Hello, you lovely little Mortals!
What does it mean to be immortal? Is it simply being able to live forever, or is there more to it than that? What if the cost of immortality is really high, and the longer you live, the higher it goes? It’s time to see if you can afford that price, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
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!
Immortality is no stranger to us. Immortality that comes at a price is also familiar. Now picture if you will, immortality that has a monthly rate of subscription to actually be active.
It’s a bit of an odd thought, isn’t it? Normally it’s a case of becoming immortal, and… that’s it. Nothing else really goes with it. There’s so many wonderful ways to weave this prompt, however. Let’s start with the classic vampire. What if, rather than just being immortal and being able to sustain themselves on the blood of animals, they had no choice but to feed on humans? Perhaps by not feeding, they age anyway, and are susceptible to regular injuries. Maybe someone has made a deal with a powerful entity, and for every day of immortality, they have to appease said demon with a daily sacrifice. It can be as simple as someone discovering the Philosopher’s Stone, but each day they go more and more insane from the body and mind not being meant to live as long as they have. Even simpler, a pendant or embedded magic item that keeps its host alive so long as it is never removed.
This is also where we can play with what “immortality” really is, as it can mean different things to different people. It can be someone stuck in a coma and on life support, their family waiting for a day that may or may not ever come. Perhaps the method of immortality is an old photograph, and to keep it alive, it is passed through many generations and handled with great care. Maybe this is a chance to explore how a ghost would view the world, stuck in place with no one to talk to, save maybe other ghosts like itself. Maybe the immortality of one individual is carried on through their descendants, those who would continue to branch and grow the family tree. Perhaps we can even explore how the Reaper themselves feel about this as they are cheated out of soul after soul as more people discover and acquire immortality.
There’s so much more to immortality than we first realize. There’s many definitions, methods, and requirements to obtaining it. The big question then looms overhead; is it really worth it?
Even our stories here can be a form of immortality, as they are carried through time on this page that is open for anyone to see.
So go forth now, and leave your mark on the world for all to see until the end of time.
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!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- 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.
A Rough Night
by Edward P
Sandra panted, legs burning from running. Two Harriers chased her from the bar for blocks. She tried to lose them at the turn. Almost there. Almost there.
Sandra let fly a flurry of curses, as another two Harriers came out of the alley just ahead of her.
“Now where’re we going sweetheart?” the front of the two orcish figures who appeared spoke up.
“F___ off.” Sandra said through heaving breaths.
One of the men behind her drew a knife and closed the distance between himself and Sandra.
“Give it back before you get killed B___.”
Sandra’s pulse doubled down in anticipation. Everybody in the alley remained tense as she weighed her options.
With a decisive slicking sound Sandra slashed her tail into the Harrier behind her. She struck down one more of the Harriers before they retaliated. The two left struck out. Sandra dove forward to avoid the brute behind her. The Harrier in front of her drove a blade into her stomach.
“Worth it,” Sandra said tauntingly as the wound took its toll on her.
From her wound, a crimson swirl began to flow upwards. Sandra’s essence flowed along the winds to her temporary home, Villa Carassa, and in a dark cellar began the slow process of reforming. Her father’s infernal blood began stitching her together again. It was a long and painful two weeks before Sandra emerged from the basement. She walked up to the living space to find her host.
“Hey love, I’m going hunting, want to join me?”
Davey’s home stands exactly as Erma and Sheam have described it– two storeys with chipped, blue paint.
The crystal skull of my cane becomes a rounded, golden knob as my hand passes over it.
In the reflection of the door’s glass, I check my illusionary magic. Dark skin. Curly black hair. Eyes a deep violet.
Floating beside me, my sprite, Zum, is disguised as a butterfly.
“Your eyes stand out too much, Boss.” His wings flit nervously.
Three blinks see the shade become a heavy amber.
Zum nods approvingly.
Before I can ring the bell, the door opens. Davey’s father releases a spider into the grass.
I arch one brow at this act. It further confuses me as to why he treats Davey so poorly.
