Hello, Ophthalmologists and Performers.
Can you really tell so much about a person just by their eyes? What do you have to look for? What if you don’t like what you find there? What if you do? So let their eyes speak what their lips won’t, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Staring into Their Eyes
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!
Eyes. The windows to the soul. They come in so many beautiful colours, and can portray just as many emotions. Eye contact, or lack thereof, whether the pupils dilate or constrict, can display so much about a person, or even an animal.
You could write about a cat, and their eyes dilating to giant saucer plates as you wave their favourite fishing toy back and forth, or perhaps how a slow blink from a cat is a kiss from them, a way for them to show affection. Maybe you could write of a child being absolutely mesmerized and perplexed by how a chameleon moves their eyes in seemingly random directions. Or write from a chameleon’s perspective! It’s weird, shifty, two-ways-at-once perspective. What about the telltale sign of someone’s affection by their pupils dilating when they look at someone else? Perhaps a classroom crush notices this change in someone looking at them. Perhaps a detective notices this when his wife looks at their newborn child. Maybe it’s about someone with social anxiety disorder, or even someone with ommetaphobia, a fear of eyes. Or maybe it’s simply a college student studying ophthalmology.
What about that time you stood on stage in front of an entire school and sang your heart out, all of their eyes trained on you? How did it feel to stare back at them? Or maybe that time you had to stand in front of the class and read a poem you wrote for an assignment, but the girl you wrote about was sitting right there, front and center. Maybe there’s a magic to the eyes, perhaps they aren’t just the windows to the soul, but an anchor of sorts to it. Perhaps the eyes contain the soul itself, and a necromancer has just found a way to manipulate this for their experiments. What about coming across someone with the most unique eyes you’ve ever seen, their pupils and irises twisting together to form a hypnotic spiral? Perhaps the memory of those odd goat-like pupils someone remembers from when they were young… and then pondering if they really were the same as the ones before them now, so many years later. What about a shapeshifter who can change into whatever they want, but their eyes always remain the same? What if someone noticed this? Would they be afraid? What if they weren’t? Or maybe it’s someone looking into the eyes of their reflection… and noticing that the emotions portrayed there did not match their own.
No matter which way we look at this prompt, it’s about drawing or giving attention to someone or something.
The question is… is that attention wanted?
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!
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What to Submit
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
by Matthew Randolph
It was a stone cold afternoon. The new shipment from the Orkney’s had arrived, some dainty bust of an old Scottish or Pictish king, and I was tasked with storing it away to prepare it for analysis.
It was a damn heavy thing. I nearly hurt my back as I lifted the crate onto the forklift. Finally, after carefully meandering the box by shaking it back and forth, I managed to maneuver the crate to be centered on the lifting arms.
I get in the forklift and begin carefully backing the crate into the museum loading bay. As I was expertly maneuvering the forklift, I uh, looked up and noticed the box had mysteriously broken all on it’s own. I didn’t break it! Thinking that I, an innocent bystander, would probably be blamed, I get out of the lift and rough to check on the artifact.
It looked completely unharmed!
Relieved, I took out a cig and lit it to calm my nerves. When I looked back at the bust, I noticed something. It’s eyes. They seemed to stick out more prominently than before. Their shape, their color, I felt myself drawn in by their pure, simplistic beauty.
As I stared, I suddenly became aware of my body. I had begun to grovel in front of the statue. I had somehow moved without myself knowing I had done so. Honest to god! As soon as I could, I booked it, Ran as far away as I could.
I told my boss the next day that Someone had tried to steal the relic, but I ran off with the forklift keys to protect it. He told me that the reli had been put away safely, and that I had nothing to worry about. Confused, I checked the spot where I had dropped the crate the previous day. It was clean, with not a scratch on the ground to indicate something had taken place.
In Your Eyes
by Jesse Fisher
A generic or un rememberable face came to mind while tracing her claws over the hidden build of the being next to her. A term could not fit her loved one, sire of unbirth eggs, and one who gave her a home away from the family that drove her up mountains. If not for his two tone eyes she might not have her life now. Or any life at all…she wanted to just lay next to him and let that thought leave her like air from her lungs.
The bulging belly made it near impossible to cuddle like they once had, yet he still wrapped himself around her. His hands rubbing her rough scales as if they were fresh from a molting. He did not have to speak, merely just hold her.
The eyes meeting once more as passion was still burning as hot as Oleander’s internal flame if not brighter.
“I see the owners are enjoying their night.” The navy wolf spoke as the area around him kept going from normal bar to some fraction of location.
Seemed to be a rotation of the beach, a forest, the eternearnal flames of the “hell’ tavern. He was proud to have made the last one but the random swapping was starting to make patrons sick.
