Hello, Fibbers and Falsifiers!
Hey, you’ve told a lie before, right? What do you do if you are caught? Do you fess up, or lie even more? It’s time to see how well you can keep your web of lies straight… or perhaps it’s time to watch it unravel, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
False Faces and Lying Voices
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!
Liar, liar, pants on fire, hanging from a telephone wire! We’ve all heard the phrase, though it is not the most intuitive of sayings. One would assume this means every liar carries spontaneous combustibles, but we all know that is not the case. Why they are strung up… we may never know.
But it does get one thinking, doesn’t it? The punishments for lying can be a multitude of things. From something as simple as a tiny rub of soap on the tongue to the far more severe extensive prison sentence. We could explore what it’s like to be a child who always lies to get what they want, saying they did their homework when they didn’t, or causing some mischief and making someone else take the fall. Are they successful liars, or do they always get caught? Perhaps this can be about someone who always lies to their partner, or even partners, to be able to continue their double, triple, or more lifestyle. Maybe it’s an office worker who has lied and cheated their way to the top, or even a CEO who lies about their company’s products. This could even be a chance to explore the deceit in a political circle.
But as always, there’s other angles to look at. What about people who lie for the benefit of others? An older sibling taking the fall for a younger sibling breaking their mother’s favourite vase. Perhaps a friend needed help with an essay, but the teacher noticed that it was almost a direct copy of yours, so you tell her that you copied from them instead, letting them take the grade. There’s many little white lies one can tell that do little to no harm at all; “Did you like her cooking?”, “Yes.” But actually no. This spares any hurt feelings. “Are you coming out tonight?”, “Sorry, I’m sick. I can’t.” An understandable excuse when one just wants some down time alone for an evening rather than being social. But we need to remember there’s also lies that hide things that are wrong, like someone being hurt by another’s words, but saying they’re fine. Even a simple smile can be the biggest lie, hiding so much inner turmoil.
So many lies, so many masks. This is your opportunity to fib, cheat, and take risks to see how much you can get away with.
Don’t worry, we’ll have a fire extinguisher on hand for your trousers.
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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- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
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- 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).
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- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
By L. L. Marco
“Where is she!?” Lorna blurted the words before her vision had even fully returned. Her head was swimming with pain, her extremities tingled.
“Miss Brennan, please-” a woman’s voice tried to sooth. “Don’t move, you’ll hurt yourself.”
Hurt herself? She didn’t give a damn about that! Lorna sat upright, causing another stab of pain. The lights burned her eyes.
As her vision steadied she found the same pale walls and sterile smell of the Institution, but the room wasn’t recognizable. This only served to make the intern more frantic. She tried to sit up, but a stronger pair of hands held her.
“Where. Is. She!?” Lorna couldn’t get the vision out of her head. The world around her felt fake; only one thing felt horrifically solid and that was the vision of her friend’s limp body…
“Lorna, please…” Doctor Camilla whispered, “If you don’t calm down, I can’t protect you–”
“Protect ME!?” Lorna shouted, tears streaking her cheeks. “What about her!?”
Camilla’s brow furrowed.
“Tell me who you think you’re talking about, Miss Brennan. Let me help.”
Lorna’s lip quivered.
“D-Delainy Lavertue. She’s an biology intern, she came to the institution a few months ago-”
The guard snorted and Camilla shot him a sharp look. The room fell quiet.
“Lorna, your group was the last. A year ago.”
Lorna inhaled sharply and tried to force herself up again, only to be thrown back on the gurney.
“Please Lorna! We’ve gone through this so many times, there’s no one with that name in the Institution! I checked the records myself!”
Lorna screamed out in fury, throwing her fist and catching the man’s jaw before leaping off the gurney. A siren sounded and before she could run a wave of guards rushed in and held her down. Camilla’s face contorted, distressed, as she pushed the injection into Lorna’s neck, trying her best to avoid the old injection sites. Her body fell still.
“How many times are you going to put her through this? She’s lost her mind.” The guard hissed, rubbing his wounded cheek.
Camilla simply turned away.
A man with a snake mask watched as the masquerade ball continued on without a hitch. He could hear the debauchery happen all around him. Everyone was dressed so finely. Everyone except Detective Valik von Vandermeer. He strided through, taking in all the stares he got. This wasn’t his first encounter with the aristocracy and since he already was unpopular among them, he might as well as embrace it.
