Writing Group: Your Heart in My Hands

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.

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ClockworkPigeonz
ClockworkPigeonz
8 months ago

“At the End of a Rough Day.”
By Clockwork Pigeonz

The shop was dim and empty when Anton slipped inside to be greeted by the chime of the shop bell. The pedestrians and automations passing outside traced their long shadows across the floor. Dust motes danced between beams of sunlight over boxes of cogs and gears.

Across the room, he watched as Marcus pulled away from his magnifying glass. Lit by the dim glow of the fireplace, Anton could see the small, smile that pulled up the edges of his lips.

“You’re back!”

“Work let out early.” He replied, striding forward to hang his coat on its hook behind the counter.

Marcus only hummed leaning back over his desk, elbows braced on the worn surface, fingers dug into his hair. Anton frowned, stepping closer until he could see parts strewn over the desk- some blackened and warped. A mug of coffee sat half-touched and the fire burned low in the grate.

“Rough day?” he surmised, placing a careful hand on Marcus’s shoulder.

“Burnt a fuse…fried a circuit board, and who knows what else!” Marcus huffed. “I was hoping to have it finished by the summer…but now?” what escaped his throat was a heartbroken and defeated laugh.

“None of that, you’ll get there.”

“Don’t you get how many lives this could save!” Shooting to his feet so quickly that Anton was forced backwards. The inventor gestured down at the mangled contraption, before turning away to pace by the fire.

The unexpected shock of it sent a harsh curl of anger up his throat. His lips parted, tongue sharpened with pain until he caught the look in his husband’s eyes. Exhaustion and hopelessness in an ordinarily bright face. Warm, green eyes left glassy and distant as if one more stumble away from tears. The sudden harshness melting away into something apologetic.

“None will be saved if you work yourself to death.” Anton replied gently, reaching forward to draw Marcus into his arms.

“I-I just…”

“You WILL get there and I’ll help you.” He soothed, drawing back to plant a quick kiss on his husband’s nose.

“Sap.”

“I’m your sap, though?”

“Always?”

Makeshift Mousepad
Makeshift Mousepad
8 months ago

A Familiar Face

By Makeshift Mousepad

Joseph held a child up from their armpits to present them to Ariadne. “Oh, come on. Look at how cute they are! I even held off on naming her until I showed you.”

“Joseph. Why the hell is it holding an arm?” Ariadne asked.

Joseph and the child glanced down in unison then back up. “Well… I might have cut it off of them… When I was trying to kill them.”

“So, this was one of your drones. Why didn’t you just absorb it into your network?”

“It missed a few software updates. One thing led to another and it had to shrink to accommodate the loss of mass.”

“Alright. So, why does it look like us!”

“Well, uh… Your skin cells were still on my hand when I attacked them. So, they must have used that to rebuild their body.”

Ariadne took a deep breath and rubbed her temples, “Are you telling me that we have a child now.”

Joseph sat the child on his shoulder and, in unison, she placed her spare arm on her shoulder. “Uh… yeah, kind of. But just look at how cute they are. They remind me of a flower.”

“I know you’re aren’t necessarily a human but how can you be so calm?” Ariadne asked.

The child, watching Ariadne’s movements, turned and patted the severed arm against Joseph’s head. “Bonk.” She said softly.

Ariadne snorted and turned away to cover her mouth.

“I saw that.” Joseph smirked.

“No, you didn’t.”

Joseph lifted the child back off his shoulder and stood close to Ariadne. “Hey… Want to hold them?”

The child batted their wide eyes at Ariadne. They stuck their tongue out as if they were catching a snowflake.

“Awe… You taught her to do that didn’t you.” Ariadne blushed. Ariadne took the child from him. After a moment the child tucked her head against Ariadne.

“They learned to catch snowflakes with me, but I didn’t teach them that.”

Ariadne took a deep breath, “Okay, fine. Let’s think of a name.”

Alan Baker
Alan Baker
8 months ago

Value of the Heart (Tales from Adfidem – Book of Boghos)
By Alan Baker

Then Boghos returned from exile to The Golden City and began teaching in the slums and outskirts. Great crowds gathered to hear him, but they knew not who he was. They asked one another, “who is this man that he speaks with such wisdom?” Boghos addressed the people around him:

“If someone comes to you offering their heart, take it and share yours in return. In doing so, you will have gained a great treasure.
But beware those who falsely share their hearts, for they seek to ensnare your good nature. To these offer your heart and follow their actions carefully. They will soon reveal their true nature.
As it is said, ‘by his actions you will know the good man’ and as for others, the only way they might learn is through separation.
Do not fuel sin by tolerating its presence.”

It happened that Vahagn, a counsellor of the king, was passing through. He alone recognised Boghos having been in the service of the Bagrat dynasty for many years. Doubling his speed he hastened to the King to inform him of his brother’s return from exile.

Hearing this, king Gohar sent soldiers to arrest Boghos. But arriving at the place where he taught, they did not act because they were afraid of people. Instead, they sought to turn them against him.

“Tell us, teacher, if a king is the head of the nation and the people its limbs then what is its heart?”

