Hello, Souls of All Generations!
Have you ever been stuck in any kind of cycle? Whether it’s a job, or traditions, or even just your personal routine? Maybe it’s time to change things up a bit, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The End of the Cycle
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!
Life is full of cycles. The four seasons, the months in a year, the days in a week, the common 9 to 5… cycles are everywhere we look. In some ways, they’re great. They bring a sense of normalcy and order to one’s life.
But cycles aren’t always viewed so favorably. For example, perhaps a small village has always been terrorized by some menacing outside force. Every month on a specified date, they are to sacrifice someone to this terror to keep the rest of the village safe. But finally one person says enough is enough and decides to do something else about this beast. Or maybe a family has followed the same tradition for several generations, but the newest child wants to choose their own path. Do they follow the family’s footsteps, or find their own way? Maybe the heir to the throne of a vast kingdom decides it’s time to change things for the good of his own subjects, as well as those in neighboring lands. Stop wars and disputes, and instead try to find some way to finally achieve peace for all involved.
Perhaps the cycle in question is the day to day grind of an office worker. Get up, come in, sit down, work, lunch, work, go home, sleep, and do it all again the next day. Vacation isn’t enough, because they just fall back into it when they get back. So perhaps they finally decide to quit and start that online soap shop they always wanted? Or maybe they look for a new job in something that’s more outgoing and not so repetitive? Maybe the cycle that needs to be broken is simply your own. Maybe you write about finally telling that writer’s block to hit the road.
Whatever the case may be, we’re excited to see what you have in store for us, just like every week. Or, well, mostly every week.
After all, even we need to break the cycle sometimes.
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
- 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 Gregovin [Aleph Null Sci Fi universe]
The Earth had made just over twelve billion cycles around Sol. I have been alive for about 7,468,543,200 of them. The sun started to expand about two billion cycles ago. Today, the earth will be engulfed by the sun.
Lilly and I set out the blanket over the cold floor as we slow down to our final destination. We managed to find an old earth meal reproduction code that just barely allowed us to produce some proper ham sandwiches. Luckily the chips were trivial.
I programmed the viewport to track the Earth as we came to a stop. The deep red flames burned bright, giving the earth’s land an eerie red tinge. The automated geoengineering systems were still impressively managing to keep the planet cool enough to maintain its atmosphere and water, but it looked nothing like I remembered it. I knew nothing of importance would be lost, it had all been wound down long ago, but it still was quite melancholy to look on at what I knew would be the Earth’s final moments.
A jet of red flame burst past from the sun, missing the earth and us. Suddenly I was quite glad we had decided not to arrive a full standard day early. This place was not exactly safe.
The food was ready. Lilly took out a glass. “To a new beginning?”
We sat down and looked on as the red flames slowly rose.
The red approached the edge of the solarshield, then breached it. The atmosphere ignited, flashing blinding orange for a split second. Small fireballs of even greater brightness were just barely visible on the far side of the Earth. The solar shields must have finally failed with that.
The oceans boiled, and clouds formed and dissipated. A large trail of condensation formed going out from the Earth as the atmosphere suddenly decided to depart. The planet was soaked in red flame as we watched on, eating the food of old earth.
“Change of Heart” (Worldswap with pitl: Abhisos)
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
Laurence groaned as he blinked the blurriness out of his vision. His head throbbed. White. Wait. His living room wasn’t white. Laurence forced his vision to focus and sat up. A nurse at the nearby station ran up to him.
“Sir, are you okay?”
“Okay?! I’m in a damn hospital! Why the hell am I here?!”
The nurse gently forced him down onto his cot with her hand.
“Easy, sir. The doctor will explain everything once you’re settled into your room.”
“Room?” Laurence sat back up. “Oh, hell no! I’m going home! You are NOT adding extra money to my bill in addition to whatever you did.”
“But sir, you need to rest, and we need to monitor you.”
“The hell you need to do that for?!”
