Wizards & Warriors

You’re playing a video game called Wizards & Warriors when, suddenly, lighten strikes the house, scaring you and causing you to black out. When you wake up, you’re trapped inside the game. The only items you have is a sword, a backpack and a note attached to your shirt that reads, “Beat me and I’ll send you home.”

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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327 thoughts on “Wizards & Warriors

  1. ashton mcqueen

    I flinched as i caught the sight of the jagged white lines stretching across the sky.
    “stupid rain”, i turned back to my toast bread and stacked them neatly on the plate before heading to the parlor.
    “No, upgrade the hammer instead what do you wanna use a bow for”
    “its gold and shiny you moron,besides it increases Merlin’s attack points to 87!”
    “will you both shut up!” i intervened. My brothers, peter and Preston argued about well……everything.
    Did i forget to mention i got the worst name ever,Patrick.Yeah my mum’s obsessed with P’s.
    and am the oldest son, i would’ve preferred Paul or prince.

    i sat beside peter and began munching my bread,i noticed his eyes glaring at my plate “no way bro, there is a full loaf in the kitchen”
    “you are the worst brother ever”,Preston butted in as he left for the kitchen
    “was something ever wrong with your legs?”, i turned to peter “did i say a loaf?,i meant six slices”.
    his eyes widened as he ran after Preston.
    “hhhaaaa,sweet silence”, i stared at the frozen character on the screen.A weird looking wizard with all stars,whoa all stars shoes?
    i wonder what they saw in this game,its based on myth and no fact,and i love facts.
    a grin flashed across my face as a brilliant idea came to me”he-he, lets see sabotage or wreak havoc”
    i grabbed the controller pad and pressed the start button. The sheer idea of destroying their game progress carried me away that i didn’t notice the bright light moving close to the house.I was about to bash all the buttons at once when it happened.
    my body felt so stiff and my eyes got burnt by a brilliant white light,engulfing me to another world and trust me it was similar to a roller costar ride only there is no costar but there is a roller.
    TO BE CONTINUED…..

    1. ashton mcqueen

      its short and my first ever short story,so i hope its good although i decided not to describe the settings and allow you imaginative guys figure out the scene.

  2. Craig the Editor

    Polo Vs The Black Wizard Part 2

    It was pretty obvious he was inside the TV, looking out at his own living room. His first thought was, “How do I get out of here and back on the couch?” Followed by, “I really need to replace that couch.” Many other thoughts followed but sadly they weren’t worth remembering. Oddly enough he never wondered how he got inside the game. After the teleportion incident and the magical portal he was getting used to ending up in odd places.

    Meanwhile back in the real world Polo was more than a little confused. The human with whom he had been playing had somehow managed to disappear.

    “Fine by me,”he thought to himself. “I wanted to be the warrior anyway.”

    Inside the game, Mark was beginning to access his options. None of them were terribly good. He could see, but only straight ahead. He was blind to anything to his right or left or in any direction but straight ahead. He had an empty knapsack and a sword. (Great another sword! I wonder if marshmallows will be involved?) Pinned to his shirt was a note, “Beat me and you will have the prize you seek.”

    “Okay, that’s all good and fine but I can’t seem to make any independent movement.” thinks Mark. Then without meaning to he makes a little jump, then a bigger one followed by a yet bigger one. The next thing he knows is that he is jumping up and down in place. Gazing out he has the horrible realization that Polo has abandoned the wizard character and has taken on the role of the warrior. It’s going to be Polo vs the Black Wizard…controlled by the computer!

    The next several minutes have him ducking down, thrusting his sword left, right, making sweeping blows, running jumps and even duck walking. This last move was one he had never discovered when he played the game. It was obvious that Polo was trying to learn all the warrior’s moves before entering the castle.

    While his body was being jerked around like a puppet on string he thought about how the game was played. It was a very basic adventure game. You entered the Black Wizard’s castle and you slayed his minions which drained you of health and strength points, but occasionally you found health points or items of interest. The further into the castle the harder the foes were to kill. The grand finale was the battle with the Black Wizard. At last he stopped moving. Either Polo was ready to start playing in earnest or he had abandoned the game. Either option was unsettling for Mark.

    Then he moved toward the castle with his sword pointing the way. The first challenge was crossing the moat filled with zombie crocodiles. As if regular crocodiles weren’t bad enough.

