Writing Group: In the City of Dust (PRIVATE)

Hello, Relic Seekers and Wasteland Wanderers.

Wow… what is this place? It looks like no one’s set foot here in an awfully long time. It’s something to behold, that’s for sure. You’ll have to tell me how you came across this, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

In the City of Dust

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!

What a beautifully versatile prompt you all have chosen this week. From disastrous to wholesome, old to new, the possibilities are as endless as the dust itself as it builds on my far too high ceiling light.

When we think of dust, we think of things that are old, maybe even lost to time. An ancient tome in a maze of dusty old books, an artifact in some decrepit ruins, or even just a small cherished treasure hidden in the attic. Maybe the city is a metaphor, and the seeker is looking for a precious journal of a long time missing friend of theirs that could hold the key to his whereabouts. Perhaps it’s a puzzle box left to the one unassuming person who could solve it, containing within a whole other world lost between dimensions. Maybe the city in question is in photos of a journey you took many years ago, and you’ve just blown the dust from the pages of the album. 

The city could also be literal, like an ancient alien city buried deep in the ice, or a city that has fallen to ruin after some cataclysmic disaster. Perhaps it’s even just a microscopic metropolis where dust bunnies live and thrive like we do, but in the permanent darkness that is the underside of your couch. Maybe this city is some massive site of ruins that was rumoured to no longer exist, and your very own footprints are the first sign of any life there… until you come across another set that definitely isn’t yours. Or maybe this city of dust is just the mess created by building the first homes of a new town. Drywall dust counts, right?

Whatever kind of dust you choose to stir up, bring us along and show us what treasures you can uncover.

A word of advice: please remember your personal protective equipment. Dust is uh… it’s not good for the lungs.

—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.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
120 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess
1 month ago

Rouge Station[Aleph null sci fi]
By Gregovin

This definitely should not be here.

Map says there should be no rotating habitats in a hundred thousand kilometers, yet here we are, right in front of one.

It’s external lights seem to be on. Might not be a derelict.

I try to open communication with the station. The outdated control console powers on.

>Connecting…

>Connecting…

>Connected to station OH10290

>Waiting for qualified officer response…

>Waiting for qualified officer response…

>Waiting for any crewmember response…

>Waiting for crewmember response…

>Response query mechanism failed…

>This is an automated error response from station OH10290, aka the Star Ship Rediscovery. It seems no crewmember is available to communicate with your ship at the moment. Please wait while the main control system reboots for further error analysis

>Waiting…

That’s strange. Most ships have crews with shifts so that someone is always available. And the main control system almost never shuts.

Fuck. Something’s gone horribly wrong on this ship.

>Main control system booted.

Suddenly, a distress beacon activates. A human voice echoes from the comms relay, saying:

“This is the star ship Rediscovery, standard calendar date March 25th, 2031. We are running low on O2 and require immediate assistance, please respond”

Ok, I can go to the docking port and… 2031? Twenty thirty freaking one?! This message is a decade old. Definitely a derelict. I’m surprised this thing still has power on it.

The distress beacon replays it’s message. I shut it off.

A new line appears on the computer terminal.

>Zero living organisms detected. Cryopods empty. AI subsystem unresponsive.
>Conclusion: all remaining crewmembers are dead.
>Certainty: 99%.
>Decision: Shut down all remaining subsystems after broadcasting an incident report.

Our ship receives a document as the connection is cut from the other end.

jesse fisher
jesse fisher
1 month ago

The Dust from Ash
By Jesse Fisher Edited by Luna

A vibrantly colored robot with a slight coating of dust continued to explore this world of ash. It had seen sights that would have blown the imagination of any rational thinking being. From its speakers, words came out.

“All they did,” it began as the wind whipped up to a haunting tone, “crumbles to the ground, though they refused to see.”

The city that he came to was broken and ruined, much like the rest of the places the bot had visited. It seemed as dead as the others. Telescreens hissed and sputtered only static while the bot walked on. The bot did notice some movement but only found the fluttering of a cloth that might have been a cherished item. Looking around, the robot just felt as if it were walking among this graveyard of a world.

“Dust in the wind,” a long dead voice spoke as the visored face looked on. “All they were was dust in the wind.”

As if on cue, the wind picked up again as dust and ash swirled in the air. The fluctuating sun kept the world in its state as the vibrant bot continued on its trek through the desolate, quiet world. Whether it was on a mission to save the world, or exploring out of curiosity, the bot had to discover what this place had once been. Solemn, haunted voices reverberated like long forgotten tunes emerging to accent the world.

The bot did not wonder about the origin of the phrases; it simply wanted to understand why they cried out so aimlessly.

DesOttsel
DesOttsel
1 month ago

Nightfall
by Gage Jarman

Enoch sat on the roof spinning a dagger between his fingers. The market below him bustled through the dusty streets. The sound of haggling and boisterous conversation came as echoes from the empty stalls. A memory of the desert’s oasis. For all his time, he had never grown used to this land. It appeared like home in some places, but it was a painting, only viewable from one angle. Enoch was a prisoner. Etched into the records of this dimension.

He still found peace in places where the distortions, impossible angles, and voids were out of sight. This ledge was one of his favorites. The smell of spices drifted upwards. The sounds were almost enough to make him forget the illusion.

The sun was high which accentuated the fissures. This land of fragments was welded together like ornate tiles. Reality had been shattered and each stolen piece of the world had been placed. He longed to return to Assyria at times. Life there was hard, but it had more vibrancy, more contrast. It was sunrise casting long shadows on the mountains.

