Writing Group: Your Heart in My Hands (PRIVATE)

Hello, Doctors and Sorcerers.

Have you ever felt… unguarded? Vulnerable? It’s a scary feeling, isn’t it? But maybe that depends on who you’ve put your trust into. It’s so hard to be sure. I hope you can let your guard down just one more time, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

Your Heart in My Hands

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!

Even at a first glance, this prompt gets so many conflicting ideas going in the mind, doesn’t it? There’s so much potential here for some romance, or a bit of realism… or perhaps something more sinister.

If we take it figuratively, it plays into the idea of vulnerability and trust, or even a lack thereof. You could write about two lovers trying to rekindle the spark they lost so long ago, opening themselves up to one another. It could be someone taking the initiative to help a friend with a problem they’ve been having for a long time, and addressing the main issue rather than looking for bandaid solutions. Perhaps it’s not a heart at all, but a child, cradled in the loving arms of their father as he vows to protect them from the cruel world. 

Of course, there’s always the more literal route we can explore as well. An assassin fulfilling a contract, a druid igniting the heart of an Elemental, an evil queen after the heart of her niece over jealousy. You could write about that time in middle school when your friend told your crush you liked them. Or you could write about how a heart surgeon is one of the few people you never want to hear say “oops”. Perhaps you’ve chosen a mechanic, who spends their spare time trying to bring life to a robot. Maybe even go from a robot’s perspective, letting its guard down and letting this new human into their secluded, automated world. Or you could even simply go the route of a parent sewing a felt heart into their child’s new teddy bear, a symbol that their love will always be there.

As always, the possibilities are endless! And knowing all of you, anything you create from this will be spectacular. 

So go forth and spill your heart on the page! We’ll handle it with care, we promise.

—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 Friday.
    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
61 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
L. L. Marco
L. L. Marco
16 days ago

Sins of the Heart and Flesh
By L. L. Marco

The man stumbled out of yet another bar. Liquor permeated his clothes and his breath reeked of alcohol and bar food. He could hardly stand straight. That did little to dissuade him, however. The night was young and his gaze had locked upon a woman hovering, alone, in the mouth of a nearby alley. Black hair cascaded down her slender back, accented by a gorgeous red wedding dress that hugged her waist and flowered out beneath. She seemed so out of place on the busy street. A flower in a desert. He had to have her. He couldn’t pull his gaze away… he didn’t want to.

Ring!

His phone screamed out and sliced through his thoughts. His lip curled with disgust.

“Whadda ya want, skank?”

“W-Where are you–”

“Don’t wait up.”

“Wait, please—!”

Click. The phone slid into his pocket for the last time; his wedding band snagging for just a moment. The woman waited. Waited just for him. He approached and she turned, fading deeper into the darkness. Hungry, he followed. How could he not? His fingers twitched in anticipation of how she might feel beneath them.

Lust caressed at his drunken mind, carrying him to the back of the alley. The faint scent of blossoms followed behind her and the sway of her hips… God, he was salivating. He couldn’t wait a moment longer. Without warning, he grabbed and spun her around.

A smile bloomed across her face. For just a moment clarity graced his drunken mind and fear replaced his carnal desire. Her skin felt unnaturally cool to the touch. Glistening canines sparkled from behind her lips. Her eyes gleamed bloody red and wild.

Claws constricted his throat before he could scream. She watched with disgust as his filthy body writhed under her grasp. The way he’d spoken to that woman, the putrid smell on his skin, the lust that had consumed him… he was disgusting. A stain on this world. Blood burst from around her nails as she squeezed his neck, twisting his warm living flesh with her icy dead skin.

“You’ll harm her no more.”

Last edited 15 days ago by L. L. Marco
MasaCur
MasaCur
16 days ago

Music From the Heart
By MasaCur

Rikuto led Akane into the storage room of his shop, making sure that she didn’t run into anything while she kept her eyes closed.

“When can I see this…whatever it is that you have?” Akane asked, trying to stifle her giggles.

“We’re almost there,” Rikuto replied. He led her to the back shelf.

“Okay, can I look now?”

“Not yet.” Rikuto pulled a violin case off the shelf. “Okay, you can open your eyes.”

Akane’s eyes opened and met Rikuto’s before she looked in his hands. She smirked. “Nice. Is there a violin in it?”

Rikuto nodded and reached over to undo the clasps. He opened it up for her.

Akane’s eyes widened. “Is…is that a Stradivarius?”

“Correct. It’s an early one. Older. Not quite as valuable.”

“How much?” Akane blushed. “If it’s okay to ask.”

“About five hundred thousand British pounds.”

“May I?

Rikuto nodded.

Akane gingerly picked the violin up. “Strings will need to be replaced. Two of the pegs as well. The finish is fairly worn on it.” Her fingers traced up the bridge. “The big flaw is the crack in the spiral. I don’t know if it will affect the sound, though.” She looked Rikuto in the eyes. “I can let my guy work on it. He can fill in the crack here, make sure it doesn’t widen. Refurbished, you might be able to double your money.” A smile grew on her face. “Loan it to me for my Seoul concert, we can take a ton of pictures. You’ll definitely get a million for it.”

