Hello Disgruntled Leaders, Thrill-Seekers, and Promise-Keepers!
Phew, we made it! Alright, did everyone see that? Because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
I’m Never Doing That Again
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 has almost endless possibilities—from silly to serious, from fantastical, to real. There are many things one might never want to do again.
It’s hard to know where to even start with examples, there are so many to choose from! Someone might try a new or different food and say “I’m never ordering that again!” or “I’m never eating here again!” You could write about a kid on the playground eating worms on a dare, saying they won’t be doing that again after throwing them all up. Perhaps this kid was bullied into doing it, and instead of vowing not to eat worms, they vow “I’m never letting myself get bullied again, I’m gonna stand up to them next time.” Maybe, to complete a mission, one of your characters has to dress up in a way they find silly and/or demeaning, and after they finish said mission they tell their team they’ll never do it again. Maybe someone kisses their crush (or, if you want to make it even spicier, the enemy) even though they’re not supposed to, and says they won’t do it again.
This prompt doesn’t just have to apply to someone who found a situation unpleasant. You could write about someone running from themselves. Perhaps someone is afraid of their own powers—like Aang in the “The Deserter” episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, vowing he’s never going to Firebend again. I think a number of artists will at one point say, out of fear, frustration, or disappointment, “I’ll never make art again.” when it’d be a very sad thing if they truly didn’t. You could create lots of interesting juxtapositions with this: like a healer vowing not to heal people anymore, because they’re only taken for granted. A ghost vowing to never haunt again because they’ll never be noticed. A villain vowing never to do another evil thing because they believe they’ve changed.
Along this line…just because someone says they’ll never do something again doesn’t mean they truly won’t. This is where things fall into a more realistic and tragic category. Someone who’s addicted to a substance might say “I’ll never smoke again” or “I’ll never drink again” when you know…they probably will. An abusive person might say “I’ll never hurt you again,” …but you know it’s another tactic to keep you from running. Someone who’s abused—or in any sort of relationship that’s not right for them—might say “I’ll never run back to them” but you know they’ll pick up the phone when they call.
This prompt touches on our core nature. Sometimes people can say this phrase and really mean it, and truly follow through. But I think more often than anything when we say we won’t do something again we’re trying to change ourselves, convince ourselves…and usually that doesn’t work. Usually we haven’t addressed the deeper issue that keeps us going back to that bad habit, or bad person.
My challenge for you is to once again take inspiration from your own life. Think about a time when you said “I’m never doing that again” and what happened following. Did you follow through on that promise? Or was it said in a moment of emotion, not really meant? Or did you really mean it, but didn’t follow through? You can use your own life in a variety of ways. You could write an account of the event; you could end the story in a different way than it did in reality; you could use the event/promise as inspiration for a fiction entirely different from the situation it was born from. [And if you do use your own life you can add (Based on a True Story) or (Inspired by a True Story) to your title].
Get out there and get writing. I hope you got all that, because I won’t be saying it again.
—Pearce, Paul, Kaylie, & Derek
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).
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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.
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- 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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- 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 extend of stupidity
[Excerpt from Diamond Snake Corp code of conduct manual, section Jeff]
Due to the many offences made by operator Jeff, the Council has made a dedicated section for him to clear out the named rule clutters
1. While it’s an unwritten rule that we at DS only care about an individual’s attributions and not their race, ethnicity nor gender. Making rude or demoralizing remarks about the 3 previous traits that can affect the employee’s efficiency is now punishable by the offended party removing one tooth off the offender’s mouth. If the offender is Jeff, the offended is free to take as many of his teeth to satisfy themself.
2. Titano Boa Emerald Eye has a history of straining himself from work to the point of developing health issues, some of which including him passing out from exhaustion on his work desk (AKA he works harder than you, JEFF). Hence the medical department mandates him to take 3 months a year break to prevent him from bodily failures. Any remarks such as calling him “lazy old bum” will warrant a beat down from our founder and leader.
Addendum: Emerald Eye, sir, you are no longer allow to shove brooms up his private.
3. Honestly we’re stopping the formality at this point. It’s obvious when everyone is doing their best to be kind toward top operator Luna Fang means we’re really meant not to piss him off. HE IS NOT A DOORMAT, Jeff. You’re expected to clean up your blood stains off the floor and wall within 3 days. We will not take excuses. The reason we’re writing this down here so the newcomers know what’s not to do.
Requests vs wishes
“You have to be joking” I exclaimed, when a squadron of fighters appeared on my screens, and opened fire breaking at least half a dozen laws in the process.
“Just shoot them, you’re ruthless like that” my passenger yelled. I rolled my eyes as I realised why they payed extra for having me. A barbarian bodyguard was still cheaper than an assassin.
I checked our status. My shields were holding up nicely. Minmaxing my ship for defense meant that I could sit out the duration of the assignment, ignore the assassins pounding on my shields and hand over my passenger to the court in time for his testimony. No shenanigans needed.
However, something irked me about my passenger. Maybe the look he gave me when I picked him up at the police station. Or maybe his dismissive behaviour when I offered him a handshake. Or his threat to pay less if I turn out to be born in a dome.
I checked my screens again. I turned towards the farthest from us and accelerated, turning the fight into a game of high speed chicken. I barely passed the first fighter, when my target lost his courage and broke formation. I just kept flying straight, leaving behind three confused assassin wannabes.
“You couldn’t have just shot them?”
“I’m not being payed to kill.”
With a loud clank, a wallet landed on the console.
“Whatever you need for shooting down those, just take it”
I picked up the wallet and handed it back.
“Even if you payed me enough to buy weapons and a workshop to install them, I don’t have any free mounts. They’re all occupied by my shields and the additional hull layer”
I’m sure my passenger wanted to give me a piece of his mind over my design. However, us being here with barely a dent, shields barely even scratched proved my point.
“We’re unarmed” he whispered once he managed to reclaim his voice.
“Don’t worry, if this assignment pays enough for my final exam, I’m never doing this again”
Delusion of Grandeur
It started when I was told of my birthright, and took hold when the crown touched my head…this overwhelming delusion of grandeur. Everything tied to this ornament on my head became mine, as did everyones services. Soldiers, advisors, cooks, maids, butlers, and all these villagers providing resources to my thriving kingdom.
But above all was the properties. One in particular upholding the power of my kingdoms wealth. A mine wherein lies a sea of treasure buried within the earth, which I used to procure dashing baubles. Many worked and died endlessly to retrieve the treasure, and I had no qualm for their lives.
I learned that after war took the land over the mines influence. Once, marching out of the city to the battlefield, I saw a father grasp their loved ones hands as they passed by, then let go when he was too far to reach. There was a light flutter in me that added a reason for fighting this war. Once we’ve won, I will make sure that family will be taken care of.
But in the midst of battle, I fell unconcious between two horses and awoke to the aftermath. Climbing weakly over one of the horses, I scanned over what was left of my army. All massacred and in pieces. The father I had hoped to survive fell. And my crown was now a trinket.
I picked myself up and put the trinket on my head, and with no more to rule I wandered through the land of my loss. No, not mine. Theirs! They had a fool for a ruler that learned to care too late.
My hubris and my guilt led me to a cliffs edge where I was cornered by my enemy. Their king demeaned me with his pompous stare, as he demanded to give up the crown.
I glared a silent rage of failed integrity, and spoke my last words that unsettled the new ruler.
