Hello, Paranormals and Paranoids!
Did you hear that? I swear, I just heard something… like someone speaking in a whisper. There it is again! You heard it that time right? You had to have heard it that time, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Shadows Talked
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 experienced the things that go bump in the night, haven’t we? We’ve seen the people standing in the corner, only to find out it’s a housecoat and a hat. Why do we even hang them that way if they scare us in the dark?
But what if it wasn’t just a hat and a coat? Perhaps you wake in the middle of the night to the sound of whispers, and you feel a pull to look at the corner. You can’t quite make out what’s there, but you know your coat isn’t that high up on the wall. But what is it? Is it facing away… or watching you? Why does it loom over you as you sleep? What is it even saying? Maybe your story revolves around a paranormal investigator focused on debunking ghost videos, only to capture all sorts of paranormal evidence. Orbs, EVPs, all of which this investigator debunks, regardless if it’s real or not. But what about when they start hearing whispers when they’re alone? How do you debunk something like that without stating outright that you might be crazy? Or perhaps you write about an introvert with depression who finds out there’s some sort of entity living in their apartment with them, and every time the lights go out, the voices start up. But what if this entity feeds off the negativity by whispering positive things? Perhaps it is an entity that likes this new tenant and wants to help them get better? Or maybe, just maybe, these whispers really are just in your head. Maybe there are no demons, no monsters or boogeymen. Maybe the voices are just in your mind. But how can you tell? It’s so real, yet no one believes you. Could you truly be mad? Bonkers? Off your head? And regardless if it’s in your head or it really is the shadows… how do you run from either?
Maybe you don’t need to run from them at all. Maybe these ghosts and whatnots just want a friend, someone to talk to. Who knows? You’ll only find out by listening to them. But is it worth the risk?
Well, let’s shut off the lights and find out, shall we?
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 3:00pm 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! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
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
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- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
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- 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.
The Unsavory Source
By. Cosmic Desperado30
I gritted my teeth as I entered Williams’ office. It was exactly as I thought it’d be: dark, depressing, and in dire need of a dusting. I checked my phone, desperate for any of my other leads to come up. No texts, no e-mails, and social media was a wash.
But I needed to solve this case.
Williams didn’t react to my presence, his armchair was turned away, and he kept mumbling to himself.
I rolled my eyes and stomped the floor, sending up a puff of dust. Williams jumped and turned to greet me, his eyes darting about like he had several mental tabs open.
“My word, is it really time already? I swear I would have cleaned up if I wasn’t…preoccupied.” Williams lamented, looking pathetic in his patchwork suit.
“And here I thought you were doing auditions for an extra in the Addams Family.” I retorted. Williams didn’t chuckle.
I cleared my throat and pushed through. “Anyway, I need your help. Some of your fortunetelling.” I leaned forward and produced a manilla envelope. “I’ve been told you’re reliable, and I have a down payment.”
Williams kept looking past me. As if there was something behind me. A moment later he smiled.
“It’s not fortune telling. It’s Nyctomancy. The shadows speak…and I listen.”
“Tell that to your mistress.” Williams remarked. How did he…?
“People always underestimate what shadows see, Mr. Talbot. What they are witnesses to. I simply listen to what they have to say.”
He held up a hand before I could reach for my revolver.
“Don’t bother. They’ve already told me it’s empty.”
I froze on the spot. If this was a con, he was an expert. No cameras, no marks, no trick mirrors. The whole place was spartan, save for the chairs and desks.
“So… tell me more about this missing girl you’re after.” Williams leaned back with a smile.
“She was last seen in the woods.” I breathed.
“Well then, I’ll get my coat. Sundown is in about an hour.”
And The Shadows Said
“You’ll never be anything,” Said her father.
“You’re wasting your time,” Said her mother.
“We’re disappointed in you,” Said both her parents.
Rosa was used to this sort of treatment by now, but somehow, today, it had gotten to her. Their words were like the sea beating against the black, jagged rock that had become her heart. Wearing her down until she was nothing but sand, drifting along in the ocean. She retreated to her room and shut the door behind her, trying so very hard to keep in her tears but, like waterfalls, they spilled down her cheeks despite what she wanted. And so she sat on her bed, curled up in a ball, weeping. But, like always, whenever she was upset, she felt a long, bony hand reach out from underneath her bed and take hers.