He walked up to the bar, where the attendant was wearing a rat mask. The scrutiny of Valik’s presence was palpable, as those that were near him immediately walked away. Valik could almost recognize a few of them by just their demeanors.
“And what is the greatest private detective doing at a party like this?” A woman in a snake mask slithered up to the seat beside Valik.
He simply smiled. “Oh I just decided to enjoy my infamy, Mrs. Greenhorn.”
“And are you going to explain how you got in from the front door?”
“No, I don’t think I will.” He giggled a little, enjoying this little game of cat and mouse.
She gave an exasperated sigh. “So you’re not even going to explain why you are here? I would assume it would be for an investigation of sorts. You’ve never cared to join us before.”
“I might be investigating, I might be enjoying my free time. As someone whose income comes from contract to contract, I have more free time than the rest of you.”
She simply stared at him for a moment and then shook her head. “It’s quite rude to lie to a lady. Hmph.”
She walked away, anger evident in her steps. Valik simply smiled and ordered his drink. He slyly looked over near the center of the room where the host was entertaining his supplicants. He wore a lion mask with a crown on its head.
After taking a few sips and making sure his target wouldn’t leave, Valik decided to go entertain the king of this masquerade, while he waited for his partner to find those files. This would be a great party indeed.
The Ballroom Conspiracy
Cassidy circled the ballroom, her eyes peeled, going from one face to another. She hunted for Magnus Von Nilsson, the deranged former professor, rumored to be crashing the ball.
Across the ballroom, she caught sight of her partner, Andrew. Andrew looked over, and shook his head, then returned to looking over the other guests.
As she searched, a man in a crimson velvet suit crossed her path. She did a double take, seeing the greying sideburns and mustache, certain she had her man. She hadn’t met Van Nilsson, and had only the picture from the Royal Frederick University.
Cassidy called over one of the policemen providing security. Within seconds, a young bobby was at her side. Cassidy quickly found the man in crimson once again.
“I think I found my man,” Cassidy explained. She kept her gaze on the man in crimson, and pulled her revolver from her handbag. She led the policeman, moving in to apprehend the man.
Another officer approached. “Have you located him?” he asked.
Cassidy nodded, without looking away. “Yes.”
“I’ll help the agent,” the new officer said. “Watch the doors to make sure he doesn’t escape.”
“Will do, Sergeant,” the younger officer replied.
Cassidy moved quickly, the sergeant on her heels, as she intercepted the man in the crimson velvet. She jammed the revolver in his side.
“Going somewhere, Van Nilsson?” she asked.
The man turned, his eyes wide. From close up, she could see that his sideburns and mustache were obviously fake. The man was a decoy.
“Help, she has a gun!” he cried out.
Pain flared through her forearm as a police baton slammed down onto it. The revolver dropped from her hand. Cassidy whirled, to see the sergeant holding the baton. As she saw him, she cursed herself. The sergeant’s facial hair had been trimmed and dyed, but it was clearly Van Nilsson.
“Arrest this woman!” Van Nilsson ordered, and policemen rushed for her.
Cassidy reached for her government identification, but was unable to find it. She glared at Van Nilsson, who smirked as held her identification pocketbook in his hands.
False Face and Misunderstood Noises
By Jesse Fisher
An eel-like being was stump at what to do now, her black cloak rippled as she moved to get a bit more comfort. Her back was to the only door in and out of the tan room she sat in, her eyes watching two unique young creatures.
She had been conscripted, volunteered because look at how cute they are, to be the two…dang it she did not get the age from Demon before he and the mother left. With a sigh and a shrug Bell took off the mask that summoned her and formed her own.
“Maybe some paper masks?”
A tall civet goddess stood in front of the massage rooms as her ears twitched from the noises emanating from the place. The sounds seemed erodic but that seemed off, then again there was that time that…
She just shook her head and moved towards the beach.
“I’m just happy it was only me that found that, otherwise the gossip would just be crazy.”
Meanwhile inside the massage rooms the source of the sounds slumped to the table, as bladed fingers picked another dead scale and popped her back. Grangal had forgotten how that felt to not have that pressure.
“You know,” The voice responsible for her current elation, and much more before this, spoke once her near orgasmic sound had calmed. “Saying that you were molting and that your back was out could have saved me some worry.”
