Hello, Ghosts and Overthinkers!
What’s bothering you? Are you thinking about that time you— or maybe it’s that one time… Well, whatever it is, I think it’s about time you let it go and move on, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Don’t Let It Haunt You
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!
Ghosts. Things of the past. But the thing about “ghosts of the past” is that we don’t always mean ghosts as in apparitions of the dead. Ghosts of the past can also be memories, times gone by, residual energies.
But this prompt is addressing more than just things of the past. Rather, it’s addressing how we shouldn’t let moments and choices weigh us down, how we should let some things go. Sure, it’ll stick with us, but we don’t have to let it torment us. You could choose to write about someone who keeps reflecting on the past. For example, a cop who shot the leg of an escaping criminal, only to end up making that leg nearly unusable for life. He did what he had to do, and the criminal paid the price for it. But if he hadn’t, the criminal could have escaped, and that price would be paid by whichever innocent they went after. He can either let this weigh him down, or learn to aim better. What about someone who keeps thinking back to when they said something mean, or made a selfish choice rather than a selfless one? Perhaps you choose to explore the mind of someone who can’t help but break down over the smallest mistakes, those mistakes leading them to fret over making another and another, convinced they’ll always mess up.
Perhaps you go the literal route and choose someone who is absolutely fed up with their lack of sleep, kept awake by the moans and cries of the deceased, so they get a house cleansing done. Maybe you decide on the elf who saved an imp from death, and is now stuck with said imp who has proven to be far more annoying than the elf bargained for. Do they end the imp themselves? Leave the imp behind somewhere and run? Or perhaps your fancy lies with the “cursed” chain letter emails that only the superstitious believe in. Maybe this letter fell into the hands of someone who didn’t believe in such nonsense and so they deleted it to stop the chain of ridiculousness… and are now trying to restart it to get rid of this entity they’ve inherited.
So many choices, so many paths… which story will you choose? What ideas have been nagging at you lately? Go ahead and give them some attention rather than… letting them haunt you?
… I won’t live that one down. I’ll see myself out.
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!
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“My decision is final, Lewis.” Arthur said.
“He hates you, father! How can you not see that?!”
Arthur sighed, looking down at the paperwork before him. “Of course I realize it. Do you think I am so daft that I don’t know the feelings of my own children?”
Lewis was taken aback. “Then why leave him such a lofty position in the Kingdom? He has no loyalty to your legacy.”
“That would be for the best. My reign has been one of near constant war. My inability to restrain the horrors of technology during the Chinese campaign will stain history forever.” Arthur found his hands trembling, and stopped them. “That is not, however, why I am leaving England in his hands. Whatever his attitudes have been toward me, he has gotten along with you and your siblings.” His one-eyed gaze fell once more to his desk. “I alone am deserving of his hatred.”
“It’s unjust!” Lewis protested.
“Is it?” Arthur met his son’s eyes. “Was it not I who slew his father on the plains of Illinois? Who stole him and his mother away to Lancaster? Was it not I who sent his mother to hang before the very doors of my palace?”
“She was plotting your assassination!”
“Does it matter? She was all he had from America for years. From his perspective, I killed off the last connection he had to his homeland, to his father.” Arthur sighed. “I should have had that woman killed before she had any chance to raise that boy.” He stood from his chair, and gazed out the window overlooking his city. “The ghosts of those I laid low rise up to haunt me, Lewis. Every painful choice, every death that resulted from my wars, is crawling back up from Hell to reap those fruits whose seeds found fertile soil in the corpses of the unnumbered dead.” He turned back to his son. “The future of the Empire, the future of civilisation, rests upon my faith in you and your brothers, not in my own deeds, justified or not.”
It Lingers Inches Below the Surface
by Lunabear (CW: blood) (Please don’t read on stream)
Rhodesia struggled to pick the broken pieces of herself from the floor. Adyin’s bite had left a deep wound. Gripping the junction at her neck and shoulder, she took a drawn out breath. To close her eyes would have been a fatal mistake.
