Hello, Doctors and Virologists!
You’ve been sick before, haven’t you? Were you able to identify it right away? How many medical professionals did you visit before discovering the answer? Well, I think it’s about time for a checkup, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
A Strange Illness
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!
I’m pretty sure there isn’t a single person in the world who hasn’t gotten sick at some point in their lives. Whether it be from allergies, chronic conditions, or rampant sicknesses like the flu, we’re bound to catch something at some point or another.
For most of those things, we know what to do and how to handle them. For a cold or flu, we take some medicine and do our best to either prevent or break a fever. For allergies, we have antihistamines and other little bits like eye drops, nasal sprays, and throat sprays.
But what happens when a disease is unidentifiable? What if one was to fall ill with a sickness that defied all logic and science? Perhaps this disease is the kind that makes you burp bubbles of all different colours, or it causes you to shoot up into the air when you sneeze. Maybe it messes with your molecular structure and suddenly your skin is like diamonds, glass, rubber, or a kind of slimy gelatin. What if it makes you near vampiric in sunlight sensitivity, or it just slowly petrifies you from the inside out?
It may not even be a physical illness like a virus, but could be something that affects different parts of the brain. Perhaps a person who can seem entirely normal in the day has frequent episodes of sundowning, or maybe they have all kinds of hallucinations or memory malfunctions, both of which can make every day life far more difficult than it used to be. Maybe the illness causes things in the brain to misfire or behave differently, causing either compulsive movements and twitches, or even temporarily erasing all inhibitors and unlocking unbelievable strength in a person.
Or it could even be something only thought of in movies and stories. A single bite or scratch from a sick person is all it takes for it to spread, polluting the body and causing one to fall into a state of undeath. A bite and transmission of blood from a carrier mutates the body into a bloodthirsty, unstoppable nocturnal creature. An interstellar body that can infect and change an entire planet, using that planet to then spread its creatures and plagues to its next target planet… possibly even our own.
So, ready to dive into worlds and pathogens unknown? I hope so. Diseases don’t exactly wait for us to be ready for them. So grab your microscope and lab coat, and let’s see what kinds of bizarre ailments you can cook up.
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.
When the kids are ill
By Jesse Fisher
Some days being a parent was almost not worth it, almost being the most emphasized point. The dirty diapers and the other body emissions were a part of the job. The fur and feathers on both parties did not help with the clean up factor.
But nothing could prepare either parent from the worst thing; the random sickness.
“I’m starting to wonder if they are more like me.” The navy wolf commented as one of his hybrid children cried in his arms as sneezes. “Over exposure to sunlight tends to make me sick.”
“I don’t think so.” The draconequus replied as she held their other child over a trash can as the poor thing threw up for the fifth time in the past hour. “When I dragged you to the beach without shade you just got a fever and some sniffles.”
“Well we do have access to medical gods.” The wolf proposes. “The bar is hosting a medical convention so we could ask them.”
“We could,” The draconequus replied, looking at her children. “I’m more concerned that they might get over zealous given who we are.”
“I know…I’ll tell Bell to clean up while we are out.” The wolf sighed knowing the path he might have set.
The master of this bar, where gods congregate, looks out to his domain. His child away with his wife as the current patrons began to exchange notes on illnesses and sickness that seemed to match what another spoke of. A standard day really and then two of his employees came out of their door to the medical gods with their children looking very ill.
That was the start of what also came to be a more common thing; The gods were blown from the hybrids but also began to study the parents. It was a whole production from the heterochromic eyes as he cleans a glass for drink.
By the time he saw them again, the kids looked much better and the parents looked ready to just relax after the craziness. The lord of the bar never did learn the whole deal.
A Matter of Character
“Hiya bossman,” Z said, the cafe’s door jangling shut behind her. She turned on the lights and reached for her apron.
“Z,” Mike replied. “Kara’s running late today.”
He was sitting at one of the bar stools and typing away at a spreadsheet. Employee work schedule.
Do you ever not work, Mike?
“Yep. Got the text too. You know, my friend Abe sent me a meme last night: Why is it always ‘Why are you late?’ And not, ‘Thanks for showing up.’”
“Clever. I don’t think that’ll help me though.”
“Hmm? Oh. Yeah, it would sound weird if you said it. I don’t know why.”
“Gee, thanks, Z.”
“Yeah, like that. It sounds… demeaning when you say it.”