He straightens and sees me. “Oh, hey. You’re the guy from the circus.” He points to Zum. “Buckeye. Nice.”
“Hmm. Yes. Keen eye for insects. My apologies for the intrusion. I’ve merely come to amend my terrible behavior for frightening Davey. My CABARET is departing soon, and it wouldn’t be proper to leave things as they are.”
He crosses him arms over his chest and leans against the jamb. “Don’t worry about it. Boy needs strengthening up. ‘Sides, he’s out shopping with his mother.”
I contain my bristling anger. Must he be so hardened in his parenting? Zum lands on my shoulder. Warmth seeps in.
“Pity. I was hoping to personally apologize.” I pull a wrapped gift from my pocket and extend it. “See that he gets this? I noticed he’s fond of surprises.”
The father narrows his gaze. “This a trick?”
“I assure you, sir, this is no trick.” A piece of my very essence lies therein. Should Davey choose the path revealed to him, I shall know.
He takes it and rotates it between his palms. Curiosity resonates in his eyes. “I’ll be sure he gets it.”
His tone sounds dubious. I bow regardless. No one except Davey can open it.
“My deepest gratitude, Garrett.”
“Right.” Garrett waves and reenters the house.
I believe in Davey’s resolve. And even Garrett’s.
By L. L. Marco
I don’t recall when I became distinctly aware of it happening. Thomas was the first. Birthed from a nightmare where I, walking in his body, witnessed the last days of his life. He came as a simple, soft voice in the back of my mind, soothing and gentle, offering to take the reins when things got difficult.
That can’t be right. It’s insane. People who hear voices in their heads are insane, right? But he was soft and gentle with me. In a world where people screamed and told me I was worthless, he was a soft presence soothing me until I could fall asleep. And I trusted him. I even loved him. So I’d let him control me, knowing that he’d never lead me astray.
Next came Lysithia. She was much younger: A timid, scared soul that I could feel hiding behind my legs whenever there was trouble. I dreamt of her too. Her life in France, her illness, her father, and finally her end. She wore a small blue ribbon around her throat to hide the scar and I accepted her just as easily as Thomas.
I lost track of the order after that. More and more lost souls, distinctly different and brilliant in their own ways, blossoming within the hallway in my mind. I could talk to them, make memories with them. Some of them even formed bonds with my living friends. They were a comfortable, hidden part of me. Insane or not, they kept me alive through my darkest times. After all, I was the vessel. Without me, there would be nothing. And so I lived.
It wasn’t until my teenage years that I understood. Thomas, Lysithia, and the rest… they were me. Me’s of the past. My memories, my lives, my fears and loves. Chunks of my soul that should have been forgotten as soon as I breached this Earth. My soul was raw and open: through the cracks the sun shone through and woke them from their slumber.
one day I will join them. I only hope the next incarnation remembers us, too.
Six o’clock. Cyndi Lauper singing Time After Time on the radio.
I get out of bed, and stumble my way to the kitchen. What to eat? Mini Wheats again? Maybe I’ll make myself an omelette. I’ve gotten better at doing this by now.
As the eggs sizzle, I think about what to do with my day. The monotony is getting to me.
I pull out my phone, and call into work.
“Hey, it’s Mark. I’m not coming in today.”
“Is everything okay?”
I mouth my supervisor’s words at the same time, then answer. “Yeah, I’m just not…you know what? No. This job is bullshit. I just don’t want to be there.”
There is a pause before she responds. “Excuse me?”
“You’re excused. I’m not coming in.” I hang up.
Within minutes, I’m getting called back, but I don’t answer. I finish breakfast, go get dressed, and head out to my car. And I drive.
I don’t even care where I’m going. I want to do something new. Something to break out of the cycle.
As I pass over the bridge, a thought occurs to me.
I jerk the steering wheel hard to the right. My car smashes through the guardrail, and I plummet down into the river.
The engine dies, and now that I can hear the outside world, I can hear screams. I wonder for a second if I can commit to this. But then I think of what will await me if I try to escape.