“Did you want it?” Rikuto asked

Akane laughed nervously. “You’re joking. I can’t afford a violin that expensive.”

“I’m not selling it. It’s a gift.”

Akane sighed. “I can’t accept a gift like this from you.”

“Consider it an early wedding gift.”

“A wedding gift?” Akane asked, flabbergasted. “Rikuto, we’re not even engaged yet.”

Rikuto reached into his pocket and pulled out the small jewelry box, then opened it.

Akane’s eyes lit up for the second time that night when she saw the ring.

“Akane, will you marry me?”

WolfsbaneX
WolfsbaneX
16 days ago

“The Queen of Hearts”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane

In the witching hours, she comes to the cemetery. The grave dirt brushes her toes as the morning dew clings to the hem of her dress. Her shoulder throbs as the heavy shovel digs into it. When she comes to a place among the graves where the earth is soft, she stoops down and smells the earth. Then she finds the freshest body she can. Digs it up. Pries the lid off the pine box. Unsheathes her knife and gets to work. Her harvest is one of flesh and spirit, sinew and blood. Her reward for her efforts is a heart.

She returns home with her trophy and begins her dread ritual. Places the heart upon a pedestal. The forbidden words choke the candles of the room. Shadows reach for the heart. Fight each other for who shall claim it. One shadow crawls inside. Its heartbeat begins anew. She puts it in a jar and upon a shelf. Then she waits.

She waits for the sound of clumsy steps. Of ragged breathing. Of a gentle knock at her door. She smiles and embraces the heartless corpse. She is the Mother of the Undead, who calls them up and directs their movements. She is death’s loathed enemy. But she prefers the name “Queen of Hearts”.

She has many hearts. Hearts of men, hearts of women, even the hearts of children. Large people, small people, skinny people, round people. To her, just about any heart is good for the taking. Each night their withered husks dance to the tune of her vile spell. Their movements jerk like the death spasms of a headless chicken. Their limbs flail about, backwards and twisted.

And the Queen of Hearts laughs. So many friends to dance with now. And with how things were progressing, she is soon to have more. Many, many more.

jesse fisher
jesse fisher
17 days ago

Hearts Don’t Break Even
by Jesse Fisher

The rambling of the bar would have faded from his ears had it not picked up traffic this night. Half obscured by an unnatural shadow with a glowing eye on his shown side watching the patrons. Seemed to be another couple/blind date event, not surprising given his own appearance at the moment. In another part of the bar, he could see and feel his love as they enjoy the night. Her voice would have lulled him to fully ignoring the bar for the night.

However from his normal spot he saw his wait staff having a night out, he did not know of the draconequues’s tradition of eating hearts with the one you love.

Aside from all the other ways he had seen from the pair, this just shows how perfect they are for each other. But then he noticed a bubble placed around a table. The reason for this ran through his mind even as he was half distracted by the lovely dragoness snuggling up to his other side.

A distinct tone came from the bubble.

“I gave you my heart and then you turned around.” A melancholy tone clear as the tears from behind the tangled mess of hair. “So different now from what it seemed, *choke* now life has killed the dream I dreamed…”

That more or less confirmed what he thought, a songstress. He could not fully place what she was aside from their ability and the reason for the bubble. He was half wanting to fully follow this songstress from when she sat down to when she entered. However being in the state that he was, it might cause issues for the bar as a whole. So all he can do is let his heart have his delight as the mind wonders how he can fix this.

Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
17 days ago

In The Heart of Ice
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)

It was a chilly winter afternoon, and despite my best protests, my best friend, Lucas, had convinced me to brave the cold into the hilly forest at the edge of town. We hiked through nearly empty, snow-covered streets until we reached the border of the Shady Woods.

Before us, the twisting oaks and tumbled rocks of the wood lay about, and with the slippery ice, every step we took was carefully measured.

After nearly falling for the fourth time, I stopped and pulled on Lucas’s hand. “Look, can’t we wait til spring for this? We’re going to get hurt.”

“Trust me, Ana, It’ll be worth it. We’re going to be famous!”

I smirked. “Yeah, I can see the headlines now. Two College Students Found Dead in Shady Woods. Investigation says they died of dumbassery.”

Lucas laughed and reached out towards me. “Come on, I’ll keep you safe. I know you’ll love it. Just trust me.”

I reluctantly took his hand, the sparkle in his eye that made me fall in love with him wooing me all over again.

“Ok fine, but I won’t forgive you if this turns out to be nothing.”

He nodded and carefully helped me around the stones and roots on our path. As we passed a particularly loose pile of stones, we see it, our destination. Many of the larger stones had been dislodged by the weather, revealing the entrance to a barrow.

Barrows exist all over the country, mainly from the early Celtic peoples who lived here in the neolithic. However, none had yet been discovered in this county. Lucas was right, we would be famous.

