Hello, Augurs and Alchemists!
Come on, just one little bite? Maybe a lick? I know it’s dangerous. But one taste can’t hurt, right? Because….
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
A Taste of Eternity
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!
Eternity can mean many things. It can be a beautiful gift, or a terrible punishment, depending on the story you want to tell. But something I love about this prompt is that it’s not just about someone living forever, it’s about someone “tasting” eternity. This could be a taste they are familiar with—even a taste they have come to despise. But usually this phrase is used when someone says they’re getting a first sample of something. Like getting a taste of ice cream before buying a bowl of it. Or giving a young adult their first taste of beer. What is it to get a taste test of eternity?
It may make you think of a heavenly sort of eternity. Maybe you think of Greek gods and goddesses. Such as Psyche, who became a goddess after drinking ambrosia. Or Persephone, who was already a goddess, but who became bound to the Underworld for eternity because she ate the pomegranate seeds. You could write about the first time Sisyphus rolled the boulder up the hill, realizing what his eternal punishment would be like. You could even write about Zeus’ eagle getting a taste of Prometheus’ eternal liver.
You could write about the undeath sort of eternity, such as vampires, ghosts, zombies, or liches. Could someone get a taste for what it is to be a vampire without being one? Perhaps someone expresses they want to be a vampire, and their vampire friend shows them the horrors of their day-to-day life to give them a taste of what their eternity is like. Maybe a ghost tells the one person who can see them what their eternity is like, and tries to help them avoid it. Maybe a lich sets up a simulation to show their protege how awesome it is to be a lich.
Or, for a more realistic take, you could write about an addict who believes their substance of choice lets them taste eternity—literally or figuratively. You could write about someone trying a drug for the first time, and after that first taste, they can’t stop. You could write about someone trying to stop, and having difficulty because they refuse to abandon that taste they got of eternity.
Going back to my first example, you could also write a wacky and hilarious story where eternity is a literal food. Maybe an ice cream shop has a new flavor called “Eternity” and your character tastes it, only to remark that eternity tastes a lot like bananas.
My challenge for you this week is to really try to place the reader in the mind of the character experiencing eternity—especially if it is their first taste of it. This is sort of a telling vs showing exercise. You guys are usually quite good at this, but I want you to go even deeper this week. Whether it is something sweet and beautiful, or something sickeningly horrible…or if it just vaguely tastes like bananas, I want to feel what the character is feeling when they taste it.
Alright fine. If you’re gonna be like that, I’ll just get my taste of eternity from another supplier.
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!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
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What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
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- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
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- 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.
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Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.
The Immortal’s Paella
Ibrahim scurried about the kitchen, stirring the paella, and grabbing ingredients. His colorful suit was covered in an equally colorful, whimsical apron. Perched on his bald head was a chef’s cap.
“Miguel, you are in for a treat today! Normally, you would be my underling. But today, it is my distinct pleasure to serve you, and prepare a meal. Specifically, I am making you paella, just like my abuela made for me.”
Miguel raised an eyebrow. “Si, Master. Are you sure you still remember how to cook? I don’t remember you ever doing so before. And you have been alive for centuries now. Perhaps your brain has…deteriorated with age.”
Ibrahim glared at Miguel, his eyes flaringred. “Look here, Miguel! Just because, as an immortal lich, I no longer need to engage in the banalities of eating, does not mean that I have forgotten how to cook. I am a genius, with a mind like a steel trap!”
“Si,si. But, even steel can rust with age, Master.” A smirk crossed his lips as he said this. However, Miguel did have to admit, the smell coming from the kitchen was mouth-watering.
Ibrahim tasted the paella. “It seems to be missing something.” His bony hands snatched jars from the spice cabinet, his spidery fingers threw in pinches of one powder after another. He tried it again, pondered the results, shrugged, and took the pan off the stove top. “Dinner is served!”
Miguel looked at the plate filled with golden rice, shellfish, and vegetables that was set in front of him. He took a bite, and his sinus cavities were instantly assaulted by a pungency he had never encountered before. His mouth went instantly dry from an overindulgence of salt.
“How is it, Miguel?” Ibrahim earnestly asked. “ I was worried that the paella is not correctly spiced. The paprika seems to be a little…off.”
“Off?” Miguel coughed. “Paprika is all I can taste! Paprika and spice! You are an idiot!”
“I am not!”
“And I am a moron. Your stupid immortal lich tongue is so dead it can’t taste a thing!”
