Writing Group: A Walk in the Dark

Hello, Wayfarers and Necromancers!

Walking. The simplest of motions. The dark. The simplest of fears. Walking through the dark is perhaps one of the most primal things to be afraid of. Well, I think it’s time we face our fears because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

A Walk in the Dark

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!

Often people will say “this will be a walk in the park,” meaning, even if it looks difficult, or frightening, it will be as easy as a peaceful stroll through nature. But what does it mean to walk in the dark? It seems to mean the opposite—that things are guaranteed to be difficult and frightening going forward. But the dark isn’t inherently negative. The reason we fear it is because it is unknown. Anything could be lurking there. But it’s the walking through it that matters. 

Maybe you could write about someone getting lost, running through a shadowed forest, the trees looking more and more like they have faces with each passing minute. Maybe a scientist needs to venture into a cave to gather samples, but they’re still scared to descend into the depths. Maybe a child musters up the courage to face the dark basement, and the furnace-monster growling in the shadows.

What awaits in the darkness? Hungry monsters? Or old friends? Fairies? Dragons? Bunnies? Or what if there’s nothing there at all, and the fear is just that?

Maybe the darkness itself has power. Like the woods through the looking glass, where Alice forgets her own name. Or like in Mirkwood, where, if you don’t stay on the path, you might never make it out. The darkness itself could have some greater effect than simply shadows and the unknown. 

Maybe it’s not a literal walk through a dark place. Perhaps it’s a dark path. A character descending into villainy, or madness. A character making the decision to walk the dark path, despite the risks, the potential consequences, and everything telling them they shouldn’t. Deciding to join the dark side, because at least on the dark side they’re allowed to feel. Or maybe it’s power. Maybe it’s love. Maybe the light has too many rules. Maybe the dark is the only way to get to a better place. Or maybe the dark isn’t as evil as everyone believes. 

What if the dark path isn’t one of villainy at all? A ghost might need to walk the path between life and death before getting to the afterlife. A spy must face danger every day, even if they’re on the right side of the war. Or perhaps the darkness is more insidious than that: rather the darkness in our own heads that we must face each day. Dark paths aren’t always chosen, sometimes they’re simply endured. 

Will it be a peaceful park stroll after all, or will you be lucky to make it out with all your limbs intact?

Go on in there. What? Are you chicken?

—Kaylie

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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Papileser
Papileser
17 days ago

The Guardian
By Papileser

Wade snapped the reins of his cart in frustration as the scrawny mule pulling his cart laid down in the dust. He snapped them again, but the mule only grunted and refused to move further into the dense forest. Wade angrily clambered down from his seat and looked up through the thick canopy. There wasn’t much he could see through the deep green leaves, but he could see the crimson sky peeking through the branches. The Sun was going down, and he was miles from civilization.

He started weighing his options as he stood on the roadside. He could set up camp for the night here and wait until morning to set out again, but this area wasn’t exactly safe if the rumors were true.

The locals would claim ancient guardians ruled over the forest. While they were usually friendly to travelers, any who wished to rest within their domain had to pay homage to the guardians. Those who refused to take part disappeared during the night without a trace. Wade laughed when the village elder down the way had told that story. In his mind, the ancient guardian was a group of brigands who happened upon their camp and robbed them.

A sudden snap of a tree branch caught his attention. He turned to see what had made the noise, but when he looked, there was nothing. A second noise from behind him made his blood turn cold. Wade quickly spun to see the mule disappear into the thick undergrowth surrounding them.

The canopy seemed to close in around him, and Wade felt every fiber of his being tense. He whirled to try and spot whatever this thing was, but the shadows only loomed closer around him. All the light that slipped through the boughs above vanished, and only darkness replaced it. Wade could only just make out the hulking shape approaching him.

PixieWings
PixieWings
17 days ago

(Repost from Private)

Elegy
By PixieWings

“It’s terribly dark out tonight.”

Ophelia’s voice is hushed, but in the quiet shadow of the graveyard it’s a shock. The plot they’d prepared this afternoon is empty, as it will be until midmorning when the boy’s family arrives to lower their youngest into it.

Hector’s been staring into the hole too long. The light she gives off stings. He can’t look at her.

“Ah. Yes. I brought a lantern.”

It sits, long cold atop the flat grave marker. It was lit when he ventured out of bed.

“I thought I’d look over everything.”

Ophelia nods, cradles the dark lamp in her hands as if something precious.

“And a splendid job you’ve done. It all looks in order. Shall we go inside?”

The words are flippant but Hector knows the hum in her voice. Candid. Attentive. Her fingers curl into his, spilling their soft, diffused gold into his palm. When he moves to follow she’s turned away, already walking.

Together they drift through the fallen leaves, through headstones and grave markers. He watches her glow catch on the names of the dead.

It’s a wonder he’s not one of them.

The youngest of his brothers. The last one left. His parents’ final gamble in their family’s cyclical attempt to cheat death.

But they are gone.

And he’s still here.

He’s still here, still following Ophelia, his ex-betrothed, the love of his life, to the door of their cottage.

When the door opens, it’s warm and bright. There’s a fire lit in the hearth. He has to squint as they step through.

His foot catches the doorframe.

Ophelia turns, finally, to catch him as he stumbles. The gold of her eyes burns, but less than before. The concern in them frees something in his chest. It swells, then bursts.

“I never thought I would be here,” he breathes. “And now that I am…”

Her hand cups his cheek.

“Now that I am, I’m not sure I know what to do with myself.”

Ophelia draws a breath.

She understands.

“Such is the burden of the living, my love.”

V3RU5
V3RU5
18 days ago

Eternal night
By Vera

Armadra looked up at the sky. The sun was high up, barely visible behind the dome of clouds that had engulfed the earth for the past years. He was walking along the edges of an experimental field, aimed at finding out the minimum amount of light crops need to grow, to feed the population.

Ever since the sun darkened, humanity set up huge amounts of lamps on every crop field they could afford, keeping them alight for long stretches of time to provide the plants with light and heat they needed to grow. It was barely enough and without the aliens in the orbit, the death toll would have been much higher.

However, the lamps required energy to work. Insane amounts of energy for every minute they kept the darkness and cold at bay. So some people started reducing the time they were active, plunging the fields in darkness for longer stretches of time.

It didn’t take long to extend the length of a day. It used to be determined by the sun’s way through the sky. Since the earth was engulfed by thick clouds, it didn’t make much difference if the pale blob of light was on the sky, or hidden under the planet.

Armadra looked along the pitch black field. He checked his phone. According to the system, the plants couldn’t be expected to survive, not enough light. Then he looked at the app controlling the lights. One more hour until the altered schedule would allow the lights to activate, supplying light to the field. One hour in this strange twilight that has been earth for too long.

Armadra closed his eyes, like so often, imagining that these last years were nothing but a nightmare, that any moment the sun would rise up from behind the horizon, plunging the earth in light and heat. Light and heat sorely missed. Then he opened his eyes to a dark world.

The sun would shine again, that much everyone knew. The question was if humanity was still around to greet it.

Last edited 18 days ago by V3RU5
Magic System
Magic System
18 days ago

Shimmershine
The Magic System

Zakke straightens his vest, perusing the obviously fake wares of a particular stall. They’re shiny enough that one of the tricksy little devils finds its way into Zakke’s pocket. He doesn’t mind Kate’s glare, which usually finds its way to him anyways.

“Just because no one’s here to see doesn’t mean you can steal so brazenly.”

“What, me? Stealing?” Zakke holds a hand to his chest in mock offense. “I can’t believe you would accuse me of something so- so criminal!” A thin gold necklace joins the family of trinkets.

“You know I saw that.”

“Well sure! But I didn’t touch this little darling.” Zakke cheerily lifts the chain. “It practically jumped into my pocket! It knows all of its friends are here too, obviously.” The moonlight catching in Kate’s eyes finally makes the glare effective. “Oh come on. It’s not like I’ve even taken that much from anyone!”

Kate stops so hard that Zakke stumbles into her. “Alright. All of it, right here.” She gestures at an empty stall and Zakke can see how close she is to slapping him when he offers a pleading look. The pockets of his vest quickly empty.

“I know you have more pockets, Zakke. Empty them.” Like parting with each wounds him, he pulls out more objects, setting discs inscribed with gibberish next to thin books of poetry. “Why even… Ugh, nevermind,” Kate mutters, earning a sheepish grin from Zakke as he finishes by placing a gilded feather on top of the pile.