Something hit her then, while her love was still a fragile thing. Emotionally speaking. Another shot of relief and pleasure shot through her as she saw a good chunk of dead scales and feathers were pulled from her.
“Sorry.” was her response as she rode out the feelings. “The last molt was back when I was still cared on by handmaidens.”
“I’m not wearing a dress just to make you feel frisky.” The deadpan response almost matched the previous high.
“So tell me more of this Bell you summoned?” There was the mother’s worry.
“Alright but at this point the emotional-vampiric eel will be fat after a while around us.”
A trial of Justice
By Edward P (w/ help from Luna and Calliope)
Through an eyeless mask, Vijo felt the sun. He spent enough time in that cell that the warmth of true light pierced through his blind state. Those escorting Vijo wore similar masks except their eyes were open. They wore the clothing of merchants and lords.
Eventually the procession came to a stop. After a pause, only broken by a sharp click of shoe on tile, a voice cut the silence: “Veretta and its people will know your heart this day.” Click. Click. “One of our own, a prince of the land, stands before the scales accused of treason.” The lord orating turned away from Vijo, and addressed an unseen audience.
The orator began to incant, “Bveras ot cjeyos, bveras ot miray…”
The essences of truth, righteousness,and the city of Veretta had been summoned to this hall. The language of magic guaranteed their presence, or would have had the orator not pronounced every word just wrong enough for the meaning of the words to be lost to the weave.
“You are accused of treason against our city Vijo Corassa, and as such will have your heart weighed against the heaviest heart of justice.”
The orator gestured to one of the men, who brought forth a box. Within was Vijo’s porcelain heart, which pulsated with fear. Next, a woman stepped forward to the clay heart on the altar to Justice. This heart was far larger than anyone save the orator had seen before, and was reserved for the worst of crimes. With hands shaking, the woman brought this heart before the orator and the scales he was preparing.
“As the accused, you may see the judgement with your own eyes. Remove his mask.”
Vijo’s mask was removed, and he took in the sight of his heart being weighed. The clay heart was lifted by his own. His fear of the verdict was short lived though, for as the clay heart was lifted from the scale, the woman misjudged its weight and dropped it. The heart broke, two large chunks breaking off of the core. The heart was hollow and light.
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
It was pretty early in the morning. I rubbed my groggy eyes and quietly headed downstairs and sat gently on the couch. It would be another 2 hours until my husband or our baby woke up, so I had some time to myself to read and relax.
Or so I thought…
I sigh and get up to check on my baby boy, but as I quietly headed over, I heard another voice. “Shh shhh shh. You have to be quiet. You don’t want to wake anyone up do you?”
I quickened my pace until I was just outside my child’s door. Quietly, I slowly creaked open the door to peer inside. It was still dark, but the morning sun was just starting to bleed light into the room.
“Listen, kid. You can’t tell anyone I was here, got it?” a black cat, who was sitting on the floor next to my child’s bed, seemed to have said.
“Bu-but Isn’t that lying, Mr. Cat?” Austin said, clearly ignoring the cat’s wishes to be quiet. “Mom says lying is bad and that it hurts people. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
I smiled proudly at my boy while I tried in vain to think of ways to deal with a talking cat in my son’s bedroom.
“Don’t think of it as lying… think of it as protecting them from an uncomfortable truth.”
“Wh-what does ‘unecomfable’ mean?”
The cat sighed. “It means they wouldn’t want to know the truth.”
“What does ‘pro-protecking’ mean?”
“Don’t worry about it kid. Just don’t say anything or your family gets hurt.”
“Ok!” my kid smiles, seemingly oblivious to the threat. “So, Mr. Cat, what brings you here t-today?”
“Oh, I’m just here to, uh, borrow your mother’s necklace. She said it was ok.”
At this moment I burst into the room.
“All right, buster. I want you to get out of my son’s room, NOW, or you’re going to t-to uh, to time out!”
At that word, the cat sprinted out of the open window and back into the forest beyond.
For Blood and Family
By Lunabear (Proofread by Masacur and RVMPSTILTSKIN)
Taryn ignored the sprawling estate as she traversed the lawn. She sighed once she reached the front door. She HAD to do this.
She pounded on the wood with the side of her fist. White lightning streaked along her shoulder blades at the movement.
Taryn winced at the aching bullet wound but swallowed the groan.
Show no weakness.
The door squealed open to emit heavy rap. The scarred, one-eyed face of a man came into view.
