Writing Group: Making a Business of Death

Hello, Psychopomps and Sin Eaters!

Can I interest you in some Death this fine evening? It’s my proprietary blend. New and exclusive! It comes in strawberry, banana, cockroach, and green apple. You really ought to try it because…

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

Making a Business of Death

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!

In the past few weeks we’ve spun tales (and, perhaps, at times, grown tails) of blood and witches. Now this prompt for October is the business side of the spookies. Who makes money off of death? …More people than you might think. 

You could write about an assassin, a bounty hunter, paid to kill. Death is just a job to them—a few more coins in their pocket. They may have no moral qualms with the profession, while the world fears, hates, and judges them. You could write about one such person who is asked to kill someone close to them, who realizes death is more than a number. 

Grave robbers steal from those who won’t fight to get their possessions back—physically or legally. Or…would they? Perhaps a grave robber is haunted by the ghosts of those they stole from. Or maybe they met no resistance until they tried to steal from a pharaoh’s tomb…

Grieving loved ones, detectives, and supernatural buffs alike will all often pay to speak to the dead. A medium makes money not off of the death itself, but of the promise of a moment of conversation. 

Even a simple hunter or adventurer could make a profit off of death. Even if it’s animals and/or goblins your character is killing, death is still death, and money is still money. You could write about a humble adventurer realizing that the monsters they fight aren’t so monstrous…

An undertaker or mortician is a less sinister way to take this prompt. Someone who makes sure the body looks nice, and the coffin fits right, for the deceased’s eternal rest. …Or perhaps things are not so gentle as kind as they seem. Many stories have taken the idea of an undead mortician to fascinating, scary, and sometimes hilarious extremes. 

Maybe the business is not the death, but the raising of the dead. In a world where necromancy is common and accepted, perhaps a necromancer could be paid to raise loved ones, or to create zombie armies. 

In a sci-fi story, someone who promises to upload one’s consciousness, or cryogenically freeze them, could make money off of killing their buyers, with no one able to tell they’re dead. Maybe you could write about someone protesting the creation and monetization of teleportation, firmly believing that teleportation kills the subject and creates an identical clone. 

Or maybe this prompt doesn’t have to be so far from the last. Perhaps someone comes to a witch, not for a potion of strength or beauty, but to buy a poison apple to feed to their enemy…

There really are no hard feelings, dear. It’s just business.

—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 five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three 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.
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  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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jgjgj
jgjgj
1 month ago

Fight in the Shade By jgjgj The rice field the army advanced on was muddy & noisy, and explosive sloshes of feet made things awkward for the men behind us. Working tirelessly until the emblems blotched on our metal chests were half covered with muddied water, and faces, with panting- pained- expressions. Jostled by wooden spear shafts, knees, and arms attached to peasants looking at the ground instead of what was in front of them. Screams of men trampled in the foreground made the summer air even hotter and louder. And when I was about to fall over, Lieutenants down the strip of the hoard shouted something familiar over the water- feet- sloshes, and we all came to a halt parallel to an army maybe a half-mile to. I caught my breath, and my eyes narrowed to the scene around the opposing force; a stretch of flat rice fields blotched by a distant brownish-red-black band of men with spears that sparkled under the hot sun. My stomach absorbed me, and I turned away instinctually to what I thought was more comforting. I almost wanted to throw up as a waft of perspiration and bad body odor hit my nostrils, and I was brought back into reality. Scrawny elderly men draped in their uniform and hanging on for dear life on their spears, mumbling peasants whispering Buddhist prayers as they looked to what lay before them, and the young- around 15 years of age- dully looking towards the ground, most likely finding the sight as sickening as I had. We were the dull cutting blade of the main army, and that was the point. But with that thought, I became curious and wondered if the same could be said about the opposing force. But not even one of us could have that smidge of hope, as multiple tiny spears sparkled movement in the distance making little dark gaps in their lines, reminding the worst to come. Flag signals liaise with the main army to the vanguard, and the final decision was made as Lieutenants made a call to space their lines out. As we stumbled into position, cries of men unfortunate enough to be spotted by Lieutenants for a lack of movement were heard around the accompanying lines, but no one was energetic enough to look, much less care. A call to march was made, and lines of men splashed one by one almost in sync. As we got closer and closer, the feeling in my stomach almost engulfed my body. And after a while, no one looked at their feet. Death was looming in the distance, and with every binding step I made into my future– I took a step into heaven. We were sheep falling into the sparkling teeth and red maw of a glorious dragon, and as faithful to my mind’s eye, a flicker of fire burst out of the dark gaps of the monster’s jaws and arched from the heavens: consuming in sharp burning pains indiscriminately. And… Read more »

Karl Sterneman
1 month ago

Bang
By Karl Sterneman

Their complexion was grey with death. Cheeks already sunken into their skull from time. People say dead bodies look like they’re asleep, but no. This one just looked dead.

Charles Markin reached down towards the corpse’s face, as if to brush it lovingly across the cheek, but suddenly diverted to snatch away the chain draped around their throat. He stole the bracelet from its wrist, and the metal flowers it was buried with from its arms. Little else of interest lied within the coffin. Looting wasn’t the entire goal of Charles’s expedition, but they thought they might do it anyway while they were opening every coffin they could find.

“Bleeding finally!” Charles heard from his left. He turned to see his colleague standing over a coffin they’d propped open with a rod from the thieving toolkit. “This is who we’ve been looking for.” Charles went to look. The corpse was of an older official, clearly from a rich family based on the overly elaborate dress they were buried in. Their facial complexion was harsh, hard lines projecting confidence even through the barrier of the afterlife. Unlike the last body, this one looked distinctly not dead, despite all signs pointing to the fact that it was. “See that symbol branded on their forehead?” Charles’s colleague questioned, and indeed he did. “It’s fresh.”

A fresh brand ment a fresh chip, and a fresh chip meant payday. Now all they needed to do was extract it. A terabyte of data worth several million in cash only inches away. Then they heard the sirens. Turns out the official came with a welcoming party.

Click.

Bang.

They didn’t even have the chance to turn around.

Last edited 1 month ago by Karl Sterneman
Coffee
Coffee
1 month ago

Death Spectacle
By Lightly Sugared Coffee

“He should be the last one, right?”

Someone’s voice rouses him from his slumber. Before he has the chance to look around, a pretty blonde is pulling him up, her blue eyes barely looking at him.

“Wha-”

The woman ignores him, continuing to discuss things he fails to understand with her companions. A blood red moon hangs in the cloudless sky. The night air chills his skin, filled with the scent of earth and decay. He takes a moment to look back and nearly faints from fright.

“Who are you? Where am I? Did you just pull me out of a coffin and what in the holy is that thing?!”

Said thing is a dead, eyeless dog, monstrously huge with someone’s hand sticking out of its mouth.

His outburst finally catches their attention.

“What?” another woman says. “We have a newcomer?”

“Just ignore him,” the blonde from before snorts.

He stares at them in disbelief.

“I’ll talk to him.” The speaker is a male this time, his black hair tied low and slung over his shoulder.

The group grumbles a little but eventually concedes. The man signals for him to follow which he does after some hesitation.

“My name is Yangkang,” he introduces. “What’s yours?”

“Castor, but everyone calls me Cas.”

“You look young.” Yangkang’s eyes flick up and down, taking in his appearance. “How old are you?”

“Um.” Castor considers how much information he should be sharing with a complete stranger but remembers his circumstances and decides otherwise. “Nineteen.”

“Young,” the other repeats. “A pity.”

“A pity?”

“Everyone you see here is dead.”

“N-no way.”

“There are higher beings using us as entertainment.” His smile is sardonic. “The profits of such a business are obvious.”

Castor blinks.

“You saw that monster.” Yankgkang holds out his hand to him. “Things will get nasty, but I will try to help you ‘live’.”

Castor notes how it is bloody with painfully cracked nails.