“Your delusion was mine. If you care not for them, it will undo you…and they will haunt you.”
Then I jumped to end my delusion of grandeur.
The Illusion of Control (Chronicles of The Dragon)
Scribe and Jostica held tightly to Jonathan as scales fell from his body, disintegrating in the wind. His burning eyes faded to slits of flame. His tension eased, but did not leave completely.
“Let go,” he growled, shrugging out of their grasp. “I have to go. Scribe’s power won’t hold me for long.” He took one step then leapt off into the distance.
Jostica started to pursue, but then her shoulders drooped. She turned to Scribe. “Guess I should get you back.” And teleported them away.
Ultima glowered at Sol, pushing herself up, wincing. “I’m going home, getting a shower, then I’m going to sleep for thirty-two hours.”
“You should go to the medi-” Sol started, but she flew off.
Alone, Sol stood at the edge of the deep crater he’d made attempting to restrain Jonathan Rose, The Dragon. He heaved a sigh before his strength faded, and he slowly lowered himself to the ground. He coughed, feeling something running down his throat. He sniffed. And down his face. He sniffed again before lifting his mask up, wiping the blood from his nose.
It had been a long time since his powers had caused him mental strain. Even longer since that strain became physical.
The last time he’d had to hold The Dragon back, they’d been in a crumbling, burning, city. He’d chosen to let go and save the civilians instead. But how many more had The Dragon gone on to kill?
If he’d held on, could the others have taken it down? Could any of them have really done anything to it? Just now he’d been pushing his limits to hold it down, and it’d kept getting back up. He hadn’t even been fully transformed this time.
He wiped away another trickle of blood.
Did he ever have it under control? Was he only telling himself he’d let it go?
They needed a plan. A way to stop him for sure if Jonathan ever lost it again.
Repositioning his mask, he stood up.
And maybe a way to stop Ultima, if she kept picking fights with him.
A last one (Inspired by true events)
A thunderstorm roared outside, light music was playing and the lighting dimmed. We were alone, which happened a lot more often in recent times.
It wasn’t unusual for us to lay here, in her bed. We had done it since we were seven and now, nine years later we still loved this bed like we did on the first day, but this evening was different than the others. Tomorrow she would go, leave me here in this village, and start a new life abroad. We weren’t doing much, just talking. About what she would do or how it would be going to an international school where she had to speak English all the time and as our time came to an end I felt that we both got sadder by the minute.
The farewell was heavy on us. I looked up from our notes and I noticed a tear flowing down her cheek and dripping onto the sheets. Another one came and I reached forward, carefully wiping it from her face with my thumb. Embarrassed she looked down, attempting to hide her tears which now came in thickening streams. Trying to calm her, I wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly, swaying her slightly and encouraging her. “Y-You know, I will miss you so much, I- I just c-can’t imagine my life w-without you.” she sobbed, hiding her face on my shoulder. “I know”, I sighed, “I feel the same way.”
Out of the blue, I felt something wet touching my lips. Surprised I opened my eyes. There she was, my best friend, my one and only, Vi, kissing me, tears still dripping from her eyes but her lips pressing against mine, tentatively at first, then fiercely and firmly. In that kiss, I could feel it all. The sorrow. The pain. Her regrets. I froze, but then returned her kiss, carefully but with no less passion. After what felt like an eternity, she gently broke the kiss.
“I’m sorry.” She looked at me uncertainly, “I… I should’ve done it earlier… Now I’m never doing that again.”
Not Again (Life of Madness)
by Lee Strangely
Shiloh’s isolated house was remarkably well-kept, not to mention quite homely. It was oddly warm and welcoming, prepared for visitors despite being perched so far from them.
From the kitchen Shiloh asked aloud, “Could I get you something to drink?” He waited for an answer as the glass in his hand grew heavier. “Maddy?” Once the water stopped running, he could only hear one sound.
Shiloh peeked around the corner, “Maddy?”
Even without her mud-stained hiking boots, her feet tapping on the old wood floor still dominated the room. Maddy though, didn’t really notice the sound. Unlike the rest of her, her head seemed almost statuesque, permanently entranced by the open window next to her.
“Oh, sorry,” she finally responded, her foot finally stopping, “no thank you.”
“Alright? Yeah, yeah. Perfectly alright.”
Without so much as a second of silence passing, Shiloh immediately heard another lighter tapping. Even though Maddy’s feet were still, her hand continued to rap away on the chair-arm.
“Okay, I’ll bite,” Shiloh asked, “what’s your dad doing in the backseat of your car?”
“I resurrected him.”
“I noticed that… but why? I thought you hated him.”
“I wanted to bring him back, so he can die again…”
“Okay that makes more sense.”
“Look I’m sorry; I’m basically barging in on you and dragging you into something all over again like before and…”
“No, no you’re not. It’s fine. It’s okay, I don’t hold any of that against you. Your mother wasn’t there, you were emotional. It’s all fine. Honestly, I don’t deal with the dead anymore anyway…” Shiloh took a sip, “So what do you need help with?”
“I need you to find Dad’s soul.”
Have you ever found yourself in a situation without knowing how you even ended up there in the first place?
All I did was try to impress a pretty face at the club and now I’m standing knee-deep inside the grave of some guy I don’t know.
The night is dark, the only light coming from dollar-store flashlights.
And I’m heaving up shovel loads of dirt.
“How’s it going?” This asshole asks as he points his flashlight straight at my face almost blinding me. I never got his name.
There are other onlookers around the hole.
I wonder if it’s their usual tactic, just send the hot one to the bar and string some sap along that looks like he could dig a hole.
Don’t like to make your own hands dirty.
“I mean it goes faster if I can see, just point that thing down to the ground thanks.” I huff, but the beam of light does shift to my relief.
I could just hit them with the shovel, probably.
Make a run for it.
I guess they also screen for curiosity.
My shoulders jump as the shovel bounces off something hard.
This is it then?
I’m not the only one who heard it, around me are excited whispers.
Suddenly I’m pulled out of the hole and the one who strung me along jumps down holding out a string with a crystal on the end. It circles mysteriously, then starts to glow.
There are cheers, people jump in with tools to break open the lid.
“Ever seen a dead guy before?” My questionable date asks while climbing out again.
I nod “Grandad, but that was before they stuck him into the ground.”
“So what are you gonna do with him?”
“Ask some questions, that’s all.”
“Nothing you need to concern yourself about, unless you wanna stay and join up, that is?” That smile, it’s intoxicating.
Be strong now “Actually, I think this is a one-off for me.”
“Yeah, you can just join this guy when we’re done. No hard feelings.”
Hard Pass Next Time
The tiny outboard motor chugged as the boat made its way slowly across the lake. At the rear of the boat, Erykah manned the tiller, guiding it around.
Sonja looked around the moonlit locale. “So, you kept mentioning the Bear Lake monster on the way up here, but I can’t help but notice, we’re in Nevada.”
“Yup,” Erykah replied.
“And Bear Lake is in Utah.”
“Uh huh. I think we’re dealing with a similar creature. Maybe some kind of prehistoric beast like a mosasaur. Or a primitive…dragon.”
“Not all dragons are the same,” Sonja said. “An intelligent Draco sapien has about as much in common with a basilisk as a human does with a lemur.” She looked around the lake. “So the plan is to just motor about on the lake all night until we find it?”