I gave him a quick squeeze and an excited squeal and headed down to examine the barrow.

“Haha I knew you’d appreciate it.”

“How did you even find this?” I asked, brimming with excitement.

“You’d be surprised at the things you find looking for good firewood.”

I laughed and climbed into the entrance. I grab my phone and turn on the flashlight. As I look up back into the barrow, I see a skull looking back.

It was moving.

Green
Green
17 days ago

Stand and deliver, your wallet or your liver!
By green
“it wasn’t me! it wasn’t me” cried poor Mulbrick, his enormous Captor throwing him onto the floor of the Scrubby creek inn.
“Quiet you damn pest” boomed out Mister Thomas, the local lawman.
scrambling to his feet Mulbrick pleaded again “I didn’t do it sir! Please you got to!”
“I don’t gotta do nothing! Besides we’re only tryin to figure out whats goin on. so please quiet!” bellowed Thomas’ reply.
“We have five missing and a woman found torn to shreds near Karawatha forest. Know anything about that?”
The entirety of the Inn seemed to lean itself on Mulbrick’s answer. Each eye set on him as the vagabond said “I don’t know anything about that Sir.”

Earth shattering uproar exploded from all around. one man, eyes red with tears, launched himself knife in hand.”You lying Bastard! You Killed her didn’t you? Admit you Prick!” he screamed. Mulbrick’s life only saved by Thomas and his captor.

“Enough! Enough! Mulbrick your a highwayman round these parts. hell I’ve caught you red handed up near Karawatha myself” chuckled Thomas. “If something went wrong when you were robbin the lady I can chalk that up to an accident. but the other five thats somethin else”

Poor Mulbrick couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “No I haven’t been highwaying in months” Mulbrick told him. ” I swear it Thomas I haven’t robbed anyone in months. not since that devil arrived.”

the room erupted once more this time the hiss of whispering filling it. “you mean Governor Derricks?” asked the man with the knife. “Aye, I pulled him up near the woods. thought he’d be a big score, pulled out my knife and gave him my best threatening line.”
A chorus broke out of “Stand and deliver, your wallet or your liver!.”

“Only it didn’t work on him, which is fine but it meant I had to get rougher” Mulbrick gulped. “I pressed my knife to his chest and told him I’d take his heart. the madman told me to take it.

he didn’t need it anyway”

Edward Powell
Edward Powell
17 days ago

A shattering Night
By Edward P
“Take it back”, Sandra asked, almost as if it was a command.
At her words a crack formed on the porcelain in her hands. Sandra wished she had known this was coming. She would have quit indulging in his company. The past few weeks with Vijo had been wonderful, but this was a dangerous path.

“You know that’s not how this works,” Vijo replied clenching his fist, “If I could choose to not love an infernal I would, but here we are.”
“If anyone learns my name it won’t be me holding it,” Sandra said “You’ll be a slave to whatever greedy warlock digs deep enough”
“Then let me have your name, so I can protect us both.”
Sandra couldn’t keep her tail from twitching.
“I’m sorry, that’s not an easy subject, but we can protect each other.” Vijo backsteps.
Under her silent gaze he begins pacing and tugging at his cuffs.
“Well?”

“I cannot help who I am, give me a heart and I will drink its pain.” The heart she still held now had a jagged break through the center with shallow cracks webbing along its surface. The break began weeping crimson slowly, “The only way I can protect you is by stopping you here. Think of it as my gift for the fun you’ve shown me this past while.”
With a shrill snap, the seam spread across the whole heart.
Vijo’s slowly took back his heart, now completely in two pieces, and retreated from the balcony. At least it was a clean break, Sandra has saved him a long life of misery and loneliness.
Sandra walked back to her chamber and took a box from a self. With shaking hands she opened the box. Inside it was a pool of red and shards of blue and purple. It would take centuries for her to fix from this much heartbreak.

Last edited 17 days ago by Edward Powell
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
17 days ago

The Empty Cavity (Victor’s Story) (tw: disembodied heart and suicidal thoughts)
By i-prefer-the-term-antihero

“I think…you could be beautiful.” I trailed my fingers along his waxy arm, the stitches mirroring mine. “Maybe? Could you do that for me?” I whispered into his ear. “Could you be something…beautiful? I’ve tried so many times and…” I exhaled.

I lifted my head, casting my gaze into his open chest cavity like throwing coins into a well. Then to the heart on my table; limp, like some small extraterrestrial torn apart for research. No mysteries left untold.

Isn’t the loveliest mystery of all the thought that it could beat again?

“I need…” I closed my eyes, exhaling the words, “I need you to be beautiful.”

I asked the heart to dance, the feeling against my skin—(I’d forgone gloves. I didn’t want to dilute this. This part. The heart.)—like hot chocolate on the coldest day, comfort spilling from my fingertips to my insides.

Was this how God felt, forming Adam of dust?