“Cone on sweetie you know Korun let us have a date night so only right for them to do the same.” A draconequus called back as she buffed a table.
“I know but it gets freaky around here while they are like this.”
“Bright side I get to see you in cute outfits.” She shot back locking eyes with him,
Rolling them the wolf just shook his head.
“You’re lucky that I find you extremely cute.”
“Between Empty and Overflowing”
By Exce, checked by Lunar and Wvlf
Thunder cracked across the sky.
Kariah looked up, shielding her eyes against the sun with one hand. The sky was nearly cloudless, stretching across the roof in all its blue glory.
There it was again. First a faint crackle, followed by another boom of thunder. One of the wispy clouds overhead burst apart, and a blur of gold and red plummeted straight into the cobbles of the marketplace.
The slowly milling crowd erupted in screams and panic.
Kariah’s body petrified in fear as in front of her a dark silhouette moved inside the dust. It began to glow with an intense golden light, almost like flames dancing inside smoke.
Suddenly, the dust was blown past her to reveal a figure with bright blonde hair and white feathered wings. It wore dented and scratched silvery armor, though its hands and forearms were hidden behind solid gauntlets of gold.
He slowly turned his head, and for a moment Kariah’s heart lifted, but his silver eyes were statue-like, void of any emotion beside a vague feeling of contempt and disinterest.
Dread swept over her, followed by a blast of hot air as if she had opened the door to an oven.
The Angel vanished in a dense beam of red light. For a moment he stood outlined by it, teeth gritted and empty eyes wide, his hands raised in an attempt to staunch the attack. But as she watched his defenses fail, the golden glow went out as his charred body fell back into the rubble.
In his place rose another man, but he was most certainly no Angel . Wild red hair was matted to his forehead. Blood streaked across his face, and he wore a ragged armor.
He looked at her too, but his eyes were pools of emotions. They churned in the crystal blue, as if barely contained. Then he gave her a grin, before the dust rushed back to veil him again.
One moment he stood in front of her; the next he had vanished, leaving only the dead Angel.
In The Eyes Of the Beholder
By L. L. Marco (edited by Lunabear)
Bellisa stared into the mirror. Tears had left her long ago; all that remained was a blank face painted by heavy bags under her eyes. Her wretched, hideous eyes. They were a cold and unfeeling blue. Cracked ice that encircled the precipice where her pupils laid. No depth or saturation to them. They were hollow just like her.
And she hated them.
The curtain slipped from her fingertips to hide the mirror once more. Every night was the same twisted ritual. But if she left it uncovered and caught her reflection more than once she’d shatter the mirror to pieces. Once a day was more than enough to remind Bellisa what she was. Disgusting.
This routine was never meant to change. But fate had different plans for the girl haunted by her own eyes.
The sun sank behind the treeline as Bellisa rushed from the store. She kept her head low on the near-empty street, praying that nobody would see her; even a glance would be enough to send her into another episode…
The collision had Bellisa on the ground before she could process that she’d ran into something. A voice called out, but despite its gentle tone Bellisa went rigid. Her mouth twisted into the beginnings of a scream, but the noise caught in her throat.
The stranger was a blur. Bellisa couldn’t tell the shade of their hair or the color of their skin. But she could see the exact pigment of their eyes.
And they were gorgeous. Hues that resembled warm soil speckled with orange and yellow minerals. Browns the shade of coca fresh from the tree. Their glow pierced through her soul. For the first time in an achingly long time, she felt something. She would do anything to keep that sensation. Anything…
Bellisa stared into the mirror. The faint remnants of red stained the skin around her eyes. Her wretched, hideous eyes. They were the mud that got kicked up by feet on the riverbed. The brown bark of a rotting tree. They were hollow. Just like her.
And she hated them.
Creature Of Night
By Cansas Wanderlust
Hot tears slid down my face. I listened to them fall into the sink.
I cupped water into my hands and splashed it on my face. The cool liquid felt good on my burning skin.
Raising my head to the mirror I saw…nothing.
No light reached my eyes.
All I’ve ever known is darkness.
More tears trickled down into the water.
I know it was wrong… But when I bring him the souls, he lets me see.
I slammed my fist on the counter.
I won’t kill again. I won’t be the monster they say I am.
“They’ll always call you a monster.” The soft tone echoed in my minds wall. “And deep down, you know you are.”
“No, I’m done with you. Get out of my head.”
The voice laughed. “Without your eyes, you live in darkness and with them, you see blood and death. You are a creature of darkness, lunar eye.”
“No, I’m not!”
“Creatures of night, never found in light,”
“I know the legend! I don’t need you repeating it again.”
The voice continued humming that stupid rhyme.
“Their eyes shine bright, yet see no sight.”
“Unnatural bodies of metal and might, always defeat a brave and noble knight.”
