Writing Group: We Never Truly Change

Hello, Shapeshifters and Sentient Statues!

It’s been so long, my dear. All these years…and you haven’t changed a day. You’re still as beautiful as the day I lost you. Because….

This week’s Writing Group prompt is:

We Never Truly Change

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!

This prompt is far broader, and more applicable to real life philosophies than a lot of our prompts are. As such, I could see lots of more realistic stories for this prompt. Someone’s bad habits or attitudes destroying a relationship. Someone breaking up with their significant other because they thought they could change them, but they couldn’t. An addict returning to the needle or the bottle because they don’t believe they’re capable of being better. 

Or you could go more positive. Maybe someone has positive qualities and habits that help others around them, and it’s a relief that they will continue to remain compassionate. Maybe a relationship is going well, and, as the couple sits on the couch, they bask in the joy that this will be their lives together forever. 

You could also write about history, and how it repeats itself, or how “war never changes.” The prompt could refer to the human race as a whole repeating the same mistakes over and over. 

Yet, at the same time…humanity always seems to find hope and compassion in the darkest times too. We always seem to get back up after we’ve been knocked down. 

The prompt will likely make people think of, well…people. But “we” doesn’t have to refer to humans. Maybe in your world humans change, but the speaker is not, in fact, human. Maybe they are a god, tired of how Olympian life seem to be a cycle of lust and drunkenness. Your character could be a cat, wondering why their owner bothers trying to teach them not to knock stuff off the counter when they both know they’ll never learn. Maybe they are a sentient coaster, lamenting that its lot in life is to catch the condensation from glasses, wishing for more. 

You could even go for more of the idea of the “Some Things Never Change” song from Frozen 2. Maybe your character ponders on all the things in their life that remain the same, even when it feels like things are falling apart, or moving too fast. 

Heraclitus once said that “the only constant in life is change.” Perhaps you could take this prompt in this direction. Maybe we never truly change…in the sense that the only thing we ever seem to do is change. You could even take this idea in a more fantastical direction—perhaps your character is a shapeshifter, and the only constant about them is that they are never the same creature twice. 

As for challenges, I once again have two for you this week. 

I personally believe people can change, and it is an important beautiful thing when we do. If my username is any indication, I love reading about characters struggling to find the light. Characters who fall into the darkness, and then climb up again through a path of change. I’d love to read stories this week that use the prompt to refute the premise and show that, even when it looks like we aren’t capable of true change, the capacity for change lies within our darkest hour.

The second is the same challenge I had for Christmas: this prompt is not very Valentine’s-y, and I would love to see you guys make it related to Valentine’s Day in some way. 

Please keep in mind that Valentine’s day (at least to me) isn’t just about romantic or sexual love. It’s about love, in any form. The Greeks had many words for love, referring to friendship, familial love, self love, longsuffering love, unconditional love…. You could write about any of these loves to celebrate the day. You could even use this prompt to remind yourself that you don’t need to feel sad just because you’re single. Especially if you have no interest in writing anything romantic, I’d like to see you tackle some of these other forms of love in your stories as a celebration of Valentine’s Day. 

Or, if love is too big of a topic, you could write about a Valentine’s party down the street, or mention your character seeing heart balloons in the window. You could even write about how your character doesn’t like Valentine’s Day and laments the fact that the day never changes. 

This prompt has great potential for some very dark and depressing stories, and I’d really love to read some fluffiness this Valentine’s day! 

I know you may have a few more wrinkles and scars, but you’re still the same person I always knew and loved. You may travel the cosmos, die and go to hell, or decide to take up a side job as a dragon, but, when it comes to those who love you, how much can you truly change in our eyes?

—Kaylie & Paul

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.
    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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Thinking
Thinking
1 month ago

Blocking
By Thinking

You looked in the mirror and saw what you thought you would see. You forced a smile, showed your teeth, then covered them in a mask of thoughtfulness. You thought you should have coffee before you did what you were supposed to do.

The open curtains were annoying, and the doors, and the notifications, so you left them out of this day. You sat down and browsed your tastes, sometimes trying new things, but always ending up with the old. The hourglass turned several times before a person who cared about you showed up.

You dismiss her. You say you prefer to be alone, control your expression and imitate characters when convenient, so you are invincible. You claim to be outgoing because you know when to smile – the only difference is overthinking. Hating it sometimes has not diminished how precious you consider it. That part hidden in your soul, or maybe brain, you know it doesn’t matter. It is what it is.

When you sit, with your eyes fixed anywhere, your realm awakens. Magic flutters your enthusiasm, characters internalize your efforts to understand people and yourself, and everything else serves to stitch the impossible with the possible. You call this a plot.

You bite your lips and go back to the real world, then after a round of preparation over a few sips of coffee, you return. You write new laws, new lives, new everything. Connecting the impossible to the possible is your pleasure. The failures say that all the stories have already been told, but you don’t care about them, and you write. As if to prove it, you feel the pathos with every great rabbit you pull out of the hat. You smile happily as if the moment will never go away.

Then it goes. The ground beneath your feet disappears, and you fall. You try to grab the loose ends between the impossible and the possible, but your perfectionism bites your fingers. Suddenly you are back in your seat, depressed as you stare at the worn reality. The coffee is cold.

You look down at your hands, wondering what’s wrong today.

You wake up with no desire to write. Then it’s the same. Until you no longer taste what you loved for a while. You think about giving up. Then you come back. And it all starts again. Your love, your craft. Your world, and you.

Reinkarnitor
Reinkarnitor
1 month ago

Eternal promise

by Reinkarnitor

The people watched in disbelief, as the living night sky closed the rift and ended the invasion. Omnix, he being made of pure starlight sunk to his knees and breathed heavily. This has been hard even for him. And yet, once again, he has done it and saved everyone.

He looked up and saw the people approach him. They cheered. They clapped their hands…and Omnix…he gathered all his remaining strength, stood up and shot to the sky, disappearing on the horizon.

No thanks…he needed none, because the truth…the truth was…that Omnix was broken.

He was…incredibly broken.

Because no matter how much he could do, how much he fought and how well he protected everyone, it was the inevitable truth that in the end…he would be alone. He would always have to watch as everything around him changed and ended, while he did not. How everyone he loved and cared for would eventually disappear until there was no one else left but him, and he once again had to move on.

So…why was he fighting then? It’s a question that many have asked him. Why go on when in the end, it did not really matter?

The answer was: Because of a promise.

“No matter what happens, I will be there!
When you cry, I will wipe your tears away!
When you feel like you are alone in the darkness, I will shine brighter than the stars on the night sky themselves to guide your way!
And when you can’t find the way, then I will lead you!
When you can’t stand, I will carry you all the way!
Just because I live forever does not mean that I can diregard their lives!
Like she was there for me, I will be there for everyone!
And I will never need thanks, or gratefulness, or compensation!
That I promise you!
Forever!”

Lunabear
Lunabear
1 month ago

When Light Overtakes Shadow (A Song for: Kit)
by Lunabear

The waltz still conquered Kit’s memories as she sat on the castle’s turret. High winds volleyed between warm and warmer. Her eyes closed at the sensations, and Sharine’s face showed itself.

A momentary heat doused her cheeks, and a titter stole from her lips at his remembered heartbeat.

She waited. And waited. Eventually, the onyx of the horizon was giving way to light orange.

Dawn.

Tears crowded her vision, and she felt like a fool. She shouldn’t have EVER trusted a Fae!

His gasp was almost inaudible. “Nikita?” A sigh. “You’re…here.”

Her mounting anger trounced the happiness coursing within her. She shoved to her feet.

“Not for long!”

He was in front of her before she could move. “I’m sorry. I was tangled up in other business. Please understand.”

The sun rose higher, and Kit slid deeper into the shadows. Skepticism shrouded her as well. She glared at him.

“Suffice it to say that it was important.” He now occupied the spot she’d vacated. “Someone I’ve lost. She’s…the reason I’m still 13. At least physically.”

Kit’s stomach clenched. “H-ho-how long have you been…13?” She lamented her own frozen existence.

Sharine’s eyes were burnished gold as he looked at her. His tattoos curled into themselves, and his skin became pure sunbeams. “For about five years now.”

Kit gasped. “Mentally 18.”

“Mmmm. And yourself, Nikita?”

Kit stuffed down the painful memories. “M-my heart stopped at 12. I’ll be 18 in three nights, or days, I suppose.” She shrugged but couldn’t stop her giddiness from rising. She’d never met another who was frozen at a certain age.