Taryn’s fists clenched. She gritted her teeth behind tightly closed lips. Her pulse thundered, and she could barely hold back her tears.
“I help you?”
Her tone gave nothing away. Her face was stone. “I need to speak with Cray.”
“Boss man is busy right now. Plus, you might want to come back during the day, little lady. It’s much safer for you then.”
Taryn removed a pouch of silver-laced powder from her purse. She blew a handful into his face.
He stumbled back, yowling in pain. He scrubbed at his eyes with the backs of his hands.
She pursued him inside.
He yelled something akin to an expletive, but the music and Taryn’s unsympathetic mindset blocked them out.
He landed in the middle of a poker game. Blue, white, and red chips scattered amidst angry snarls.
Cocked guns and raised weapons were aimed at Taryn. She stood her ground. She was surrounded, but she never took her gaze from the scarred man.
The music’s volume lowered. A deep, Russian rumble skittered down her spine.
“Lower your weapons or suffer.”
They did as ordered.
It was with great reluctance that Taryn moved her eyes from the man to Cray.
Her stomach churned. Her knees nearly buckled.
“They’re going to execute my son. He’s become feral and is too dangerous to control. P-please.”
“Under MY conditions.” Flat and uncompromising.
Taryn bowed. Fast tears scorched her cheeks. “Yes.” The word sliced her tongue on the way out.
“Dendrake, YOU bit the boy. You will assist.”
A resigned growl. Chips plinking to the floor. Heavy shuffling.
At Taryn’s side, the scarred man bowed to Cray.
by Kofee (hellokofee)
The traveler’s gift was a curse.
After escaping servitude, he swore to never use it again.
But when the traveler met a small child in the woods, sobbing over the corpses of her family, butchered by bandits, he wavered.
A scene similar to one from his own childhood plagued the traveler.
Resolved to his choice, he embraced the girl.
He swore to give this child a gift that he could never give himself.
The traveler touched her mind.
As he severed the links of recent memory and sealed them away, the child lost consciousness.
No. This never happened before.
Meddling with the mind often harmed the meddler, rarely the meddled.
The traveler stood with the sleeping girl in his arms and left the grisly scene in search of the main road. A sanctuary could help. A sanctuary could undo his mistake.
But as night fell upon the forest, with his destination still miles away, he fell to his knees in despair and wept, thinking: what have I done?
What good was his gift? His curse? If he couldn’t help one person?
As if responding to his despair, the girl woke up.
“Where’s Papa?” She asked again and yawned. “Where’s Mama?”
Immense relief filled the traveler. The gods had been kind.
But had his meddling worked?
“Your… your Mama and Papa are looking for you, little one.” He said. “You got lost in the woods. But… I found you. Remember?”
The girl bit her bottom lip, seemingly unsure. For a moment, he thought she remembered the truth.
Then her stomach growled. “Hungry,” she whined. “I want Mama.”
The traveler helped the girl onto her feet. “Let’s get you some supper.” And took her hand.
He was ashamed that he lied and that there were more lies to come until they found a sanctuary.
The traveler would rather every word be a lie than touch the girl’s mind ever again.
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
“No! No! Don’t get me! Don’t get me!”
The monster snarled, never giving up chase.
Avir ran as fast as their legs could carry them, gasping for air. Behind them, the monster charged, arms outstretched, its menacing face the fuel of nightmares.
Hidden by the tall grass of the clearing, a root tripped Avir, who fell onto the soft dirt. “No! Don’t get me! Don’t get me!” they cried, turning to face their doom.
The monster reached out a hand…and gently tapped Avir’s nose.
“Haha! Tag! You’re it!”
“That’s unfair, Tris!” Avir huffed. “You always target me! Chase the others for a change!”
Tris laughed as their face shifted into that of a child, with bright eyes and tangled hair. “I still got you! You’re it! You’re the monster!”
Avir pouted, but followed the rules of the game, changing their face to match Tris’s previous one.
The game of “monster tag,” as the children called it, continued under the watchful eyes of their designated supervisors, Dione and Wyz.
“Look at ‘em go,” Dione leaned against a sturdy tree trunk.
“Yeah.” Wyz ran a hand through their messy hair.
“They’re getting good at faces.”
“That they are.”
Dione sighed. “It’s kinda sad, y’know?”
“Just…they’re still kids. And they’re already learning to mimic faces.”