There was so much comfort here. The whims of the gods had no pull. This land was the midday sun. The crops grew in mere days. The wells never lowered. The beasts never sullied the cities. Sickness and disease didn’t exist. Everything was too bright. Every creature desires the shadows after experiencing the heat. Every creature desires change.

New people rarely came. Most stayed for a time. Enoch didn’t know how long. It was hard to tell time without seasons or lunar cycles, and he had long since given up on counting the days. Then they would grow mad or sorrowful at the mundanity. Every comfort was at their fingertips, but man needs more than mere existence. Some lasted longer than others, but all went in search of an escape. Everyone broke at some point. Enoch pictured those smiling faces falling into that abyss at the edge of it all. He watched the last rays of light disappear behind mossy green mountains jutting out of the lithic desert.

L. L. Marco
L. L. Marco
1 month ago

The Aftermath
(Defusion arch)
By L. L. Marco

Sunlight glared down onto the small mechanic shop as Divya worked tirelessly beneath it. Her hands ached as she bent another piece of metal into place. Exhaustion hung on her but she didn’t stop. She couldn’t. Not when there were six hungry mouths waiting for whatever measly earnings she’d make. With that in mind the girl wrenched another bolt into place, leaning into it with all her body weight before it finally turned.

“There ya go,” she exhaled, patting the old generator with a bandaged hand. “That’ll get you working good as new.”

“Done?” A man with a ratty beard and dark eyes popped his head out from the shaded back room.

Divya straightened up and stepped back from her work as he approached, sweat beading up on her forehead. She couldn’t be sure if it was nerves or the summer heat. The man slowly hobbled around the table, tapping and shaking his head as he went. Divya held her tongue; she knew he wasn’t actually checking her work. He’d made up his mind before she’d even entered the shop that day, as he had every day.

“Good enough. For a woman.”

Divya forced a smile.

“Thank you sir.”

He waved his hand dismissively.

“Get out of here. No more work today.”

There was no point in goodbyes. She’d see him tomorrow and he’d already shuffle to his cooler room in the back of the store anyways. The girl huffed and shouldered her backpack before stepping out into the blistering heat.

Rubble littered the narrow street but Divya had grown familiar with her daily climb. Dredging through the debris had become second nature; the girl hardly even thought about the bodies crushed beneath it anymore. A gust of heat whipped up and carried sharp shards of sand that sliced at her roughened cheeks. She didn’t even wince anymore.

It was all second nature. The loss, the pain, the sunlight screaming down on anyone who dared to survive the horrors of the passing year. But Divya kept on. She had survived. The dust remaining could not stifle her now.

InkySegno
InkySegno
1 month ago

“Daisy”
By Shea-Leigh Carris

“You said that you feel all emotions, right? Like, joy, anger, stuff like that?”

His neck joints squeaked as he lifted his head, the sand that continuously got stuck in his mechanisms having slowly eroded them.

“I would like to say I can, but the range of which I can express said emotions is not up to my judgement.” His whole body clattered as he sat up straighter. When he finished his answer, the robot turned his focus back to the setting sun. The “city” that wasn’t buried in the sand glowed with oranges and golds.

“Why isn’t it up to you? The world’s a wasteland now. You should feel free.” She lowered the sleeves of her jacket, the air quickly chilling as the moon began to rise.

“Do you feel that emotion?” She hadn’t expected him to ask that.

“I guess I don’t know. In a way, the freedom to do as I please came at a cost. Then again, not much to do now but survive.”

Unsure of what to say and having realized that one of the aspects of his old life he carried was not speaking unless spoken to, she turned her attention to the sky. Stars were beginning to dot the world above them, shimmering brighter now that there was no light pollution.

“What did you do before everything happened?” She asked, turning her head back to him.

“I worked for a couple who owned a theater. I often played piano for the performances. Though I’m not so sure I could now.” He lifted his hand, showing that his ring finger was missing.

“Oh, did you ever sing?” The girl asked rather eagerly, surprising him a bit.

“Sometimes, on my own. My voice is too robotic for a formal performance.”

“You should sing something! It’s been forever since I’ve heard a song!”

If the robot could have smiled, he would have. Chuckling, he nodded. “Alright.”

Lifting his head, he looked to the moon, and sang. His voice was scratchy and metallic, but lovely to lonely ears.

“Daisy,  Daisy, give me your answer, do.
I’m half crazy, all for the love of you…”

Last edited 1 month ago by InkySegno
MasaCur
MasaCur
1 month ago

Life in the Pandemic
By MasaCur

Clay stepped out of his apartment and walked down to his car. It was eerie to be outside now. The noise of traffic, kids playing, people socializing; it was all gone.

He climbed into his car and pulled out of his parking spot, onto the street. He glanced up at the sign for the gas station on the corner, seeing a price so low, he couldn’t remember the last time it sold at that price. Probably when he was still a kid, maybe over ten years ago.

Clay stopped at the traffic light, and glanced at the strip mall beside him. There were only two cars parked outside. Most of the shop fronts were dark. Some had signs stating that they were temporarily closed until further notice. The convenience store on the end was the only place still open, and even there, business was slow.

Clay pulled into the grocery store a few blocks away, the parking lot less than half empty. With all the restaurants closed, Clay needed to find a way to feed himself, having not learned how to cook. He put on his face mask, grabbed a cart, and went inside. Clay stopped to sanitize his hands and the handles of his cart before taking the time to stock up.