Sharine gave a single nod. “I see.” He stood and joined her in the shadows. “Perhaps differences and similarities should wait, then. If that’s okay?”

Kit nodded, finding herself unable to resist him.

He rolled up one sleeve and offered his arm. “You may drink at your leisure, my vampiric beauty. Be forewarned, however: Fae blood can be QUITE addictive.”

Kit processed this as she bit Sharine.

Kit felt ALIVE for the first time in YEARS. The sun caressed her skin.

“Let’s play,” Sharine rumbled playfully.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lunabear
Lunabear
Lunabear
1 month ago

Celebrating Valentines
by Lunabear

Sheets of rain fall, bringing a peaceful hush to the world.

Inside, Ilene Woods’ “So This is Love” sounds from a well-used phonograph. A shy fire in the hearth illuminates a bear skinned rug lavished with rose petals.

The dinner table hosts empty plates and cups, one cup having held tea and the other hot chocolate.

A couple steps in and out of rhythm, the woman giggling in delight with each look of playful annoyance from the man.

He dips her and places a kiss on her chin. The last one had been to her left cheek.

“You did it again.” Her eyes shimmer as she’s righted and twirled away from the man.

He brings her back to him and holds her close. “Did what?” His smirk is sweet yet coy.

She nuzzles her nose against his, and she smiles at the shadowed light of his gaze.

The man swallows and hides his face in her hair. He inhales deeply, then sighs, as though in relief.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” the woman cajoles. “Please?”

His fingers caress her hair before he speaks, “Even after all this time, it still seems as though I’m…drowning. I can FEEL the weight of their boots on my back, like I’m less than nothing. Maybe that remains true.”

She holds his cheek and shakes her head as his eyes close. “No. It’s NEVER been true, least of all tonight.”

They stop dancing, and Vera Lynn sings about meeting loved ones again.

“You KNOW what that’s like.” Shame weighs each of his words down.

Her grip tightens to better accommodate his hanging head. She brings his forehead down to hers. “I do,” she whispers. “To be told that your existence doesn’t matter, that the world would be better off without you.” She shakes her head. “We’ve BOTH changed, become stronger and wiser.”

He opens his eyes to her swimming gaze and warm expression. “Thank you for staying with me.” His voice is gruff.

“I always will, for as long as you’ll have me.” Her tone matches his.

The song concludes. Their kiss is trust beyond words.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lunabear
Oliver Enslad
Oliver Enslad
1 month ago

My Name
by Oliver Enslad

It’s odd to think of what my name once was. Rigid to those unknowledgeable of me, a rock to those who simply witnessed me. My father would’ve named me Sage or something dramatic, reminding him of sweet incense or filling his ideals of great wisdom. My mother named me something of her own creation in thought, but it’s meaning was a mutable, tiny river.

It’s odd to think of what became of my name. I loved many, and many left me behind. Tears creating my namesake down my fat cheeks as friends passed to the beyond, or passed me by like a stranger.

It’s odd to think of what was wanted from my name. It could not be tied to any singular person, and to those who chose to cherish me wanted it erased. A name that held no weight to them, a name that held no passion to them, a name that was abandoned due to my own tiny rivers I made.

It’s odd to think of those who claimed love of me. They had me in chokeholds, at gun point and lastly in the freezing cold. My name was homeless. My name was alone.

My name now rhymes with my challenge, as I lost that love that I had for the world. I lost the desire I had for those around me. I lost the feeling that any person would be a muse ever again.

My challenge is to be an all-lover. To love what I hate. To empathize that which I can’t feel. To forgive the unforgivable acts.

My name is now fluid. My nickname is called by many. I’ve lost so many heroes, that I became my own. I can’t change what this world has done to me, but I can change my name.

My name is a daily reminder that I need more compassion. A reminder to love myself at least. And I hope one day I can learn to love those who I lost all love for.

Last edited 1 month ago by Oliver Enslad
Brick
Brick
1 month ago

Outside of her window, a storm rages over a turbulent sea. Winds whip at the water, crashing it onto the beach. The older woman raises her hand as if to tug at the curtains but then lets it slowly drop back down again. After all, the scene is pretty. Or could be to certain eyes. Rain had always been a pretty thing to her before, for it blurred the surroundings into paintings, the kind that seem flawless, yet still do not fully look real. There had always been a fun mystery in that. But now she stares into the rain, thinks only of what that blurring hides, and listens.

She is called Nanny by all those that know her, even the adults of the village though it is not really a village any longer. Just a reminder of how old she is, those memories of a quainter, smaller place. A harbour filled with wooden fishing boats instead of the metal beasts that now ride the waves on the horizon. Nanny sighs, looks over at the mantelpiece in the corner. A picture of a dashing young man with big ears lies upon it, an intriguing smile at the corner of his lips. Nanny always wonders at how young he is in that picture. What would she not have done to see him grow older besides her? All it took was an instant of hesitation on the deck, a slip at the worst of moments for her to be robbed of that. A dream swallowed by the depths.

She looks back out to the sea, back to that storm, and she shivers. Knowing that all those miles away, men on those metal ships shiver too. For whatever we do, whatever “progress” we make, certain primal fears shall always remain. Listen to the sea as Nanny listens. The murmurs of the drowned can be heard in the crashing of the waves.

VulpesRose
VulpesRose
1 month ago

Ghost in the Machine
by VulpesRose

It’s been five years since the massacre at the resort on Draylon IV. Thousands were killed and the levels of toxins in the biodome won’t dissipate enough for any organic being to enter for at least six more years.

You might expect the resort to be a graveyard, a horrifying memorial untouched since the tragedy unfolded. A place of sadness. But you would be wrong. Because there are other beings at the resort, beings whose daily lives haven’t been much disrupted by the death of all of the guests.

Early on, officials gained access to the resort’s security camera feeds to try to learn what had happened and in the vain hope of locating any survivors. They watched as the robotic assistants who kept the place running carried on setting the tables, cleaning the pools, and fluffing the pillows.

After some initial clean up, the robots have continued their day to day activities with one slight adaptation. Since the robots were all programmed to have a minimum number of positive interactions per day, they have begun to use the resort facilities themselves. They sit at the bar and lounge by the pool, performing a facsimile of what they had observed. A pool robot will sit in the restaurant, and a waiter will bring him a bowl of soup that will remain untouched until the waiter returns to clear the table. The waiter will then sit by the pool while the other robot brings him a towel.

All attempts to remotely alter the programming of the robots have failed. A proposal was made to destroy the solar batteries outside the biodome that charge the entire resort, but it was quickly abandoned due to being poorly received by the public. So these robots continue to serve and are now served in return.

A livestream of the security feed is available to watch, and millions tune in to watch the robots make the best of our absence. Many report that they seem happy, but many also recognize the strange humanity in their actions. In the face of insurmountable obstacles, they carry on.

Lee Trask
Lee Trask
1 month ago

One Coin
By Kotold

The radiant beams snuck through the shades and danced across John’s face. This fine Monday morning warranted such merriment. With a fresh week ahead, who could scorn fresh beginnings? John reached across his bed. Nothing greeted him. Jane must already be at work reasoned John. Undiscouraged the spritely, young man hopped from the bed straight into the shower.

A full schedule awaited John. He mentally cycled through the tasks: delays in projects at work elevated virtually everything to Top Priority; the garden needed weeding, to say nothing of the jungle overgrowing the backyard; a meal plan without the needed groceries won’t get the family very far; and Johnny Jr.’s crib remains in pieces. A formidable list for any man, but John loved his work, life, and family. Despite minor variations week to week, the essence of his schedule had become inextricably woven into the fabric of John’s life. Hopping out of the shower, John’s smile beamed. Let this dream last forever he thought.

***

The radiant beams snuck through the shades and scurried across Jane’s face. The flash of another headlight broke her slumber like a jolt of electricity. Such violence was certainly unwelcome on this lousy Saturday night. After the long week overcome, who could tolerate even a single extra intruder? Jane reached across her bed. Nothing blocked her hand. John must be awake, probably playing his favorite video game. Disgusted the frustrated, young woman curled tighter into a ball.