“Beware the creatures of night. They have no fear and kill with delight.”
“Stop it! I-i know what I am!”
“Then embrace it. Leave this puny human form you hide in. Become a creature of night. Run amongst your kin with eyes that see all.”
“I can’t see anything.”
“We will teach you how to see, not with your human eyes but with the eyes of your true form—with eyes of the night creatures.”
I considered this. People will always call me a monster, and without him I’ll never see again.
“Put away your fear and morality. Let me show you what you were born to be. Let me take you home.”
I’ve already killed. I’ve got nothing to loose and everything to gain.
I nodded, “Show me.”
Then, I saw everything.
Welcome to the party
by Edward P
Well pup, come here. We’re about to head out hunting, but first, I need to tell you why I always end up on hunting trips. It actually has a lot to do with some of your questions like why is Collem missing his hand.
Way back, before I was part of the pack, I was a blacksmith’s son. We were in between wars then. The French were beaten, but we still called ourselves British. We heard that there were some large animals killing the cattle in the area, and some of us kids thought we could handle ourselves well enough. We took some tools, I actually took my family’s sword.
Anyways, we went out to the forest near the farms that had livestock go missing. One night, as you can guess it was a full moon, we were out way too late. Right then we heard the first howl. To our left were five sets of eyes, staring us down from the edge of the trees.
This is the part you need to know, as scared as we were, and as confident as the wolves were, I still got lucky. Turns out my family’s heirloom of a sword had silver in it. The pack gave a second howl and charged. Most of us didn’t stand a chance. I didn’t even fight the best there, but one wolf went for me; got a pretty good bite in too. I panicked and swung. Must’ve got his paw.
After one of the pack was injured they limped off to protect themselves. A few weeks later I started showing signs of joining. Come the next full moon they came and got me. Mind you, I don’t fully shift, so it was one half-formed monster being herded by 4, now, wolves.
Normally we each go on every other hunting trip, but since Collem can’t and it’s kinda my fault, I go in his place. I’m not telling you this because I like being different or what not. I’m telling you because you need to know that sometimes what looks like prey has even sharper teeth.
Anathema: Someone or Something Detested or Shunned (Alexi’s Crew Verse)
“I…really don’t want to.” Quinn tucked her paws under herself on the medbay table sized for a creature much larger. Her sensory organs gave her a good idea of where the medic was, though not what she looked like.
“You’ll need to open them eventually,” the medic countered.
“Well—” Quinn swallowed. She knew how close she had come to dying on that frozen station; there might be permanent damage.
The medic let the silence linger.
The light sparkled dizzingally in her ears as the medic crossed her arms. They were covered in something reflective—or maybe she was some kind of reptilian species with shiny scales?
“Ok. I’ll. I’ll try.” Quinn pointed her nose at the medic, and carefully opened her eyes. Blinked once, twice. And then every spine she had puffed up.
The medic’s arms were gleaming chrome from the shoulders down. There were wires and cables, and they were wired into- the left shoulder, an engraved medical symbol-
“The Maverick, the Defect, The disgrace to medical oaths? Yes. I prefer Othala.”
The medic—the CYBORG—leaned closer and Quinn didn’t realize she was leaning back until her neck hurt from the strain.
The medic peered in one eye, than the other. Quinn could see the tiny lenses rotating in one of Othala’s eyes.
“Your eyes look fine. A little irritated, maybe.”
“They- they feel a little dry, and it’s kinda blurry.” Always be honest with your doctor, Mama had said.
Mama hadn’t said anything about a doctor that might replace her eyes to fix them.
“I can get you some eye drops, but with some fluids you’ll be fine.”
The former prosthetic specialist of the Space Red Cross. Was in the room with her. Quinn wanted to hide.
“I’m…” Othala bit her lip. Took a whirring breath through an air intake valve. “…there’s a cubbyhole on the wall behind you, it’s full of blankets and is too small for me to reach into.”
Having something at her back was soothing.
“Sorry.” Quinn whispered. “You surprised me.”
“It’s not the worst reaction I’ve had.”
Rip and Tear Until it is Done
Count von Zintler saw the human he had just killed get back up. How?! Is this–
Wait… the hair, his skin… it’s…
“You impudent cur! You gave him the gift, without my consent!?” He backhanded Andromea, then turned to that accursed knight. “I’ll simply have to rip his skull from his spine!”
The count pulled out his sword, but Percival was already driving his sword for the gut. The count dodged, deflecting the blow and striking with his pommel.
The boy staggered back. The count slashed down but was stunned when the boy caught it. He looked up at the count with burning red eyes. Percival shoved the count back, then the boy gripped the count’s collar and rammed his head into von Zintler’s skull.
This time, von Zintler was sent backward, his boots skidding across the stonework. Percival covered the distance, slashing sideways.