The sign above the toilet paper aisle informed him that they were only selling one package per customer. The stock on hand was only one quarter capacity, and Clay felt it was prudent to grab some, just in case there was a rush on it, leaving him none when he actually needed it.

Ramona had promised to teach him to make afritada over video chat, so he went through the recipe list to grab what he needed. As he was finished, he filled the cart with frozen dinners to keep himself fed through the week.

After having paid, Clay sighed as he loaded the groceries into his Kia. The pandemic had changed his world, and he just wanted everything to go back to normal. Or as normal as things would ever be for him.

Lari B. Haven
Lari B. Haven
1 month ago

City of glass
by Larissa (Lari B. Haven)

“Was the city really made of glass?” They would ask my father.

My dad would light his pipe and nod to the people of the tavern. The old man would tell the story again, back to back. No matter how many times the patrons had heard, like a fool.

It goes that one stormy night his ship sank. My father doesn’t know for sure how he survived.
He would always brace himself at that part, as to brush off the lingering feeling in his mind. He just knew that he closed his eyes. And when he opened them, he was not on a beach, but a desert. And in the center of the desert, a city made of glass.

He would always say that the sand he walked on was “alive” and “whispering”. Saying that wind would blow the sand and harden into new structures. Impossible buildings that spiraled into the sky, shining in multitudes of colors, always sporting about a fine layer of dusty sand from the surrounding terrain.

It always struck a chord to me, that story always felt to my father, too painful to remember yet too fantastical not to share. With no catharsis from it. Even if you doubt the ramblings of an old man, delusionally reliving a story that never happened; it was real for him.

He always finished the story, telling how the sand never seemed to leave his skin. How at some point he thought it was saying something that he could barely make in his ears. Until the wind blew, and the sand created a glass copy of him.

That’s when he fainted and woke up at my mother’s door, with no memory of ever being rescued.
For all the other drunks of the pub, his maniacal retelling would make them laugh.

If it’s a lie, I can’t say for sure. But in days of growing storms ahead, I see my dad rubbing his hands against each other. Warming his old knotted fingers, and with the smoke of his pipe, I swear I see him blowing off a fine mist of sand.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lari B. Haven
Amy Trow
Amy Trow
1 month ago

“More than Empathy”
by minergirl778, Aka frogfireFantasy

Daisy awoke in the void once again.

She took a second to steady herself, getting her bearings.

Right. Amuletta.

“Oh man… not again…”

Whenever she took over, Daisy always found herself tossed into a random limbo.

But this was the first time it had been somewhere.

A warm, happy town, with lights in every window. A loud song drew her to the glowing doors of a lively pub. Once inside, her eyes were drawn to the seats at the bar. 4 figures sat talking. When they noticed her at the door, they gestured for her to come in.

And the girl in orange did, walking right through Daisy.

The girl in orange robes joined the folks at the bar. She didn’t have a drink, but she smiled and laughed with them all the same.

Daisy looked on in stunned silence, not sure what just happened.

All of the sudden, a monster crashed through the pub wall. The scene changed in an instant, now showing the town in utter ruins. She tried to go and help people, but nobody responded when she asked if they needed help. They didn’t even seem to see her…

A set of footprints lead out of town. Left with no other option, She followed them. They were flanked by another footprint, along with some fairly giant pawprints. The tracks raced through the woods until they found themselves in a small clearing.

The snow was brown from kicked up mud.

The beast lay smouldering on the ground.

And the girl in the orange robe sat near the cliff, crying into the broken goggles in her hands.

The girl… with a… topaz amulet…

“What. Are you doing here.”

The vision paused all at once as a familiar voice rang out.

“Amuletta? I-is this all yours?”

She didn’t even dignify the question, “Get out.”

“Wh-what?”

“GET OUT.”

“No! Answer me! why does this girl-”

“THIS IS NOT YOUR DEATH TO GRIEVE!”

The whole world shook. Her vision failed.

She was suddenly back in her body, her final question trailing on her lips.

“…look…like…me.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Amy Trow
King_Nix
King_Nix
1 month ago

“A Duel in the Ruins”
By King_Nix

Pain.

Not only from nicking himself on the zweihander as he sharpened it, but Julius was also wracked with it. His heart felt like lead in his chest, pounding like a hammer against his ribs. His wife Danielle watched him with concern, cradling their child in her arms. He wiped down the blade. It should not have come to this.

Failure.

Ever since America was buried in ash, Julius had worked to rebuild. The old world was broken, by his hands. The scattered survivors united under his regime. Those who deserved it were put to death at his command. Now, all that hadn’t been ruined before lay decimated in his defeat. How did it come to this?

Betrayal.

Julius strode out into the field. This place had not been restored; he didn’t want to. The broken roads around him led off to a ruined skyline, where one black spire still loomed over the horizon as a monument to the corruption of the old world. Before him stood his foe. They had met here, or somewhere that might have been here, long ago.

Arthur.

“Why has it come to this?” Julius shouted at his former friend. “Last we met, you’d have loved what I’ve done here! Then you go off to Europe and come back like you’re so much better than me– is that it?”

Grim, Arthur said, “You’re right. Back then, I’d have rejoiced in your…work, here. But I, as Emperor of Rome, cannot ignore the crimes your regime has committed any longer. Submit. I beg you, Julius, come and seek forgiveness for what you have done! How many innocents have been hung, how many families have you broken? We cannot fix that, but you can at least save your own soul!”