I cradled it like a frog I’d caught in a pond; slimy and gross, yes, but also small and precious, and altogether hard to hold onto.

An alternate scene played before my eyes: one of ripping my heart out and laying it to rest there; replace his cold, still one for my immaculate, unkillable one. Such a beautiful end to my story: “And Death died at his own hands, but his heart lived on in his creation.”

That’s all I really wanted.

So lovely. The thought of death. The thought of life. And loveliest of all, the thought of the two entwined.

At least I’d be doing something good.

But I’d spent the last several months proving that impossible. I’d have to settle for life without death. At least without mine.

I leaned down, singing a measure to a lullaby—one my mother used to sing—giving the heart to the cavity like giving the ocean back a fish.

“I need you to be beautiful,” I whispered, connecting the veins telekinetically, a hunger to my words, sleepless horror gazing upon dormant darling. “I need you to make Death beautiful. Or else…I’m nothing but a monster.”

Revisis
Revisis
17 days ago

“Cardiac Assembly”
by Exce [Checked by Wvlf and Lunar]

The gate closed shut with a heavy thump, and he heard the heavy locks engage.
Despite the heat produced by the machinery and the ovens, he had ordered every window closed and all latches sealed.

Johanson was the only person in the enormous hangar, just as he had ordered.
He had divested himself of the usual white overcoat, and instead wore heavy leather gloves that reached all the way up to his elbows.

But this was the only protection he had allowed himself. If this went wrong – well, he’d rather go fast.

Pushing the heavy cargo trolley forwards, he came closer and closer to the massive shape that sat crouched at the other end of the hangar. With the external power disconnected, the artificial beast sat as if dead, the light in its eyes gone and the body not more than an extravagant statue.

“Not for long now.”

On the trolley sat what seemed to be an enormous clear crystal, perfectly cut to shape, faint light shining forth even as Johanson entered the machine’s shadow.

They had run the routines, planned for the eventualities and tested for emergencies. And yet, nothing could replace the final assembly.

The master mechanic walked around the trolley, slowly lifting the crystal, which, despite its size, was amazingly light.

If they had missed a single weak connection, had misjudged the output of this Soulcrystal, or if the socket did not precisely match the heart..

Then he would die.

Feeling an almost electric current all the way through the gauntlets, Johanson placed the pièce de résistance of his latest creation into its chest.

It clicked once, twice and thrice.

Slowly, as if in slow motion, the engineer lowered his arms and crept backwards, watching as light cascaded outwards from the crystal which was now pulsing in a slow rhythm.

With a series of soft clanks, the joints unlocked and light returned to the winged reptilian’s eyes as it slowly rose from the crouch.

Johanson exhaled in a hiss as the mighty warmachine bowed its head, beholding its creator who had given it the spark of life.

Cansas Wanderlust
Cansas Wanderlust
18 days ago

Helpless Idiot
By Cansas Wanderlust

Enkeli started towards the group of Mount Caerwyn guards. She pulled out the small bundle and tossed it to the boy behind her. “Hold this.”

“The hell am I supposed to do with this?” Jonathan called to Enkeli who was unsheathing her twin blades.

“Don’t drop it,” she called back. “And probably don’t unwrap it either.”

Jonathan muttered something about not being a servant and leaned against a tree. A moment later, the bundle began making an odd pulsing sound. Jonathan tried to ignore it but his curiosity got the best of him.

Looking at the throbbing organ in his hands, he screamed, “ENKELI!”

She was yanking on one of her blades, which was stuck in a guard’s ribcage. “What?!”

“WHY THE HELL AM I HOLDING A HEART?” Jonathan froze, realized he was holding a heart, threw it aside, and proceeded to retch.

Enkeli silently cursed Stranger for dumping this kid on her. The blade let go of the dead flesh in time to block another guard’s strike, while it’s twin swept across his throat.

“Damnit Jonathan,” she grumbled as she ran over.

“What’s wrong with you?” she snapped, hoisting him up by the collar.

“What’d you expect me to do?” Jonathan ran a sleeve across his mouth. “Cradle it and sing it a lullaby?”

Enkeli’s face was inches from his own. “You are completely helpless, aren’t you? How you survived that trip with Stranger, I’ll never know.”

She let him go and jabbed her blade backwards where a guard was attempting to sneak up on her. He collapsed but three more were approaching, and Enkeli went to meet them.

“I am not helpless,” Jonathan said dusting off his pants. “I’m a sensible person who did what any sensible person would do if some psychopath handed him a bloody beating heart!”

Enkeli whipped around. “I’m not a psychopath, Jonathan and that’s my bloody beating heart sitting in the dirt over there. Now would you please retrieve it before one of these numbskulls gets it first.”

Jonathan’s eyes rolled back and he crumpled to the ground.

Enkeli sighed, “helpless idiot.”

Last edited 16 days ago by Cansas Wanderlust
GJFuller
GJFuller
19 days ago

Matchmaker
By Giovanna J. Fuller

“You know,” Isme said in a low voice, her eyes still fixed on the cluster of deep red crystals resting on the table, “I can’t focus with you breathing spit on my neck.”