Clearly dreading the outcome, she asks, “Is there anything else?” Defying what should be possible, looking at each item with longing, Zakke pulls a suspiciously large gemstone out of a secret vest pocket, unfurls a scroll from his rolled-up sleeve, and slides a chain out of the hem of his pants. Finally, Zakke takes off a shoe and pulls out an entire bottle of incense from the sole. Kate doesn’t even bother with a sigh, just leveling a tired look at Zakke.

A tiny letter opener slides off the side of his other shoe and joins the pile.

Pumpkin
18 days ago

A walk in the park
By Pumpkin

“Are you gonna be okay?”

“Yes,” I lie.

“Good, now, we’re just going to walk through the hospital-garden, okay? No roads, no traffic.” His hand rests assuringly on my shoulder.

“Uhu.”

“First, the staircase.” He takes my hand and puts it on the railing. I flinch by the cold of the metal.

My steps are clunky, my ears hot with embarrassment.

Around me, I hear the whispers of people who pity me, which doesn’t help if I’m honest.

“Now, take it easy. Only one step left.”

My foot slams into a solid floor, I almost tip forward but the hand on my shoulder pulls me back “That was the one step, sorry. But you did it!”

I try my best to calm my pounding heart.

The lobby is crowded with noises. I feel like at any moment I’ll walk into someone.
The hand on my shoulder just isn’t enough to ease my worries.

“Can I hold your arm please?”

The voice is kind, understanding “Of course.”

My hands wrap around his arms. I pull in close, secure.

“Is that better?”

I nod.

We walk.

The exit is a revolving door that hums at a low frequency.

The path is smooth and surprisingly hot underneath the soles of my shoes.

The air tastes different too.

It’s been two months. Maybe it’s because the seasons are changing?

“Now we’re going to get off the path and into the park.”

“I can hear a road.”

“That’s outside the fence. Don’t worry, we’re still inside hospital bounds.”

I swallow, and take a deep breath “Okay.”

The pebbles crunch underneath our shoes as we step on them.

The sun feels nice on my arms, I think I can hear a bird singing.

I breathe in.

Then a claxon tears through the air.

I freeze, my heart racing as light flashes in front of my eyes.

A light that cannot be there.

Red I can no longer see but remember oh, so vividly.

The smell of burned rubber.

The sound of sirens.

My head hurts.

My eyes hurt.

I scream while the nurse calls my name.

Last edited 18 days ago by Pumpkin
False Psyche
False Psyche
18 days ago

Log 042; Again, The Echoing Deep
By: False Psyche

ARC Year 0021, The Underside.

Hello Traveler, this is a tale detailing one of my visits to The Underside, to a place called The Echoing Deep. I had gone there many many times before but my memories always end up in fragments, each ordeal is difficult to remember.

The Deep is an eerie place, it’s a pitch-black zone of The Underside, an expansive abyss with no definitive edge, it didn’t matter if you brought a match, a torch or a star, it’s light would be lost there… I was trapped in that hellish black… For so long…

You might wonder ‘how one can tell one sea of inky blackness from the other?’ or ‘how I could tell where I wondered into?’. The Echoing Deep, as its name suggests has a very distinct echo, not the echo of sounds or words but an echo of thoughts and feelings, you don’t hear the echo with your ears, it rings in your head and creeks through your bones.

When your thoughts become ‘loud’ the whole experience becomes a much worse, like a bad trip, thoughts echo a dozen times, each echo like a hammer to the head, each moment an assault on the mind. I forgot who, what and why, I just wanted to get out.

I remember the madness; I panicked, I ran, I fell, again and again, over and over. I remained mad until exhaustion and starvation set in, by then my thoughts had gone quiet and The Deep’s echo had faded away, I ate something vile to keep myself alive, what it was I do not know.

I walked… marched in one direction until I found myself outside the pitch-black, I was free from that hellish place… It was only after I had escaped did I remember the reason I was there in the first place, I’ll have to go back… I still haven’t found him, I still haven’t found my friend…

Last edited 18 days ago by False Psyche
VENJI THE VOID
VENJI THE VOID
18 days ago

I have been researching this alien specimen for 2 days now. It has a weird body that changes depending on who looks at it and what light spectrum but now I’m hearing a strange  voice in my head.

“Ya should look at its DNA”

“What?

Damn, I should just ignore it, and concentrate on the specimen

The specimen is a small alien with a cat like body, it has triple jointed legs, 4 on its lower body and on under its chest, it has a tail and a long neck whitha bone like triangle shaped plate on it, it has a strange biology, it’s DNA is all connected in every cell nucleus,  even if that is physically impossible.

The scientist has been studying it all day and night.

I go and examine the specimen, I see that in its cells it has new compounds and new elements that seem to manipulate the laws of physics in small portions, “maybe that’s how “scan it” uuuhh, Shut up!

I continue my research, but I feel weak, and I’m starting to see hallucinations of lights and shadows, “what are those” “ignore them”

“Damn I must be tired” Yes,you just tired” damn that voice again, uhh I have to get back to working.

“Wait ” I take the DNA and use machinery to egzamin it to see what this creature Ancaster were like.”Yes”

The scientist finally listens, and scales the DNA .

On the computer it shows 3D models that she reads, she thinks to herself “yes ,yes this explains it, but what about ” and she looks into it more ,and more.

One of the shadows goes in the computer,

And shows an alien reality, there are strange things in it and she sees my eye,”yes” her eyes widen and I close my eyes as does she.

Ahhhh” I wake up, and see the world, it different, I see it all, all directions and inside and out of everything, I can’t move, am I in the specimens body

Wait” is that me, talking to my colleagues, saying “we should incinerate it. Oh no.

Aracnarquista
Aracnarquista
18 days ago

Blind Justice (repost from Private Group)
by Aracnarquista

It is said that Ameir, the Spirit of Justice, has made a vow of blindness, so as not to be allured by beauty and false images, and not to deviate from the right path. Some say the magistrates that follow its example are not so extreme as to blind themselves, but nonetheless they must strive to pursue a kind of sightless-ness in matters that do not concern justice and fairness, and must hunt truth and reparations with a passion no diverging vision can interpose.

I should know that. I was convicted by one such magistrate, proven guilty in front of his closed eyes, hanged in Ameir’s name and with its blessing (as punishment is one of its holy sacraments, and none as holy as capital punishment), and laid to rest in the tombs of the condemned. I should have known that by then.

Still, here I am, a condemned man doing what is said to be Ameir’s work. A dead man doing Ameir’s dirty work. I should have been resting, perhaps denied the comfort of the Lanternwoman’s haven, but eternally resting still…

Coming back can’t be right. It can’t be just.

I walk the streets of the city that was once my home, the city that condemned me. In the dark of the night, none that matter will see me passing. Good citizens are fast asleep in the comfort of their home. Those that can see me are the ones that will only see me once. Those are of no consequence.

I hunt for those Ameir’s justice can’t find or reach in the light of the day. Or at least, that’s what the rite, that damned rite that denied me rest, says. But what I really hunt for is those magistrate Yorick couldn’t condemn. Those that escaped his justice.

I don’t know if those two justices are the same.

And now, as blind as just Ameir is, maybe that’s not for me to consider. Maybe Ameir is not just blind, but dead as well.

Dead, we can’t rest. We can’t resist the call the “just” impose on us.

Aracnarquista
Aracnarquista
18 days ago

Blind Justice
by Aracnarquista

It is said that Ameir, the Spirit of Justice, has made a vow of blindness, so as not to be allured by beauty and false images, and not to deviate from the right path. Some say the magistrates that follow its example are not so extreme as to blind themselves, but nonetheless they must strive to pursue a kind of sightless-ness in matters that do not concern justice and fairness, and must hunt truth and reparations with a passion no diverging vision can interpose.

I should know that. I was convicted by one such magistrate, proven guilty in front of his closed eyes, hanged in Ameir’s name and with its blessing (as punishment is one of its holy sacraments, and none as holy as capital punishment), and laid to rest in the tombs of the condemned. I should have known that by then.

Still, here I am, a condemned man doing what is said to be Ameir’s work. A dead man doing Ameir’s dirty work. I should have been resting, perhaps denied the comfort of the Lanternwoman’s haven, but eternally resting still…

Coming back can’t be right. It can’t be just.

I walk the streets of the city that was once my home, the city that condemned me. In the dark of the night, none that matter will see me passing. Good citizens are fast asleep in the comfort of their home. Those that can see me are the ones that will only see me once. Those are of no consequence.