Hatred.

Julius Dominguez held tight to his sword, and rushed to meet his enemy. Blow for blow, they fought in sight of Chicago’s ruins, among the ash and dust of a fallen civilisation, until at last Julius fell. Dying, he looked into Arthur’s face, and felt the final blow pierce his chest.
It’s come to this.

GJFuller
GJFuller
1 month ago

The Foolish Man’s House
By Giovanna J. Fuller

Her heart was racing, the muscles in her hand so taut with nervous tension that they felt weak. She could barely hold the spade. The paintbrush in her right hand was shaking, causing particles of dust to wipe into her face.

A man in a broad brimmed hat ran a handbell, garnering the attention of a dozen or so grad students. From his place under the protective shade of the big, white, canvas tent, he called out, “Time to pack it in!”

“We can’t!” She protested. The young woman clutched the brush and shovel tighter. “Please, Dr. Sing, just a few more minutes. I know it’s here! We just need a few more-”

“Iris! It’s time.” He looked at her sadly. “Pack your things. We need to clear out of here by nightfall.”

Frustrated tears welled up in her eyes.

‘No…no…no…it-it has to be here…’

Solid eight hour REM sleep.

A hundred chances to go out with friends.

Over a dozen invitations to coffee.

Weekend getaways with her parents.

Family birthdays.

Her own birthday.

Anniversaries.

Weddings.

Funerals.

It had all been for nothing.

She stared in despondent disbelief. She hardly noticed how the open-air vehicle tossed her body back and forth, her seatbelt the only thing keeping her from flying out into the hot, desert sand face first. Around her, her colleagues were chatting about their plans when they returned home and what they most looked forward to. Sleeping in a real bed. Bathing in buckets of aloe lotion. Air conditioning. Reunions with friends and family.

Though they had spent weeks out in the scorching desert and had turned up nothing of worth, they were all cheery about it. All except Iris. As they talked about spending time with those they had been separated from, all Iris could think of was how she would be going back to that small, single room apartment with nothing.

She didn’t even have someone to show that nothing to.

Last edited 1 month ago by GJFuller
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
1 month ago

Children of Stardust
By i-prefer-the-term-antihero

They thought they’d find something alive out here. It was half-mad; they knew—or maybe all the way. A city or kingdom might be nice. Dust and disappointment sent their greetings.

Even now their ship had been reduced to debris by a single speck of something.

Lance and Pete had survived too. But Pete’s oxygen was low from the start, and Lance had…tried not to panic. Alya remained; a lone traveler in an indifferent universe, floating endlessly in the dark.

It wasn’t so bad. She saw more of this callous, gorgeous universe in her lifetime than most would in ten. It wasn’t such a terrible way to go—suffocated by the stars.

Floating in a vacuum wasn’t something one could stop—untethered souls doomed to fly until oxygen spilled away—yet something took her hand, doing just that.

She shrieked, looking around wildly—

—And wonder overshadowed panic.

What was, moments ago, nothing more than a bland patch of space, now revealed itself a vast and vibrant nebula. The space fashioned in bursting color, with flourishes of kaleidoscopic fire, and dust puffs below like animals playing in grass—enough to cloudgaze in heaven itself. It coalesced into columns, like a promenade leading to an Ancient Greek temple, but lightyears long, and masoned of starlight.

Below her a coalition of dust waited—without any indication, she knew it was alive. The being lifted its “arm” towards her forehead, and wind brushed through her helmet.

“Are you lost?” Asked a gentle voice in her mind.

“I’m a long way from home, that’s for sure.”

“Can we help you get back? Or will you be alright on your own?”

“With about forty minutes to live I’m gonna say neither.”

“You would like to live?”

“Preferably.”

“Then…come. We shall make you like us.”

The being guided her, still holding her hand. This apparent, barren, cosmic wasteland teemed with life; a grand city in the stars, the dust itself forming both the place and its inhabitants.

A nebula: the cradle of stars.

“Far more than stars are born here, traveler. But you shall see soon enough.”

Last edited 1 month ago by i-prefer-the-term-antihero
Twangyflame0
Twangyflame0
1 month ago

Dust to Dust by Dust
By Twangyflame0

The sky was a beautiful dark grey. The black buildings were covered in the morning dust, and the Drethalinn before me pirouetted in greeting. I reciprocated the greeting, though I could not copy the majesty before me. The Drethalinn’s mechanically lithe form towered over me as I followed it onto the bridge. I couldn’t help but feel out of place as the others silently made their way towards the performance.

They would take a few moments to glance at my direction, as their pointed legs glided across the ground. The patterns on their masks transformed into what I had come to know as “curiosity”. Some even reached out to invite me into a conversation, but my guide thankfully saved me from embarrassment. I find it ironic that I was sent here, flat-footed as I am.

As I followed my guide, I curiously looked out over the city. The towers spiraled up, almost dancing with geometric perfection. The different Drethalinn meandered across their squares and bridges, performing many different arts. Some would combine and disassemble into fantastic and macabre shapes. Some, with pointed tips for hands, were busy sculpting or painting. The sound of their rapid and precise movements was as alien as it was mesmerizing.

I am saddened by my colleagues’ absence. So many horror stories had been told about the Drethalinn that it makes my heart ache. I had even seen one Drethalinn die away from a Sanctum. To see the majestic dance fade and fall was something I never want to witness again.