She succeeded in rising to one knee before the room spun around her. Glass shards bit into her skin through her pants, but she couldn’t worry about it.
Her trembling hand slick with her own blood, she cauterized the injury and stitched her flesh back together as best she could. She screeched throughout the process.
The sirens sounded from right outside her apartment building.
Rhodesia lumbered onto rubber legs. Her vision began to spot, but she forced herself to clean up the blood, glass, and silver puddle. She dry heaved her way through washing ashes down the sink and nearly passed out from casting an illusionary spell over the holes in the curtain and the broken window pane.
She shed her uniform and washed up, taking extra care when bandaging the scars. The bloody clothes were stuffed beneath her bed.
By the time the police knocked on her door, her apartment looked and smelled as it had before Adyin’s assault.
That’s right. It HAD been an ASSAULT. He hadn’t meant a damn word of his “adoration”. Forgetting that wasn’t an option.
Upon opening the door, Rhodesia presented a weak smile. They weren’t from her precinct, at least. And they were human, thank the Oracle.
The first cop grilled her about the gunshots and perps while the second looked her over. She felt exposed and vulnerable in her full body PJs, but she knew the right words and gestures to lie her way through it.
Blaming her haggard state on working, she promised to call in if she heard anything more. Bidding them goodnight, she double bolted the door.
Her relief soured, however, as Adyin’s voice rotated in her head. She couldn’t escape him now.
On top of that, the Council needed to be alerted of his breakout and how it was her fault.
By IsaDragon 337
The wind howled.
A wandering scavenger tugged his cloaks closer about himself. The wind was picking up, and he didn’t know desert planets very well, but this felt like a rising storm. He was working around a striped mesa, looking for anything to get out of getting sandblasted.
There. The scavenger ducked into the alcove, twisting deeper into the rock. As he wandered deeper, he fumbled for his light, thinking about magnetic north and landmarks and—
His next step came down on air.
He was falling, reach for a a handhold, stumble, scramble—land on your feet, rule one—
He pushed himself up, ears ringing in the sudden silence, and looked around. He reached for his light, where it sat, half-sunk in sand. He took stock: his left foot was throbbing, and he had banged up his shoulder. Nothing life threatening, but he might need to wrap his ankle.
He grabbed the light, and would have screamed if he had a voice.
Just for a moment, in front of him there was the skull of some massive avian, or a man’s face with no eyes, or some kind of void shaped like one of the falcons outside, something that was all three at once and reaching for him with skeletal fingers. By the time he blinked, it was gone, and his light glimmered off of a chunk of lightning-fused glass.
The wanderer swallowed. He really needed to get off this planet.
Carefully pulling his eyes from the crystal, he looked around for anything else.
Bones. Old bones and broken stone houses, carved from the rock. He was at the bottom of a central pit, filled at the bottom with soft white sand and that spire of glass. The walls were terraced, dried vines still clinging in places. The bones were small piles, nearly-complete skeletons scattered about. Nothing was moving, nothing was breathing. There was nothing there. Just his mind playing tricks in the dark.
He turned around, and behind him, half-buried in the sand, was a shrine with a tiny obsidian idol inside: a man, with a falcon’s head. He choked.
By Hemming Sebastian Bane (CW: verbal abuse, hopelessness, brief suicidal ideation)
Every night I hear ‘em. In the void of sleep, I hear ‘em. Countless people. These weren’t like the nightmare after killin’ MacKieran. I was a stupid kid then. This… This was a whole new world o’ nightmares. I remember every face. Every final word. Every gunshot. Every stab. The family I’ve killed…
Damn Rhis Gailnor and his stupid oaff! Weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Sabotage his group from the inside, they said. The mistletoe will protect you, they said. But the oaff still took. Gailnor and I are bound to life until every member of the O’Lynchard crime family, blood or otherwise, is dead. That would be bad enough.
The voices started after I killed Da, Ma and Baltair. They took on their voices.
“How dare ya, stupid boy,” my father’s voice would say. “Ya spill yer kins’ blood. Dere’ll be Mag to pay, boy.”