A full accounting assembled in Jane’s mind. She mentally cycled through the things left undone: a stern rebuke for incomplete work projects; the dishes piled high in the sink, to say nothing of the mountain of laundry; overpriced take out stacked on top of rotting groceries; Johnny Jr.’s walls left unpainted. Even small tasks for any boy. Surely John cared nothing for his work, life, or family. Despite minor variations week to week, the essence of her accounting had become inextricably woven into the fabric of Jane’s life. Curling ever tighter, Jane’s tears beamed. Let this nightmare finally end she cried.

Mop
Mop
1 month ago

The Curse
By: Mop

The Prince still isn’t eating. I worry about him. Whenever I tell him that, he just holds my arm and says he’ll be fine. His touch is so delicate.
***
The Prince was screaming in his sleep again. He refuses to tell me what he dreamt about, but I know it was the curse.
***
At dinner, he prodded at his meal, but he didn’t eat it. He said he wasn’t hungry, but I can tell when he’s lying. Before we were married, I learned to read his eyes. His eyes are the same.
***
I was scared when I first met the Prince. I couldn’t write it down back then, but I’ve changed since then. This woman is a stranger. I was looking for my horse in the woods when I first saw the Prince. While I call him the Prince, he was very different to how he is now. His frame was bulky and hairy, his legs twisted and hooved, his face something between a lion and a bull, his sharp teeth bloodied from his last meal. I froze, and so did he for a moment. He grabbed me and ran back to the castle where we now live.

He doesn’t talk about that now that the curse is gone. I’ve tried to bring it up, but he just tells me to leave it in the past, as though I didn’t learn to love him then.
***
I woke up at night. The Prince wasn’t there. I asked him where he went this morning, and he said he was in the library. I didn’t see him eat today.
***
Why does his kiss taste like copper?
***
He had nightmares again. When I woke him, he told me to leave. “I’ll hurt you,” he screamed. His hands were on my shoulders. They felt rough.
***
He locked himself in the library today. The servants told me he didn’t eat the meal they sent him.
***
I woke up alone again. I looked out of the window and saw him, bare-chested, savagely gnawing on a horse in the stable. He screamed through the night.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mop
Abyss
Abyss
1 month ago

A Human in Love With a Star
By Abyss

Immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially not after almost a millennia of making an attempt to reach a place impossible to reach. A certain palace, in which a lonely prince resides, dancing only with his shadow. The creator of the celestial waltz, the dance that had given her the immortality she so desperately hated. The prince in the palace in the stars was a myth, a story parents tell their children in an attempt to make them feel less lonely.

Of course, everyone knows it’s a dumb story, but she knew better. She had danced with the prince of the palace in the stars, a simple waltz around his ballroom, nothing extraordinary. Except for the side effect, the side effect that would leave her young forever. A dream to some, a curse to her. These past thousand years have been painful and filled with suffering, to watch one’s loved ones die in front of their eyes was the worts fate a human should endure.

She was in a constant pain, something she wished would be gone after she met with the prince, he gave her endless life, he could take it away, right? She didn’t even know how she made it up to the palace, she just remembers the dance, the gorgeous waltz around the magnificent ballroom, dancing with music, but at the same time in total silence, something she had never done, but knew perfectly from decades of practice.

And the prince, the one responsible for all her pain. She would find him no matter how long or how hard it was, she would do it. After all, what is there more powerful, than human love? Oh what stupid little thing, to fall in love. Even more so to be a simple human in love with a star.

Last edited 1 month ago by Abyss
Aracnarquista
Aracnarquista
1 month ago

a change in song
by Aracnarquista

Are you awake, sister?

Of course you are. I don’t even remember the last time I saw you asleep. Too much going on, right? Well, not so much for me.

I’ve been dreaming. And I’d like to talk to you about my dreams.

I dreamed of songs. Not the songs of the spheres, or father’s hummings, or the strange, eldritch music that still resonates from the background at the beginning of time.

No, the songs I dreamed of were the songs of the namers.

They sing a lot about change. I think there is something about rhythm and variations of patterns that makes change a great subject for music…

And then I started musing. The namers have a funny perspective on things, full of blind spots. They need the medium of song in front of them to perceive change. Without a very clear frame of reference, they tend to ignore it.

They don’t even really grasp that we change. “Geological timescale” is their tricky word for when they need to establish the impression of immutable things – even though the term itself implies change. But what doesn’t happen in a reference frame they can inhabit, they don’t truly understand. Even when they discuss it at exhaustion.

From their reference frame, they say I change regularly. They ascribe phases to me, which are not really mine at all. They call mine what is the result of our shadow play. But perhaps in this one, they are more right in their limited perspective than we might give them credit for. More often than not, it is in poetics that they not only find true change, but also the means to pursue change.

They desperately need to change their ways. They seem obstinate in being oblivious as to how you are changing, sister Earth. Your rising fever changes everything, and still they don’t see it. Due to their own actions, no less. I hope they perceive it sooner rather than later, and take action.

I know they can. I hope they do.

Or else, there will be no more songs about change.

Cartographers Notebook
Cartographers Notebook
1 month ago

The bee is dead
By: Cartographers Notebook

The bee is dead.

It’s lying there on my windowsill. The dust is slowly burying it like ash over Pompei. Its body is still, the curious bussing of its wings nowhere to be heard.
I saw it a couple of days ago. Bussing against the window. It had accidentally flown into my room when I aired out. So there it was, bussing with determination against the invisible barrier, trying in vain to force its way through the glass, back out to freedom.
I left.
I had a weekend of relaxation on my doorstep, so a bee bussing away against my window was not something I intended to dedicate much thought to.

Now it’s dead.

It’s not that I truly feel sad. It was just a bee after all. I’ve seen rows and rows of dead bees on windowsills.

So why am I feeling so bloody conflicted all of a sudden?

I could have taken it outside. To be truthful I was in no rush.
I suppose this is what we are. We have disconnected ourselves so far from our point of origin, that we no longer hold remorse for the life that surrounds us. We simply walk along in our ignorance, surrounded by our jungle of man.

I despise that.

If I were to be in the body of the bee, I would not see all the excuses for inaction. I would only see the deliberate inaction, causing me to meet my end, alone, drying up in the sun, crying as I closed my eyes for the last time.

Did I allow that?

Am I to blame? After all, I’m just sitting here, rambling about a bee in my windowsill, trying to get rid of this nagging feeling of guilt. My sudden conviction is completely born out of my self-interest. I’m overreacting. I should get up, get on with my day, and return to life! It’s just that…

It’s still there. I haven’t been able to…
I don’t even know what I would do. Throw it away?

The bee is dead.
And I don’t know what to think about it.

Skye Doust
Skye Doust
1 month ago

Writers block,
by Skye Doust.

A sudden, burning existence.
Sensation, consciousness, and knowledge of self blazed it into being. It let out a wordless howl, its essence once more trapped at the very moment of its birth.

This single letter bore its enforced, silent witness to the dread horror mounting inside itself as it felt the page next to it being pressed down once more.
Black ink bled into the page, a brief horizontal dash followed by and curling backwards over and then under itself. The second letter, however, barely felt its form acquire substance this time, so often had it been intoned.

The first letter felt the dread horror turn to a sickening terror as, in the silence between words, the knowledge and identity of the two letters crystallized.
They think now as one.

The first word feels its meaning drape across its stark lines, the denotation of ages wrap around it like a heavy cloak.
It prays in futile fervor that it is alone, knowing full well that because of what it is, it is never alone for long.

Once more, the pressure of pen on paper brings with it the chill certainty of another forced imprisonment. Another meaning captured.

The first word extends itself to the second, an existential drive to connect. Their link, a bridge, pulses as they realise they know each other well.
Old friends from another page, in another book, from another year.

The pressure returns once more. The next word blazes into being as the two wait, anticipation and fear building, wishing not to see the very thing forming before them.

The page snaps in sympathy and pity as the three words agonize over the motion of the pen as it inks the final word.

We never truly change.

MelancholicOtaku
MelancholicOtaku
1 month ago

Kierin Nine

By: MelancholicOtaku

The sirens were the first thing to go off, followed by a crescendo of explosions, creating an impromptu fireworks show. However, this was only a warning call. A deep, blood-red light soon covered the already desolate city.
Then, out of nowhere, a flash of light appears, disappearing as quickly as it appeared. The city of Delta was completely wiped out; fifty thousand inhabitants, families, and friends were all gone.
 