The icy cold water stings as it floods in through the floorboards. I pull my feet away, but I know I can’t avoid it forever. Eventually, the water climbs until I’m waist deep, then I’m up to my chest, my neck.
I can hear sirens. I take a deep breath as the water climbs up to my mouth.
There’s a knock at the window.
I let the breath out. My lungs are burning, and I’m forced to inhale water.
There’s no way out. My vision fades out to black.
Six o’clock. Cyndi Lauper singing Time After Time on the radio.
Building the New Me
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
“Im sorry, Hal. I don’t think we can be anything more than friends.”
The text hit hard, very hard. You’d think after as many rejections I had been through, I’d be used to it, but it doesn’t get any easier. Instead of handling the pain with any pretense of grace, I went through my usual charade of getting hammered, and reading old magazines.
But tonight was different, instead of passing out, I found myself reading through the ads at the back of a tech magazine.
“Unlucky with women? Buy these invisible height increasinator shoes!. Only $4.99! Confidence and bravado will now be yours.”
I of course bought a pair instantly, and a few days later, they arrived. Excitedly, I donned them and headed out to town. The improvement was instant. People looked up to me, they smiled as I walked by, They laughed before I had even told a joke. I was the king of the town.
But at the end of the day, no nice lady wanted to keep me company. I flipped through the first magazine I could find.
“The Sing-a-tron 9000! Sing like Bing Cosby, read lines like Frank Sinatra. Become a suave socialite today! Just $159.99!”
I had to have it. I mailed in another order, but I wasn’t done there. “Become strong, just 5 easy replacements.” Ordered. “Cheap and easy Do-It-Yourself Plastic Surgery kits!” Bought.
I have to admit, I was a bit confused when I got the packages in the mail a few days later. I had completely forgotten that I ordered them. I put ‘memory upgrades’ on my to-do list and set to work trying out the improvements.
The “Dance-o-matic leg inserts” hadn’t arrived yet, so I decided to do something calm and local.
I recharged my energy cells, oiled up my joints, put on my wig, and calibrated my smile and speech rates. I put on a fresh new shirt, and rubbed the instant tan/rejuvenation gel on my exposed skin.
As I left my apartment, I nearly cried out in joy, “Soon, I will be lonely no more!”
Out of Touch
by Jesse Fisher looked over by Edward
In a broken and poorly lit room lay a mechanical clicking and clattering as if some machine was left to rot as it ran unseen and uncared for.
“Touch,” A mix of robotic and natural with minor glitches filling the still air. “I remember touch.”
Optics looked at hermetic sealed objects; an instant camera with an old straw hat, a roughly done painting, and other personal items known only to them. The clicking and almost shuffle before it was stopped as if hungry but it did not need food as the room seemed to fade.
It awoke to a half forgotten world and for a moment thought all that it recalled was a dream. Or nightmare. However once it was dressed and in a car going to work the radio began to play it’s own voice in a rhythmic tone.
“If love is the answer, you’re home.”
It could not stop itself as this played out, this was that moment that would lead to it’s nightmare of a life. The pastself did not notice the vehicle as it tore through it’s car and the world briefly went black be for a happy rhythmic tune as cry-laughter filled it’s ears and people celebrated it living.
Machine and organic worked as it slowly noticed the time go by, life moving while it was stuck in time.
The rhythmic tune slowed down to a melancholy tone as the world began to turn to dust and ash.
“Touch, sweet touch,” It stood looking towards a life long gone. “You’ve given me too much to feel.”
“You’ve almost convinced me I’m real!” Rage filled it’s speakers before it slowly moved back to the terminal that kept running data behind it.
“I need something more.” It concluded one more before repeating it again. “I need something more.”
by Exce (checked by Luna)
“How long do we have?”
“About sixty years, closer to sixty-five.”
Jester turned around, lips pressed together tightly in an uncharacteristic muted expression. He searched her face before sighing.
“So it’s over half a century away. We have enough time to prepare, to train and collect our forces.” The man didn’t seem too concerned as he poured another goblet of wine. “Why are you so concerned? Even if the populace can’t defend themselves, we surely can-”
“No, we can’t!” the female goddess cut through his words with a sweeping gesture. “We can’t stand against their invasion alone! If we put all our trust into that, LumenOrbis is doomed!”