Erykah shrugged sheepishly. “Well, we are towing around the hind quarter of a cow. Hopefully that attracts it. I was thinking about hooking up a fishing sonar, but there’s always the chance that that could also drive it away.”
Sonja blinked. “So, not really a plan then. Any idea about how long…”
She was cut off as the boat suddenly jerked backwards. It started to reverse, and the motor was smoking. Erykah shut it off and pulled it out of the water.
The rope holding the bait snapped and the two women stared at one another.
“We should get going,” Erykah said.
Sonja opened her mouth, but couldn’t say anything as a dark mass emerged from the water, engulfed the front half of the boat, and swallowed it, Sonja included.
Erykah tried to prepare a spell as the remainder of the boat started to sink.
A large, crocodilian head emerged from the water, its mouth wide open. And it seemed to be gagging. It lifted its head, and she could see a growing mass in its throat. Suddenly, it exploded, spraying her in blood and guts. A flash of gold dove into the water.
Seconds later, Sonja, now a golden dragon, emerged.
“Next time, I’d rather not get eaten by the lake monster.”
Different (based on a true story) [cw: several mental health issues]
By Taja DaLeen
All I really want is something beautiful to say, a nice story to tell. But I’m not too sure mine is worth telling.
But well, I’ll let you be the judge of that…
I was a relatively normal child, I guess? But as a teen I started to notice I was different from other kids. And not the tropey “not like other girls” kind of different.
My brain works differently. And especially my emotions do, by now I am actually diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
Back then I didn’t know. I just wanted to be like everyone else, I tried to fit in, I really did. But nothing ever works out the way you want it to, no?
Well, like I said, I didn’t fit in much growing up. And it felt like hell. I didn’t know what to do. All this suppressing my emotions, trying to be like everyone else, left me just feeling… nothing.
So I ended up trying to feel alive the only way I knew how, by trying to feel pain.
But even that didn’t work. My pain tolerance was, and still is, too high. No matter how many times I tried, it just left me feeling even more unnormal.
I felt even more inhuman.
There was a turning point eventually, though, after everything went downhill probably as much as possible without drifting from reality completely. After a time of not being able to sleep, or to eat, or to even breathe, I decided it was enough.
I decided other people’s opinions weren’t worth this.
I want to feel, to not hide my emotions but let it all out. So I did and do, bit by bit. And I’m getting better every day. I still try my best, but in a different way.
I do my best just being myself, as much as I can. Some days it works better than others, but overall I’m ok.
Sometimes I still care about other people’s opinions, but only ever that of friends.
Sometimes I still feel depressed, and worthless, but overall I’m happy.
By Lila Mullen
The stark blackness of the corridor stretches before me, devoid of all light.
It seems to extend forever, becoming darker, more impenetrable as it grows longer, the exit moving further away with each breath, each thought from my troubled mind.
The air feels frosty on my bare arms, seeming to suck away all of my heat, warmth, life.
And the hallway, what seemed before to stretch so far into darkness condenses, becomes a room, a closet, a box, as the temperature lowers, ice forming on the walls, walls that are so close to my body now, barely an arm’s length from my fingertips.
The hairs on my arms rise, bringing with them goosebumps, little ridges on me, the last, desperate, measure from my body to prevent me from freezing to death.
How much longer will that be now?
As my heartbeat slows, limbs growing weary from this tiny, cramped space, as does any hope of escaping this hell-like place, the room changes again, the form it takes rippling and moving under my feet as if it were an ocean, and I was trapped just under the surface, slowly drowning as I reach for the sky, only to be dragged back by the waves…
into a well, a deep, rocky hole that smashes into my fragile body as I hit the bottom.
The darkness surrounds me now, becoming thick as syrup, a deep, frigid void that contains none but myself.
It’s only me in this shadowy realm, this place that seems to shift with each heartbeat.
I’m slave to the will of the void.
As I lie in that darkness, the emotions frozen by that winter hit me, like a slap to the face.
They grip my mind with their iron hands, ripping into the hole in my chest as I clutch my head, sinking to the ground, the blizzard raging around me.
And as I reach into the void, for something, anything to save me, a hand grips mine.
And pulls me out of the darkness.
I feel a sense of relief.
The void is gone.
Testing the Limits (Reality Itself)
Life looked calmly at the small, peacefully uninhabited planet floating through space, its neighboring planets and stars swirling around in mesmerizing patterns. She often enjoyed bathing in the beauty of Space’s handiwork, but that was not what she was here to do.
It had been a while since Life had truly experimented with their power. They had so much potential, why not see what happened if they used all of it?
Life focused all of their attention towards the planet, smiling as its gray surface was gradually overcome with a green floor of vegetation. In no time at all, animals of every shape and size began roaming the surface. It was simple, but Life enjoyed the transformation.
“What are you doing?” Death asked, suddenly appearing on the other side of the planet.
“Shut up. I’m focusing.” Life said. Death must have felt the new presence of life and come to…collect.
“Whatever.” Death said. “I’ll just watch. This looks interesting.”
Life re-directed their attention to the planet, watching the plants grow taller and stronger as the animals grew smarter and more versatile. Life watched the planet flourish as every inch of the planet became covered with life. Then it went wrong.
Life watched as the life began to consume itself, its diversity and strength aiding itself but breaking everything around it. Life saw Death smile as Life redoubled their efforts, urging more life forward, only for the new life to worsen the old life’s condition. Slowly, life faded completely, and the planet once again became a gray husk.
Life sighed. “That was pointless.”
Death nodded. “Pretty much.”
“You didn’t cause that, did you?”
Death shrugged. “I didn’t have to. I certainly enjoyed it though.”
“Of course you did.”
“You should do that again.”
“Just to spite you, I won’t.”
“Awwww, come on! It was so fun!”
“Yah? Well why don’t you try it?” Life challenged.
Death looked down at itself, before turning to the planet contemplatively.
“But it will be so fun!” Life said sarcastically.
“For you maybe. I’m not looking to put in that much effort.”
“This’s insane!” Shouting wasn’t helping, since the whipping winds stole my voice. The speed we were rocketing through the sky at was terrifying! I’d always been a fan of graviton cyclone racers, but if someone had told me that I’d be on one, hugging a satyr for dear life…
Heeh. Dear. She’s part deer.
That thought made me smile. In spite of the actions we’ve taken, the numorous crimes Koalle coaxed me into, I was smiling. Excited. Exilerated.
The crescendo of sirens reuniting behind us made Koalle dip below the traffic, dropping our speed and flipping us sideways as our momentum carried us around the corner and across the open street. Looking down at the building we skirted against, I could see the bottom of our ride reflecting in the glossy, black windows.
My heart skipped a beat as Koalle glanced down at our reflection and gave me a wink.
Flipping the bike over, we left the biulding and our momentum carried us out, and as the bike came back below us, the anti-gravity caught us twenty feet above the ground. “Here we go!” She laughed in hysteria. Gunning it, She weaved between signs and screens, flashing neon and concrete walkways.
With a swift grace, Koalle brought us to a near stop, spinning us to the side and lining us up with a narrow alleyway. She revved the engine, launching us through that passage. Zipping through several blocks, she brought us to a slower stop.
We landed in a small courtyard where a young cherry blossom tree grew between the spires of Strundal.
She glanced back at me. “Good work; you stayed on.” Her praise didn’t register, but her cold fingers gently touching my forearm brought me back. “It’s okay, you can let go now.”
