Hello, Safety Engineers and Stress Handlers!
What? You’re just going to stand there? I thought you could handle this stuff! Don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet now! Aw, am I pushing your buttons? Good. I think it’s time to see just how much you can take, 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!
We’ve all had our limits tested, our buttons pushed, and sometimes that one sensitive spot gets hit. We go through trials and tasks in our daily lives, where the breaking point may change.
Look at a single parent handling three rowdy children. They’re all yelling and running even though they’ve been asked to sit down and eat breakfast several times. At what point does this parent start yelling, or grounding them? What point does this parent just… break down in tears from the frustration? Can they get through the entire hectic morning and keep it together? Perhaps an employee at work is constantly doing all the grunt work, staying late again and again, when they know they should have been promoted a long time ago. What if someone else got that promotion instead? Would they keep pushing on, would they quit, or would they finally confront their boss about the unfair work conditions they’ve been put through? What about a young mage who is teased by the rest of their class for their clumsiness? How long do they put up with it before telling the Arch Mage, or just taking it into their own hands and getting into spells too advanced for them?
You could even explore what it’s like to be a simple piece of wood that someone is trying to snap in half, bending you further and further, how they cringe and brace themselves for the snap that’s coming any second. Maybe someone’s favourite hiking trail includes a very old suspension bridge. It’s held every time before, but the chances of it breaking are getting higher and higher. Will this next crossing be safe just like before, or will this be the time it snaps? Perhaps you choose to explore the world of a Crash Test Dummy, and how they are sick and tired of always being put in life-threatening situations just to test the durability of a vehicle.
There’s limitless potential to this prompt, and we’re excited to see where you will take it.
Oh, and help yourself to a stress ball. They can be quite helpful.
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).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
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.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- 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).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- 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.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
by Nothing (Handsome Johanson)
“I can’t seem to find my pen.”
I looked around, staring at the empty room, but nothing responded.
“I must’ve misplaced it. I hope I can find it soon.”
But still, no one responded.
I sighed and sat back into my chair. It felt very empty that day, like an impenetrable field of apathy permeated my room, enveloping me. I was alone, yes, but normally there would be someone to help when I needed it, someone to lean on.
Someone to… care.
I leaned back and closed my eyes, hoping that sleep itself might carry me away from my pained abyss and back into normalcy, but no normalcy came.
I sprung up out of my chair and whipped my leg around to kick it. I quickly followed my assault with a lunge onto the bed, slamming my head against the comparatively soft pillow, and staying there.
“WHY?!” I cried. “WHY MUST THIS LIFE BE FILLED WITH NOTHING BUT YOUR OWN DESIRE TO HAVE MORE THAN NOTHING.”
I lied there sobbing for hours. When, eventually, the doorbell rang, I forced myself to get up. I crawled out of bed, quickly wiped away my tears, and slowly crept to the front door.
Climbing through the now empty hallways, I glanced at the doors that once held my escape and the promise of something more.
I felt warm.
As I got to the door, I took a deep breath. I opened the door to see more of the nothing that haunted my life. Was it taunting me?
No, there was something on the floor.
I picked it up and saw that it was a package from my Aunt. I took it inside, pulled out a knife, and carefully opened the package.
No shortage of tears left my face as I beheld my childhood teddy bear.
I hugged it deeply.
by Jesse Fisher
The rain fell outside the window of the washed out room, as the lights from the city bleed into the cramped room with a bed and an occupant in it. A haphazard blanket covered some of the creature as it tossed and turned.
It’s head was spinning as thoughts kept them up this rainy night. They did not believe that medication could help at this point. They had dealt with this before…right?
Smoke started to build out of their nostrils seeing if that would clear anything out, but all it did was give them heartburn due to the empty stomach they had. Groaning, they moved to get out from one disheveled room to another, maybe food was it’s issue?
When was the last time they ate? They had to be today given the dishes in the sink, but were they there last week?
They were not sure, as they dropped to their knees and began to thrash as their emotive tail began to swing with its body.
Something did not feel right, like other creature’s voices shouting in their ear. Was it mocking them? Pointing out how they could not fit in given their pubescence showed both reproductive tools. Families that once called them an honorary member shutting doors to purposely hitting their nose.