“Yeah. Proper training, if you ask me.”
“I know, but…what happens when they meet humans? It’ll probably be hard for them to adjust.”
“What do you mean?”
“Humans like consistency. And these kids, well…” Dione and Wyz watched the children shift between humanoid and monster and humanoid again, with almost no effort. “I just think humans… aren’t gonna treat ‘em right.”
“Humans have never treated us right,” Wyz scoffed. “Changelings like us are creatures of lying and deception in their eyes, and nothing else. Don’t act like it was any different for us growin’ up then what these kids are gonna live through.”
Dione sighed. “If you say so.”
by Gage Jarman
Blue saturated the warm summer sky. Shadows swirled outside the monastery around a young girl. She took a deep breath and focused, letting the pool of emotions flow freely from her. The inky spiral expanded, delving down into graves in smoky streams. Outlines of faces rose to the surface of the spiraling black cloud. The girl wretched the dark from its slumber until the expanding mass collided with the golden barrier of the consecrated ground.
Lightning erupted from the discordant energy. Tombstones shattered. The shadows shrunk back from the tempest; a dome of crackling divine energy confined the black fog.
The girl pushed back, but she was losing control. The faces engulfed the small girl, diving into her, a shoal of scared minnows, a maelstrom of voices passing through her like frigid gales.
We were lied to
The Dark whispered
The Light lied
We can survive
We can guide
The girl felt her soul severing. The tether grew thin. She saw her body bathed in faces. Pained visages washed over her like rapids over stones, surfacing, shifting, surrounding. The allure of the dark was so peaceful, so quiet. She wanted rest. She didn’t want to feel.
A ray of light pierced the dome of darkness and lightning. The cloud of faces dissolved into the earth. The girl felt the pain returning.
“Kiera, what did you do! The shadow arts are forbidden, and to do them in the cemetery of the fallen war.” A portly woman stood over her.
“I’m sorry… I’m, I wanted—”
“It is Forbidden!” She enunciated. “By the light, we gave concessions because of your father and yet….”
“But that’s why I did it! I need to be strong. I need answers, and, and, and I’m so lost.”
The woman sighed at the weeping girl. “Come, let us make sure all’s well.”
The grand hall was aglow with shining lamps and smiling faces. Gowns sparkled with light as they swirled in the dance. Laughter and excited small talk filled the air, like the bouquet of perfumes coming from the ladies attending the gala. It was all perfect.
Mia took a sip of the bitter punch, her frown hidden behind the wide rim of her glass.
“The Duke is so handsome!” A lady in yellow swooned over him.
“I wish he would choose me,” sighed another.
“Don’t we all!” Said the yellow-clad one. Her comment met with laughter from the surrounding crowd.
Mia chuckled nervously behind another sip. She pushed down the fear gnawing inside her as the crowd began to reverently part at the Duke’s approach. He was indeed handsome, his pale skin seeming to glow against the dark blue velvet of his suit. “My lady,” He offered a black-gloved hand toward her, “would you honor me with this dance?”
Mia froze for a heartbeat. She knew his secret. Behind that gentile smile and charming eyes lay something. Something dangerous.
“Of course, your grace.” With practiced elegance, Mia set down her glass and took his hand. Her spine shivered at his touch. It was so cold.
They smiled at each other cordially as they danced. The Duke’s eyes studied Mia’s cooly, seeming to peer into her very soul. “We all have our shadows.” He said as they spun in the circle. “However, just the right light can reveal them.” Her heart quickened as he leaned in closer. “But you know that, don’t you?” His soft growl in her ear raised the hair on the back of her neck.
“Of course,” Mia’s laughter thinly veiled the tremor in her voice as she feigned ignorance. What did he mean? Did he know what she saw that night?
With the last step of the dance, he called the crowd’s attention. “I have made my choice. The fine Lady of Erinvale shall be my bride.”
Mia’s mind spun as she automatically accepted the good wishes. She knew her fate—the fate of those who lie to him.
When the Wanderer saw Nobody on the Road
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (from the Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
There are an infinite number of ways in which words can sting. Some are like wasps, smooth and quick. Others bleed and cut, mangle. A very few are like rays: slow, hidden and barbed slightly.
Within the latter were the words the old woman spoke to Klajonas: “I am niekas.”