“Oh, uh… right.” I broke my clinched grip and leaned back. “I’m never riding with you again.”
“Good luck in your next escape,” she told me. Leaning back into me, her hands on my knees, she pressed down and kicked off the bike, landing gracefully with a hand offered. “Welcome to my home.”
Puff Puff Pufferfish (Based on a True Story)
by Oliver Enslad
Dolphins use pufferfish to get into a trance-like state. There are other animals that do this of course, but what makes the dolphin so special and unique was that it was the first time I’ve heard of self poisoning being natural. That was my excuse.
Every now and again, thanks to a great poet, I fantasize of an alien planet where it’s not just poisoning but a way of life. Each and every bug eyed, grey skinned humanoid puffing smoke into the air around them with wide smiles and no sense of sinister intents. I believed that the reason why we wouldn’t encounter a planet more advanced than us is because they’ve found the solution to world peace.
Those I love, however, do not share in my beliefs. Maybe it is a delusion, a symptom of my own madness that I believed I was okay. Those I love frown when smoke leaves my lungs, despite my wide smile. They don’t wish to partake and that’s okay. They wish I would stop, and I’m still not sure if that’s okay.
Perhaps my greatest struggle is a lack of understanding. I don’t understand how they’re happy without any poison in their system. Whether it was alcohol, nicotine or even marijuana I was always hooked on a vice. What was a harmless sip, what was a joint at a party, what was a relaxing tradition turned into daily, no, hourly habit at my worst. It kept the nightmares away.
I’ve since attempted sobriety on two occasions, the present being the third. The nightmares are distant, but the cravings are near and strong. Maybe I’ll be taken to that advanced planet one day, or better yet I’ll learn how to control my habits. For those I love, I’ll stop.
The mud here was all wrong. Not like home at all. It slid between Thomas’s fingers as he dug them into the Earth. There was no grind of sand, no stink of sea and sewage. Just the smell of earth and dead leaves, and of spilled blood cooling in the Autumn chill.
Thomas glanced right. The corpse was still there, stiletto protruding from the eye slit of the helmet. He looked away quickly to the spot where he’d dropped his bow. The string was soaked. Useless. The Gaffer was going to bloody kill him.
Thomas giggled. A fraught little sound lost amid the laughter and the clatter of plate armour as the other bowmen picked over the dead. How daft to worry about the Gaff’s temper when he’d just broken one of The Lord’s highest laws!
Down the hill, the village of Agincourt sulked among the trees. The mean little settlement seemed miles away, a smudge on the horizon beyond a sea of flesh and arrow shafts that steamed gently in the weak sunlight.
How many of those arrows were his? How many had Thomas already killed by the time he’d slid his blade into the eye of that helpless knight, and heard the man’s final breath escape his body in a long, thin sigh? Nock, draw, release. Nock, draw, release. Each time Thomas’s arrow one among thousands, lost as soon as it left his fingers. Not needing that steady pressure to drive it home.
A single sob broke from Tommy’s lips. Never again. He’d never kill again. The next church he came to he’d throw himself down at the altar and beg forgiveness. Swear before God and all His saints never to take another life. Put himself in The Lord’s service if he had to. But he would never, ever, kill again.
A shout went up. The Gaffer’s voice ringing sharp as the drizzle began to descend. Grumbling, the other bowmen began the long trudge uphill, spoils in hand.
Thomas took up his bow and dragged himself up from the mud to follow his comrades.
He didn’t look back.
A Cat’s Journey to the Underworld
His paws treaded the black marble floor as they had done 6 times before. If he looked down he could see the glassy reflection of himself staring back at him, overcast by the golden candelabras that were the only light in this otherwise never ending darkness.
He knew what was at the end of this long hallway and who he would meet. It wasn’t long before he came upon the tall black podium, accentuated with gold at the edges. The figure that normally stood there had his back turned to him, but as soon as he noticed his arrival, he turned around with a quickness as if he had done this 100 times. He still had his reading glasses on from looking over papers and muttering to himself, he put these on the desk with a “clack” that sounded into the abyss.
“Mr. Whiskers.” He said in a voice that was deep, mysterious, but soothing.
“Anubis” Mr. Whiskers replied back.
“Back again? This is what? Your 7th life? Let’s see… cause of death was…” he paused for a moment, picked up his reading glasses to make sure what he was reading was correct. He placed them back down on the table. It was correct. “Ah. What a way to find out you have an allergy to,” he paused again. “Peanuts.”
“Yeah, I know, right? Peanuts. Who knew?”
“Apparently, not you.”
Mr. Whiskers chuckled. “Yeah, I won’t be licking out of an open peanut butter jar again. Would you mind sending me back though now, Anub? I got a family waiting on me to come back.” Anubis leaned over his desk, glaring down at the black cat, his figure casting a large shadow over him. “Yes. I will send you back. Don’t call me Anub.” He sat back, “it sounds ridiculous.” Then Anubis waved his hand in the air in a circular motion, and Mr. Whiskers woke up with his family stroking him, making his fur wet with tears of relief. It was good to be home
The Lonely Curse (Inspired by real life)
By Strong Berry
I have a confession to make. I am cursed. Not to turn into a wolf every full moon or with endless blood lust. No, mine is much more boring in comparison and much too real.
The curse isn’t something you can see, but it’s a part of me. It’s in my eyes, in my ears, in my mind. The best way I’ve heard to describe it’s effects to those of you fortunate enough to not posses it is this: Imagine all humans on Earth play a big, complex game. Everyone is given a rule book at birth, including you, except yours is… different. Yet you’re still expected to play by the rules everyone else has. You try your best, but sometimes… your best just isn’t enough to win.
This is why, though I wanted to, I didn’t have almost any friends. They other kids started to pick on the strange kid who acts weirdly, is overly sensitive, prone to crying, and what would later become the most important thing, doesn’t react. I didn’t understand why it happened. I didn’t hurt them. I learned that telling the teachers would not stop it, nor will fighting back.
So I decided I’m not going to give them any satisfaction. I kept completely silent.
They teased me, stole my stuff, humiliated me and my only friend, convinced said friend to break the six year old bond we shared just so she can be “cool”, and when they would finally broke that calm facade… the laughter as the tears spilled from my eyes… I didn’t understand…
This is my biggest regret from childhood. Keeping silent about everything. But you can’t change the past. You can only learn. I remember my first day at the new school I moved to, looking at all the fresh new faces, none of which knew my past, and feeling excited. I was given a second chance. So what if I’m cursed? That’s not going to stop me! After being silent for so long, the time has come…
…to let out my voice.
The world was grey and lifeless. Whatever people may have been doing before, they stopped dead in their tracks now. Literally. Time itself was frozen.
Amidst the motionless crowd stood a single young man who still had colour. Wearing his usual black coat, thick glasses on his nose and messy hair pushing out under his hat, the detective X looked around with a frustrated sigh.
“Why must you always do this?” he asked as he turned around, where a being in a white robe stood.
The beings face was hidden in shadow, but anyone who would have laid eyes on it would have trembled from the power it was sending out. Anyone but X.
“Familiar!” the being spoke with a mighty voice.
“Stop addressing me like that. Just call me by the name I chose.”
“We have news for you” the being interrupted him, which made the detective look very annoyed.
“I am just the familiar. Why not bring it directly to Emma? She is the guardian of London!”
The being went silent for a moment, before letting out a slightly annoyed sound.
“I will not speak with that cursed being.”