Baltair’s voice would chime in, too. “Yeh little snot-nosed waste of skin. Yeh killed me. I don’ know waz worse: that yeh grew a backbone or that yeh wen’ ta kill ya mudder and fadder first. Yeh make me sick.”
Ma’s voice was the worst. “Sion, I’m not angry. Just disappointed. Your father and I made sure to teach you what was good for the family. Now you’ve turned against it. It’s not too late, Sion.”
Lies. It was too late. I’m bound by oaff to kill, and I can’t even die ‘til I’ve completed that. Every new victim is a new voice. New anger. New disgust. New sadness. Some have even shown fear. This is becomin’ somethin’ I can’t go on living with. My steps are like those through deep mud. I don’ even know if I’m the one pullin’ the trigger or drawin’ the knife anymore. I just hope someone finds a way to end me before Gailnor’s oaff is done.
Among the Trees
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
I never understood how people could find the forest comforting in any way. Wicked trees of sharp wood and pointy leaves jut out into the sky, rough bushes with potentially poisonous berries litter the ground, and all sorts of creepy crawlies lurk just beyond sight in the shadows. Thrusting yourself from the safe comfort of your home into the dangerous wilderness just made no sense.
It was a clear day, but my brain was filled with cloudy emotions. The week before, my girlfriend, the one I hoped to marry one day, called it off between us. At the time, it hadn’t really hit as hard as I expected it to. I smiled graciously, did my best to understand her, helped her pack her things, and drove her to where she would be staying from then on. It wasn’t until I got home that the oppressive emptiness of my house made my loneliness clear. I cried very hard that night.
The week had done little to dull the pain. I tried to go to work for the first few days, but since we were still co-workers, it was more stress than it was worth. I asked off for a few days and spent the rest of the week milling about my house or playing video games, trying to keep my mind busy and away from the empty.
That day, I woke up desperately grasping for my lover’s arms, to which I found no purchase. Of course she wasn’t there, and I was still alone. I got up and opened the window to gaze upon the early morning landscape. There, the forest that surrounded my apartment stood, creaking ominously. It seemed like a better alternative to where I was so I left.
Stomping over fallen trees, sprouting mushrooms, and thousands of leaves, the forest was just as disgusting as I remembered… or was it?
See, normally when I trekked into the forest, I felt this never ending stress of vital existence. But now, this feeling was replaced with something new. A breath of fresh air, and a respite from memories of her.
The Haunt Never Ends
by Jesse Fisher
The wolf just sat there in the nursery of his two offspring. Thoughts of the life he had now filled him with such joy and helped him ignore the broken part of himself, a life that did leave him alone only to come back to dent his emotional state.
The soft sound of a bell caused the wolf to look up from one of the cribs to the eel-like nanny in a stone mask. They locked eyes as her white eyes moved with his yellow following.
“Sleepless nights still got you, hmm.” The nanny asked, tasting the emotions off of the wolf. “Life before hand, before all this.”
The wolf merely nodded, looking at the other crib. “I know I can’t change this feeling, regardless of the joy this all gives me. There is still a tiny wolf-pup being dragged around by a literal angel.”
Once more he looked beyond the nanny to the cracked door beyond her. His side of the bed lay vacant, and he could see his mate pawing for him, to hold him and give the love he might be missing. His eyes shifted back to the nanny.
“I know that you read that book,” He spoke to her, a sigh being the only emotion to it. “Just keep it out of the kid’s hands as I’m not sure when I want them to know my full history.”
“Demon,” The nanny just quietly as the wolf moved up from his seat and past her. “You just need to open up more.”
With a sad smile Demon replied. “If I did that would I be me?”
The air was left with a hint of sadness, and a feeling of self loathing.
A Cornelian Dilemma
Sonja gnawed on the fried chicken drumstick, an irate frown on her face. In front of her, a plate was covered in chicken bones, nearly picked clean.
“So, what’s got you down?”