The tugging of these words brought memories of her sister and father and Vienas. Klajonas suspected—though not consciously—that the words meant more than just a name, that something was missing. Her sister would know, but Klajonas pursued other knowledge.
The old woman was smiling. “It’s been so long since I saw anyone else. Welcome to my Home.”
Home was inconceivable, a mere storage shed to the temple Klajonas had grown in. It was, she learned, a dirt hovel. One of the little houses where Man did not live. These were places of mushrooms, guineas and dogs, of rats and songbirds and danger of burying.
The old woman led her inside this cramped, messy abode and asked for two things: a story and her name.
“I am Klajonas.”
“The Wanderer walks again,” niekas cackled. “And who is your Love?”
“I haven’t found her yet.” It was a joke, but Klajonas—whose whole world was four other people and only one man—did not yet understand her words fully.
niekas made a noise, sombering. “You aren’t old enough to be a Witness. Are there more?”
“Are there gods?”
Klajonas—who grew up in the cemetery of gods and knew their images and works—thought for a moment. Someone, she thought, must have created the Everflame, Karas’s Sword, or the Pearls her father hoarded for Vienas.
“Yes,” she said, “I believe there are, somewhere.”
niekas stared at her a long time. “We should go and find them. Only the strong deserve worship.”
Klajonas smiled, sensing a new story at last. One where she might live forever. “We should eat first. I have herbs and mushrooms.”
“I have birds and I know the land.”
“The gods are not east.”
“And they aren’t here. Which way shall we go?” niekas was smiling.
Klajonas—remembering the Wanderer’s tale—smiled back. “South.”
I’d much rather write a story.
The potbellied clinic assistant shuffled on his pedestal, using a rag to hide his nudity.
“how much longer do I have to sit here?” he said staring down at the greying head of the artist he had become muse for. An old man brushing at his canvas, paint splattering his pink hospital gown. The tag around his wrist reading “CATHERINE SCRIBBLE”.
“Come on my back is killing me. Are we almost done?” said the assistant.
“not yet” croaked Catherine in reply. “and stop moving or you’ll ruin another one” pointing to a pile of portraits. He mixed up a blotch of red to match his subjects face.
The door to the room slid open and shut as two women entered the room.
“Hi mommy!” said Catherine one of the women replying with a smile and a wave.
“The change occurred earlier today during recess. The school did the right thing getting her here before calling you” the doctor said. Pulling a pen from her lab coat she walked her companion towards the discarded canvases.
“Did she go through much pain?” Mrs. scribble asked her hand on the sixty-year old’s shoulder.
“Thankfully, the paramedics were able to sedate her. She slept through most of the metamorphosis” the doctor grinned. “We’ve run some tests and so far, things are looking great. Oh, and these are something special was she an artist before?” She said picking up a portrait from the pile.
“Only hand prints in preschool. She was mostly a writer” Mrs. Scribble replied.
“Fantastic, the person she copied must have been trained. I can see elements of Van Gogh and Monet. It’ll be amazing when she can use all his Muscle memory”
“I’d much rather write a story” muttered Catherine on her stool.
Mrs. Scribble knowing that her baby Catherine had changed for good. that soon she wouldn’t want to write and that she had already forgotten how, embraced the old man and lied.
“Sure honey, when we get home you can write me a huge book.”
Weak! Pathetic! Worthless! Incompotent! Good for nothing but taking up space! Those papers in your hand? They will be discarded. Lost amongst that of your betters! People more able! Smarter than you!
That feeling in the pit of your stomach? They can see it, you know! They can all see your worthlessness written on your skin! They will pity you and mock you! The ones who speak honeyed words don’t really care! They only want something from you! You will never make a mark on their world! Why do you continue to exist?
They flit in and out of your life like a zephyr! None of them will last with a lump like you! Their smiles no more real than a dream! Oh, they like you at first, you faker! But when they learn of the real you, the cesspool that you truly are? They recoil in revulsion, and leave you adrift again. You remember! Every friend you’ve had are gone now. Even your family only stays around because of some misguided sense of duty to their flesh and blood.
How bold of you to simply walk in as if you belong here. Look at that on the wall! Isn’t it shiny? Isn’t it pretty? Let’s just take a quick peek at it! Only for a second!
Trevor blinks, banishing the demons in his mind trying to distract him and bring him down as he hands the application and resume to the cashier. They smile at each other politely as he turns to leave.