X eyes became narrow as the being said that.
“Then how about you listen to me this time? And listen closely, because I am only saying this once.”
X walked up the being.
“You angels have punished her for a crime she never committed, and even though she is doing everything you told her, you still look down on her and call her all kinds of horrific things!”
The detective grabbed the robe of the angel and brought him very close to his own face.
“If you ever speak ill of her in my presence again, if you even utter her name in the wrong tone, all you holiness will not save you!”
He let the angel go.
“Consider this a warning that will never be given again. And now. Bugger. Off.”
With that X kept walking and time began to flow again, as the angel decided to better not press his luck too much.
By Xavier Twentyone
The land is stiff, soilless. What is this? I have never see or feel something this rock, this see-through. It exists within my reach, yet beyond my comprehension to feel. It reaches through a certain space where I could not escape from its bounds, trapped like my prey did.
“Are you from around here?” someone asks.
I turn around to find myself a company, a woman. She must be an adult from her size. She doesn’t look like someone I notice from my place of living, yet there is this feeling that she is… beautiful? No no… beautiful wasn’t the right word.
“Are… you from around?” she repeats.
“No, I am not,” I reply.
And so, the first days of our captivity begin. Everyday rains caterpillars in this trap, scattered throughout the invisible boundary, for the will of God always hovers above our fragile life. That’s my only chance to escape.
“Maybe this is God’s will for us to be here,” she says.
“I don’t believe in God,” I reply.
“But He exists. He gives us food to eat and the Hand’s always there to perceive us.”
I don’t know what to say. What I know is that I will get out of here soon.
Several weeks… How do I know it has been several weeks? What I know is that the sun… the white sun has been snapping a couple of times since we were here, and we always take it as a sign to sleep.
In that mean time, I had always been trying to escape. Each time I almost flew past the boundary, every time it got caught by God’s Hand. Each time I scratched, kicked, and attacked the boundary, it always remained unharmed. There is no chance of escaping, and I have accepted my fate.
“Maybe this is our fate. When an adult man and an adult woman notice each other, they will procreate.”
Yes, indeed they will procreate. The woman must eat the man’s head in order to give birth to more children. This is our last resort to prevent extinction in our territory.
The Green Man
In her dreams, she saw the forest, thick and neverending. All around her, children chittered like squirrels, but she couldn’t see them. She could climb every tree, uproot them to search beneath, set traps, scream their names harshly… She wouldn’t find them. If they were searching, they wouldn’t find her either.
Then she waded through marshes, dimly aware of a ticking sound. She saw the yellow eyes of a crocodile sticking out from the nearby lake. She had seen it before, back when she was a child… it didn’t want her back then. Now? Its eyes were wide and hungry. She ran.
Her feet fell further through the marsh, and suddenly she stopped wading and started swimming, swimming further and further away from the marsh, the forest… the island. No, she couldn’t leave the island. She didn’t want to leave yet.
The ticking was now like a drum. In the distance, she could see a cave. Gliding through the water as though it was air, she swam towards it. The ticking grew dimmer, replaced by the sounds of someone calmly playing the flute. It was him, the one who took her here so many years ago.
Inside the cave, she saw the Green Man perched upon a rock, lazily playing his flute. He smirked as he saw her arrive. “Hello, Mother…” he said.
This gave her hope. Despite how long it had been, he still remembered her. “I want to go back. I want to spend forever here…” she said.
The Green Man chuckled, “You don’t belong here, Mother…”
“There’s nothing for me out there… please, I want to stay here with the lost children… with you.”
“But you won’t let yourself stay. We’re in a different world to you, no matter how similar it looks. We see fun, you see irresponsibility. We see adventure, you see danger. We see reality, you see… a dream.” he frowned, giving her a mournful look, “You can’t stay here if you’re thinking like an adult.”
When she woke up, she tried her best to eradicate these thoughts. She never could.
A night to remember
Sweat began to pour down the face of the man. His pupils dilated, and his body trembling. The soft jazz playing in the background seemed to be quieter and the dim lights dimmer.
“Whew, it is awfully hot in here, is it not?” He asked fanning himself with whatever he could find. It was mainly the menu. Swallowing became a problem soon, maybe after ten seconds, followed by the difficulty of breathing itself.
“No, I don’t think so,” whispered the man on the other end of the table meanwhile cutting his stake slow and methodically. “In fact, it is rather cold in this diner, Timothy.”
“Hard to believe,” began Timothy, struggling to get any word at all out into the open, “that your calmness, is a coincidence, Jim.”
“Well indeed it is not.”
“Care to explain?” Timothy asked, while grabbing a drink from the nearest waiter and chugging it all down. Some of it went to the right place, but the most just spilled out of his mouth.
The burning sensation grew more and more, and the itching surrounded his throat. It felt like a fur-ball being stuck in his throat. His eyes saw double at this point, and thinking straight was more of a challenge. My bag, he thought, where is my bag?
Jim just sat there, eating and drinking and watching the man before him slowly lose all hope.
“I,” said Timothy, laughing to himself, “am never going out to eat with you again.”
“Yes, I guess not. Would be hard to do so. Being under six feet and deceased and all.”
After about a minute Timothy laid on the table, his mouth foaming and his lifeless eyes looking into the abyss. Soon after, Jim raised his hand, and asked for the bill. After paying and leaving a small tip, he stood up and continued to live his life as he always did, except now with one less rat in it.
Faux & Bleak
(Based on my recurring nightmares)
By: Reverend Grey
Lurching from the warm embrace of quilts and covers, a sweat plagued my chest and face. My heart racing under the invisible pressure in this empty room clad in pitch. I’ve seen it again, as I have countless times prior.
Breathe. Halt this shaking, dammit.
Every surface whispered their names. My pillow, the ceiling, the distant moon, everything and everywhere sought to remind. But I seek to forget. I seek to remain in this world unaffiliated with that which hides behind the clouded veil.
But that isn’t possible is it? If I could recount the hours spent staring into the bleakness in which I lay, the same predator would stalk me a thousand times over. Taking hold of the reigns and coercing me into a malformed exhibit I forcibly frequent.
Her face. His face. Devoid of sensation and form. They’re gone for the time being. Or is it forever? Whatever it may be, they remain unmistakable. Even under the shroud of agonizing deformities and unnatural imperfections.
Yes! Deformities and imperfections. That is what they are. Afflictions capable of restoration. No—destined for repair! They have to be.
The moon no longer consoles me on this night. It’s presence is required elsewhere. Perhaps another soul is being subjected to similar anguish? Rest easy brothers and sisters, your time for respite will come too.
The pounding behind my ribs has ceased, replaced with a calm rhythmic beat. Peace at last. Providing me with additional time for my nightly reflection.
One last breath before my next departure. In and out. Like you had taught me as a young boy.
I miss your motherly affection. And the fellowship between us brothers. Will meet again tomorrow night? And the night after that? I will never let go of you both. Not again. Not until I join you and escape this hell.
I love you both.
Work experience (inspired by real life)
Riana disliked her work in the Ministry because she woke up at five in the morning feeling dead, not to mention the tedious work hours they may be standard. in her opinion, they were too long. Call her lazy if you want but that’s how she felt.
Along with the backbreaking hours doing paperwork, the interviews for the census were also stressful. At least most people were pleasant and cooperative.
the worst part of the day was the dull job of fixing grammar mistakes even on e-mails because some people liked to channel magic in them. Badly written ones create accidental jinxes.