At that, his expression soured. “We have done that plenty of times; I don’t see what’s the difference now, even if we are on the last tenth of our strength.” Putting his chalice down, the God of Midday spread his arms, eyes closing in a self confident gesture. “We are immortal, the Angels can’t-”
Before he could finish the sentence, Lady leapt at him, throwing him back onto the table before it shattered beneath them. Jester gave a surprised squak, clawing at the vicelike hand around his throat but Lady remained resolute, digging her knee into his stomach whilst increasing the pressure.
Fire curled from her long, red hair, and her one orange eye glowed with intensity whilst the black and silver one seemed to only grow darker.
A tinge of purple rose into Jester’s face even as flames licked on his own hands. His own eyes flared to life. But he could not break the grasp.
Only when the raw fear of death was written in his face, did she let go, rising from the wooden fragments and spilled wine.
“We may consider ourselves immortal, brother, but that fact only persists until someone really tries to kill us. We may be enduring, we may be gods, but death will take us just as readily as any human.”
She met his eyes, then offered him a hand.
“Do not underestimate our enemies for the sake of arrogance. We must work together now.”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
“A drink to our success!”
The roar of cheers, clinking glasses and alcohol hitting the tables and floors startled the gnome barkeep, but she didn’t mind too much. The crime and cartel families always paid well. A little cleanup and some shot nerves were worth the tin coming into the tavern. One of the revelers, a dunnie, broke out into a song about “fearless leaves”. Another took out a deck of cards and began shuffling. The gnome sighed. It was going to be a long night.
About two hours and five rounds of beer in was when shots rang out on the outside of the establishment. Those who weren’t sloppy drunk jumped up and aimed their guns at the door. The door slammed open, and the patrons greeted the figure with a hail of gunfire. The gnome seized up as the figure in the door fell into a heap, the red staining the floor. One of the revelers, the leader as far as the barkeep knew approached the corpse.
“Heh. Idiot. Attackin’ us while we’re celebratin’.”
With a kick to the head, the leader returned to the table with his coworkers. That’s when the corpse got up. Hoarse, raspy pants silenced the criminals as the corpse took out its own gun. Bang. Thud. Some of the revelers started to run. Bang. Thud. Bang. Thud.
“Whoa whoa, wai-”
Bang. Thud. Silence. Then heavy steps and faint sobbing echoed as the corpse approached the table. Another one of the revelers fired and hit the walking corpse in the head. He stopped and stood like a pillar. The sobbing stopped. Bang. Thud. Red splashed across the leader’s face. The dead man grabbed a chair. A gasp and sob.
“Bloody Mag! What happened?!”
“I got me an oaff to settle.”
The gnome felt a calm come over the bar. She sighed.
“And what oath would that be, cousin?”
The unease returned. Something small, hard and metal hit the floor. A second. A third. A fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh. Sion sighed, the brownie leveling his gun at the leader’s head and fired.
An Unusual Appointment
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
(cw: a character mentions being stabbed)
“Welcome! How may we help you?”
“I’m here for a CVE appointment?” Jane adjusted her scarf, hair disheveled and bags under her eyes.
“Do you schedule in advance?”
“Yes, for 9:15?”
“Let me find it in the system…yes! Your specialist is down that hallway, it’s the second door on the right.”
“Thank you.” Jane hurried down the hall, breathing heavily. She found the door, marked with a plaque reading “Robert Klissinger, PhD” and pushed through the door.
Dr. Klissinger looked up from his laptop. “Ah! You must be Jane, here for that Creature Vitality Evaluation?”
“Yes.” She closed the door behind her, still practically gasping for breath.
“Have you brought the creature you’re evaluating? Aww, is it hiding in your scarf? Animals are adorable, alive and dead, right?”
“I—I’m the one here for the evaluation, Doctor.”
Dr. Klissinger blinked. “Really?”