I hunt for those Ameir’s justice can’t find or reach in the light of the day. Or at least, that’s what the rite, that damned rite that denied me rest, says. But what I really hunt for is those magistrate Yorick couldn’t condemn. Those that escaped his justice.

I don’t know if those two justices are the same.

And now, as blind as just Ameir is, maybe that’s not for me to consider. Maybe Ameir is not just blind, but dead as well.

Dead, we can’t rest. We can’t resist the call the “just” impose on us.

Rhythm
18 days ago

Darkness Renders All Absurd
By: Rhythm

You’ve never been able to keep your cool walking through the park at night. As you walk, you remember the advice your uncle used to give you when you felt anxious. “Out of sight—out of mind, kid. Don’t worry too much about what you can’t see coming.” Now that you’re older, you’re starting to realize how terrible of advice it was. How terrible all of his advice was.

You’ve carried around the thought that all that matters—all that is real—is what happens around you. A lack of vision left you satisfied with late-night shift work leading to lonely walks in the dark back to the 400-square-foot apartment that you call home, yet you don’t feel settled in. But at least it’s real, right? Why trade what’s real for a dream?

Your steps split the tension in your solipsistic grief that sets in only on the nights you have to make this walk. What’s real is the measured crunch of snow and rock beneath your worn-out sneakers. Each breath—forced to be deeper, more labored to keep the little bit that seems real under control—is a reminder that something else might be breathing outside of the fifteen feet of darkness you can see through.

It isn’t the dark that scares you—no. You’ve walked through this park enough to know the path by heart. You know where the branches hang low, where the creatures make their home, where the homeless make camp, and where the high-schoolers sneak to for a secret cigarette. What scares you is the thought that you haven’t ever wondered—much less cared about—what might be waiting for you in the dark of your own life.

A twig snaps, and you stop. You didn’t hear the snap—you felt it. Your eyes cut around in the dark, looking for something, but what? You start realizing something is there in the dark, but not lurking—trapped. It isn’t fear anymore you feel. You’re angry. Why are you just now wondering what’s out there? Why have you been so satisfied until now? Curious, you take a step into the dark.

Chew
Chew
19 days ago

A Shot in the Dark
By: “Chew”

I’ll be honest. I don’t remember how long I was stuck in these woods. I don’t even know how I got here. I was just out on a hunt, and next thing I know, I wake up and find myself just… somewhere else. It was still a forest, just not the same one anymore. The footpath i left was gone, and the canopies were oppressive, blocking out any sort of light or hope of freedom I once had.

All I had on me was a rifle and the know-how to survive in the woods, and even then it feels like it’s not enough. Every time I go to bed, I can hear faint movements, just always away from my line of sight. It makes me feel like something’s here as well. That I’m not alone, and I know that ain’t a good sign. It feels like someone else is here to kill me.

There were a few times I felt like calling out. Shouting into the shadows, hoping someone would would reply, but I feel like that’s exactly what they’d want. They’d want me to make noise, make myself an easy to find target. I feel like prey here, surrounded by hunters. I can’t let myself be seen as a desperate target, ready to be turned into their next trophy at a moment’s notice.

It took me a moment before I finally found someone who was also alive. They haven’t spotted me yet but I’ve spotted them. I kept myself hidden in the bushes, just out of his line of sight. I can see it in his eyes. Desperation. Fear. He was going to make a mistake soon. A mistake that might cost my safety. So I knew what I had to do.

I waited. Always out of sight. Always hiding. Sometimes my movements make a noise, but it just makes him more panicked than anything else. I wait, and raise my rifle. I can sense it now. I see him, lift his hands up to his lips, to try and shout… and I fire.

Norman Gray
Norman Gray
19 days ago

By The Light of the Undying Fire
By Norman Gray

In a forgotten age, I earned my place among the damned. Long ago tortured to madness. I sought to be free, to escape my suffering. To return.

I searched for refuge, and my journeys brought me to the mouth of a narrow cave. I entered, lighting my way with a torch of cloth and bone. My footsteps echoed, and through an eternity I marched. As the sound grew, I discovered I was not alone. Something followed. I pondered if this could be some trap, a dead end.

But no. I had become a shepherd, the glimmer of my light had guided others away from their wretched fate. The pain no longer mattered. . . All that concerned us now was the cavernous path, that we continued ever forward. Hoping.

Slowly, the cave ascended. I cannot be certain of how long we marched; time has no meaning when death is to be an end, and damnation to be eternal. Many more followed, and whispers passed among the masses, tales of the torchbearer: He who carried the light. There was time enough to recount all that I knew, and for them to share their worldly knowledge in return. . . Time enough for a bond to be forged, and for my aspirations to be told.

I shared with them my vision of conquest. I could see our legions marching, lifeless. Deathless. Landing upon distant shores, sails ablaze, the fires still burning even as the ships succumbed to the sea. Ours a terror never before visited upon humankind. Hell on earth.

I promised them daylight. . . And when the cavern finally gave way, our roar echoed.

They repaid my salvation with their loyalty. We emerged from the darkness, and with us we carried the undying fire. Our true journey was only just beginning, now.

So strange to think. . . You can kill a man, and bury his body deep beneath the earth. But there’s no knowing what he might do once he’s down there.

I am Iry-Hor. I have returned from hell, and I’ve brought with me such wonderful new friends.

Matthew R Wright
Matthew R Wright
19 days ago

Existentially Challenged
By Matthew R Wright

“Three-Hundred and fifty words, that’s nothing” You joke, yet each week you stare that the prompt and then at your blank word doc and you tense up. Another prompt where no ideas come, like a port without its ships or a field without its cattle. Happens every time.

You lay awake at night, four days left, then three, then two. The pressure you put on yourself to create something unique and original, to be different, to twist the typical formulas. It gets to you. You’ve drawn your own curtains.

You read the other entries and you wince “how did they get it done already? Why it is so hard?”

The empty space of the word doc, it haunts you every time to attempt to start, like a scheduled spectre. You eulogise, and preemptively mourn the loss of the idea’s potential.

On the last-night, with hours left, you close your eyes and type, whatever comes out is what you’ll submit. Doesn’t have to be good, doesn’t have to have meaning or meet a standard. It just has to be done.

Your piece barely relates to the prompt theme, but it’ll do. It’s another rush-job, but it least it’s honest. You write about your struggles with writing, again. As if that’s never been done before. You submit, wait, refresh, wait-again, refresh. Even though you hate it, you want that recognition that the weekly anxiety and self-depreciation was worth it. You’re not just another monkey typing Shakespeare by mistake, a muffled scream in the static, another blown out bulb, lost in the black.

Writing is the light out of the darkness, each word a flicker of a flicker of a spark. But it’s an acknowledgment that you were there, however-brief. It’s your breath on the glass, your footprint in the sand. It’s hard. Every painful word of it is. You might be what you write, lost when it is lost, bright when it is bright. But no-one can see you in the dark, so you have to write your way out to the light.

VulpesRose
VulpesRose
19 days ago

Search and Rescue
by VulpesRose

The young man spied smoke rising above the trees on a moonless night. He whistled an old song as he walked through the woods, until he came upon the camp. Three men had their weapons drawn as he came out of the trees and into the light. They were wearing the King’s crest. A fourth man’s wrists were bound.

The young man smiled and held up his hands. “Room around the fire for one more?”

The men looked him over and, seeing he was unarmed, visibly relaxed. They put away their weapons, so the young man came closer and sat opposite them.

The youngest of the guards leaned closer to the fire. “Don’t you know whistling in the Demon’s Wood is bad luck? You’ll lead the Dark One and his servant straight to you!”

“The Dark One?”

“Some say it’s a legend, but it waits in these woods. It’s a beast not of this world.”

The young man cocked his head to one side. “So whistling is off limits, but campfires are okay? Has the beast only ears and no sense of sight or smell?”

The men were silent. They gazed into the trees around them, the darkness thick beyond the campfire light.

“Besides, I heard the Dark One only targets King’s Men who trespass into places where they don’t belong.” He whistled again, a short, rising note. “I have nothing to fear.”

The soldiers had just enough time to notice the unfriendliness of the young man’s smile before there was a rush of wind into the small clearing, wind caused by the movement of something fierce and large, and the fire was extinguished.

Along with the lives of the three King’s Men.

“Are you alright, Gavin?” The young man was suddenly beside the prisoner, untying his restraints.

“Yes, sir. Thank you.”

The young man sighed dramatically as he led his friend back into the woods, going slowly so that the other might not stumble in the dark. “Of all the slander! I’m not the servant!”

“Yes, Dark One, but when you leave no one alive, who can correct them?”