    “This should be simple enough.” he thought to himself. “Come on Polo, you can do this! It’s just a simple running jump.”

    He started out running but when it came time to jump a thunder clap startled Polo causing Warrior Mark to fall into the moat. Everything went black.

    And then he was back in front of the castle, none the worse for wear. The only problem was that Polo had used up one of his three lives. He had two more left and what happens after that was anybody’s guess. And he was not optimistic.

    This time he made the running jump and landed safely on the other side. His first group of foes were a bunch of shambling skeletons. He was able to dispense with them in record time. He picked up some better armor. However when he tried to take a battle axe he could not drop the sword. He couldn’t tell if it was Polo’s fault or the game’s. It was a little worrisome.

    More battle ensued. There was one in the stables with more skeletons led by a crazed centaur. Another one found him up against a rolling pin armed kobold and zombies armed with kitchen utensils. The kobolds gave way to trolls who gave way to orcs and finally a cyclops before the grand finale. By this time Mark had felt his health and strength points ebb and flow. There were times when he barely had enough strength to hold up his sword and the next moment he felt like a brand new man. After just narrowly beating the cyclops he was very low on health points. Dangerously low. But instead of revitalizing he started assaulting the wizard’s doors.

    “What are you doing, Polo?” he thought. “I need to get some health points! I can’t battle my biggest foe with my health at five points. I couldn’t take a squad of skeletons with five points!”

    It was about then that the doors broke apart and he could see the wizard floating in a glowing sphere in the middle of the chamber. Two small sphere’s of energy circled the wizard. It was a timing challenge. If you moved too soon or too late the spheres would destroy you. The longer you waited the faster they circled the wizard until it became impossible. Once past the spheres it was a simple matter of stabbing the wizard.

    He approached and retreated from the circling spheres several times. Each time he held his electronic breath and hoped for the best. Finally he made his move (or rather Polo made him move). Unfortunately it was the wrong move. Everything went dark, again.

    Once again he found himself back facing the wizard and the energy spheres. He had only one life left. If this attempt failed…he wasn’t entirely sure. Would he cease to be? And what about the prize? And once again he darted back and forth toward the circling spheres. At least this time he had his full array of health points.

    Finally he made his move to get past the first sphere. He had almost made it, but it clipped him. He was drained of most of his health points. If the second sphere were to hit him, the game was over and so was he. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

    The second sphere traveled in a tighter circle so there was even less room for error. Again he approached and retreated several times. This was getting to be real tortue. Then something unexpected happened.

    Instead of running or walking past the sphere he approached it doing a Chuck Berry duck walk. The sphere passed harmlessly over his head. All he had to do was stab the wizard and collect the prize, whatever it was. So without further ado, he stabbed the wizard, all the while wondering why the wizard didn’t bother to wear any armor. And feeling grateful that he didn’t.

    And as he stabbed the wizard there was a blinding flash of light and a crash of thunder. He was back in the real world. Wrapped around his neck is a blue and gold muffler with the name De Soto attached to it. Just then Jennifer let’s herself in.

    “Must be nice, just sitting around on a rainy night playing video games while the rest of us have to go to class.”

  3. rocksoul38

    -Do forgive that this is slightly over 500 words. And please be gentle. This is my first time posting and it is one of this first things I have written in FAR too long. However, I will definitely appreciate all feedback. Thanks!-

    I woke up with a yawn and a giant stretch. The warm blankets engulfed me in fluffy comfort. As I moved, I heard a papery crunching noise. I paused, holding my breath. The noise stopped. I moved. It rustled again. I opened my eyes expecting my pipsqueak brother to be lying in wait. There was no one. But… WHERE WAS I?

    I sprung up from the bed and looked around the room. The décor was gorgeous and over the top. Everything was cream with gold accents. The plush bed was piled with pillows and thick blankets.

    As my amazement faded. I paced the room. My heart quickening with every step. Suddenly my brain didn’t work. What was the last thing I remembered? Parents gone. Pipsqueak at friend’s house. Pizza in the living room. Wicked thunderstorm. Marathon attempt to conquer Wizards & Warriors.