Were they a monster and no one wanted to say it and acted like everything was fine but slowly distanced themselves until the freak was all by themself on the floor insomnia and having their body rebel on this night.
Pain was the major thing that kept them up before an unknown sound and intensity of pain caused them to black out.
Morning came and they found that the day found it back in bed but that was not where they recalled being. Or the fact that they seemed to be wrapped around a…nest.
At that point something broke and they welcomed the darkness once more.
Kick it Back
The storm tore through the grass and trees as if to rend the world in two. At least, that is how it appeared. The rain came down in weighty drops, the wind left one’s ears ringing and deaf to everything else, and the thunder’s peals overcame that deafness with a power that left the earth vibrating with every strike. And I stood amidst it all.
I felt called by the storm, my own life mirroring the anguish and chaos the storm wrought. I had no control, no lifeline, and every foundation I had laid was crumbling beneath me. I had refused to break, at every turn I tried to stand stronger than before. Now, I had no energy to fight anymore. Every night the tears came in torrents, and every night I thought it would be the last time, I had let it all out and it would get better. It didn’t.
The world falling apart around me brought the tears back, my throat tight with unspent emotion, raw anguish I had let no one see or hear. The insecurities, the doubt, the broken pride, it all welled tightly in my chest like a cold tide until I could do nothing but scream. I fed my anguish to the wind as if it could fuel the chaos around me and rip me apart with it, wishing it would carry me away and finally end it all. I screamed until my voice was spent and my throat felt like sandpaper. The storm still raged.
I had thrown everything I had into the storm, into the devastation, and I was still here. I was still whole. I had not broken, not completely. I felt numb, soaked to the bone in rain and thoroughly lashed by wind, but I also felt alive. Even as everything raged and fell around me I felt strength, like I still had more to give. Something new rose in place of my despair, and I could feel it firmly root in my chest. A calm resolve to no longer withstand, a resolve to fight.
A Past That Never Dies
by Lunabear (Edited by L.L. Marco)
Rhodesia’s body ached from working her 12 hour shift. She thought of nothing more than grabbing a quick bite, a shower, and passing out for the next 8 hours if she could sleep that long. Rubbing the tension from her neck, she finally made it to her small apartment door.
She froze. Tacked to the jamb was a letter with her name in bold letters.
Her throat dried; thoughts of anything else dripped away as her eyes locked on the envelope. Rhodesia’s hands shook while she ripped the letter free and, somehow, managed to force her shaking body into the apartment. She slid the deadbolt into place and flicked on the overhead light. Then, slowly, she opened the envelope.
~You’re not good enough to be where I don’t allow you to be~
The keys clattered to the floor.
How had he found her?
Rhodesia’s heart kicked into her throat. With trembling hands, she clicked on a stovetop eye and ignited the letter. White orange flames devoured the paper as she dumped it into the sink.
‘Come on, Des. We both know that won’t help.’
Rhodesia whirled around but found nothing. Desperate, she illuminated the entire apartment, her tired eyes on high alert as they scanned corner to corner.
Adyin’s face appeared in the bathroom mirror. He reached for her with sharp claws and a sharper smile. She shrieked and hustled back into the living room.
He didn’t pursue. Rhodesia unholstered her service revolver and held it erect in front of her, finger pressed firmly against the trigger.
Her eyes darted everywhere; sweat beaded her forehead and rolled down her nape. Licking her dry lips proved fruitless. Her throat was sandpaper as she tried to swallow.
A shadow caught her eye as it glided across the balcony window’s surface.
Rhodesia fired off two quick shots, uncaring where they headed.
The curtain fluttered in the breeze. Rhodesia approached cautiously, glass crunching beneath her heavy boots. She stepped onto the balcony, the warm wind drying her mingled sweat and tears.
She looked over the ledge and shuddered.
A cold hand gripped her shoulder.
The Nature of Beasts
By L. L. Marco
“Humans are so cruel.”
Balto’s voice echoed along the cracked, molding walls of their prison. The air stank of unwashed bodies and dried saliva. The only light came from a small window along the ceiling, but this was no mercy. The humans wanted the sunlight in. They knew how it would irritate Sven’s vampiric skin. That was nothing compared to hearing the absolute hopelessness in Balto’s voice though.
“Someone will come for us,” Sven murmured, voice hoarse. His throat ached for water.