She wanted to track down the asshat that thought that was a good idea and cram the e-mail down their throat.
She dodged a punch made out of paper, ink, and digital matter.
She kicked the accidental living jinx in the stomach sending it soaring into the air towards a cubicle.
“Luis, is the ritual ready?” Riana asked, stressed out “I am kicking this thing around and it doesn’t seem tired.”
It was a good thing she was an Amazon, too; otherwise hitting the jinx-hardened digital data would be a pain.
“What do you expect? The one that did the grammar error likely didn’t realize he made a digital jinx by accident” said the Nephilim that was in the middle of making a circle on the ground, filling it with light magic. “Also, these things take time.”
She wanted to say something but she got dropkicked by the jinx before she could say anything. sending her into the cubicle where a tank of water was.It fell on top of her ruining her hair.
Oh why didn’t she get the job of fixing computers?
“Luis.” she got up.
“After this, I quit this job,” The Amazon said “I am not doing this shit again”
She threw herself into the battle and finally the anti-jinx was done.
With that over Riana was gone after she got paid.
Not that Luis could blame her, this job sucked.
[unrequited] Lust for Live (repost from the private group)
I know I will get in trouble for saying that, but screw it, I’m done with that. Been there, tried it, struggled with it – and I’ve made my peace. I am giving up.
I will never date an undead again. Never.
And don’t come to me with that nonsense of “but Zöe, not all zombies”. Nope, that just won’t sell here. All zombies, period. If you want to give them a chance, fine by me. But I won’t, and I won’t have any advice for anyone in those relationships besides jump ship.
No stormy seas nor engulfing maelstroms of solitude can be worse than staying with those guys.
Let’s just state facts: they are just not alive. Doesn’t matter if they are a vampire, a lich, a zombie… the thing they don’t have anymore is a life. And you know what we have? A freaking life. We have interests, things to do, places to be, people to know. A life.
And you know what having a life does? It keeps us busy. So it is amazing to spend some time with your vampire boyfriend once in a while, but you know what happens when you are elsewhere (on your job, pursuing a degree, practicing one of your hobbies, whatever)? They stalk on you. They keep demanding attention. They cling to us, desperately for that sweet (and sometimes not so sweet) life that they desperately crave, and think they can only reach by going through us… and, newsflash, they are right. ‘Cause they don’t have one anymore.
I don’t blame them for being that way, really. But that just doesn’t make for healthy relationships. I can’t live to them, and they can’t live by me. They can’t just be content with me, and have no life at all when I’m gone. That’s a terrible way to establish companionship, to both of us.
So – no, I won’t ever again date one of the undead. And I think I made my reasons entirely clear.
Well, at least while I live, that is. We never know when undeath knocks on our door.
Through my Teeth
At least probably.
I just had a heart to heart with my father. He caught me on one of my little lies, lies that I’ve spun without thinking to make my life easier. But he caught it. His voice was full of worry and remorse for what I had done, and I regretted it with my full being. It was loud, we both shared tears.
Yet here I am, just a few minutes of alone time and silence later, feeling like my promise to be better was a lie.
Why do I feel like I lied through my own tears? It felt so genuine in the moment, but it just felt like noise now. I said I wouldn’t do It again, I wouldn’t lie. So why do I feel like I did.
Who did I even lie to? My father? Myself? No one? Did I lie? I didn’t want to.
I don’t think I wanted to.
Why can’t I trust me.
Can I trust me? If anyone should it should be me, right?
Yea, yea of course I can, I can stop lying. Maybe I can be proud too. Maybe I can look in the mirror tomorrow and have pride.
I can be happy,
I have friends,
I can be better!
I can improve everything about me, I can let myself love more, I can learn to be less judgmental, I can even feel enough someday!
I should stop lying to myself.
I promised I would after all, though maybe it’s just another empty promise. A promise broken as soon as it was uttered. Maybe. Who knows. I don’t. I don’t care.
Raise the Hero’s Sun
By Ethan Jesse
In dim Summer night, I have been broken and upheaved. In this cooling dawn hour, I feel the wounds upon my flesh. Cats have ripped, wolves torn, all bore into my skin. They know not what I could, but what I offer, what they see. I, the hero, born for a ballad, am now here tarnished, rusted, and displayed among men. My innards are gashed, unveiled to the masses, for they bleed like the rest. Yet who would have known if they never saw what beat?
I was the hero, and had my tale to fulfill. My armor was polished, my sword sharp to the hilt, and no man was to speak without wavering my name. As I walked, I was certain that the sun was reflected, reflected upon the steel which adorned my brazen form. Beasts, thieves, viles beyond words; they were nothing, they were cheap, they bowed to me! Yes, I was ready, I was a lord in men’s flesh. Yes, I am sure, that path was set for me…
Yet here I stand, the hero, bleeding out. Here, I lay, without a burial or a prayer. I could have been the hero, I could have been their light, I could have been a leader, I could have chosen might! But I, the hero, lay fading in the night. No company may see me, no bard sings my plight. I’ve let the dogs howl, I’ve watched the cats hiss, I’ve let them know insides, but what story does it bring?! None, so I say, but I let it be all the same. I, the hero, gone defiled, lo insane!
I was the hero, but I did not fight as one. I was the story yet remaining undone. I am no lord, no king, no knight, so long as I die here on this dim Summer night. Never shall I toil, not again shall I stray, never shall I weaken this grand armor I bear! Raise my great sun, and let it be known, that I AM THE HERO, AND I WILL LIVE UNTIL THE END!
Beckoned forth (nsfw)
by Rudy Slate
I feel guilty about what I saw. Even though I had no part in the ritual, I feel every part responsible for what happened there that day. I think it’s because I was wearing the same golden mask and crimson embroidered robes as everyone else while they were all chanting something about unity in Latin.
The week before the ritual occurred I was living a normal life. The death of my dad had only happened just less than a month ago and I had been on edge ever since. I was a pizza delivery driver at the time doing a 12-9 pm shift in Seattle. It was the easiest job ever, everyone was nice and I never ran into any issues with anyone. The job helped me get over my dad’s death healthily. Around 2 weeks ago is when I met this girl while delivering pizza, she was dressed in black gothic; a style aesthetic I had a huge liking over. She noticed how much I liked her and invited me inside to join “the party” although it was completely silent inside.
I was ushered into the basement by some other gothic figures, from which we put on heavy red robes and masks in the shape of cats in a dimly lit, musty room. I was still extremely confused, everything was going by so fast that I couldn’t even ask what where we were. We made our way to the back of a dark auditorium and sat down. The room was filled to the brim with other people wearing the same robes and masks as us. We were handed goblets of something; it was too dark to know what it was. The lights turned on. at the front of the stage, was my dad, nude in the fetal position, crying. Everyone began to cheer as they took sips from their goblets. I turned to the girl who invited me to this “party” but she was smiling, her teeth stained crimson from the blood she had drank. I excused myself there. I’m never going to trust a goth girl again.
Eyes weighing on me. Their load is like iron. My legs buckle beneath their weight.
Do they know me? Do they recognize me? Have I caught their attention?
Do I want their attention?
The light in the room flickers as I tap the keyboard arrows. Pictures, figures, tables dance on the wall behind me, with numbers, captions, formulae splashed across them, hopefully forming something coherent.
Oh shit, I’m speaking too. What am I saying?
