Writing Group: Hold My Bear

Hello, Toy Owners and Collectors!

Do you have a favourite plush or toy? Was it a gift from someone special, or is it just one you’ve had since you were very young? Perhaps it’s time to look at that inner child we all have, because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

Hold My Bear

RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!

We’ve all had our favourite plushies and toys at one time or another. Some of us even still have them, no matter how old we get. They can be sentimental, or just provide comfort in times of need. Big or small, their sizes have never mattered when it came to filling our hearts with joy.

You could tell us about your particular favourite plush toy, what it meant to you or maybe even what it helped you through. Perhaps you want to tell about the one bear you’ve had for years that you always take with you to the dentist, or maybe the giant bear your mother gave you one Christmas that became your venting bear. The bear big enough for you to hug and squeeze, and bury your face into and cry your heart out when things got tough.

Perhaps you want to explore a parent or older sibling handing off their cherished plush to the youngest member of the family. Maybe it’s a tradition to pass down the toy on a specific birthday, or it could just be in the moment when the elder sees the younger needs something to give them comfort or just a friend. You can even reverse this scenario for an entirely new dynamic; maybe a child sees their older sibling or their parent having a hard, stressful time, and able to empathize with those emotions, they lend their favourite toy to the elder as a gesture of kindness in hopes to make things even a little bit better.

Regardless of which plush’s stories you choose to share with us, we’ll cherish them with all our hearts and keep them close. We’ll take good care of them.

So choose your little— or even big— soft, squishy friend, and share with us what wonderful adventures you two have had together.

—Shawna

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!

  1. Text and Formatting

    1. English only.
    2. Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
    3. Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
    4. Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
    5. Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
  2. What to Submit

    1. Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
    2. Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
    3. Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
    4. 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.
    5. 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).
  3. Submission Rules

    1. One submission per participant.
    2. Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
    3. Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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).
    7. 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.
    8. 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.

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RubyFlash15
RubyFlash15
2 months ago

Hold my Dang Bear!
By Rubyflash

“Hello Lucy.”

“Huh?” I looked back from the fridge and saw Stacy greeting me and entering the break room along with… Grace. “Oh, hey guys.” I said.

“Hi.” Grace responded.

“And what’s up Grizz.” Stacy said as she fistbumped Grizz, my grizzly bear who for unknown reasons — whether they be magical or plain genetics — is about the size of a small dog.

“So, how has your guys’ day been?” I said closing the fridge and bringing food to Grizz which he eagerly began gobbling up.

“It hasn’t been too bad.” Stacy said.

“I’m still waiting on that financial report.” Grace said, preparing some tea.

“Yeah, sorry about that: there’s just a lot of information.” I said.

“Yeah well it’s been a minute, and I need it to continue my work.”

“Again sorry, I’ve been working on it all day.”

“Yeah well you sure aren’t working on it now.” Grace said, now clenching her mug.

“I’m on my break, Grace. I need a break.” I said now holding Grizz to try and calm me down.

“Well maybe if you weren’t on a break you could finish the report quicker, Lucy.”

“You know what?” I said standing straight up, “I’m not taking this! Stacy, hold my bear!”

“Uh, umm.” Stacy stammered, holding Grizz.

“I’m not going to take this either!” Grace said. “Stacy, hold my tea!”

“Hold my earrings too Stacy!” I said.

“And hold my rings as well!”’

“And hold my jacket!”

“And hold my keys!”

“And hold my phone!”

“And hold this water tattoo for my nephew!”

“And hold my magic marker that is literally magic!”

“And hold my bag of holding with all my magic items in it!”

“And hold the one true ring meant to stop Sauron!”

“Um, guys?!?”

“WHAT!?” Me and Grace said as we turned to see Stacy and Grizz barely able to hold onto all the items we had given them.

“Oh… Sorry.” We said, grabbing our stuff.

MasaCur
MasaCur
2 months ago

Don’t Hold My Bear
By MasaCur (Reposted from the Private Group)

Gendo marched up to his sister. “You. Me. Training grounds. Now.”

Mafuyu looked up at her twin brother, her expression characteristically blank. “If you insist.” She stood up and adjusted her scarf.

“Don’t take that tone with me!”

“I am taking no tone with you,” Mafuyu said, her voice flat.

Gendo grumbled as he stalked to the sparring grounds.

“Children! Don’t hurt each other! And dinner will be in thirty minutes!” Mizaru called out.

“I promise I will not permanently harm my brother, Mom,” Mafuyu replied.

“And you won’t!” Gendo said, whirling. “Today’s the day I finally beat you.”

Mafuyu shrugged, her expression unchanging.

The two squared off against each other. Gendo made the first move.

“Higuma, come forth!”

A large brown bear materialised in front of him.

“Get her, Higuma!”

Mafuyu placed her hands on her knees and crouched down. Her lips curled up into a rare, almost goofy smile.

“Who’s a good bear! You are! Yes, you are!”

Higuma tilted its head to the side, regarding the teenage girl.

“Come on, Higuma! Take her down!” Gendo urged.