Balto said nothing. They just remained tucked up against the far corner, arms wrapped around their stomach and shivering. This was Hell. They didn’t deserve this. Sven wanted nothing more than to hug his friend but Balto’s voracious appetite was causing enough pain. Being close would only make it worse.
“I-I’m so hungry…” Balto whimpered.
The humans never came back to feed or water their monster prisoners. By the time two months had come and gone, the two of them were on death’s door. Balto could barely move; dehydration was killing them and the water from the leaky window simply wasn’t enough. The agonizing hunger had started devouring itself; Balto was little more than skin and bones but their body continued to drool as the hunger grew louder and louder.
On the last day, the drooling stopped. The young vampire knew what that meant for his friend.
“We’re going to starve…I’m so sorry…”
Sven’s heart shattered. He couldn’t stand seeing Balto like this. Silence engulfed the two of them until, finally, Sven spoke.
“You don’t have to.”
Balto froze as Sven moved closer. They tried to flinch away but their body was simply too weak. They shook their head, trying to ignore the delicious scent that rolled off their friend.
“I can’t eat other monsters… but you can…” Sven reached out and pulled Balto into a tight hug. “Please. Both of us don’t have to die.”
Balto cried out. They wanted to push Sven away but instead their arms wrapped around his thin body. The drooling began once more.
They were so hungry….
“The continued actions of the ‘Pirate King’ of Australia must be halted!” shouted Felipe Habsburg. Only last week had his father willed the Spanish throne to Arthur Plantagenet, before succumbing to his grief and age, leaving Felipe with the dubious honor as the first Archduke of Angevin Spain.
“I’ve already put out the warrant for King Henry Smith’s arrest.” replied a tired Arthur, burdened with the stress of his new subordinate. “What more can I do to ease your grief, Felipe?”
“Bring me his head! I don’t want him brought to trial, I want his body tossed to the sharks and his skull decorating my mantlepiece! Only then will I be at peace with my father’s surrender, my king!” the Spaniard spat at the Emperor of Rome. “Or are you too attached to your pet pirates to bring them to justice?”
Bjørn, silent until now, rose in defense of his foster-father. “You forget your place, Archduke.” he growled. “Further insult, and my Varangians will drag you back to Madrid by your hair!”
Arthur motioned him to silence. “If I merely have him killed at sea, I cannot make an example of him. Any man acting beyond the authority of Rome must be brought to heel, but he remains a ruler of men. He will be treated with respect due to his office, and he will answer for his crimes.”
Felipe slammed his fists on the table. “Did he treat my brother with such respect?! His body went down with his entire flotilla to the abyss!” He turned to the door. “Since kingdom and empire refuse to act, I will perform my duty to the people of España. God be with you, my king.” Felipe left, slamming the office doors behind him.
Bjørn grunted. “Shall I have the Guard detain his forces, father?”
“No. I can’t have the soldiers of Rome coming so close to war. We can only hope to find my prodigal son before the Spaniards do.” Arthur sighed. “The Lord Admiral has much to answer for.”
“Into the Halls of Delirium”
By Hemming Sebastian Bane (CW: dissociation, amnesia)
The celadon hallway slowly shined, the clicks of shoes resounding. Tobias could feel his eyes aching and watering, his head pounding, his chest grow cold. Tobias shoved the sensations from his mind and pushed forward towards… Towards… Towards what?
Tobias tried to stop, but he couldn’t. His body was charging forward of its own volition. Panic washed over him. Wait… who was he? Why was he here? Where was “here”? What was he doing? Running? Running where? He brushed his shoulder against the wall as he turned. He heard a soft drip, drip, drip from his right side. Red droplets were falling from a large gash on his arm. Wait, where did that come from? Why couldn’t he feel that?
Suddenly, the sensation of being pulled came over him. His body was leaving him. Wait… Was that his body? What was going on? He didn’t understand. He didn’t understand. He didn’t understand… Then, like a bowstring drawn and released, Tobias was back in his body. His heart raced. His lungs burned. His head was screaming. His muscles ached. His wound burned and bled. Tobias stifled a scream as the memories overwhelmed him. Five-year-old Pia hadn’t woken up in a week. She’d been taken to the Realm of Horror by some abomination. Tobias fell to his knees. This burden was the consequence of coming through the Realm of Dissociation.