    I hesitated in front of an enormous full length. My inky maroon hair waved out around my head like strange wavy tentacles. I tried in vain to smooth them out before noticing a hair tie on my wrist. I quickly gathered my hair and pulled into a pony tail at the top of my head. I tossed my head side to side feeling the tresses graze my neck.

    I turned to continue pacing. I caught the source of the rustling on my reflection. Pinned to the shoulder of my sleeve was a folded parchment paper. I unfolded the note. Strong, bold, hand written print gave me direction:

    BEAT ME AND I’LL SEND YOU HOME.

    All at once I knew exactly where I was and what was going on. I threw open the chest at the foot of the bed. And grabbed the first sword I saw. I marched out the door.

    I was stunned at my proximity to the royal family. But I shouldn’t have been, given the furnishings in my room. I shook the distractions from my head.

    I sprinted down the hall, bursting through the ornate double doors. I charged him where he sat, sword raised. Unexpectedly, I couldn’t move. He stood turning to face me.

    For a throne usurping power hungry wizard, he was surprisingly handsome. His face was smooth, but mature. His dark locks were cropped short and tousled from sleep. A band of hair lined his jaw and framed his mouth. And his dark green eyes were mesmerizing.

    I tried with every fiber of my being to lunge at him. To scream the profanities welling up in my throat. He chuckled.

    “You know very well that you will not be able to move or speak,” Chance stepped towards me, “Valiant effort though. Charging into my room to…” He grabbed the small short sword from my hand, “kill me with a toothpick.” His eyes glittered with amusement.

    “Of course, the first effort is never successful. However from now on you will be starting in Moore.” Chance was so close I smelled his cologne. He reached out and ran a finger down my jawline.

    “Such a shame,” his emerald eyes grew sorrowful, “I really though you would be different.” He lifted his arm and twisted his hand. I felt my head turning involuntarily. Then a sickening crack echoed from my neck. Then blackness.

    * * *

    I woke up with a yawn and a giant stretch. I shivered and tried to wrap the thin sheet closer to my cold body. As I moved, I heard a rustling noise. I reached up and tore the note from its pinning on my shoulder.

    ROUND TWO. I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AGAIN.

  4. lyngralee

    “Beat me and I’ll send you home,” was written in elaborately loopy handwriting on the note. Cillian looked around, feeling panic edge up to his throat, realizing this was not his house.. He remembered lightning, but that was all. His surroundings looked familiar, yet he couldn’t put a name to it. Then he saw the sword and was weakened by the stark understanding of where he must be.

    “Agoramanotheopolis,” he whispered. This was the virtual land of a video game. Now that he knew where he was, he knew who wrote the note. The ultimate evil, Queen Ennui. It was against her that all wizards and warriors united, melding magic and might. Still, they had not bested her.

    He recognized the Sword of Ideation. It was powerful, but not enough. He grabbed an abandoned backpack and, amazed, found two steamy hot pockets and a bottle of chilled water. He just realized how starving he was. Having snacked, he searched the backpack again, retrieving the summoning stones he was hoping for. He was instantly surrounded by wizards and warriors ready to take to battle against the queen and all she stood for.

    They moved quietly through the deathly dark, but Ennui was waiting, with a legion of her own. The battle began, swords glistening and gushing and singing with sparks upon contact. But it was like stabbing at smoke, the queen’s soldiers seemed made of ether, without skin and bones and blood.

    Cillian ducked low to check the backpack again. More hot pockets and water. Freaking sweet. He regained focus, reaching, deep down, because there had to be something.. anything.

    There was nothing. He had spent all his tokens playing the game, and hadn’t advanced enough levels to have earned more special skills. He was a doomed man. Crazy, since he no longer felt human in this virtual world. He had a mysterious internal static buzz that gave him a renewed sense of purpose.

    So, he did what any man would do… his best. He fought the good fight, but was out-skilled. He knew he would never beat her… never go home. But with his last bit of the confidence, pride, and glory, he went at her hard.

    Ennui was startled by the onslaught of this young man’s bared soul. But, his soldiers were no match for hers. She had offered this ultimatum to others, and all had failed.

    But there was a spark in his eye, a look that seemed victorious. She faltered, but her smoke soldiers were too well trained to leave her vulnerable, even for a blink. Cillian was overtaken. His final word “home” was misunderstood. As with those before, Ennui explained that he would be sent back, even in failure. This was merely a game to make life interesting. But he grabbed her hand with such force, the pain on her face almost matched his.