“You know they’re wrong, my dear.” Said the shadows under her bed.
“You’re not worthless,” Said the wind outside, as it blew through the trees.
“You’re still growing,” Said the spider in the corner, as it weaved its web. Rosa wiped the tears from her eyes.
“It’s not enough,” She choked through sobs. “It’s never going to be enough. I’m not enough. And I never will be.”
“Perhaps not to them,” Said the shadows under her bed. “But you always will be to us. One day, my dear, you will learn to love yourself as dearly as we love you. But until that day, we will love you with all of our dark hearts.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Rosa said, as she slipped off her shoes. “As long as I have you all, I’ll never be alone.”
And the Shadows said, “I love you.”
And Rosa said, “I love you too.”
And just like always, ever since she was a little girl, she let the darkness cradle her in its arms as she drifted off to sleep.
The New Warder
In the grand capital of the Republic of Idonia, Luda was one of the finest Idonian cities I ever laid eyes upon. It was such a far cry from the city state of Calderi. I was naught more than an Osprin from the boonies.
The capital city had the least number of violent crimes in the whole of the Republic. Though it was still plagued by crime syndicates. I had to deal with those types when I became a warder in the Ludan state penitentiary.
Apparently, the last guy, some human fellow, turned in his cap to the chief after he got assigned Cell Block D.
“What even made the bastard quit in the first place?” I asked the chief as I scratched my beak in curiosity. “I thought he would have the mental fortitude to deal with the prisoners here.”
The chief just smiled at me and said, “It ain’t the prisoners that made him leave, birdkin. It is a mistake we’ve made in the past that’s haunted us ever since.”
I didn’t understand what he meant until I took my shift in Cell Block D. For the majority of the day, it seemed relatively quiet. Nothing out of the ordinary, with the exception of the prisoners who constantly pestered me to stop the voices.
As night fell however, I was just prepping to turn in for the night when I heard thudding noises coming from down the block. Along with the howls of the prisoners that begged me to stop the noises.
The disturbance prompted me to investigate. I took my flashlight and made my wall to cell 23. Though when I arrived, I saw nothing. That was until I shined my light in and spotted shadows moving inside. Many of them up the wall, surrounding the bed, clubbing at what would have occupied the bed.
After that, I left the job. I never told anyone about what I heard, for they wouldn’t have believed me anyways. Every time I closed my eyes I could see the shadows beating at whatever laid in that bed.
By Ezequiel Mercado
At first it was just a whisper. I fell ill that winter and spent a few days in bed. It was sooo boring, I watched a ton of Youtube videos on my tablet.
My nose ran a lot but my mom said it was good because the virus was coming out with the boogers. Gross!
That night I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t tired because I couldn’t go to school or do anything. I just closed my eyes and waited like dad said.
I felt it, my blanket moved a bit. I grabbed it and covered my head. In the morning I told mom and dad but they told me I was tired of being inside.
The next night I was in my pijamas, ready to go to sleep. I had my tablet on one hand playing a video so I didn’t feel lonely. I had a plan, a great plan. I would pretend to be sleeping and take a picture of it. I called it Mr. Dark.
I sneezed and heard a soft “bless you”. I dropped my tablet and ran to my parents.
—What’s wrong honey? —Mom said.
—Mr. Dark is there! He said “bless you”.
—Again? You have to sleep in your bedroom. We’ve talked about this. —Dad said.
—But I’m scared! He comes when I’m alone.
Dad then checked my bedroom and said everything was fine. I wanted so badly to not sleep alone I started coughing. Mom noticed it but asked dad to sleep on my bed. That trick worked!
It was a very cold night. I was scared but tired. I knew I’d fall asleep soon. My nose ran like crazy, great. I held my sneezes as much as I could. A big one came and it was loud.
I heard nothing. I looked around and saw nothing. I reached for my tissues when I heard “here you are”.
I turned and saw a big fluffy bunny standing on two legs. I gasped and he handed me the tissues.
—I’m Mr. Dark, as you have named me. And I am your new friend.