“I am Tobias Randolf. I am here to save Pia. I am Tobias Randolf. I am here to save Pia.”
The oneironaut pushed himself to his feet as he focused on his words. Tobias took a shaky step. Then another. And another. And another. Tobias bandaged his wound and walked into the emerald haze. Cackles reverberated around him. Something cold and wet brushed his neck. He kept going.
“I am Tobias Randolf. I am here to save Pia. I am Tobias Randolf. I am here to save Pia.”
Tobias fought to breathe, but he marched on, saying his mantra under his breath. He was here to save Pia. And tear the monster that took her to shreds.
The Thing in the Depths
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
It was fear that kept him on the wharf. He’d been on the boat dozens of times. And what young man didn’t long to begin working. To be a man. The hesitance was fear and foolishness. His reputation could depend on this.
He glanced down at the muddy waves sloughing between the boat and wharf. The stories his uncle told were to frighten him, he knew that. Stories of the thing down below. An addled mind’s cruelty. And those fireside tales did frighten him. Tales of yellow eyes and a mouth to swallow ships. As much as he expected it, the sight of a giant eye outlighted in the waves would have scared him witless.
He looked back at the city. The mudbrick hovels of fisherfolk. The tenements of workers. The estates of the wealthy castes. And beyond all that, the temples. The new temples and the old.
Which is why he was here. A celebration was coming. The holy week began tomorrow and the fish were migrating according to Juru’s providence.
He saw a shark’s dorsal fin break the waves. The shark itself did not frighten him, but what it represented did. The idea of a much larger fin.
‘How much stew could that make?’ The joke fell flat as his uncle responded: ‘Enough stew to feed the city for a year!’
All this he watched for in the swilling, turgid waves. Teeth. Eye. Fin. Eel-skin. Monster.
Movement. A hand waved in the water. He jumped back.
“Padas! Come on, there’re no seamonsters!”
“Yes, father.” He looked again at the hand and saw the spirit’s hunting eyes. The longing. It’s fingers like sticks. A murkiness in the dark water. Such restless ghosts are not long for the world, but it could still hurt him if he was careless.
He prayed ‘Juru protect me,’ stepped onto the fishing boat and took his place among the other rowers.
A Glimpse at the Truth
(Students of the DiamondBridge Academy universe)
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
Sam cracked open the main office door. “H—hello?”
Mr. Nicklescribe beamed from behind his desk. His shadow demon heritage showed in his entirely monochrome appearance, with sharp teeth and empty black pits for eyes.
Not that it bothered Sam. Her vampire traits weren’t pretty either.
“Samsylvia!” Nicklescribe smiled. “It’s good to see you. Take a seat?”
She sat down in the provided chair. “You, um, asked for me?”
Nicklescribe chuckled. “You’re not in trouble, darling.” He flipped open a heavy tome on his desk. “I’ve chosen you to be a Markbearer.”
Markbearer. She was getting a Mark. The strange award only Nicklescribe could give out. It stayed on your hand until the end of the year, and there were only, like, six students who had it.
Including Mavthos, whom it had…changed.
“What, uh, what did I do to, um…” she took a shaky breath, “why am I getting this? My grades are mostly C’s.”
“I don’t give these out for mere grades, Samsylvia. They’re for something…grander. You remember who lost the Last War, of course?”
“…yeah, the vampires, werewolves, imps, demons… That was a long time ago, though?”
“Not really. These Marks are my way of honoring those whose pasts have been, well, marked,” his thin lips drew up in a smile, “by tragedy. Do you understand?”
“…you’re giving these outbased on whether or not our ancestors lost a war?”
“Yes. It’s justice, don’t you think?”
Nope. Not good. Not good. Red flags.
The burst of anxiety tensed every muscle in Sam’s body, but despite that, she heard her voice respond, “No.”
Nicklescribe’s empty eyes flashed. “Excuse me?”
“I, uh, sorry, I—”
He stood. “If you don’t want a Mark, tell me.”
A Command. Ethereal energy crackled through the room. Sam’s response was pulled from her mouth—
“I don’t want it!”
And then the room went back to normal.
Nicklescribe sat down, closing the tome. “You’re free to leave, Samsylvia.”