Maybe he wasn’t the only one to wake in a coffin.

Castor takes the offered limb, squeezing down with a smile.

“I’ll be in your care then.”

Maxer4000
Maxer4000
1 month ago

In the mind to kill

Except from therapy session between Dr. Jean Thorndike and Emerald Eye, CEO of Diamond Snakes co.

Dr. T: Now tell me, sir, why did you decided to run this operation of murder for money?

EE: Quite simple, really. I’m good at killing and I know how to run a business, so I just went ahead and started it all.

Dr. T: I see… How are you so good at the art of killing then?

EE: formal combat training and years of experience. And I’m going to stop ya there, mate. I know where this line of questions going and Imma have to ask ya to stop, there classified info there and I can’t just disclose ’em.

Dr. T: Of course, sir. Moving on, how do you view the people you kill then? Like cattle primed for slaughter? Or just a like of bulleyes for you to shoot?

EE: Like I’m looking at ya now, just people.

Dr. T: Then do you think these people don’t have dream and aspirations that stems from their survival then?

EE: Oh trust me, homeboy, I’m fully aware those bastards have hope and dream, I just don’t care.

Dr. T: Quite… selfish of you, no?

EE: Isn’t it natural for us all to be selfish? What’s wrong with thinking for yerself eh?

Dr. T: Well, how would you explain compassion and selflessness then? Aren’t those also natural to humans?

EE: Right, first, you know the most virtuous bastard running around here yea? I know he’s been in and out of this place for a while.

Dr. T: Since you’re his close friend, I assume it’s Mr. Lunafang, yes?

EE: Wanker is so big on saving lives he really messes up so with many jobs. Don’t get me wrong, mate, he’s a killing machine, just that flaw getting in the way. So I asked him “why ya love saving lives?” He told me “If I didn’t, won’t be able to sleep at nights”

Dr. T: So to you, compassion is just a selfish need for self-validation? Seems like your hallucinations aren’t simple as grief I reckon.

DaLeen
DaLeen
1 month ago

Fly
By Taja DaLeen

“Come, fly with me!”

Thanks to my cleverness they all follow me. And due to the promise of never ending fun and youth; no responsibilities, no growing up, nothing to impede on simply enjoying the moment.

“What is it like? Will there be fairies or things to fear?”

That’s what they all ask. What it’s like? Well, it’s a trip. The second one to the right and then straight on until morning light; a trip to somewhere everyone wants to go.

Or, that’s what they think.

There might even be fairies, if one’s lucky. If you want to consider them fairies. But no, nothing to fear.

It will be quick.

My main targets are children, obviously. The more youthful, and gullible, the better.

All praise to innocence.

“This is amazing!”

This one’s just the same as all the others; still so young, still able to see magic everywhere. A true believer. It didn’t take long to teach her how to fly.

And how she loves it. Everything about it; the freedom, the pure joy and adrenaline. Up and down she flies, round and round in circles.

It is quite lovely to watch her, to listen to her laughter. She’s clearly enjoying herself; living in the moment.

Tasting every second of it.

“They’re so cute!”

And she’s one of the lucky ones, the fairy birds love her. Flying with her and around her, sparkling and shining bright. With huge eyes she regards them, and is even able to pet one.

But everything has to end, eventually. That’s life. Giggling she flies into the light; and then – falls.

Just like that.

Just like that, she fell into my trap. Her flying was all it took for her to end up in my ritualistic circle; and the rest is history.

I would be sorry, but business is business. It’s nothing personal, dear.

And as long as there’s people paying well for staying young just that little bit longer, business will stay business.

A.W. Blackstone
A.W. Blackstone
1 month ago

Heartless Broker
By A.W. Blackstone

Jared checked his watch nervously. He perked up when his cell started ringing “We’re in the Money”. It was Jessica, his favorite business partner. “Hello! Haven’t heard from you in awhile,” Jared said cheerily.

There was a long silence before Jessica responded grimly. “You heard about the school shooting about 30 minutes ago?”

Jared nodded to himself as he tapped his pen on the stack of papers in front of him. “Yes. Seventeen children and two teachers were killed. Many others were also injured,” He answered, obviously excited.

“Yes,” Jessica puffed an exasperated sigh. “It’s chaos down here due to being short staffed. I can quickly procure some goods if you’re looking to buy. Need anything specific?”

“Oh, you know, the usual specimens, but…” Jared leafed through the highlighted names on the transplant list. “Do you have any B negative, AB negative, or AB positive hearts, livers or kidneys? I’ll pay double for any of those.” He had already made a few preliminary calls. The affluent spared no expense to save their children.

“I’m sure I’ll be able to get at least one of each unnoticed,” Jessica’s voice reeked of weariness.

“Wonderful! I’ll send Terry over in hospital scrubs for the priority pick ups throughout the day,” Jared acknowledged casually, while silently bouncing up and down in his office chair. His plan had worked!

“Okay. The first pick up will be available in 30 minutes tops… and make sure Terry takes the service entrance this time!” Jessica chided. “He almost alerted security last time because he came in the wrong door.“

“I’ll let him know. The payments will be deposited in your account this week. Thanks for doing business!” Jared ended the call beaming as he immediately began dialing his clients.

He had easily brainwashed that schizophrenic man into thinking the elementary school kids were being conditioned by Illuminati teachers to ruin this country’s future. The man would be the “savior” of the nation.

Jared was unconcerned with who lived or died. His only interest was who he could profit from. That was just good business sense.

Donovan
Donovan
1 month ago

the family business
by Donovan

He saw the way the villagers glanced away from him, like they were guilty of something only he had seen. He had been the town’s executioner for six years now, since his father retired, and he had settled into the role. It wasn’t a poor life, in material concerns. He was paid a living wage, his house was enough for two families, though it lodged only his father and himself. His mother had died three years before, of consumption. He never forgot the faces of the villagers that day, even the priest. The awkward conflicted mingling of sympathy and disregard.

It was taboo, to work with death. The filth of it crept into every corner of a life; clung to anything he touched. The men he killed were not fair warriors, fighting on the equal grounds of battle. They were wretches, desperate and filthy, and that filth clung to him, to his whole family.

He remembered what his father had told him, as he trained him to chop pumpkins with a sword that had no point.

“They will need you, Michael, to put terrible men to death. But they will never thank you. It’s a gruesome business, one most men wouldn’t have the stomach to dirty their hands with. But it’s your duty to do it right. To make a clean and somber cut.”

Yet the crowds always gathered to watch. This gruesomeness that tainted him didn’t seem to touch the onlookers that flocked to see men beheaded. That was the way of it. They needed him.

He remembered one, a boy of only seventeen, last winter. The young man had broken into the home of an elderly couple to steal. When the husband awoke and caught him, yelling for the guards, the boy had strangled him. That killer on the execution block didn’t seem as cold as his crime. The boy was pale and shaking like a lamb, he cried for mercy, and for his mother. Michael cut his head off, he didn’t think many other men could.

Lulumin
Lulumin
1 month ago

The Guidance Point for the Recently Departed
By Lulumin

“Well, looks like your papers are all in order. Just head down that hall into the last door on the right and Angela’ll help you figure out where you’re supposed to go, alright?” Lucas stamped the topmost sheet and handed it back to the man in front of him.

He was a mangled mess, covered in mud and blood with tire marks imprinted on his clothes and body. It was impressive he even managed to make it to this part of the office in the first place. Still, Lucas didn’t flinch when their eyes met and what was presumably a hand reached to take the documents back.

As the man left, Lucas slumped in his chair. He groaned and ran his hand through his hair. A cup of coffee was placed on his desk. He looked up and saw his coworker smiling down at him.

“It seems we’re quite busy today, no?” Margaret asked, taking a sip of her own drink.

“You tell me. Don’t know what’s been going on but there’s way too many of ‘em. Gilbert screwed up the copy machine too, so that’s slowed things down back there.” Lucas grumbled, taking a swig of the coffee.