It’s tangentially the reason I went to this “funeral” today. Though I am still quite befuddled as to how machines hold funerals, especially since I had never seen any tombstones.

We came up to a Sanctum, the apparent birthplace and final resting place of Drethalinn. I was led inside by my guide, as I saw a wide arrangement of Drethalinn preparing for something. I heard a creaking sound as an old Drethalinn waved from center stage. As soon as I sat down, my mind was taken away by the beauty of such a horrendous death.

Last edited 1 month ago by Twangyflame0
WolfsbaneX
WolfsbaneX
1 month ago

“Beings of Dust”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

They threw us away. Beings of fire and smoke, just like them. Thrown away because we were “defective”. Something about the conscious not properly downloading. It left us like children in adult bodies. Walking and talking was no problem, but you didn’t have a name. You didn’t know where you were or what was going on. Your face was not my own. Neither was your voice nor even your DNA. So, to save everyone the confusion, the powers that be took us and made us a place apart from the society that created us. A city of dust. A place for wasted flesh and bone to collect.

I remember my first day here. In the middle of the night, I was taken to an apartment. A living area, a bedroom, and a bathroom, completely furnished. I thought it was nice. They had let me choose a given name, but not a family name. I chose Dalal. It had a nice ring to it. Then, they said I had thirty days to pay my first month’s rent or get thrown out. So, I had to find a job while not even knowing what a job was. I had no idea what credits were. Everything outside of the apartment scared me. I mean, I had no idea what anything was. I knew nothing. And because I knew nothing, they threw me into the street once the grace period was over.

You would be surprised how many of us live on the streets. How we scramble for food, water and shelter. How many of us return to the primordial fire from which we were born. For what? We had a few secret teachers so we could learn to read and write. But if the police hear you, believe me, you would be painting the back alleys red next. The teachers always said the police were to protect society. Are…are we that dangerous? I don’t understand. I don’t understand at all.

So in the city of dust we would remain indefinitely. Subjugated. Beings of fire and smoke relegated to be beings of dust.

Last edited 1 month ago by WolfsbaneX
MysteryElement
MysteryElement
1 month ago

Relentless Pursuit
By MysteryElement

It had come. Koffa stared as it descended upon them. Citizens held their dear ones close, screaming and running as fast as they could from the great storm. The winds relentlessly ripped buildings apart, scattering debris and dust as it threatened to fell the entire city in its wake.

They had known it would come. It always had before, yet they still had built their homes in the vain hope it wouldn’t. Now their homes were torn asunder by the powerful disaster, and again it had all been for naught.

Screams filled the air, a cacophony of terror and fear, as people were torn from the earth and launched into the welcoming storm. Was there no safety? No matter where they traveled the storm seemed to follow, like a beast on the hunt. Would his people ever be free of this cursed wind?

Even as his palace fell around him Koffa watched the storm, feet rooted to the ground. Why run? It would only find them again in the future. Maybe if he willingly gave himself to the storm it would somehow end the cycle. It was a foolish hope, a lie disguising his despair and loss of will to fight as he opened his arms to meet the storm.

As the winds drew closer, wrapping around him violently, he stubbornly refused to avert his gaze from the coming demise. There, he saw it. His eyes widened in terror, tears falling as he stared into the face of a great monster within the chaos. It was larger than life, too big to be real.

Koffa laughed desperately, tears still streaming down his face as he tried to comprehend the god-like being before him. One angry eye gazed down on the ravished city and lighted upon him. Koffa’s laugh became a shrill scream as he read the cursed name scrawled across the creature’s forehead.

Hoover.

Last edited 1 month ago by MysteryElement
Astrid Jones
1 month ago

A Visitor’s Guide to Undur-da-Kouch
by Astrid Jones

Oh, hello there. You’re looking a bit lost. You must be new here. Mind if I show you around?

Welcome to Undur-da-Kouch; a place where dust bunnies like us can work, play, and relax without fear. Over there you can get stale crumbs and other food staples. Over here is our Museum of Forgotten Knick-knacks. Tuesdays are discount day, so it’s the perfect day to take the whole family.

Do you have anywhere to stay? No? I’m sure you’ll find a snug corner of our lovely city to occupy soon enough. Until then, however, there’s always room at the Missing Sock Inn. It’s just two fluffs past the Ribbon Tangle and then a right at Kouch Leg Tower Three. You can’t miss it.

If you need a job, the employment office is in the Wrapping Paper complex. Make sure you have your resume ready. They can get very cranky if they have to help you make one. However, if you’d like to skip that mess, I heard they’re taking walk-ins at the Fuzzy Collecting Factory. It’s not a cushy office job, but it pays well enough and management doesn’t ask too many questions.

Before I forget, there’s something you ought to know. See that line of light? Looks inviting, doesn’t it? Wrong. Never go out there. There are dangerous creatures outside our fair city’s borders. They can eat a thousand dust bunnies and still be hungry. Sometimes, the monsters prowl the edges of Undur-da-Kouch and suck up entire neighborhoods. If you’re looking for somewhere to settle down, I’d recommend a place closer to the downtown district. Sure, there’s a little more crime and the cost of living is higher, but at least you won’t have to worry about getting gobbled up every time the creatures get peckish.

Ah, here we are. This is the place you were looking for, right? Wonderful! I’m glad I could help. I hope you like it here in Undur-da-Kouch. See you around!

Last edited 1 month ago by Astrid Jones
KipOfTheMany
KipOfTheMany
1 month ago

Nostalgia
By KipOfTheMany

I take a deep breath, and open the door.