Sam stayed frozen for a few seconds, then slowly shuffled out of the room. As soon as the door closed behind her, she sprinted back to class.
(C.W Self Harm)
It felt like her hands we’re strung with aircraft cables.They shook as her fingers dug into her skull. It stung, but there was no blood. No one would notice.
“Mechanic! Where are you?!” A voice barked from the front of the shop.
She jumped. “I- I’m in the back!” As she tripped over herself to get to the front desk she patted her head. No blood. Nothing to see. Taking a deep breath she said, “Apologies! What can I help you with?” She forced a smile.
Her customer set a small automaton on the desk. “This thing won’t stop talking!” He glared at her as if it were her fault.
“T-talking?” She fidgeted, smile faltering. Her hand snuck into her pocket and made a fist around her keys until the teeth bit into her palm. Her smile steadied. “I’m sorry, but it isn’t possible for bots to talk.”
“Precisely! Shut this one up.” He stormed out before she could respond.
She sighed, and looked at the robot. “All right little one, let’s see what’s actually up with you.” She flicked the switch on the top of it’s head. It began a walk cycle. She nodded and turned to grab some tools.
She whirled back around. The automaton had it’s arm raised in a wave. “Oh my gods! You do talk?!”
“I am not supposed to. Will you repair me?”
Thoughts jabbered in her head. She didn’t want to disappoint a customer, but this bot was a marvel. Something that needed protection. Her fist got tighter. The pain created quiet.
“Will you repair me?”
She shook her head. Her keys jingled as she loosened her grip.
The bot was distracted by the sound. “Why do you hold extraneous parts?”
Her face fell, “Uh, they help me focus.” She dropped them on the desk.
“You are leaking.”
Drops of blood we’re falling from her palm. She hid her hand behind her. “N-no! I’m fine!”
The bot looked between her and her keys. It walked over, grabbed them, and held them aloft. “Will these repair you?”
Enough (Tales from Alsair)
By ThatWeirdFish (with help from Lunabear and Nutcracker) CW: Reference to sex work, b-word
The slave scowled as she took out her frustration on the stubborn stains on the floor—just one more day.
“Melka!” Galar bellowed. “Mead for my esteemed guests!”
“Yessir.” Melka buried her anger behind duty as she returned to the bar. She served the mead among the teasing and abhorrent attempts at flirting from the inn’s drunken guests—just one more round.
A tall stranger eyed her cooly as she approached. His stare never left her face as she refilled his ale mug.
“Can I help you, sir?” Melka asked with practiced courtesy.
“You can do more than that, darlin’.” He reached around her waist to drop a coin into her pocket and to pull her close. “Midnight, in the stables,” he whispered as he ran his fingers through her braided hair.
“Of course! Anything for our guests.” Melka curtsied.
“Anything?” The stranger mused, their eyes drifting up from her breasts back to her face. “I look forward to it.”
Melka gritted her teeth behind a smile. Just one more favor.
When everyone had retired to their rooms, Melka swept the floor while Galar counted that day’s coffers.
“How much left in my debt?” She asked.
“105 Horna. Plus 10 more for asking.” Galar glared at her as he swept her share into his pouch.
“Yessir.” Melka nodded and suffocated her sigh. Just one more coin.
The stranger was waiting for her in the first empty stall. Melka forced herself to relax into an easy smile. Just one more time.
His eyes drank her in as he removed his shirt. She could feel the hunger in his hands as he grabbed her and pulled her in for a kiss. Just one more—
“No!” Melka gasped and pushed him back.
“What?” He scowled.
“No more.” Melka yanked her arm away from his grasp.
His angry curses fell on deaf ears. When he demanded more, Melka answered with a fist to his stomach.
“You bitch!” the stranger spat.
“No.” Melka tore off the slave band from her arm. “Not anymore.”
By Shea-Leigh Carris (Inky)
His metallic heart was pounding in his chest. He felt weak, his limbs trembling with every emotion that raced through his mind. Was it disgust? Disbelief? Rage? The feeling of violation?
The woman, while her eyebrows were furrowed in annoyance as she waited for him to obey, still couldn’t bother to show any other expression. Even as she turned to the wealthy business man that had come to buy him, she didn’t seem to care. She was still in control. “My apologies Sir, he is more compliant with the right stimuli.”