The count backhanded the blow away with a gauntleted hand. He then stabbed forward. The boy dodged back and regained his stance.
The count locked eyes with the boy. It was unbelievable that this child had pushed him. At this rate, he might actually be wounded, which von Zintler could never allow.
Von Zintler breathed in and felt the air around him. He swiped his hand through the air, sending a gust of wind forward. The boy ducked under, only for the earth to strike him. Von Zintler dashed forward, kicking the boy and then using more wind magic to fling him around. As Percival flew helplessly through the air, The count couldn’t help but chuckle at his own superi–
Why was his body frozen?! His blood was being magicked?! Who?! WHO WOULD DARE?!
The count was shocked as he heard Percival’s sound of the sword entering his neck. Yet he felt his cold blood dripping down. He was brought to his knees and forced to look into the boy’s eyes. Percival bared his new fangs in a hiss before violently spinning the sword, decapitating Count von Zintler. The count’s eyes locked with Andromea’s as the magical aura around her dissipated.
“Like Black Holes in the Sky”
By William Maitland
“Eddie! There you are!” Bradley ran down the lobby of the airport.
“Brad,” said Edgar, without nearly so much zest. “Good to see–OOF”
Without a note of warning, Brad wrapped him in a tight hug. The wind nearly vacated his lungs under the strength of it, but it was the warmest he’d felt in a long time. He hugged back as best he could manage. “Missed you, pal.”
“I missed you too, Ed! It must’ve been years, since…” Brad pulled out of the hug to look his friend in the eyes, and what he saw there perturbed him, just a bit. Or rather, what he didn’t see. There used to be a mad spark in those eyes, a flame seemingly burning without need for fuel. Now it was snuffed out. The rings around the eyes drew extra attention to it. “My god, buddy… what the hell HAPPENED to you?”
Edgar sounded nonplussed. “Things didn’t turn out as planned. I do have a job back home though. Night shift. Cleaning up at the chemical plant.”
“Ah, god, I’m sorry…”
“Don’t be. I’m making a living.”
“No,” Brad said, “you’re not making a living. You’re making MONEY. Aren’t you still working on that indie comic?”
“Crap, I haven’t touched the thing in months. Not even given it a thought.”
“God, you needed this vacation more than I realized.”
“It’s not a bad job. It really isn’t. Nobody’s breathing down my neck, I don’t need to kill myself working. There’s just one little thing about it.”
“And that is?”
He didn’t mean to look as somber as he did when he said this. “I really miss the light of the sun.”
There was a silence. Their eyes held for a minute that seemed to last ten.
“You’re coming home with me straight away.” Bradley insisted. “We’re gonna catch up over a cold beer and some hamburgers.”
A tiny light seemed to emerge in his eyes again. “Still making your world-famous recipe?”
“Never stopped.” He smiled wide, showing his teeth.
Edgar returned a weaker, more subdued smile. “Good. It’s good to be back.”
Fynn, the Revenant
The last zombie’s head rolls across the tiled floor of the decrepit palace, blackened blood spraying all over the other corpses strewn about.
“Keep it together,” Fynn sighs to himself as he stares at those he had slain, some without a trace of decay, but all with vacant, soulless eyes. “They’re long gone.”
Fynn looks to the colossal doors at the end of the dimly-lit hall, crimson gore still dripping from his blade. His mind raced as he clutches his sword tighter, images of his past flashing before his eyes.
That day, he remembers, he ran for his life. The sole survivor of his town, he can never forget running through bloodied snow, having witnessed the carnage of the Count’s mindless servants. Numerous innocent people were slaughtered, and some bodies were never found. That day, he swore his retribution.
He walks towards the massive doors, his steps echoing through the dark hall. As he places his hands on the rotting wood, he feels his breaths grow shorter, faster. The fear in his heart is replaced with fury and rage. He pushes against the heavy doors, eager to take his vengeance.
There, he sees the Count’s silhouette, seated upon an iron throne. His head is rested upon his fist as if growing impatient for Fynn’s arrival. His face is engulfed in shadow, but Fynn feels his piercing gaze.
“Took you long enough,” the Count says.
“I’ve come for your head.” Fynn points his sword at his foe.
“It looks like I’ll have to end this farce myself.” The Count stands from his throne and steps out of the shadows, revealing his blood-red eyes.
As Fynn stares his adversary down, he sees the Count’s eyes glimmer for a second. He feels his body grow heavier. His mind, once filled with thoughts of rage, is slowly slipping away.
“It’s a shame that you’ve had to cut my minions down,” the Count remarks, walking slowly toward Fynn. As he comes up to his face, he smiles. “Shall we get some more, then?”
He laughs as Fynn stares on with vacant, soulless eyes.