Margaret hummed. “Well, dear, not all of us are recent arrivals. We’re not all familiar with new technology.”

“You call 70 years ago ‘recent’?”

She laughed and patted his head. Lucas scowled and pushed her hand away. She clicked her tongue in response, wagging one bluish finger at him.

“Is that any way to treat your elders?”

Lucas scoffed in response.

“Not my fault I look young…” he mumbled.

Margaret brought her cup to her blue-tinted lips, smiling. “Well, I’ll be going now. Best of luck to you.”

Lucas chugged the rest of his drink and adjusted the bandages over his chest as she left. Calling out for the next one in line, an elderly lady wobbled her way to him. She slowly lowered herself onto the chair and a shaking hand slid her papers over. Examining them, he glanced back up at the woman.

“Oh hey, lil’ sis.”

Charles Funk
Charles Funk
1 month ago

The Headsman
by Charles Funk

I found him encamped on the usual outskirts of town. Hidden around the road’s bend from passing view.

“You are the headsman, yes?” I asked, joining his campfire.

“What gave that away?” he retorted snidely without raising his head. Preferring to stoke the flames while motioning to his sword propped beside him. More like a headstone than any blade I’ve seen with its massive size and wide cross-guard. The only thing of worth or shined among his ragged belongings.

Looking at it gave me chills and it apparently showed.

“Most folks leave by then.” He said.

“Most folks are idiots.”

That gave him pause and a reason to finally turn to me with a pair of cold eyes that made my own grow wide and unsettled.

“And which idiot are you?” he asked.

“I-I’ve seen you. M-many times.” I stammered. “From the rooftops, I watch you…parading folks to the block while we cheer that grow loud for every head and swing. But none for you. Instead, you’re jeered. Chased out. And paid with coins at your feet. So…why do they hate you?”

“Why don’t you?” He raised a brow.

“You kill scum but are treated worse than scum when you should be praised.”

“I paid no mind as long as I’m paid well.” He shrugged. “That’s the only praise I deserve for this trade.”

“But it’s not fair.” I pressed.

“Oh, but it is.” He replied. “Even filth deserve justice. And I provide just that. Vindication. Absolution. Dirtying my hands so as theirs would be clean. Even if that filth stays with me forever.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Pray you never do.” He said and nothing more. Leaving me with a riddle that brought more questions than answers.

Time would make me forget all that though. Our talk. His name. We did not meet again until years later when I found him atop the scaffold in front of all. Only when he raised his blade did I finally found the answer to that riddle years ago. His sword was not a headstone and instead of fear, I felt only peace.

Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl
1 month ago

The dark merchant

By Quetzalcoatl

“Say, say, have you heard, heard about him?”

“About whom, whom are you talking about?”

“About him, him, the one with the mask.”

“The mask? The mask of bird, that is no mask at all?”

“Yes, him, him it is I mean.”

“Tell me why, why you ask about the stranger?”

“Why, you ask why? I have seen him, yes, seen him once. It was in a dark back street alley, a forgotten alley, with no use at all, a construction error, I use once bored.”

“Once bored!”

“Yes, once bored. There I have seen him, seen him with two others, two others like us. They talked, talked with unheard voices. Only HIM spoke clear, clear, not loud, a dark, dark crackling voice, with laughter, laughter resembling bird, a bird like his face, yet unlike any bird of us. He praised his merchandise, his merchandise that was only a single thing, a single thing, he said, that was the UNKOWN, something no Eternal has ever seen before.”

“No one? No one at all? That’s impossible, ridiculous impossibility!”

“I though so too, yes, I did think that, but his voice, voice absent of light, spoke of something other than eternity, eternity, that is to be ended´.”

Ended´? To be ended´? What is this word, this word he spoke of?”

“I know not, not known it is by me either. But after short haggle, he showed his merchandise, merchandise the two have bought. Whirling, whirling in black wind he presented a darker case, case to be opened, of darker colour than his mantle was. Once open, an archway appeared, appeared with a starry night sky veil, keeping the other side hidden. This veil they passed, passed the two, and all had disappeared, the two, the two like us, the merchant and his merchandise. Only, I have caught a single glimpse at the other side. Nothing, nothing really to be described by words, solely, yes, solely one thing came to my mind, mind which has seen the other side. That that was, was what he meant byEND´.”

Norman Gray
Norman Gray
1 month ago

We Lie Among Giants
By Norman Gray

Only a fool would tempt the evil that lies buried in the Blightlands.

I recount this, the tale of my final burial, as a warning to those fool-hearted enough to press their ear to a gravedigger’s hill.

We were known as Excavators: Undertakers for slain giants. Though much praise is given to the heroes who slay these great beasts, death is merely a slumber for them; it is the Excavators who keep them from returning, subduing them through burial. . . Our graves mar lands where the horizon was once unobscured. Our work is legend; children daring one another to press an ear to any hill they stumble upon, listening for a heartbeat, or a sleeping giant’s breath.

When we came upon the Strider of the Blightlands, it was face-down in the mud, yet still it measured nearly as high as a fortress wall. So, we buried it where it had been slain, upturning the earth beneath it. We dug trenches that encircled the body, in hopes that the Strider’s weight would collapse the ground underneath itself.

Herein lies the danger of our duty. Far too often men are entombed along with the slain; caught in the earthentide, unable to escape a cave-in. Our trenches reached far underground, and time was running short. No longer was there room for caution, as the beast would soon reawaken.

When the soil finally gave way, it moved like floodwater. There was no time; not even our screams could escape. The giant fell into the earth, and we fell with it.

Eighty men, buried in the Blightlands. . . And I, among them.

So I pray, that anyone foolish enough to stand atop this hill, might hear my voice through the cacophony of the dead. . . A heart is beating, and I know for certain that it is not my own. And though my colleagues cry out for help, it is not theirs either, for our fate was sealed long ago.

It is the creature. It stirs.

Do not heed our cries. Disturb not our graves. . . For we lie among giants.

Purge, Bearer of Wrath
Purge, Bearer of Wrath
1 month ago

The Battle That Was
by Purge, Bearer of Wrath

Magister Aisha Lodd lay in the waters of the bathhouse and followed the bright traces of the battle that was through the layers and branches of her mind’s garden.

She saw the death of Halder, her apprentice and sometimes confidante. Slight, fair of face, freckled, prone to joy. How had Halder found his way to the van? Aisha Lodd revisited the dreadful flight of the fellspear. She felt the sting of it, the barbed tang of malifice as it entered her apprentice’s flesh. She circled the moment of his letting go. Some day a beauty would find its way out of the numb vice of loss. But not today.

Halder had fallen. But that sacrifice and the sacrifice of those who stood with him had bought the time that was so desperately needed. Time for Gulianna’s skyhorde to breach the voidwall. Time for Aisha and the Keepers to rally at the Last Elm. Time for belief to regrow in the hearts of the women and men of Ekken.

The price had been much. The Quaeoth always extracted a price. The price was always too much.

But the day was Ekken’s. Wounds would heal. Towns could be rebuilt. And the memories of those who gave their lives would not be left to tarnish.

And what of The Quaeoth? The intricate code of their nobility was forged in a relentless drive towards perfection. Their victories and exploits reached even to the Loose Worlds. Ancient. Proud. But. If they hid one hubris, one conceit: it was ever in their unwillingness to sound a retreat.

Few were left alive upon the fields of Guth.

As Magister Aisha Lodd walked from the bathhouse, she was arrested by the approach of a runner from Treasury.

“It’s… it’s the arbiters from offworld!” The messenger struggled to find his breath.

“From Cavo Nall? The insurers?”

“Yes, Magister Lodd.” The messenger rubbed sweat from his eye. “It’s bad.”

Aisha surveyed him cautiously.