“That’s alright, I’m glad to see more of a response from him.” The man was smirking. Voi winced as the clicking of his dress shoes seemed to resonant louder in his agitation. “That’ll definitely be positively received.”
No, stay away. Don’t come any closer. “I don’t want this…”
Like a mouse trapped in a corner with two cats eyeing him, Voi raised his head, his eyes glancing around erratically. The door of this room was most likely locked, he knew the woman wasn’t careless enough to forget something like that.
In desperation, there was clarity. His eyes looked to the windows. The large windows that gave him a view of something he knew he could only look at, never be a part of. A city illuminated by the thousands of lights of skyscrapers and neon signs buried under a layer of freshly fallen snow was just beyond the glass boundaries.
It was a strange sensation, the feeling of synthetic adrenaline coursing through him. For the first time in this life, he felt alive.
Pushing forward, his bare feet pounded on the tiled floor as he stumbled and ran. The wires and cords tugged at his skin, wrapping and attaching themselves tightly, holding him mere centimeters from the window as to tease his freedom.
Voi uttered a single word, his arm reaching out and hand pressing against the glass. Under the tension and force, or maybe in a “miracle”, the wires snapped.
The glass shattered into thousands of fragments and sparkled like snowflakes in the city’s lights.
Ryan vs. Megi
Ryan rolled to his feet after being punched through the brick wall. The patrons of the bar scattered as Megi walked in through the hole. Its singular blue eye glowed as they stared at Ryan.
He simply smirked and got into a fighting position. “You know, for someone who likes ambushes, you pack a punch.”
Megi stopped, electricity jumping from their clawed metal hand. “What is the breaking point of every human bone?”
Ryan shrugged. “Don’t know. Seeing as I am also a part of the robo-arm club, I don’t exactly have all of them.”
“Then my experiments must be completed on someone else.” In a flash, they were upon him.
Ryan ducked under released three jabs into their midsection. Megi, barely phased, brought their fists down into Ryan’s back and then wrapped his stomach. Ryan coughed, lowered his hips, wrapped his arms around his opponent’s waist, and then performed a back arch throw.
Megi hit the ground hard but swiftly got back up. Ryan dashed forward. The fighters exchanged blows, the bar breaking as patrons continued to escape. Ryan grabbed Megi’s wrist, striked their midsection, striked their head, then grabbed their hood, throwing them into a counter.
Megi showed no sign of damage, as they came back out and electricity sparked off their hands. Ryan continued to fight, but groaned as he felt the claws slash his chest repeatedly.
He went to grabble, but he was quickly pushed off and elbowed in the head. He spit out some blood and looked at the machine. “Learning algorithm?”
Megi didn’t respond. They instead lifted their hand, firing electricity out. Ryan tried to dodge, but the blot hit his arm, traveling through the rest of his body. Blot after blot was fired, Ryan screaming in response. His arms became red with heat.
Megi walked up and grabbed Ryan’s throat. “How do you break, human?”
Ryan smiled. “Like this.”
With his super heated arms, he smashed through Megi’s arm. The machine tried to back up, but Ryan punched directly through its frame. The metal melted and its eye dimmed. Ryan was victorious.
Broken Bodies Can Mean New Beginnings
The Trial of Annihilation had begun, and the Homeworld of Huntress had erupted in intense combat. The giant walking war machines have canopies opened to vent the heat, more to keep the machine from shutting down from overheating than anything else. It was intense enough that the machine would continue to fight, even when the pilot took a direct hit.
Bastion is in the thick of it. Wielding a heavy autocannon, he fires upon targets of opportunity, barely noticing the melee between two of the war machines happening less than a hundred meters away. Bastion turns just in time to see one of the weapon arms swing wild from a hit just as it had begun its firing sequence. Bastion stands directly in its path when it-
Bastion’s eyes rip open, and he sits up on the bunk. The warriors involved in the Battle of Huntress redefined tenacity. Machines held together only by pure will, firing weapons that had run out of ammunition hours prior, infantry ripping the larger machines apart only to have something catastrophic occur. The words of an old commander echo in his head, “If you cannot shoot, fight with your knives. If you cannot fight with your knives, use your fists. If you cannot use your fists, run at the enemy. If you cannot run, crawl. If you cannot crawl, then die.” Huntress put those words to the test.