The Voice of Light (content warning: suicidal thought)
By: That WeirdFish
I am alone, as usual. Sitting by myself in my ritual of eating lunch under that one tree in the corner of the schoolyard. It doesn’t take long for the dark ones in my head to start whispering again.
“You’ve failed the test, what will they say?”
“No one likes you, you know. They’re all faking it.”
I frown at the dark fog swarming my mind. It’s… pointless to stop it. It will always come back so why bother. I look down at my half-eaten sandwich and set it aside. No point in that either, just delaying the inevitable.
I pull my knees to my chest and stare at the shifting leaf shadows in the grass. The voices grow bolder, meaner as the fog grows blacker. I feel my heart sink, drowning in the pain they cause. I close my eyes and rest my forehead on my knees. I wish I could just stop.
“Hey, you alright?” I recognize that voice. It belongs to the new kid. Kali… was it?
A crack in the fog. A spark of light that I try desperately to grab onto but… my hands slip and the moment is gone.
“Leave her alone,” says another voice. Li, I think his name was. “She won’t talk to you anyways. She’s weird.”
The dark ones echo the word menacingly. Labeling me the freak, the outcast. The… unwanted. I curl against myself tighter. I just want everything to stop.
“I don’t care,” Kali announces. “Y’all can play ball or whatever, I’m gonna be where the cool people are. Right here.”
A flash so bright it shatters the fog and silences the dark ones. I look up at her in shock. She… is defending me?
Kali grins down at me with genuine joy. “Isn’t that right, Aurora?”
I’m foreigner, sorry for any mistakes.
I Can Still Feel You
By Samurai Jackson
I can feel it, her softy hands gently caressing my hair, her hot breath in my face, her body touching mine, even without opening my eyes, I know who is this person laying down besides me, everything about her is in my memory, I could never forget even if I wanted to.
I meet her in a dark moment of my life, I was trying to be anyone but myself, I though that there was nothing good within me, she was the one that stopped my path of self destruction, thanks to her I was finnaly able to dream about good things.
She was always trying to cheer me up, whenever I was feeling depressed, she used to lay down with me to calm my mind, to show that she was always there for me.
I open my eyes to see the face of the only person that I ever loved.
She is not there again.
“It’s already bean a year my love, since you passed, and yet…” I look at her picture besides my bed “You visit me everynight, at least that’s what I like to believe, maybe I’m just going bonkers.”
“It just feels so real… and it does make sense, you know that I wouldn’t last long without my lovely lady.” I start to tear up little “even after death you still look out for me, I really am a luck man.”
“I don’t know how this ghost thing works, but can I ask you something?” for some reason, I waited to see if I would get an answer “Well… the next time that I open my eyes trying to see you, could you be there, just for a split second would be enough, I know it’s greedy of me to ask that, but I have to try.”
“Good night my love.” I close my eyes.
Welp, the title drew me in, despite not being a huge vampire fan. (But add cats, and it’s better)
Shiloh is a curious character and that drives the people to want to read more and that I did. I’m interested to see where this cat(?) came from.
“A Favored Darkness”
The tavern was filled with a steady murmur. The shadowy figures of townsfolk amidst the smoky atmosphere. Some of the townsfolk were actually quite loud. A man boasting here, a burst of laughter there. Other townsfolk, and myself, were more hidden away in various corners or alcoves of the tavern. The quiet chatter among these townsfolk were various sundry things: a jealousy, a bitter resentment, a secret, a plot. I strained to hear if any among them talked of my arrival in town. None seemed to care. Good.
I watched a man stagger up from his stool by the bar, and I knew where he was headed as he left the tavern. I followed after a brief pause so as not to arouse suspicion. I entered the alley adjacent to the tavern, and of course the man was there spilling his urine. It stank as I passed him heading into the darker parts of the alley. Then I watched him and waited. Eventually after he finished, he looked up at me with little care. Our eyes locked for a moment. It was enough! His gaze was fixed upon me. “Come,” I commanded simply. Lured, he came deeper into the alley’s darkness under my hypnotic gaze.