    “This is home now.”. the Queen was shocked by his brave proclamation. “For eternity I am an Agoramanotheopolitan. And you are my Queen! Ennui forever!”

    1. Reaper

      Okay, Jay made me realize some things and I have to give him a lot of credit for that. No in addition to seeing too man that’s and repeated words in my own writing and others I notice the passive voice more. I’m not completely opposed to it but this could use more active voice. It does not suffer from the confusion aspect but the idea is so powerful and fast paced that the was and were slows it down a bit and makes it read dryer than I think you meant. I like the story and the sentiment and would really like to see more action instead of explanation.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a very nice tale with a surprising twist, Lyngralee. It reads like a folk tale being told around a pixellated fire. 🙂

      My red pencil noticed a couple of word things: the handwriting should be “looped” or “swirly” (“loopy” means “crazy”), and “take the battle to the queen” would be less awkward phrasing than “take to battle against the queen”, though both are grammatically correct.

      In the second-last paragraph, the repetition of “but” is a bit jarring; perhaps the second one could be replaced with a “though” just to break the invisible link.

  5. Craig the Editor

    Polo Vs The Black Wizard

    The rain came down in sheets, pounding against Mark’s condo, seeking entrance and never finding any. Ever so often there was the roll of thunder and a lightning strike. But still, everything was warm and cozy inside. The only one really upset by the storm was Polo.

    Polo, a Rhesus monkey, was an unexpected gift from Mark’s Uncle Cy, the family’s resident “mad scientist”. Mark didn’t really think he was mad, just a little ecentric. He had taught Polo to play video games just to see if it could be done. While Polo had mastered the art of playing video games he had not mastered his fear of thunder storms. Uncle Cy thought he would make a good roommate for Mark. He also designed a speech recognition device that translated Polo’s chattering to a running text display located under the TV. During the storm the only word that ran across the screen was “Excrement!” Mark didn’t think this was quite what Polo was saying. Uncle Cy had banned swearing from the translator.

    Mark had asked Jennifer to stop over after her spell class at the local community college. He wanted to go over the list of objects that they would need to break the vampire curse on his father. Her handwriting looked like an angry chicken had stepped in ink and had run across the page. The first item seemed to be a muffler from a DeSoto. Where were they ever going to find that?

    Earlier in the evening the storm had some how taken out his TV and internet connection but the power was still on. Bored and having nothing better to do he started cleaning up his living quarters which was challenging with Polo bouncing off the walls every five minutes.

    It wasn’t long before he stumbled across a box of old video games. He claimed that he was holding on to them because some day they would be worth a lot of money. Sadly it was an early Radio Shack video system and had very little chance of ever being worth anything.

    “Hey, here’s my original copy of Warriors & Wizards. I haven’t played this in ages.”

    As a prince of procrastination Mark still had the old video game system hooked into the television and soon he had the game fired up. Once the game came on, Polo calmed down and came over and grabbed a controller.

    “So you want to play? I have to warn you I was pretty good at this.”

    “In your dreams, you hairless ape!” scrolled across the screen.

    “Okay, I am going to be the warrior and you will be the wizard. I have to make my way through your Tower of Doom and slay you to win the game. I’ll explain how the controller works.” He wondered if Polo could understand what he was saying.

    “Stop prattling like an old female and let’s play. I will figure it out as I go!”

    “Okay, have it your way.”

    Just then there was a huge clap of thunder and an intense flash of lightning. Everything went dark and Mark was certain they had lost power. Polo had probably freaked out and was up on the ceiling fan by now. Then Mark had a terrible realization. He was inside the video game!

    To be Continued……tomorrow.

    1. Reaper

      Very interesting start. In the middle you had some weird repetitions like too many hads in describing the handwriting. Beyond that interesting and definitely has me waiting for the continuation.

  6. Stephen S

    “Playing for keeps”
    I laughed as my little brother Carl’s warrior character was frozen sold. I moved my wizards closer to him and I punched in the keystrokes for the ultimate kill. My wizard swung his staff and shattered the frozen warrior in to a million pieces. Winner appeared above the wizard as two troll’s started sweeping away the pieces of the warrior.
    I looked over at Carl and said, “I won pay up.”