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
Thalyss sighed, breathing out and assuming the old woman form for the last time. It seems like yesterday she’d just gotten used to it. Now the lindwyrm was 99 years old. A long time for humans, but nothing to dragonkind. She remembered what her mother always told her: “for each ten years a human lives, a dragon lives but one”. That’s why today scared her.
Everything was set. Thalyss’s father worked out a bunch of actors to come and take her to the hospital. There her mien, Mrs. Rudith Mavorich, would die of a heart attack. She’d swap out with a cadaver they’d prepared. They’d lay low in a safehouse for a day and as a family, she, her brother, her mother and her father would develop new identities.
Thalyss put on the frumpy muumuu that was her guise’s nightgown and took many deep breaths. Her mother, disguised as a younger woman in silk pajamas, poked her head in.
“Thalyss, you about ready?”
The lindwyrm nodded. “Momma, why do we have to do this?”
Thalyss’s mother sighed, walked over and rubbed her back.
“It’s the only way to make sure everyone in our family is safe.”
Thalyss kissed her mother on the cheek. “I’ll put on my best performance yet.” The age of Mrs. Mavorich crept into her voice.
The mien of the younger woman furrowed her brow before going back to a smile. “Besides, you’ll be able to make a new identity closer to your maturity level. No more required bingo hall nights. No more afternoon tea with stuffy women you don’t like, but pretend to like because it benefits you.”
“No more fake doctor visits?”
“No more fake doctor visits.”
Thalyss smiled. “I get to play again?”
Her mother nodded and laughed. The visage of Mrs. Mavorich jumping up and down excitedly like a child at an all-you-can-eat ice cream bar was ridiculous. But soon Thalyss would be the little girl that she knew.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. A man that looked vaguely like Mrs. Mavorich poked his head in.
“You ready, Thalyss?”
Discovery (Well-House Verse)
He ducked in the low doorway. The wind outside still roared, but quieter now. The light from a tiny window sparkled off bronze hanging tags, and illuminated… a man?
No, not a man. A statue of a humanlike figure, with a mask of pitted porcelain and corroded metal. It had no eyes, nor other features, but the metal dripped thick smears of corrosion. If the scavenger squinted, they were tears.
Behind it loomed a hydra made of cords and cables.
The mess of serpents sprawled into the room, tucked away in corners and slithering into holes; some were wrapped in thick scaled webbing, like starship cables, others were clear and dusted with sand. A few had coagulated colored material in them, and several appeared to be full of marbles. The cables attached to the back of the statue, leaving the front as a facsimile of human form. One foot had been broken off, exposing tiny gold gears inside. He stepped closer, to see the value-
With a squeal, the shell’s chest moved.
The scavenger backed up till he felt the wind. Marbles clicked through the tubes and a yellowed bulb tried to flicker on.
“Gr–r–r-eeea…tings.” The machine creaked. The voice came from the statue, and it’s arms moved, curling from rest to attention to sign “hello”, releasing sand from old dry joints.
It did not seem bothered by the screechy noises of unoiled metal, and truth be told the scavenger wasn’t either. The wind was too loud.
The mess of cables behind it had enough give that the… automaton could move. The legs appeared to be no longer functional, or perhaps it was attached directly to the floor.
“A–re you he-re to… learn?” It re-folded its hands atop threadbare fabric that had once been ornate. A marble thunked down its tube. The wind wailed.
The scavenger abruptly realized that he wasn’t looking at a droid. This was the interface, a massive machine pouring itself into this hollow shell to interact with him.
…the wind was too strong to explore the ruins for now, the scavenger could wait for awhile.
Dancing on passionate illusions
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
The live band played high-tempo jazz, and the dancers sailed gracefully on the stage.
Between all the smoke and champagne, she could see some whispering in each other’s ears and exchanging looks. Some seemed to be directed at her. She danced and scanned the place, even took a sip of a few drinks.
Under the fox mask, Haven was anonymous. If they knew she met Mr. Rabbit, the guests would be in disarray, asking what she knew about the handsome demon with the bunny mask.
Mr. Jack Rabbit looked like a sculpture, suited up in light bluish grey with brown leather gloves. The white mask that covered his whole face complimented his silvery blond hair. And the pointy Rabbit ears protrude from the top of his head with his deer-like horns.
An invisible force pulled her. It was him, abusing his magic again.