“They’re… they’re refusing to pay!” His voice did not want to believe, but he went on. “They’re calling it an act of god!” he spluttered.

ArtemisSage
ArtemisSage
1 month ago

Angel Shot
by: ArtemisSage

“So, what will it be, dearie?”

The lady behind the counter smiled at me, yet it was off. As though she already knew what I had come for. Which likely wasn’t hard. Everyone I had asked for help from said this was the place. And upon seeing this woman, I knew they had been right.

“I… I was told you could help me,”

“I can. For a price,”

That bothered me. Not so much that there was a price, I had figured as much, but the way she had added on the second part. As though it had been an afterthought. And I couldn’t blame her. I didn’t have much money, and given how off-putting she was, I got the sensation she already knew as much.

Yet there was nothing else I could do. I was already at my limit, and this was my last choice. I’d offer every last penny I had if it meant I could get what I came for.

“I don’t have much-”

“Money is of no use here, child. No, the price you must pay is worth the weight of the question,”

That confused me. How could a question carry with it any weight? But she wasn’t turning me away. Which told me that, at the very least, she was willing to hear my request. Yet, how could I ask straight out? This wasn’t anything I had ever said completely to myself, let alone aloud to someone else.

“Well, see, I don’t really know HOW to ask. I’ve kept this to myself for so long that I don’t really have the words for it anymore,”

“Only if you can ask the question may I provide you assistance,”

Damn woman. She knew full well why I was here, yet felt the need to make me say it out loud for the world to hear. And why not, she could simply hand me over once I said my piece and she’d never get in trouble.

“How much…? How much to stop my husband?”

The Missing Link
The Missing Link
1 month ago

Death for a Salesman
By: The Missing Link

The old CRT crackled to life, lines of static crackling across the screen as the speakers strained from disuse.

A greasy man in a patterned blazer appeared on the screen with a smile as sweet as the cigar he pulled from his blackening teeth. After breathing out a thick ring of smoke, he spoke in that breathy, fake, supplicating voice common to people of his kind, “Come one, come all, right on down to Death’s Door.” A short tune crackled across at his press of a button.

The camera zoomed out to reveal the merchandise as spiky bubbles littered the screen with prices. The variety was astounding. Ropes, knives, vials, and guns. There were even… mannequins in hockey masks holding the products.

“Here at Death’s Door, we can provide you anything you could possibly desire. Shot, poisoned, kidnapped, or stabbed.”

The mannequins performed these actions as he said them, the smile never leaving his face. The camera jerked quickly between them before raising itself to display in full view the man standing in the ring of corpses. One could almost call it artistic in a way.

“Any way you could want, we can help you die, but wait, there’s more. Death’s Door has an acclaimed notary at your service twenty-four hours a day. Wills, life insurance, all here for your best convenience.”

An address and phone number loudly flashed across the screen in another bubble as the man sang along to the insert tune.

At the phrase, “So come on down today,” the door to the room opened slowly.

A small voice ventured in as the commercial came to an end, “Daddy?”

The young girl never managed to ask her question, stifled in the scream following the sight of the revolver dangling by the trigger guard from a limp finger.

Arith_Winterfell
Arith_Winterfell
1 month ago

“Treasure Hunters”

By: Arith_Winterfell

It was inky black in the hallway. We were down in the Abyssal Zone of the city and only our headlamps pushed back the darkness.

Crack. Hiss. The fumes of the old sealed up apartment retched out into the hallway.

“Think we’ll find anything in this tomb, Michelle. Other than old junk, I mean,” Rastaran said.

“I certainly hope so,” I said from behind my breathing mask as I leaned harder into the crowbar.

The door cracked open just wide enough to get us inside.

Our lights, the only lights down here, pierced the long untouched darkness of the tomb. We surveyed the tomb. Glittering trophies to accomplishments now meaningless, the glint of an old video monitor now long out of date, and the loose bones of its former owner resting in an old recliner. It was the mold and old bacteria that was dangerous down here. That’s what kept us wearing the masks and hazmat suits.

Rastaran entered the room and shook his head. “Well, some of this could be sold as scrap I guess,” he sighed.

“Start searching anyway,” I muttered.

Rastaran headed into one of the backrooms sending up a trail of dust that danced in his wake. I still marveled at the durability of the ancient construction. The use of anti-gravity tech helped too. Still, these old tombs were holding up several miles of buildings rising into the skies.

I shook my head to clear my thoughts and began digging through one of the drawers. Suddenly I noticed something odd. An old credit chip, and credits are always good. I linked it to my datapad and saw it listed several thousands of credits. Jackpot!

I turned to tell Rastaran our good fortune, but then I saw the blood pooling from the room he’d gone into. Something blind and insectile shuddered in the dark of that room. I turned and ran.

Makokam
1 month ago

I’d Do That For Free (Chronicles of The Dragon)
by Makokam

“Mr. Rose is here, Madame,” the Butler said.

“He’s early,” Mrs. Alarie said as she set her coffee on the table. “That bodes well,” she said to the others in the room as she straightened her dress and squared her shoulders. “Send him in.”

The room was silent as a man with ruffled hair and a long coat walked in. He paused to glance around the room, “Hmm”’d, and continued walking. He walked passed the middle of the room, which raised many an eyebrow, and stopped a few feet from Mrs. Alarie. He kept his hands in his pockets as he asked, “You have a job offer for me?”

She smiled to herself and said, “Your reputation precedes you.”

“I wasn’t aware I had one.”

“Oh, you have quite the reputation. In the right circles.” She said.

Mr. Rose chuckled. “I have a feeling I know what the job is then.”

“Indeed. The Alarie family has been in control of this city for over a century. Recently, however, keeping control out of the hands of the Beaumont family has been difficult. Well,” she smirked, “Difficult without having it traced back to us that is.”

“You want me to take them out for you then.”

“To be blunt about it, yes.” She raised a finger. “However, as I said we don’t want any of this leading back to us, so you’ll take out who we say, when we say.”

“Sure. So how would you be doing that? Burner phone?”

She rolled her fingers and put two fingers to her lips, and Jonathan heard a voice say in his mind, “Oh, we have better ways than that.”

He tilted his head.

Her face fell just the slightest bit at his lack of reaction.

“If you’re gonna put words in my head telling me to kill people you’re gonna need to be clearer it’s you,” he said, a smirk slowly growing on his face.

“Regardless,” she said, straightening even more, “We’re prepared to offer you two thousand per month as a retainer, with an additional ten thousand per job.”

“Sounds like a deal.”

Cheezesammich
Cheezesammich
1 month ago

Seine
By Cheezesammich

I remember the first time the hunters came, their ship cutting through the sky, an obsidian nightmare on an azure vista.

It was like night had come for us. The fear was instant. Before we could react, before we knew to react, a great invisible force had enveloped us. After the chaos that followed, I found myself alone, watching as my entire family was lifted into the great darkness of the ship above, never to be seen again.

I hoped that day would never come again, but my hope was futile.

Now, as I sit within a storm of my panicked neighbours, staring up at the obsidian nightmare once more, I wonder what purpose my hope served. I feel the invisible force surrounding us again. I look up at the hunter’s ship, growing in the distance as we’re lifted ever higher. My fear is gone. I know my fate is inescapable.

We break through the sky and I am rendered breathless. I can barely register the world above; it’s impossibly dry and cold. My body struggles beyond reason, jackknifing against the heaviness of my own head.

I see the hunter’s ship for what it truly is, a massive behemoth of black stone with surfaces smoother than the sky on the quietest of days. In the middle, a last vision of horror- thousands of bodies piled carelessly in a writhing, fleshy heap. As I feel my neighbours dying below me, I know that we are next.

As my vision grows dark, I see the hunters for the first time – gargantuan creatures with four tentacles, like bulbous squids. They defy explanation. One of them reaches out with its two highest tentacles, each of them split at the end into five smaller branches. I look at the hunter’s face and witness sunken, swollen eyes staring back at me.