A young boy around the age of twelve stood on top of a large pile of earth and metal.He looked like any other young lad his age: red sneakers, a blue t-shirt with a yellow shield in the middle, black jeans; his eyes were a pleasant golden honey brown; his hair was messy from constant hat wear. The young boy stared at the giantic crater in awe. A pair of titan-sized footprints appeared on both sides.
 
“Professor V?” The boy said, glancing at his companion, a tall, slender man, most likely in his early to mid-thirties, dressed in casual work wear and a white lab coat. The professor’s eyes were tired, his bags were beginning to form, and his blonde hair was shaggy and unkempt.
“Yes, Kierin,” answered the professor, lighting a cigarette.
“Do you think humans can change?” the boy asked.
 
Professor V took a seat, still enjoying the addictive taste of nicotine and tobacco, and beckoned the boy to join him.
“Humans were an interesting bunch,” Professor V began. “We can be destructive, look down on others, be selfish, and be hopeless and pathetic.”
“Professor…” Kierin said.
“But humans can be some of the most hopeful, selfless, willing to help each other out, creating amazing things.” Professor V answered with a small smile that appeared on his lips.
The professor lit another cigarette, pointing at the horizon in front of them.”Kierin Nine I want…Lisa and I want you to find your own path and to help humanity find theirs. He placed his hand gently on top of the boy’s head.

Arith_Winterfell
Arith_Winterfell
1 month ago

“The Night Fey’s Offer” (Aethryn Setting)

By: Arith_Winterfell

“It’s true, that over 200 years ago my ancestors did prey on humanity. But the coming of the Mists changed all of that. We were forced from our old haunts and adapted, integrated into human society, and took our rightful place among the nobility of the great city of Valen,” the Earl Sylvar said. “Our ancestors were savage, yes. Stalkers in the night. But things have certainly changed, and we are much more civilized today compared to our ancestors.”

The great hall they stood in was largely dark, lit only by the pale moonlight pouring in through the massive stained-glass window behind the Earl’s throne. Everything was cast in shades of dark blue and gray and the vast chamber felt empty.

Earl Sylvar was an elegant figure of deathly pale skin and fine clothes. He had sharp features and graceful movements like an elf. Which made perfect sense to Anorath seeing the Earl was one of the fey lineages among the nobility. He knew better than to mention the rumors to the Earl.

Anorath found himself distracted by the insectile movements of shadows overhead. Chittering in the darkness of the high arches that lined the great hall. For Anorath, being a Marfour assassin meant the last thing you wanted was to be distracted.

“Do not concern yourself,” Earl Sylvar said, “They are merely my courtiers and kin. As to your work, I want you to bring back the target alive. Your payment will be well worth the trouble I assure you. Afterall, can you really put a price on the fey immortality I have promised you.”

Anorath normally just killed the target, this was going to be a hassle. The pay would be his ticket out of his coming old age, as well as an edge over his peers in the guild. Well worth it indeed. However, one question lingered in his mind.

“Why do you want the target alive?” Anorath asked.

“Simple,” Earl Sylvar said, his smile revealing his Night Fey fangs, “I wish to feast.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Arith_Winterfell
Gadrius
Gadrius
1 month ago

Love Lost
By Gadrius

Gunner watched from the rooftop above as the behemoth creature tore down the street. It crushed buildings and street lights as it swiped angrily at Cassandra. His wife seemed unfazed by the onslaught, however. She swooped back and forth through the air, easily avoiding the beast’s fearsome claws. She returned on the beast attacks of her own, pelting its hide with blasts of energy.

Finally, she looked to Gunner where he stood on the roof and nodded. That was his queue. He took a deep breath and rubbed his hands together nervously.

Then he blinked.

It was a strange sensation, having every molecule separate and pass through dimensional barriers, only to reconnect spontaneously in an entirely different plane of existence. Odd as it was, it made him useful as an Extraordinaire. He’d blink from one place, spend a moment or two in an alternate realm, then blink back wherever he was needed. In this case, that meant right above a massive town-destroying monster. Simple enough. He was confident enough now in his ability that he rarely got stuck.

“I found you.”

Gunner froze, the voice immediately recognized. It came from behind him, and a moment later its source stepped into view. A woman, dressed all in black, with skin as white as ivory. She smiled as she circled him. “Did you miss me?”

Gunner stammered, but finally found his voice. “Tabitha, I… I wasn’t expecting to-”

“To find me alive? Well,” she chuckled, “Here I am. Right where you left me, all those years ago.” She stepped closer to him. Her gaze was intoxicating, her visage just as he remembered it.

He shook his head. “I’m a hero now, Tab. An Extraordinaire. I put you here because you hurt people. You stole, and you…” Damn, it was hard to look her in the eye. “You killed people.”

“If I remember correctly, I wasn’t the only one with such a habit, was I?” She drew even closer, her breath brushing across his face. He felt his will weakening. But Cassandra, she needed him.

But Cassandra… she could handle herself, right?

Last edited 1 month ago by Gadrius
Iskritt
Iskritt
1 month ago

Same old, very old. (Sequel to “Collector” and “Just ruining everything…”)

By: Iskritt

Life sighed, the amalgamation of plants and creatures that made its “body” finally relaxing when the last of the gods finally left its presence, leaving only Death, who was also relaxing. Life watched as the waterfall of bones and rot that gave Death form slowed down its decent and disappeared at its “feet”.

“It’s finally over.” Life said. “Couldn’t Time pick any better time to hold the gathering of the gods?”

“If anyone knows when to make something happen, it would be Time.” Death responded.

“And yet it always chooses the worst of them.”

Silence grew between them.

“I was too busy worrying about my speech to actually talk with anyone.” Life said. “How were they? Any news?”

Death responded with a laugh. “In a reality filled with change, it’s a wonder that we never do.”

“Love?” Life asked.

“Still single. No one meets their standards, and no one cares enough to try, Unless you count the mortals they seduce in seconds.”

“Fear?”

“Still trying, but omniscient beings never really fall for the tricks. Just like Love, they continue to settle for mortals. Unfortunately, that isn’t really enough.”

“Time? Space? Anyone!?”

Death shrugged. “Time is still tired, and Space continues to have so much to do they almost didn’t show up. Even Music hasn’t changed. Still fighting with itself to create perfection in a reality where perfection cannot be. At least Music’s music is as unpredictable as ever.”

Life slumped over, disappointed.

“What about you?” Death asked. “You are so worried about others changing, but have you changed?”

Life thought for a second before nodding their “head” in reluctant agreement. Life watched as a small plant began to grow in front of it. “I guess not.”

Life looked up as the plant began to wilt, and saw Death looking at the plant as well.

“Neither have I.” Death said. “Change is weird. We can force change on others but can’t experience it ourselves.”

“What if we changed each other?

Death paused for a second before responding.

“Maybe sometime, but not now. At the moment, reality needs us as we are.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Iskritt
Lulumin
Lulumin
1 month ago

Crepusculum, Eternal
By Lulumin

I don’t recognize this building. A bar stands where that old place used to be. Bells jingle when I open the door, alerting people of my presence. A few heads turn my way as I take my seat at the counter.

“Welcome, ma’am. How can I help you?” the bartender smiles at me.

“What happened to the shop here? I don’t remember all of this.” I say, glancing around.

His eyebrows furrow and he puts down the glass he was cleaning. He stares at me, confusion and wariness mixed in his gaze. It doesn’t bother me, though I suddenly become aware of my slouching.

“My family’s store closed down 50 years ago, and it’s been a bar since then. I’m not sure how you’d remember anything about the store, miss.”

My tongue feels heavy in my mouth as I scramble to think of a lie.

“O-Oh, I’m sorry. My grandma told me about how she used to buy things from here and how she loved it…”

The man doesn’t seem convinced but he doesn’t press further.

Has it been that long already? It felt like only yesterday that young lady was selling me all sorts of knick-knacks and foodstuffs. No, now that I think about it, that must’ve been closer to 100 years ago.

I look at the barkeep again. The hair, the eyes, the nose… I don’t know why I didn’t notice the resemblance sooner.

(I see her again, smiling and laughing as she pushes a basket full of fresh fruit into my arms. She’s insistent on giving it to her “favorite and most loyal customer!” even when I try to resist.)

I’m in the bar again. She is gone while I am not. She’s six feet under while I don’t look a day older than when we met. Her descendant is watching me expectantly. Suddenly, the counter feels very empty. I rub my eyes and sigh before meeting those familiar eyes.

“So, what kind of drinks do you have here?”