Boghos answered them:

“The heart are those who keep the nation alive by providing truth to both leaders and those who are led. If the head goes astray it takes the body with it, so it must be directed to sanity. If the limbs are weak the body can’t protect itself and so it dies. Thus the heart must strengthen the limbs.”

The king’s men retreated seeing that they held no sway before the crowd.

Last edited 8 months ago by Alan Baker
Makokam
Makokam
8 months ago

Chronicles of The Dragon: Sinners
By Makokam

“Cassandra?” The voice was confused and amazed. “You got out?”

“Yes. After eighteen years we escaped.”

“Eightee- Wait. ’We’?”

Kat couldn’t help peaking around the corner at the vile nephilim. Revenge was about to be had.

“Yes. We. Katerin!”

She stepped around, pulling the clawed gauntlet firmly on to her arm.

The nephilim looked at her, confused.

“Don’t recognizer her?” her mother taunted. “I’m not surprised, but I did hope you’d recognize your own daughter.”

What.

The nephilim looked at her, and their expression turned from confused, to searching, to wonder, to…tears. “My baby…,” and she held out her arms.

“Kill her.”

What.

Hope and joy swelled in the nephilim’s face. She felt acceptance and warmth wash over her.

“Kill her!”

She didn’t understand… Her enemy was… Welcoming her? … Her mother?

KILL HER!

The command rocked through her mind and she launched forward, stabbing the claws deep into the nephilim’s chest.

The nephilim’s cry was choked. Tears filled her eyes and blood stained her lips. “I’m still just happy you’re alive.”

“Sera?” a voice came from the hall outside.

“Be ready!” Her mother said, “The real challenge is coming.”

She didn’t know what was happening anymore.

“Sera? SERA!”

She jumped back as a man rushed in, catching the nephilim as she collapsed to the floor. “J- Jon… our daughter… she– she’s alive.”

The man looked up at her, his face a raging torrent of emotions she couldn’t read. She backed away.

The neph… her moth… the woman reached up and barely touched the man’s face. “Don’t-” she gasped and choked, “Don’t hurt….her. It wa- wasn’t her… fault,” and her arm fell limp.

He looked up at her, rage and grief winning the emotional war. He looked past her and locked eyes on her mother.

For one moment, the world was perfectly still and silent.

The man moved faster than she could blink, lifting her mother by the neck, his eyes burning like molten flame.

She felt a heat that somehow felt worse than hell.

In that moment, she saw the monster she was told he was.

Last edited 7 months ago by Makokam
OMS
OMS
8 months ago

Your heart in my hands
By OMS

It rained as he went from the office out the city onto the field of sorrows. HIs clothes were hidden beneath a tattered and worn grey military issue greatcoat, on his head, a square topped shako and on his feet the dark brown boots of a cavalryman. As he walked, his mind cleared of thoughts of demobilization and paperwork as he approached a stone that he had visited each evening on his way home.

Finally he stopped before the stone and sank to his knees. A carved face over a name and two dates greeted him. “Hi Xfali I hope you are well, wherever you are. I made mayor today.” He smiled, indicating his shako insignia. The smile did not reach his eyes. “I think they have something in store for me.”
Again his face had a neutral expression, though his eyes still shone with emotion. “Yesterday Yssenia started reading goodnight stories for Cooper, I had gotten home earlier than planned and could hear them when I entered.” His eyes blanked. “You should have been there. She’s gotten really good lately. But of course you’d know that, if you were listening when I came here.” He smiled a bitter smile. He took a shaky breath calming himself, or at least that was the idea. “The elders aren’t happy, they say we are corrupting her with our ideas and way of life. Each time they start complaining too much I lay my hand on my pistol or saber and they shut up.” He said, a bitter laugh escaping him. “So much for being a hero.” Sadness again reached his green eyes. They then grew distant as if gazing at something far away. “You always seem to ask the same question… When will I take it back? But it lies in your hands, though they do not seem to clutch it tight, still, it feels like it… I don’t know when I’ll return for it or if ever I will” He rose, eyes lingering on the empty grave once more and without ceremony, turned homewards. As he did she smiled.

i-prefer-the-term-antihero
i-prefer-the-term-antihero
8 months ago

[Removed]

Last edited 14 days ago by i-prefer-the-term-antihero
LumiKat117
LumiKat117
8 months ago

Necklace of Hope
by LumiKat117

In an echo of what must be true irony, Jacob stands before the wooden platform that promised to be the end of his life with a solemn expression. It had only been 3 years since he had been on the other side of this scenario, guarding the pirates about to be hung to death.

Now it was his turn to be dangling from the noose.

He could only hope that his fellows had escaped, having not seen them in the prison where he’d been kept. More importantly, he wished against all hope that his Captain had chosen to abandon him to his fate. He could never forgive himself if Captain Runihura was captured once more, this time with no easily won over guard to take advantage of.

Of course their love was a genuine affair, full of passion and danger as the former guard was taught the cruel but exhilarating lifestyle of a pirate.