As the force field opens and we spill out onto the ground in front of the hunter, its impossible size is made real. As my vision clouds over completely and I am crushed by the dead around me, I am left only with questions.

Reinkarnitor
Reinkarnitor
1 month ago

Death’s just Part of it (Agency X)

by Reinkarnitor

Horrible…absolutely horrible…the entire place was dripping with blood and various organs were scattered everywhere. But it was nothing new to the detective, who walked through the chaos which the killer left behind this time.

X sighed. When Scotland Yard first asked for his assistance he was sceptical if they really needed him, since he normally did not really work on such…normal cases. But upon seeing it with his own eyes he understood immediately that this was not done by a normal killer. This time as well, like so many times before, he could almost feel that something…supernatural…has been here.

“I’ll start taking samples and hope I won’t throw up” his assistant Nia Blade said, and X nodded. “Then I will try to figure out how the killer came in.”

As he was standing on the roof, it did not take the detective long to find some marks on the gutter, and he once again asked himself what kind of being needed to climb up a house and break in but was able to easily rip apart a human being.

He stood up and looked over the rooftops of London. Smoke rose from the chimneys and fog crawled through the streets. Who could have done this? A lunatic? Or someone who actually gained something from it?

“Deep in thought?”

The voice of the black-haired girl which suddenly appeared behind him made X almost fall off the roof.

“My god, Emma, do not scare me like that all the time!” he lectured her, and the ghost smiled mischievously as her red eyes lit up slightly.

“Apologies” she then said. “What were you thinking about?”

“Just…what kind of person would make a business of death…like that” X answered after calming down a little.

Emma did not answer but looked at him when he chuckled.

“I guess technically I am also making a business of it.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. The business you do is not taking lives.”

He shook his head, but she continued, while taking his hand.

“You catch those, who make a real business of death.”

“Well…I suppose you are right.”

Joe
Joe
1 month ago

I Met Death and He Roasted Me

By Joe

(CW: Reference to Suicide)

Garrett woke up to a void and a skeleton at a desk wearing an all black suit and tie. He assumed it was Death, but instead of a scythe Death held a pen.

“12/25/2087, 4:10 a.m. Cause of death: Suicide by overdose,” Death sighed. “Again.”

“Damn! I’m sorry. Did you expect a more glorified death?”

“Not really an expectation when you can point out depressed loners who’re going to off themselves during the holidays.”

“Hey, fuck you!” Garrett flipped Death the bird.

“That the finger that took your virginity?”

“That the desk they bend you…” Garrett’s mouth shut suddenly, as if forced closed.

“We’re straying off subject,” said Death. “You killed yourself. And now your here. Before you can continue you must admit as to why.”

Garrett’s jaw was released. “You already said why. It’s the holiday’s and I was lonely.”

“And depressed,” Death raised a finger.

“Yeah,” Garrett said passive aggresively. “That to.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why were you lonely and depressed?”

“What is this a therapy session?!” Garrett threw up his hands. “I thought you were supposed to escort me to the afterlife!”

“Technically you’re in the afterlife. You’re dead, therefore no longer living. You can’t go back. Only onto what’s next.”

“And what’s that?”

Death didn’t answer. Garrett already knew why and let out a long sigh.

“Because look at me,” He said glumly, and paused.

“I understand.”

“Pff. Do you?”

“Your right. I don’t.” Death said sarcastically. “I just meet people regularly who off themselves because of insecurities, and feel no validation for their preferences, no matter how right or wrong they are. But what do I know?”

“And mine?”

“Do you really want to feel validated by a diety, or by the people who were alive with you since day one?”

Garrett hung his head.

Death sighed. “It’s not my job to care, it’s my job to make sure the soul is worthy for another chance. Hopefully, you’ll find caring people in the next life.”

Garrett looked up. “You mean…”

Death lifted their hand. “Live again…and don’t give up this time.”

Lee Strangely
Lee Strangely
1 month ago

A Deal Witch You Can’t Refuse (Amory)
(Originally from Private)
by Lee Strangely

The church was filled with an almost infectious silence. The town elders all looked to the open doorway. In the dead air they all internally screamed at one another, despite none having the courage to actually look one another in the eye. Through the window, the preacher grimaced as the shape in the sky drew near. Nobody really liked what was happening that night, especially the farmers who spent decades trying to keep the wretch out of their fields.

The townspeople simply called him Crowell. In the dusk, he flew over the silhouettes of the bare treetops. He did not glide, nor did he have any obvious wings to flap. He flailed about like a puppet being pulled by several uncoordinated puppeteers.

Even on the ground he still remained little more than a human in figure. His clothes were ragged and riddled with stitches that barely held it all together. His face seemed always just out of sight, while his hands seemed completely hidden in their sleeves.

One of the elders timidly asked, “Is it true that you’ve… ‘dealt’ with darker forces before?”

“Darker forces?” Crowell asked.

“Witches,” he bleated.

Crowell cooed, “Yes… we’ve killed many… WITCHES.” He tittered as the elders winced. There was a constant fluttering, a thumping of sorts that emanated from Crowell as he moved towards them.

The elder brought over a short wooden stick, “We were able to steal her wand during her last attack. Is it enough to track her?”

“What of our toll?”

“A third of the crop will be given at harvest. As we agreed.”

Crowell reached for the wand, vanishing within his sleeve like a serpent’s tongue, “It’ll do… Does our prey have a name?”

The preacher then reluctantly walked over to him with a piece of paper in hand, averting his eyes.

Crowell snickered as he looked at the name that was prematurely crossed out, “Men of faith, your fear has betrayed you. We wonder, what kind of a father would love such children?”

Last edited 1 month ago by Lee Strangely
Boople
Boople
1 month ago

Tale of a bloody showman
By Boople

“You know, I never did ask how you got all those scars.”

The crackle of the fire and the ambiance of the woods around them filled the silence that trailed the question. The two sat together to avoid getting smoked out by their source of heat, and being next to each other the boy could see from the flickering light that his question had made his new associate lost in thought. Under the shifting shadows was a face steeped in nostalgia and concern, and after a soft exhale he turned to face the little boy.

“I was a gladiator. I killed people, and the scars-” he casually gestured to his gnarled torso “-came when they fought back.”

These words lit up the little boy’s face, to him it was like he was next to an Olympian or some famous athlete, he’d been a fan of gladiators for most of his short life. The cheering, the food, the showmanship and the fun he had in the stands were some of his favorite moments. This reaction produced a conflicted face on the gladiator. He drew in a long breath.

“You know they didn’t want to die right?”

Silence had once again reared its head as the young boy’s ignorant fantasy slowly crumbled. He felt guilty for always getting so swept up in each bloody victory, and as his mind flashed through it all he now seemed to discover that under the drowning roar of the audience was the thump of a body, and peeking through the shifting windows of the cheering crowd was a corpse, ever so still.

“But they expected to. Hell, I thought I would for a while. but that’s what makes it such good entertainment, ya know? Down in the dirt, sword in hand, you never hear the crowd, or the announcer, or nothing. Just the ringing of metal and the rush of your own blood.” The Gladiator shifted on the log the two were sitting on, turning blankly back to the fire.

“Even that loses its charm after a while, then it just feels like a job.”

Roman Rivero
Roman Rivero
1 month ago

An interview with death
By Roman Rivero

Damien and his crew watch as the elderly patient draws his final breath and the monitor beeps to a droning sound. He presses his hands onto his face, whispers a chant and upon opening his eyes he sees Death.

He sees the both of them as they stand by the bedside of the deceased elderly.

One Death was The Vulture of Blackened Feathers whose body could barely be contained in the room. The other Death was The Masked Child whose face resembled the elderly man in his younger years.

“Welcome back.” Damien smirked as he readied his notes and tablet. “I hope you’re ready for more questions.”