Laurence continued to insist on his departure for a full hour before the nurse called orderlies in to take him to his room. He grumbled all the way. Even when they allowed his wife in, Laurence was still upset. After locking the cot’s wheels and plugging the bed in, the orderlies left before Laurence could lash out at them again, verbally or otherwise.
“I’m not staying in no hospital! I can heal as well at home as I can in a hospital.”
“Larry,” his wife cooed. “Relax”
“How can I relax in this damn place, Rose? How?!”
A knock came to the door. Rose invited the knocker in before Laurence could protest. She couldn’t have been older than his middle girl – late twenties at the oldest. The clipboard in her hands seemed just a bit too big.
She cleared her throat. “Hello, Mr. MacDonald, I’m Dr. Stacey Dresden. How are you feeling?”
Laurence scoffed. “Like shit.”
“It’s okay, Mrs. MacDonald. Getting a brand new heart’s stressful.”
“Wait… what?” Larry almost leapt from his bed.
“We had to replace your heart. There were no donors, but the mechanical one we implanted is state of the art.”
Laurence felt the rage melt into fear. “W-what the hell have you done to me?!”
Vengeance Best Unclaimed
The blade pressed into flesh, drawing out a thin stream of blood that traced a path down the glimmering edge. How strange it was, for history to repeat itself in a complete mirror. Crennel looked up at her with pleading eyes, his face awash with fear.
“Please, Serennia, you don’t want to do this.” His voice was quivering. Good. It was about time he felt a measure of the fear he had inflicted on her.
Serennia’s eyes bore into his, her free hand tight around his throat. She drank in his pain, his terror, his anguish. She remembered the nights spent crying in her room, hiding from the monster that now trembled before her.
“Believe me. There are very few things I want more.” Her hand tightened its grip around the hilt of her sword, the muscles in her arm flexing as they prepared to stab forward. To run him through and leave him as nothing more than a bloody heap on the floor.
It was what he deserved.
Her fingers pressed deeper into the sides of his neck, his breath straining to fill his lungs. As Crennel’s eyes searched hers for any sign of mercy, Serennia found her grip on the sword loosening.
If she killed him, then what? Would she feel better? Would the world be a better place?
Perhaps, but that wasn’t her call to make. Emrys had drilled that into her mind well enough.
She loved that man, but Gods could he make things difficult.
“But it isn’t about what I want.” She released her iron grip on his throat and sheathed her sword, leaving him to crumple down against the wall. The wiry man fell onto his knees, shaking and muttering near-unintelligible ‘thank you’s under his breath.
His sins would come back for him one day, but it would not be today. And it would not be by her hand.
Remains of the Past Cycle
By Jesse Fisher
The mechanical sound of a ventilator, a dialysis machine, and a heart monitor played on in the background noise of a sorry state of a human lying on an operation table. This poor soul should have been dead by all rights, tetraplegia amputee with third-degree burns on what remained on their broken body. If not for dental records identifying them would have been impossible, but they did and the family was willing to do anything to heal their loved one.
Even this frankenstein operation, a cybernetic human to the point they could not be ‘human’ anymore.
Most of the higher ups were going for this, mostly because they doubted the patient would survive anything but the money they would make was too much to not milk.
Thus the process of turning a ruined human into something more began.
The dust cloud over the long deserted land began to clear as a figure in tattered cloth moved with the winds hitting a lull for the day. The ruined buildings that once stood there were almost completely gone. What metal that did not rust away must be buried by the storming in the area. This looked to be an artificial city built in a desert as a show of how powerful the people were. All it was now was the scrap metal that the cloth figure needed for life.
It had noticed the left hip was going out and it must make a new one.
Time was not something It cared about as it only needed to look at the sun for energy. Noise did come to it’s auditory receptors but it was not any machine like it. It seemed to be more language of whatever was saying it.
With a grunt it just moved on leaving what it could not carry.
Ending the Call
by Carrie (Glaceon373) (Students of the DiamondBridge Academy universe)
(Please do not read on stream)
Roselyn sat at her desk, arms wrapped around her legs, squishing her forehead into her knees.