The source of the wet, warm air suddenly jerked away from her. “Y-you’re taking-”

“A long time?” Isme asked in a monotone. “These things take time…”

“I’m paying-”

“Paying me a lot of money?” She still stared at semi-translucent rocks. “You’re the one who wanted a private reading. It would have been half the price if you had just waited till I actually saw something. But, no.” The woman with the fire red hair and deep magenta eyes looked away from her task and to her customer. “You needed to know right now.”

The customer, a man in his middle age, weakened by a lifetime behind a desk and away from the strengthening rays of the sun, had such empty and lifeless eyes, that Isme couldn’t help, but pity him. He had come to her after leaving the hospital where he had been recovering from a heart attack. The close call with death had given him a new perspective. He realized what he truly wanted, but he had squandered so many of his days that he didn’t want to take the traditional route. He wanted specific directions to his soulmate.

She gave him a reassuring smile. “You needn’t worry. I’ve been doing this…” she trailed off, unsure how to quantify her experience into linear time, “for a long time.”

“They say you’re the best.”

“I am.” She turned back to the cluster and watched the light dance in the complicated maze of minerals. Quickly, as though she had been anticipating it, she broke off a piece. “Take this.” She put it in his hands. “It will lead you.”

The man’s face was filled with a rosy, excited hue as he thanked her profusely before leaving.

Isme sighed and stretched till her back popped and the tension released from her shoulders. Her gaze wandered idly back to the ancient item. She frowned. “That’s new…” she muttered to herself.

IsaDragon
IsaDragon
19 days ago

It’s still beating. Its rhythm desires not to cease.
By Isadragon337 (cw: disembodied heart)

When Jackson opened the door, an out of breath Katarina pushed past him into the apartment like she had just sprinted here.

“Here!”

She deposited a slimy lump, about fist sized, smooth, wet, and squirming in his fumbling hands.

“Katarina—Katarina, WHAT—”

She giggled, high pitched and a little bit broken. “It’s for you!”

Jackson stared at the mass of living tissue in his hands. Ruby-red witch-magic flowed about it like a cloud, giving a sense of rhythm, of power, of health and purpose.

His inky hound-touched soul stained the red enough to see the tiny chains that linked it back to Katarina.

He shouldn’t be holding this.

“You…”

She closed his fingers around the writhing muscle. If pushed against his hands, spirals of energy slipping between his fingers back to her. She smiled, and he noticed blood on her teeth.

“It’s for you,” she repeated. “I know you gave your heart to the Great Mother.”

He had. The Queen of Death had eaten it as part of his adoption.

“I was reading about the old dances, and realized that you don’t have a heart. Don’t you miss that warm, life-pumping organ, the aspect of rhythm and dance?”

“Katarina, I can’t accept this.”

“Oh, don’t worry about me.” She waved a hand. It was covered in thick red blood. “It’s bound to me, it’ll keep me alive as long as it’s safe. You can use it to find me anywhere.” She shivered, and licked at her cracked lips.

“Katarina, I’m bound to death. Just me holding this can’t be good for you.”

She laughed. “I’m not asking you to hold it, I’m asking you to keep it safe till the hounds come for us both.”

Oh.

“The Great Mother might see it as a breach of contract—”

“It’s my heart. Mine to do with what I will, and I am sharing it with you as an unselfish kindness.”

Abruptly he realized that this was the third time she had asked. She couldn’t ask again, and her heart did need to be protected.

…And it was sweet of her.

“I accept this.”

DesOttsel
DesOttsel
19 days ago

Courting of The Night
by Gage Jarman

The thin, gaunt man waltzed towards the blindfolded woman, humming a melody to himself. He twirled gracefully, carrying an object loosely wrapped in an exquisite silk cloth. He bowed before the woman holding out the parcel. He was absolutely giddy. His grin was impossibly large, revealing ivory fangs. He practically sang as he spoke.

“Now darling, if you would be ever so kind to indulge my eccentricities, hold out your hands. I know you’re going to be thrilled.”

The woman wore a pert smile. “If I must. I should at least witness whatever has gotten you so excitable lately.”

The silk slumped in her palms. Her face soured. It was soft and cold and wet. The object undulated suddenly. The woman screamed, tearing off the blindfold. The object fell and slapped against the stone floor. The man’s smile shifted into one of trepidation.

“Darling, whatever is the matter? Do you not like it? It cost me much hardship to obtain it for you.”

The woman was shaken and gazed at the bulge beneath the silk. “… What is it?”

“Oh, I’m not supposed to do that. You have to open it. What good is a gift if it’s not a surprise?”

“Just tell me, please.”

“Very well, but know that I think you’re soiling this whole affair.” His pallid fingers wrapped around the fabric once more. He pinched the corners, one by one, and began delicately peeling back the layers. “It would have been so much more enjoyable had you done this, but here you are.”