No shadows whispered here in the darkness of the alley as I fed. The throbbing of the life force in his blood filled me. After I was done, he was still breathing. Good. I healed him with my magic. Just enough to halt the bleeding and seal any wounds. No evidence. His mind was still clouded. He would not remember our encounter.
It cannot be helped
By Tamela Redfin
Trigger Warning! Experimentation, mild torture and racism.
Days passed and I kept my eyes peeled for those rotten cyphas. Luckily, with weekdays, the cyphas had strict work schedules. Somedays, you’d pass the buildings and hear the sharp noise of riveting in the air while feeling the hot sand between your toes. What were they complaining about?
Today I also heard rumors some of the cyphas were going to that campsite and they caused quite the stir in our capital Adler. I shook my head thinking about how upset Cecilia got. She was probably sick of socializing.
“Hey Phosphorus Cameron, what’s going on?” It was Feldspar Augen, the head scientist.
I bowed my head. “Things are well. I didn’t expect to see you here, sir.”
“I heard something about a rogue cypha in this camp. Radon Cecilia Owens? Do you know anything about her?” He smirked and brushed long white hair out of his red eye, “I have a solution. Come with me.” I followed him, trudging through the sand to Camp Goodjoy.
Something felt off as I got closer. Had the building been so windowless? “Of course it has, Cam. You’ve seen the exterior.” A voice whispered to me
“Did you say something, Feldspar Augen?” My spine tingled, but Feldspar Augen didn’t acknowledge the question at all.
“Here we are, Phosphorus Cameron, ignore the loud ones. You’ll hear them when I open the door.” But he was wrong. The halls were dead silent. Yet, they were not empty. The light flickered as we walked.
He clicked a button. “Radon Cecilia? Sapphira?” He called out. “If you don’t come here, your punishment will be far worse.”
There she was. “My cousin did nothing wrong. Leave her alone.” Radon Cecilia’s breath hitched in her throat.
Feldspar Augen smirked, motioning to another guard. A sticky pad was placed on Cecilia and her cousin.
“You do realize that girl can’t be older than ten?” A voice whispered. No one spoke, until a flip was switched. Two screams split the air, and not in a good way.
“Humans would die if exposed to that, Cam.”
Knock Next Time (Chronicles of The Dragon)
Scribe skipped through the halls of their new headquarters, with Bit flitting around her.
When the workers finishing up construction got tired of her bugging them, she’d tried to play with her new teammates. After they got tired of her, they gave her an important mission: figure out where all the damn rats were coming from.
After she got bored with that, she built a tower with all the rats she froze. And when she was bored with that, she decided to finish exploring the building.
She thought she heard that the building used to be a lab belonging to Sae-Tee’s parents, and that’s why parts of it were still under construction and off limits.
The hall she was in now she’d been down before, but as she pressed the buttons on every door she passed, one of them actually opened.
She and Bit stopped and looked in to see…nothing. The light from the hall formed an almost perfect rectangle on the floor, and nothing was visible beyond. Scribe stepped in, with Bit hovering close to her shoulder, but the shadows still didn’t yield.
Though, a purple tinge seemed to cover the world.
She stepped further in, reaching the edge of the light, and stretched her hand out experimentally.
“What do you want?”
The voice came to her from nowhere and everywhere at once. Bit hid under Scribe’s hair.
Scribe’s eyes darted around the room. Or was it an abyss? She opened her mouth but could only stutter out an, “uh…uh…”
Bit poked out to say, “You can’t scare us, we’re powerful superheroes!”
There was a soft giggle. “I’m aware. Why have you come to my room?”
“We… We were just… exploring? We didn’t mean to bother you?” Scribe said, slowly backing out.
As soon as Scribe’s foot touched the hallway, Bit yelled, “RUN!” and bolted down the hall. Scribe turned and ran after her.
A ghostly pale young woman stepped out of the room, the shadows seeming to cling to her and blend into her gown. “Scribe?”
After a moment, she shrugged and returned to her room.
Ill Met in Darkness (A Tiefling Tale) [From Private]
C. M. Weller
The door was solid and heavy and took more than a bit of muscle to shut, which made the bar that Fel placed across it almost superfluous. He added locks and chains as he caught his breath. This was good. Nothing else could get in. He was, at last, secure.