    “One more time,” he begged and handed me a 20.

    “How much birthday money you have left?” I asked.

    “Forty dollars,” he said after looking in his new wallet that mom had gotten him.

    “Ok, how about this, all or nothing’” I said. He looked a little confused I continued, “If I win I get all your money and if you win you can keep all the money.”

    “Ok, ill get you this time,” he stated and gripped his controller.

    “Alright then, I’ll let you be the wizard,” I said and reset the game. I knew he had no chance of beating and it was easy money.
    Just then there was a flash of lighting and everything went black and I guess I blacked out. When I came to I was in the game. The wizard stood a crossed from me on the game field, with his white hair flowing in the breeze.
    Suddenly a voice boomed over head “fight!”
    I went to pull my sword but the wizard was on me. He pointed his staff at me as he said something under his breath. I fumbled with my sword as the red lightning bolt shot from the staff and in to me. I felt my body burst in to flames. The pain was all around me and I collapsed to the ground. Just when the pain felt like it would not end the spell wore off. I lay on the ground twitching as the burning feeling faded away. I looked at the wizard; I could see him saying something under his breath again. I struggled to get up as a cloud of green vapor poured from the wizard’s staff and drifted towards me. I tried to crawl away as the heavy mist settled over me. The smell was thick and reminded me of the hot, never emptied portable toilets, we had to use when camping. I vomited and told myself that I had taught him the key strokes for this attack. After what seemed like hours I stopped vomiting and was able to pull my self up. Carl the wizard stood whispering something. With sword in hand I ran at him and jumped in to the air; to drive my sword in the wizard’s head. Just then the wizard’s staff shot out a blue light and I was frozen solid in midair, my character fell to the ground and shattered. The trolls came out and swept up my pieces as an overhead voice announced winner. Suddenly the game restarted and again I faced my brother the wizard.

    1. Reaper

      You know, I started off disliking your MC because he was taking advantage of a little brother who so clearly saw the older as a hero and was willing to do anything, including giving up his birthday money to spend time with him as witnessed by a plea even though he was losing the money. So, I am sure without malice, your MC was taking advantage of that relationship. Then as you progressed, as I am unsure your MC will survive and/or escape and equally as unsure if the younger brother knows what he is doing, I felt very bad for him. That was a wonderful transition that was done so well.

    2. Observer Tim

      This has a feel of poetic justice to it, but with a real threat of turning into a horror story. The setting is drawn out in stark and simplistic detail and the story is very straightforward. Great job, Stephen! 🙂

  7. cosi van tutte

    This is a continuation of my story from the “Your Family’s Life Depends on It” prompt. Fair warning: There is much randomness. Read with a strong pair of sunglasses. 🙂

    I fall out of the Skittles portal and land in a pile of JuJu Fruits. But it’s strange. Okay. So, the whole thing is strange. But all of the JuJu Fruits are black, which is very strange. I’ve never seen black JuJu Fruits before. I wonder if they taste any good.

    I pick up one that seems to be shaped like a watermelon, but it’s all black. Oh, well. Weird but whatever. I pop it into my mouth. The scent of black licorice fills my mouth and up into my nostrils.

    The entire mound of JuJu Fruits swirls and curls up into the form of a giant bear’s head. “Who dares to eat my slumber?” Its voice is dark and insidious – like Tony Jay playing a Disney villain.

    I discreetly spit out the black JuJu Fruit and drop it on the ground. “Oh, not I.”

    “Your breath reveals your truth.” The bear head swoops down on me and swallows me whole before I can even think of reacting.

    So, here I go. Falling and falling and falling. A bare-chested man in a purple vest flies past me on a magic carpet, but he doesn’t offer me a ride.

    Jerk.

    I land in a pile of fluffy red and green marshmallows. I stand and glance around Diamond-studded marshmallows decorate the walls and somehow light the room. I can’t help but wonder how that works. Pure sugar power, perhaps?

    Three doorways stand before me. Each one is decorated with swirls of peppermint candy. Hmm. Which one should I open? I shrug. Why not all three?

    I wade through the mounds of marshmallows on my way to the far left door. I’m half-way there when the center door opens.