A spotlight shines on both of them, and people open space to look at him. He takes her hand and with an unusual joyful voice announces: “Ladies, gentlemen, and creatures from beyond. I present to you, Miss Fox!”
He flicked his fingers, and the song slowed down. Both took a dance stance, as it was clear what he was about to do.
“Care to explain?” She rolled her eyes while she let him conduct her.
He turns her around just to reach her ear. “Business, dear Haven.” If she could see his face through the mask, she would see Jack malicious wink as he dropped her to his feet in a passionate move. “Right now, I’m selling them the dream of you.”
The business of the elusive demon was simple: make them desire, make them pay, make them dream. And when all ended, they would return to the cabaret to be sold on another illusion.
By turning her into the center of all attention, he was controlling the cravings of the crowd. He needed to make them gossip and make them wonder. After all, they wanted to be Haven at this moment, forever tied in the arms of that masked devil.
“Shomar, you’ve done me proud.”
The Ash Lord leaned back in his chair, a false smile on his concealed face. “Well, I do like to think that my services are adequate.”
“Of course. Now, I’ll need that message sent out as quickly as possible. Leuveir is sailing his Legion down towards Viziel,” said Raesh.
Shomar nodded, and from the large bowl beside his seat bubbled swirling pillars of ink. “I am already composing it as we speak.”
Raesh looked over and smiled, before standing up. “Good to know. Thank you, Shomar.”
“I promise you that Leuveir will know every little detail.”
As Raesh left the room, Shomar finally exhaled through gritted teeth. He hated Raesh, mainly because he always assumed that his approval was validating for everyone. The arrogant mortal sod of a prick. He was unsure how much longer he could take sending messages from such swine.
A knock on his door snapped Shomar out of his stewing hate, and setting his eyes on the source of that knock melted whatever spite simmering in his mind.
There stood Vana, with a tome in hand and a quill in the other. “Hey, Shomar.”
The Ash Lord leapt from his seat and rushed over to Vana, each step with a spring in it. He then swept her off of her feet and into his arms.
“Hey, not right now. The door’s open, somebody’s gonna see us.”
“Will they, now?” With an invisible force, the door slammed shut.
Vana gave him a concerned, yet loving look. “You’ve got to be more careful about this. This isn’t a game. They could banish or kill us for this.”
Shomar sighed, “I know. But I can’t hold this back. I can’t keep hiding our love.”
“Well, what are you going to do about it? It’s not like we can just leave Threllem.”
He paused and thought, long and deeply. If worse came to worst, maybe that was it. Maybe that was the answer.
Relighting The Flame (Nyssa’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
“O-oh. Professor Littlestar! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
Nyssa smiled awkwardly. “Yes, I suppose it has. Sorry I never kept in touch,” she said, pulling herself up into the chair opposite Emil Carston, Materials Procurer for the University. “I have a request.”
A pause. Then Emil nodded slightly. “Sure. What exactly do you require?”
Calm. Practical. Professional. Traits unusual for him. She remembered how her requests used to make him smile so brightly, nodding rapidly as he would grant her whatever exotic materials she needed.
“It’s very specific. A temporary loan of a Holy Blade from the High Temple of Kord?”
He had always been so eager to impress her. So very smitten with her.
“Uhhhh, Professor – you know temples like that keep their artefacts very secure. The amount of paperwork and persuasion this would require is…quite unreasonable.”
She had always politely rejected his advances. Nyssa valued his work a lot, but had never wanted to be more than professional with him.
“Well, I need this for my new project, it really can’t proceed without it.”
It had been four years. Maybe Emil had finally let her go. Moved on to someone more obtainable.
“I’m sorry Professor, but I really can’t sign off on-!” His words caught in his throat, as Nyssa reached out and touched his hand.
No. He had not.
Nyssa leaned forwards, clasping his hand with both of her own. “Please…I-I’ve been in a rut for years. I need, NEED this artefact to get a fresh start, to make breakthroughs again. And I missed you, Emil. I just want things to be like they used to be, again.” She squeezed his hand.
She watched as her carefully-placed words collapsed his composure in seconds. His cheeks flushed red, his eyes dilated, and his head nodded rapidly as he said “Oh, well if it’s this important for you, then I’m sure I can find a way! I always love to help! Especially you, and your brilliant work!”
Nyssa just smiled, as wide as she could. “Thank you, Emil.”
Good. His passion was exactly what she needed.