“Nice bunker you got here, mein herr,” said a voice not his own. “Only one real problem with it.”
Fel whirled, steel drawn and ready in an instant. Nothing there but his supplies and a lot of shadows.
One of those shadows opened its eyes and split a sharp smile. It developed a demonic shape and became a fully-fleshed being with blue skin and yellow eyes. Wearing the black cloth traditionally worn by assassins. “There’s only one door. Not a lot of options if someone else got in, ja?”
“Tansie sent you, didn’t he?”
“Tansie gave me money, but I’m not killing anyone today. Tansie’s an ass. Further, the Harpers aren’t in favour of your demise.” At this news, he flicked about a part of his gi, showing the harp-shaped pin inside.
Relief. “You’re with the Harpers.” They had been keeping things balanced for centuries. Preventing malicious dictators from taking control. “How did you find me?”
“Expenses, mostly. It wasn’t hard to guess a highborn was hiding in this mansion. The only question was up or down… but it’s not much of a question.” He gestured to the supplies. “Expensive stuff. You’d have saved a lot of money and avoided notice with simple rations.”
“I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m threatened by a former friend,” snapped Fel. “I presume you know who I am.”
“Baronet Felzyan Watchward Victor Velroth… fourth of the name. Quite the falling out with the traditions of your realm.”
“My friends call me Fel,” he said, offering his hand.
The Tiefling – who looked a hell of a lot like the Demon Lords of homeland legend – said, “You sure they’re your friends?”
The Sister Next to You
Rennie was bored of lying in bed. She would have informed Sis of this fact, except Sis would just say “We’re in the depths of night, just let your boredom knock you out.” Then Sis would roll over in her slightly more interesting (or just messy) bed and ignore her.
She had this knowledge cause she’d asked her forever ago and that’s what happened. It was probably just a few minutes ago in adult time, but in mind time a century had staggered past. She dragged herself upright and peeked at Sis’s bed again. A shadowed lump marked where she was rolled up in impressively mismatched blankets.
That’s a little weird, since the air’s trying to become bathwater. Did she get dared to use them? Is Sis secretly more warm blooded that Rennie though? There’s at least three blankets there, which is nuts, so probably a dare. Hmm.
“Are you smothering yourself on a dare?” she asked.
The lump grunted and feebly wiggled away from Rennie. Was that- the red blanket was actually two entirely different blankets!
“It’s way too hot for it to be cause you’re cold, so it’s got to be-”
“Cold.” Sis’s voice said. Flat, empty.
There’s something wrong- Sis doesn’t sound like that-
“Cold,” the blankets say again, no emotion in the voice.
“But you’re warm.” The voice’s owner sits up, and turns a face bundled in blankets, a alien, gray and sweat drenched face, toward her.
It slides off Sis’s bed, Rennie frozen under dead eyes.
Vampcat (or meowpire?)
Reposted from private
Shiloh was a ghost of a little boy. Well, not really a ghost, although he often pretended to be one. Rather, he’d been described that way several times by people he wasn’t particularly fond of. It’d also been said, again by people he didn’t much like, that he needed what one might call friends. It was lonely being so enigmatic and cool.
Pale as death, bags under his eyes, a look on his face that didn’t fit his age. That was Shiloh. It wasn’t illness that made him look somewhat like a zomboy. It was the hours he spent nightly reading terrifying stories in bed that no child should ever read, certainly not past one’s bedtime. Shiloh called this a “mandatory curfew.” It’s probably obvious that his parents didn’t really know what he was doing all those nights. Good. Shiloh knew he didn’t fit, but man, he sure loved things that creeped others out.
Tonight was another night of villainous subterfuge.
Shiloh leapt ninja-ly into bed, a maneuver practiced many times to perfection, with an old, beaten-to-hell-and-back book in his hands. He turned off the lamp and threw on his protective layer of heavy blankets.
An owl sang its own strange little song somewhere outside. Shiloh flipped the book’s weathered pages and found the one he was looking for.
The owl hooted sagely again, but this time its song ended very abruptly and didn’t sound very pretty at all. It sounded like a shriek. Not like an owl kind of shriek, but like a real one. Shiloh looked up, his mouth contorted in a face of “what the-?”