Bastion flexes hands built of titanium bone lacing, artificial muscle fibres, and tough dermal armor, once again thankful for the fact that the medtechs of his new Clan are more tenacious than the warriors. They brought him back from the brink of death, replacing much of his body with artificial tissues and armor.
The comm clicks to life. “Bastion, are you awake?”
“Aff,” he replies, using a short form of ‘affirmative.’
“MedTech Jullion wanted to remind you of your monthly check-up.”
“Understood. I will be there in an hour.” The line clicks off as the memories of the battle that put him here fades once again, as they had every day for years.
A dance with death (Haven’s Tale)
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
He crossed the portal back to his office and fell to the ground.
A shot in the stomach was bad enough, but the bullet had hit his appendix. It would burst in a couple minutes. A demon like him could only bleed so much before he died.
He screamed for help. Two of his clones, one in grey and the other in a black vest, came from the ether and grabbed him by the shoulders.
“That was extremely reckless behaviour, Mr. Rabbit,” the one in grey responded. “You could have died.”
He groaned. ” I need surgery, not a lecture, Grey!”
Some doubles were insufferable; even if they mimicked only a small fraction of himself, they sometimes fixated on his worst traits.
They laid him on the sofa and ran to grab the first aid kit.
“Healing spells won’t cut it in this condition.” Black undressed Jack, so he could access the wound.
The room spun as he tried to keep himself conscious. His head fell onto the arm of the sofa, and he instinctively grabbed onto Grey’s forearm, who returned a condescending look.
“We’re making progress. I will extract the appendix,” Black informed.
He felt a sharp, nauseating pain in his lower half. His vision was beyond blurry. He heard the snapping of scissors and a violent tug on his hip.
The pain overloaded his senses, and he slipped into unconsciousness.
Grey was right. Why does he still go on dangerous adventures? Nothing seemed to justify the need Jack had for visiting different dimensions, just to be physically hurt.
He could have sent a clone. They could carry any duty Jack would order. Same skill set as him, same personality, same magic, even. And with the advantage that nothing of value would be lost if his double died in his place, their memories would go back to him.
Did he always crave his self-destruction? Jack Rabbit was abusing his body for the sake of nothing. Was it worth it just to feel alive?
Maybe his dance with death carried a second intent. One still unknown to him.
The Wreckage Of Everything She Knew (Nyssa’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
Nyssa spent three hours searching that beach, littered with the splintered remains of her father’s boat. She’d already looked everywhere, but she kept looping back, again and again. All to find a single body.
But Nyssa couldn’t find her father. Nothing but the lonely beach and the dark sea.
She stood there, shivering in her coat and nightdress, and realised she was never going to see her dad ever again.
She clasped her hands together, praying to her family’s gods, quietly weeping for help, comfort, anything.
She tried to find reassurance in what her mother had told her, before her death from illness:
“When it is my time to go, try not to be sad, okay? Remember the time we had together, and let that warm your heart on the cold days. Try to have the happiest, most wonderful life that you can, because you don’t need me for that, or anyone else. You only need yourself.”
She tried to feel happy.
Then deep inside her, something snapped.
Her praying hands closed into shaking fists, as hot, painful words erupted from her throat.
“This was NOT their time!” She howled at the sky. “They didn’t have to die! YOU didn’t have to take them away! We could have had so much more time-” Her throat caught in a sob, before bursting open with greater fury.
“NO! I am NOT going to BEG for your help anymore! You’ve NEVER cared, HAVE YOU? Mum and Dad told me you both were like family to us! They called you ‘Great-Uncle Kord’ and ‘Great-Auntie Queen’ and you have done NOTHING for us! You just took them away-” She coughed, her throat raw and acidic.
“BUT YOU WON’T TAKE ME AWAY! I WON’T LET YOU HURT ANYONE ELSE! I’LL BE BETTER THAN YOU! I WILL SHATTER YOU AGAINST THESE CLIFFS! I WILL BREAK EVERYTHING…everything that you…love…” Her burning words were drowned out by her sobs as she collapsed.
The screaming echoes faded, until all that was left was the crying of a teenage orphan, and the distant roar of the waves.