[Short Story] Quiet Truth

[Image Prompt] The Forest Spirit

Author’s Note: Seeing how I’ve been inspired by an image this time, I split the the link into two parts. The image and the reddit post where it originated from. The latter you’ll have to click on The Forest Spirit, then click on the link in the body. Have a gander if you want. 


“The ravens caw in the blue forest.” The Elder frowned. He clutched his wooden stave as his body shook with joy. “Storyteller! Keep the children occupied, the spirit awakens!” All the able-bodied men tensed at the words. Their glee beginning to infect the atmosphere. The air grew more and more suffocating. The Storyteller gently held me by the hand, whispering sweet comforts into my ear. If he knew.

The Storyteller motioned for children to sit, for us to join with him. I am the first to sit, I am seemingly one summer away from manhood, but my eyes betray me true age. The fire-air burned hot, but my skin endured. The Storyteller motioned to me, I pick up the bowl full of powdered memories and threw them into the fire.

“In the heart of the Blue Forest where the tongueless ravens reside, where the light-flowers bloom once a darkened moon, lives the Golem Spirit. He would slumber, in quiet solitude, for he is the last of his kind.” The Storyteller guided the flames into images of the forest, the ravens, the spirit. He danced around the flames, bending and guiding the rainbowed flames.

“Not a soul knows who the spirit is or when he’s come from. The knowledge is lost to the ages, ever since the Great Divide.” He plunges his hands into the flames, the flames turn black. The children gasp.

“Some say the divide came about because the Gods were angry at the humans for entering into the domain of the divine. The Gods sought to punish the humans but the Gods were outmatched, outsmarted, outplayed. In an act of desperation, the Gods wove a curse to banish any with the potential to overcome the Gods into the Ground of the Forsaken beyond the Blue Forest.” The children hissed. I remember the actual battle when I was a child. The Gods died, one by one. And with them, the anchors holding life withered with them.

“Truthbearer what say you?” He called upon me. I had promised Gaenayth, the last of the Gods that I would not tell humanity that the Gods were dead. That the pestilence, famine, wars could not be fixed. That the God of War was the guardian against true war. That the God of Bounty protected them from famine. I would not tell them that the Golem was their last link to survival. Gaenayth the God of Survival.

“The Truth is the truth. What you say is story.” The Gods are hated, but they protected you lot from your own madness. Even now you aspire to kill the last of the divine. All for the Life Orb within the stomach. Giving dominion over an aspect of reality. And even now, my grasp on the truth slips. My Life Orb stolen. The stories corrupt me slowly until my kin and I are but figments of imagination. Whisperings of an era gone by.

I…. don’t know what to do anymore. I need your help father, but you are lost to me.

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[Short Story] Alternation

[Writing Prompt] A powerful entity attempts to stop your suicide by showing you what the world would be like if you had never been born.

Author Note: The last line of that prompt was needlessly bleak so I opted to ignore it. Enjoy. 


The thread connecting me to this realm would soon sever. The gas would fill the garage soon and my lungs will stop working against me. This would soon free people of the social infection that is me. They have no need of me and they are much better off without me.

“But that’s where you’re wrong Connor.” A woman dressed in a goofy T-shirt and paper-shredded jeans spoke from the back of my car.

“This is what I get for going off my medication…. A hallucination…” I laugh. The woman shakes her head. She teleports into the passenger seat and turns off the car. I raise my arm to try to stop her, but she pins me to the chair with her other hand.

“You took your medication this morning Connor. I’m not a hallucination.” She places her legs on lap, resting her head outside the window. “I’m your guardian angel, higher ups think I’ve done a poor job.”

I start laughing. She grimaces. “Leave me alone.” I say.

“No.” She lifts her head up to stick her tongue out at me.

We sit in silence for a few moments, unsure of what to say or do. I reach for the car ignition but she kicks my hand away. “Don’t.”

“Why not?” I almost carve my lower lip with my teeth.

“You haven’t achieved your purpose yet.” She fumbles around in her pockets

“Purpose?” I ask. She takes out a cigarette to start smoking. I cough. “ Can you not?”

“Not telling and no. I need the stress relief for what’s about to come.” She takes a long drag and blows square smoke rings at me. “Tell you what, it’ll be easier on both of us if you just not throw your life away and I can go back to my games. Sound good?”

“No one would miss me.” She sighs at what I said. A heavy one. She facepalms at me.