“The Emperor’s Eye”
This writer is of little import. The only relevance he offers is to introduce the information he has collected. Following his introduction are recorded the statements of select individuals whose lives are entwined with that of Holy Roman Emperor Henricus Trajanus, elsewise known by his birth name, Arthur Plantagenet.
“I first met him early in his reign. He wasn’t the Emperor, then, but he carried himself like one. Even hobbling on that bum leg of his, he strode about like he had the confidence of a hundred men puffing himself up. The smirk he wore as I looked into that one eye of his guaranteed I wasn’t walking away without doing as he wanted.”
-Henry Smith, Lord Admiral of Oceania
“He entered the room like a hurricane. Crows on his shoulders, wolves at his heels, he stole the breath from my lungs. Wisdom and strength shone in his eye that could make men twice his age obey, and I did.”
-Björn Ulvekonge, King of Scandinavia
“His actions saved me from a life of horror and abuse. When I saw him, I saw a father I’d never had. That is what inspired me to found my order.”
-Sister Joanna Smith, Grand Mistress of the Order of Saint Joan d’Arc
“He’s a murderer. He came as a tyrant, destroying everything my father worked so hard to build and killed him. After years keeping my mother and myself as trophies of his conquest, he had my mother executed for treason. Since then, he dares to treat me like his son. If God is just, He will strike Arthur Plantagenet down.”
-Arthur Domínguez, Archduke of England
“I knew him before he was king, when he still had two eyes. Back then, you wouldn’t know he’d be the man he is now. I think I might have begun to love him then, but it wasn’t until he accepted God’s will that I saw him for the man he truly is. Whatever others see in him – king, conqueror, father – I know him as well as I know myself, my Arthur.”
-Minerva Plantagenet, Empress of Holy Rome
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
When Killian and Davin opened the bunker door, their friends were still sitting in the same spot they were the week before.
“Give up, Amin, I can do this forever!” Lavínia smiled. “Blink already!”
“I bet you can, but I will never blink,” Armin growled.
“How long are you two doing this?” Killian asked with a defeated look on his face.
“If we’re counting from last Friday… 166 hours,” Davin responded, pointing at the clock. “That’s a long staring contest.”
“Not again!” Killian said with a heavy sigh.
“Why don’t you just call it quits, Lavínia, you look like shit?” Armin smirked.
“You can’t even phase me, Armin.”
They were trying to prepare for the catastrophe that could break at any moment. But if that was the people Killian had to stop the apocalypse, they were as good as dead. So he ignored his idiot friends and dropped the books with his findings on Davin’s table.
“Two hours more and you will complete a full week looking at each other’s ugly faces,” Davin says, checking the clock and giving a look at the books.
“One week? That’s impressive.” Killian crossed his arms. “I knew the undead and demonic beings could hold long grudges, but that is a record coming from the two of you. Why are you doing this again?”
“Same as always, vampire versus demons, or something like that.” Davin jested. “You know those two can’t just admit they love each other.”
“I hate you, Davin!” they said in unison with eyes still glued in place.
“That’s enough!” Killian approached them and knocked their heads. Both closed their eyes in pain, ending their stupid game. “We have work to do, meatheads. Or else you will not be immortal for much longer.”
“Let’s call a truce for now?” Armin offered his hand.
“Deal,” she begrudgingly accepted it.
They went to the opposite side of the room and cleaned their mess.
“I’m surrounded by idiots.” Killian massaged his temple and turned to the books again.
I See You
Su squirmed into the narrow fissure in the rocks. Her oxygen tank caught once or twice as she did so, but Cristian was bigger than her, and he managed to make his way through. There was no reason she couldn’t as well.
“You’re almost there,” Cristian said. “Just shift your shoulders a couple inches to the right.”
Su shimmied her way over and pulled forward. She managed to pull herself into the cavern beyond the crawlway. “Thank you, Cristian.” She put her hands on her knees, and fought to catch her breath.
Cristian toyed with the handgun strapped to his leg. “So, how are we supposed to know when we find the…whatever we are looking for?”
Su stood up and shrugged. “I think that’s why you were partnered with me. I’m supposed to identify the phenomenon.”
Cristian nodded absently. “Right, and your…sight…thing.”
“True sight is what Erykah and Sonja have called it.” Su looked around the cavern and shivered, despite the sweat that she had built up with their spelunking. Being underground like this felt…confining.
Cristian nodded and looked around, his headstrap lamp cutting a beam of light through the darkness. “We should probably get….”
The rattle of falling rocks drew their attention, and Cristian pointed his weapon in that direction. A figure stood up, shielding his face from the light cast by Cristian’s lamp. A swatch of spiky blonde hair could be seen from the top of his head.
“Ryan?” Cristian asked.
“That’s me,” the newcomer answered.
