that could be done without him.
Only a quarter of the sun remained when a new burst of light erupted by the horizon. An explosion, a UAV strike likely, which would mean fleeing bogies, an opportunity I couldn’t miss. I trained my sights on the outskirts of the village from where the explosion had erupted and took fire on the first armed silhouette I saw fleeing.
I was proud at first, confused when I saw troops from our nearby camp rush to the scene, mortified when they rushed to the body I’d gunned down. I was horrified enough at the thought of a civilian casualty, until I heard the words over radio, “Perez is down.”
Snipers never work alone. They work with partners, and I had killed mine, my best friend, my brother. I decided that night that I would only shoot one more bullet for as long as I lived, and this time, I wouldn’t miss.
Fallible (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
The man lunged forward to attack, but stopped just as Marcos was about to prepare a spell. The wizard was about to ask why the man stopped, but the man’s eyes grew wide as he collapsed.
Death stood behind the man, holding his scythe with a look Marcos had never seen before.
He dropped his weapon as the blade faded away and knelt down over the man. As he frantically moved the clothes out of the way to assess the damage, Marcos fumbled through his bag. He pulled out a green bottle and knelt down on the other side of the man, pouring it over the wound.
“Not sure what the rules are for quasi-god weapons,” Marcos spoke calmly, “but this should at least slow down the bleeding.”
Death only muttered a barely audible, “No,” over and over.
A couple of guards made their way into the alley to see what the commotion was. After a brief explanation on Marcos’ part and gently moving Death away from the body, the guards lifted the man and carried him off.
Death stared at the blood coating his shaky hands. He did not bother looking up as Marcos took one of his skeletal hands in his and began wiping the blood away.
“Everything’s…” Marcos chose his words carefully, “not as bad as you’re probably thinking.”
“H…” It was a pathetic attempt at speaking.
“Everyone makes mistakes.” The wizard let out a sigh as he moved to clean the other hand. “This probably isn’t helping. Let’s try something else. If you can, try telling me how you’re feeling.”
“Alright. Besides… what happened, what’s the biggest worry you have?”
“Th-the gods…” Death trailed off again.
“Is this a mistake you made before?”
Marcos helped Death to his feet. “Then you’ll probably just get a warning.”
Death slipped his hand out of Marcos’ and gave the wizard a hug. If he noticed Marcos tensing, he did not comment on it.
After a moment in silence, the shaking became less pronounced. “Thank you.”
Marcos relaxed and returned the hug. “Any time, bud.”
The End of Time (Private Repost)
By: Makeshift Mousepad
A canopy of crimson leaves rested atop the trees. Ariadne’s spry gate stirred a wake of leaves into the otherwise silent air. Periodically, she stopped and waited for her companion to close the gap between them.
“You know you walk slow for a guy who can tear open tanks.” Ariadne crossed her arms.
“I’m also a couple hundred years old.” Joseph smiled, “So, give me a break.”
As their paths crossed, Ariadne looped her arms over Joseph’s shoulders and let her legs drag. “You don’t look a day over twenty. And, unlike everyone else, you don’t even have to take care of your skin.”
Ariadne’s chin slid along Joseph as he turned around, “Maybe he’s born with it. Maybe it’s nanobots.” he smiled down at her.
“Actually, I’ve been curious.” Ariadne replanted her feet. “You said the first generation nanobots made you immortal. But you always seem to regret creating the second generation. Why?”
The silence of the autumn air left him defenseless to his vivid memories. The events snapped through his mind and he suppressed them just as quickly.
Joseph inhaled, “Well… There was a terrorist organization attempting to destroy the lab I’d been working at. Only I knew the full potential of my work. But they didn’t need to.” Joseph rubbed the skin over his heart. “They were going to kill me, Ariadne.”
“So, you acted in self-preservation. What’s so wrong with that?” Ariadne asked.
Joseph closed his eyes and let the images flow back to him. In his mind, a different version of him stood on a far-off hill glaring back at him. “I had lost all desire to live in my final moments. The muzzle flashes must have distracted me for just long enough for the other half of me to act. The next thing I knew, the needle was piercing my chest.”
Ariadne pulled him close, “Well, if it’s any consolation. I am glad you’re here. Even if it wasn’t completely your intention.”
It was ancient. But not anymore. Now, it was new, bright, and marvellous. The time machine had worked, and for the first time ever Nora was seeing the world as it was a thousand years ago good as new. Beautiful and big and so much more amazing than she thought it would be. It wasn’t all good, of course, the past was a kind of awful place to be a lot of the time but when seen for the first time, after making the scientific discovery of a lifetime, none of that mattered. Nora couldn’t help but flap her hands with joy. She excitedly explored the city, taking in everything she could, talking to people, trying the food. It was everything she ever dreamed it to be. Until she went back to the time machine and tried to get home, that is.