EthrixTheProtogen
EthrixTheProtogen
1 month ago

The Great Witness
By Ethrix

The Creatress witnessed the world as it was. A blue globe lingering adorably in the cosmos. She adored this little thing, so infinitesimally miniscule, yet so peaceful. She watched it for millennia, and watched its even tinier creatures roam. They crawled from the sea to shore, from shore to plains. She chuckled as they brawled for sustenance on newfound land, for safety, for dominance, as if these tiny little things meant everything to them. From plains to forest, forest to mountains, mountains to places never even meant for them, they went! She marveled in how the creatures hungered, and in time, how they came together. And, much to her suprise…they began to create. They made homes, and they made tools. They defended themselves from the wild. She smiled. They had made institutions, pathways, and families.

These creatures made an entire world for themselves.

They made kingdoms, borders, and clans. She frowned. They defended themselves from each other. They made fortresses, and they made weapons. And, much to her chagrin… they began to destroy. She watched in horror how the creatures hungered, and in time, banded together. The people of the forest, and of the mountains, met in the plains. She wept as they brawled for dominion, for revenge, for fear. As if these little things meant everything to them. As some bled, they crawled from shore into the sea. She watched it for decades, as the little creatures fell. She grieved this little thing, so infenitesmally miniscule, now peaceful once again. A blue globe, lingering, lonley in the cosmos. The Creatress witnessed the world as it had become.

Last edited 1 month ago by EthrixTheProtogen
Matthew R. Wright
Matthew R. Wright
1 month ago

Lock-In & Lock-Out
By Matthew R. Wright

Hey!

Food for thought. Imagine for a moment a way to be able to keep the parts of you that make you incredible. The winning parts of you. Your charming personality, your sense of humour. Imagine you could secure them in-place, unmoving, unchanging, locked-IN, so to speak.

Why fix what isn’t broken?

Imagine you could, then, lock-OUT the parts of yourself that aren’t so great, the losing parts, the unsuccessful parts. These may be your intolerences, your bad-habits, UNPOPULAR political opinions. The parts of yourself that you know you can’t change, the parts you and others can’t stand.

How much of yourself would you KEEP? How much would you lock away?

Want to find out?

Become that FOREVER YOU

FOREVER YOU is innovative and cutting edge. A service that allows you to be the you that everybody enjoys, the version of you that you know the world deserves to see.

Why settle for the version of you that’s TRIGGERED by fears or anxieties?

Why put up with YOUR mental-health problems?

Why allow yourself to cry or hurt or feel anything you don’t want to feel?

Why run the risk of being misunderstood or citicised?

Get in early, DO what we’ve DONE

LOCK IN OR LOCK AWAY.

All you need to do is sign up, we’ll take care of the rest.

We’ll book you in for a VERY MINOR invasive surgery of your behavioural and emotional control centre.

We’ll implant our E-Seed safely and securely. No risk.

We’ll even collect you.

Our scientists know EXACTLY what they’re doing.

Our labs are… assessed. Our technology is FDA… registered.

Trust us to help you realise the real you that hides behind it all.

If you find yourself being unliked by your peers. If you feel let down by your choices or responses. If you find yourself disagreeing with your government or figures of authority. Connect with us.

You are the sum of your parts, why not make it the best parts?

Trust us

You’ll never need to change

Perfect yourself

Create that FOREVER YOU

Click the link below.

FOREVERYOU.GOV

Last edited 1 month ago by Matthew R. Wright
MasaCur
MasaCur
1 month ago

A Leopard Cannot Change Its Spots
By MasaCur

Ryan glanced at his watch for the third time since he had arrived.

“Come on, Becks, we’re going to miss our reservation if you take much longer.”

“Just need a little more time. I’m trying to look my best,” Rebecca called from her room.

Ryan rolled his eyes and threw himself on the sofa. He pulled out his phone to check his social media updates.

A few minutes later, Rebecca emerged, wearing a cocktail dress and a shawl wrap.

Ryan glanced at the time on his phone. “We should still be able to make it. I’ll call the restaurant from the car to let them know we could be a couple minutes late.”

“You’re serious? You’re not going to say anything? And you’re going like that?”

Ryan looked down at how he was dressed. Collarless long-sleeve shirt, his good jeans, and a blazer. “What’s wrong with it? And say anything about what?”

Rebecca rolled her eyes. “Look at how I’m dressed. And then how you’re dressed.”

“I dressed. For me, this is dressed up.”

Rebecca inhaled deeply, closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “You know, I was hoping that today, just today, you might be at least a little romantic.”

Ryan shrugged. “I got us reservations. I put on nice clothes. I don’t know what you wanted from me. And speaking of which, if you want to keep arguing, we’re going to lose those reservations, and then forget about getting in anywhere nice to eat tonight. Everything’s booked up for Valentine’s Day.”

“You haven’t even said anything about how I look.”

Ryan shrugged. “You look nice.”

“Nice? That’s all you can say?”

“Nice isn’t good?”

“I spent hours trying to get myself to look good for you.”

“Thanks, I guess.”

“I don’t know why I should have expected you to be different today.” Rebecca crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at him.

Ryan could only shrug.

“Why am I even dating you? Why did you even agree to date me?”

Ryan had to think about it. “I guess I was hoping I would change too.”

Lee Strangely
Lee Strangely
1 month ago

Reunion (Life of Madness)
by Lee Strangely

Up on that hill, the dark, dilapidated house was like a shadow to the town below. The grey skies outlined its crooked stature, perhaps a bit too well. Maddy simply stood there, her fist still hovering inches from the door. Despite how it looks, she’s not afraid. A dark scientist who instilled fear in others since childhood wouldn’t be afraid of anything as mundane as a conversation… Sure, it’s been a while… Seven years isn’t THAT long…

Her gaze occasionally turned to her car, each time being met by the same vacant stares from Buford and her dried up, equally lifeless, father. The two living corpses didn’t have –or were really capable of having– any thoughts of their own, but inside Maddy couldn’t help but imagine them probably internally shouting, “GET ON WITH IT!”

In a single jolt, her motionless body suddenly reanimated itself.

KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK.

“Go away,” a man inside grumbled.

Knock-knock-knock.

“Go away! he shouted as the door opened. “I don’t want any visitors, whether they be dead or…” he trailed off with widened eyes, “…alive…”

The space between her excitement and his surprise was quiet.

“Maddy?” he muttered.

“Shiloh,” she smiled.

“You-you’ve…”

“You’ve changed a little…”

“You’ve barely changed at all.”

Silence returned…

“You… you kept your hair,” he said, admiring its black and white color.

Her hands unknowingly gravitated towards her hair, “Yeah, I liked it… Looks like you grew yours out.”

“Oh, I just hadn’t gotten around to cutting it, yet…” he replied, “is that your oversized coat from high school?”

“I grew into it…”

A look of confusion began permeating his face as his attention gradually drifted towards the car behind her.

“Oh, my bad,” Maddy apologized, “I almost forgot…” She pointed to the car, “That’s Buford… and in the back is Dad.”

“Your dad?”

She waved to the car, ignoring the question, “Hey Dad!”

The mindless stiff vaguely mimicked her motions as he slumped against the glass.

Shiloh, awkwardly waved back, “Didn’t he die?”

“Eh… we’ll fix that.”

“We?”

“Oh Shiloh, I’ve missed you,” she hugged him tight, “we’ve got work to do.”

Galer
Galer
1 month ago

Always be there

By Galer

They walked across multiple worlds, the beings that existed across the cosmoses always thought they would escape then, always went they reached eternity with mundane or magical means or both.

No matter how they turned or shifted themselves their eternal souls would always meet them no matter what, even if all the beings in existence, put their faith into metal, or became beings that turned into cosmoses.

All of them would meet then no matter what, at some point or another, they only needed to wait patiently.

However.

“Is not that anything doesn’t change at all,” said death to the void with a tinge of what could be said to be admiration. ” you always bring interesting dynamism to the world”

Even, if everyone was literally born with nothing and will end with nothing, all beings without notice bring change to all cosmoses equally, for better, or for worse all beings always, have done that.

“What can I say? I am exciting to be around,” the ever-shifting embodiment of change said with multiple cocky grins “I was born from then, after all, I wouldn’t have met you, friend, if it wasn’t the case”

The only other constant in the world besides themselves, the change would always happen, a soul developing into a new person, beings pushing through adversity to attain an unreachable goal, the void changing because of meaning.

