Hello, Dreamers of all sorts!
Have you ever had a dream that you, um, you had, your, you- you could, you’ll do, you- you wants, you, you could do so, you- you’ll do, you could- you, you want, you want him to do you so much you could do anything, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
What Dreams Below
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!
How does one describe dreams? They come in an array of forms and types, and while we can describe what happens in them when we have them— if we can recall them well enough upon waking— it is rather difficult to describe what dreams are, what they are made of.
But I suppose this prompt isn’t just about what dreams are. The word ‘below’ adds quite an interesting direction too, doesn’t it? For example, maybe you choose to write about a zombie, stuck in their grave six feet under, dreaming about what unlife outside this pillowy box would be like. What could they do, now that they have all the time in the world? Would they be able to disprove the myth that zombies like brains since, at the moment, they’re really craving the nice homemade chicken penne like their still-living spouse would make every Saturday? Or perhaps you would like to peer into the dreams of the mice and rats living under the house, and what they wish to accomplish. Do they only dream of food, of the delicious cheeses and other lovely snacks that the humans above bring home? Do they dream of venturing beyond this little house to see the world? Maybe they’ve seen through the cracks in the house how many times the human children have watched that movie about the chef rat and now they’re inspired to follow his example.
Perhaps you choose to write about the monster under the bed, and what they dream about during the time that they aren’t scaring children. Or maybe they aren’t trying to scare children at all, but are the ones that create the beautiful dreams that children have. Maybe they’re just scary outwardly, but are the reason children can have such wild imaginations. Expanding on this further, maybe you can write about the eldritch beast far below the earth’s crust, on another plane of existence, endlessly weaving dream after dream for the humans above. Mixing and twisting, molding and stretching, and sometimes getting the dream-threads tangled and causing the strange dreams that sometimes occur. Does this being weave nightmares as well? If so, how? Do they simply paint them differently, or maybe spin the threads through a different loom that is tainted with shadows and fear? A better question still; does this great being also dream? Perhaps it does, and that is where its threads come from. Unraveling its own dreams to share with the world.
There’s any number of stories one can dream up for such a mystical prompt.
So get your writing instruments, your favourite warm beverage, snuggle up in your blanket, and see what dreamy stories are lurking just below the surface of your mind.
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.
Dreams from below
By Jesse Fisher
A perchance to dream, a statement that many wonder how it could be applied to the world around them. A world where people have given up on dreams and the hope around them. To escape the world and to find a world that might be a place to live a life in hope.
When the mechanical revolution freed up time for most of the world it created a world where motivation was a rarity, there were still people that were working to keep the system running but most just stayed at home.
Many lived in worlds of their creation as the world beyond them kept moving. Some stayed isolated in this, others shared their world to those that would watch.
Children were ignorant of this world as the light of hope burned within them, a light that could stand against the dream from those who gave up on the world. The makers of the world began to take the fantasy and make it real, showing that dreams are not just unreachable.
The world was built on the dreams from below as escaping the world led to more people looking for others like them. Those that wished to show the world they made, makers that took the dreams into the world beyond it, and those left to keep the world a place to have dreams in. However there were still those that wished to be ignorant of the world beyond them as it rejected them.
To perchance to dream, a phase that many use to explain the world. For the dreams are what make the world known, yet some choose to stay below the dreams.
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
The four knights braced themselves. From the depths of the cavern, a faint rustling echoed upwards. Sir Bluegrass trembled so much his teeth chattered.
Suddenly, two glowing, slitted eyes flashed into existence. The rest of the reptilian face entered the light of their torches: horrifying, monstrous, and with a mouth large enough to crush a knight into paste.
Sir Tulip took a small step forward and raised his blade towards the beast’s face. “Stand down, foul creature! Leave these fair lands and we may spare your life!”
The monster did not respond, instead scrunching back into the darkness…
And then charging forward, straight for Sir Tulip!
The rank scattered. When they turned to look at the monster, they only saw Tulip’s foot before he was swallowed whole.
“No! My brother! I will avenge you!” Sir Bluegrass readied his weapon and stabbed at the monster’s side, but its point barely pierced the beast’s scales.
The monster lunged again, but the three knights nimbly dodged this time.
“Its hide is tough!” Bluegrass panted. “We must aim instead for the eyes or the inside of the fierce maw!”
“But how will we hit it without being eaten ourselves?” Sir Brie shivered.
“I do not know—” began Bluegrass, but another attack from the monster scattered them again.
A scream turned the attention of the last two knights back to the beast. Bluegrass had been consumed.
Their elite crew had been halved, with barely anything to show for it.