Sonja glanced briefly up at Melissa, then wordlessly tore another hunk of chicken from the bone and chewed it.
“It’s pretty much written all over your face, Sonja,” Melissa said. She sat down across from her friend. “Also, I’ve learned by now that when you get stressed, you try to eat your emotions.”
Sonja swallowed. “Rikke Farlund attacked again. Hit Erykah and Ryan this afternoon. Erykah took care of her goons, but I’m worried one of these times they’ll get the better of us.”
Melissa leaned forward. “So, we need to hit back. Hurt her. Make her realize that we’re not to be trifled with. That’s the only way Rikke will back off.”
Sonja sighed. “Last time we got too close to Rikke Farlund, Cristian paid the price for our actions. I don’t know if…”
Sonja looked up from the plate, where she had grabbed an uneaten chicken wing, and looked Melissa in the eyes.
“Sonja, Cristian’s alive. Francis and I brought him back. And we can do the same if it happens again.” She gave a reassuring smile. “Besides, now that we know what we’re up against, we can try to take precautions to try to keep it from happening again.”
“But what if…”
“No! Right now, our options are to hit Rikke where it hurts, or completely capitulate to her, and let her have her way. Or, I guess, have her keep harassing us with these assaults until she takes down the new recruits.”
“I feel sick,” Sonja said.
“I want to say it’s all that chicken you ate, but I’ve seen you eat more than that.” Melissa gave a chuckle. “What you need to do is stop feeling helpless. Figure something out. We need to do something. This has to end.”
Sonja tossed the chicken wing back on the plate and pushed it away from her. “I’ll…I’m sure I’ll think of something.”
Don’t let it haunt you.
I’m such an idiot for suggesting it in the first place, now Mark is gone and I’m not sure what’s gonna happen.
We were out getting some seashells for my daughter’s birthday present. I wanted to make her something she’d remember after the vacation. So we go, get almost none near the cabin, so who has the brilliant idea to propose getting closer to the beach. Me, god dammit, I did and now that thing is there, right there. Right next to the shore. At first I thought it was a bunch of rock in the water but after what happened, hell no it ain’t.
First we arrived and some clouds covered the moon for a few seconds, so we lit back up our flashlight. Mark goes to the left and I start looking on the right. I find a few that are good but every time I start to look at them the light starts hollowing out, nothing a few good hits cannot fix.
So I’m in the sand hitting my flashlight and out of the blue, I hear Mark scream. I turn around and try to see where he went while yelling his name. As I start walking I suddenly see a dark silhouette slithering from the water, slowly retracting. Then a strange sound came from the water. The moon would finally come back and from it I couldn’t tell what was there. All I was seeing were those small rocks above the water but foam had started to form around them. When I looked back toward the shadow nearby, I lit back the torch and there, I saw Mark’s legs being swallowed by a large triangular head with sharp teeth. It’s yellow eyes staring back at me, not moving, cold.
It’s there, I know it’s there, right next to me, in the water. I see it from the corner of my eye, a big scaly thing.
A Fading Face (Tangle’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
Even years later, Tangle would still remember the Elder’s face.
Smoke In The Sky had always been a bastion of reliability for young Tangle – she was deeply wise from a long and hard life, and still kind in spite of that. When her parents were out on patrol, or on a hunting trip, she would often take solace in the Elder’s stories and lessons.
Then, the demons invaded. The forest was burned to the ground in the resulting conflict, and Tangle had lost almost everything and everyone she had loved.
As she fled the inferno, she had caught sight of another like her, running like she was. Tangle had approached, calling out – and the other’s face had snapped towards hers with bonebreaking speed.
It was the worn, kindly face of Elder Smoke…with foreign coals of pure malice burning in her eyes. Her mouth had twisted into a snarling cackle, before turning to flee into the wilderness. And Tangle had followed her. To save the one other member of the tribe that had been her world, and to destroy the demon that infested her body.