His small bedroom got real quiet real fast, but the overly curious little boy swore he heard the shadows talk in the silence. Then came a rumbling chuckle.
A silhouette appeared on his floor in the moonlight that shone through the window. A cat’s silhouette. But to Shiloh, the feline visitor in the window looked a lot more like a vampire than a regular cat, huge and black with inches-long fangs and searing red eyes. The wings were another odd addition.
The Past Can’t Be Cut
By Zac Scarpellino (aka Reluctant Discord User)
Awake at night once again. In my bed I lay still as the dead. My muscles tense as sweat drips down my forehead. It is the time I always dread. The medication has stopped working again. I only upped the dose last week. My therapist, bless her heart has tried everything to reach out to me.
But I can’t let her.
I won’t let her.
No one can know. No one… except them. I turn my head to greet them like always. From the darkness, people cloaked in the gloom stand before me. The shadows that deny me light.
The tallest one whispers,
I remain silent. I always try to ignore them. Yet they buzz in my head. Heckling me without saying a word. Forcing my attention back to them.
“What did we do to deserve this?”
“Shut up.” I tell them. I won’t to give them the satisfaction. But they always have their way.
“We were just children.”
I hear banging behind me. I must have woken up the neighbour up again. I hate these thin walls. One of the shadows covers their face, as if they were crying.
“I want my mommy.”
“I… I was just following orders. I didn’t have a choice.”
“All your fault.”
My eyes begin to swell with tears. They’re doing it again.
“All your fault. All your fault. All your fault.”
I cover my ears and shut my eyes. But they start to scream. The same screams on that one day. The wails of agony that scarf down what little of my soul is left.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!”
The screams stop. I open my eyes and see light seeping into the room.
I open the curtains and the morning light hits my watery eyes. I can finally breathe.
But they’ll be back.
They always come back.
“Unknown” by Magan (Legends of Dra’cora)
The teenage human astronaut jolted awake, staring around the den she’d been given. The light of both moons shone through the knothole window in the giant, hollowed-out tree. She clutched her bedsheet closer, trying to pinpoint the whispers.
Nothing but shadows.
She sighed, rolled over, tried to sleep again. It was the third time in as many nights this had happened. Maybe she should tell her beastfolk friends about it? Their rooms were just down the hall… No, it was her mind playing tricks from loneliness. This village on a planet of sentient animals–beastfolk–and fantasy creatures had adopted her, but she still missed humans, wondering if her colony knew she was alive…
The whispers can again, closer this time. The shadows moved.
That was new.
She threw a pillow at the source, but it only struck the curved wall. The noise stopped. The human grumbled to herself, pulling the sheet over her head. If this was Hazelnut, the flying squirrel, pulling another prank… The voices did sound vaguely Dracorian, though she couldn’t make out the words…
The human shook her head. “Knock it off, Hazel.” Looked like explanations were due that humans weren’t nocturnal like she was.
No answer, no movement.
She dozed again…
The whispers were beside her now, something cold touched her–
–She was suddenly opposite the bed, back to the wall, panicked, with no memory of moving. She felt ill, freezing, but the night was warm.
“Amber! What’s wrong?! We heard screaming!” Her friends rushed into the room, Skyrunner, the cheetah, with Hazelnut riding on his back. Skyrunner held a firefly-filled lantern in his jaws.
The human, Amber, pointed to her nest of blankets, still shaken.
Skyrunner came towards her, purring to offer comfort, while Hazelnut inspected the nest. They listened to her describe the events.
Both beastfolk looked worried. They tried explaining, but Amber still didn’t know enough Dracorian to understand. They left the lantern shining, curling up beside her in the nest.
As Amber slept, Skyrunner and Hazelnut shared a look. A wraith shouldn’t be here. Not outside cursed magic zones. So why was it?
Shadows like Titans
Two persons are looking at a shimmering vista of a boat on an uncorrupted sea. On worlds not their own, they are Brightlings, Dancers, devils, angels, demons, fey spirits, but amongst themselves and to themselves they say they are persons. There are two of them, one mentor to the other.
The boat’s sail is lax and the sole occupant asleep in the gentle rocking of a calm ocean’s night.