When Epilogue Becomes Prologue
“I don’t understand, Master.” He could no longer sweep the floor. It felt too ordinary, too pedestrian after everything they had been through. He didn’t see how he could be expected to go back to the way things were before.
“Understand what, my young apprentice?”
He stared at his master, sitting in his chair, smoking his pipe, as though the last ten months hadn’t occurred at all. “How could you give up such power?”
The master, as was his custom, did not answer immediately. He exhaled a ring of smoke and watched as it drifted toward the ceiling. When he did answer, he did so with a question.
“Do you know what I felt when I held the orb?”
“Powerful? Extraordinary? Immense?”
“In that moment I existed in all places, throughout all of time, all at once. I was omnipotent and omnipresent. And I was overcome by loneliness. Because such power cannot have an equal, and so such an existence is doomed to be one of isolation.”
“But with such power, what need have you of equals?”
The master laughed. “You still have much to learn.”
Later, in his room, the apprentice removed a small bundle from under the floorboards. Wrapped carefully inside was but a sliver of the Orb of Onirim, the beacon of magic that had directed so much of their lives over the past year. And now it was shattered, reduced to this.
He carefully held the piece in his hand. His master had gotten a taste of the power of the orb, but now all that remained was an echo. There was no power here. But there could perhaps be again.
As he held the shard, he felt a pull eastward, and he knew that another piece of the orb was there, just waiting to be reunited with his piece.
Perhaps his master was correct. He might still have much to learn. But perhaps it was time for a different teacher.
He packed his meager possessions, placing the fragment in a small satchel worn close to his heart, and was gone by morning.
Lobster, Tiramisu, Eternal Slumber
By Norman Gray
Mayhew hated that word.
Too late had the courts been established and the proper confinements built; the jurisdictions not set until crime was already rampant across the cosmos.
Stasis was supposed to be a stop-gap, a convenient means to incarcerate the accused until their sentencing. But Mayhew knew now that it was a lie, nothing more than final frontier justice. . . Detainees were stuffed into cryo-chambers, to await trials that never came.
It was no better than a death sentence.
Vicky had been lucky. She was caught well before things had gotten out of hand, and well before the agency started taking these cruel shortcuts. But it seemed her luck was running out.
Mayhew took a deep breath, as he approached her cell for what would likely be the last time.
“Detective. . . You seem rather somber. Bad news, I take it?”
He sighed. “There’s new evidence in the Centurion case, apparently. They plan on sending you to Camelopardalis to eventually stand trial. . . You’ll be kept in Stasis until then.”
She gave a solemn nod, knowing the implications. “Eternal slumber.”
“I’m trying to find an alternative,” Mayhew said. “Any ideas?”
Vicky smiled. “Lobster.”
He thought he’d misheard her. “Come again?”
“Lobster. Caesar salad, hold the croutons. Red wine, and a slice of Tiramisu. . . A fine last meal, wouldn’t you agree?”
He grew tense. “Vicky, I-”
“And some Espresso, to accompany dessert. Easily obtainable for a resourceful fellow like yourself, Detective.”
He could feel the tears building. He closed his eyes.
“Surely you didn’t think our acquaintanceship would have a happy ending, did you Mr. Mayhew?”
‘No,’ he thought. He supposed he didn’t.
But this wasn’t what he signed up for; a one-size-fits-all penalty, forced upon every alleged perpetrator purely for convenience.
Maybe his superiors were right; the two of them had become too close. Maybe Victoria had gotten in his head. . .
But he wouldn’t let this happen. “I’m getting you out of this.” He told her.
“You can’t save me, Detective.”
‘I can try,’ Mayhew thought. ‘I have to try.’
Flowereyes (Oniyama: Scenes from the 999 Hells)
By Hemming Sebastian Bane
Ahyu opened his eyes. Glossy jade covered the floor. Four red wooden pillars held the ceiling, a black and gold tableau depicting a wheel on which beings endured various forms of torture. The kameosa trembled, the sake in his jar-like gut sloshing a little. He knew this place from the stories his grandparents would tell him when he misbehaved. Stories that told him if he didn’t behave, he’d be punished for eternity. And before that, he’d be tried in the court of Banshie Sinduin Hamidim.
Ahyu wept as in front of him rose a black mahogany desk, its size making the yokai feel like a bug. An enormous chthonic deity hunched over the edge to look at the accused. His eyes were red and yellow like a fire burning into Ahyu’s soul. His skin was like a corpse covered in soot. His head almost touched the ceiling.