My voice comes out all muffled to my ears. I have no control, I’m on autopilot. The words I memorized night after night, hour after hour, gushing forth from my lips like a waterfall, supposedly explaining the scientific mess behind me.
At least, that’s what I hope.
I try, but I cannot look away from the clock. How many minutes now? Five? Ten? How much longer?
Oh shit, I’ve finished.
A hand is raised, my blood pressure with it. I cannot plan for any of this. Whatever happens now is out of my hands.
Words tumble into my ear. They collapse into the form of a question. My life flashes before my eyes as I search for an answer.
My brain stumbles, but my tongue saves me. It says something and the questioner nods. I have no idea if that was good or bad.
More hands, more questions, more answers. Each time, I grow more conscious of the weakness in my legs. The weight of eyes, the weight of attention is about to snap them off.
The air explodes with the sound of applause. With a jump, the weight is lifted. I take a huge intake of breath and stumble out of the door.
I collapse into the dark wooden bench outside the auditorium. My hands shake as I cover my face. A shadow comes over me; I look up into the smiling eyes of my professor.
He says, “Congratulations, you have your Bachelor’s.”
I sigh, and a stupid smile plasters my face. After four years, I made it.
I’m never doing that again!
(Update: Two years later, the narrator started his Master’s).
Have you ever been so blinded by emotions that you could not see the truth that was staring you in the face?
I certainly have.
I was in my final semester of college and several of my former classmates and I had begun, yet another, Dungeons and Dragons campaign. A fun, episodic campaign we could play and use as one last “Hurrah” before we graduated and went our separate ways.
The dungeon master was cute, if clueless, and had both a rugged appeal in the face and yet a comforting softness to the rest of him, and despite having attended classes with him, I was also in denial as to how much I was bothered by his willful ignorance. I had yet to set myself a standard of desiring a man who was more physically and mentally capable than myself.
We laughed, talked, and won glorious battles in the name of our pirate crew, and yet our rambunctious brigadiers had difficulties bonding, no matter which “team building exercises” we tried. I had seen some of the growing tensions of the players, particularly in our other games, but I refused to see the writing on the wall. I was hopeful that maybe the incidents between those I considered friends would not turn into grudges.
That was where I was no longer allowed to remain ignorant. Grievances from other games bled into the fabrics of this one, setting the seas to turmoil and fracturing the land further than the islands already were. When the arguments got so tense that one person left a game, the illusion shattered entirely.
I tried to keep up the spirit, but my heart was fractured. My soul could no longer feel free within my character. That ship had sailed and left me ashore.
The final straw was when we tried to hang out one last time. Everyone was moving away, a swimming party and lunch with friends was in order. However, I was clearly no longer a friend. The cold jokes at my expense taught me that.
I hope they learn the meaning of “friend”.
The Shark Killer (Private Repost)
By: The Missing Link
Mary fidgeted with excitement in the backseat of the car, the sharks controlling her brain swimming happily. She knew they weren’t real, but she just loved the metaphor at this point. Sharks die when they stop moving, and that fit her all too well.
Her only worry on this trip to the aquarium was the notorious head shark killer in the driver’s seat.
“Hey mom, did you know sharks don’t have bones?”
“That’s great, dear,” her mother sighed.
“When I grow up, I’m gonna be a marine biologist and spend all day around sharks every day.”
“What’s your favorite kind of shark? Mine’s the tiger shark.”
On countless trips to the aquarium with dad, Mary had taken to naming the sharks. Her favorite tiger shark, she had named Tony after her breakfast cereal a few years back.
She waited for a response, but her mother just gave a noncommittal grunt. The car ride felt longer than usual, but Mary hadn’t noticed if it was the traffic or that it was just awkward. At long last, Mary’s mother swerved into a parking space, cutting off another driver.
Mary’s stomach shot into her throat, and her eyes threatened to pop out of her skull when she got out of the car. Across the entrance of the aquarium was a banner for Autism Awareness Month. She prayed to whatever god would listen that her mother didn’t see it.
Fury flashed across her face as she stormed up to the entrance to tear down the sign. The shark killer returned, and as security dragged her mother away, screaming about the schools and MMR vaccines again, Mary could feel that she may never meet Tony and her other shark friends ever again.
That was Unplanned
By Tamela Redfin
A few years passed and Mica and Sapphira started dating. It was now early summer, and Sapphira had been very tired recently. But something worried her more; she was late.
“Hey Sapph, how’s my girl?” Mica cooed. He laid beside her. “Are you okay?”
“Mica… I think I might be pregnant.” Sapphira whispered.
Mica’s eyes nearly popped out. “What? I mean that one night happened, but… can we find out?”
“I mean, I could buy a test, but we can’t let anybody else find out. They. Will. Kill you.”
Sapphira wore a large hoodie when they went to the drugstore. She picked out three tests to purchase. “I’d like to buy these.”
Sapphira felt her face burn as she paid for them and went home. Thankfully, that day, nobody was there.
Three minutes never took so long.
The first was positive. The second one came back negative. The third? Sapphira held her breath. Another positive. She collapsed to the ground in tears.
She heard the door be pushed open and Mica enter. “What happened?”
She looked at him through her teary eyes “I am. Oh Mica. What do we do?”
He gently squeezed her hand. “We’re going to handle this together, Sapph. My dad wasn’t there and I don’t want this child to grow up without one. Sapph, we need to tell them. I’ll talk to my mom about it first.”
Sapphira and Mica threw away the tests and held hands as they walked over to Jezebel. They noticed she was hugging a man who looked like Mica.
“Mom… I think Sapphira’s…wait who’s that?”
Jezebel looked at Mica. “I’d like you to meet your father, Sal. Now what were you going to tell me?”
Mica fell silent, so Sapphira blurted out, “I might be pregnant, Ms Granite. Uh, welcome to the family, Sal!”
Sal and Jez stared at them before taking Sapphira to the hospital to see if this was true.
If I Could Begin to Be, Half of What You Think of Me
“I can’t believe you convinced me to do this, Old One,” Yelena sighed, looking at the void surrounding them. “We shouldn’t be here. No one should be here.”
The Old One chuckled. “And yet, here we are. You’re safe.”
“I know I’m safe. I’m with you, but-… we shouldn’t be here. We’re outside of time.” She looked around again. “For all we know, we’re outside of reality itself…”
The Old One continued to smile. “You’re not used to breaking rules for the fun of it, are you?”
Yelena sighed again in exasperation before smiling back. “I’m an angel. I was created to follow orders. That said… being here… is rather thrilling.”
“There are benefits to breaking the occasional rule, Yelena.”
There was a pause as Yelena smiled only for that smile to fade into thoughtfulness. “What is your name, Old One?”
“Old Ones being… mostly solitary beings, we have no need for names. Except when we find our soulmate. Then we name each other.”
“Ah…” Yelena murmured, looking away.
“As such, my name died long ago. With my previous soulmate.”
“My deepest apologies. I didn’t mean to-” Yelena froze as she truly heard what was said and that single word echoed in her mind. “…previous?”
The Old One smirked, reveling in Yelena’s flushed cheeks and the quickening of her breath. “Am I being presumptuous?”
Yelena looked down, hiding behind her long, blonde hair before she finally said, “No… You are not…”
“Then it is rather fortuitous that you wish for me to have a name then, is it not?”
“Does… that mean you’ll name me too?”