“We got separated,” Ryan answered.
Su concentrated on Ryan. With so little light, it was hard to see him, but something looked wrong.
“Ryan, look me in the eyes,” Su said.
“What’s with the third degree?”
Su drew her own handgun. The weapon shook in her hand. “Ryan, look me in the eyes.”
Ryan lowered his hand, his trademark smirk still on his face. His eyes met hers.
Su focused her sight on his eyes. She could see they were no longer blue, but red.
“What are you?” she demanded.
Illusions of Grand Larceny
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
The man sat at his study desk, a book on the table and a mug of warm tea in his right hand. The only lights in the dark room were three small candles, just enough for the man to read by. Some other notable objects in the room included two large bookshelves, an unlit fireplace, and other chairs in case he ever had guests. He did not have visitors at the moment.
Wind caused the mansion to creak eerily, but the man did not mind. He was used to the unsettling nature of his home. He continued reading his book.
The door to the hallway drifted open, screaming on its hinges. The man sighed and placed his delicate silken thread bookmark between the pages, took a sip of tea, set down the mug, and stood to close the door.
When he turned back around, he was staring directly into two glowing yellow eyes.
He gasped and staggered backward, leaning against the now-closed door. “Wh—wh—who are you?!”
A gleaming, fanged smile accompanied the eyes. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
Nervous sweat dripped down the man’s face as an arm reached for the nearby bookshelf, grabbing an elephant-shaped bookend and swinging it towards the eyes.
A clawed hand wrapped tightly around his forearm.
“Don’t worry, my good friend. Killing you isn’t…necessary at the moment. I only need some letters you were sent by your associates about that illegal gold trickling into your vault.”
In a flash, a silver blade appeared at the man’s neck. “Would you like to make your death a necessity?”
“Okay! Okay! They’re…the letters are in my desk. Top drawer.”
“Good.” And with a resounding metallic clang, the intruder knocked the man unconscious with the butt of her dagger. The man fell to the floor with a thud.
Delicate claw-like fingers retrieved the letters without making a sound. Then, snuffing out the candles, she whispered, “End illusion.”
The magic faded, and Sam was standing in a bright empty courtyard.
Roselyn set down her spellcasting materials and began to applaud.
By: Makeshift Mousepad
The last thing I ever said to Hanna was, “There is nothing in this world that can love me.” Joseph poked at the campfire. “What’s worse is that she’d told me that she loved me just before that.”
Ariadne rubbed Joseph’s shoulder. “Wow… That’s brutal.”
“Huh? Oh, it’s been over two-hundred years, Ariadne. It doesn’t bother me anymore.” Joseph looked at the stars. “But I often wonder how things would’ve been if Hanna managed to break down my walls. Would I have lived a happy life? Would we have been happy together? Would someone else have done what I did? Would humanity have been faced with the same monster? Would that new monster have actually ended humanity?”
Ariadne bumped his arm, “You talk about the war way too much. Can’t we have a camping trip where you don’t lament the whole nuclear-war-thing?”
Joseph stuck his tongue out at her and she did the same in response.
“Heh. Tell me about Hanna. Who’s the lucky lady who had a big crush on you?”
“Alright.” Joseph smiled, “We met at work when we were developing the first generation of nanobots. She was a brilliant engineer. Without her, the nanobots might not have been created in my lifetime. But I wouldn’t call her ‘lucky’ though. I was a very different person when I was a regular human. I had bad mental problems that I constantly struggled to keep buried. And, looking back on things, she was probably the same.
“Maybe that’s why you were so drawn to one another. You both found someone that you didn’t have to keep up impressions around.”
“Maybe… It felt like I was home when I was around her. No one ever looked at me quite like she did.”
A snap from the campfire echoed into the night.
“I hope she lived a good life without me. It might have taken two-hundred years, but I’ve finally gotten the same.”
By Shea Carris (Inky Segno)
They were all looking at her. Taking in a deep breath, she was momentarily blinded by the lights.
It was basic biology, she still remembered learning the in’s and out’s of a human head from high school. Her lips, which were drawn in a straight line to convey monochromatic emotions. Her nose, which could smell everything from the cleaning solution used to make the floor shimmer down to a cigar being smoked by one of the judges. Her ears, which had long tuned out the annoyingly repetitive songs that played as her heels clicked with each rhythmic step.
And her eyes.
Calista struck a pose at the end of the runway, a hand on her hip and her back straightened proudly as she looked over numerous blank faces.
Maybe it was a blessing that she couldn’t see their expressions. After all, the first thing she had been taught by a coach she couldn’t remember was to steel her nerves; “everyone has an opinion.” Her eyes, which couldn’t recognize a satisfied or disgusted expression, saved her from that judgement, but not the anxiety.