She had chased, and chased, and chased. But her target had 60 years of skills and experience within her body, and the unnatural strength and speed possessed by the fiendish parasite. It was not a chase she could ever win. In fact, Tangle had become sure that the only reason she had kept up at all was because the demon enjoyed tormenting her with this hopeless pursuit.
Eventually, she had given up the chase. Now, she was just trying to make a living, to pull her shattered life back together, to learn a new normal.
But sometimes, in the branches of trees, in the reflections of water, or pressed against her window at night, she would glimpse Smoke’s face. A harsher, nastier face, as decades of kindness was worn away with each passing day. A face marked with scowls, grimaces, and far, far too many laughter lines.
A terrible face that sneaked closer to Tangle, every night.
Daring her to begin the chase, once again.
Something Missing, Something Unwanted
By Shea (Inky)
The bell above the door twinkled softly as it was pushed open, and the air conditioning felt heavenly as he stepped in from the burning summer.
A slow day apparently; he glanced around before stepping away from the door. While he would’ve loved to remove his hood, he didn’t dare. Even though the owner, smoking his cigarettes and reading a magazine, didn’t bother looking up, he couldn’t risk it. Quickly, to the cooler.
His shoulder bag was stuffed with as many water bottles as he could fit; he didn’t know how long he’d be traveling this time. Didn’t want a repeat of his escape to Illamuley.
His eyes widened just a bit, and he froze. How long had it been since he’d heard that name? No, no, just play it off. They were mistaken. He continued his water raid until he was interrupted by his arm being held back.
He spun around and yanked his limb back, only to be faced with his greatest fear: a familiar face.
“I knew it, you flaunted not having a tail for the longest time. Hard to miss.” The Collie spoke to him with disbelief and excitement. “It’s me, Mor.”
A cold sweat ran down the back of his neck. His mind was racing; ‘what should I do?’ Could he lie his way out of this, like the many times before? There, he could see it again. A horrifying scene in what was like a red camera filter. The metallic scent, God help me, it was still tangible. There was no mercy, everything would remind him of that girl who was no longer living despite his attempts.
The Rabbit swallowed dryly and opened his mouth, wanting so badly to tell the truth. Wanting for his past to be just that, a spectre that’d disappear in time.
“No, that’s…wrong person, you’ve got them…” His mouth and mind betrayed him as he spit out another excuse and ran around the Collie, out the door.
Not before dropping some money on the floor, pretending like that’d negate all of his previous actions.
By L. L. Marco
Lute dragged her aching, bloodied body back to her cave. Her translucent wings barely managed to hover above the road; her antenna hung low and muddled her blurred vision. Even still, her wild eyes flashed around, alert and paranoid. Blood dripped from her snarling fangs. In the darkness she resembled a vengeful spirit more than she did anything living.
But she kept going as if guided by an otherworldly force. Exhaustion had all but shut her mind down; Lute was running on nothing but instinct and spite. If nothing else, she wasn’t going to be found injured and helpless. She was sure those thugs were looking for her after she’d defended herself from their ‘buddies’.
Lute scowled at the fresh memory and pressed forward. Humans weren’t to be trusted.
After what felt like an eternity she arrived at the mountain. There was a hole she’d crawled out of this morning and it was the place she would return to tonight. Her wiry frame was just barely thin enough to slink through the narrow entrance. The dugout held a few belongings and a cot. Her cot. She fell into it and immediately passed out.
Lute awoke to the faint sound of cicadas singing somewhere above. Her eyes fluttered open and a smile followed. The woman stretched her four arms into the air, meaning to yawn but what came out instead was a yelp of pain.
“Ouch!” Lute whined, her brow furrowing as her lower arms rubbed the upper ones. “So sore! Why?”
Lute’s gaze fell, finding herself and her cot completely caked in… Mud? She had a few knicks and bruises here and there, but nothing that wouldn’t be explained away by slipping down a steep (and apparently quite muddy) hill. Her mouth tasted like minerals.