    A tall man dressed in a green elf costume with neon yellow leggings steps out into the room. He has a frizzy brown afro, beady blue eyes, and a demented smile. “Hi! My name is Buddy! My favorite color is Christmas.”

    I stop and stare at him.

    “Awww. You look like you need a hug.” He stretches out his arms and comes running full blast towards me.

    I do the only think I can do. I grab handfuls of marshmallows and throw them at him. He somehow catches each one in his mouth and continues his approach. His cheeks pudge out with uneaten marshmallows.

    I wish that this were only a nightmare. It certainly looks and feels like one. But it is real. I’m not going to wake up in a fit of rip-off Deus ex machina. I have to face this thing and somehow win.

    My Internal Editor is going to pay dearly for this.

    He wraps his arms around me. “Ohhh, you smell miraculous.”

    “I bet you say that to—” I stomp on his green felt elf shoes. “—all the girls.”

    “Ow! Son of a nutcracker.” He hands me a piece of paper.

    It is a challenge notification. The words ‘Beat me and you can leave through the left door’. are written on it in sparkly snowflake-edged letters.

    “I accept your challenge.”

    He bounces up and down, clapping his hands with wildly joyful abandon. “Yay! YAY! YAY! YAY! SHE ACCEPTED! YAY!” Several half-chewed marshmallows escape from his mouth.

    “Okay. So, what is your challenge?”

    “Oh, it’s easy. It’s so easy. It’s as easy as pouring syrup on a plate of spaghetti and twirling it all with your fork and putting it in your mouth and chewing it and chewing oh lovely sugar and pasta and coffee which tastes terrible until you pour syrup into it but it can’t be regular sugar syrup it has to be special mail room syrup I get some every Christmas from this guy I met in my dad’s mailroom oh did I mention that my dad is the greatest bestest most awesomest dad in the world he’s almost better than my papa elf but I would never tell papa elf that it would just make him sad I don’t know why he’d be sad about it though I think papa elf is the greatest bestest most awesomest dad….”

    Several hours later…

    “…and then we all went home and drank a keg of special mail room syrup with the magical narwhal and Pete the oddball snowball maker. The end. Wow! You’re still awake and your eyes aren’t glazed over either. Wow! You won my challenge!” He hands me a key with a snowman keychain attached to it. “If you meet Santa, tell him ‘I LOVE YOU!!!”

    “Uhh, yeah. I’ll do that for you.” Even though I feel dizzy from surviving Buddy’s word barrage, I trudge through the marshmallows all the way to the far left door. I use the key, which dissolves into mist and disappears. “I sure hope I don’t need that key again.” I walk through the doorway, ready for my next challenge. “Bring it on.”

    1. Observer Tim

      You’re right about randomness, Cosi. This is truly strange, yet somehow on prompt.

      I take it you’ve given up candy for Lent and it’s starting to have an effect… 😉

      Regardless of that, it’s very enjoyable in a silly kind of way, like licking the jam and half-melted butter off a warm slice of toast.

    2. jhowe

      Now that was wild. I’ve never read anything like it. Even though it made little sense I hung on every word. My favorite line was, “Ohhh, you smell miraculous.” I’ve never heard that description for smell. Great fun.

    3. JM Somebody

      Is it weird that this actually made sense to me? (I’ve seen “Elf” way too many times). Wow, my teeth hurt and I may need an insulin shot after that. You made me laugh –several times — at the most random things, like the jerk in the purple vest who wouldn’t give your MC a lift on his flying carpet. You, my dear, are a comedy writer for sure. I think you should write an Elf 2 screenplay and send it to Will Ferrell. Hey, maybe you could even become his personal assistant — just to make sure he reads it — and if he doesn’t, you can find yourself a good gypsy and… Oh wait — that’s another story.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hey, JM!

        Thank you so much for our comments.

        As for becoming Will Ferrell’s personal assistant…Hmm. I suspect he’d be worse than RDJ. 😀 Anyway, I think the gypsies only work with Edwin. He has that irresistible air of desperation. 😀

  8. Tea_and_a_book

    Word Count 623
    ———————-
    Oh, man. No way this is really happening. I’m moving on to level 6. Nobody had ever made it to level 6. No one I knew, at least. I had been working on it for three straight days, and had finally gotten there. Too bad I wasn’t just playing the game. This time, I was in the game.