The bear lurched forward, pinning Mafuyu to the ground.

She let out a squeal.

Gendo wondered if he maybe was overdoing it. Although if Mafuyu wanted to be a ninja, she should have some ability to defend herself.

His doubts were suddenly erased when he heard giggling beneath the bear.

“Higuma, what are you doing?” Gendo cried.

The bear rolled onto its back. Mafuyu laid on its belly, laughing.

“Silly bear! You like these scritches, don’t you?” Her fingers kneaded at the bear’s sides.

Higuma let out a content roar.

“Stop that! Higuma is my bear!” Gendo stalked toward his sister.

Mafuyu sat up, her face expressionless once again. She unwound her scarf, then tossed it at Gendo. It magically wrapped around his wrists and ankles, causing him to fall to the ground.

“Let me go!” Gendo yelled.

The scarf wrapped around his mouth, muffling his cries.

“Come on, Higuma,” Mafuyu said. “Dinner will be ready soon.” She picked Gendo up and tossed him on the bear’s back.

Makokam
2 months ago

When You Try Your Best (Chronicles of The Dragon)
By Makokam

Lightning arced through the street, carving a deep gash.
“Ow ow ow!” Scribe yowled as she tumbled across the ground along with smoking debris.

Nighthawk dove in and swatted a large chunk of debris away with his baton before it could hit her. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” she said, and dusted herself off. “Just a scrape.” And she help up her arm, red blood popping against the paper white of her skin.

“Good. Stay behind Khia. She’ll keep you shielded.” And he ran to rejoin the fight.

“I don’t need to be shielded!” she yelled back, just in time for a guy in dollar store power armor to turn and aim their sub-machine gun arm at her. “Shit!” She slapped her hand down just before the roar of gunfire. Which was quickly replaced with feline snarling and cursing, as Sae-ti in jaguar form pounced, ferociously trying to bite and claw the armor apart.

After a moment she kicked off the man and transformed back to a girl. “If you’re not going to help get out of the fight!” Then turned into an anaconda to crush it instead.

“I’m trying!” Scribe yelled and picked up the shield she’d created, as opposed to the wall she wanted. She slipped it over her arm, figuring she had it so she might as well. She looked around the battle, trying to find somewhere she could help somehow.

Khia was doing her best to pin down the lightning ninja lady. Sae-ti and Nighthawk were slowly working through the mooks she brought with her. And she’d created a floating piece of concrete and an honestly pretty crappy shield.

She chewed her lip as she watched Nighthawk take down another goon. She looked at the park behind them. And after some thought, ran through the bushes and deep into the park.

Moments later a great crashing could be heard coming through the trees. And then a giant stone bear burst through the shrubbery, Scribe riding on it’s back. “YEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

Daniel P
Daniel P
2 months ago

Oh, the stories of a soldier are the most memorable of all, thought the little boy. Curled up with his Afghan blanket his father brought back to him from war. The little boy always tucked his head under to imagine the possibilities of a world beyond, a safe place from the demons, that at 7, he was already facing after his father’s death. The little boy would count the red stripes, “one, two, three…”, until finally he fell asleep every night imagining the stories his father never got the chance to talk about.

Under his Afghan, the world was endless. He’d take it outside in the version of a cape imagining he was his brave father. Wielding a stick as his weapon he would climb a fallen tree as a pirate and fend off the sea crawlers that beckoned for his cape, for this blanket was all he has of his father. He fought them off fiercely letting off a growl that brought a smile to his father’s face, a face the little boy no longer knew. Not knowing that his father has been watching him from a place unknown. Much like the place the little boy would escape to in his dreams.

“There will come a day”, the little boy thought as he stared at the popcorn on the ceiling underneath his Afghan. “There will come a day”, slowly the little boy thought as he drifted away, skating amongst the stars in his dreams, “I will see his face again”. A possibility which didn’t frighten the boy, because death was the birth of this little one. And every day after he strived to be the soldier that bravely drove over the bodies of once alive, but now dead enemies. As grenades fly past his windshield, all he can think about is that Afghan blanket.

Philip C.
Philip C.
2 months ago

Tiffany (Hold My Bear)
By Philip C.

Hugo loved his little bear. She was the sweetest thing in the world, and loved being carried here and there when he took her on adventures with his friends. There was always fun to be had and good food to eat, especially when the rest of Hugo’s friends gave her their leftovers. They had grown fond of her, and Lark had even bought her a bow that sat on her head. But no one loved her more than Hugo. He brushed her every day, and every night he would sing her to sleep, unless he fell asleep first.

One thing that Hugo did not love was when people made fun of her. People could be very mean sometimes.

They sat eating dinner, laughing and singing, celebrating a successful end to their last adventure, when a deep voice boomed out from a corner of the tavern, “So this is the great adventuring party I’ve heard so much about? What a pack of freaks.”

Hugo looked up and saw a large, burly man who sat with three smaller men. The other three were chuckling and throwing mean looks at his friends. His friends ignored the man, but Hugo did not like what he was saying.