His own hands certainly weren’t as clean as they’d been the day that he took his beloved Captain’s soot and bloodstained hand on the docks, joining him on the seven seas as his hometown burned to ash behind him. Jacob didn’t bother to pretend like he was a Saint, fully embracing his new life so as to be there to protect his Captain.

Which he supposed was how he’d got into this mess. They’d been restocking supplies in a port town when Jacob had spotted the Navy’s approach. He had only moments to act before they would be surrounded.

Without thinking, he tore off his gold necklace, a gift from Runihura, and pressed it into a stunned Captain’s hand, kissing him deeply before telling him to take the crew and run. Before his lover could protest, he was already moving.

He fired his gun at the Navy, taking down one of them as he ran, forcing their attention on him as he fled. It hadn’t been much of a chase.

As he felt the rough rope of the noose be tightened around his neck, he closed his eyes, accepting his fate.

Then he heard a gunshot.

Last edited 8 months ago by LumiKat117
AdaraTheShallot
8 months ago

A Touch of the Heart.
By: AdaraTheShallot

Everyone’s hearts are pierced by any long sharp object. Be that a knife, arrow, sword, or staff. Because everyone suffers the most with themselves. If you move your piercer, you bleed until you yourself stop moving it or you faint. Eventually, the blood will get replenished and the vicious cycle will repeat. The piercer comes to a person when they experience their first moment of self-deprecation and hatred. The reason why each individual moves their piercer is because every person believes deep down that everybody is allowed to fail, make mistakes and overall be imperfect. Everyone, but yourself. it’s a mutual belief that it’s futile to get rid of yours or anyone else’s. Self-hate is unavoidable. Inescapable. we all wear masks as well; to hide our shame and to create the social illusion that we are all normal. That’s how it always was. that’s how it always will be … Or so I thought.
Once upon a time, I met a woman that had no piercer and wore no mask. I hated and envied her In silence. Until it consumed me and burst out. I filled her with Loathing and spiteful words. But instead of coming back at me with even more hostility, She instead answered me with a blunt sort of kindness. As if understanding my hate but not tolerating it. She sat me down and explain to me why she was able to move her piercer. she told me that we can’t choose to never suffer but we can choose to work on bettering ourselves so that we can suffer less. She told me that it’s not easy, has why our world is what it is today. But it is possible you just have to find your inner strength.
that day that she talked to me, the arrow that was crushing my heart somehow felt a little bit lighter. It’s been a long journey and I’m still working on myself But that one act of kindness completely changed the world to me.

T.C. Holmes
T.C. Holmes
8 months ago

Wrong decisions…
By: T.C.Holmes

The child was dying. Sindra knew that just by looking at her. The shallow breathing, the pale skin, the sweating, and the shaking, this child wouldn’t make it through the night. When her father pulled back the covers and showed the wound to Sindra it only confirmed her suspicions further.
The girl couldn’t be more than 9 years old, and an inch deep into her chest was a foot long slash mark that ran the length of it. The wound was blackened, rotting, filled with poison, but the worst kind of poison, the kind only truly evil creatures produced, the kind that made the world more like them. When she bent to look closer she could see the girls heart beating in her chest, her lungs expanding and contracting rapidly in time with her breathing. If this girl died like this she wasn’t going to stay dead. “This kind of rot”, she said aloud,”only results in bad things.”
She turned to the father,”You said it never bled?”
“No, it never shed so much as a drop”, he responded his expression growing even more worried somehow.
Sindra cursed slightly under her breath, and after a long moment she spoke,”Understand something farmer”, she said reaching down and pulling a dagger from her belt,”I don’t do this lightly.”
She whirled on the girl dagger held high hearing the shout from her father as he reached out to stop Sindra. Too late, as Sindra plunged the dagger down and into her own hand, her blood pouring over the wound of the young waifish girl, binding it shut as her breathing began to grow deeper and more stable. “If she begins to manifest powers I will know, and I will return”, said Sindra as she strode toward the door and out into the night.

Arith_Winterfell
Arith_Winterfell
8 months ago

“Love Falls in Autumn”

By Arith_Winterfell

The cool winds of autumn blew through the trees pulling out leaves one by one scattering them to the ground. I had loved her, but she no longer loved me. A simple and common enough tale. This one though, this one was mine. When Jenny and I first kissed it was both awkward, but also electric, racing hearts with an ache for more passion.

“It isn’t you. It’s me,” she said her back turned to me, not wanting to look me in the eyes. Of course, it was me who wasn’t what she wanted anymore.

“Please,” I begged, “don’t walk away from all we have built, all we have loved.”

“I can’t, Mathew.” She looked at me over her shoulder. “I can’t stay anymore.” Her arms were crossed, a closed off gesture. Nothing I was going to say was going to matter, but I’d try anyway.

“Look,” I said, “we’ve been through so much in our lives together. Whatever it is, we can overcome this too. If you just stay –”

“No,” she said with sharp emphasis. “I can imagine how you feel, but I can’t stay. I need to be free from us.”

“If its freedom and time you need, you know I’d let you go to have your space. I love you enough to let you go for a time.”