Are you sure he is the one, Apalai?
He is alone and wishes to be separated from his fellows. He left them to die. He will die if we do not intervene.
And intervening is in the best interest of the others?
I believe so, but I haven’t decided which world yet.
A board of review will decide if you made the right choice.
Waiddrys, I have good reasons for both.
The mentor holds up a pebble from Garl’s own world.
Shall we let his nature tell us?
The mentor throws the stone into the vision of the boat. It lands for only a moment upon the occupant’s head before jumping off and over the side to rejoin its native world in the deep. The occupant awakes and sits up, hand to head, feeling the place where the pebble bounced. He sees nothing of the persons and, after checking the boat and weather and seeing nothing amiss–not even from his dreams–went back asleep.
Well, it’s decided then.
No, but I wish I had thrown the stone.
A small matter, not worth mentioning in your review, but you see he’s asleep again and will know nothing until he wakes. You should hurry in your art, Apalai, lest you be seen.
Yes, Waiddrys. I’m Calling the wind of his world.
These persons, of course, can’t affect others’ worlds, only their own, but they see time as wind and wind as time and the story stops here with a gust of one of these concepts and resumes with a gusting of the other on a different world. The two persons are but memories and mirages and imaginings.
Attempted Robbery (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
Isabel Fernán finished writing a sentence before she looked up at the shadows of her study.
“It is rude to enter one’s home without notice,” she stated with a bluntness few could replicate.
Something moved suddenly at the sound of her voice. A flinch, perhaps. They recovered and said, “It’d be a good idea if you keep your mouth shut, lady.”
“Tell me, how much thought did you put into this whole affair?”
“Enough to know I can make a fortune off of you.”
“Is that so?” Isabel stood up from her desk, smoothed down the front of her dress, and slowly walked over to where the voice was. “Because on the first floor alone there are several priceless trophies you could have taken without confronting me in this fashion.”
“Also,” she continued, “if you actually bothered to do research on me, you would know I have a… reputation among criminals.”
She suddenly reached into the shadows and wrapped her hand around the intruder’s neck, pulling them out of their hiding place to see what they looked like.
They stared at her with a panicked look that would be better suited for a child than a middle-aged adult. Snapping back to reality, they made an attempt at swinging their knife at Isabel’s face, only for her to use her other hand to block it.
“Now, I will avoid pressing charges if you leave peacefully.”
When Isabel slightly loosened her grip on their neck, they finally spoke up, “And if I don’t?”
Isabel wasted no time slinging the intruder over her shoulder. As they struggled under her grip, she spoke again, “Oh come now, you are at least twenty years younger than me and I have been out of practice for a few years now. I thought you would prove to be a challenge.”
As they continued to struggle and curse while she carried them out, Isabel grimaced slightly at the thought of delaying her other work for this report.
Leave Them All Behind (Nyssa’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
When Nyssa slept, the twisted shades of people she once knew would awaken.
Quelvara would dig up every mistake she had ever made, and force them before her eyes once again.
Alina would call out to her from afar, only to disintegrate at her touch, leaving Nyssa distraught and alone.
Arling would give her the gentle advice that Nyssa had ignored again and again in her past, painfully reminding her of everything she could have been.
And then there was her parents–
“Why are we still doing this?”
Sunlight burned away the darkness. A woman stood before her, golden (or white?) hair gleaming in the sunrise.
“This is only hurting us. We don’t need to cling to them anymore. We only need ourselves!” Her brown (or yellow?) eyes were filled with passion. “Don’t drag us back into their darkness. Not again.”
Nyssa looked at the other woman, with red and orange robes all clean and undamaged, standing with self-assurance as she shone against the sun. She almost stepped forward.
The shining woman smiled softly, and reached out a (crystalline?) hand. “We don’t have to be scared anymore. We don’t have to wallow in guilt anymore. We can move on with our lives, and make our world a better place!”
Nyssa let her words sink in. Then she closed her eyes. She listened to the voices behind her, voices of cruelty, of longing, of kindness, the voices that all hurt so much – and she stepped backwards.
The sky darkened and the wind started howling, as the sun dimmed to a distant redness.