The Old One chuckled. “If you wish. However, I think Yelena is a beautiful name. And you seem to rather enjoy when I say it.”
Yelena began to fidget awkwardly. “You aren’t supposed to notice that. I just… think it unfair you use my name and I cannot use yours. Are you sure this is what you want?”
“I can think of nothing more fitting than hearing my name on your lips.”
Yelena blushed furiously, taking a deep breath. “No pressure then…”
by The Cartographers Notebook
based on a true story
I was sitting on the window still. Below me, the schoolyard echoed with laughter, contrasting the void of the empty classroom.
That’s when it clicked. That’s when that terrible thought wormed its way into my inner horizon like a dark storm cloud.
That’s the day when I grew up.
The cloud hung over me for the next couple of hours.
We had math. I don’t remember what we worked with. Pythagoras’ equation suddenly didn’t seem that important.
Break. I went for a walk. Waiting, praying for it to go away. It wouldn’t. The street smelled of warm asphalt baking, but the rain was pouring over me.
I often look back at that day. I went home. I knew what those thoughts would lead to if I did nothing. That’s what happened to one of my classmate’s dad in 5th grade. I would not let it happen.
I talked with my parents. Thank god I talked with my parents. I remember their faces when I tried to describe it, stumbling over my own words, not wanting to say it so as to not give it validation. But I forced it out.
That afternoon is one of the most unmistakable in my memory. I remember the words said, the lighting in the classroom, and that crushing feeling followed by panic. Like drowning in your thoughts.
Since then I left my school. I got friends. Real friends. The world got brighter. And slowly but surely the cloud parted from above my head. I felt sunrays on my face for the first time in years.
The cloud is still there. In the back of my head. But I’m no longer drowning in its downpour. I can breathe.
The cloud is a part of me. I will never be free of it. At least not fully. I will always remember that day in spring, but I can see clearly now.
But it will never dominate my skies, ever again. I won’t allow it.
Hog-Back Riding (Exile Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
The boar was the size of a fully grown grizzly, as Saebra spotted it from her hiding spot in the shrubbery. As far as she could tell, the boar hadn’t spotted her yet. It was rummaging through the dirt with its snout. There were still reigns attached to it and the torn remnants of a saddle were visible on its back.
Saebra had to exert enormous control to keep her tail from moving. She adjusted the straps over her tough, ranger clothing and checked that her poisoned darts and arrows were safely stored. She didn’t want any of them slipping and hitting the boar. She wanted it alive and, if possible, docile, preferably without chemicals.
So, Saebra did what she did best. She waited; waited, until the boar had moved closer to her hiding spot. This was her chance.
Saebra crouched silently, took one deep breath and pounced. It was an impeccable landing, hitting the saddle remnants on the boar’s back. She immediately grabbed the reins and not a moment too soon. The massive hog buckled, trying to throw her. Its loud shrieks rang in her ears and she had to resist the temptation to cover them. Doing so, would have forced her to drop the reins. More than once, the boar’s back hit her in the face, with one of the bristles nearly poking out her eye. Shaken back and forth, the stench of the war beast stung in her nose.
Her leg slipped and she almost fell under the boar’s massive legs. One stomp from its hooves would crush her, clothes, flesh and bones. She just barely clung on to its side, forcing herself back into a stable position. Her head throbbed and the world spun, as she was thrown around in a contest of endurance.
It took her until sundown, until the boar finally gave in. Panting and exhausted, she collapsed onto the beast’s back, giving herself a moment of peace, before steering the beast back to her hideout. The fight was over and ideally, she wouldn’t have to again. Now, it was time to befriend it.
The Bones on The Thames
A despondent, swamp-filled fog rolled over the banks of the Thames.
Only two souls were brave, or stupid enough to be out there on a boat that night. Bone hunters.
“The ghosts of ghosts fetch a pretty price on the pitch-black market”.
“You’re lousy with poetic irony, Jack” smirked Hayley.
“Tell me something I don’t know. The bones around here have whispers we can capture; we could make a lotta money- “
“Jack, this isn’t worth it.”
Hayley was uneasy and could tell something was wrong. Jack was glimpsing the marrow, yes. But he was unusually enthralled, mesmerised.
She clicked her fingers three times in rapid succession.
“…yeah, what?” he retorted with an air of pomposity; like he never needed help.
This was far from the truth.
“What now?”, said Hayley.
“I think it’s obvious– we plunder the damn thing, we haven’t come all this way just to glance at its splendour, we need it to buy relics.”
“Jack, that’s mesmerism talking” – interjected Hayley.
“Oh, screw you! You just don’t wanna take any risks, right?! You don’t wanna get involved in anything precarious or hazardous. You, hah, YOU- Hayley, aren’t cut out for THIS,” he bitterly scorched.
“Jack, this isn’t you. You recall what hypnotic zugzwang is?”
“Any move is a bad move, it’s lose-lose.”
“That’s you right now Jack.”
“I’ll throw it into the river, lose it to time– it’s better than us becoming lost to these waters” implored Hayley.
“Your breath is acetic. Like vinegar,” he snarled, flummoxed by her seemingly mocking poker-face.
“Shut the hell up– you’re always like this, reluctant, noncommittal, avoidant, you’re a little- “
“JACK!”, Hayley cut off his punchline.
“Do you really despise me? Hate me? Detest my very being? Disdain me up close and loathe me from afar?”
“I… no… I, I don’t know… I feel all muddled. I’m disjointed at the joints, I’m convoluted hodgepodge.”
“Then we throw that damned thing into the river!”
As it sank and drifted to the depths, their boat rolled away on clouds of smog.
“I’m never doing this again,” mumbled Jack.
Consequences? From MY Actions? [A Devil’s Tale]
C. M. Weller
His head still hurt like someone had put an axe through it. Not fair. He’d saved a life, he should be rewarded. Now knew what happened when he changed the fate he foresaw thanks to that bottle of Green Mist.
Kosh had stopped Tansie from pushing him off the wall Tansie had finally finished. Which also prevented his own bodyguard from slaughtering Tansie on the spot. Maybe he shouldn’t have done it by goading the man INTO pushing him off.
Tansie jumped. Kosh jumped after. Catching the man and slowing their fall into a survivable deposit on solid ground. It was a pig pen so… solid-ish ground. They were alive. That was the point.
He had to be alive, because there wasn’t that much pain anywhere else. And somewhere on the periphery of his attention, someone was investigating his toes. He risked cracking open an eye and the light added daggers into his skull.
“Aie… ow,” he whispered.
A small child was determinedly trying to see if his toes were detachable.
“Kleine, it doesn’t come off.” He turned his attention to Bothari. “Who’s this?”
The Earl Kormwind Arachis Felbourne Whitekeep, ninth of the name, known only in his own head as Kosh, was introduced to several things in short order. Tansie’s son and heir, Garibald. Gari for short. The fact that changing fate fucking HURT… and the relative relief of elderflower balm added to his eyelids.
Kosh’s guards were quick to take him back to Whitekeep Castle, where is lady was waiting for confirmation of her own identity. Her Druidic gifts were more than brilliant at easing his pain as well as concocting a better balm to serve between her treatments.
The instant he seemed to be getting better, she also gave him a solid talking-to about messing with new gifts or curses, just to find the limits. She would very much like it if he stopped trying to hurt himself, henceforth.
“I’m not inclined to repeat the experiment, schatz,” he soothed. “But I am also not inclined to let somebody die when I can prevent it.”