“You see me before your time, mortal,” Banshie Sinduin Hamidim asked with a voice that rattled everything in the chamber.
Ahyu dropped to his knees. “I’m not dead?”
“Close, but not quite there yet.” The deity took a scroll from his desk. “Ahyu Sakekawa. Petty thief. Prospered off others’ misfortune.”
Ahyu felt a cold shiver run down his body. “Wait. You said I’m not dead yet! Why are you judging me?!”
The judge didn’t look up. “To warn you what is to come should you not change.”
With a thunderous snap of the deity’s fingers, Ahyu’s eyes began to itch and burn. With a scream, Ahyu realized he was seeing two things at once. A boy beaten by thugs. Another image came. A frail woman chasing after her stolen baby. Image after image of suffering flooded Ahyu’s consciousness until he lost track.
“This…” thundered Banshie Sinduin Hamidim. “… is what waits for you in the Hell of Flower Eyes.”
Every image coalesced into one: a field that stretched forever. Ahyu stood alone, screaming nonsense and crying blood. His eyes were made entirely of other smaller eyes. Images of suffering bludgeoned his senses.
“Don’t worry,” the deity said, “It’s only a few trillion trillion years.”
[DM me on discord for details!]
The House’s Function
By RVMPLSTLTSKN (The Saga of The Deep One’s Wake)
Charn’s earliest memory belonged to someone else: an orphan, bier-carried to the House, paralyzed by drink, sky bright. The funeral procession around the bier was a bony thing, angular bodies and swollen stomachs. Charn remembered being both dead and alive, the child, dead if only because others said so, bound for the House, and the only thing alive in the House, aside from the jade walls. It was a solemn and sordid time. Things did not follow the natural order. Parents buried their children, the living were treated as dead, the hungry did not eat.
In the House now, Charn awaits temporal passage. There is no need, for Charn, to eat, only to perform a function. There is material which must be harvested, the first fruits of death, the transience of mankind.
Charn was born after that child passed, like a chick from an egg. The House of the dead ate better than the living. And yet, Charn took time to perform the House’s function. Rancid, fetor, foul. The child who would be Charn, beneath that porcelain mask, threshed death’s foul harvest. Until there were no more supplications, no more harvest, no more living.
Loneliness is not everlasting. Charn outlasted its hold and was joined by others. Children and wanderers, priests and godlings. Time, like storms’ ebb, flowed back and the cycle began again. A new harvest, the threshold of history become the herald of technology. Charn took up the threshing sledge and taught a new generation their past and future. Grains waxed and withered, fields fallowed and civilized. Charn worked hard and brought forth harvests once more.
The Prisoner (Illusions of Heroes)
by Gerrit (Rattus)
Falmiras struggled against his restraints, the cold metal biting into his skin with each twist and pull. He stared at the runes etched into the cuffs, as if his vitriol could dispel them. He’d never known runes that could sap someone’s magic. Without the energy coursing through him he felt spent, like his body had been hollowed out and left a shell.
In the distance he heard footsteps echoing down the stairway. He tensed his muscles, wishing for even a spark of magic to surface. Anything he could use to defy his captor.
The familiar figure rounded the corner, a smug smile already on his lips. Anger burned in Falmiras’s chest at even the sight of the man. Those gold eyes, nigh emotionless. The arrogant posture, self-sure of his victory even from the beginning.
The man crossed the room in a few long strides, until he was less than an arm’s length from Falmiras. He looked to the two chains suspended from the ceiling, each one restraining one of Falmiras’s arms. A chuckle escaped his mouth as he surveyed his prisoner.
“You were once so mighty, Falmiras,” the man said, his voice smooth yet taunting. “A fierce wolf, now little more than a mewling pup in a cage.”
Falmiras said nothing. He fixed his gaze on his captor, imagining all the ways he would rip him limb from limb were he not restrained.
“What’s wrong? If I didn’t know better, I would think you didn’t like your new accommodations.” The man gestured around himself with one hand. “I built them special for you, you know.”
The man looked to the two chains suspended from the ceiling, each one fastened around one of Falmiras’s wrists. “You’ll get used to it. After all, you have countless centuries to grow accustomed. You claim to be immortal. And I intend to test that theory.”
Culthinn, God of Knowledge, laughed at his prisoner as he walked away.
by Carrie (Glaceon373)
It’s right there.
I can see it. Hear it. Smell it. Almost touch it.
I want to hold it. I want it to be true.
But I know it can’t be true. Not yet. Not yet, because everything else must happen first.