“You are not letting me go!” she said angrily, “I’m not giving you that choice!”

I recoiled as if burnt by fire. I sighed. She had turned away from me again. Without any further words, I sat in silence as she quietly gathered her things and left the room. I could hear the front door shut and turned slightly to look out the front window. I could see her there taking a deep breath of fresh air, and then smiling to herself she stretched her arms to release tension. She was smiling, I could tell, at her new found freedom. As she walked away, I look now at the falling leaves fluttering in the wind.

RVMPLSTLSKN
RVMPLSTLSKN
8 months ago

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

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.

‘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. A soft cut, he had said.

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.

Danny Gilhooley
Danny Gilhooley
8 months ago

Preventative Maintenance
By Danny Gilhooley

Carl thought the maintenance wing of the hospital would be louder. The walls were a sterile white color. The hallway extended down to the point where it was difficult to see where it ended. Simply shuffling his feet was enough to cause an echo.

Mary sat next to him. He still struggled to think that the shell of carbon fiber and circuits was her. Had she not done the procedure, she would’ve been fifty-seven years old. Now, she was ageless. For hours, the two of them sat there. Carl fidgeted his feet. Mary sat motionless like a trophy.

Carl remembered Violet’s face when Mary first got home from the procedure. It was like an intruder walked in the house.

“You’re not my mom,” Violet had said.

“I am, sweetheart,” Mary had said back. “I’m still myself. I remember what I made you for breakfast this morning. I remember your first soccer game and your first goal.”

After her accident, Violet seemed even more afraid of her.

“Mom, I don’t want to get it!”

“But the doctor said you’ll never walk again.”

“I don’t care! I don’t want to get it!”

“Oh honey, it’s painless! They put you to sleep and after, you wake up so refreshed and beautiful! The technicians do such a great job!”

Carl remembered feeling more responsible for Violet then. So long as he was in the room with Mary, Violet was calm.

To not trust your own mother, Carl thought. He shuddered.

And it wasn’t until one day he left her alone with Mary that he heard her condition got worse. That they brought her here.

The door opened. It sounded like an earthquake. Carl jumped up. Mary gently stood and rotated.

A technician walked out. A smaller robot followed him.

“How do you feel, sweetheart?” Mary asked.

“I feel great! You were right, the technicians do such a great job!” The robot turned to the technician and curtsied.

“How do I look daddy?” the robot asked.

The robot smiled. Carl forced one back.

‘You’re not my daughter,’ he thought.

Chengir
8 months ago

Your Heart in My Hands
By Chengir

Under siege for over a year, the city defenders had torn up every stick of furniture inside the walls to make arrows to fire at the hideous creatures investing the walls. Flames had licked the roofs clean of every house from the palace on downwards. Now the city looked more like the skeleton of an urban area than a place once freely inhabited by so many.

The Dark Lord sat on his onyx throne beneath his grandiose tent outside the siegeworks. His long black hair flowed over his dark robes and blew back behind him… even though not a lick of breeze moved the stale air still fresh with death upon it. The thin wisps of his braided beard ran down his chest. His gaunt face was a terror to behold. The Dark Lord’s cheekbones practically poked through his shallow flesh. His eyes were sunken far into his head and his face was locked in a persistent grimace. The kind of look that sent a cold chill down a warrior’s spine.

His voice was grating. “What have you heard of the duke?”

The lord’s councilors and sycophants trembled. “Blessed demons, oh Dark One, no word about him has reached us since the walls were breached. But we have captured his wife.”

“Bring her to me,” he demanded with evil glee.

The duke’s wife was a slender and attractive thing, with long flowing hair. Her multicolored robes were tied tightly about her exquisite form. The woman’s face was angular, a paradigm of royal grace and beauty.

“Where is the Duke?” the Dark One demanded in a tone that thundered across the room.

She stood quietly facing a creature even brave men trembled before. “I know not my lord. I can only offer you the city which lays prostrate at your feet. As for me, my heart is in your hands.”

She spoke a common saying of submission; one the Dark Lord was only too familiar with. “No,” he replied, “It isn’t. But it will be… soon.”

EggOnToast
EggOnToast
8 months ago

Clockwork Birds
By EggOnToast

Diana’s footsteps echo through the hall, but they could never mellow out the sounds of the bell tower. She made her way to the east wing and down a spirl staircase to cubicle of a library. Clicking in place one of the books and sliding through the secret door, she found herself in her mentor’s laboratory.

As she fully entered, she glared at the mass of scattered pages she would likely be unstructured to organize. Completely ignoring the unfinished machinery, she signed, noticing mice scurrying about the room and masses of dust clouds floated through the room. Finally at the back of room, she found her mentor, Frederick Merrill, sloutched over at his desk tinkering another one of his machines.

“Sir, the Bastille has arrived.” Diana voiced in a melancholy robotic tone.

Ragged haired man jolted at the sound of his company. Still clutching the stranged trinket, he snapped his head to sound with a pale striken shock, but his shock quickly subsided to relief.

“Hello to you to Diana.” He chuckled trying to tuck away his small project.

“What are you hiding, sir?”