“You are barely a speck in my eyes for me to ever hope, living one,” The Vulture grumbled.

“These questions of yours are beginning to bore you, I assume?” The Child noted.

Damien paid no mind to them as he was writing every single word from Deaths’ mouths. The rest of the camera crew adjusted their lenses and monitors and typed away with glee as if this was the first time. This was in fact the twelfth time Damien had called for an interview with Death.

“What? Sorry, I just need to- The whole world needs to know more. All these questions and videos, and the volumes of my books are getting best sellers everywhere. And it’s- it’s all just… remarkable.”

“Your idea of remarkable is low,” The Vulture growled and approached Damien bringing its talon close to his face and cautioned him, “I no longer find these questions as entertaining as Child has. We care not for your vices or desires. We answer simply because we can. Not to follow human affairs and especially not to follow you.”

“Heel Vulture,” The Child bellowed calmly. “Let the mortal live his life as he sees fit. Even if it involves us. It won’t be long until these are over.”

“I- I’m sorry, what was that last line?”

If The Vulture had teeth it would smile right there. Right in front of the stunned Damien.

Iosef Paramonov
Iosef Paramonov
1 month ago

Duty
by Iosef Paramonov

As the Soldier lay on the ground, there was a fluttering to his side. Faintly, he could see a raven standing there, peeking at him curiously.

“Checkin’ which part of me is the tastiest?” grinned the Soldier weakly.

“It’s nothing personal. I have to eat.” said the Raven.

The Soldier chuckled before coughing up a smattering of blood. He pressed harder on the wound at his side.

“I s’pose at this point, I shouldn’t be surprised to hear a bird talkin’.” he said.

The Raven shrugged. It glanced around at the harrowing mess that littered the valley.

“Why?” it asked, “Why do you kill each other?”

“Duty.” said the Soldier through ragged breaths.

The Raven squinted. “Duty?” it said, “What’s that?”

“In this case,” rasped the Soldier, “Our duty is to protect our country from another country.”

“What is a country?”

“Where a group of people live,” said the Soldier, “Has its own leader.”

“And how do you tell one country from another?”

“Borders. They’re lines that separate countries.”

“Lines?” The Raven looked around. “What do these lines look like?”

A sudden burst of laughter startled the Raven, who hopped back a little way. Through bloodied teeth, the soldier said, “You can’t see ’em. Invisible.”

“So you’re saying,” said the Raven slowly, “That you’re duty is to… protect invisible lines… that dictate where you live?”

“Yep. That’s right.”

The Raven shook its head. It didn’t understand.

“But why do countries attack each other?” it asked.

“Because its leader ordered it.”

“But what for? Do they know how many people will get killed? Are there no other solutions?”

“Don’t ask me, bird!” yelled the Soldier, causing the Raven to flap backwards in fright, “I just do what they tell me!”

“Even if it means killing another one of your species?”

“Yeah, that’s right!” cried the Soldier, tears dripping down his cheeks, “Even if… even if…”

His sentence broke away in sobs.

The Sun began to set. Silence filled the field. After a good while, the Raven hopped over near the Soldier’s head. It began to peck at his skull.

Last edited 1 month ago by Iosef Paramonov
Thunder
Thunder
1 month ago

Business is No Longer Boomin’

By Thunder

Bolt knew it was going to be a bad day when Director Lar shoved the door open hard enough for it to bounce off the wall. He stormed past Bolt, around to his side of the desk and falling into the big chair. His face was locked in an emotionless mask, but the elevated heartbeat and temperature spoke volumes, as did his complete lack of reaction when Bolt cautiously placed one of the Director’s old space station models back on the desk. Lars dropped the hardcopy sheaf he was carrying and leaned back, mask cracking slightly as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“How bad?” Bolt inquired.

“See for yourself,” Lar growled, pushing away from the desk so he could pull a migraine relief pill from a drawer.

Bolt carefully picked up the paper with his metal arm. “Director Sing Lar,” he read. “The Board regrets to inform you that, due to the cessation of hostilities between the Alliance and the Swarm, the SpiralCorp Weapons Development branch is-”

Bolt stopped, raising his one remaining eyebrow incredulously. “-is to be shut down, fully, by the end of the next fiscal year so the company can return to its charter of peaceful exploration of science and the galaxy for the betterment of-”

He didn’t get any further before an errant impulse crushed the sheet beyond hope of recovery. “Bullshit!”

“Unfortunately not,” Lar answered dryly. He leaned back, staring at the SpiralCorp logo on the ceiling as Bolt stood and began to pace. The cyborg’s uneven, clomping gait only served to aggravate him further.

“We don’t need them!” Bolt insisted. “We still have the plans, we can jump ship-”

Lar cut him off. “To where? Everyone’s disarming; Space Directive is mothballing all but a few patrol frigates, the Arcturus Syndicate downsized their own R&D to practically nothing, and the Martians-” He snorted.

“Unless… Director, do you remember how we met?” Bolt asked hesitantly.

Lar looked at him sharply, and he continued. “I may have kept some associates from those days… people who would pay handsomely for our services.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Thunder
J. J. Peterson
J. J. Peterson
1 month ago

Business with Death
J. J. Peterson

“You may enter.”

The doors fell silently closed behind me as Death motioned for me to take a seat opposite him at a table that stretched across the whole length of the room.

As I sat down Death pushed back from the table and spun around on his chair, hands behind his head, and asked, “What can I do for you today, dear Life.”

Leaning forward onto the table, I answered, “I noticed a new soul in your waiting room. By the name of Kenneth Johnsohn. He’s not ready to go yet.”

“He’s not ready to go yet,” Death mimicked. “Well too bad, everyone passes through my hands eventually.”

“Yes, and I thank you for that. But Kenneth is still needed on earth. I have plans for him, he still will change much in the short span of his life.”

“Another soul who will make a few lonely kids happy by buying them an ice cream cone?”

“Mock me all you want,” I defended, “But it is those few happy moments that shape a childhood to become the bright backstory to a wonderful life that will send waves of goodness through all those it touches.”

As usually happened at these points, Death started to get uptight and ornery, “You can’t make me, everyone must come to me.”

“I know, but for Kenneth you will have to wait a bit longer. And actually I can make you. Here is the form authorising the stay of Kenneth Johnsohn on earth until circumstances dictate otherwise, please sign.”

“I won’t.” Death actually stuck out his lower lip.

I stood up so I was looking down on him, and ordered, “Death, I command you to sign the paper and release this soul back into my jurisdiction.”

“Fine.” He grabbed a pen and hurriedly signed his name on the line, “But don’t think I’ll keep letting you get away with this, Life.”

“Only the ones who are still needed,” I said, grabbing the form and leaving the room. I had other business to attend to now.

Last edited 1 month ago by J. J. Peterson
Faustini
Faustini
1 month ago

God wills it
By Spawn of Faust

Another poor soul reached my doorstep. Bound and gagged, his skin covered with bruises from rough handling.

“And this one did what?” I asked the man’s handler.

“You don’t ask questions and we pay.” Shadowy figure answered, slipping a sack of coins into my yet to be greased palm.

I hefted the sack in my hand – slightly heavier than usual.

“If you say so.” I shrugged and let the man into my abode, letting the figure to slip into the shadows.

I lost a few coins in my pocket. Not too many to raise suspicion but enough to get myself a mug of ale, after the whole ordeal was over.

Knock. Knock.

“Father Ahne.” I announced my presence to the foul priest.

“Ah. Mister Mori. What brings you to my door today?”

My thumb pointed behind my back towards the already doomed soul.

Sack of gold made a loud thump as it hit the table, spilling coins all over the desk.

“So I guess no questions asked.”

My solemn nod was the only answer that the priest could hope for.

In the middle of the square stood a wooden platform with a solid wood block. In front of the platform stood a small crowd of townspeople, expecting little distraction from neverending monotony of their life.