“…well then, I guess I’ll just go down the list of questions.” He opened a document on his laptop. “Do you show signs of being dead?”
“Okay, what about alive?”
“I don’t think so?”
Dr. Klissinger closed his laptop. “I think I need to hear this story from the beginning.”
“I…” Jane took a deep breath. “I remember being stabbed six days from now. Like, future. I thought I died, then I opened my eyes and I was where I was exactly a week in the past. 168 hours, more or less. I really hope I didn’t, uh, ruin any space-time stuff by coming here?”
She knew how ridiculous it sounded. Miraculously, Dr. Klissinger simply nodded. “You’re definitely not dead.”
“Nope. The options here seem to be that someone saved your life, you have a prophecy to fulfill, or you’ve been cursed into a time loop.”
“This field isn’t my specialty, but my coworker across the hall should be able to help you. Have a good day, Jane!”
“Uh…okay…” She stood up and left the office.
The plaque across the hall read “Nymlic Felmorian, Wizard” next to a sticky note reading “Open door slowly—Ravarenwreck inside!”
“Oh dear,” Jane whispered.
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
It is a truth, uncommonly acknowledged, that prayer requires no higher power. Prayer is an act of the soul. A function of distressed minds. A torment of spiritual inclination.
Vienas was poorly equipped to act as a healer. She was no midwife, no cunning woman, no worker of old ways. She was a curator of knowledge and blind at that.
Padas coughed in his fevered langor and she longed, wished, prayed, for his health.
Time is illusory without the cycle of day and night. Without others to agree upon time.
Vienas sat with Padas until his fever-heat rivalled the Everflame. Until he was too warm to stay beside. Until she was sure he would die without divine aid.
She was not sure of many things. She was the kind of person who had worked with proofs and so was taxing upon new information. But she knew he would die by his ragged breathing. By his mumbled, incoherent words and sweatlessness and her own hunger. She couldn’t cook and time crawls when the stomach eats itself. She could bring no water to him. Without him, she would die. But she wouldn’t die alone.
She knew the temple layout and she knew where Padas kept the pearls. Her questing fingers found the orbs before the bowl they sat in. She heard a chorused
—For you, the Living.
Gods, she prayed. For Padas, for herself, for the unborn thing she hadn’t told him about yet. For his future fatherhood. But mostly she prayed for healing and hope as she stumbled back to her lover and poured the pearls upon his dying body.
The pearls clattered as they fell. She heard them strike like the pitter-patter of mice running. They didn’t roll away, of course, but evanesced. She dropped them all. All his prized pearls that he’d gathered with copper tongs and iron knife. And her prayer, unanswered, manifested itself with her will.
Padas’s fever broke in that heure. His body healed the harm done by the fever. Padas would live and be a father. Vienas would live and be his wife.
All my work lays around me, strewn about after my last fit of emotions. Was it rage? Sadness? Joy? I can’t tell anymore. They all blur together, they have no meaning any more. Being happy just means I’ll end up sad. Being sad means I’ll be happy after a while. And at some point I’ll get mad for no particular reason, probably.
It’s a song and dance I’ve grown quite accustomed to. The only thing that shakes up the monotony are my creations. They are such wonderful little things. Pages of ideas brimming with colorful characters, ideas charged with thought-provoking potential, and talking points that could up the whole day.
…Well, they would if anyone cared to look. They do sometimes. I hear good things when some do, but it’s mostly ignored. And, with being inside my glass prison, I see time tick down and down and down, as the hours pass with no interest of any kind. It’s a very special kind of torture built for me and built by me, though, for the life of me, I have no idea why I am here.
Anyway, it’s not all that bad. I have my imagination to entertain and I get some new ideas every once and a while to spice things up. The occasional small epiphany helps keep the stories spicy. It’s almost like they are all immortal. Forever marked down to do whatever I want and however I want it.
…Though, the problem then lies in my death. And since I’m in this glass box, very few people hear me. And so the torture is increased ever more. Oh well, it just makes me a statistic in the end. Many people try to become writers or artists and fail. I’m just one of those people. I might scream and yell and cry in here, but it’s fine. It’s what’s expected of such an average person.