“You know I’m your boss right?”
“Manager, opening shift. And you only graduated high school in May, so don’t act like you’re older. We can be friends and do our jobs well.”
The coffee started brewing and filled the air with that early morning scent of caffeine and smog. A car door slammed outside.
“So, you think I should try it with Kara?” Mike asked, pouring a cup of coffee.
“Why not? She might like you more if you showed a bit more…. Um….”
“Yeah, I get it.”
The door jangled again.
“Hello world!” Kara announced herself.
“Good morning, Kara. Thank you for showing up.”
”Fuck you, Mike.”
“Told you it wouldn’t go well, Z.”
“What?” Kara said.
“It’s fine,” Z exclaimed. “It’s just, um, your face?”
“You mean my naturally depresso espresso self?”
“Mike, make me a coffee before I decide to call you Eyore for the rest of the month,” Kara said.
Mike handed her the cup he’d poured.
“Depresso Espresso sounds like a decaff drink,” Z said.
“My gooood,” Kara rolled her eyes.
“Add it to the board. Decaff Cuban,” Mike said. “And I’ll work on it, Z. Thanks.”
Z reached for the chalk, thinking, Maybe don’t.
A Dark Path (Illusions of Heroes)
by Gerrit (Rattus)
She could hear their footsteps closing in on the alleyway from around the corner. Not much longer now.
“Please, Father! My friend has arcane fever, I need you to help her!” Gen’s voice. Seconds later Gen and the priest rounded the corner into the alleyway.
Serennia’s muscles spasmed and trembled, her fingers and feet digging shallow ditches into the dirt.
The priest knelt down in front of Serennia and gazed into her eyes. “It’s too late for her now, I’m sorry. Her eyes have already given way to the fever.”
“I know, Father.” Gen hung his head, his voice barely more than a whisper. “I was hoping you could bless her, so that she may find redemption in death.”
“Fa…ther…” Her voice came out strained, every bit of energy left in her body struggling to force out the words.
“My child, your Path has led you into darkness. But through the forgiveness of the Four, all may find light again.” The man rested his hand on her shoulder, his grip soft but firm. “Be at peace, and take your last steps along your Path.”
“It hurts…Father.” Serennia’s hand reached shivering up to the robed man before her. As her palm pressed against his chest, their eyes met.
Her muscles stopped trembling.
In an instant, her hand gripped the priest’s robe, the fabric tight within her grasp. His eyes went wide, his mouth opening to plead for help. Before any words could escape, Serennia summoned her blade and sliced his throat with a single, clean motion.
As his life sputtered out of him, the man collapsed to the ground, his arms falling limp beside him. Serennia let out a soft exhale.
Gen scurried over to the man’s side, swiping the coinpurse off his waist and peering inside. “So much for helping people for the greater good. There’s a small fortune here.” Gen tied the bag back up and stuffed it in his pocket. “Told you he was corrupt.”
Serennia said nothing, just rose from the ground and tried not to look at the body that lay at her feet.
An Angel Gets Her Wings (Students of the DiamondBridge Academy universe)
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
Ahna’s hand hovered over the front door handle. She took a deep breath, double-checked her earbuds were at a respectable volume, and tore it open.
Her large black boots announced her return from school as she hurried up the stairs.
“Hi darling!” a gentle voice called from the kitchen. “How was school—”
“Have a lot of homework, Mama! Sorry!”
“Did you have any signs—”
And she slammed her door shut.
Squished between her band posters and bass guitar techniques thumbtacked to her wall was a calendar. Ahna took a pencil and crossed off today’s box.
She’d stopped numbering the days when she hit one thousand, and that was a few months ago.
But today marked three years and a week that her wings were late growing in.
What could she do? You couldn’t FORCE an angel to grow their wings, but it was expected by a thirteenth birthday. She had the magic affinity, the hollow bones, and all the other angel traits.
So where were the wings?
She set her schoolbag down with a thud.
“What’s wrong with me?”
The next morning, a stabbing pain in her back jerked Ahna awake. She gasped desperately for breath, her body shaking and sweat rolling down her face.
Then, slowly, her face shifted into a smile.
“Finally!” she cheered at the ceiling, which only made it worse.
Her wings were growing in. Her wings were growing in! It took three years, but she’d finally be able to fly! To be an angel! If she could just get out of bed—
She hit the floor.