“Seriously,” the man continued, “who in their right mind would call such a pack of misfits heroes? Look at them. A midget,” Virma’s eyes fell, “a demon,” Trogath glared hatefully at the table, “a traitor,” Lark’s fists clenched, “and a giant dunce that still carries around his ugly little teddy bear with him.”

Hugo did not like these words. They were very mean, and to top it all off, the man had called his beautiful little bear ugly. He stood up, almost hitting his head on the ceiling, and walked over to the man.

“What do you want? Can’t you let a man drink in peace? Or can you even understand me?”

“Would you please hold my bear?” Hugo asked politely.

“WhaAAAAAAAH!” The man screamed in agony as two of his companions took a fist to the face.

Tiffany didn’t like it when someone else held her.

Matthew R. Wright
Matthew R. Wright
2 months ago

A Little Ritual
by Matthew R. Wright

Haven’t slept. Can’t. Not yet. She’s gone. Her fault. Hate that I’m blaming myself. A daughter is dead, and her mother sits alone in her room, eyes as dry as deserts. There’s something wrong here.

Should be a mess, it’s expected, expected of most mothers. Most mothers didn’t have Elissa. Their daughters loved them, wanted them, chose them over their fathers.
Elissa wasn’t like those daughters; she chose Hopper. She put her love into something as pointless as a stuffed hare.
Gave it more hugs than I ever got. More kisses. It could never love her back.

That’s why I won’t cry, refuse to. Won’t cry in front of Hopper, who rests against her pillow, patiently waiting for her to come home. Should I tell him that she won’t be? No, I think I’ll keep that to myself.

Elissa is cold, in that freezer, tag on toe. All I want to do is comfort her. Put a blanket over her. Even now, I know she’d reject me, like a thousand times before. More fool me for still hoping.

She put herself there – never listened – defied me because it was what her father did. “Reservoirs”, I told her, “Are no place of absent-minded little girls”, yet there she went.

Now she’s gone.

Pointless to get worked up. Can’t change what happened. Want to scream more than cry. Won’t pray for her back. Don’t know if I’d want her back. Why try when you were doomed to fail?

Hated Hopper for the longest time. Envy. Pathetic. Honest.

It was the object of her affections. Tonight, I’m going to burn it, along with her things.

A little ritual. A let go. A release. Cleanse myself of this shitty parent guilt. Cleanse myself of the reminders, of Hopper.

It won’t completely satisfy, nothing will. She isn’t coming back.

But Hopper covered in gasoline and board-games, old clothes, and her pictures, lit up like a bonfire. That’ll satisfy, however briefly.

It’s winter. Cold nights. Won’t be questioned.

At the peak, I might even join in.

Thinking of them.

Elissa.

Hopper.

Last edited 2 months ago by Matthew R. Wright
Aracnarquista
Aracnarquista
2 months ago

The lesser key of Alexsandra
By Aracnarquista

There were so many gazes to endure. Judged, weighted… under the scrutiny of all those eyes, there was nowhere my thoughts could be hidden. They pierced right through my soul and had my guilt laid bare.

Was this the effect Agnes tried to convey in her work? Or were those eyes judgemental only to those who were guilty? It was a nagging doubt, but expressing the question would be an admission of my faults – and not just to Agnes, but to myself. And those eyes.

Though unnerving, I couldn’t ignore the beauty of the paintings. Agnes’s technique and finesse were able to impart them with an awe inspiring pathos. Something fierce, intense, emerged by the limited palette. Her strokes knitted form and color in powerful expressions. She conjured life through her paintings. Those faces were as flames. Dancing, enlightening, consuming flames.

“You know, they are my angels. Also, my demons.” Her voice broke the spell of the gazes. I was, for the moment, free. “They come, carrying messages. But they linger, and then I need to exorcize them.”

“That’s how, and why, I paint. They are in me, and I need to process them and give them another place to live in.” She made a pause, but she was not expecting me to say anything. It was an affectation. Maybe she was considering if she really meant what she was about to say. “You will be the first to see my last messenger.”

Agnes’s paintings were usually huge. Great panels which took entire walls. But the canvas in her hands was very small. “This one is different. It needs to be seen in a more intimate way. I want you to hold it.”

As I saw it, it saw me back.

Forget all the other eyes. This one… knew me. Not part of me, all of it. In the inhuman perscrutation of those ursine eyes, I was lost and found.

“As Agnes Alexsandra woke one morning from troubled dreams, she found herself transformed into a wise bear. It is now yours.”

I held the bear, and she held me back.

TobiL
TobiL
2 months ago

Bärli
by TobiL

When my brother was born, a small plush bear was given to him. It was star shaped, with its round paws spreading to all sides. He cared for it and always went to bed with “Bärli” (pronounced like barely) at his side. As he grew older, his toy did as well. At first, the fabric got thinner and thinner. Later, the connections between the head and the paws started to loosen. In the end, Bärli lost a lot of its filling.