I see a willow tree inside. I remember this. It wasn’t a particularly impressive tree. Kinda short, and squat. The branches twisted in on themselves in the middle, and the outer ones exploded out in a spray of twisted vines. It was a wild sort of thing. My friend and I barely fit in the canopy together, but we’d climb up there and tell stories. I don’t remember the stories, but I do remember the tree. It felt special. It was our place.

I close the door.

“I don’t want to see anything else.”

“Don’t you?”

Another door opens.

I see a clubhouse. It was ramshackle, and tiny. It was really more of a jumble of wood and cardboard than anything else. Something we had thrown together from scraps we’d found in my friend’s garage. It was a pretend place made real. A place for our imaginations to run wild. We loved it for that. We made something together.

I close the door.

“Stop it.”

“Why should I? We love this stuff! It’s magical!”

“It’s empty.”

“Empty? Now that’s a bit—”

“There’s no one there anymore! Don’t you get that?! We’re just hiding in here! And we’re not even doing that well! I can see the cracks in this facade. I was friends with her because we were neighbors, and those places weren’t magical at all. It was just a tree. It was just a pile of cardboard! Nothing more than that.”

“Nothing more than that? I beg to differ.”

A door opens.

Memories flicker by in rapid succession this time: I’m putting up a set for a play. I’m playing DnD with my friends. I’m sculpting in the studio. I’m laying on the floor of my dorm room typing away at a google doc.

The door closes.

“Just because something isn’t there anymore, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Just because it’s context has been stripped away, doesn’t mean you don’t still love it.”

“I… I’ll try to remember that.”

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
1 month ago

The Corpse Of A City (Nyssa’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis

She ran. Ran from the collapsed mess of the teacher’s accommodation, ran from the shattered wreck of the university, ran from crumbled stone and splintered wood and scattered belongings and spilled blood and broken bodies, ran until her body could run no more.

Nyssa had ignored everything in her path, all to keep herself moving. Her head stayed rigidly forward, barely allowing herself to look at the devastation surrounding her.

Sometimes she would step on something sharp, but the pain felt strangely numb and dull. This did not stop her.

Sometimes she would step on unstable ground or a slick surface, stumbling or even falling to the ground. But no matter how often she fell, she pushed herself up, forcing her agonised legs to move once more.

Occasionally she would step on something soft and rotting. Even the small weight of her foot would be enough to cave it in beneath her, resulting in a noise and smell that would send a revolted shudder through her whole body. She wouldn’t let herself look down, wouldn’t let another terrible image burn itself into her screaming brain, so she kept moving.

It was the hill at the edge of the city that stopped her, in the end. She had ignored all else, but when the ground itself rose against her momentum, even she couldn’t continue.

Nyssa’s knees collapsed onto hard cobbles, swiftly followed by the rest of her. She breathed in ragged gasps, her body shaking and her eyes endlessly filled with blinding tears.

Time passed. How much, she couldn’t tell. Eventually though, straining with effort, she rolled onto her back, sat up, and stood, looking back down the hill to the ruins below.

What she saw…almost reminded her of gruel. She had expected to recognise buildings, parks, streets, even if broken and ruined. But all she could see was a half-flooded mess of grey and white stone, colours all washed away and buried by the storm and the dust.

There was nothing here for her anymore. Nothing here for anyone, anymore.

Nyssa turned, and walked away. She never looked back again.

RVMPLSTLSKN
RVMPLSTLSKN
1 month ago

The City’s Dust
By RVMPLSTLSKN

Padas had never before made a broom. He knew the device by sight, of course, but had never been wealthy enough to warrant needing one.

Vienas had never held a broom. The temple priests had swept, of course, but she was groomed for other duties from birth.

Ziniu’s temple needed a broom. The air was hazy to see, stale to taste, and thick to smell. Truth, a broom wasn’t all it needed, but Vienas couldn’t see more and Padas was too occupied in gathering their food. So when Vienas asked him, he found a way to do both.

He killed a guinea.

He was carrying his prize through the empty city when he heard the braying.

He knew there were dogs—long since gone feral—as he had seen their leavings. He had told himself it was fine, if he was careful. Now, he had a guinea on his back and only a fishing-spear to defend himself. He hurried back to the temple, through those few city blocks he had hunted, where the houses turned to dust and only he and the guineas moved. And the dogs.

He was worried then, seeing fresh tracks in the street’s dust, that the dogs had gotten into the temple. He didn’t use the grand doors, but the priesthood’s private exit.

Something growled as he approached the door and he stopped. The dog was barely above his knee, but such creatures never travel alone. As he readied himself to go in, the screaming started.

It didn’t sound quite human, but Padas went in swinging anyway. The dog attacked him, but screamed as his fishing-spear bit back. Other dogs came and he began to think of the spear more as a club with two ends.

More screams echoed through the temple library. This time, undeniably canine screams.

Padas never felt quite right after that day. Something about his perception of the city had changed.

In the library, he found Vienas blindly swinging Karas’s sword. The pack bowled him over as they sought escape.

“Padas, we’re safe?”

“Yes.”

She smiled, “Do you know how to make a mop?”

Last edited 1 month ago by RVMPLSTLSKN
Glaceon373
Glaceon373
1 month ago

In the City
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

In the city, there was stability. There was structure, there was order, there was peace.

In the city, there was money. There were rich and poor, there were markets, there were pickpockets and thieves.