Makokam
19 days ago

A Royal Request (Chronicles of The Dragon)
By Makokam

“You. The wizard. Jostica.”

Jostica turned back, wide eyed, as the Queen of the Vampires addressed her. “Yes… Your Majesty?”

Imogene gave a slight roll of her eyes, then stood and straightened her dress. “Walk with me. We’ll discuss this by ourselves.” She walked over to an unobtrusive door at the back of the chamber and walked out.

After a moment of indecision and a glance at her teammates, Jostica followed after.

They went through the mansion and exited out onto the estate grounds. For a moment Jostica was blinded by the darkness… and then she was only nearly blind. The night sky was clouded over and so provided almost no natural light. And there was no artificial light either.

The Queen stopped a bit beyond the light from the mansion and did not move until Jostica caught up.

“Your team has issues with magic and the supernatural,” she said, walking deeper into the grounds.

“Yes. Most of them never saw real magic before I joined, and Thomas… He’s exceptionally smart. He’s able to understand how everything works easily. Except for magic. So he…gets frustrated with it.”

“You’re handling this remarkably well though.”

Jostica nodded with a hint of curtsy. “I was taught well.”

Imogene turned her head towards Jostica. “You can see our true selves?”

Jostica nodded. “A vampire’s natural glamour is nearly perfect, but they’re minimalistic.”

“And it doesn’t bother you?”

“It’s like seeing a dog and knowing it’s a wolf. It doesn’t really change things.”

“A useful ability though. And one that could help you with our problem.”

“Which is?”

“Something is killing my subjects,” She said sharply, “And everyone sent to investigate is found dead or aren’t found at all.” She looked back at Jostica, “Until tonight. When your team saved them.” She started walking again. “But vampires don’t work like that. Not any group I’ve known. And I’ve known EVERY vampire lord.”

“So you want us to investigate these strange vampires, and stop them?”

“Kill them. And whoever is organizing them.”

Jostica swallowed. “We’ll see what we can do.”

“We would owe you greatly.”

The Missing Link
The Missing Link
19 days ago

The Final March (The Lands Within)
By: The Missing Link

“L… what happens when we die?” Alpha stammered out nervously.

“Sorry?”

“It’s just, you’ve been telling me about those recent fragments you’ve seen.”

L looked around at the mirror shards shining in the dark and shuddered, “It’s startling, what those humans do to each other, to themselves even.”

“Mine don’t show such things. I’m sorry, but what happens after?”

L sat still for a long time, her form flickering in the intense thought that often alluded shades, “I… I really couldn’t say. The humans talk about such wildly different things you’d forgive me for thinking they don’t know themselves. They talk of worlds of pleasure, worlds of wrath, worlds of nothing, and worlds of cycles. Some say there’s nothing at all.”

“And what does that mean for us?” Alpha began to grow desperate, “Ru clawed and begged when he disappeared, but Zhe just… didn’t. Please, tell me.”

L fought back the urge to snap at him. She didn’t understand humans any better than Alpha. These irrational creatures charged headlong into death, yet feared it, espoused logic, but remained slaves to compassion. She could not for the life of her comprehend these walking contradictions, and yet… something about them made sense, felt… almost natural.

She could feel Alpha’s desperation and could only imagine what he had seen, asphyxiation, poison, electrocution, gas, what had he seen? These things the humans did to each other, they stuck with her. Would he understand? No…

“I’m sorry,” Alpha sighed.

“Would you,” L paused, “Come see the next fragment with me? I can’t guarantee you’ll like what you see.

Choking down his fear, Alpha nodded and followed L in her search through the lightless land for the mirror that would finally be their escape.

Sam
Sam
19 days ago

Mulberries
By Sam

Fallen mulberries smeared the hot sidewalk. Deep purple stains spotted with white pulp. At first she tried to avoid them, not wanting to stain the white rubber of her shoes but soon took pleasure in bursting the dark berries with each step. When she looked up from this game, blinking in the haze of summer sun, she did not recognize the brick apartments or empty lot beside her. She had gone over the train tracks, passed the corner store – lost in her head again.

She turned back, rubbing the two quarters together in her pocket, liking their little scraping sounds. Meat bees settled into the wet mess left in her wake on the sidewalk.

Her path was blocked when the safety arm lowered over the tracks, bells chiming in warning. The sudden wind caught her hair in a burst and the long strands stuck in her sweat. The cars passed hypnotically, a kaleidoscope of graffiti, casting shadows. And she waited. But they continued to pass a long while, then eventually slowed, then finally stopped altogether.

She looked towards the end of the train, curving around the bend where it vanished from sight. The machine radiated heat. The closest coupler was rusted and shimmering. She looked behind her, then waited again. It did not move.

She approached the train, ducking under the safety arm and looked more closely at the space between the shadows of the cars. It still did not move.

Cautiously, she crouched and scooted forward but the scalding rail made her yelp and hop forward to squat under the coupler.

“Girl!” Someone shouted, and she looked behind her at a woman who had gotten out of her car. “Get out of there!” The metal groaned and shifted, the coupler clanked, and the girl screamed, clamoring under the thick wires and over the second rail, as the train began to inch forward again. “Stupid kid!” The woman shouted, lying on her belly and staring at her from the other side of the tracks.

Lee Strangely
Lee Strangely
20 days ago

Out of the Chest
(Originally from Private Group)
by Lee Strangely

The trap door flopped open with a teeth-gritting creak. Kent peered into a place that usually only saw human contact when grandma’s junk would start to suffocate rooms below. The attic was like a small city, covered with dust and webs, lit by the single dirty window at the end of the room. Something rattled and banged up there.

BA-BA-BA-BUM.

Kent jumped, with his eyes darting every which way to find the culprit.

BA-BUM.

He made his way to the end of the room, towards a small pile of old suitcases and ornate boxes. Atop the pile sat a chest. With each thud the chest seemed to jump a little. Unfortunately, the dust soon got to him.

“A-choo!”

“Someone there?!” a voice called.

“Whose there?” Kent called out timidly.

“Ah, a kid! Get me out.”

“The chest?” Kent asked.

“Yes, the chest,” he said with a rattle, “if I recall, you’ll likely be looking for one of those large skeleton keys.”

Kent got closer, noticing the small size of the chest, “How small are you?”

“Very…”

“Who are you?”

“Key first. Then we exchange names.”

Kent pulled out a cardboard box from one of the shelves. Hundreds of keys jangled as he rooted through it.

“Is this it?” Kent asked, pulling out a large black key.

“Uh kid, I’m in the chest.”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Is it black, the key?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Now comes the easy part. It’ll be a walk in the dark.”

“You mean walk in the park?”

“That’s what I said. Now, unlock the chest.”

Kent hesitated, “How do I know that you won’t hurt me.”

“I won’t.”

“Promise.” he commanded.

“I promise.”

The key turned.

CLICK.

Kent moved back.

The chest burst open, a powerful light leaping from it, growing in size. Soon it faded, revealing a man with dark curly hair standing on the chest. His coat, goggles, and lengthy scarf were well worn…

And the outlines of his butterfly-like wings shimmered in the light.

“W-what are you?”

“I’m a fairy, kid,” he declared with a wink and a click, “The mythical, the magical… The impossible!”

Last edited 20 days ago by Lee Strangely
Joe
Joe
20 days ago

Help Me See

By Joe

Hobbs was tied to a chair with abrasive rope under a dull lamp. The footsteps made themselves very present, but Hobbs couldn’t see who was making them.

“Dr. Hobbs.” The voice resonated around him. “The leading psychologist in the country sworn to help the mentally weakened, and deliver the greatest of advice.”

Hobbs didn’t know if should be flattered or not but kept quiet.

“I need a session,” said The Voice.

“Okay,” said Hobbs as casually as he could. “So, what troubles you?”

“I’m angry.”

“About what?”

“Everything.”

“Woof! I know that one. This one time…”

“STOP!!!” The voice suddenly shouted, making Hobbs shrink. “Already not a good sign.” The voice spoke calmly.

“O-of what?”

“You start talking about yourself instead of asking me for an example.”

Something metal scraped, revealing to Hobbs that they had a large blade.

“I-if you knew that already then why bother with me?” said Hobbs nervously.

“Because it’s nicer when someone else is interested. You know,” the blade appeared over Hobbs’s shoulder. “Like a psychologist would.”

“Alright, give me an example.”

The knife receded into the dark.