One day, the sight of the aged bear started annoying me. I took a needle, yarn and some star-patterned cloth and gave it a new body. Cautiously I detached the limbs from the old body and transplanted them on the irregular shaped, star patterned cloth, which I had sewn shut after putting the original filling inside. Now Bärli was restored and it kept its place on his side for many years to come.

My brother and I haven’t talked in years. As we grew older, the fabric, the connections between us became thinner and thinner. Our relationship lost a lot of its filling, a little bit, year by year. I moved away, a few hundred kilometers from home into another city. We didn’t text each other, except for birthdays. Now he is in another country and I am still living in the city i moved to.

I don’t know if a time will come, where someone, anyone, will take a needle, some yarn and a star patterned cloth to fix the aged relationship between us. I don’t even know if there is some filling left, the paws are bleached from the years, the head is empty from the years of struggle.

All I know is that Bärli is sitting at home, waiting for him to return.

Lee Strangely
Lee Strangely
2 months ago

The “Bear”
by Lee Strangely

At the crowded station, Marion stood on the bricks and swayed as she waited for the train to finally stop. Her gaze constantly jumped between the train and the paper with the time and her brother’s description. Her older brother was something of a legend to her. He was already out of the house by the time she was born, and he never seemed to visit. Everything she knew about him was purely hearsay.

When the doors opened people began to poor out. One after the other the train spat them out. Eventually a man stepped out. He was thin as a scarecrow and rather scruffy looking. He had a thick mustache and a cane which he leaned on. Just as described.

“C-Clark?” she nervously asked.

“Eh?”

“Clark Feilding? I’m Marion.”

“Marion. Oh, Marion. My sister then?”

“Yes, I…”

“Good, good,” Clark quickly hobbled over to the other end of the platform.

On the other end five men pushed out a large crate. It had a single narrow slit to look into. Sounds of thuds and rustling came from inside.

“Thank you for uh, how you say, holding him while I’m gone. It’s getting harder and harder for me to take care of him.”

From the opening some black feathers flew out.

“Um,” Marion strode to the crate and looked inside, “you said this was a bear.”

“It is.”

It was dark inside the crate. She could barely make out what looked like a blob of black fur and feathers with claws.

“What is that thing?” she asked.

“The bear.”

“That thing is bigger than a bear.”

“Eh, he’s big, but still physically a bear.”

“IT’S GOT WINGS!” she gaped in astonishment.

“H-he shares a common ancestor with bears.”

“Being and being related are two different things.”

“Look, there’s nothing else I can do with him, and I have something I need to do.”

“Where did you find this thing?” she fumed, “where’ve you been all this time?”

His hand rested on her shoulder, “I promise I’ll explain when I return. Now please, please take care of him for me.”

Danny Gilhooley
Danny Gilhooley
2 months ago

To London (17 Cities)
By Danny Gilhooley

I gave both my parents a half-hug at the station. They talked a lot on the way there, that I should enjoy my trip, about how I needed to tell them all about it when I got home. Truth was, I was just looking forward to getting away from them.

My little brother handed me his toy bear before we left our apartment in Boston.

I didn’t know what to do with it. I was 18. I was finally allowed to visit another city. I was too old for animals.

“And make sure you eat enough,” my dad was saying. “We won’t be around to cook anymore so-“

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” I said.

“Are you listening to me?”

I sighed. “I’m listening.”

“I just wish you were going to New York instead.”

That’s where a lot of people from Boston went. When you turned 18, you could visit one of the 17 cities. And only one. Most people in Boston went to New York or even St. Louis.

I decided to go to London. It was the furthest away where I didn’t need to make multiple stops.

“I’m going to miss you,” my dad said.

“I’ll miss you too,” I said. In reality, I was looking forward to getting away for a little.

I stepped on the train a short while later. They were made by the Overseers. Very efficient, very fast. They built an entire bridge for the train all the way from Boston to London.

Taking my seat, I looked at the bear again. I started thinking of my brother, of how we slept in the same room in an apartment above the clouds, of how much we annoyed each other and our parents, of the stories we used to make up to each other to help us fall asleep.

And suddenly, I missed him.

I was too old for animals, I reminded myself. Then I hugged it tight.

Last edited 2 months ago by Danny Gilhooley
Matheus Ribeiro de Assis

The Plush Lion
By Matheus Ribeiro

While I was reading in the park, I noticed this little girl playing in the sandbox. I didn’t pay too much attention to her at first. After a while, suddenly the bench waved. She sat heavily by my side and began staring at me.

I looked at her curiously, then she said “you look like my lion”. I looked down to her lap, she was holding a lion that indeed looked like me, I have long blond hair that melds with a medium sized ginger beard. They resemble a mane. The plush even had green eyes like mine.

I said “I do, indeed” with a smile, I was starting to feel embarrassed. What would other adults think when they see a guy like me talking with a kid? People see malice in everything nowadays.

Nonetheless, I said “I like reading books, does your lion like to read?”

“Maybe he does, I guess. He looks like you. He might like the same things as well”

“Hm… lions are angry, is your lion angry?”