“Looks like we’re doing this the hard way. Alright. Come with me you little shit.” She’s not wrong… Raising her hand, everything in sight distorts and the light of the world collapses into a single focal point. I see a younger man that looks like my dad on his knee proposing to a woman who suspiciously looks like my mom. The environment is all in sepia tone.

If I were to describe what being teleported to the past was like, it’d be like playing basketball with your own head. Cool in theory, painful in practice.

“Let’s change the event. She didn’t accept and they parted ways.” Mom shakes her head and apologizes to Dad. With a flick of the Angel’s wrist, time fast forwards to 1998, when I should’ve been born. Dad’s running a multi-million business. Mom’s a doctor.

Fast forward to 2003, when I should be five. Hey that’s Lee! He’s my best friend. Man, Lee was the coolest guy. All the girls wanted him by the time we were teens. Mr Star Quarterback still hanging out with pathetic, weird, socially inept Connor.

Wait, why’re the kids picking on him? This is wrong… Those are supposed to be his friends!

Fast forward to 2006, Lee is socially awkward. He talks with a stutter. Everyone hates him.

2009: His dad lost his job. Taking up drinking. Oh no…

2012: Lee should join the football team by now. He doesn’t. All the things that happened to me are happening to him.

2013: He’s fifteen and going out with Laura. That’s a bad idea. She’ll gut you like a fish Lee! Why can’t you see that!

2016: He’s proposed to Laura.

2018: They divorced. Lee’s taken up drinking. Just like I did.

“Stop.” I beg.

“Do you see now? Your death will only push the events that will happen regardless to someone else.” She lowers her hand. Time remains frozen.

“But I’m not asking to not be born. I’m just asking to stop ruining people’s lives…”

“Boss… why do you give the hard ones…” She mutters under her breath. She rubs her temple. “Connor. Let me show you what happens if you succeed in your endeavor to kill yourself. I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum.” She waves her right arm in a half-circle arc from left to right. The sepia tone changes to a red tint and we’re observing me filling garage with car exhaust. A headache starts to grow within me.

2023: Funeral for me. Mom’s crying. Dad’s on the verge of a mental break. Jessica is consoling Lee. Laura is there. Why is she there? I thought she was done with me.

2025: Dad’s business is failing. Mom’s been sued for malpractice.

2027: Lee and Jessica divorce. Something about how he can’t look at her without seeing me. Hey, don’t break my sister’s heart asshole!

2029: My short films are discovered by Mom. Hah! Laugh it up Mom, your son was a shit director. She smiles at my worst film. She grabs Dad and they watch it together. They enjoy it. They pop in another after another.

2030: They sent them to Hollywood…

The Angel freezes time once more. “Spoilers.”

“Is that my purpose? To make shit films for a living? It’s impossible to make it in Hollywood.”

“Notice their smiles when they watched it Connor. Notice their warmth. You gave them that. You.”

“….” I breathe out. Tears run down my face one at a time.

“Let’s go back. You have a life ahead of you to live. Don’t waste it.”

“Alright…”

[Short Story] John The Mage

[Writing Prompt] You wake up in your childhood home. Next to your bed is…


None of this is real, that’s what John Bishop tells himself. John woke up in his childhood bed, unsure of how he got there. The same posters, the same toys, the same half-eaten food everywhere. Everything just the way he left it before leaving for school on that day.

His home burned down when he was six. Nothing but ash and blackened wooden frames. Not even his stuff cat survived. It’s a miracle no other house burned down. The newscasters had commented on how close together the houses were.

And yet, here he was. In this room. He assessed the chance of him having a psychotic break. He came to the conclusion that, no, it wasn’t likely at all. No family history of schizophrenia. No psychopaths running around. Which meant one of three things to John Bishop: he was in a coma, he was dying, or someone is playing a sick joke on him.

Nodding to himself, he moves towards the door. Locked, just his luck.

“Check the table.”

“Who said that!” John whirled around. No one. Sick joke it is. He weighed the option of doing what the “voice” said and trying to escape. “Oh dear god I’m taking a ‘voice’ seriously…” He laughed at himself. Deciding that there’s no clear harm in opening a drawer, he opened it. Artificial curiosity swarms his senses. A book. A faded blue book that looked to be hundreds, if not thousands of years old.

“Faded? Who you calling faded, punk?” The sound originated from the… book?