Crumpled papers scattered the room, the notepad she’d torn them from on its last few pages. So many beginnings of plans and scripts and idea lists, all of them rejected and tossed aside.
“Nothing’s good enough…” she whispered, grabbing a random page and smoothing it out, just to crumple it again.
Roselyn took a deep breath. She got herself into this mess, so she had to dig herself out of it.
It wasn’t like he’d do it himself…
She remembered something he’d said once. Not the specific words, but it was something about honesty, and how it could hurt at first to tell the truth, but in the end it was the best thing to do.
“… Screw it.”
She dialed his number. Immediately, a knot formed in her throat.
It rang. One ring, two rings, three, four, then—
“You’ve reached the voicemail box of Feleron Xinquien! Lemme just repeat that in Elvish real quick and then you can leave your message!”
His repetition quivered as her hand holding the phone shook.
“I can do this, I can do this…”
When Feleron’s message ended, Roselyn took a deep breath.
“Hi! It’s Roselyn, and…”
Another breath as she shoved the memories of all the words on those crumpled-up pages.
“I need to tell you something. When you first came to our school, I…”
Her thumb hovered over the hang up button, but she moved it off.
“I’m… gonna introduce you to some friends. That aren’t me. And then we’re going to hang out a lot less one-on-one, and you’re gonna do stuff that isn’t just what I tell you to do, okay?”
One last deep breath.
“Because it’s wrong. For me to do this. I shouldn’t be controlling your life. I’ve forced you to hang out with only me over and over again, and it’s wrong. I, uh, understand if you don’t want to be friends anymore, either.”
She clicked off the call.
Then threw her phone across the room.
End Of Year Debrief (A nexial tower, within the Astral Deep) Hostess: Calliope Rannis “Another year completed!” spoke the cheery voice of a gnome girl with thick, wavy hair. Tapping the table excitedly, she continued. “How is everyone? Feeling good? Ready for another year?” Nyssa lay back in her chair and sighed. “I really don’t want to be doing anything for a year, to be honest.” “Aww, oh don’t worry Nyssa!” The first gnome said, patting Nyssa’s fluffy hair. “I’m totally fine with just giving you light cosy prompt stories for the year, you probably won’t be needed for any actual adventuring.” “…probably?” “Well I mean if Ember gets ganked in the Starfinder game then you would be the backup for that!” “Ah. Yes. You mean the game with the backstory where I stab a needle into my-” “Yes yes that one. It’s fine, you actually want to do that in the backstory anyway. You don’t even regret it afterwards or anything!” “Sure, but did you really have to doaaaaaaaah!” Nyssa’s reply was cut off as the other gnome picked her up and carried her back to the centre chair, cradling her like a baby. Utterly mortified by the scenario, she glanced over to the other characters sitting round the table. Willowvine was looking at her with an adoring expression, Mary looked somehow more embarrassed than Nyssa herself was, Nyx was trying not to explode with laughter at the entire scene, and Alice wasn’t even looking, focused entirely on the meeting notes before her. But she did speak. “So, that’s over two hundred words spent on Nyssa already. Should we all just say our bits now or will you be editing this later Calliope?” Willowvine raised her hand. “I’m perfectly fine.” She said with a sweet smile. “Oh, gosh I really don’t think I need to say much,” Mary flustered, “my campaign probably won’t be happening this year anyway…” “Hey, at least you HAVE a campaign booked.” Nyx interrupted, before turning towards Calliope. “I’m bored. I want to actually do things beyond my backstory beats, you know?” “Look Nyx, I certainly understand. I’d love to play with you as well, I just need a perfect moment for it! I don’t want you to be without that backstory in whatever game I play you in after all, that’s basically half the fun.” “But why can’t I just-” “EVERYBODY STOP!” Alice’s voice rang out as she waved her hand frantically. “We are already way over the word count for god’s sake!” Calliope tilted her head in thought for a moment. “Eh. It’s fine. This story is probably too meta to submit to the stream anyway.” “Oh so you AREN’T going to be editing this later? We are just ignoring the word count now?” “Sure, why not? It can be an amusing one-time gimmick, and I’m feeling lazy today.” “She just doesn’t want to edit down her precious Nyssa section.” Nyx said with a smirk, glancing over to Nyssa and whispering “Author’s pettttt…”… Read more »
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
If it is not good for Man to be alone, then it is worse for gods. Gods are wont to wander, in time and space, having lost that mortal clock which tells you to make the most of your time. Not all gods wander, not all men do either. But most do.