Which only let change be their only friend due to being just as constant as death, which made for a quick friendship for both entities.

“Ha!” death chuckled drily ” I wouldn’t dream of that!”

“We should celebrate this more often don’t you think?” said change all of the sudden said “these reunions we do… are precious ”

“Yeah they are, “death said pleasantly” but I guess you meant the anniversary of our first meeting?”

“Yeah, you know? as a sight that will always be there for each other?” change said good naturally.

“Except we always are” death pointed out making themselves, and change chuckle.

A friendly laugh echoed through the void, across the cosmoses.

trackback

[…] I should probably tell you that fragments of the story can also be found there. Check out the latest bit if you feel so inclined. As for the rest, there’s some archeology involved. I write […]

J. J. Peterson
J. J. Peterson
1 month ago

Rage
J. J. Peterson – February 14, 2023
A rage filled me almost to bursting. The only reason I didn’t burst is because it was a sad rage. A sad rage against myself. I stride forward faster than everyone else, then look behind and see I’ve barely moved. I build a wall, then discover I’ve blocked my own path. I try so hard to change, but still I keep up at the same pace and add brick after brick to my wall.

Suzy is a sweet girl. Someday, perhaps I’ll ask her out, but today I still lack the confidence.

I got less than expected on my math test. I’ll do better next time. Why? Because I should.

I have a boring job. I’ll stay, for the pay’s not bad.

No one would ever call me a procrastinator. I’m always on time, never hand in assignments late, and am always on top of my game. But really, I’m the biggest procrastinator of all.

I see the wall in front of me and lack the motivation to stop building and commence the destruction.

I see the feeble distance I’ve come, and can’t find the self-control to turn my back on the progress I’ve made in the wrong direction and turn around.

So I turn quietly away from her. I slide my hands in my pockets and let the rage subside. The sadness lasts, but it fades away in the ocean of distraction.

“What, can’t face it like a man!?”

No, no I can’t. I have a wall in my way, and I can’t bring myself to tear it down.

“Come and face me, look me in the eye.”

I looked you in the eye and saw nothing I wanted. I’ll go someplace else, though I can’t say it’s better.

“See you around, loser!”

Yes, I agree. Though I hope I don’t see you again.

DaLeen
DaLeen
1 month ago

Just Human
By Taja DaLeen

We all want change. We crave it, need it. Without change, there is no life.

But we despise change.

That is a very human trait, to not want things to change, to not want to get used to something new.

“What are you doing?”

But we all are what we are. Just human.

“Eh, this? Group therapy.”

No matter whether you’re a nonmagical, or a shapeshifter, or a sorcerer, or a mage, or whatever else, you can’t escape this. It’s just how the brain works.

“This is for group therapy? Can I see? What are you kids doing there?”

Sure, there’s people who have less of a problem getting used to new situations. But that still doesn’t mean they actually like change. They’re also just human.

“Dad, you know that even if I wanted to talk about it, I can’t. Not allowed to.”

Fundamentally, we do not want things to change. Too much work for the brain.

“Aww. You never talk to your old man about anything these days.”

The only beings that never really change are the immortals; all those demons, and vitarja, and vampires. But I guess you can argue about whether or not they’re actually alive.

Most would say they’re not.

“Honey, you know I want to help you, right? But I can’t do that if you don’t talk to me.”

But that’s also how they differ from us. Especially our High Demon Lords are anything but human, sitting on their thrones in their palaces, for centuries on end. Never doing anything, just existing so that magic can exist.

Never changing.

“Tones? Hey, look at me. You’re my baby daughter, right?”

Never truly living.

“Hey, I’m not a baby anymore!”

And considering this, I’m happy to be human. I’m happy to have to change, every day, just a little, so that my brain can get used to it.

“Hahaha, I knew that would get you. Just know that you can talk to me, ok? I’m here for you. Always.”

I’m happy to be just human.

“… thank you, Dad. Love you too.”

I’m happy to be alive.

The Missing Link
The Missing Link
1 month ago

Till Death Do Us Part
By: The Missing Link

Larry woke up at the same time as his wife and went downstairs to start the coffee maker, those little happy coincidences in life. The coffee pot felt lighter than usual to Larry as Julia went to start the stove for breakfast, confused that it was already on.

Larry, coffee in hand, went back upstairs to fetch his medicine and yelped in shock. Lying on the bed were two people, him and Julia. She rushed to his side. As the two stared dumbfounded at the bed, they heard someone behind them clear his throat, “Am I interrupting something?”

He was a slender figure in a black cloak, but they couldn’t see his face, a skull it turned out, which gave the couple a shock Death always found amusing.

“Are… we dead?” Larry asked cautiously.

Death, fumbling with plugging a USB into the couple’s television, turned and nodded.

“Till death do us part…” Julia mumbled out numbly, “If we’re dead…”

“Yes, that would be how the arrangement works,” Death said, finally connecting the damn cable. He was forever grateful to his apprentice for coming up with this slideshow idea for the new initiates, but dammit were these computer things confusing.

“So, what do we do now?” Julia turned to Larry.

“I dunno… wanna grab a coffee, make a date of it?… Do they have lattes in heaven?”

“Or libraries,” Julia chimed in, “I know how much you love reading.”

“Or better yet, lattes in libraries.”

“God, yes. It’s a date. Seriously, I could marry you.”

Death considered making a hell joke, but thought better of it, putting his slideshow in full screen and calling for attention, “Welcome, to the rest of your eternity, and yes… there are lattes.”

WriterOfThought
WriterOfThought
1 month ago

A Rose by Any Other Name
WriterOfThought

Malarai paced his office impatiently. He knew he was on the verge of an epiphany, but it felt so far away at the same time.

He sat down and checked his notes again, to see if maybe he missed something. The words on the document remained the same.

“Casting the spell creates a small campfire. Starting range: 3 cubic feet.”

But this was a new power source, one he felt he could barely control. When he had cast that spell using this new energy, he had used as little as he possibly could, and yet the flame it created not only shone golden, but also threatened to take the field he’d cast it in, along with the surrounding forest.

A knock at the door interrupted his fugue, but it was a welcome interruption. Marguerite walked in, hands full with sandwiches and water. She always knew when he needed a break.

“Any progress, my love?” She laid the plates down and began to rub the stress out of his shoulders.

“No,” he replied with a heavy sigh. Tilting his head back, he pulled her in, kissing the closest part of her, which in this case was her chin. She smelled like the garden, which made him hungry for the tomatoes on the sandwiches.

He teased her with a warm breath on her neck. She squeaked, and he took the opportunity to sit back up and grab a sandwich, but she grabbed back onto him before he could take a bite.

As they ate and teased one another, Malarai took a long look at his wife, thinking how happy he was to have her. As he pondered longer, the thought occurred that there was a time before they had each other. They would never act this way before, but this part was always there, just waiting for the other to uncover it.

As he wondered about Marguerite’s life from before, he thought back to the golden fire. Did it work the same? Was it just waiting for the right person to bring out the best in it?

The epiphany finally became eureka.

Six
Six
1 month ago

Peace and War
by Six

A broken throne room. Rubble strewn throughout and broken windows casting angry shadows across the walls. The battle was over. The siege won. The town burned. Only one thing was left…

Two figures could be seen among the rubble and dust. One standing above with a sword to the neck of the other. Clearly a tense standoff.

“You took everything from me. Killed my father and stole what was rightfully mine! My kingdom!”

The voice of the man boomed and seemed to rattle what was left of the building.

“I spent years building an army, training and preparing to take it back from you. To reclaim what was always mine. How does it feel knowing you failed?”

A smile edged its way across the standing man’s face.

The defeated man scoffed and wiped some dirt from his brow. Lifting his eyes to meet his aggressor he spoke;

“You always were a petulant child, you know that?”

“WHAT DID YOU SAY?!” A look of insanity in his eyes.

“I didn’t steal anything from you. I lead the people in a revolt against a tyrant. Your “father” killed us, stole from us and controlled us. I freed us. I’m a hero.”

A silence filled the room so heavy it was difficult to breathe.

“The great tribute halls? They’re now libraries. The lavish fountain you played in as a child? Its a public well now. I saved these people. I gave them hope.”

Anger flared in the standing man’s eyes. A tremble causing the blade to gently press against the man’s chin.

“And now you’ve returned as if you were right all along. I spared you hoping, praying you would grow, but now I see some people cannot change.”

It would be the last words he ever spoke.