The woman didn’t look angry, or even disappointed. Just deeply sad. “Why?”
“Because I need this.” Nyssa opened her eyes. “Because I have to remember what I did. Because if I don’t…I’ll just make everything worse. Again.” Tears started running down her face. “I’m sorry.”
She started sinking into the painful darkness, as she heard her past (and future?) self respond once more.
“Don’t worry. We will get through this awful phase, in time.”
Then her light winked out, and Nyssa was alone with her shadows once more.
The Omen (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
She should have listened. And now, she was going to die. Surrounded by mountains on both sides, as tall as on her home world Vaporius, there was only one way out. The light, straight ahead.
But Lennah wasn’t fast enough. Why hadn’t she listened?
The shadows behind her were scampering with glee, as a familiar voice rang out from high above.
“Not enough, I’m afraid, Lennah.”
Her sandals were torn on the hard gravel, her feet burning on the hot ground.
“Just a bit more,” she pleaded. “Come on, please.”
“You should have listened to the omen, Lennah,” another voice said.
She knew, she was right. One small detour and this entire thing could have been avoided. One small, almost inconsequential detour and this would have been so much easier. The shadowy things behind her came ever closer. Lennah felt her heart hammer, as they closed in. They were almost upon her, their snarling almost palpable in her ears, as the familiar voice from high above whispered sounds and images into her ear.
She sped forward at break-neck speed. She was so close. The light was just within reach. All she had to do was stretch out her arm and she could touch it. At once, the entire area was eclipsed, by a massive looming shape above her. What…
The familiar voice from above rang out again.
The baby space dragon landed hard on the board, yapping loudly, scattering the game pieces everywhere.
“Dekka!” Morae exclaimed. “We were in the middle of a game!”
“She probably can’t understand you,” Zurian remarked.
“Besides, I didn’t roll high enough anyway,” Lennah added.
“Close, though,” Rain remarked, trying to restrain Dekka.
“One little side quest…” Michael began.
“I know,” Lennah flapped her wings in annoyance. “I thought I was on a roll, so… I got a bit carried away. Sue me.”
“I won’t,” Morae said, holding up a card labelled ‘Omen’. “But this thing will.”
“Why couldn’t I have drawn a prophecy card,” Lennah muttered.
“Can I read it out?” Morae asked, grinning. “I love the flavor text for Talking Shadows…”
Alex looked from the book he was reading and smirked over its pages at the glaring girl beside him. “Can I help you?” He taunted.
“I was just thinking about how much I absolutely despise you, is all…” Jasmine spat out as she read a book of her own.
Alex chuckled and flipped to the next page. “You don’t despise me. Not really. Not yet. You’re just mourning over your family’s… untimely demise and your anger over my part in that is helping you cope. It’s not true hate.”
“Is this where you tell me it’s just a phase or something equally derivative?” Jasmine sighed.
Alex looked from his book again. “Heh. The young always think they know everything. Allow me to educate you.”
“Oh God… Here he goes.” Jasmine rolled her eyes.
Alex only grinned wider at the taunt. “As the centuries pass, you’ll find yourself using the term more. Mortal. You’ll foolishly attach yourself to them only to watch them die as all mortals do.”
“That implies I’ll be free one day.” Jasmine mocked spitefully.
“Of course you will.” Alex chuckled again. “I’ll get bored of you just like I have every other toy. Something for you to look forward to. Or at least you’d think so now. Where was I? Oh yes, mortals and the insignificant little flickers of being they call life. Their deaths will hurt you. Over and over. And you’ll tell yourself never again. Just to fall into the same pattern.
“But one day… a mortal will connect with you in a way none has. It’ll be agonizing knowing how briefly they exist. And when they do die… you’ll cry. You’ll mourn. But somewhere deep inside, you’ll know it’s only an act. You’re just going through the motions. And when you finally accept that, those connections will become meaningless. And you’ll remember this conversation. And THAT is when you’ll despise me. Assuming you live long enough. Immortality doesn’t suit everyone.”
“I’ll never be like you…” Jasmine whispered, shuddering with genuine disgust.
Alex flipped to the next page. “Wanna bet? I have nothing but time.”