A dark shriveled heart beat in the man’s palm. The woman shrank back. Something swirled in the pit of her stomach. Her instincts told her to flee, but her mind was still questioning her suitor’s queer offering.

“Why? Why would I desire such a vile thing?”

A drop of blood trickled down from the man’s large, sorrowful eyes. “Darling, do you find my own heart so revolting? My affection isn’t as capricious as a mortal’s. I wish to give you everything. If you merely consumed but a piece, I would be with you forever.”

Last edited 18 days ago by DesOttsel
Astrid Jones
19 days ago

Good Enough
by Astrid Jones

It is finally finished. You’ve spent months on this project. You worked on it and cried over it and went to sleep thinking about it. Now it is finally done. Now you can share it.

This project means so much to you. You decide the first person to share it with should also mean a lot to you. So you find them. You ask them if they can take a look at something. What do they think?

You present your creation to them. Your heart beats in anticipation, your palms are sweaty. They take it from your hands and inspect it. You watch their face, looking for a sign, no matter how small, that they have found some pleasure in what you’ve created.

But there is nothing. There is no smile, no raised eyebrow, no tilt of the head. They hand your project back to you and return to what they were doing as if your masterpiece was nothing more than static. Over their shoulder, they offer you some false congratulatory comment regarding it. You pretend that it means something.

You set your project on your desk and stare at it. This thing that you put so much of yourself into simply wasn’t good enough. They didn’t even care. You wonder why you even bothered as you knock your creation into a drawer with all the others. So much work went into each one and not a single one was enough.

The tears gather in your eyes. You blink and tip your head back to hold them at bay. Perhaps you will try again. It won’t be today. It won’t be tomorrow. Once you gather enough pieces of yourself to put into another project, maybe then it will finally be good enough.

Connor/Dragoneye
Connor/Dragoneye
20 days ago

The Toll
By Connor/Dragoneye

“Forgive me, brothers and sisters, but I must release.”

Hafyli’s eyes fluttered open to a familiar voice, kneeling before the cave wall.

“Kofnee, what are you doing?” she groggily asked, shuffling atop the bed of grass and fur.

He remained silent.

“Please answer me.”

Kofnee’s unshapely face turned around. “I’ll be going soon.”

Hafyli couldn’t help but grit her teeth in frustration. “Listen to me, Kofnee. I understand your pain, but if you come with me back to my village, there could be a new start for you. My father bestows a blessing upon you, we get married, you join our tribe, and you don’t have to worry about this hunt of yours. Leave it behind. Come with me.”

“I can’t.”

“But you can. I’m trying to help you in the best way I know.”

Kofnee sprung to his feet, shouting, “How do you know what’s best for me?”

“What good will severing the hands of those who massacred your tribe do?”

“My heart will be soothed! At peace! Released! You don’t understand it, do you, Hafyli? A chieftain’s daughter who sleeps with whatever man they want, only to throw them away. I should’ve let that tiger maul you.”

Hafyli met his gaze standing up, wrapping the tiger skin blanket around her bare skin. Her brow furrowed, and her words first hissed with venom, then sorrow, “You think of me as a whore? You treated me as a bride! I don’t know where this just came from, but this isn’t you!”

Tears rolled down Hafyli’s face as Kofnee moved to the cave’s entrance. “This isn’t the way to be at peace. Paying blood with blood will always cost more of it than you wish. It will do nothing but bring more hurt.”

“You don’t know that,” Kofnee growled.

“Maybe I don’t. But I know there’s a better man inside of you somewhere.”

PixieWings
PixieWings
20 days ago

Plasticity
By PixieWings

He’d named her Wedge after she’d pushed first herself through the door to his lessons, then both paws into the clay under his fingers.

“Take it out, Vitale!” The Potter had demanded, swatting the air above Vitale’s head. “This work requires precision!”

Vitale is trying to be precise, trying to keep his fat, rust colored tears from dripping into her opened chest.

From what he can tell, she’s been hit by a car.

He’s placed her on the work table, peeled back her skin and fur like he’s been taught, delicately pulled apart her ribs. Her heart sits in his palm, still and red, half wrapped in wet earth. With shaking hands he traces the veins, molding clay against the chambers. He hasn’t thought to bring extra water, and it’s quickly drying out.

If he can’t work fast enough, it will crack.

“Accept the pain, Vitale.” The Potter had said, thrusting the ceramic eye into Vitale’s face until it sunk into the socket. “Make it your own.”

Vitale stares into her glazed, gold orange eye and swallows, trapping his sobs behind his lips.

He twists his hand at the wrist and begins the other side. Tenderly he drags the metal loop of his tool under the arteries, carving holes for them to join to his work. He dabs at where they meet, smoothing the line into nonexistence.

The finished product shocks him with its being.

He hasn’t got a kiln.

“Do not fear death, Vitale.” The Potter had breathed, driving the shard of terracotta between Vitale’s ribs. “There is nothing it can take from you.”

Vitale cups the heart in both hands.