And there we stood. Father Ahne, Damned soul and me with black garb over my head. Coin was burning me in the pocket. Waiting to be spend.

Priest was muttering the death sentence, increasing the cadence of his voice and speaking louder and louder – until the moment that he reached the last sentence.

“Deus lo vult!”

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

The Merchant (Frontier Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)

If Talia didn’t know better, she would have said that the man in front of her was just some regular merchant. A merchant he was, yes, but not one she usually tolerated in the harbour of Keene. She remembered seeing his airship multiple times, searching it almost every time, but never finding enough evidence for an arrest.

Reynard was cunning.

And to think that her one chance to finally arrest him, would be hindered by Locke. All for his pathetic deal and pathetic plans.

She hated the fact that she was forced to make a deal with Reynard, the man who smuggled weapons to the Frontier’s most notorious criminal elements.

She approached him, her expression making it clear that he was not wanted. Reynard gave her that smile she detested so much.

“Talia,” he grinned. “Back for another tour of my ship?”

“Save it,” she snarled. “I’m here to make you an offer.”

“Now that intrigues me. Officer Talia herself wants to make a deal. Weren’t you the one who called me an undertaker with extra steps?”

“The offer isn’t mine. It’s Locke’s.”

At this, Reynard perked. He didn’t say anything, but his expression said everything.

“I want weapons,” she forced out.

She didn’t have a problem with weapons per se, only with the people using them.

“In exchange,” she continued. “You will not be bothered by the authorities. I will see to that, personally.”

If Talia could have swallowed acid instead of saying that, she would have.

“I will hold you to that,” Reynard said, his smile widening. “I must say, I didn’t expect you to be the one too…”

“Let me make one thing perfectly clear,” Talia snarled. “You will deliver your weapons to me or my contact, but part of the deal is that you will no longer sell to the Spear-Carriers, the underground or anyone with a criminal history. Only me or Locke. If you break that promise, I will throw you off the edge of this floating island myself. You’re not the only one who can deal in death.”

Galer
Galer
1 month ago

Souls and Money.

by Galer.

He fixed his hair, and put his damaged coat in place, he looked at his shoes, and dusted his pants, the left leg of them completely ripped up.

He scratched his damaged nose that received a punch from a specter he was hunting down.

Fernando didn’t think this day would end up like that, however while he did understand why some human souls would rematerialize to try to finish their business in the living world.

That being said that didn’t give them the right to possess innocent people

Freaking specters

He entered the building in which one of his fellow psychopomps, saw him and winced.

“By Hel what hells happened to you?” said the female reaper werewolf in from of him “you look like you have gone through a blender”

Fernando with a noticeable lack of tack raised a cage with a light inside that jumped in all corners of the cell trying to escape, the light also screamed with the wail of the dammed.

“This is what happened Diana” he replied grumpily ” turns out some souls can be quite stubborn went they want to”

“….It was your first day hunting down specter is it?” she asked

“Yes, it was, and he almost turned me into a ghost!” Fernando said sarcastically, ” He broke my nose the bastard!”

The spirit rattled in his cage offended by that remark

“Hey at least you will get a raise out of this, I hear they paid a lot for capturing rampaging souls like those” encouraged Diana with a smile.

But for Fernando that wasn’t particularly amusing

“Maybe because of how dangerous the job is! if it wasn’t for my shortage of money I would have quitted!” the reaper said “God dammit! I hope the salary is worth the pain!”

He already was yearning for those times in which it was only guiding a Soul, then money.

After all, in the past, he didn’t need to fight Gasper the punchy possession happy murder ghost.

Last edited 1 month ago by Galer
Aracnarquista
Aracnarquista
1 month ago

Stillness
by Aracnarquista

The city is still. I can’t help, but remember the words: “We are surrounded by stillness, still, we must keep busy; in fact, it is because we are surrounded by stillness that we should keep busy”. My father told me that, time and time again, while he lectured me in our craft. He told me, time and time again, that his father had said the same while he was his apprentice.

One day, I’ll say the same words while I work with my son or daughter, and teach them the craft.

The craft of tending to the dead, of preparing corpses for their final deposition. The craft of the undertaker, the craft of the gravedigger.

We toil with stillness, since the ones we tend to are the dead. We keep ourselves busy, while surrounded by the stillness of death.

We must keep ourselves busy. That’s what differentiate us from our clients.

The city is still. My busy feet brought me here, to this dead place. I walk the silent streets, observed by none but the empty windows and broken doors. A dry smell raises from the dust: the smell of time passed and abandonment, and triggers a memory. A memory from when I last walked this street, by my father’s side. The road to the cemetery.

In that time, long ago, we were accompanied by different men – some alive, two of them dead. Some almost dead, but it would be years still until the realization caught to them. The two who hadn’t realized, but were recognized by all as dead, were our clients. It was the last two I helped put on the ground with my father, before leaving to be the undertaker of another city.

And now, I’m here, shovel in hand, walking to that very same cemetery. All the dead here are on the ground, and still, I’m ready to dig graves again. Father took his secrets to the grave: father took his secrets to the place he taught me all about.

Among those that lie still, I find his resting place.

Hi, father.

Digging is busy work.

Death Aint
Death Aint
1 month ago

All you do is try to find me.

I walk through a library full of the quiet people. I actually wouldn’t mind talking, but rules, are rules. When I’ve left they are silent. Their stories are that much closer to ending.

There’s a rowdy party across the street, next door, or over my back fence. I’m trying to sleep. I quietly ask them, and I leave them alone. They may have even gotten louder. They’ll never party like they did before.

I am the most powerful narcotic.

Amazing.

Parenting, depression, generosity, work, giving up, stalwart ideals, or the corruption of anything? Wrong, because I tell you, you’re right.

You fight so hard to be right, so you don’t want to be told you’re right? What? Why?

There’s a time and a place, to be irrational, a game.

It can stop. I can stop it. Here is a plan.

Just because I saw it, you’re telling me. It doesn’t happen unless I saw it. Because you say so. You say it’s because you showed it to me.

All your life you run to me, so I show you the door. You run to me faster to show me that I am a door, I’m a window, I’m a mirror.

Would it be trouble to speak to a stranger civilly? After you finish a long chat you will be assured my presence is an absolute validation. There’s no wanting for more. You’ll be comforted, having me near. And because of that, you wish you were with me always. You’ll feel a loss, forever.

After all, it was all your life until now, you’re trying to find me. That’s all it was, that’s all it will ever be to most people.

Have my horse. It wants to guide you, slowly.

My horse requires water and fresh fruits. You can understand. Oranges, a watermelon, tomatoes, some hay, plenty of water. You can feed my horse at the very least. Won’t you? If not, you’ll be running to me.

You gallop to me!

T.C.Holmes
T.C.Holmes
1 month ago

Katrina’s worst day on the job
By T. C. Holmes

“It was a tragedy”, Katrina said as she wheeled in the second body for the detectives to examine,” According to what I was told these two were friends who met up at a coffee shop every week. Till some madman showed up with a gun and shot the place up.”

She stopped, took a step back from the sheet covered bodies, grabbed a box of latex gloves and handed them to the short, bald, dark skinned man who introduced himself as detective Atlas, and she leaned back up against the opposite wall of the morgue. The man and his pale, black haired companion both donned gloves and went to lift the sheets enough to see the faces of the corpses, after a moment of examining them, they both turned to each other and gave an affirmatory nod.

The next few events played out very swiftly in Katrina’s head, the black haired woman pulls her pistol from her holster and says in a thick Irish accent,” Sorry love these 2 are coming with us”, and before Katrina could respond in any way she had a burning agony in her gut forcing her to fall against the wall and slide down. As she looked up at the two “detectives”, were talking to each other one of them saying to wheel the car around. Then she saw one of the corpses sit up, the dead woman with the extremely long red hair, and grab the dark haired woman from behind, shark like fangs where her teeth should have been sinking into the living woman’s throat. That was the last thing Katrina could remember before she passed out and woke up 3 days later in the hospital, apparently someone had called the police, and killed the false detectives by ripping their throats out.