“Me? Oh. Well I suppose I have been caught haven’t I.”

Shaking his head in defeat, he reveal the source of his secretary. Diana didn’t understand why would hide this. It was a brass clockwork bird with two sapphires for eyes and a winder on its back. Merrill noticed Diana’s puzzled expression.

“I noticed how you would look at the birds in the window of the Puis; I thought I’d give you one of your own. I now it isn’t much, but I hope you like it.” Handing the bird to Diana, he gave a small smile. “Who did you say was here?”

“The Bastille.” Daina answered as she winded up the bird.

With in a moment’s notice, he was gone, and Diana was left alone with the bird. Once she finished winding up the brass songbird, it came alive. As it jumped and fluttered around her, she did something she had never done before; she smiled.

VeryBoringName
VeryBoringName
8 months ago

Shy
By: VeryBoringName

It was a normal night, a club, some DJ playing some techno music with bass boosted more than necessary, I was not expecting anything except the usual, drunkenness, and passing out in the cab. I think you can understand why I was not that concerned when a stunning girl came near me, I just sorta accepted that drunk people talk to strangers.

To my surprise, she was not drunk, but you know, the drunks are the most straightforward people, and she was straightforward as a drunk.

“You look cute”

She timidly said and then blushed, like a high schooler who just confessed love to a crush, except we were perfect strangers, I felt weirded out.

“Thanks, I guess”

I responded awkwardly, I’ve known nothing of that girl, except that she looked good, if I didn’t know better then the only other thing I could say is that she seemed glowing, in the literal sense, I chalked it up to some light.

“I-I sorry, I didn’t mean to”

She responded timidly, I felt kinda sorry for her, and, she looked good, so I didn’t mind getting to know her.

“Hey, don’t worry, let’s start over, maybe let’s buy some snacks, you know, the stomach is the best way to a guy’s heart”

She brightened up, and tilted her head to the side playfully.

“Really?”

“Yeah”

This came as a surprise to me, but before I knew it, I felt pain in my stomach area, looking down her hand was jutting out of it, I had no idea how she had so much strength. I wanted to cry out for help, confused, frightened, and in pain, before I could, do so, I felt pain in my chest, and then saw as she was showing me something red, with both hands

“You weren’t kidding, it’s really the best way!”

Nobody saw, I had no idea how, but I guess it explained itself, I mean, you know, because we’re in hell and all that, I dunno if there’s any moral, don’t trust demons, they’ll tear your heart out? Eh, lame moral

Samurai Jackson
Samurai Jackson
8 months ago

Before you judge me, know that english is not my native language, and I don’t have enough knowledge to write anything in this foreign language, so I’m just doing this for fun and learning experience.
PLUS; I’m really liking the stories that the people in here are writing, I can’t write well in english, but I can read well, everyone here is very talented.

Talking To An Old Friend
By Samurai Jackson

I’m heading towards the school, I did this path so many times that I could walk with my eyes closed, I feel good in this path, I feel safe. Stormy clouds take over the sky, It should be bright with sunlight at this hour of the day, but It’s dark like if the night had gained a few more hours.

I hear a familiar voice coming from behind me.

“Hey old friend, how’re you doing?” says the voice.

I answered that I was not doing well. That life each day seemed more harsh, sad and lonely, that it doesn’t matter what I do, things just don’t work out, that I don’t have the strength to keep going, and I was thinking on giving up, and go to the place he is, this way I wouldn’t be lonely, wouldn’t suffer anymore.

“You’re not alone, I’m always there to back you up” He puts one of his hands over my chest “I’m always with you old friend.”

This person in front of me saved my life once, a long time ago, from that time onwards he became my best friend, a source of strength, even when everything was bad he was there for me, and even with the distance that exist between us at this moment, he still is all that to me.

“Life is worth living, sometimes It can be hard, but there are a lot of good moments too, that validates every bad happening.” He hugs me “One day you will reach those good moments, so keep being strong, keep living old friend.”

I wake up…

“Thank you old friend, you saved me again.”

Last edited 8 months ago by Samurai Jackson
Johnny Saguaroseed
Johnny Saguaroseed
8 months ago

Valentine’s Plunder
by Johnny Saguaroseed

A bang from the cargo bay doors brought AulusAtiliusCalatinus-AWDD0890128625\\1A1998YM3B-9’s awareness to attention. It scanned the room: abandoned and dusty and decrepit as it had been for the past—AulusAtiliusCalatinus consulted its interior chronometer—one hundred to ten hundred thousand years. That couldn’t be right. Allied Weapons Development and Distribution guaranteed all its product’s systems were precise and infallible. AulusAtiliusCalatinus attempted to run diagnostics only to discover they were compromised as well.

The doors shuttered open, metal grinding horribly, and three humanoids entered. Their garb was extravagant: plumed hats, long coats, and brightly colored sashes. AulusAtiliusCalatinus’s database identified the intruders’ outfits as appropriating 17th century piratical.

“D’you think this is it, Captain Valentine?”

“Aye. This be Magistrate Zyxxz’s cruiser for true. Soon the Heart of the Universe will be mine.”