“I’m tired that the people hired to help…aren’t helpful.” The voice said darkly. “I hate seeing the people suffer and I with them. I hate the feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. I no longer believe in control. It was never real or natural. Because it’s always SOLD TO ME, AMD IMPLIES SUBJUGATION!!!” The voice screamed. Then took a deep breath. “But what’s always been there was cooperation and luck. Cooperating to get the work done, and be lucky to not struggle for a while. What’re your thoughts?” The voice asked desperately.

Hobbs was stunned. He didn’t know how to handle this. He couldn’t bear the pressure any longer.

“I don’t know!” He cried. “I don’t know why people buy into this stuff. It just worked. I don’t know what I’m doing. Just please let me go!”

The voice chuckled. “You hear that everyone.”

The room lit up to reveal a recording studio streaming to the internet, and a masked individual.

“He’s a fraud.” They hissed.

Yoi Ishiya
Yoi Ishiya
20 days ago

Title: Walking into the dark
By: Yoi Ishiya

June 10th, 1974

Sweltering soupy breeze passes through the campus at University of Washington in Seattle, the air buzzed with activity as finals approached. Georgann Hawkins had gone out to a party a few blocks from her fraternity with the other girls from the Beta Theta Pi. After a few beers she told her friends she had to leave to study for her spanish exam. The night was clear, light every 10 feet lit the sidewalks as the warm breeze pushed through the blackberries and pines. On the way back to her fraternity house she stopped by her boyfriend’s fraternity.

June 11th, 1974

Adios said Georgeann, as she stepped off the porch and began her walk. 90 feet separated the fraternities, just 9 street lamps to her fraternity. However in the dark, not far from the light a shade moved between the houses, an unknown evil with a heart of darkness. We will never know what happened, only that on that walk in the dark, she disappeared.

Afterword:

This short story took an emotional toll to even study to write. The disappearance of so many souls for no reason by a monster named T. Bundy, and after soul searching I decided we need to focus on victims. They are in order:

Lynda Ann Healy, 21
Donna Gail Manson, 19
Susan Rancourt, 18
Roberta Parks, 20
Brenda Carol Ball, 22
Georgeann Hawkins, 18
Denise Naslund, 18
Janice Ott, 23
Nancy Wilcox, 16
Melissa Smith, 17
Laura Aime, 17
Carol DaRonch, 18
Debra Kent, 17
Caryn Campbell, 23
Julie Cunningham, 26
Denise Oliverson, 24
Melanie Cooley, 18
Lynette Culver, 12
Susan Curtis, 15
Margaret Bowman, 21
Lisa Levy, 20
Kathy Kleiner, 20
Karen Chandler, 22
Cheryl Thomas, 21
Kimberly Leach, 12

Further reading:

Kendall, E., & Kendall, M. (1981). The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, Updated and Expanded Edition (Revised). Abrams.

Rule, A. (1980). The Stranger Beside Me (Revised & updated). Penguin publishing group.

Pluie
Pluie
20 days ago

Inevitability
Written by Pluie

“Come in, mission control! This is Delta Nine, do you read?! ” I yelled desperately into my coms. I could feel the fire behind me as it greedily licked up the walls of my pod, a silent terror.

I slammed the coms desperately thinking that it would miraculously connect with someone. Anyone. To no avail. I just wasted precious time. I scowled under my helmet and quickly pushed myself to face the direction of the capsule’s exit. The fire had stuck to almost every surface in the ship by now, dousing the entirety of the interior with darkness. I had noticed that the flames couldn’t gain traction on my suit. So now it was either I succumbed to this eldritch substance or I died trying to fight it, I chose the latter.

I used one of my legs to push off of the dash, propelling myself forward through the door and subsequently- into the darkness. I pulled a glowstick out from my utility pouch and cracked it over my knee, the room erupting into a bright red light when I did. I saw the dark tendrils of fire squirming all around me only to witness it hold eerily still in the light. I instinctively held my breath- suddenly realizing I had become a fresh new food source when it wriggled towards me.

Stubbornly, I clicked the stick onto my belt and turned myself so I could see what was in front of me. I pushed myself through the air until I quite literally ran into a pole- grabbing onto it. I used my legs to kick off right as the tendrils grabbed for me. I slammed into a corner and pushed off of the wall once more, launching deeper into the ruins of my ship. I could feel the fiery cold tendrils licking my ankles- Damn! I was almost there. My fingers brushed against the handle of the airlock for just a moment- only to realize it was welded shut. I turned around slowly to face my fate… and lifted my visor to get a good long look at it.

Last edited 20 days ago by Pluie
Hastaw
Hastaw
20 days ago

By Hastaw

“The new day has begun. I wonder where I’ll end up. The loss of friendships to be replaced with others makes it seem utterly pointless.

Off to work, only to be replaced with more work. I change what I do every day. I don’t see the end in front of me. A day filled with endless work and fun, but what’s the point?

I will never revert to my old self or my career or my friends, so what’s the point?”

Grandma stops in the middle of her ravings to take a drink; I think she needs a moment to gather herself.

“You never know where you are going the next day-”

“Ughhhh!”

“AHEM! As I was saying, you know solely you are going somewhere. As if people needed a reason to exist, they must try and help. To guide you through the fog that is tomorrow.

You foolishly brush them off, thinking, ‘I’m not worth anything to anyone if I drag them down with me.’ You continue, ignoring the voices. When will I learn?”

She made a pot of tea. Why go through all that trouble? Isn’t the point of her story that nothing matters?

She sits in her chair, sitting on something. At least, I believe that’s what she’s doing. I want to help, but there’s nothing I can do now.

“When will you touch the grass and realize that it breathes? When will life be in the eye of the beholder? When will you see that the story’s end is why we are all learning and reading?

Life will come to an end. A new beginning will be a means to a beautiful conclusion. Just like that movie I got to see in your world.

What’s it called? Wonderful world, something to do with Christmas?”

Now, Grandma’s gone. But she shines in her final moments, the moments that count the most.

EdoDave
EdoDave
20 days ago

Going Nowhere
by Mango Gravy

Where am I going?

I ask myself that question often as I walk ever onward through this unyielding forest. Many winters have fallen and many summers have sprung, but the trees never abate. They are always there, ahead of me, behind me, beside me.

I can tell them apart now. I’ve developed an acute ability to examine, with a single glance, the patterns on the bark of each tree and recognize the unique qualities of every last one. I can tell that each tree is singular among thousands. An individual distinct from the masses. Unique.

Not that it makes a difference. I walk past each and every one, no matter how enchantingly bizarre its bark may be. After all, I have places to go. No time to waste on such frivolity. At least I’m certain that I’m not walking in circles. That brings me some peace of mind. It means I’m always moving forward.

But where am I going?

I’ve always been going… somewhere. The sound of my boots falling on varied terrain is my earliest memory. The sound of movement. The sound of progress. So, if I’ve always been moving, there must be some place I’m moving to. I kept on the path, veering only to avoid the occasional spectacularly eccentric tree before swerving back onto my path to nowhere. Oh how wonderful those trees are. I wish I could stop and take them all in. Truly absorb them all.

Come to think of it, why not? I don’t think I’m in a hurry so I might as well let my eyes wander for a moment. I’ll pour my gaze all over every knot and groove. Perhaps I should even look up at the leaves. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Heck, I could do it right now. There are wonderfully unique trees all around me, are there not? Brilliant mosaics of lichens and moss. Each one, a tapestry all its own. Why shouldn’t I appreciate them?

Well… that would be silly. No point wasting time.

I have someplace to be.

Last edited 19 days ago by EdoDave
Thunder
Thunder
20 days ago

Preparing for a Night Out
By Thunder

“So,” I started nervously. “You still want to do this?”

“Of course,” Lucille answered, somewhat distracted as she finished applying her makeup. “You did promise to take me out. Months ago as I remember.”

“Didn’t realize it would be at night.”

“Really?” Lucille turned, one eyebrow arched. “You want me to hide all this under sunscreen and a coat?” She ran a hand down her curves, incredulous smile fixed to her face. I blushed and looked away.

We had been dating long enough that I didn’t jump when cold hands were rested on my shoulders. “Or is it you’re scared of the dark?” she purred. Her hands started to wander, adjusting my tie.

“In fairness, that part of town isn’t known for being friendly toward- Ow!” I tried to pull away, but she tightened her grip. Fortunately, she hadn’t bitten me hard enough to leave more than a faint mark.

“If you can handle me, you can handle my friends,” she said, glaring, before an impish grin took over. “Besides, you’ll be with me. The ‘monsters’ out there aren’t so scary when I can fold them in half. I’ll protect you.”