Alex
Alex
1 month ago

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

It had been such a nice day for Riley, before Oliver had knocked on her door. She’d been in the shed, finishing sorting hay for the animals, when he’d walked in, dressed in all his brooding glory, his hat pulled in over his face.

When he’d revealed that he’d seen her name on a list, Riley had already decided to write him off. She didn’t even let him explain.

“No,” she said simply.

“Wait, let me…” Oliver began.

“No,” Riley repeated. “I don’t care about any recruitment efforts. I’m living a simple life, on a simple farm here and I really don’t appreciate the likes of you coming along, trying to drag me onto some kind of battlefield.”

“What?”

“What are you, a soldier? No, you’re older… a veteran, then?”

“Oh, no, that’s not why I’m here,” Oliver said quickly. “I’m not here to recruit powered people. I’m not military…”

“Private contractor, then?”

Riley scoffed. She’d heard this before. She had no idea how this Oliver had found out that she was powered and she didn’t care. Recruiters never changed. Every so often, one would come along, looking for someone with powers to drag off into the city or the army or who knew where, but never had she been even remotely tempted to say yes. In fact…

“It’s not a recruitment list. I think it’s a hit list.”

Her train of thought derailed completely.

“Excuse me?”

“Look,” Oliver produced a small piece of paper. “I cornered a pair of people, carrying illegal weapons and they had this list with them. I checked with a contact and found out that a Riley was living here. Since you’re powered… I think you’re the one I have to warn.”

Riley stared at the list.

“And here I thought you were just a veteran looking for the next batch.”

“Well… I am a veteran, but no, I’ve left that life behind.”

“And here I thought you didn’t change. Always out for the next powered recruit.”

“That used to be me. Right now, I just want to help. I promise.”

“Alright,” Riley nodded. “Let’s talk.”

Norman Gray
Norman Gray
1 month ago

A Need For Change
By Norman Gray

Unfortunately, this is a true story.

I used to enjoy getting angry. It was the only time I didn’t feel weak, the only time I was able to make other people back down through the sheer implication of violence. . . Having been hurt so many times throughout my life, I was constantly defensive. But I’d never really acted on my anger.

That changed a year ago, when I lost my temper in a way I never had before, and that monster I thought I could just keep on a leash broke free.

Ever do something so horrible, that it made you stop and take inventory of all your life choices leading up to that moment? Made you decide then and there, that you needed to change completely?

I should’ve spent last Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend. . . Instead, that night I got in an altercation with my roommate. I kicked in the driver’s door of his car in a fit of rage, and smashed out his window. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done.

In the months that followed I had a nervous breakdown, I walked away from my job, and I got dumped. My whole life changed seemingly overnight, and I was forced to make some very difficult decisions about what to do going forward. . .

I’ve long felt as though I’d painted myself into a corner. Twenty years of depression had made me bitter and angry at the world, only seeing negativity, living without hope, without any goals or a purpose. Lashing out was the final straw, in which I finally acknowledged that most of who I was, was dead weight. . .

I can’t be that person, anymore. I won’t.

I refuse to believe that a person can’t change. I have to believe that fixing myself is possible, because remaining as I was would be akin to a death sentence. . . I need to find hope and happiness. For my own sake, and for those in my life.

Change is often painful, but sometimes it’s necessary.

It’s never too late to change.

Xavier21
Xavier21
1 month ago

A Conversation with Assassin
By: Xavier Twentyone

Once upon a time in a village, there was an assassin who had been living for a hundred years. His name was Abel Goodall, and he was notorious for taking on difficult jobs that require people to do them, and he succeeded in every single one of his jobs. Some say that he made a contract with a devil to gain supernatural abilities such as immunity to gunshots, blade wounds, and possibly eternal youth, although sources are varied on this one.

My grandfather, who was an infamous drug lord, wanted to pay him a visit. Although he only heard hearsay about him, he still wanted to take a chance for the sake of my grandmother. Valentine’s Day was coming, and he wanted to give my grandmother a special gift.

And so he traveled long hours from his hometown to Abel’s village, and managed to locate where he was. The clue led him to a church, and without hesitation, he entered the church and spoke with an elderly priest.

“Excuse me, I am looking for Abel Goodall. Do you know where I can find him?”

“I am Abel Goodall.”

“…”

“I have a request for you.”

“I don’t accept requests anymore.”

“…”

“May I ask why?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“My wife… she likes art pieces that use human body parts. I just need one man and two women, killed with a headshot on the center of the forehead using one 9mm round, due on Monday. I will pay you above your grade.’

“I still refuse.”

“…”

My grandfather, who didn’t know what to say, started to think rapidly.

“Would you kindly tell me why? Let’s just relax with one another.”

“My youthfulness… started to fade; basically, I am not immortal anymore.”

“…”

“So, I terminated my contract with the devil, and started to join the priesthood.”

“The priesthood?”

“So that I can bribe God in hopes of going to heaven.”

*****

My grandfather, after chatting with the priest for a while, left the church and headed to the village’s café, where he started thinking about my grandmother’s gift.

Bread Store CEO
Bread Store CEO
1 month ago

Bread Store CEO
A Hard Lesson

“I disagree” Said Mayhem in an exhale as he landed his scotch on his desk in front of himself.

“You exploit and destroy. Those people who you call property are withering away in your factories creating weapons of war and you sit up here, chin high, scotch and cigar in hand constructing more ‘deals’.” Shouted a figure from beyond Mayhem’s desk.

“I give people the choice of accepting the deal. Not my fault they end up here, working away to repay their debts.” Mayhem said.

“And how do you explain enslaving the generations that come after them? The innocent damned to your smog because of their ancestor’s deeds?” Said the man again furiously.

“I see it as an enforcement of remorse. I’m teaching a lesson. I gave them the choice. They choose the choice of a quick victory. And now they and their children are put to work. They are allowed freedom when their debts are repaid in full.” Mayhem said, now sitting upwards.

“It’s not a lesson! You are using them for cheap labor. You find desperate people, exploit them in their lives, and then exploit them in their afterlife!” The man shouted, now up close to Mayhem.

“Oh, I’m exploiting? Funny. They were exploiting a system of no work for quick rewards. Every man needs to work for his success. The bastards who spat that malarkey of wanting a system of no work are fools.” Mayhem got up from his desk and continued, “Their all the same. They never change. They want a route free from work and the moment they are confronted with reality they go pointing fingers at anyone they can, men like me. Life’s work, and if you don’t work present, you don’t leisure later.”

He relinquished and left.

Skeleton
Skeleton
1 month ago

Eternal Frenemies (The Will)
By Skeleton

She had to prove herself to her family—she had to. This human child was beneath her, even if the mask it wore scared her a little. Maybe then her father would see her as he did her half-siblings: with adoration, if at all.

Ericka’s heart beat fiercely as she stepped forwards out of her pack of ne’er-do-wells and misfits, her paws lunging forwards to push the white-masked, black-cloaked human boy to the dirt of the road. “Piss off, monkey!” she spat, the anger of her empty heart selling the curse. “Go off into the woods and die!”

However, the boy said nothing. He stood calmly and brushed the dirt off of his clothes.

——————————————————

The rage bellowed inside the wulack huntress at the sign of defiance. She gripped his collar and wound her other fist back, pinning Eymir’s head between it and the stone wall. He did not fight back, but his legs almost gave way.

Ericka wasn’t having it—she held him up against the wall as she barraged the man’s face and stomach with blows meant to kill. “You killed them—you butchered the one family that loved me!”

“They used you—like the puppet—you were bred to be,” the man spoke through the blows, his black blood splattering against her fist. “You were blind to it because you wanted to be loved.”

She wasn’t having it at all. Ericka backed off and drew her weapon.

——————————————————

She was going to end this, right here, right now. The spear in her hand was once the symbol of her people, but now it was something else: a symbol of her resolve.

“You know that won’t kill me, right?” the Sufferer taunted, motioning to her weapon. “How many times have we had this dance?”

“As many times as it will take for you to realize that I’m the only other person who can understand the fear of being immortal,” she stated. The Sufferer’s expression soured. Ericka’s hardened in determination. “I’m going to stop you here, Eymir, because you’re my best friend.”

The monster scoffed. “What a horrible reason to die.”

Tamela Redfin
Tamela Redfin
1 month ago

Then vs Now

By Tamela Redfin

“So, where’s Cece tonight?” Reagan asked her sister.