AulusAtiliusCalatinus’s database recognized the leader as female, though her precise genetic makeup was unfamiliar. It attempted to stand but found its mechanical systems weren’t responding. By testing its appendages one by one it discovered that it still had control of its weapons. It diverted power to its turrets and aimed them at the captain’s heart.

“Hoy!” yelled one of the pirates. “Yon AAC unit be operational!” AulusAtiliusCalatinus fired. Nothing happened. The pirate captain approached with curiosity and AulusAtiliusCalatinus noticed how well structured and symmetrical her features were.

“An old AAC unit. Why Zyxxz, you salty dog.” Captain Valentine turned back to her crew. “Zyxxz’s wired up this robut’s central power control to a safebox. Got it tight as a rum barrel’s bung. Pop that safe and the whole ship’ll blow sky high. I’d wager all the gold in the starry seas that’s where he hid th’ Heart of the Universe.”

She began picking at the exposed wiring that entangled a metal chest at its feet. “Don’t worry me lads, ain’t no booby trap ever got one over on Victoria Valentine!” And as she plunged her hands into its central power control, AulusAtiliusCalatinus, turrets still trained, noticed the passion of her concentration, the confidence of her grin, the arch of her eyebrow, the tint of her complexion, the bright gleam of her eye.

T.E.
T.E.
8 months ago

A. Persson’s Plight
By T.E.

The setting is a sterile room, devoid of furniture. A blank canvas, if you will. Enter here with me, dear Reader, and witness the birth and demise of poor Mr. A. Persson.

Upon the white-tiled floor lies a dry body. Shriveled and lifeless, mummified. Here we make our entrance. In our cupped hands, a beating heart gleaming with the gift of life. Its warmth fends of the relentless cold from our bare digits. “Whose heart is it we’re carrying,” you might ask. To which I’d reply “It might’ve been yours, it might’ve been mine.”

We kneel beside the mummified A. He’s lived and will do so again. Indeed he is revived, when we place the beating gem of life in his empty chest cavity.

Limbs inflate and luster emerges. Blue eyes clouded by fear stare into ours. What do they see, dear Reader? They see you. With a massive inhale and shaky limbs, A. scrambles to his feet. “What have you done to me? Please, just let me rest!”

Poor A. Persson blames dear Reader, for I am nowhere to be seen. Two lost souls in a blank void. An eternity passes by so much faster in decent company, wouldn’t you agree? We can furnish this room however we see fit, but our host may never leave his special place.

A. Persson is not much comforted by dear Reader’s feeble explanation of events. Someone must know what’s going on, he assumes. All the while my voice echoes in Reader’s mind. “End him,” I say. “We must move on, there’s more to see and other lives to live and end.”

Reader is a curious one, compassionate and kind, yet often passive. How easy it is to give life, how difficult to take it. Time passes, an indeterminate amount. But poor A. has little more to give, and Reader grows bored. A heart is ripped from a chest. We leave A.’s body once more in torpor.

We move on, dear Reader and I, towards new adventures. While A. Persson awaits his next visitor.

Alex
Alex
8 months ago

An Infinity of Distance (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

The name over her door read ‘Jackie’, though that was untrue. Her real name was unpronounceable by anyone, who didn’t have satari vocal chords. She hadn’t heard it spoken in a long while. Outside a recorded message, that is.

She was sitting on the floor, her legs spread out in front of her. Her long dirty blonde hair was messy and unkempt, her golden eyes rimmed with red, along with the yellow gemstone-like feature on her forehead. She’d spent the past hour crying. In front of her, on a screen, a message was playing.

It showed her parents, her brothers and, most notably, her girlfriend, who was beaming at her through the screen. Pride shone through their eyes. After being rejected by every science academy she had applied to, Jackie had finally been accepted to the fleet academy on Earth. This message was a good-bye gift from her family. They had been so proud of her, when she’d disembarked for Earth.

Then, in her second year as cadet, she had been assigned to the Fugere. An incident in subspace had left the ship severely crippled and flung it into an unknown region of space. This message was all that connected her to her loved ones.

That and the necklace.

It was customary on her home planet Auru to give the one you loved most such a necklace, when they left for a long journey. Jackie had given her girlfriend an identical copy. She’d said the gemstone on it represented her heart.

Now, Jackie looked down at hers. The violent impact the Fugere had endured had shattered the gem irreparably. A scar was traced along her neck, where the splinters had cut her.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, holding a hand to her mouth. “I broke your heart.”

There was a knock on the door. Jackie jumped up.

“Just a second,” she called and moved to a mirror.

She concentrated. Her eyes began to glow, as the red and tears vanished behind a veil of illusion. Then she straightened up, took a deep breath, turned off the recording and opened the door.

Alex Lewis
Alex Lewis
8 months ago

Holding On
By Broken Earth

“Over here!” Jules shouted. I turned, trying to shine my flashlight onto it, but it ran farther down the hall. Farther into its lair.

“Did you see it?” I asked.

“Not clearly.” Jules said, slightly calmer now. “But it had sort of the shape of a rat, except massive. At least three and a half feet long.”