“Ah!” John Bishop dropped the book. Talking books, just his luck…

“Ow!” The book hissed. “That’s not a nice thing to do to your elders, boy.” It was official. John Bishop was dying and in his dying moments, his mind opted to give him visions of a childhood home and a talking book. “Don’t be like that. Just open me up and read some pages.”

“Al- Alright.” He gulped. He picked up the book off the floor and opened the first page. “Hieroglyphs? Latin? Farsi? French? Why so many languages?” John flipped through the pages until he reached page 37.

“My my my my my my~” The book cooed. “The fact that the words have arranged themselves in such a way that you can learn… I’m getting tingles. You’ll be my greatest apprentice yet!”

John read the contents of page 37. Finally something in English. The spell of opening the title read out. “…Spell?”

“Yes John Bishop. The fact that you can read my contents and the fact that you can understand me… You’re a Mage.” John’s fingers slackened. “Hey now! Don’t drop me every time you get surprised! It hurts you know!”

John closed his eyes. Any minute he’ll wake up now. Any second.

“You resist this. Why?” The book said.

“There’s no such thing as magic. I’m more than likely dying or in a coma.” John shakes his head and puts the book down.

“Reality doesn’t give a shit what you think son. You’re a Mage, end of story. Now shut the fuck up and cast the goddamn spell. I’m not about to lose a potentially great apprentice just because he’s bitching how magic is against the rules. Open the door and let’s go.”

John blinked for a moment. He blinked for several moments. “Let’s say this is actually happening. Why me?”

“Oh god… not another asshole who has no goddamn belief in himself… What did I do to deserve such punishment…” The book made a choking sound. “Please… just cast the spell and let’s go… The construct is about to collapse and you don’t want to be inside of it when it does…” The walls start turning black and John’s bed catches on fire.

Open” John yelled in a language that sounded like English but wasn’t. The door swung open and he stepped outside. His vision fades and he falls.


A few days later he wakes up, an IV attached to his arm and oxygen mask attached to his face. So it was a dream, what a dream that was. He laughs to himself.

“Nope. You’re stuck with me buddy. Let’s see if I can get you to learn the spell of healing next.” The book laughs.

 

[Short Story] The Trial

[Writing Prompt] The Storyforger is the leader of society


I dreamt of the day I would meet the Storyforger, but not like this. Arms and legs bound. Facing death for being poor. Of needing to see tomorrow.

“Do you know why you’re here?” One of the judges’ eyes sparkling at some funny joke that I’m not a part of. He wore black like everyone, except for the Storyforger.

“No sir.” The chains begin to jangle and move, my own body betraying me.

“I think you do, Two-Split. On Sun 5 of Cycle 3, where were you?” He leant over his brown table, the way my father would lean when he told me a secret. I wince at the name. No one calls me that unless they want to make fun of my deficient nature.

“I was at home. Studying for the upcoming placement exam.” I whisper the lie, casting my eyes down.

“That’s a good story, but sadly proven false. We have video proof that you broke into the Storyforger’s home to steal one of his books.” A lady judge spoke up. She points to the wall and presses a button on a black piece of wood. Moving images. Images of me.

This time the Storyforger looked at me directly, without the anger or pretend kindness of the others. Something I didn’t understand.

“What? You want to stare at me like everyone else?” I try to glare at him, but I can’t. He’s my only way out. “You want to use me for your own end?”

“Yes.” Same expression. I only saw it once before in my life. When I told my teacher that I couldn’t keep going to school because I couldn’t afford to.

I nod and start unbuttoning my shirt. He’s just like all the others. Only interested in what the freak born under both stars can show.

“Stop.” He shakes his head. A lady judge whispers into his ear. He laughs.

“Why? It’s what you want. Here, let me show you the horned hole.” My hands shake as I reach for my trousers.

“Because I don’t need that.”

“Well that’s the only thing I can offer you.” I rub my left wrist.

“Tell me a story. You can use any person and any thing within this room to tell me this story. You can try as many times as you want. Your death will be assured the moment you give up. So, do try.” His expression hardens into anger.

“There once was a frog who-”

“Too fantastical. Make it real.”  He waves it off.

“When I was a child-”

“Unrelated. Try again.” The judges start laughing.

“What do you want?” I scream at him.

“A story of Sun 5, Cycle 3. What happened?” His expression softens. No longer angry.

“I needed food.” I whisper as I look down into my hands.

“Ah yes, the motivator. What else?” His voice is soft.