Lute tried to recall the events from the day before. And, just like always, she found absolutely nothing but the cicadas’ sweet song. Oh well! It probably wasn’t important. She sat up and weaseled her way up into the outside world. Whatever had happened, it was nothing a nice dip in a lake wouldn’t fix.
The Trauma of Science (Haloed Sky)
Stay calm…Everything is going to be okay. You’ve seen things, Vlu. Many things, maybe things that shouldn’t be. Yet, there it was, all the sights and smells and sounds. That’s…That’s inside of you, Vlu. It’s okay. You’re still here, don’t pay too much attention to the thrums of your heart, the twitch of your muscles, or that bile rising up your…No. Keep it back. You’re better than this. You’ve been through…A lot. You’re strong. You have to be. You must be. Else you would’ve crumbled under that pressure, and you, Xin, and ALL of this would have…
That…Hurt. Why did you do that? You’re not supposed to strike walls. It’s not going to resolve anything, but it will cause you pain. It’s not very becoming of you. What would Xin think? She made you do it, yes, but it was for a good reason. A good…Valid reason. She told you to do it, so…This is her fault, isn’t it? But you agreed…If Xin’s a monster for suggesting it, what are you for complying?
That’s inside of you…The inside of you, looks like…
Something else. You need to…I need to think of something, anything else…Gah, that smell…It’s all over me. I need to wash it off. Hurry, hurry.
That feels much better. The smell is gone. The…Sticking to my hands, my arms, my…Ulgh, it got everywhere. How many did I examine? Five? And what did I learn? I learned Xin is a wicked little…No, Vlu. Breathe. Cynicism will get you nowhere. Us nowhere, I mean. I…Gah. Breathe, Vlu. Breathe, just…Even if it’s impossible underwater. It’s soothing, even if I can’t breathe down here. I can’t breathe in all of this…
…That’s it! The medium! It dulls all it touches and chills the body. The sleepers can’t feel their lungs, and thus don’t use them! Their bodies have forgotten this essential function! Xin! She lived because she coughed the medium! That’s it! All I need to do is make the body expel it, but…how?
by Astrid Jones
The spirit of Gary Spancil nearly spilled his fresh-poured bowl of cereal when he heard the knock at his door. It had been decades since he’d had a visitor. Most of his friends had moved on long ago. Setting his bowl gently on the table, Gary floated to his door to greet his unexpected guest.
Gary stuck his head through the solid door. A human man wearing a button-down shirt with a necktie, holding a clipboard stood on his front step.
“Uh, can I help you?” Gary asked. The man must be lost, he thought. How else would he have ended up in this dimension?
“Yes, Mr. Spancil, I believe you can.”
Gary drifted the rest of the way through the door to hover on his step with the human. “Do I know you?”
“No. But we know you.” The man flipped some papers on his clipboard. “You’ve been a busy ghost lately, Mr. Spancil. I have an order from the Department of Haunting for you.”
The human handed Gary a thick, cream colored envelope with a blue wax seal.
“You are to cease your haunting of 272 Climber Street, effective immediately. Your dimension travel license is also suspended for three months.”
“But… but why?” Gary asked, staring dumbly at the envelope in his hands.
The man consulted his clipboard. “37 boxes of Boo-Berry Crunch have gone missing from your haunting location since the new family moved in.” He gave Gary a stern glance.
Gary’s thoughts flashed to his bowl of cereal sitting on his table. He should have known his addiction to his favorite human food would catch up with him one day.
You have all the eternity (Haven’s Tale)
By: Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
Haven turned on the bed one last time. It was useless. She put on a robe and roamed around again.
Mr. Rabbit’s mansion would be her home until he got her out of the void. The vacant rooms and infinitely long and dark hallways were as lonely as her. It was too much space to be alone with her thoughts.
She entered the gaming room and found Mr. Rabbit, drink in hand, and his gaze on the fireplace. He gestured her to enter and asked:
“Having trouble sleeping?”
She sat by his side on the sofa in silence, watching the flames peacefully dance, the orange faint light warning her face.
“I would offer you a drink, but…” He tried to start a small talk.