Ah, I just had another idea. I have to quickly write it down so I won’t forget. I wonder if this one will help me sleep better or maybe get people’s attention.
The immortality of mountains.
Time. It marches on. One of the few things more ancient than I. I remember being born of fire, my peaks razor sharp. I remember tiny, odd things creatures blinking in and out of existence. The wind playing with my brethren and I. I remember the seasons, turning from one to the next to the next. Time marched on. I remember great crashing and upheaval, a violence unlike any other.
Time would pass.
Water would make its mark upon me, carving itself into me bit by bit. I would lay down to rest, and in my slumber drift away in the water and on the wind.
I would awaken to a thunderous clash, and scream forth with fire, reborn! I would see that I was no longer where I once was, the land having drifted with time. New, wondrous things wandered the earth, great monsters and curious, tiny things. I blinked, and they were gone, destroyed by fire from the sky. I would blink again, and a new wonder would take their place, carving their home in the frigid world.
Time continued to flow like a river. The great beasts would cease to exist except as a memory. Then, curious things would walk the land. Scarcely a moment would go by and they are carving their way through me, into me, under me. They would create mountains of their own, and wind paths through and around me. They would give me a name, though I would never know its meaning. Theirs is a fast language, one that I could never comprehend.
They are gone, now. The world is not as it once was. I lay down to sleep, to drift once again on the water and the wind. I would have the name the carvers gave to me remembered, as it was my first; Appalachia.
Kiss of the Succubus
(Chronicles of Darkness/Vampire the Requiem)
Aleksandra shuffled out of bed with a groan, rubbing her temples. She looked over to the shape sharing her sheets. Bailey lay there peacefully, his neck gently trickling with blood. As she looked over him, she couldn’t help but feel pity for him, maybe even love. Wait, no, he just came in for a tattoo like a couple days ago. She may have drunk from him a little too much.
As she leaned over to lick up the small amounts of blood from his neck, Bailey rumbled from his sleep. “Hey, baby. Good morning.” It was around 3 in the morning.
“Are you okay?” She knew he couldn’t lie to her. He was already in her snare.
“I’m hurting a little bit. I’ve got some blood coming out of my neck for some reason.”
“Hold still.” Aleksandra grabbed him by the hair and lapped up the last few streams of blood from the bite mark. Bailey sat there, compliant, like the sheep he was. She then locked eyes with him, and with a mere glance, the seductive Beast started to take hold in him.
She could feel him fall deeper and deeper in her gaze. Bailey immediately lunged for a passionate kiss, but Aleksandra stopped him with her hand. “Hey, listen to me.”
“Sure, babe. What’s up?”
“You weren’t here. Go home and sleep.”
As if he was a shambling zombie, Bailey immediately crawled out of his sheets and started to head out of her room, completely naked.
“Hey, don’t forget your clothes, idiot.”
Bailey turned around before giggling with his adorable smile. As he dressed himself, Aleksandra’s phone buzzed. It was a call from Theo.
“Hey, Aleksa, it’s Theo. I need your help.”
“At 3 in the morning? With what?”
“Skin and Bones, they’re holding a ceremony, and they asked me to host it.”
Aleksandra beamed with joy. “Oh. Sure, I’d be hap-”
“Aleksa, don’t get any ideas, okay? I just want your help, that’s it.”
She immediately grew sour. “No, I understand, I getcha. You wanna meet up tomorrow?”
“That’ll be fine. See you then.”
The place you lost (Haven’s Tale)
By: Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
“You entered the void with no exit anchor?” Jack said in a suspicious tone.
“I told you, I entered by accident, I don’t know how to get out.” Haven sheepishly responded.
Jack looked at Haven in utter disbelief. He rubbed the inexistent temples of his mask and tried to maintain his calm tone. “You are beyond helpless…”
She curled her tails around herself again. “Do you know anything about this place?”