“I thought your house was the best place for it…” Weakness rains into my palms.

“The setting.”

“You looked like you didn’t need it.” The floor wet with my weakness.

“The call.” Why is he saying these things? I don’t understand.

“So I went in…”

“Jumping at the call.” I look up at him, his face blurred in water.

“I saw a book. I never owned a book. I wanted it.”

“The hero’s temptation.” Hero?

“So I took it.” His image begins to clear as I wipe away the weakness on my eyes.

“The hero’s fall.”

“So I ended up here.”

“Now. That’s a good story. But it signs your death warrant. Take what you know and incorporate it into a new story.” He tosses me a pouch of water. I devour the water. It tastes good. So good. No brown goo inside. I finish it.

“How?” I frown.

“I cannot tell you that my child. You must take the tools I have provided you and show me you are worthy of seeing tomorrow. Now, revise the story. Take the facts and twist them in such a way that ensure your survival. But it must be airtight.” He strokes his beard slowly. Some words I don’t understand, like warrant. What does that mean?

“I was hired by you…”

“I have no reason to hire you, try again.”

“I was hired by the guard to make sure your house can’t be broken into.”

“Good. Hire the poor person to test security, their resourcefulness and will to survive will make them do anything. Go on.”

“I was only there to get paid legitimate money.” My voice grows with sure-ity. “ Legitimate money is hard to come by for someone like me.”

“Yes. Yes. Good.” His eyes light up with joy.

“When I went inside, I saw a book that I wanted. Against my better judg-”

“No. That condemns you. Revise.”

“I… wanted proof.”

“Proof?” He leans in.

“Proof that I was there. That your security was awful. But that action cost me my paycheck.” He nods at what I said. “In fact, it brought me to trial.”

“Very well. Which name do you prefer, Samuel or Samantha?” He asks. The grin keeps growing.

“Well, they both apply, so both.”

“Very well Sam. You are hereby sentenced to the rest of your days as my servant. You will learn and if you prove worthy, you may be paid. Do not disappoint me.” His expression turns to stone, but to me, it was an angel telling me I would survive to see tomorrow once again.

“Thank you…” The weakness rains down once more.

Day 21, Pure Garbage

Author Note: I know this is pure garbage but I had to produce something for today and this was it. Bleh.

[Writing Prompt] It started as a whisper


Ever heard of the concept of the chosen one? How one will rise to save humanity from suffering and save them from a tyrant? Well a year ago everyone could hear a prophecy being recited in Latin. Some heard it as whispers. Some heard it as a one-sided conversation. It was chanted endlessly for a couple weeks until linguists were able to decipher the first line.

When the last human soul reaches the altar, humanity will be set free. Ever have the sinking feeling in your stomach where everything seems okay but actually isn’t? That’s how I felt when the first line was translated. Once the first line was translated, the chanting grew in loudness.

When the eternal human soul reaches the end of its journey, it shall awaken. When the second line was translated, the religious groups of the world were saying the end times were upon us. Hell, there was even a cult that was beginning to form around the chants. Each line translated meant a small window of respite. A week of silence. But it would start louder still.

The last human soul must awaken. This talk of awakening freaked me out. Who was the sick fuck who pulled this off? I’m sure this is some planetary prank by some asshole…

To awake they must die. Oh no… This is some ritual sacrifice bullshit. I turn on the television. Mass riots in the streets. Soon the translations came about in a faster pace. Soon my mind was able to understand the latin. I could hear it in English.

They are the first born and the last. An only child?

They are born under the moment day and night do not exist. Dawn or the twilight. Okay?

They are the one who views themselves as a pawn in other people’s chessboards. Is it talking about…?

It is the one who understands.Oh no. It is.

The one who recognizes the ultimate failing of humanity and its need of cultural evolution. It’s talking about James.

It’s the person who lives in Los Angeles. Okay, not James. It could fit Jennifer.

It’s the person who resides more in the water than their home. Wait, no. Jeff. Definitely Jeff.

Close your eyes my child, for it is you. Soon they will flock to you and you shall awaken. Shit.

[Short Story] Familiarity

[Writing Prompt] You’ve never been here before, yet this room is familiar.


Journal Entry 450

The room seemed familiar. But I’m sure I’ve never been here before. The floorboards creaked  every time I took a single step. There’s a black bed and mahogany walls. A desk with cuts and grooves along the edges. It seemed so familiar, but I’ve never been here before.