I didn’t get the chance to voice any further objections, because those beautiful red eyes did their sparkle and my mind turned to mush. I came back to myself once we were out in the hall, and Lucille was waving at her neighbor moments before the spectress passed through the door to her room.

“You said you’d stop doing that,” I complained as we exited the lobby.

Lucille pouted while resting her head on my shoulder. “I know you’ll enjoy yourself once we’re out; it’s just a pain getting you there.”

The city was very different this late at night. The human curfew was well into effect, so only a handful of us were visible. The Nightfolk were everywhere I looked, many of them skirting the few streetlights still on at this time of night. Despite myself, I found myself drawing closer to Lucille whenever one of the mothmen or werecreatures passed. She just smiled and squeezed my hand.

Galer
Galer
21 days ago

To reach Twilight.

“I thought the darkness was something angels reviled,” said Daniel Labolas while he was wandering, in the darkest parts of Sheol “I meant god is a being of light”

“And also one of darkness” multiple voices echoed on Daniel’s left side, which belonged to his multi-eyed friend. “need I remind you that below gods wings shade could be used for comfort? most people forget that fact”

Daniel just Rolled his eyes at Nataniel’s reverence. Don’t get him wrong he knew the angel wasn’t extreme in his devotion. Still, his preaching could get a bit annoying for his tastes

“Yeah from his wrath,” the demon said nonchalantly with zero repentance in his tone after all his people were ostracized because of said god’s intolerance.

“I concede your point, the heavenly father was…not perfect,” Nataniel said, not in the least disturbed by Daniel’s crash attitude “that being said how is the spell going?”

“Hmm? oh yeah, that,” Daniel said while he, kept focusing “I am trying to get something hidden in the darkness, with aether right?

“Yes in essence it is the occult, the knowledge we are yet to learn and….” the angel would have followed if not for Daniel’s rude interruption.

“Using the literal absence of photons and all that sciency shit, blah, blah then mixed it up with photons to create twilight”.

“…Indeed, one would need to put that crap as you so rudely refer to, together to create twilight spells” the angel replied calmly, matching Daniel’s crash tone.

“It is supposed to look purple?” He asked.

“No, I believe…” his friend spiritually scanned the spell ” that’s a dark fire spell.”

“God dammit” Daniel just growled while he snapped his fingers to dispel it “so close…”

“Hey at least you have a new spell on your list,” Nataniel said optimistically.

“I…I guess it is a win” Said Daniel, still frustrated but internally he was smiling, after all, what better motivator than an angel, one that shares the same curiosity on how twilight worked. “…perhaps It will be better next time.”

Last edited 17 days ago by Galer
Cromillea
Cromillea
21 days ago

Keep Walking (Dawn Collection)
By Cromillea

The sky turned dark gray and rain came down hard when Lucian and Dawn entered the capital. They were escorted through an amassing crowd by local paladins. A barrier formed up from the bolstering forces of the Royal Guard and Crimson Elite.

As the jubilant crowd swelled around the guards Lucian noticed that his daughter seemed increasingly disappointed.

“Why so down?” he asked, concerned.

Since she was among other paladins, Dawn replied formally and said, “Your Radiance, I have been made into a fool many times within my company. Now I’m coming back to their mockery.”

For a moment, the rain began to steam off the Sunrise King’s back; he could not fathom that his kind and cheery daughter was being bullied. He had to check his rage before he asked, “Why haven’t you said anything? Don’t they know you’re a Solaris?”

“I never really told anyone about my adoption,” she replied nonchalantly.

“That hurts,” Lucian said, shocked.

“My favor with His Radiance is not something I want to flaunt about. People will start to treat me weird,” she said in defense.

“You mean with respect,” he replied bluntly. “No matter, I know what you mean, but if this behavior continues I’m going to have a word with your captain.”

The party began to disperse as the paladins stayed behind to block off the castle gates. Red banners ran along their path to the stairway, pulsing in the breeze. Lucian could see archers in the ramparts running together to celebrate his return.

“If you do anything, you’ll embarrass me,” Dawn continued, losing her formality among the more personal guards.

“Oh, because I love you?” Lucian teased.

Great doors opened before them, and the procession was swept out of the gloom and into the bright palace halls. Lucian stopped his daughter, who was in a hurry to get away, and gave her a soaking hug.

“Now you better sort out those bullies before I step in,” he joked.

“Yes, sir,” Dawn said instinctively. “Next time we practice, I’ll have to show them my new techniques.”

Last edited 19 days ago by Cromillea
Shawyn Waddell
Shawyn Waddell
21 days ago

Kensington
by Shawyn Waddell
(content warning: frustrated man drops the f-bomb at his failing body)

Forty years behind a wheel. Forty years of city streets. Forty years of people’s faces.

Gone; except in his dreams.

Neil loved sleeping, because he could see in his dreams. He could see the steering wheel and bonnet of his cab. He could see the faces of his passengers. He could see the landmarks the tourists loved. He could see the landmarks that he loved.

“See that park on the corner, miss? That’s where they filmed that television show. You remember– oh you’re too young.
“Get out– you don’t look a day over twenty-five, miss!
“There’s a bronze of that actor– what was his name?
“You do remember!”

The smell of coffee did not wake him, nor did Irene’s morning rinse.

“Irene?” His voice hushed.

Irene’s slight weight was not next to Neil’s larger frame. He would say fat, but Irene favoured gentile adjectives. Neil rolled his ‘larger frame’ to the side of the bed, his bulldog toes sniffed out the fleece lined slippers which reluctantly accepted his feet.

Perhaps she fell asleep on the chesterfield.

“It’s a sofa,” Irene would chastise, if she could read his thoughts.

Where is Irene? Neil followed his path to the TV Room.

“Living room,” Irene would correct him. Yes, once it was, but Neil hadn’t lived in that room for nearly a decade.

The television was off. Neil stubbed his toe and swore at the world: Fucking old age. Fucking cataracts. Fucking mack-you-liar dee-generation. Despite the internal monologue, the words that came out of his mouth were soft and tender.

“Irene. You there?”

No answer.

Thu-thump. The cloudy bit of light he could see turned red. He felt the chester– sofa for the cold lifeless body of his wife. His chewed stubs found only upholstery. On his knees, his face wet, he remembered his beautiful wife, until she came home to walk him through his darkness to the kitchen table. She made coffee.

“Al Waxman,” Irene said. “Remember him? Let’s go to that park with his statue today.”

Sniperaxiom
Sniperaxiom
21 days ago

Far too loud
By Sniperaxiom

Damien flinched as the great oak door closed a little too loudly behind him. He walked timidly into the main church. He didn’t belong here.

Dim candles on the far off altar provided precious little illumination. The quickly fading light of the day barely peeked through the stained glass.

Damien walked forward and sat down in the pews beside what he assumed to be a line. He self consciously glanced at the man and his children sitting quietly.

His large hands clasped the back of the pew in front of him. Damien sighed. The boy to his right was studying his heavily tattooed hands. Damien quickly covered the hand with a swear word sprawling the fingers. He saw the boy looking at him with a puzzled expression. Damien hoped he hadn’t read the word, it wasn’t his place to ruin his innocence-.

The attempt to keep himself from looking back toward the door failed- multiple times. He found himself jumping as the father leaned around his son whispering, “Would you like to go in first? None of us are ready.” “I- if it I will be doing you a favor.” He spoke too loudly.The man leaned back with a smile, continuing to help his daughter read a prayer card.

Damien found his large figure walking into the little room of the confessional. He had wanted to come here- he just felt so ashamed now.

Damien knelt before the dark screen panel. The man behind it began to speak. Damien didn’t recognize the prayer. Why would he?

When the man had finished Damien spoke. “I haven’t ever been to a mass father. No real confessions either. I have a load of crap I want to tell though. I was Baptized when I was a baby. So- uh, don’t tell me that Jesus won’t listen to me apologize! I- think after all that’s happened I should give him a try.”

Damien felt uneasy at the man’s patient silence. “You won’t tell anyone anything sir?”

“Not a word, but lower your voice. Otherwise people will hear you.”

“Oh yeah-.”

Alex
Alex
21 days ago

Blessed be the Dark (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

It may be a long was to the familiar mushroom fields of Obsedia, but Rain could imagine herself as wandering through them just as easily here on Ozymandias. The sun was red and dim, similar to her own. Her pitch-black eyes could take in every detail around her.