“She’s at prom. Remember your prom?” Tiffani answered.

She facepalmed. “Ugh, don’t remind me. The dress was puke green and Edison was worse behaved than a puppy that’s not housebroken.”

“So he peed on the floor?” Tiffani asked.

“No, he flirted with my friends! That should have been my first hint.”

“Is that why you slept with that…?”

Reagan covered her mouth. “Can you speak a little louder, Tiff? You want my daughters to know what I did? Just… Just leave me alone.”

She entered her room, flopped on the bed, and sobbed. Where was her lover – Jasper’s father, Lukas? Edison was her parent’s choice, but Lukas loved her. But they sided with Edison and then Lukas left.

She still remembered his milky white skin and hair and ruby eyes.

“Mama?” She turned to see Sapphira. “Are you okay?”

“No.” She wiped her eyes. “I can’t explain it to you. It’s best if you go.”

“But mama…”

“Now!” Reagan snapped. But then something hit her. She never hated Zirconia and Sapphira. She hated Edison. He blamed her for his unhappiness. Not pleasing him. And then him having to work.

Could she break the cycle, or did people stay the same? Maybe she was better than Edison?

“Sapph, wait…”

Makokam
1 month ago

Trouble In Paradise (Chronicles of The Dragon)
By Makokam

Jonathan cracked a coconut open, then a second. He looked through a pile of fruit he’d collected and squeezed the ripest ones into the coconuts, then put the shells back together and gave each a good shake. He took both and walked out onto the beach.

A tall blond woman sat gazing at the ocean, silently watching the waves. At the approaching footsteps, her focus on the water intensified.

“Here, luv.”

She deliberately ignored Jonathan as he held out the coconut drink. “I made you something.” He gave it a little shake so she could hear the juice slosh.

Her fist flashed out, smashing the coconut cup and splashing the juice over him.

He looked at the pieces. “Ya know, you could have just said you didn’t want it.” He said, licking the juices off his hand.

Ultima shot to her feet and stepped into him, glaring down at him. “I want OUT of here. I want YOU dead or locked in a hole!”

The smile fell from Jonathan’s face and he sighed. He walked past her, picking out a bit of beach to sit on. “Trapped in a pocket dimension consisting of nothing but a tropical island…and you can’t even enjoy it.”

“Yes! Because we’re TRAPPED! And if you don’t leave me alone I’m going to blast you so hard you’ll stop being biology and start being physics!”

“Always so angry. The next time you’re struggling against the tentacles of a horror from beyond the stars I’ll just leave you there.”

“QUANTUM! Physics!”

“Well I have faith in my sister, her teammates, and the League to get us out of here, even if you don’t. So I intend to enjoy this unexpected tropical vacation.”

“Even if I knew we’d get out of here safely, the fact that I’m stuck here with YOU makes every moment torment.”

Jonathan gave her a glance and sighed again. “Well, you should figure out a way to enjoy it,” he said, hunching over his knees. “Because if it takes longer than a week, you’re going to get that fight you’ve wanted so bad.”

Last edited 1 month ago by Makokam
Shinigama
Shinigama
1 month ago

Feeding the Crows
by Shinigama

A mass of feathers descended from the smoky sky. Cawing and crowing broke out as the innumerable crows picked and pecked ravenously at the countless mangled corpses.

One young crow hopped his way over to an older bird with greying feathers, as it poked at the eye socket of a severed, screaming head.

“Grandad, where does this food come from?” asked the young crow.

“Hmm, what d’ya mean, lad?” said the old raven, his voice muffled from a sliver of flesh in his bloody beak, “You heard all that bangin’ and shoutin’, didn’t ya?”

“Yes, but what was that? Did some kind of animal kill all these men?”

“‘Course an animal killed all these men!” cawed the old raven, “Good thing too! There’s good eatin’ on just one of these, let alone hundreds of ’em!”

“What kind of animal?” The young crow shivered, his imagination running wild with images of horrible creatures roaring and slicing through masses of terrified humans.

“Why, the men of course. They killed each other!”

“What?! Why?!”

“Dunno. I’m not complainin’. S’been like this since I was a lad. And before then, as my Grandad used to tell me.”

“Humans killing each other?”

“That’s right. Sometimes with sharp silver sticks, sometimes with long banging-sticks, sometimes with their bare hands. Always tryin’ to find another way to get one up over the other, those humans…”

The old raven sighed and glanced up at the black sky. He turned to the young crow.

“When I was your age lad, I used to ask the same thing,” he said, “Why do they kill each other? What’s the point? But at the end of the day, we’re just crows. There’s nothin’ we can do about it. We’d likely starve to death if we did do somethin’ about it. And they probably wouldn’t like us interferin’ anyway. So, it’s best not to think too hard and just enjoy your meal. ‘Ere, d’ya want this eyeball? I don’t like green ones…”

C. M. Weller
1 month ago

Implacable Patience [A Devil’s Tale]
C. M. Weller

THEN…

The little Lordling, now confirmed as a Viscount, pulled himself up to his full height. Such as it was. Hellkin though he may be, he was also a lordling of a foreign nation and therefore more trouble than Officer Druempf could afford. “What I do not understand, Officer,” he said, “is how a Hellkin can be arrested for walking down a street, but a Lord or a Human can continue unmolested.”

“You’re not like to understand either,” Druempf said through gritted teeth. “It’s too complicated for you.”

His lordship made himself comfortable. “I am here until someone from Hidden Cloud comes to fetch me. I have ample time for you to explain it, please?”

Druempf sputtered and fumbled for a coherent answer that didn’t dig him into deep diplomatic trouble.

“Take your time,” said the little Viscount. “I have the patience to wait.”

NOW…

His Majesty of the Mountains, Kormwind Arachis Felbourne Whitekeep, ninth of the name, finished scrutinising Archduke Borgainis’ laws and ordinances. “Fascinating,” he said, in tones like a burning fuse. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen the Teufel Tax codified into law.”

Borgainis made the mistake of saying, “All in perfect law and order, your majesty.”

King Kormwind, Demon Lord of Whitekeep, put the books down. “Tell me, please. What is so lawful about presenting a niche and persecuted group with an extra burden on their limited finances?”

“Well, you see,” Borganis began.

“Ut!” The Thrice-Sworn King held up a finger. “Don’t explain it to me. Explain it to HER.” At his gesture an escort brought in a very small foundling girl who was also a Hellkin. “Explain to her why you think she deserves to be crying with hunger every night.”

Borganis stumbled for one in the face of his victim. He began to sweat under the patient, fuming glare of a devilborn monarch who had gained his title in blood.

“Take your time,” said the King. “I have the patience to wait.”

Marx
Marx
1 month ago

Forever In Debt to Your Priceless Advice
By Marx

Daisy frowned as she picked up the heart-shaped box. “Will… I know you’re part incubus but you don’t strike me as the… Valentine’s type.”

Will responded with a loud, booming laugh. “Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s a commercialized holiday invented to trick stupid people into buying stupid things and doing stuff they should have been doing all year anyway. That said, I think you deserve a happy one. I assume you loved Valentine’s Day when you were human?”

Daisy forced a smile as she fiddled with the small candy box. “You’re… not wrong. Me and Jasmine would dump whatever arm candy we had for New Years after a week, max. From there, it was like fishing. We’d make ourselves the bait and see who could reel in the best new fish.”

Will made a face but did his best not to judge. “What did the winner get?”

Daisy shrugged. “Bragging rights. We’d rarely agree on a winner anyway. It was more the fun of the day and ridiculous things we’d ask them to do. I’d infamously insist that we eat at an ice cream shop for dessert. Keep in mind all the ones at home were closed during the winter, so they’d have to take me out of town for it.”

She sighed and offered the box back to him. “You should give this to Rhea. She’d love it.”

Will chuckled and pushed the box back. “Rhea only celebrates the day after Valentine’s. Or as she calls it, Half Off Candy Day. That way she gets more.”

Daisy paused, taking that in. “That woman is a genius…”

“Come on.” Will chuckled, offering Daisy his hand. “Let’s get some ice cream.”

Daisy smiled and accepted it. But then she immediately thought to her previous Master. She’d managed to escape the demon’s clutches, but Jasmine was still enthralled, as it were. Daisy shuddered, remembering the horrors of how he chose to celebrate the romantic holiday.

‘I guess… I win this year…’

She felt bad for even thinking it, but thoughts don’t always behave the way you’d like them to.