Mouse, her AI assistant greeted her at the door. “You’re back! Finally! Something isn’t right. I don’t know what yet, but something has definitely broken. I’ll scan the machine for abnormalities.”
Nora felt the world crash down around her. The time machine couldn’t be broken! How was she going to get home? What about her friends? Her pet snake? What about sharing her discovery with the world? What about the accolades? The functional immortality that comes with fame? Everything she had worked for, everything she had hoped to achieve down the drain because she was a little too careless with the time machine. She took a deep breath. Maybe everything will be ok. Maybe this was fixable. Panicking doesn’t help anyone.
Mouse came back onto the screens.
“Sooooo, there’s good news, and bad news!”
“The good news?”
“I know what’s wrong! The bad news is, it’s not really fixable. Sure, maybe if we got lucky we could fix it, but the chances of that are low, and even then getting back would be dangerous. We’re stuck here.”
“Hey, it’s not all bad. I’m sure we can figure something out. We’re adaptable! We can make this work!”
“Yeah. hopefully. It’s not like we have much of a choice.”
So… Is One Of You Going To Pay For That Door?
Shayna huffed in frustration, crossing her arms in front of the door. “I get that I’m the only mortal here but I’m a demon hunter! This is LITERALLY what I do.”
“I know.” Matt said warmly, petting the human’s head. “You have nothing to prove.”
“We got this. We’re just more suited for the front line.” Mara said eagerly. Her claws were out, her spade-tipped tail whipped back and forth, and her bat-like wings were quivering in the excitement of her demonic bloodlust as she faced the door.
Shayna pouted but stepped back, though she never lowered her weapon, just in case. Her training wouldn’t allow for such carelessness, even with her powerful comrades.
Matt nodded and raised his hand to the door before magically shattering it. The two magical beings launched into the room, catching the inhabitants by surprise.
Matt went for the male and Mara went for the female. The fight was as brutal as it was short-lived. Matt trusted in his familiar to do her part and put all his focus on overwhelming the demon he was currently throttling against the wall. He’d expected this to be much harder.
The demon fought his losing battle and even seemed forlorn when he saw that his companion wasn’t faring much better. Glaring back, he spat in Matt’s face. “You can tell Alex to go fuck himself.”
Matt paused. “…You’re not Alex?”
“Of course he’s not Alex!” The girl demon shrieked in Mara’s grip. “Will isn’t even a full demon! Please let him go! I’m the one you want!”
Mara’s eyes narrowed as she locked eyes with the pleading demon. Her magic then pierced into her mind. The demon had a human soul. And yet all Mara could feel from her was pain. There was fear and guilt as well, but the pain overshadowed it. Someone had thoroughly and truly messed this girl up. Mara immediately released her. “You poor creature… I’m so sorry…”
“I have an idea.” Matt sighed, releasing his opponent. “How about we talk?”
“Talking sounds good…” Will wheezed.
“Ugh!” Shayna groaned from outside, lowering her weapon.
Kitchen Nightmares (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
“Do we have to make seaweed again?” Morae asked, as she took out a water bottle.
“Well, someone apparently doesn’t understand the difference between simmer and flambé,” Michael replied, indicating several spirals of black smoke, curling from a casserole. “How long until that bird went out, anyway?”
“Close to four hours. Hey, why does it have to be so cold?”
Morae moved closer to the charred casserole. The Ceran preferred the warmth. Plus, the smell of seasoned meat, even if it was burned, allowed her to momentarily imagine herself back home on Ignea, instead of a broken spaceship orbiting a planet somewhere far from anything familiar.
“It accumulates flavor better this way,” Michael replied. “Can you hand me the iced water?”
Morae retrieved several ice cubes, placed them in the water, shook it and handed it to Michael. The half-Vorok took the icy bottle as though it was a warm flask of tea. It bubbled softly, but both ignore it.
“Now we wait.”
Morae leaned against the counter, rubbing her three forehead-horns in the uncomfortable silence. When she finally opened her mouth, a loud sizzling cut her off. The water bottle began to shake violently.
“Hey, Michael? Is it supposed to do that?”
“Did you take the ice from the middle shelf?” he asked.
“No. Top shelf.”
“Morae! That was dry ice!”
The pot erupted, showering them both in salty water and wet seaweed. For a moment they just looked at each other.
“Oops?” Morae tried.
“I think we should just stick to sandwiches,” Michael commented.
“Look at it this way,” Morae replied. “On my home world, people pay a fortune for a good seaweed wrap. And we just got one for free.”
For a second, they were both silent. Then they burst out laughing.
“Sea…Seaweed wraps?” Michael said, between fits of laughter. “Seriously? Well, I guess if nothing else works, we can open a spa. Mor’s and Mike’s.”
“Come get your seaweed wraps.”
Morae gave an exaggerated bow. A piece of seaweed slid from her middle horn and landed on the floor with a loud splat.