“I’m old enough to drink.” She responded, annoyed.
He smirked and poured another glass.
“I would be fresh out of college by now. I’m 23, I would probably be looking for a job.” She smiled and took a sip. “Or at least, I would do this if I was home.”
“I told you. I’m doing everything in my power to send you home, Miss Haven.”
“The thing is… I keep saying I entered the void by accident, but I can’t be sure.” She looked at her feet. “I don’t remember how I got here. I have this lingering feeling that I might have done this by my volition.”
Haven felt the tears burn down her cheeks.
“What if I ran away? What if I wanted to disappear forever? What if I tried to…”
Mr. Rabbit hugged her while she cried.
“Don’t get caught up on the maybes, Miss Haven.” He held her shoulders and looked deep inside her eyes. “Even if it feels like billions of years pass inside the void. You will stumble into the answer, eventually. Your home will wait for you; have a little faith.”
He was right. She needed to keep hoping on the best. Even if she entered the void to never return. Even if it took all of eternity, she would one day be safe at home.
Your Crisis Isn’t My Problem (Students of the DiamondBridge Academy universe)
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
Large-scale battles on school property caused lots of collateral damage. With the functioning principal turning out to be evil and the seven students sent to the hospital, a very disorganized staff frantically tried to pull everything back together until the school year ended.
Cypress took the chaos into their own clawed hands.
Gaping explosion hole? Cypress brought caution tape.
The previous teacher for Infiltration/Sabotage 101 now in jail? Cypress picked the lock on his lesson plans drawer, made some tweaks, and taught the class themself.
Those seven hospitalized students? Cypress collected all their missing work, made copies of lecture notes, and delivered them by hand after every school day.
They were on their way to do just that, tiredly stumbling towards their car, when someone called “Uh, hey, Cypress?” from behind them.
“Yeah, what’s—Mavthos?!” Cypress nearly dropped the papers they were holding, knowing full well one of those folders had the approaching imp’s name on it.
“Please don’t freak out, I, uh, was released earlier today, and um…” Mavthos wrung the fingers of his hands, “I just really wanted to talk to you about something, if, um, that’s okay.”
Cypress squinted their Scalien eyes. This wasn’t the loudmouthed, inconsiderate bully they were used to. “Uh, yeah, what’s up?”
“I… I’m sorry. Like really sorry. For everything I’ve ever done, ever.”
“So what? You were literally under mind control for months..”
“No. Before that. Remember back in November-ish, when I, uh…”
“When you told me to ‘pick a side?’” Cypress growled. “And how I nearly got expelled for beating you up after?”
“….yeah. I’m sorry for that.”
“Took you long enough.” Cypress unlocked their car. “You’re forgiven, or whatever. Now shut up about it.”
“Before you go!” Mavthos charged forward. “I, uh, turns out I’ve been repressing some stuff, and—”
“Obviously. Look, I’m not a licensed professional. Here,” Cypress pulled a business card out of their wallet, then tossed both it and Mavthos’ homework at the imp’s face. “Bother them, not me.”
“Wait!” Mavthos yelled, desperately snatching at the flying papers.
Cypress slammed the car door and drove away.
Getting out of your own head. (Bloodwulf universe)
“I cannot believe that I let you talk me into that…” the giant known as Bastion rumbles.
“For a man willing to run at a hundred tons of walking firepower and armor, you’re rather reserved, you know that? Besides, I’m sure she’ll love it. Probably better than the sorts of things she’s used to receiving, anyway.” Erick replies, taking a sip of his drink.
“It is not so much the subject matter, though that is embarrassing enough on its own.”
“What? It’s not like I haven’t seen you in less. Besides, would you have preferred Cerice to do it?”
“NO! Sorry, no. Her forwardness makes me uncomfortable. Though I must admit that what she does with cloth is amazing. But still-”
“But still what? My friend, think about the crap that you’ve gone through. Your achievements. Khans give you the time of day that they wouldn’t to any other Freeborn.” The truth of that statement hits home for Bastion, who had been born into being a second-class citizen in Clan-held space. Growing up within Clan Wolf, he had never dared to dream that he would speak with Clan leadership on a regular basis. Erick continues, “don’t you think that you’re entitled to some happiness?”