“Of course not, if he was angry, I couldn’t hug him. You’re seeing him in my lap, why would you think he is angry?”

I wasn’t familiar with talking with kids very often, so I tried to be as simple as I could.

“Because first you said that he looked like me and because of this, he might like the same things that I like, if he probably has the same tastes just by looking like me, imagine what characteristics he shares with true lions!”

“But I just said he looks like you and then maybe he likes the same things that you do because you asked. I don’t understand why you’re talking about “lions”. Adults complicate everything.”

I laughed and agreed “yes little one, we do. Indeed, we do…”

Last edited 2 months ago by Matheus Ribeiro de Assis
NocteVesania
NocteVesania
2 months ago

My Hero (The Iron Rose Collection)
By NocteVesania (Public Group Repost)

Splintering wood and clangs of steel rang out as the two airships clashed. The Caruso, a behemoth of a freighter, had crashed into the Iron Rose, leaving a nasty gash across its hull. Belle and Zeke rallied their ragtag crew of pirates as soldiers of the Imperial Navy, once hidden in the Caruso’s cargo hold, streamed into the battered frigate, determined to end the conflict once and for all.

Backed into a corner, Belle fought fiercely against her foes. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Zeke, blades locked with an enemy officer. Behind him, however, stood another soldier, his blade raised, ready to strike.

“No!” she yelled, throwing her weight towards the soldier, shoving him over the railing. She landed on the hardwood deck with a thud.

Zeke pushed his foe away as he turned around. He called out, “Belle!”

As Belle opened her eyes, she found the enemy captain looking down at her. He gave Belle a sinister smile and, without hesitation, kicked her overboard.

Before she could react, Belle found herself plummeting through the clouds. Hopeless, she closed her eyes, awaiting the embrace of the ground below.

Fwoosh!

What Belle met was not the cold, hard dirt, but something rather soft and fluffy. She opened her eyes to a massive brown bear, with oversized buttons as eyes and fur silken to the touch. She grinned from ear to ear.

“Major Bear-tholomew?!”

“I promised your niece, Erina, I’d keep you safe,” the Major replied with a wink. “You still have a battle to win, so you need to wake up, Belle. Belle. Belle!”

Belle opened her eyes to Zeke, already dressed in his uniform.

“Hey, come on,” Zeke said, “we’re approaching the Caruso.”

“I’ll be out in a sec. Thanks.” She glanced down and found the familiar stuffed bear in her embrace.

Zeke smiled. “I didn’t know you had a cute side.”

“I SAID I’LL BE OUT IN A SEC!”

Zeke chuckled and stepped out.

Sitting up, Belle gently placed the bear on her pillow. “Thanks, Erina,” she whispered, “and I’m counting on you, Major Bear-tholomew.”

Tamela Redfin
Tamela Redfin
2 months ago

Results are in

By Tamela Redfin

“Cameron please, I need to know the truth.” Mica’s voice sounded dry and afraid. I swirled the blood vial again.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes! Stop stalling now.” He snapped.

“Very well then, Mica. The blood test we did? Proves you are half human. Your father is a human.”

“That’s impossible! If I were, Sapphira…”

“Cyphas and humans have the same amount of chromosomes. So, yes, it is possible.”

He hung his head. “They were right. All the bullies. They said she did unspeakable actions with a human. And she did.”

“Why does it upset you so much?” He showed his claws, or his shortened nails.

“In cyphan culture, long claws are seen as strength. The only person to truly respect my short nails was Sapphira.” He explained. “I should have known. My mother did in fact fuck a human.”

I didn’t know what to do. “You don’t have to bear this alone.” I assured him.

“Of course I do.” He sighed. “And if I’m part human, my child will be bullied.”

I looked at Mica, “History may stay the same, but the future can change. Someday, Sulfur Cora will fall and cyphas and humans will find unions. Also, who’s to say your father was a bad person?”

“I bet he’s a smoker.” Mica scoffed, looking at his feet. “Who else taught my mom to light up? Cyphas don’t smoke.”

“That doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. My grandfather smoked, but aside from his nasty habit, he was very nice. Do you wish to find him?”

Mica nodded. “I guess I should. Ask him why he ran away from my mom and me. Was he embarrassed of us?”

“We will hold the unbearable.” I replied.

Lantis Armstrong
Lantis Armstrong
2 months ago

Bear is Driving
By Lantis Armstrong

A jolly, rotund middle-aged man wearing a bear suit opened his front door to find his neighbor, Lana, a local high schooler who knew he’d be kind enough to give her and her friend a ride to the mall.

“Bowman! I promised Rasia you weren’t a weirdo and would give us a lift!”

“No prob, Bob!”

“Why’s he in a bear suit?” Rasia asked.

Lana and Rasia filed into the backseat and their chauffeur, Bowman, took his spot in the lead! They didn’t make it far before –

CRACKBRRRRRRRR!

“What’s that!” Rasia panicked.

“Muffler’s dragging,” Bowman replied. “Want a cigarette?”