In the short time frame before Calista turned around to walk back, she was at the mercy of a sea of indescribable people.
Having once prided herself on being an unmoving statue on stage, as soon as she was backstage and no longer under the harsh lights, Calista could feel herself cracking.
“Calista, are you okay?”
The voice, higher pitched in nature, approached her in trained repetition. Even when Calista could smell a sweet, flowery perfume, she was hesitant. “Can you help me with something Cali-Lily?”
The woman was silent, but turned towards what was familiar. She knew it was Emmi, but her face was just as blurry as the rest. “What colour are my eyes, sweetie? All I saw was grey.”
Calista closed her eyes and thought back to when the two were talking about colours, something foreign to Emmi. A smile made it’s way to the woman’s face, and when she opened them, her girlfriend was gazing back at her.
“Green, like a distant field.”
An escape from reality
by Gage Jarman
Screaming sounded throughout the house, words full of vitriol and spiked with molten contempt. A teenage boy marched into his room and slammed the door behind him. He wandered his self made prison, pacing, pacing, pacing, pacing, pacing, trying to untangle the knot inside his psyche.
‘She doesn’t care. Her god damn pride. Being correct doesn’t make you right. Just listen, just once, instead of challenging me like an old goat every fucking time!’
The boy leaned over his bed, placing his weight on his palms.
He punched the mattress, feeling it bounce beneath his frustration, flailing his fists like a cornered animal.
Panting, looking down at the bed, he flopped onto it.
‘It wasn’t my fault. Wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t. I didn’t know. Nobody would have. It was an accident. He made me. Why do I get blamed for all this shit and not him! Nobody cares. Nobody asks me! They just assume shit. If I was gone, they probably wouldn’t even notice. Look past me as it is.’
The boy sighed and turned his head. A curious mirror leaned up against the wall. It was old. The silver was tarnished and blotched. Reminded him of storm clouds. The silver tempest almost seemed to shift. Something about it didn’t feel real. He inched closer, reaching out.
The mirror gave under his touch. Silver wrapped around his hand. The boy looked back at his dingy room, took a deep breath, and pressed further into the clouded film.
There was only silver, different shades and hues, but nothing else in this void. He floated towards the mirror. The things in his room faded away, one by one, until it was bare. His mother walked in the doorway. She was… confused. Tears welled up in her eyes. She looked so lost.
The boy pressed against the mirror. It didn’t give. He was underwater. He was drowning. He pounded on the clouded glass. He screamed, but there was no sound.
‘LET ME OUT!’ the boy’s mind roared until his will was spent.
His body drifted deeper into the void.
“A Heartbeat Away”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
A push back. Intense searing pain. Falling backwards. The mud hit him hard, earth matting his unruly blond hair. His helmet tumbled aside. The young man pressed his hand to his chest. Warm red mixed with the rainwater and dirt. He tried standing, but he could barely manage to breathe. Every inhale was agony. Burning and cold at the same time. Was this his final resting place? No. It couldn’t be. It WON’T be.
“Medic!” he screamed.
Through the chaos of charging soldiers, three women approached. The tallest took his hand and removed it, examining the wound.
“Faulty elemental bullet.”
The middle woman let out a concerned grunt. “If we take him back to camp and try to extract it, we could set it off.”
“S-so, I’m going to die?” The soldier looked into the nurse’s eyes. There was hopelessness. Pity. And…eagerness? He looked deeper, as if the woman’s eyes were luring him in. Suddenly, his hand went limp. The world started to gray. Sound dulled. What was this? Was he dying? The nurse tore her eyes away.
The middle nurse stepped forward. “Brave soldier. Even though you will die in this life, you shall live in the next.”
With a gentle touch of his cheek, she locked eyes with him. A rushing sensation tickled the back of the soldier’s head as if a river was flowing from his head to hers. Wait, who was he? Where was he? What was going on?! Why couldn’t he move?
The third and shortest woman stepped forward. “Fret not, brave warrior. Thy courage and thy might shalt be preserved forever amongst numberless brethren. Thou shalt be counted amongst the great warriors of old.”
“Get on with it, Raddie.”
The shortest, Raddie, stuck her tongue out at the woman. “Thou protest too much, Bryn.”
Bryn let go of his face and rejoined the other woman. Raddie kneeled and took the soldier’s head in her hands. As they looked into each other’s eyes, he could feel himself fading. This was it. Raddie smiled sadly as the soldier’s head slumped, eyes glazed over.
Chasing Shadows (From Grael’s Library)
The crunch of snow is the only sound that reaches my ears as the putrid stench of yellow haze fills what remains of my nostrils. I follow the shadows up to one of the few remaining buildings. My inky claws dig into the rotting steps and I hear her scream once I near the top. A blunt object collides with my skin, leaving only splinters of wood on the ground.