Sir Brie darted around evasively, bouncing on his toes. The beast’s eyes struggled to follow, and Brie jumped and stabbed the side of its neck.
The monster screamed, flailing. Brie lost his grip and flew into the cavern wall.
The fourth knight rushed to his side. “No!” he squeaked.
“Go, you can—” Brie coughed weakly, “you can save us all, Sir Whiskers…”
Brie’s eyes closed. Sir Whiskers blinked away tears and turned back to the monster.
The garter snake’s tongue flicked. Sir Whiskers raised his needle and charged…
In a small burrow under the earth, a little mouse turned over in his sleep.
Wings of Ma’at
by Alexsander Edwards
Rasut felt the warm winds rushing by his brown feathers. Ra’s mercy shone upon him and surrounded his wings as he flew over the Field of Reeds.
Aaru was beautiful – far more than the most grandiose stories had led him to believe, even. Beautiful islets stretched as far as his hawk eyes could see, each and every one of them filled with reeds reflecting the golden light of the sun, animals grazing and frolicking among nature, and people – families – hunting and living their ideal lives. It was as if The River had brought fertility and abundance to the whole land as the virtuous ones rejoiced.
He flapped his wings harder to gain some air and, in the distance, the twenty-one gates separating Aaru from the Duat came into view. Contrasting against the dark river that lay beyond them, their golden shine was nothing short of divine.
But, as he blinked, Rasut’s eyes caught something far more grandiose. To his left, a large temple of white sandstone, covered in flowers and fruit offerings, took over the majority of the largest isle in all of Aaru. Its Shadow as big as those of the ancient kings. He had found the Field of Offerings.
Overtaken by curiosity and adamant to meet the temple and its master – Osiris – Rasut flew downwards like an arrow falling from the sky. As the speed increased and the air hit him with more and more power, Rasut slowly closed his eyes, until all was black.
Rasut woke up from his bed. After stretching his arms for a moment, he walked towards the window. The River had been gracious again, as the wheat grew beautifully, sharing a golden color with Ra’s disc.
Looking up, he saw the clear, bright skies. Horus had been merciful, as the season of the harvest arrived. Then, going for his scythe, Rasut smiled.
One day he, too, would fly over the Field of Reeds. Of that, he was certain.
By Larissa (Lari B. Haven)
It caught him after he put the kid to sleep. It swept him from under the bed. K tried to fight the amorphous shadow dragging him inside the darkness. It had their tendrils tight around his limbs, choking him against the hardwood floor.
“I’m sorry, but this is the only way I found to talk to you, K.” A soft voice spoke, whispering like it came from inside his skull. “I can only be away from this child for so long… So I have no option but to feed on you.”
“What do you want from me?” he tried to speak, feeling his body sink into the floor.
“It’s you that wants things from me.” The voice laughed. “You are a man from The Agency after all. You want answers.”
“You are smarter than the other anomalies I deal with.” K tried in vain to move his limbs, but the tendrils would only get tighter. “How do you know me?”
“I’ve been held in a dream stasis for longer than this dimension exists. I’m an error that repeats itself in each dimension, reincarnated as the same thing. Fated to aid in the abrupt end of the universe that spawns me.” The shadow spoke and tied his neck again. “I’m something that needs fixing.”
“Answer me! How do you know me?” He was on the verge of unconsciousness now.
“We’re destined to meet, K. Always gravitating towards each other; fighting to break the cycle. I’m sure you will help me prevent this.”
K could feel his air leaving his lungs, his mind fogging. So he tried to make the last question a simple one. “Why would I ever do it?”
“Because The Agency can’t help us, K. We have no choice when the world ends.” The shadow sunk their tendrils into his neck. K screamed. “One last thing: keep this child well fed and well loved, or else I will need more snacks.”
When K woke up, the sun was about to rise in his bedroom. He could feel the lingering sensation on his neck. It was no dream.
Making of Innsmith
The zygote, suspended in its first cleave, shrank Wayland comparatively down to the size of a sperm scaled to an egg cell. It’s faint glow only deepened the darkness at the bottom of the gorge. As Wayland waded closer to the massive sphere, movement on the outside of the cell membrane caught his eye. Smaller orbs ran from the top of the mass to the base, like condensation, where they gathered like boulders. Inside they bustled with the act of division.
“This is why your fishing expeditions have yielded unsatisfactory results.”
Wayland shivered. He was still unaccustomed to Diplomat communicating with him telepathically. Its female voice purred in his head unnaturally pleasant. More so was the light chill of the invasive symbiosis that allowed for this diplomatic venture. It had caught him off guard when Diplomat not only coated him externally, but also internally.