“No! And don’t light that in here, those things smell gross!”

“Oh it’s fine, my boyfriend Franklin never complains.”

“He lost his sense of smell from Covid!”

Lana was rolling with laughter from this as Bowman reached back to offer her a cigarette, and Rasia shouted for him to keep his eyes on the road.

“If it’ll make ya feel better; brakes don’t work and steering barely works.”

“Then how are we going to stop?”

“Ever see The Flintstones?”

“…no, don’t even tell me –”

As they approached the mall Bowman bounced out the front seat and slammed both feet into the ground super hard in an attempt to stop the car! Rasia screamed as they raced towards a giant cement fish fountain!

It seemed like the car would stop in time – but it did not, and the every-so-slight TINK against the side of the fountain caused the front bumper to fall off.

“Oh come on now!” Bowman yelled.

Rasia bolted from the car as her face flared red from exposure to the sea of onlooking faces.

Lana squeezed Bowman in a hug super quick, thanking him for the ride.

“Don’t you want to hold my bear too?” Lana called to her friend.

“NO! He IS a weirdo and so are YOU!” Rasia hurried quickly from the scene of the incident.

Lana waved bye to Bowman while running to catch up to her friend. A long and busy day of being mall rats awaited them!

Adrian Solorio
Adrian Solorio
2 months ago

Deleted

Last edited 1 month ago by Adrian Solorio
Marx
Marx
2 months ago

I’m Disinclined to Acquiesce to Your Request
By Marx

Drawn outside by the sounds of battle, Matt wasn’t surprised to find Mara as one of the combatants. But what did surprise him was when he realized that Mara was fighting a bear.

There was so much wrong with that visual alone until Matt put together that he recognized the bear his demon familiar was currently grappling with, and a smile crossed his face.

“Hi Artio.”

The bear looked over as she was called, unintentionally giving Mara an opening to pin her down and win the contest. Given that Mara was the size of a human and Artio was… well… a bear, this looked absolutely absurd and Matt couldn’t hold in his laughter.

The absurdity faded at least somewhat when Artio shifted into her human form. While this form still would have towered over Mara, it wasn’t the ridiculous size disparity that tickled Matt initially.

Despite being on the losing side, Artio gleefully giggled and looked over to Matt. “Mara’s so strong! You want to wrestle me next?”

“No… no, I’m good.” Matt chuckled back.

Artio’s face fell into a pout as Mara released her. “Awww, why not? It’s the first day of Spring!”

Mara grinned wickedly and reached up to put her arm around Artio’s shoulder. “Well, you see… when a boy likes a girl and they wrestle in the woods on the first day of Spring, nine months later a stork swoops down and-”

“Mara, behave!” Matt’s eyes narrowed as Mara stifled her own laughter.

“Come on, Matt… Don’t be boring!” Artio puffed out her cheeks. “Play with me!”

“Yeah, Matt. Play with her.” Mara blurted out before quickly covering her mouth at Matt’s renewed glare.

With a roll of his eyes, he sighed in defeat. “How about we play tag?”

Artio’s eyes shot wide in excitement. “Oh! How do we play?”

“You run. I hunt you. Mara already has a head start.” Matt indicated towards the currently empty space next to the bear deity.

“I’ve never been on THIS side of a hunt before!” Artio giggled loudly and vanished into the woods.

Matt sighed and started counting.

ThatWeirdFish
ThatWeirdFish
2 months ago

“Just an Average Day in Bloodroot Woods” (The Depth’s Files)
By ThatWeirdFish, reviewed by Specter

“No.”

“Aww, come on, he’s friendly!”

“He bit me last time.”

“Ya bit him first.”

“It was in self-defense.”

“It was just a surprise hug.”

“I’m certain being assaulted from above is not considered a surprise hug.”

“Ya just don’t like fun, do ya, Snuffles?” Trip chuckled.

“I don’t like getting ambushed by wildlife,” Snuffles grumbled, glaring at the vaguely bear cub-looking creature in Trip’s arms. “Something you seem to enjoy for Exile knows why.”

“It’s fun!” Trip grinned, holding up the insectoid bear creature. “Means I get to meet new friends like Jeremy!”

“… It has a name now?” Snuffles said with a look of disgust as he stepped back.

“Well, duh, every critter has a name. I just don’t know what this guy’s called, so I named him that.” Trip said casually, scritching the bear’s head between its antennae. Jeremy sneezed, sending a puff of green gas in Snuffles’ direction.

Snuffles avoided the gas and watched it sink to the ground. Whatever this… thing was, it was probably poisonous on top of being most likely something’s spawn. And, of course, Trip is fawning over it like a puppy. The feathers on Snuffle’s wings bristled as his annoyance grew.

“We should leave,” Snuffles said as the branches above rustled.

“Not before ya hug Jeremy first,” Trip retorted with a mischievous grin, holding the cub towards Snuffles.

“I said no.” Snuffle’s rose-colored eyes narrowed.

“Ah… I get it,” Trip smirked, “yer scared of ‘em.”