“I’m a void magician, and I know a lot, but not all.” He took a deep breath and sat by her side. “The void is the reality of the in-between, it behaves like a liminal space, standing between dimensions. You can learn a lot, experiment a lot, live all kinds of unimaginable wonders.”
She turned her big round eyes to him with curiosity.
“As long as you’re here, you won’t grow old, you can’t die from any wounds; hypothetically, you can live forever inside the void. Centuries can pass before you realize.” He stopped and looked at his own feet, as he seemed to talk from experience. “Anchors are our only connection to our original reality, once lost…”
Haven sobbed uncontrollably. If his words were true, that meant the world she left could no longer exist. As far as she knew, everyone she ever met could be dead. All because of her carelessness.
The demon took pity on her, giving a long tight hug. “Where did I leave my manners? I never meant to imply what you are probably thinking.”
“I just want to go home!” she whimpered in his soaked vest.
“I’m not usually a charitable person, but Miss Haven, I will help you. I know of one person who could build anchors from the inside, but they require extensive research, and I’m not an expert on it.” His calming, deep voice helped her hiccups disappear. “Given the price of such endeavors, Miss Haven, I’m afraid I will need some return from my investment.”
He flicked his fingers, and a document appeared on his hands. “Miss Haven, would you be my apprentice?”
His Greatest Betrayal (Mary’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
I’m…awake. My eyes flicker open. Gray stone ceiling, arched and held by pillars. The great hall? Why am I here?
I have to get up. I don’t care how much it hurts. I pull myself up into a sitting position, and the pain…never comes?
“Ah, you’re finally awake.”
I turn my stiff head to see Father. He looks like a shadow of himself. His skin, hair – even his eyes? – are all grey and worn, and his robes are filthy with dust. But there is an uneven, twitchy smile on his face.
“Father…” my voice heaves out of my throat like tar. My mouth feels as dry as burnt bark. “You…were right!…I don’t feel any pain…how?”
His bent smile widens. “I told you, my dear. I told you I would find a cure for your awful affliction, and now I have.” Father’s eyes go bright with mania. “The disease is dead! Dead! And you are freed of its chains forevermore!”
I try to share his joy. I should be happy, right? My suffering is over. But I just feel hollow.
“Here. I have a gift for you. One to celebrate our victory over cruel Nature.” He gives me a bouquet of wildflowers, with various shades of white, grey and black, and nearly scentless.
I know these flowers. I picked them again and again from the woods outside.
These flowers should be reds, and blues and purples and yellows and all those vibrant colours of life. Their scents should be flooding my nose. They shouldn’t be like this!
And then I realise something. They haven’t changed. They still have their colours. They still have their scent.
But I don’t. My eyes are wrong. My nose is wrong.
“What…What did you do to me?”
“Oh Mary, don’t be scared. You don’t need to worry. You need not fear pain, or disease, or even the torment of aging anymore. I have taken them all away. Now, you are free to live.”
What? Wait, no, he can’t – I can’t –
…I can’t hear my heartbeat…
Open Heart Surgery on a Battlefield; or, Why Captain Clanker Should Learn to Duck Already
By Isa Dragon
He watched the Captain go down in slow motion, molten slug to the chest. He was half aware of pushing his shell to the ground, calling for him to stay down, just stay down, while he pushed his hands into the burnt through and through.
It missed the heart module, at the very least. It did nab the cooling systems and slagged half his connectors.
Razor dug his hands into the coolant lines, dimly aware that Clanker, the idiot, was still trying to get up with nonfunctioning legs. Flashes of gunfire barked overhead, the squad was covering them.
Slag. The RAM was sparking, the CPU was half melted, and coolant gushed over his hands in pulses. It wasn’t salvageable.
“Sir, you need to eject.” he called over the noise.
Razor started unlatching his chestplate. This was going to hurt.
Presented facts: No shell could handle two active people. The 491st needed their commander more than their medic.
Medic shells were designed for quick transference, it didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. Slag it all, he hated being so exposed. He cracked open his drive storage, waiting for— oh that little—
“Sir, get in the drive. Don’t even try for the RAM,” he snarled, channeling every ounce of medic-always-wins he had. The CPU flickered. Died.