But it’s close. So close. And once I get there, it’ll be incredible. Not just for me, ideally. For… the world? Maybe that’s hoping a little too much, actually. Maybe, like… like ten people.
It’s right there.
There’s just one slight problem.
Okay, a lot of problems.
I can’t move on from one project that requires a previous project to be done without actually finishing the previous project. And that previous project has, like, twenty steps before it. All of which take insurmountable amounts of time. And I have to get through all that before I can even start the second project.
Can I believe I wanted to finish the first thing by the end of May? That was dumb of me. Why don’t I know how time works? Why is there never enough of it? Why’s there always too much?
It’s. Right. There.
What happens after I get there? Do I get famous? I don’t think I want to get famous. Have you seen famous people lately? Well, at least they can afford food and stuff. But I don’t want to be on the news.
I’d rather just… do the thing. But, again, there’s twenty steps before I can even move on to step two. Which wouldn’t make it step two, it’d be step twenty-one, but that’s beside the point. It is, practically speaking, step two.
Oh, it’s right there. Right there.
But it’s not. I’m getting ahead of myself. Months, years, decades maybe, all too soon. I should stop. Get back on track. Finish step one.
But isn’t it nice to imagine it, sometimes?
An Honorable Duel
by Lee Strangely
With the sun beating down on him, his pale, aging complexion and black cloak made Dane look more like a ghost than a man. With as old as he was, he may as well have been… I don’t think there ever was, or even is, a single person alive who can say for certain how long he’s been around… Apart from Quint that is… The same man that was watching him from the dark shadows of that crooked old tree.
“I have waited far too long for this moment,” Quint cooed as his sword poked out from the shade.
Dane’s sword was already in his hand. Sunshine flowed down its polished steel like raindrops. Quint seemed to keep trying to engage with him, but Dane only stared out just in front of him. Between the two was a small boulder. Sitting on it was a glass, filled with something that can best be described as cold and ill.
To the best of my recollection, Quint took notice and said, “I intend to fight you as you’ll fight me.” He then stepped into the light, revealing darkened eyes and a striking, youthful face. “The elixir will return your youth to you, as it has to me.”
Dane looked back at him with a glare so heavy it could flatten a hill if left sitting on it long enough.
“I will fight you in your prime, and I will accept nothing less. Drink it…”
The old man just… stood there… To this day I still cannot explain the feeling that those eyes gave.
“Drink. It.” he demanded.
Dane remained silent.
“DRINK IT DAMN YOU!” Quint barked in a fit of teary desperation.
Upon the utterance of those words, Dane held out the glass… letting the elixir dribble onto the dusty soil.
Quint snapped, “Have you no honor?!” pointing his sword at Dane.
Dane took a single step forward. Tossing the cup aside, in his deep, gruff voice he muttered to Quint, “There is no honor in what we’re about to do here…”
I Can Lay My Body Down, But I Can’t Find My Sweet Release
Though the Old One looked in Yelena’s direction, it was clear his gaze went far beyond the angel as he answered her question. “Like you, our souls come in two halves. The only difference is that angels were formed with their soul complete. Old Ones find our other half.
“She was beautiful. Strong. Stubborn.” A pained smile formed on his face. “She drove me mad in the best way. It was only when I found her that I truly knew the meaning of the word, complete. This was why my kind joined the Morningstar’s war on the Father.”
Yelena’s gaze immediately snapped towards the Old One, a clear confusion on her face.
“In time, we would have defeated you. Your kind was more powerful, but ours continued to grow in number. Yours did not. However, that could take multiple millennia if not eons. Wherein one battle could have ended our war, after which Lucifer insisted we would be left in peace.
“I could see an eternity with my soulmate. Or… possibly losing her in a long, drawn out war.
“Of course… we both know how that ended. We lost. And the Father punished us by striking down our soulmates. Taking away our reason to attack Him again.”
Yelena spoke, her voice barely above a whisper, “…we were told He did that so no more Old Ones would be conceived.”
“If He truly wanted us gone, we would be gone. He wanted us in pain. And it worked. We never stood against Him again.
“So yes. Your wing is gone. As you currently are, you’re useless as an angel, much less a warrior. However, I guarantee you that I also know what it feels to have an eternity lie before you, only to have half your soul brutally torn away until all that’s left is an endless entropy of an immortal existence.”
As the Old One dropped his head, there was an instinct in Yelena to attack. He was her natural enemy and he’d dropped his guard. Instead, she covered herself with her remaining wing and dropped her head as well.