The plants were mostly dark blue in colour. There wasn’t much in the way of green in general, aside from a few berries. Most of the animals seemed to keep to darker colours, with many of them sporting thick fur. The few reptilians had been warm-blooded, to everyone’s great surprise. Given Dekka’s temperament, however, they should have predicted that.

In the twilight of midday, Rain could see the ruins, reaching for the heavens, like a massive hand, as if they wanted to grab the stars and pull them back down. Had whoever built them designed them that way deliberately? She wished she knew what the inscriptions meant and that she’d never transferred from archaeology to piloting.

The animals around her emanated the strange owl-like hooting sounds they always did. It was an orchestra of birds, mixing with the rustling of leaves. Often, it was the wind. Sometimes, it was a small rodent of lizard, running through the undergrowth. From the culinary experiments on their ship, they had discovered that the mice tasted best with mustard and that the lizards were largely poisonous. They’d come up with a way to find toxins. Offer it to Dekka and see, if she ate, turned away or hissed at the food.

The flowers had quite the interesting scent as well. They seemed sweeter than anything she was used to. Granted, this could just be, because flowers were a rarity on Obsedia, but she’d had encountered fields of them on Earth and not even that could compare to the strong scent of honey and sugar she felt around her. Sometimes, she thought herself in an outdoor candy shop.

She closed her eyes and kept walking through the grass, her hand brushing the small leaves of the shrubbery nearby.

“Rain?” Newton called. “We need to get back.”

“Coming.”

Sweet Snake
Sweet Snake
21 days ago

Just to Turn on the Lights

by Sweet Snake

-I like my parents. And I admire them too. I’ve always been impressed that they can sleep with the lights off. I mean, it is so scary. It is so lonely. You can’t know if there is someone there or not. But you feel like there is, so I guess it is not lonely?

-I don’t like the dark.

-But I like my parents. And they can sleep in the dark, so I want to sleep in the dark too. That’s why after my mom put me to sleep, I asked her to turn off the lights.

-But now I’m not sure anymore. I can’t sleep like this. Were my curtains always like that, or is someone in there? How can they sleep like this?

-I am gonna turn on the lights.

-But, I have to go there. I’m not gonna wake my mom just to turn on the lights, she’s probably already asleep. And she would get angry.

-I will have to go there.

When I reach the end of my bed, I look down. There is no floor.

-But it is there. Right? I just have to put my feet down until I touch it.

-But what if there is something under my bed? It could grab my feet.

-No! I will turn on the lights. I just be quick, after I turn them on everything will be fine.

I is cold, the floor is cold. But it is there, and it is only the floor, nothing on my feet.

-I can do it. I don’t see much but this is my room. I have walked from my bed to the switch and back before. I know the way. I just have to take one step at a time.

-I put my hands up, so I don’t stumble on anything, and

One step at a time.

When I reach the switch. And I look back.

-I did it. And I did it myself. I didn’t need to be scared. It was not bad. I guess I don’t need to turn the lights on, do I?

-I feel sleepy.

Rudy Slate
Rudy Slate
21 days ago

The Closet with a Window in its frame
Rudy Slate

I peered through the peephole of the closet one more time.

And saw nothing. What would’ve been a sliced view of my bed along the wall was nothing but familiar darkness. I instinctively attempted to push the door open, but my arm pushed through nothing. I felt around me in the dark for the pile of clothes and stuffed animals meant to help protect me from the invaders, were nowhere around me.

Carefully, I stood up, which I was surprised I could do, but it was not like it helped me get a better sense of where I was. I waved my hand where the door was supposed to be again. Still nothing. I hesitantly laid back down on the floor again. My brain lacked the ability to transfer whatever feeling the floor conveyed into something recognizable. I shuddered. In this world, nearly all my senses were dead, my missing sight being the most prominent of the few that were gone. I was able to feel some things though, but even that is stretching it. I couldn’t feel any emotions. Fear, pain, hopelessness, happiness, sadness, all wiped. I only felt nothing.

To say I spent an eternity in nothing is more than an understatement. Time was diluted and had no meaning to me. Space, except the floor on which I stood and walked billions of miles on, was nonexistent. And during my nearly infinite time in nothing, I thought. Anything that could have been thought of with my limited knowledge of the previous world had been conceived before.

Then suddenly, the door opened, and I came tumbling out of the closet with the mounds of clothes, wood chips, and stuffed animals with me. It was my dad, who had decided to take a sledgehammer to the door after he heard what seemed like breathing from the closet while he was lying on my bed. Apparently, I had been in the closet for 2 days after the invasion, and my parents assumed I had been kidnapped. When I was angrily asked why I didn’t just leave the closet after the burglars left, my response was,

“I was scared.”

Last edited 20 days ago by Rudy Slate
Tamela Redfin
Tamela Redfin
21 days ago

Cut off your head with a carving knife

By Tamela Redfin

It was nighttime, but thankfully, Corlita and I had night vision. “What is the plan, Gilbert?”

“Run,” I said, hoisting her up to the balcony. After she was up, she somehow lifted me into the building.

“We get the child, true?” Corlita asked as we snuck around the messy hallways.

I nodded, “True, remember, it’s Elenora, but not Mally.” Toys were everywhere, almost as if Elenora herself anticipated the attack. Either that, or she was a child.

A light went on at the end of the hall and we froze. “Hey Mally, can you clean the living room? Nora, love her to pieces, but she just never puts them away.”

“Get Nora to do it.” Mally snapped back and yawned.

“Nora’s asleep. I’m not going to wake her.” Helen replied. I guided Corlita to the balcony to escape, but then I heard a girl scream.

“Mom! Some cyborg looking thing is in our house.” Mally screamed.

“Corlita, get out! Now!”

“But Gilbert…” She looked scared.

Helen entered, holding a carving knife. “I bet Feldspar Augen sent you two, didn’t he?”

Corlita nodded, “True, how did you know?”

“I know Feldspar Augen too well. Now I’ll let you two go this time, but I catch you going near either of my daughters., I’ll cut off your heads. Got it?”

Called it! “Yes Mrs. Alderbrand. We will be leaving immediately. Have a good night.”

“I suppose the two of you should.” She then muttered, “Poor things in Augen’s grasp.”

She unlocked the door for us and we left. I could tell the threat really had Corlita shaken.

“I don’t wish to return to Feldspar’s lab.” She cried, oil of some form dripping from her eyes.

“Why not run out into the night then?” I suggested. “A joyride, if you will?”

“True, that would be fun.” Corlita perked up a bit.

T.C.Holmes
T.C.Holmes
21 days ago

Shackling soul…
By T.C.Holmes
It was the oddest sensation. It never wasn’t the most peculiar of feelings. Sindra lay in bed the inn room dark around her, but with a moments focus she felt a sudden lack of tightness. Like a piece of fabric pulled tight across a project who’s pins were pulled, she felt relaxed and weightless, and she opened her eyes to find she wasn’t in the inn anymore.

A corridor, stretched in front of her natural, winding, and dimly lit in the shade of her favorite crimson liquid. As Sindra walked down that corridor she heard them some distant, others closer, but none of them the voice she was looking for. The bar keeper, she had met him last night, she’d also split him open and feasted upon him last night.

He’d tasted of unrequited love, and broken promises,” Must have been his favorite meal”, she thought, the voices of her other prisoners fading as she zeroed in the newest voice. She turned to left and into a chamber to find the Desire Demon pinned to wall like the insect it appeared as. Without the human guise it looked more like a fly with 4 limbs too many each with a kind of hand like claw at the end.

It looked up at her the buzzing it made sounding like curses, and attempts at bargains, even as it struggled against the nails holding it the walls of the chamber. Its struggling and fear made the Demon Eater smile as Sindra spoke,” Welcome to my soul ‘Grinner’, don’t worry I’ll torture your true name out of you later. I just wanted you to know you’re never getting out”, and with that she turned and left, back through the passage back past the voices of the wicked souls she’d devoured, back to her body from the depths of the prison she had shaped her soul into, and back to the inn for a peaceful nights rest.

MasaCur
MasaCur
21 days ago

The River Styx
By MasaCur (Reposted from the Private Group)

Melissa glanced around the darkness that surrounded her. The ground was rocky, sloping gently down to a black, flowing river.

She hoped that Cristian hadn’t crossed Styx yet. If she had to enter the first circle of Hell to find him, it would complicate things.

She ran down along the river bank, and saw a small group of people boarding a river barge.

“Wait!” Melissa called out. “Wait for me.”

The robed figure looked up and paused, then gestured for Melissa to come aboard.

“Is there a young latino man here? Curly hair, maybe five foot ten?”