He seals the hole between his thumbs with his mouth.

He breathes out.

He breathes out his heartache and horror. He breathes out soft trills and chin scritches, the warm weight on his chest when he’s allowed to sleep. He breathes until his lungs claw up his throat to plead for his mercy.

He gasps in.

And whimpers.

Something butts against his knuckles.

And purrs.

Glaceon373
Glaceon373
20 days ago

Prom
by Carrie (Glaceon373)

The school gym had been transformed into a well-decorated dance floor, with streamers criss-crossing the ceiling and crystalline lights floating in the air. The southeast corner was the designated food area, and the whole north wall was the stage. The band played selections of their own music, as well as covers of popular songs.

High school prom was going splendidly.

“How are you doing?” Sam asked Roselyn, both of them sitting at a food table holding plastic cups of soda.

“Sam, I’m fine,” Roselyn giggled softly. “Really. I am.”

“Okay, just, y’know…” Her hand-me-down suit and green tie suddenly seemed very tight, “you got out of the hospital, like, eight hours ago.”

“Mmhm.”

“And now you’re…at prom. With me.”

“Of course.”

“ Not that, like, the ‘with me’ part matters, but—”

“Sam.”

“Yes?” Sam’s bat ears perked up.

Roselyn laughed. “As much as I appreciate your caring and compassion, I’m fine. I promise.”

“I, er, uh, are you sure? You don’t look so good. Not in a bad way, but like, in an in-pain…way…?” Sam tried to ignore her claw-like fingers shaking on the table.

“Okay, it does still kinda ache, but I’m wearing enough makeup that the scars aren’t visible and this flowy dress hides the bandages. Plus, I’ve been going to fancy parties since I was five. This isn’t anywhere near the hardest thing I’ve done.”

“Really?”

“Yeah,” she smirked. “That honor goes to trying not to fall in love with you.”

Sam froze. “Er—um—really?”

“Obviously! Have you seen that adowable wittle face of yours?”

Sam flushed red and immediately covered her face. Roselyn burst out laughing, clutching her side where a giant bandage rested underneath her green dress.

The current song ended and a new one began. Roselyn stood up from her chair and reached a hand towards Sam. “C’mon. We should dance at least once.”

Sam looked up at her, then took the hand delicately. “Sure! I mean, if you’re okay with me stepping on your feet a bunch—”

“You’re not THAT bad!” Roselyn smiled, pulling Sam to the center of the dance floor.

Insania404
Insania404
20 days ago

The Secret Beneath Oneiron Corporation (Oneiron Universe)
By: Insania404

It had been a week since he fought the shadows, a week that ended with the director slumped on the floor. The corporation was under Alfred’s command, but he never fancied himself a leader.

Alfred slipped his key in the elevator, allowing him access to the research facility hidden deep underground. The elevator doors slid open into the dimly lit hallway and Alfred headed into CiRFiS #6, a prototype that he and the director were working on. He opened the door and was immediately greeted by a malnourished creature that only barely looked human and spoke as if his veins were filled with caffeine instead of blood.

“Hello director – it’s still weird saying that – Have you come to check up on the other director? He’s not doing well I’m afraid – His memories are completely scattered”

“H.C, Isn’t there a way to steer him toward his memories? Can’t you build a few environments for him to find?” Alfred said.

The portly Architect responded, “With a more forgiving CiRFiS, yes. This one can be tricky to design environments for since they are often corrupted by the occupant’s mind trying to dream. Essentially, creating an environment is like trying to do heart surgery while holding the organ outside the body. It’s possible, but the potential for failure is exponential.”

“So creating an environment while the mind is integrated could-”

The caffeinated skeleton interrupted, “We could make an environment that we control entirely – one that we can send him to if things start to corrupt – Maybe use something that he remembers fondly?”

“Thirteen! That’s genius! I could recreate his apartment and use it as a safe mode, fooling his brain into thinking that he’s awake and each environment is an organic dream! It’s crazy, but it might work.” The Architect said, beaming.

Alfred chuckled, “Looks like you’re performing heart surgery and I’m handling his baby.”

Alfred walked over to the comatose body laying on the table. “Don’t worry, we’re all here for you. We’ll find a way to save you and together we’ll bring your brother back. I promise.”

Last edited 20 days ago by Insania404
RVMPLSTLSKN
RVMPLSTLSKN
20 days ago

Of Hearts and Hands
By RVMPLSTLSKN (Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)

There are fewer animals less suited to eating than dogs. For Vienas, the reason is simple: dogs eat vermin and carry diseases; this is known. Yet she did not complain. She knew Padas had been too poor to indulge in the luxury of killing useful animals. He relished meat the way she had once relished prayer-spelling. The dog meat was a break in the monotony of tastes, however taboo.

A soft cut, he had said.

‘Still,’ she thought, ‘waste not.’

They sat next to the Everflame, Padas staring into the light while Vienas stared into the void. She was pensive and chewed the heart-meat he had given her. She was worried by a feeling of familiarity.