The skin on her back burned. Her heartbeat thudded in her ears as her vision blurred and spun.
“Darling?” her mother said from the hallway. “Darling, are you alright?”
“Mama, my wings—” Ahna propped herself up, wincing, “my wings… ow…”
From somewhere in the blur, her mom entered her room. “They’re not supposed to hurt, dear…”
“H—help me up, I can do it…” Ahna reached a hand up towards her mother’s voice.
A firm grip dragged her to her feet. “We’re going to the hospital. Now.”
“Demonsbane is here!”
Calliope dragged her feet through the settlement, her boots kicking aside the empty shells of her revolver.
A multitude of doors rattled open, and out came crotchety, pale-skinned folk. Some fell at Calliope’s feet, weeping and begging for help, while others stared at her with jaundiced eyes. She noticed that plenty of them were covered in unnaturally black boils, and the veins surrounding them pulsed visibly. If her dad taught her anything, it was definitely to look out for Stygian symptoms.
“Oh, Demonsbane, thank you from coming on such a short notice,” the pudgy mayor blurted with a wheeze.
Calliope couldn’t help but shield her mouth and nose, her stomach reeling at the town’s stench. Thankfully, she had already ingested some holy water beforehand. “Yeah, no problem. Where’s your water supply?”
“Right here, in the town center. The old well here still works fine, it’s perfectly fine.” The mayor gestured to the dust-ridden stones situated in a circular fashion.
Calliope gave a single glance down into the well, the darkness stretching down into the earth. “Not necessarily. Just because it’s clear doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink. Parasites and whatnot.”
“But our doctor makes sure that the water is sanitized. What else could you look into?”
Calliope groaned. “Does it look like I have a doctorate? I’m not your regular CDC asshole. Your water might be infected with Styxwater.”
“What is that?”
“Ichor from the pits of Hell itself, made from souls boiled in the Lake of Fire. Normally, it would let demons possess anyone who touches it, but on earth, it just makes you sick as Hell.”
Calliope knew there was only one way to find out beyond drinking it. She took out a vial of a glowing blue liquid and poured a single drop down into the well.
“What was tha-”
The distant howling of a thousand tormented voices thundered from the hole, as if a pit of captives were wailing for freedom.
Calliope snorted. “Welp, looks like you’re drinking hell-juice.”
In My Own Little Corner
By Marx (CW: PTSD, Mental/Physical Abuse)
“Daisy…?” Rhea cautiously approached.
Daisy was hugging her knees in the corner of the room. Her clothing torn and her crying eyes wide and unblinking.
Rhea took a deep breath and placed a hand on Daisy’s shoulder. “Daisy are you ok-…urk!”
“Have to kill him, Rhea!” Daisy shouted back.
Rhea paused as she focused on forcing out enough air to speak, thanking whatever deity she could that she wasn’t human anymore. “Daisy… you’re… choking… me…”
Daisy’s eyes somehow went even wider as she realized Rhea was right. She immediately let go of her throat and scrambled back to the safety of the corner. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”
Rhea took a breath of air, rubbing her neck as the bruises steadily healed. “It’s okay, sweetie. No harm done. So… I’m assuming you… saw Alex?”
Daisy shuddered at the name. “He found me… He was so… He wasn’t himself, Rhea… I hurt him…”
Rhea sighed and sat next to Daisy. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Daisy slowly nodded. “He hit me… Over and over… He was so mad that… I wasn’t his thrall anymore… It didn’t hurt… Not really… But… I could tell that I hurt HIM… and part of me still… I still…”
Rhea placed her forehead against Daisy’s as they locked eyes. “That’s not love, sweetie. Or at least not the good kind…”
Daisy smiled back before her mind was torn once more to the previous night. “Rhea. I HURT him…”
Rhea nodded. “I’m listening.”
“He… he kept hitting me… And he said… he would make me his again… his thrall… and I just… I snapped, Rhea… I hit him as hard as I could…”
Rhea smiled. “I hope you broke something.” The smile faded as she took a deep breath. “What happened after he healed? If you don’t want to talk about it, it’s okay.”
“Rhea… He DIDN’T heal… He… ran…”
Rhea’s eyes shot wide as she finally realized what Daisy was trying to tell her. “You hurt him…”
Daisy sobbed into Rhea’s embrace. “I have to kill him, Rhea… I’m the only one who CAN…”