“What? No. Of course not!” Snuffles scowled but continued to back away as Trip pressed forward. “I’m not scared of anything I can’t rip in half!”

“Then why won’t ya at least pet him?”

“I told you no.”

“But he’s so cute!”

“I don’t care!” Snuffles yelled, snapping his wings out suddenly.

Jeremy squeaked and wiggled out of Trip’s hands before scurrying up a tree.

“Aww… ya scared him….”

“I’m a rage demon. We aren’t-” Snuffles was cut off by an earsplitting shriek.

Trip grinned that very punchable smile.

Arith_Winterfell
Arith_Winterfell
2 months ago

“The Lost Child”

By: Arith_Winterfell

Illiana stalked the woods in hunt of game. Her steps were careful and she brushed her hair back over her pointed ears. Her people, the Sarin, were wary of this section of the forests due to the presence of the twisted flesh horrors. She had finished climbing to the top of a small ridge in hopes of gaining a better vantage point from which to survey her surroundings. As she did so she noticed an odd sight. There resting at the base of a tree was a thread-bare child’s teddy bear made of simple cloth.

“By the spirits,” Illiana thought, “it’s too dangerous for a child to be wandering out here!”

She quickly searched about looking for signs of a child’s passing. Seeing footprints of a small child nearby, she snatched up the bear and turned to pursue the wayward child when suddenly she felt as if someone was watching her. She could hear the vague whispers in her mind. The growing pressure there inside like a growing headache. She struggled to clear her mind. Suddenly, the feeling ceased.

She searched about herself, but the footprints had vanished. She drew her bow, ready to fire at anything that might attack her. Looking down her notched arrow she found – a small boy? A small boy was standing there, face red and tear-streaked.

“You have my bear,” the boy said reaching out to her.

She lowered her bow and reached for the bear. She turned to hand it to him, and he grabbed the bear, clutching it to his chest. Then Illiana realized, why hadn’t she seen him approach. The illusion in her mind fell, as the boy’s face blossomed, its teeth-lined flesh petals revealing an empty open maw.

Last edited 2 months ago by Arith_Winterfell
Alex
Alex
2 months ago

Bianca (Darkspell Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

Valerie heard the scream of her younger brother Sterling through the wood of the cabin. She got up, put on a pair of slippers and hastened into his room. Her parents were out and her other sister, Abby, was gods knew where. So, it fell to her to support him through his nightmares.

She wasn’t bitter about it. She wanted to help him as best she could. She’d even offered to dream-walk for him and had done so, but something made it impossible for her to save him from his monsters. Not everything could be solved with superpowers.

She clicked on the light in her brother’s room.

“Sterling?” she walked inside, slowly. “I heard you scream. Was it another nightmare?”

Her brother’s round, young face stared at her. He didn’t cry, he never cried, but he was shaking all over. He nodded, his lips clenched shut.

Valerie came closer and sat down next to him.

“Want to tell me about it?”

He shook his head and just reached out to her. Valerie took his hand, trying to comfort him.

“Do you want me to dream-walk with you again?”

He just looked at her, completely shut down. She smiled, trying to put him at ease. She knew, what most people would say. Sterling was old enough to not have nightmares anymore. He should just get over himself.

The fact that he was fighting challenges very few people knew about, was a well-kept secret within her family. After all, what parent wanted a child, like Sterling?

Valerie had to force herself not to fall into unjust cynicism like that.

“Hey, I have something for you,” she said, struck by a sudden thought. “Can you wait for me for a moment?”

When Sterling nodded, she sped to her room, retrieved something and hastened back.

“This is Bianca,” she said, holding up her old teddy bear. “She was there for me, when I was fighting nightmares. She can be there for you too.”

She handed him the stuffed animal.

“Thank you, Val,” he croaked, holding the bear to his chest, smiling lightly.

Last edited 2 months ago by Alex
C. M. Weller
2 months ago

Orientation Tour (Cordelia’s Journey)
C. M. Weller

“Cordelia, take that thumb out of your mouth and hold my hand,” commanded her sister, Elysabar.

Cordelia did as she was told, never taking her dry hand off her fluffy bear doll.

Elysabar shuddered and reached for her kerchief. “Should have told you to dry your HAND…” she whined. “Pay attention, Cor-cor. This is where you’re coming, next week.”

“Wif you?” said Cordelia.

“Ladies don’t lisp,” snapped Elysabar. “And you’ll have your own classes.” Her voice fell to a mutter, “Hopefully very far from me.”

Everyone wore the same clothes. Dark skirts and white blouses. Everyone here wore a lace bonnet over their strict buns. Cordelia tried to stretch around her toy to suck her other thumb, but couldn’t reach.

This place was gray and cold and scary and lots of it felt… dead.

“Is that one yours, Elly?” said a new stranger. She had a crowd following after her. “Another baby Bellarin. Isn’t your mother TIRED of having girls?”

“Aren’t you tired of being such a cow, Lylaril?” Elysabar tutted and sighed. “This is my sister, Cordelia. Say hello to Lylaril, Cordelia. And don’t. Lisp.”