As Ziniu’s high priestess—high scribe and scholar really—she had been heir to certain gifts of that office. She knew the games of godhood from tedious study. She knew the intuition she had received, before The Deep One rose, had not been herself. It had been part of the office and had gone away when The Deep One called. That was why she had hidden. She was more afraid of that loss than of The Deep One itself.

But it came back. An impossibility in degrees. She had felt it return as she gripped Karas’s sword. She felt the whisper of awareness not quite her own. The spatial knowledge and desire to protect her books. To live.

How; it was the only question worthy of asking.

But she knew the games of godhood, so her mind turned to the pearls and rang with a dead god’s message. “…for you, the Living.”

A prayer and reminder to keep living.

She leaned into Padas and breathed deep. She relaxed, the anxiety of the day leaving her muscles. Rather than a matter of passions or carnal necessity, perhaps this could be a matter of convenience. For both of them.

“Do you think others survived?” she asked

He grunts something indecisive.

She smiles, remembering the pearls and suddenly feeling very glad he was who he was.

“What?”

In response, she kissed him and felt his arms fold around her.

Last edited 16 days ago by RVMPLSTLSKN
Twangyflame0
Twangyflame0
20 days ago

Rosae
By Twangyflame0

Erin held the roses awkwardly. She had found them in her bag earlier for some reason. She hadn’t picked them. Did some animal leave them there? It didn’t matter; she didn’t want them. What was she supposed to do, pick the petals off like a child? She could practically see William trying to make a wreath out of a bunch of roses and tearing up his fingers.

‘I guess I could…’ She shook her head, trying to stop her cheeks from turning pink. It’s not like it was any grand gesture or anything. She’s just giving William the roses because she doesn’t know what to do with them… right?

She growled, trying not to think about when she had seen others receive flowers. They were just plants with practical uses. She began to walk over to where William was, thinking, ‘A rose from me doesn’t mean anything, and definitely doesn’t mean I like him.’

She stopped in her tracks.

‘L-Like him… why in the world would I ever think like that. I’m just his protector because it’s my duty. Nothing more. It’s ridiculous to think about love.’

Despite these thoughts, she trembled and a slight pink came to her cheeks. William looked up at the sky, mumbling to himself. His smile was bright and his crystalline eyes seemed to see far far beyond. He then noticed her, smiling innocently, “Hey Erin.”

Erin forced her blush down. She thrusted the roses forward. “Take these.”

He blinked in surprise. “Uh, what?”

“I have no use for them. They somehow ended up in my bag. So here.” She couldn’t meet his eyes.

“I… uhh…” He spoke with confusion, but he then smiled and gently reached out for the flowers. “Sure, thank you, Erin. They’re lovely.”

For a moment, Erin’s fingers brushed against his. She turned away unable to stop blushing. “Well, good, I’m glad. I’m going to go hunt now.”

She quickly went away, leaving William to stand alone again as he held onto the flowers he had put into her bag earlier. He chuckled to himself a little, happy with the outcome.

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
20 days ago

Routine Core Examination 3026 (Corespace Universe)
By Calliope Rannis

Clay pushed himself off the metal walkway, floating gently in the humming air. Behind him was the metal wall of the gargantuan cavern in the centre of the world. Ahead, freefloating in the gravity well and anchored in place by many hanging cables, was a huge, shimmering platinum sphere. The central AI Core of the city-planet Vang.

Her heart…

Using bursts of air from the propulsion pack on his back, he crossed the abyssal gap towards the Core. Beside him was a solid-light projection of a golden-haired woman, smile bright and confident, cheerily floating along without effort. As Clay reached the shifting, semi-liquid surface, he looked around in confusion.

“Down here!” He shifted his gaze back to his companion, as she gracefully flew to a lower section of the sphere. Following close behind, he watched as the fluid shrank away from her glowing touch, exposing the port he needed to access.

Reaching into his pocket, Clay took out his diagnostic key, comparing it with the port. Yup, definitely the right place. He moved to put it in, before pausing.

“Freya, are you okay with this? I have heard the Core diagnostic process can be pretty-”

“Oh!” A hint of surprise. “I have had these examinations thousands of times before, you don’t need to worry about me.”

“…You sure?”

“It’s okay, really.” Her smile was warm and gentle.

Clay nodded, and inserted the key into the Core. He couldn’t help but notice Freya’s wince as he did. The sphere shuddered beneath his hands. Her projection flickered uncomfortably, as though it could shatter with a breeze.

Instinctively, he reached out to hold her hand, warm skin clinging to shivering light.

Freya looked up in shock for a second, before he felt her grip tighten in his.

A moment later, it was over. The sphere went quiet, her projection stabilised. The key slid automatically out of the port with a triumphant bleep. Clay turned back to the shining woman before him. “There. All done for another year.”

Her smile was weak, but thankful. “Yes. All done for now.”

They were still holding hands.

Last edited 19 days ago by Calliope Rannis