Emerging from inside the gestating spheres, deep violet blobs slithered into the waters. Their form pulled from an aquatic codex of anatomy for efficient traversal. Bright yellow orbs eyed Wayland quizzically.
“You ate all the fish in order to reproduce?” He thought back at Diplomat, underwhelmed.
“An inaccurate assumption. We have simply harvested the local fauna’s genetic material instead of their reproductive pair, leading to a decrease in the organism’s population.”
“It is the dream of our dead predecessor. Back before this life’s iteration, our predecessor accumulated all other lifeforms into a single organism. Life was one, until it was slain and scattered by the ones above gods. Its dream is now ours. However, we, the Love Crafters, came to conclude the only path to avoid a repeated incident after success is by garnering each organism’s consent. We initially planned to interbreed with the aquatic organisms of the area, but this has put us at odds with terrestrial species, such as yourself. As an alternative, we hope to restart genetic acquisition efforts with your coastal settlement through voluntary participation.” Diplomat couressed Wayland from the inside out. “We will ensure donations will be collected in the most SATISFACTORY way possible.”
It Was Good While It Lasted… or Would You Like Fries With That?
He could do this.
He HAD to.
Taking a deep breath, he scouted around for any intruders. Secluded as he was in the alley, the gesture was more out of habit.
Satisfied, he punched in the familiar number with shaking, gloved fingers. It had been so long. Maybe–
The line connected.
“Don’t speak yet. I–I need to say this. I miss you, Super Titan. I know I haven’t made this past year easy on you, what with the constant calls and following you and trying to plant bombs beneath your driver seat. Oh, and and there was that time I threatened your wife and daughter with that phase changer.”
An awkward chuckle.
“But all of that was to get your attention. From the first moment we engaged, I felt SOMETHING between us, a spark. Well, it grew. And I know you felt it, too.
“Remember that time in Maui with that active volcano? I was impressed and disappointed by you jet skiing down the lava to save that small village.
“Or that time in Balaklava when that emissary’s house was in danger of flooding and freezing over. You disassembled my Frigid Finger in MOMENTS.”
He plowed on.
“When our eyes met, and I swore my undying hatred for you, I knew then that you were the hero for me. No one understands me like you do.”
He rested against the dirty brick tiles and slid to the garbage-infested ground.
“I didn’t realize this until six months ago, but my one dream was to have a hero just like you to thwart my plans and challenge my unmatched mind. I was never JUST UnderQuaker to you; I was myself. And I could always be that with you.”
A lump formed in his throat.
“So, what do you say, Supe? Do you want to grab a quick bite, then I can hold up the restaurant and you stop me? For old times sake?”
He pulled a dagger from his belt and twirled it nervously in the lengthening silence.
“Sir, this is Wendy’s.”
by Matthew (Handsome Johanson)
The day to day humdrum of work can sometimes lead to things bleeding over. Sure, as a clinical psychologist, I get to deal with a lot of colorful problems from varied and quite different people. But even so, There’s a certain base-line to the process that permeates the whole experience. A client comes in with a problem. I ask questions. I use their answers to formulate some plans of action for them. They leave and come back a week later.
When you’re in such a defined rhythm, you start to notice certain patterns. Maybe I’m just tired, or maybe I’m just stressed, but starting a few weeks ago, I started notince a certain “pulling” on my clients. I don’t think I would’ve even noticed, if I hadn’t been so stable with my schedule recently.
This “pulling” first came up, I think, when a client came in to talk about a certain new anxiety that had popped up in her daily life. I asked her what it was, and all she could do was stare back at me, as If I were speaking a different language. I inquired further and she mentioned also having a bout of nightmares that she thought might be connected.
Now this in itself was nothing remarkable. I prescribed a course of action, and she went on her way. I wouldn’t have thought this suspicious in any way…
Over the next 3 months, case after case of an indescribable anxiety followed by bouts of nightmares kept popping up in my clients. It got to the point that almost half of the people I saw said that they felt these exact symptoms at some point in the past month.
Looking back on my notes, it almost feels like something is “pulling” at the very mental framework of my clients. Is this just a simple matter of the anxiety building times we live in? Is some indescribable monster pulling at the depths of my client’s minds, edging them to perform some unknown task? Am I reading too much into a simple coincidence? I have to find out.
Dreaming Beneath the Masque
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
There are two ways the World comes to the House. The first is mostly solitary individuals walking to the threshold. The other involves many more people, whole clans in procession at times. Regardless of which way the World comes, someone stays in the House.
Charn did not remember the first time he came to the House, just the last, but everyone remembers their last. That’s what they say in the House.