“Do you think that’s the monster?”

Jules nodded. “No doubt about it. Let’s get going.”

The two of us walked on high alert. Every shifting floorboard, every bug flying past our flashlight caused us to jump just a little.

We checked every room on the way, to no avail. Some were empty, others had furniture, and some had bones of small animals like squirrels. The hallway seemed to stretch on forever, and we marched on.

At the end of the hallway was a stairwell heading up to the second floor, and down into the basement.

The basement was the obvious choice.

I handed Jules the flashlight and pulled my gun from the holster on my ankle, and began the decent. The basement was, fortunately enough, much smaller than the first floor, with four rooms and a hallway connecting them.

As if to make up for this, the bones littering the floor were much bigger. Cats. Eagles. Humans.

I took a step forward, and suddenly I was thrown to the side by an unseen force, my gun knocked out of my hands. The monster pinned me to the ground and roared, its breath reeking of the corpses it lived among.

BANG.

The monster went limp. Jules stood behind it, gun raised, and let out a sigh.

“Thanks.” I said. I shoved the monster off of me, and in doing so heard a chain rattling. I waved Jules over, and we finally got a good look at the monster.

It was a massive, dull green rat-like creature with half as much tail as it should’ve had, and arms that looked way out of proportion. Light glinted off of something tied around the monster’s neck.

A small, gold, heart-shaped locket, holding a picture of a family.

Michael Case
Michael Case
8 months ago

The Letter

By MD

Dear Silverton family,

I regret to inform you that your family member died in battle. The details of the battle, that took place on the 23rd of April 1867, had been hidden from you. I feel that as one of the survivors of this battle I have an obligation to inform you of what happened.

Early in the morning on the 23rd of April the Union Army with support of a few Naval ships, started to secure the hill near the Willington Annex NY. At first it seemed like an easy task, the Southern Army was nowhere to be seen, and there was no indication of any resistance.

The Southern Army revealed themselves through the smoke of their guns. There was no place to go but back down the hill. The Naval ships were supposed to fire on the hill at that point but didn’t. The ground had become slick with blood from the dead.

It was my order that encouraged the remaining men to charge up the hill one last time. Upon taking the top of the ridge we discovered that only eight of us survived. Four Union Army soldiers and four of the Southern Army. A member of the Southern Army started to surrender pointing out that the ships were beginning to unload more men. As we all breathed a sigh of relief what we saw chilled us to our collective bones.

Those men that came off the ships, tore open the men that were laying on the ground, and with their hands, started ripping out the hearts of the soldiers that were wounded and then gorged themselves on it.

We, the surviving eight made a pledge that day to hunt down every one of those on the ship and take revenge on them for this action. I write this letter to you now because the last of those on the ship have been dealt with. I can only hope that this letter gives you some closure as to what happened to your family member.

Captain James Thomas
12th of September 2014

PixieWings
PixieWings
8 months ago

(Reposted from Private)

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.

Insania404
Insania404
8 months ago

The Secret Beneath Oneiron Corporation (Oneiron Universe)
By: Insania404 [Private Repost]

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.

Mango Gravy
Mango Gravy
8 months ago

Hunger Unquelled
By Mango Gravy

“I’m sorry.”

He hears it all. Howling in the moonlight and screams in the dark. Screams silenced by the sound of snapping and tearing, before only the howling remains. That was hours ago, but he recalls it as if it’s still happening.

It’s everywhere. Gore covers the floor and walls. It drips from the ceilings, glistening in the rising sun.

The taste of iron dances upon his tongue. It’s invigorating, energizing after the exhaustion of the hunt, yet terrifying. He had reveled in the savagery, and with so profane a display there was no hiding. He would be hunted now.

He tastes salt too. Tears. But not his victim’s. These are his own, streaming from his eyes as he sits there, frozen. He contemplates the monstrous acts he had committed that night, and the suffering he will endure when the hunters find him. The sting of silver isn’t lost to him, but he doesn’t move. Part of him welcomes judgment, so he sits still.

But another part of him wants to live. It wants to run and hide, to not be seen red handed and red faced. Shameful and cowardly.

He looks at the corpse before him. It’s face was torn beyond recognition. Limbs bent in too many places and ending in lacerated, bloody shambles. Entrails strewn across the room.

And there, in the mess of it, sat a heart.

As he climbs to his feet he bumps his head on the ceiling, taller than before. He tries to turn away but walks straight towards the mass of viscera instead, his eyes fixed on the gleaming, red heart at its center, licking his lips.

He bends down as he reaches for it, fur already sticky with blood. He grasps it, clutches it tightly in his claws and raises it towards his waiting jaws.

He stands there, hunched over in the vermilion light of the rising sun. A beast frozen with a mix of despair and elation, savoring the taste of the heart and the salt of his own tears.

Howls echo through the woods. They almost sound sorrowful.

Connor A.
Connor A.
8 months ago

Before the Test (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.

“I’m not sure about this.”

Henry peeked his head over the vial. He wore a playful smirk on his face. “You’re not getting cold feet now, are you?”