Cordelia tightened her grip on her toy. She tried her best. “Hewwo Lylaril?”

Lylaril and her crowd burst into laughter.

“What a BABY!”

One made mock of Cordelia’s lisp as she spoke, “Is da idduw bidduw baby gonna wet herthewf?”

Cordelia stopped hugging her toy and held tight to its leg.

Elysabar still managed to take it off her.

“Hey!”

“Ladies don’t hit other ladies with their toys,” scolded Elysabar.

More laughter from the meanies.

“What’s the baby gonna do?” taunted Lylaril. “Cry at us?”

She escaped her sister’s grip and kicked her with all her strength. Cordelia shrieked, calling to all the rats and mice in this horrible place to give all these meanies a new, living, fur coat.

“Ladies do NOT,” reprimanded Elysabar, “sic vermin on people!”

Last edited 2 months ago by C. M. Weller
Eddy
2 months ago

The Right to Bear Stars
by Alexsander Edwards

“You know,” Dionysus said to Hermes, visibly drunk while looking at his wrist-sundial, “I was supposed to be at a party right now, but hearing the old man squirm about that nymph is so much fun!”

Nearby, Zeus, reeking of cheap deodorant and sweat, defended himself. Or, rather, tried to.

“Why do I have to hold the bear?” he asked.

“Zeus, for the love of Us,” the voice of Artemis cut through her father’s poor attempts at talking his way out. “You can’t just go around doing your… thing and expect us to just wait with our arms crossed!”

The God of Thunder and Lord of the Skies looked around as his cheeks blushed. Around them, other gods watched the commotion – Hera, managing to look angrily remorseful; Ares, entirely bored; and Dionysus, grabbing a bucket of popcorn and holding bets with Hermes.

“I mean, I don’t see why I should take care of someone who can’t deal with shapeshifting,” Zeus continued digging his own hole while trying to defend himself. “Especially when I wasn’t even the one who turned her into a bear!”

Hera’s voice echoed through the halls. “YOU MOTHER-”

“Hah! It’s funny ‘cause it’s true!” Dionysus yelled back.

“Callisto. Was my. Apprentice!” Artemis replied, ignoring the commotion, “AND YOU HAD THE GALL TO MIMIC ME WHEN WOOING HER!”

“Well, she should’ve adapted hers-”

“If you finish that sentence I’mma fucking kill you.”

Zeus blinked in incredulity. Somewhere in the back he could hear Dionysus yelling “A-hah! Told you we’d get Cronus 2.0!” followed by the sounds of obols changing hands and of Ares sharpening a scythe. Shivers went down the Thunder God’s spine.

“And, uh… if I say yes,” he slowly backtracked, “can I just tell Atlas to-”

“No.”

“No, no, hear me out: what about a lovely little constellation?”

Artemis paused, leering her father.

“You know,” Zeus continued, “she’ll be immortalized! And, uh… praised. Forever!”

Artemis sighed. “Okay, fine,” she said after a moment, “but I’ll be watching you.”

“Us damn it!” Dionysus yelled as he stormed off, “I bet all my obols on this crap!”

Last edited 2 months ago by Eddy
Amaunator
2 months ago

Title: mommy Needs It More
by Joris Lemoine

Mommy and daddy are yelling again, she thought, and hugged her teddy to her chest. Mr. Frosty had a black, shiny nose, white-streaked paws and frost-tipped ears. At times like these, Alina felt like Mr. Frosty was all she had. Everything, everyone else might leave her, but not Mr. Frosty.

“… and I have to do everything around here! You’re never home-“

“… spending all my money!”

“Our money, you jackass! Or do you think food just magically-”

“No, I’m pretty sure you just dig it up out of a trashcan for-”

“Fuck you! Do you think I wanted to be a stay-at-home-?”

“What! What would you have done? Made a career as a-”

The sound of glass shattering, tinkling, bouncing. “One of these days, I’m not gonna miss!”

“One of these days, I won’t… I won’t be here for you to throw things at!” The front door slammed shut. The car’s engine revved angrily and gravel clattered against the garage door.

The shouting had stopped. Another door banged to, and Alina clutched Mr. Frosty fervently. Distantly, she heard the muffled sounds of someone crying. She got up, opened the bedroom dresser she had hidden in, and went into the hallway. The worn wall-to-wall carpet felt ticklish underfoot and she played her usual game, skipping over the rips in the carpet. Mr. Frosty’s head lolled in time with her jumps, a vacant grin swaying to and fro.

When she got to her mother and father’s bedroom – a place she had been told she could not go; a place she knew intimately – she knocked shyly. The crying skipped a beat, and then continued softly. Alina reached up for the doorknob, extending a slim wrist, only barely grabbing hold. The door creaked open, the pale yellow light from the hall lamp slicing into the bedroom’s murk. Alina walked over to her mother who was sitting slumped on the edge of the bed.

“Here, mommy,” she lisped, “you can hold Mr. Frosty.”