I effortlessly lift her into the air and our eyes meet. She struggles, matching my golden gaze, but inevitably succumbs to her fate. Her pupil flits to the side, granting entry. I draw the memories like water from a well and empowering energy courses through my veins. For The Judge, each victim must be ambrosia. My mind bends and her memories become my own. The visions flicker dimly in my mind.
I see the room, vibrant and filled with life, the inhabitants hollow and grey.
A man is splattered with red and my victim falls on her knees, hands on the crimson body.
Tears drip from her eyes and the blade slips from her grasp.
The Betrayer looms behind her, white eyes burning into my flesh.
I cannot keep myself from crying out, alerting him to my presence.
I hide among the memories to escape his gaze, but his wandering eyes find me just the same.
Disconnected from my victim, she lies in a heap, still breathing, but The Betrayer remains behind her.
My claws extend and I step forward, but even knowing she is Lost, I hesitate to perform the necessary act. I remind myself that she was a corpse before I came to collect her, corrupted into this twisted life.
The Betrayer takes notice of my hesitation and uses it to his advantage. His eyes surround me and I find myself engulfed by white light.
I awaken on the damp floorboards of the building, soaked from the snow falling through the holes in the roof. I scan the area for my victim, but to my dismay, The Betrayer has taken her again, leaving fading shadows behind.
By RVMPLSTLSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
Padas stared out at the sea and fought the pressure building behind his eyes. Within his breast, solidarity and sorrow warred with apprehension and postcoital contentment. He was learning to love and be loved, again.
The pressure stayed, a constant in his confliction.
He had lost so much. Just months ago, he had been betrothed. He had built a house and chosen his bride. The price was set and paid, for one does not gain a wife without demonstrating the resources to care for her.
Did not gain…
Padas felt his chest tighten, as though The Deep One called to him. He shivered, but did not weep. Perhaps he could not weep, could not cry and spill his emotions into the sea.
But he could steel himself. He could feel and hold his pain without succumbing, without giving The Deep One a foothold in his mind.
He was lonely in the sort of way only the truly alone can feel. He felt sharply the absence of the gods, the void of humanity; only he and Vienas remained here and she wouldn’t look at him.
Part of him felt used, but his thoughts mourned for her too. She’d lost everything he had and her sight besides. As unseeing as her eyes now were, he still wished she would look at him. It was her sightless stare that unnerved him. He’d seen worse wounds as a fisherman, but her bloodshot gaze reminded him of rotted fish, stormwaters and malascendant times.
Padas breathed a ragged sigh and looked out again over the calm sea. His soul sang for more and less. He longed for the quiet faith of reality wherein gods would answer even the basest of men. His mind rebelled at the reality of being alone. Even his eyes refused to speak the truth of reality; he saw memories and shadows of things that were.
Beside him was an open clam shell with a single pearl. He had found and stored plenty, but today… today he needed to hold one, to hear it. He needed the truth of dead gods.
A Perfect Stare (Alice’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
Eddar walked with confidence across the tavern towards a small table, where the strange clockmaker girl was drinking her tea after having fixed the innkeeper’s clock. Without asking, he took the seat opposite hers, getting a good look at the woman he had heard so much about.
She sat upwards, startled. Her orange-brown eyes looked back into his own, as she quickly put down her tea and crossed her arms. She was clearly half-gnome, with her large eyes and slightly-pointed ears – and certainly attractive too, Eddar thought. How could anyone find her creepy?
There was a long pause, as they stared into each other. Then abruptly, the clockmaker started speaking. “Hello good sir. What can I do for you today? Do you have urgent business with me?” Her voice was refined and clear.
He had expected her to be shy. Her instant directness was surprising. “Oh, well, uh, you…know a lot about clocks, right?”
Another pause. “You are correct. I am responsible for all the creation and maintenance of this town’s clocks, in fact. Do you want a new clock, or to repair an old one?”
“Now just wait there Missy, I didn’t say I wanted-”
“Alice.” Her voice cut through his. “My name is Alice Bereppen Tiktik. Good to meet you, Eddar Rankell.” Her face remained neutral, her stare burrowing into his eyes.
“….H-hang on, how did you know my name?” He could feel sweat upon his brow.
She responded immediately. “Twenty-seven days ago. You introduced yourself to the barkeep. I was there, as is my evening custom. And I never forget a name.”
He shivered. How could she remember that? And…he was beginning to notice how perfectly symmetrical her face was, unable to find a single blemish or even a hair out of place…and she just wouldn’t stop staring-
He blinked. Somehow, impossibly, Alice had chimed at the exact same moment as the bar’s repaired clock.
Eddar stood up, turned away, and left the tavern without another word.
“Goodbye.” Alice said to the empty space before her, and went back to taking her tea.