The Mother’s Oracle could not know this; not as intimately as Jabil-Tai, who had newly exchanged xir mortal clock for the need to expand borders and reach more souls. The Oracle’s rheumatic fingers clattered wooden plates together. Tai selected one, then—hesitantly—another.
“Maiden of Scissors; something in your past, recently cut away.”
Tai touched the gem at xir throat. Not a necklace, but a clasp to secure the furs around xir.
“And The Mother’s Lover. You’ve lost someone, but the dead are good hands these days.”
Tai chuckled, despite xirself.
“That is your past. Again.”
Tai selected just one plate this time.
“Your present, The Skywound. What’s done is done. Again.”
Two more, then a third like an afterthought.
“Carnivale, the Deep, and between them,” the crone laid a gnarled finger on the third plate, “the Stranger.” Tai examined the red figure. It was vague and only somewhat human, painted sloppily. “You seem to be at a crossroads. You can celebrate what you’ve done or seek more from the unknown. The Stranger is rarely a good sign.”
“Your mother isn’t much help,” Tai said.
“So says the god consulting another’s oracle.”
Tai examined her again. “What makes you say that?”
“I’m an old woman. I know what a stranger looks like.”
“That looks nothing like me.”
“You’re a stranger.”
“What are you saying?”
“Do you think I can’t see past your guise?”
Tai fingered the gem again. “Where can I find your mother?”
“The Deep then.”
“Why did she leave?”
“She felt the need to. I am near to her, nearer everyday. Soon my daughter will shuffle my deck and my granddaughter will teach her daughter this craft. And I will aid them from the Beyond. This is life’s cycle.”
Tai looked again at xir present’s depiction and smiled.
As The Chamber Spins
By Alexander (BrokenEarth)
“You don’t have to do this.” Sasha pleaded.
He raised his revolver, ignoring her, or perhaps he couldn’t even hear.
“You ready?” He asked, with manic giddiness on his face. “Remember the rules, one bullet’s in here! I’ll give it a spin, and we’ll take turns pulling the trigger. It’ll be so much fun!”
Sasha closed her eyes as he pulled the trigger. The gun clicked; the chamber was empty.
The man burst out laughing, falling to his knees in the snow. Sasha fought back tears, the cold stinging her wet eyes.
When he finally recovered, he thrust the revolver into Sasha’s hands and gestured frantically at himself.
“My turn, my turn!”
He hadn’t even hesitated when he gave the gun to her, she thought. It really was just a game to him. Sasha hated him more than she’d ever hated anything before.
Why not cheat the game, and pull the trigger until he was dead?
But she looked at him, still grinning from ear to ear. Despite the cold her hatred melted into pity, and she knew she couldn’t kill him. She couldn’t kill her own brother.
But he could see her resolve wane, and for once his smile vanished.
“If you quit, then you lose the game.” He said seriously.
So that was it then? Become a killer or be murdered? Sasha felt herself crying, the cold biting her cheeks, but she seemed apart from it.
“Fine.” She said, raising the gun. She knew there was no hope of rescue, and if she stalled too long he might kill her. The best chance at survival was to play the game.
His grin returning, and with it a merry laughter, he took the gun back.
Sasha wished this would be over.
“This one’s gotta be it! I win!” He jumped up and down, his laughter echoing, piercing Sasha’s heart. She closed her eyes again.
He laughed even louder, and handed the gun to Sasha.
“David… I can’t. I-”
David interrupted, his laughter finally dying down. Calmly, slowly, he spoke.
“Sasha. I won the game.”