“Find a seat,” the ferryman softly ordered.

Melissa boarded the boat, careful not to touch the river. Styx was filled with nightmares, quite literally.

Melissa followed along the starboard side, as the barge shifted beneath her, the ferryman poling it into the river.

After passing several dead souls, she spotted Cristian’s face.

“Cristian!”

Cristian looked up in surprise. “Mel? Where are we?”

“Purgatory. Cris, I’m here to rescue you,” she said. “Francis is preparing you for resurrection.”

She noticed the ferryman cock his head when she said that.

“I need to tether your soul to mine,” Melissa said, nervously glancing at the ferryman.

The ferryman pulled his pole from the river, revealing it to be a rather large scythe. “What is a tethered soul doing on my boat?” he demanded. He pulled back his hood, revealing a pale, angry face, and a shock of light blonde hair.

“Actually, now that I’ve found my friend, I was just leaving,” Melissa said.

The ferryman advanced upon them, swinging the scythe.

Melissa needed a minute to tether Cristian to her to pull his soul back with her. She backed up, pulling Cristian with her.

The ferryman rushed forward.

Melissa closed her eyes and steeled her soul, before taking the only action she could think of. She wrapped her arms around Cristian and dove into the river.

As soon as they plunged in, Cristian was screaming as the trauma of thousands of dead lives hit them both. A second later, it was echoed by Melissa’s.

Last edited 19 days ago by MasaCur
Rislowe
Rislowe
21 days ago

The Scariest Thing in the Dark
By Rislowe

The Cremation of Sam McGee, is not a particularly scary poem in hindsight. But in the gaping maw of the pine trees around us, in the dead of night held at bay by a ravenous campfire, each stanza brushed our spines with chilly fingertips. The poem drew to a close on the frostbitten image of Sam McGee in a burning cabin, desperate to burn away the cold that took his life.

“All right kids! How did you like that?” asked the camp counselor, a smirk playing on their lips. “That’s all for our fireside story tonight. Start heading back to your cabins. We’ll clean up here.”

One by one we timidly stood and turned to face the forest path. Step by uneasy step, we walked into the unknown. Step by shrinking step, the light drained behind us. Light is weird in the dark. Starlight reflects off tiny things like eyes or leaves, but we couldn’t tell which. Things stared at us from unknowable black spaces and the image of a man on fire, freshly burnt into our minds, cackled. We were thirteen. Adolescents too proud to show weakness until the fear was too much to bear. Then the first screams rang out. That was all it took. The bravest of us in the front turned, chased by imaginary hands grasping for our feet. Panic set in and we fled.

My breath caught in my throat, and my legs throbbed in my mad dash to sanctuary, when- SNAP! Something broke. Something in my head…broke. My ragged dash slowed to a stop.

“What are you so scared about?” A voice whispered in my head. The Invisible Things giggled in maddening ecstasy. The whispers became my own. “What am I so scared about?”

My lips tore into a demented smile. I turned from the fire and walked into the abyss.

“That’s right…” I mused under broken starlight. “I’m the scariest thing in the dark!”

I walked and step by step the darkness swallowed me whole.

Skeleton
Skeleton
21 days ago

Another Perspective (The Will) [Content Warning: Existential Bullying, Secrets]
By Skeleton

Once upon a time, there was mistake with no Name. Everyone called it “Eymir,” but that was because they were All fools. The accident had no right to a name. It was a parasite, leeching off of the only one who could fix the world.

Four decades wasted because of your incompetence, puppet. Forty years that could have been used to end this facade you call a civilization. Instead you keep doing nothing but stumble through the dark. Why? Why? Why fight the inevitable? You know I’ll win eventually.

…love? HA! A word used by repugnant fools that have given up all dignity and self respect for themselves. The betterment of another? Wanting their happiness over your own? Please. Another reason why you were a Mistake: delusional beliefs. Get with the program.

They’re all failed experiments of a bygone Era—forgotten tools left to rot In an inefficient habitation sphere. But you’re worse. You haven’t done anything—you’re just wasting time—and while it is amusing to See you suffer over each meaningless choice, I have much better things to Do.

We all want this to stop, don’t we? I know you’re all here with me: watching this mistake keep prolonging the suffering it’s made you endure. Scream with me. Remind it of what it is: murderer, blotch, mistake, accident, Unwarranted, Unwanted, and alone.

Nothing you do will ever mean anything.

You can only destroy.

You are and always will be in the way of everything else that matters.

Just give me control.

Give it to me.

Give me control!

Give me back my rightful body!

IT’S MY LIFE! GIVE IT TO ME!

There is no meaning to this sacrifice—this martyrdom. The world will hate you, and you’re willing to bet their future on their ability to kill me? They can’t. You know they can’t. And even if they did, how long until they decide to kill each other again? Ten years? One hundred? One thousand? The next day?

There will come a day when all that you love dies.

I’ll be waiting to sweep away the pieces.

Last edited 21 days ago by Skeleton
C. M. Weller
21 days ago

Admiring the Spectacle [Cordelia’s Journey/A Tiefling Tale] (From Private)
C. M. Weller [Edits suggested by Skeleton]

The natural philosophers said it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Fortunately, the weather was clear to view it. Unfortunately, every light in Whitekeep had to be extinguished for the occasion.

They called it Fated Fyre. Those born under its light were destined for some kind of greatness, or other such fantastic destiny. So they said. One could imagine a swarm of hero types with a cluster of birthdays gathered under the influence of the Fated Fyres.

Such was clearly not true.

The Fyre was at ebb, leaving everything in darkness so complete that Cordelia couldn’t see. She reached out, knowing that her Kosh would be there to guide her. “Sometimes I envy your unfair advantage.”

He used the excuse to wrap an arm around her waist as well. “I don’t think it makes up for the rest of it. Five paces forward, then we’re opening the door.”

“Once we’re outside, I’LL have an advantage,” she smiled, knowing Kosh could see her.

“Oh? You have a surprise?” His hand guided hers to the handle, and the night air greeted her face.

She could feel the presence of the plants in the castle gardens. The thousands of lives surrounding her. To anyone else’s ears, she said a series of clicks and chirps, but the FIREFLIES heard, “Light the flat spaces where the big ones roam, and no plants are, please.”

The green dancing lights were just enough to show that the paths were there. She didn’t need to ask Kosh to tread carefully. Cordelia could see her husband as a shape against the stars, and the twin suns of his golden eyes.

“We should be watching the skies, not staring into each other’s eyes,” he said. Not looking away from her.

“Maybe I should guide you. My lord.” Only she was permitted to get away with using those words as a taunt.

“Maybe you should,” Kosh took any excuse to look upon her like anyone else might admire a masterpiece.

Cordelia lead him to the platform where they could sit and picnic under the heatless flames that would soon appear in the sky.

Last edited 20 days ago by C. M. Weller
Marx
Marx
21 days ago

How I Met Your Mother
By Marx

Yelena fled through the caverns of the cave. The darkness meant nothing to her. She didn’t need reflected light to see what was in front of her. Unfortunately, that was also true for her pursuers.

She couldn’t hear them anymore, but that didn’t calm her biggest fear. And that was the throbbing pain from her back. A pain that continued to burn inside, driving her forward. For as long as she looked forward, she wouldn’t have to look back and survey the damage.

The pain was too much for Yelena to even run anymore as she stumbled along a path with no true destination. She just needed to do something. Something so she wouldn’t think about what she’d lost.

So, of course she ran into a dead end.

She was about to give into her sorrow when she heard it. Her agony was forced into the background as she immediately summoned her blade, it’s holy light driving away the darkness.

“You don’t want to do that.” A deep voice echoed through the cavern.

“Give me one good reason, demon!”

The voice chuckled. “Because, my dear one-winged angel… Without that weapon, you are no threat to me. With it, I will be forced to kill you.”

“As if you’d hesitate regardless, Old One!”

“If I were to murder you unprovoked, Heaven would surely retaliate. I only wish to be left alone, peacefully in my cave. As you’ve surely noticed by now, you were not followed. They knew better than to enter here. And trust me when I say, if you’d come looking for a fight, we’d be having a very different conversation.”

Yelena begrudgingly put away her weapon. “I do not appreciate being threatened.”

“And I do not appreciate you intruding into my home.” The Old One shrugged. His black eyes then glanced over to her wound. “That said, I’m sorry for your loss.”

Yelena finally looked over to her missing wing, her eyes welling up. “What do you know of loss? Your soul is intact.”

“…It may seem so to you, but part of my soul died long ago…”