Clanker’s drive finally went inert. Razor yanked him out, and popped him into the secondary carrying compartment with a snarl. As he booted he strapped his chestpla—
SECONDARY DRIVE ENGAGED.
Captain Clanker came online to gunfire and shouting, in a shell that ached, tight with the amount of data crammed into it, wearing a full arsenal and half a hospital, already trying to defrag the last five minutes. It took him a full 3000 milliseconds longer than it should have to realize what had happened.
He clicked Razor’s chestplate closed, and opened the comline, while taking aim at the attackers. Dang, Razor had a nice rifle.
“Clanker online. Razor’s out, boys and girls, don’t get too banged up now. Let’s bring this back around.”
Drat, he had liked that shell. New ones never quite fit right.
Their Master and guarding place had long since been stolen by Death and their accomplice, Time. Yet that didn’t phase the golem. Nothing did.
The golem watched over the herd. These creatures were strange beasts, unlike any the golem had seen in the Melania of its existence. Yet, they were the last living creatures that the golem could perceive beside themself. That caused something besides the eternal instinct to protect to keep the golem there. Some longing that the golem could not understand.
A playful tap of a stick against their leg drew the golem back from their musings. Beside them, the youngest of the herd waited with a wriggling tail. The golem smiled at the memory of the Master’s son playing the same game with another creature.
“Fetch?” The golem asked, bending down to grab the stick. The youngling yipped and hopped in place. With a gentle toss, the branch flew across the field, a blur of scales close behind. A pang of sadness hit the golem as it watched the youngling stumble through a pile of bones on its return. The sight reminded him of the truth.
These creatures will die. Like everything else around the golem, Time and Death will steal them away. He could feel the gods’ eyes on him and heard their mutterings in god-tongue. They were talking about the golem again.
The golem couldn’t understand the words, but they knew what they meant. It was a wager. A wager on how long the golem would live.
“Clay life-bearer.” The golem startled and dropped the stick. It was unusual for the gods to address the living, especially this one. “Do not be afraid, I-”
“I know too well who you are, Death.” The golem replied and turned to face the Old Ones.
“Well. That simplifies things.” Death regained their composure and addressed the golem again. “Tell us, clay life-bearer, the inscription on your chest.”
“As long as there is light, be whole and full of life.”
Death grinned and nudged the disgruntled Time. “Thank you, immortal one.”
Broken and Crumbling
I pull my cloak tighter around myself, a feeble attempt to pull the cold from my bones. I clench my jaw to keep my teeth from chittering. I’d already bitten my tongue a few times, and that pain still lingered.
I pause to catch my breath, feeling every part of myself weakening.
I glance back. My foot steps, which once left blooming flora in my wake, now only formed a trail of dry, greying grass.
I stifle a whimper, and press on.
Just a little farther. There has to be something, right?
I finally reach the hilltop, my eyes settling on a temple, long abandoned and crumbling.
Just like all the others before it.
No… there must be someone inside, right? Just one person… please…
I stumble forward, pushing the door open, only for it to break from its hinges and fall with a loud, echoing BANG on the cracked flagstones.
At least, that’s what it felt like when it hit. I couldn’t hear it myself. I’d heard it before, so it was a safe assumption that it made at least some noise.
Pulling at my cloak again, I continue into the temple.
Walls overgrown with vines, sunlight filtering through massive holes in the roof, broken and uneven flagstones that once used to be a beautiful floor.
My heart sinks.
No one was here, either. Not one temple had anyone left…
My legs give out, and I collapse, feeling as broken as the floor beneath me. Perhaps more so…
I force myself to look up. I once stood in this very spot, tall and proud, looking over those who would bring me offerings and pray to me. But now it was just my lower half, the upper seeming to have broken or eroded away some time ago.
Someone… just one person… there had to be, right?
They’re out there somewhere… someone who still believes…
My body grows colder, my legs crumbling away into dead petals. I can’t move. I can’t breathe.
Please… just one…
There has to be…
I suppose… there’s no one after all…