Journal Entry 476

A kind, young man came up to me, guided me along this new house. I’m glad someone read the ad asking for a new roommate. His hands were firm, I placed mine in his and he only holds me tighter as we walked along the hallway.

Journal Entry 477

He placed a bowl in front of me. It’s my favorite, chinese soup! I drank from it, oh it was the best soup I’ve ever drunk. He smiled bashfully. I told him he could become a chef. He shook his head, looking into the meadow. Almost as if there’s something he’s looking for. Something he hasn’t found. I asked him. He frowned and told me it’s none of my business. Rude.

Journal Entry 479

I was in the living room, watching the birds fly by. It’s quiet in that place. Too quiet. Birds should chirp, but they didn’t make a single sound. Maybe if I get a roommate, it’ll become more lively here.

Journal Entry 487

Someone bought me a stereo. The selections are a bit old for my tastes but it’s better than the birds not chirping.

Journal Entry 488

A police officer told me that I was playing music too loud. Playing it at room level is too loud?

Journal Entry 489

A mean, young person took the stereo away. Kids these days…

Journal Entry 500

I like this house, it suits my needs. It’s quiet, solitary, and away from the hectic work life I’ve led. Maybe my daughter will come visit one day. She graduated last year. Got a job working in San Francisco

Journal Entry 501

The kind, young man twitches every time I ask him where Katie is. I told him that Katie was the pride and joy of my life. But now she’s gone and hasn’t visited in twenty years. I miss her.

Journal Entry 509

The kind, young man told me a story. It was beautiful but also sad. There once was a little girl who loved her father dearly. She wanted her father to be proud of her, but he was always busy. He would only ever interact with her if she did something wrong. So one day, she decided to run away from home. He searched far and wide for her. Two days later he had found her, shivering and afraid. He had told her that he was always proud of her. Her one shining light in a sea of work. He would soon become consumed by the work once more and they would drift apart once again.

Journal Entry 518

The kind, young man told me he wasn’t born a man. I asked him how that was possible. He said his father had wanted a son more than a daughter, so the young man obliged. The transition was slow and arduous, but the young man came out on top. How fascinating, has technology advanced far enough that people can change their gender?

Journal Entry 519

This room seems familiar, but I’m sure I’ve never been here before.

[Day 19] The Score

[Writing Prompt] The moment you die, you see a screen that has a numeric score and the words GAME OVER.


GAME OVER

SCORE: 5

TITLE: The Atoner

CYCLE: 1

AGAIN? (Y/N)

The screen flickers in the windowless room. The word “Again?” repeating ad nauseum, voice not dissimilar to a child begging for candy. The room is featureless and barren, the only things that exist within these walls is the screen and myself.

“Again?” I tap against the score. Maybe I’ll have a clue of where I am. The number glitches and become blurry before dropping a book into my hands.

“Again?” I open the first page. Born, plus one point. Learned how to walk, plus one point. I flip through several pages, I’m not reading about someone being born. Ah, chapter 8. Stole father’s credit card to buy a video game, minus two points. Killed ants with magnifying glass, minus one point. Chapter 13. Told Cindy that she’s beautiful, plus one point. Chapter 14. Broke Cindy’s heart, minus one point. Chapter 17. Pissed on father’s grave, minus five points.

“Again?” This… is my life. I look at the pages, all of them recording the things I regret. But does it record things I regret or things I’ve done wrong? To confirm I flip through the pages looking for when my band started.

“Again?” Chapter 23. Formed band, plus ten points. Chapter 24 Broke up with girlfriend to go on tour, plus twenty points. So it’s the things I regret. I laugh as the tears begin to well in my eyes. I laugh as my voice begins to crack.

“Again?” I flip to the last page. Chapter 46. Died during kidney donation to save a kid’s life, plus five points. So this is how I die? Reading all the things I’ve done?

“Again?”

“AGAIN WHAT, YOU ANNOYING COMPUTER?!?!” I slam my fist against the screen. Cringing, I nurse my hand.

“Would you like to try again?” The voice changes to my mother’s. Try again? My life? Is that even allowed? Should I even do it?

“Would you like to try again?” This time the voice belongs to my father. There were so many things I wished I could do with my old man. Tell him that I didn’t blame him anymore. Tell him that he didn’t need to take comfort in the bottom of a bottle.

“Would you like to try again?” My little girl. She must be scared right now…

“Would you-”

“Yes.”