In the city, there was knowledge. A massive library stood next to the lord’s castle, and it was free to the public. There were books and scrolls and scholars.

In the city lived a lord. He was a kind ruler; publicly, at least. In his private matters he was brutish and disrespectful. He wanted power and control over all else.

In the city lived a wizard. He lived in a tower near the library and sent his servants to get him books frequently. Few people ever saw his face.

In the city lived a desperate lord. He wrote the wizard letters daily, begging him to do something amazing and impressive for the city to glorify the lord’s reign.

In the city lived an angry wizard. He became fed up with the lord’s desire for glory.

In the city’s library was a dark spellbook.

In the city, a spell was cast.

First came the wind. It swept through the streets like a galloping horse. It was colder than snow and left a smell on the air when it passed.

Next came the stains in the air, left by the wind. Almost smokelike, they drifted slowly between buildings and trees, at first seemingly harmless.

It seeped into the wood. Beams cracked, sawdust exploding out in small puffs, as buildings began to collapse throughout the city.

It seeped into the stone. The cobbled streets became the texture of breadcrumbs, squishing underneath the feet of panicked civilians running from their homes.

And soon it seeped into the people.

Terrifying screams rang through the streets as people began to disintegrate. Bodies turned to dust within seconds. No one was spared.

Not even the lord or the wizard.

In the city there was dust. Only dust. Dust buildings, dust streets, dust ghosts of long-dead citizens.

In the city, the City of Dust.

Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
1 month ago

Your City Gave me Asthma
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)

It was all gray. Each day took me out into the world, braving black-clad businessmen and sophisticated middle class types. Every corner I turned, the dour cityscapes of cheap stone and flat concrete flooded my vision, breaking only for the stylish mirror-finished windows that densely gridded each building. Cars and trucks of cold steel clogged the streets and let out puffs of black smoke. I was suffocating.

That day was gray. I quickly got dressed, pulling on my new gray hoodie. Stepping outside, I coughed. I swear, this city gave me asthma. Sipping on my inhaler a few times, I pushed forward into the semi-barren streets. The smell of dust lingered in the air, meaning it had probably already rained.

After a few blocks, I finally made it to the Marengo Grind coffee shop, a place I frequented on my off days.

“Hiya, sweetie.” Franzisca called out from the counter. “Ready for your morning blend?”

“Y-yeah. Thanks Zissy.” I smiled, half-heartedly, and took a booth by the window, peering out over the gray landscape.

A few minutes later, she came by my table, set down my coffee and sat across from me.

“What’s wrong, sugar? You don’t look yourself today.” Her voice was smooth and sincere. I felt like breaking down then and there, but I took a deep breath and steadied myself.

After a few moments, I finally spoke up. “I-I think this city is getting to me.”

She smiled at me, softly. “That’s perfectly alright, hun. No one can keep it up forever. Maybe you need to take some time off?”

“I-I don’t think time off will help.” I snapped back. “When I take a step away from the edge, all I feel is the anticipation to fall forward, down off the cliff and back to where I was. I-I just can’t anymore. I-”

I sighed. “S-sorry, Zissy. I-I didn’t mean to yell.” I looked down at my coffee and took another sip.

She took my hand and rubbed it gently. “It’s ok, hun. You’ll get through this.”

I smiled back at her, unsure how to say thanks.

ClockworkPigeonz
ClockworkPigeonz
1 month ago

“Ashes and Dust”
By: ClockworkPigeonz

“Ashes to Ashes.”

A thousand lifetimes filtered through Reya’s fingers. A thousand memories splayed themselves out- specters revealed first in the lapping waves at her feet. Her own reflection fragmented a thousand times and then a million more. Skin gleaming the palest porcelain and the deepest ebony black. Hair short and curled- then long and straight. Eyes of gold, viridian green, black, brown, and blue. Male and Female. Young, old, and in-between.

“Dust to Dust.” A million voices sighed, echoing back from her- from their chests.

The In-Between.

The space between worlds…not the planes of life and death. But realms and realities of their own separated by the barest of skins. An unending maze of all the things that had been, and were, and would be. A place where many had been lost to their own desires and swallowed by the ravenous arms of the Void.

There were cracks strewn throughout it now- the whole of Reality mortally wounded.

They- the Gatekeepers had tried so many times to seal them. Tried over the course of billions of lifetimes and still it always ended the same.

Dedomilla was in shambles as it had been for millennia- their once, great city left to be swallowed by the Tearmann Wildlands. Covered in ivy and moss. Carved away by ice and snow. Buried by the merciless crawl of time.

Still, their mirage-like forms strolled down cobbled streets and talked in the shade of trees long since withered away.

To an outsider it would seem as if they didn’t notice the violet wounds carved in the dull, yellow sky. Didn’t feel the ground quaking beneath their ethereal feet. Couldn’t hear the constant barrage of thunder and the screaming wind as reality dissolved around them.

They knew…they were simply saying their goodbyes.

At least for now…

This had happened before and it would happen again…and again…and again. All of the good and all of the bad repeating into infinity.

Somewhere in the city’s heart- in the remnants of a forge, ten figures stood watch as Dedomilla dissolved… until they too faded into the abyss.

Insania404
Insania404
1 month ago

The Deprived City (Oneiron Universe)
By: Insania404

The director looked out his office window and the previous night flashed before his eyes like a waking nightmare. It was a short battle without much bloodshed, but it confirmed what he had feared all this time.