Tamela Redfin
Tamela Redfin
1 month ago

Cloning’s my Business and business is good

By Tamela Redfin

Thanks to Reagan’s Iscariot kiss, I had work to do. I went to my reserves of clone bodies. If only Gilbert stayed as well as Corlita. I would love to have my little murder bots now. But alas, you can’t have everything.

But there was one thing I could do, I realized. Thanks to Cora’s affair, Violet was born. While I hated the little bundle of…. Whatever it was. But, her hands held a special secretion: poison sweat.

If I could program that into the clones’ DNA, I’d be set for life. Or should I say, set them for death? If not, I could use the DNA of Glenn, my radioactive child, assuming it wouldn’t disintegrate.

At night, I saw my chance. Violet was alone, or so I thought, I took off her tiny gloves.

“What are you doing, Uncle Augen?”

I gasped and saw a pale skinned gi… was that Nora? Helen’s and my daughter?

“Uncle Augen needs help, child.” I grin. “It’s for science.”

“Science? I love science!” Nora shouted.

“Shh, not so loud. Come to my laboratory, after I get the sample.

She agreed and we went down. There was Glenn, and I already felt sick from the radiation poison. Nora didn’t seem affected. Odd.

She waved and I got to work. How would it work? After long hours, I found the clone I tested on could shoot a web of poison. Or was it venom?

“Nice to see you here, Nora.” Glenn nodded. “It gets so lonely…”

“Less talking, Glenn! You’re distracting her.” I shouted.

“I think we got it.” Nora smiled. “Look at this clone. His arm isn’t falling off.”

“Good, GOOD.”

Nora balanced a spanner in her hand, “So, why do we need them to shoot poison?”

“To take down the cyphas and that damned Grey Rose, sweetie!”

Her eyes widened, as if she realized she had done something horribly wrong.

Marx
Marx
1 month ago

Take The Hint, Bro
By Marx

A long sigh hissed through the void. “Hello Duncan…”

Duncan smiled wildly at the voice, oblivious to its irritation. “You know my name!”

“All who live will one day meet me. I know everyone’s name.”

“May I see you, my mistress?”

“I am not your mistress,” said Death, appearing before him. “Take my hand.”

Duncan began to but paused, instinctively knowing what it would mean. “You’re as beautiful as I always knew you’d be. A radiant goddess of perfection. Can’t I… stay here with you?”

“I care not what you think of my appearance. I am not a deity. You cannot stay here. Take my hand.”

“Please, my mistress! I will die for you, but I just-… I love you so much! I just want to be with you! Didn’t you like my gifts?”

Death’s eyes narrowed. “Contrary to what you believe, I do not see murder as a gift. Nor do I see attempts to kill yourself as… intimacy. I see you as a disturbed mortal. Nothing more.”

Duncan’s eyes narrowed back. “I asked you if this was what you wanted! You told me! You told me to prove my love for you and we’d be together!”

Death sighed once more. “I said no such thing. That was your psychosis. Your way of justifying your own ideals and perversions, while using me as an excuse.”

“No! That’s not true!”

“Take my hand, Duncan.”

“Not yet! Let me prove myself to you! I’ll do whatever you want!”

“Excellent. Take my hand.”

Duncan grit his teeth as his hands balled into fists. “Why are you being like this?! Why won’t you give us a chance?”

“Because there is no us. There is you. There is me. And there is my purpose. I have a fated mate. And he is not you.” Before he could protest further, Death forcibly took Duncan’s hand into hers and he was gone.

Death sat in the quiet and scowled. She hated mortals like that. They only succeeded in making her feel lonely.

“I patiently await your arrival, my horseman.” Death mused before returning to her duties.

Skeleton
Skeleton
1 month ago

Blood Money (The Will)
By Skeleton

“Twenty-three men gone, along with seven horses. Thirteen injuries, three serious. No provisions recoverable, so that’s two-weeks worth of food and water needed. Eight items of equipment destroyed: five crossbows, two spears, and one sword. Expenses are looking like…” Ericka strained to herself to the thumping of an angry dragoness nearby, “…maybe a thousand, two-hundred and sixty five Crowns—nix a hundred and fifty if Eymir can replace the equipment himself.”

“I feel… so fucking stupid!” Zaila cursed in a rage, kicking a scrap piece of charred house and adding to the ashen cloud that hung in the air. “My own countrymen…! I can’t believe they’d do something like this!”

“You’d be surprised what someone will do for money if they really need it,” Ericka added calmly over the smouldering of what remained of the people who lived there. “In fact, they probably didn’t want to do this as much as the villagers.”

“They could have stopped at any time!” Zaila cried, shamed by her own country. “At any time, they could have chosen to be good!”

“And let their families starve due to their moral compass?” Ericka reasoned as the numbers came back into her mind. However, the sniffling of the young dragoness would never let her finish her job in peace. “They chose this,” she comforted. “Be free of their choice. A killer for money is nothing to lose sleep over.”

Zaila didn’t respond, but her sniffling did lessen a little. The wulack commander sighed and stood, placing her paw on the warrior-in-training’s shoulder. “It’s the people who kill without the promise of coin that you should weep over,” Ericka explained, her expression souring a little as the old her resurfaced in her memory. “They burn passion to fire their blade—a dangerous thing.”

After a moment of contemplation, Zaila nodded in understanding, her tears lessening to stains on her cheek. “Speaking of which,” Ericka continued enthusiastically. “Did Eymir mention how many of the enemy are dead?”

“…around three hundred.”

“At eight Crowns a head, that’s…” Ericka let out a breath of relief. “We’re in the green.”

contract
contract
1 month ago

NecroPetShop
by contract

“Welcome to Zach’s Pet Shop, where yesterday’s pet is today’s puppet !”

Sometimes I hate my brother’s sense of humor.
But I promised I would visit his new business. I guess I should have seen it coming…

I opened the rusty metal door, which has obviously never been cleaned.

“Welcome dear customer ! We are not open today, but you can come back tomorrow ! And remember, bringing your own dead pet gives you a 15% reduction !”

I immediately recognised the usual over the top voice my brother takes when trying to sell his…products.

“It’s me. I was in town, so I decided to see how you were-”

“Brother ! Been a while, since I saw you ! Last time, it was when I did this wonderful sale of old haunted shoes ! About…3 years ago ? Maybe 4, but no more than 5 ! Come, I’m here in the back !” he interrupted, as he loves to do.

I walked through the dusty shop. Clearly, he didn’t bother hiring someone to clean…

As I progress toward the back-shop, the smell of rotting flesh becomes more and more apparent. I guess one or two windows would have been nice…

Finally, I see him, polishing the pearl of his scepter. Probably the only thing I ever saw him cleaning.

“So, how do you find the shop ?”

“It’s alright, I guess. How is business ?”

He took a deep inspiration, which means it was time for me to sit down where I could. I was gonna be here for a while.

“You won’t believe it. Simply wonderful ! Necromancy was really the best career choice I made ! People come with their pets, I put a spell on their corpses and they are as new ! Even better actually, some kill their pets purposely before bringing them here !”

I wanted to protest, but I didn’t have the energy to launch a debate on the questionable origin of his money.

“And that’s not all ! I sometimes use some dead animals I find on the street or in the forest and sell them for such a good price. Do you know how much I can sell a bear for ? It’s just awesome !”

I knew I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t restreint myself any further from asking why there was a boney throne in the back.

“Oh, that ? Another one of my ideas. I sold animals with an expiration date, but with extra functions. People brought back the skeletons for a 5% discount, and I used them to build multiple objects, like this throne. It’s mostly cats and dogs, but I can sell it for a good price.”

“I see you haven’t changed at all.”