Charn took over for the old House spirit, assuming that mantle by donning the Death masque and cleansing the old woman’s soul. The masque was a porcelain face, jagged around the mouth to aid the sin-eater in his business. Charn had always feared that face, as the old House spirit was cruel to him and the House’s other orphans.
But she died defending the House and the other orphans ran out, looking for home. Charn, whose only home was the House, felt less alone below the masque. He dreamt some nights of those orphans returning to the House.
Were they still children as he remembered or had they gone old and stringy?
Did they remember the House?
Would they walk back or be carried, lifeless and corrupt?
Charn watched the World from His House. It aged strangely. The erosion of a creek took mere days, but a city could stand for years without true change. Humans interested Him most. They scurried in groups and arrogated the past. In time, their groups came to the House and Charn, hungry despite Himself, resumed His role.
There came a day when a wanderer came. She wasn’t of the World, not quite. She was old enough to have her own children, but not aged. She had the uncorrupted scent of the Living, but her sins had the rank scent of divinity.
“May I stay here, Death, for one night?” The Wanderer asked.
Below the masque, His mouth gave her a dreamy smile.
STAY FOR AS LONG AS YOU NEED. THE WORLD COME TO THE HOUSE AND THE HOUSE WELCOMES YOU, GODLING.
Below the Tides (Illusions of Heroes)
by Gerrit (Rattus)
Violent waves lashed the sides of the catamaran, the harsh winds churning them to greater heights. Niri held on to a length of rigging as tight as she could manage, the rope slick with seawater, her hands struggling to maintain their grasp.
A towering wall of water, taller almost than the sails of the ship, roared across the deck, its full weight slamming into Niri. The deluge forced her hands free from their grip, the momentum carrying her into the turbulent waters below.
The torrent pulled her downwards, until all she could see was darkness. She knew she needed to get back to the surface, before her lungs failed her.
If only she knew which way the surface was.
Niri turned about helplessly, searching for any sign of reprieve. In the distance, she spotted a soft glow, steadily growing as if approaching her.
Should she run? Should she go towards it? Against her better judgement she stayed where she was, floating in the depths as the strange, calming light grew closer.
A silhouette of a turtle began to come into view, a head as big as her whole body. Its eyes, impossibly deep and dark, seemed to contain the stars themselves. Niri knew in an instant what, or rather who, she was looking at.
Great Auma’nu, Protector of the Islands.
She reached her hand out to him, her palm pressing against his rough skin. Warmth radiated through her body, the burning in her lungs subsiding as though she had drawn a deep breath.
She felt herself pulled to the surface by some unknown force. The sailors still aboard the ship were quick to pull her onto the deck, shouting out their joy to see her alive.
Looking down at the hand that had touched the spirit, she was greeted with a sight that made her breath catch. A runic tattoo contained within the shape of a turtle, intricately patterned on the back of her hand.
The blessing of Great Auma’nu.
The Shadow Over The Cauldron Nest (Nyx’s Story)
By Calliope Rannis
Sometimes, there would be nights where Nyx just couldn’t get to sleep.
This night was one of those, much to her frustration. What was she even supposed to do with these dead hours?
She could hang out with Louise. But she’s sleeping right now.
…Maybe it doesn’t matter if she’s sleeping?
With light footsteps, Nyx slipped into Louise’s bedroom. Except it looked more like a kitchen. Many strange tools and flasks were scattered around, some on the floor and others on crumpled boxes of earthy-smelling ingredients, with a modestly-sized cauldron at the centre of it all.
She tip-toed towards it, pressing up against the pewter edge as she looked down into its depths.
Ah, there she is. Curled up inside the cauldron was a bundle of strange-smelling rags, the muddy browns and greens of the clothes contrasted by a shock of white hair and a crown of yellowed horns, both attached to the bright pink skin of Louise’s head. She snuffled and wriggled a little, her small hands twitching with the vague impression of spellcasting.
Nyx couldn’t help but smile a little at the strange sight. How could Louise sleep in this cramped little thing? Was she really comfortable, with her spine bent like that? Did she even notice the weird smell at all?
Though knowing Louise, maybe all the smells of chemicals and past fermentation helped her sleep…
Nyx watched her sleep for a little longer, before turning and sitting down, her back pressed lightly against the cauldron. Her sensitive ears could still clearly hear Louise’s heartbeat, her breathing, the little noises she occasionally made.
Normally, this would be unpleasant, hearing a living body so clearly. Hell, her insomnia was caused in part by her inability to filter out her own heartbeat, breathing and other bodily functions. But it felt different, hearing these similar sounds through the pewter wall. It was calming, in a way that very few things were to her. Relaxing enough for her vision to blur, and…
Nyx fell into slumber, and for the first time in over a year, her dreams were light and soft.