Bastion remains silent for a moment, drinking deeply as he puts his thoughts and emotions together before replying. “I do. Perhaps that is why I went ahead with your idea. Cautious warriors get no glory. Still, I cannot help but have doubts. What if-”
“Bastion, as your friend and your commanding officer, get out of your head.” Bastion smirks given the absurdity of a man half his height giving him an order without giving him an order.
He heaves a sigh. “Aff,” he agrees. “I will do my best.”
“I will say, I didn’t really need the reminder of what I’m actually staring at during formation.” Bastion’s laughter rolls through the cantina like joyous thunder.
Don’t Let It Haunt You
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
She thinks, If fear is the little death, then nostalgia must be the slow death.
A fallacy, but as Vienas blindly wanders the shelves and runs her hands across the wooden ends, she doesn’t care. Instead she recalls the words, thoughts and arguments therein. These things she will never read again.
A tear drips from her cheekbone. The sound of small mammals in the temple. Vienas almost wished she had a dog to hunt the vermin. Almost. After all these years, the braying packs still wandered the streets, hunting Padas. She’d made him take Karas’s sword when he went outside now.
At one time, she’d had several scrolls memorized. But there were long years since then and when food is a daily worry, you stop old habits. You stop your recitations and musings, except for those quiet hours when there is nothing else.
She wept for these memories. Emanations of a society dead. But society is made by people. Her hand went to her womb, burgeoning with new life. A society of two would grow into three, four, maybe more.
A new society then. She closed her eyes for the sentiment of the act. All the old sins and mores, the taboos and sacrimonies, these could be forgotten. Relics.
She blanched at the idea that this library should be nothing more than a reliquary. A captive look at how life might have been and once was.
But this was also opportune. She could cut away the castes, the pettiness of the priests and their patrons to help the common man, forge a new way of thinking. Has anyone, even Ziniu Himself, ever had such an opportunity?
She could be the architect of the new society and thereby the architect of gods. A fallacy, possibly, but what is magic if not fallacious?
The image of what might be enraptured her for hours. A small god, with the sword of an older god, bring temperance and responsibility to the void that monster left behind.
“Padas,” she whispered that night. “I want you to promise me something. Never speak the word ‘mother.’”
Inhale, Exhale, Repeat (Oneiron Universe)
By: Insania404 (CW: Depression)
Another restless night. It was always a restless night and it was always the same nightmare. It was always the glass dagger, burrowing into his skull, marking those symbols into his forehead. It happened in the CiRFiS, so it could only be part of the simulation. There was no occult magic, no esoteric power in those markings, was there?
Alfred decided it didn’t matter. The symbols were only a way for the Deprived to think they had control over anything more than how soon they’d fade away. The Wounds that they spoke of were simple myths of a culture collectively losing their minds. They’d worship anything if it would bring them peace.
Even then, his reassurances did little to alleviate his fears. There was a residual ache that manifested when he thought about it. The sting of that blade lingered somewhere in his mind. On terrible nights like these, he swore that the markings were still on his forehead. He knew this was impossible, since he looked in the mirror several times before to confirm that it was merely his imagination.
There was no use trying to quickly put the thought to rest as hysteria blinded his eyes with tears. The phenomenon toyed with his emotions, putting on a play for an invisible audience. Alfred served as the puppet that laughed, cried, screamed, and wailed until his body was nothing more than a hollow husk deprived of all emotion.
Inhale, exhale, repeat. “Please let it be over, let it be the end!” Alfred pleaded with the malevolent darkness. There was no answer, save a growing burning sensation in the middle of his forehead quickly raging into an inferno that consumed his body, leaving nothing but a glass dagger on top of a pile of ashes.
Alfred shot out of bed, his face drenched with sweat.
Another restless night. It was always a restless night and it was always the same nightmare.