“They think we are the enemy.”

“Murdering a thousand Deprived doesn’t really clear our names either,” Alfred said.

The director chuckled. “It’s only been one night and you’re already exaggerating! There were exactly twenty Deprived. We never fired a shot.”

“What of the leaders?” Alfred asked. “I crushed the first one with my bare hands! I’ll never forget that monster. The five lights in place of its head were enough to enhance my nightmares.”

The director turned from the window with visible concern. “I noticed you were still fighting even after all the Deprived had left or otherwise ended their lives. There was a single leader having a heated discussion with himself and the monster with the five lights didn’t exist. So, I ask you. Which one of us is infected?”

“What are you suggesting? Do you think I’m seeing things? What if you aren’t seeing enough?”

The director sighed. “Calm down, Alfred. I am not going to cast you out. After all, how long can you hold off the Madness in an abandoned city where insanity falls like dust? Our little argument proves that even our memories are ashes.”

“This year has been terrible, hasn’t it? We didn’t even celebrate the holidays.”

“What is there to celebrate, Alfred? We are slowly losing our minds, regardless of how long we survive.”

Alfred revealed the guitar case he had concealed behind his back and placed it on the director’s desk. “Well, for what it’s worth. I got you a present. Found it in last week’s supply raids and I know how much you loved to play. Merry belated Christmas, Jamie.”

“I accuse you of being Deprived, and you give me a guitar. I don’t know why we are still friends after all this time.”

Jamie picked up the instrument and played a series of broken chords – A eulogy for his Deprived City.

Lunabear
Lunabear
1 month ago

A Return to Earth
by Lunabear

Kyla braked the car, the tires screeching.

“How can we be LOST?? Aren’t you looking at the map??” Kyla spat at Kia.

“I told you to take a LEFT at that fork. Not MY fault you chose not to listen.” Kia rolled her eyes.

“You said the wrong name. Town is called DUSK. Don’t know how you can misread a ‘K’ as a ‘T’. It was in all caps and big as shit.” Malcolm’s monotonous voice came from the back seat as he scrolled through his phone.

“Eat me,” Kia shot back.

Kyla squeezed the bridge of her nose. “Not now, guys.”

“Makes more sense to keep going.”

“Yeah. We can fuel up there, rest, then head out in the morning.”

The low gas tank agreed with them.

“Fine.” Kyla continued on.

Soon, huge stone gates bordered by wooden planks came into view. Before Kyla could slow the car, the gates opened to a town straight out of the wild west.

Horse-drawn carriages. Boxy establishments faced each other. Even a saloon with swinging doors.

The ladies gasped while Malcolm quirked an eyebrow.

Once the front of the car crossed into the town, it sputtered and died. Kyla tried to revive it, but it stalled each time.

Malcolm growled at his dead phone.

When checking, Kyla’s and Kia’s phones had suffered the same fate.

“Great. Looks like we’re stuck here.” Malcolm shielded his eyes against the harsh sunlight as they all stepped out.

Amid grumbles, they unpacked the car.

As they trundled through the dust-strewn town, men tipped their hats and women waved at them with unnerving familiarity. Ice tumbled down Kyla’s back.

Overhead, several crows circled too low for Kia’s liking. “Is anybody else creeped out?”

“Definitely,” Malcolm admitted as Kyla nodded.

A large, mustached man materialized before them.

The trio took a collective, reflexive step back.

“Howdy! Welcome to Dust!” He touched two fingers against his hat brim. “I’m Sheriff Pike. What can I do for y’all?”

Kyla and Kia shared an uneasy look.

Malcolm couldn’t help but notice the little flecks that danced off of the sheriff’s skin.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lunabear
Revisis
Revisis
1 month ago

At the Heart of it
by Exce, checked by Luna and Wvlf

The sight of the city gate made Lyxal’s heart drop. With its immense size she had always thought it everlasting, but now it stood shattered.

But the woman could not dwell on this, pushing forward into the city which lay quiet and dark.
It had been weeks since she had learned of Kojas’ fall, and the news of the Drakons’ exodus. 

Lyxal’s mind still reeled at the possibility  of the civil war exacerbating a problem they had hoped resolved centuries ago.

She walked streets covered in debris, cutting her way through wood and masonry, ever deeper.
The scars of battle were all around her, and the knowledge that they would never be healed pained.

Snow had mixed with ash and dust, forcing her to burn away thick slush that may hide pitfalls. In front of her, it steadily turned into dull red as she finally reached the central plaza.
There, Lyxal stood for a moment, hoping that it meant no-one had beat her to it.

The black stone building stood seemingly unharmed.

It was only a few  storeys tall, and for the people of Kojas, it would have been a former-general’s residence turned administrative office.

Using a glowing vine, she leapt through one of the windows, finding the interior charred and black. 

Her hope that the building was unscathed waned, but she held onto it as she rushed down the hallways and an exposed  passage which used to be hidden beneath the floor.

Her heart beating in her throat, she turned the final corner, and found herself facing an intact door for the first time since her arrival.
It was worked from smooth red glass. Behind it, the corridor was filled with motionless black figures.

And there, barely visible behind a second glass door, lay the armor of the false Prophet.

Undisturbed. 

For a moment, she allowed herself to rest, to celebrate. Then she pushed it off.

She would have to make this permanent.

Golden light erupted from her as she climbed the stairs, and the building shook as her magic began to tear into it, burying the prison forever.

Last edited 1 month ago by Revisis