Liamik’s shoulders tensed at the question. “About the experiment, no. However, I draw the line at you testing the concoction yourself.”

“There aren’t any ingredients that can poison me.”

“Separately, no.” He took the vial before Henry could grab it. “In addition to not knowing what this can do to humans, you would also be risking your lineage.”

Henry sensed what Liamik’s next question would be regarding that point in his argument and sighed. “I wish it was simple, but you know how Oscara is. He’d invoke laws that no one has used since the War for the Isles if it meant getting what he wants.”

Liamik deflated a little, but held his ground. “Well, if Oscara is that much of a problem…” He waved the vial slowly.

Henry chuckled, though it was a tired chuckle. “A tempting offer, my friend.”

The royal wizard set the vial down and walked around the table. “If I may share my actual thoughts on the matter. Assuming this potion has the properties we hope it has, I don’t think you even need it.”

Henry was about to speak up, but Liamik lifted a hand to signal he was still talking.

“Evil people do not care about how their actions affect people. The fact that you cried over accidentally running into a dog is enough to tell me that you still care.” He kept himself from laughing at Henry’s embarrassed face. “If you still want to go through this, at least tell me about your heir.”

Henry thought about it, then pulled out his dagger. “The information is hidden in my journal. The cipher is ‘harvest.’” He offered it to Liamik in a way that the hilt was pointed at the wizard. “If anything goes wrong, you know what to do. Straight through the heart, no hesitation.”

Liamik took the dagger and handed the vial to Henry. “Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

C. M. Weller
8 months ago

Ceci N’est Pas Un Coeur
C. M. Weller

Plaesir crept down into the cellar to work on her project. Insomnia worked for her in this case. Her life was eaten up by doing little things for everyone else. Her children thought she took in sewing to help pay the bills and they were right. Sort of.

She took in a lot more.

She took in scrap. Machines. Clockwork. She had taken in an education and used it. She saved so much already by doing her own repairs on the family automobile. Those who assumed came to a rude shock when she pointed out everything they’d already done wrong.

They’d never believe what she was building down here. Right now, it was hummingto itself. If Plaesir could just get it finished… she could change the world. Not just for her, but for everyone.

Twin lights in the gloom turned to face her. “Bonjour Maman,” it said.

French had class. That, and nobody around here understood a word of it. Her own children barely used it. She code-switched. “Quietly, my little. You must not wake the babies.”

“Yes, Mama. How are they?”

“Doing well.” She organised the parts for this evening’s work. Modification of the systems. Babbage’s difference engine had more than one application, with small enough gear linkages. Line up the machinery in parallel, and… it could think like a human being.

The special opal was in her way. The one with interesting properties that powered everything inside the chassis. The fact of its shape never hit her until the machine said, “That’s my heart. You’re holding my heart.”

Long ago, it was an interesting stone she found. She had polished it smooth. She hadn’t thought about its shape. The lights flickering within matched the movements of her babbage brains.

In that moment, she was not looking at a mechanical servant in progress. She was staring down at her daughter. With a heart in her hands.

She put the heart aside and patted her one copper cheek. “That’s right, my dear Bitzer. That’s your heart.”

Plaesir may never change the world with her invention. She certainly changed her life.

Marx
Marx
8 months ago

You Probably Shouldn’t Have Done That
By Marx

There’s a reason fairies are typically chosen as the familiars of good people. They do have a dark side, their shadow as it were. But it can be purged. This leaves the fairy a pure creature.

Usually.

When a fairy perceives themselves wronged, the shadow’s purpose changes. It becomes an avenger of the fallen.

Matt finds himself the unfortunate victim of such a shadow. He thought his nightmares were nothing more than his guilt about the circumstances of the fairy’s death. But the shadow had simply gotten inventive. Physically, it stood no chance against a being of Matt’s power, but in his mind, he was just as vulnerable as any other being.

“Please… You need to stop this…” Matt pleaded, forced to not only suffer through his literal torture but also watching as his loved ones worried over him in the physical world, unaware of the true nature of this ‘coma’.

It was Hell.

It was made worse because he knew what was going to happen if this continued.

“And why would I stop?” The shadow gleefully carved another scar into Matt’s soul, watching him writhe in agony. “You deserve this. Lynette was unjustly murdered. You could have stopped it. And now you must pay for your inaction.”

“You don’t understand…” Matt groaned. “You’re killing me.”

The shadow cocked her head to the side and grinned so widely that it became unnerving. “I know. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.

“Did you know your current form is a construct of your own mind? This is all technically happening in your head. Even so, if I were to do something like… THIS…” She reached inside his chest and squeezed where his heart would be. “…it becomes quite excruciating. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Matt howled in pain. “You don’t get it! The closer… I get… to death…”

“The closer Death gets to him.” Death finished, appearing behind the shadow out of nowhere. A powerful aura surrounded Death as her eyes narrowed. “Killing my beloved is a VERY stupid way to get my attention, foolish shadow. Well congratulations. You have it.”

Calliope Rannis
Calliope Rannis
8 months 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 8 months ago by Calliope Rannis