    It all started six days ago, when the newest game from the Wizards and Warriors series came out. I was waiting in line with everyone else to get it as soon as it hit the shelves, and got it home and in my PS2 as soon as I could. And then I played, and played, and played. And died, and died, and died some more. And when I finally made it to level 4, the biggest thunderstorm I’ve ever been in hit.

    Lightning hit the house, the power went out, and everything went black. I woke up a few moments later on a soft surface, one that reminded me of the moss in the mountains. As I climbed off of it, it turned out it was, indeed, a moss covered rock. It kinda reminded me of the one you started the game on…

    I quickly spun to look at my surroundings. I seemed to be in a forest. It actually looked a lot like the Chrystal Forrest from my game. Meaning, if this was the the Chrystal Forrest, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore (no pun intended, I really do live in Kansas). Also, this particular forest (in the game) had giant crystal spiders. I HATE spiders.

    That was about the time I noticed what I was wearing. A SKIRT. How was I supposed to properly kill monsters in a stupid skirt, exactly? Ugh, and a blouse. Where was my T- shirt? And my jeans? Okay, first things first. The sword. Where was the sword? Oh, duh, on the rock. Or rather, in the rock.

    I walked over and pulled the sword out fairly easily, then made my way through the forest, killing spiders along the way. I made it out of the forest fairly quickly, since I knew the way already. There was a backpack at the end, with a few potions, ethers, and some rudimentary wooden armor. It sucked, but it was better than nothing.

    After the forest, levels 2, 3, and 4 were fairly easy. Level five gave me some trouble, but I got through. Then, right at the end of the Grisly Castle (level 5), a portal appeared. Knowing there was nowhere else to go (except off the cliff to certain death), I jumped through.

    I’m not actually sure where I am. There is no light. I seem to be floating, or at least, standing on air. But there is a sound. Actually, a rather frightening sound. Is that… breathing? Oh, dear lord, that’s breathing. Very, very loud breathing. It seems to echo. Echoes mean that I’m in a room of some sort. Or a chasm. Or maybe a cave…

    A note. That is definitely a note. It’s coming closer, I think it’s for me. Wait, how many are there? One, two, three, uh-oh. There is way more than three. I’ll just grab one. Okay, what’s it say?

    ” Hello, Dorothy. If you can defeat me,I’ll send you home.” Wait, what? Defeat who? And how did it know my name?

    “Who are you? Show yourself!”

    OW! That’s really, really bright. Okay, it’s a cave. I seem to be facing a wall.

    “DOROTHY! TURN AROUND AND FACE ME!”

    Boss battle. I’m more than ready to go home. So, I’m going to wipe the sweat off my hands, get a good hold on my sword, and kill whatever this thing is. Wish me luck!

      1. Tea_and_a_book

        Thank you, Reaper! My goal was basically for it to be read exactly how you read it – lighter at the beginning, then, when she realizes the trouble she might be in, much darker and more frightening

    1. Observer Tim

      You’ve got a lot of lovely description and story here, Tea. I wonder what is going to surprise her when she turns around.

      This is a wonderful seed that could easily be expanded into a full-fledged short story. I’d read it. 🙂 🙂

        1. Tea_and_a_book

          Thanks to both of you 😀 I am, actually, writing a much longer story based off of this, I’m already about a thousand words in 😉 When I finish it, I’ll post the link to my blog with the story for everyone interested

    1. Reaper

      I personally wear black, mourn the druids, and curse the English saints forced upon the other three countries in the British isles today. But as an excuse to drink and party… wait, the Irish don’t need that. 🙂

  9. Kerry Charlton

    AILEEN OF TARA, AN IRISH BANSHEE, CONCLUSION

    Brian moved instinctly three feet left and watched the dart sing through the air. He right arm moved quickly and grabbed the shaft. A twirl of his wrist and the strength of his arm from college days, returned as the dart headed directly to Partick. Butler was caught off guard and did not move quickly enough as the dart pierced his throwing arm and shattered bones as it came to a halt.

    Brian watched carefully and noticed no change in Patrick’s face. ‘Couldn’t he feel the pain?’ Brian thought, ‘and why did the blood not flow?’ An eerie silence had fallen over the entire area, when village people saw their leader injured. Brian lowered silver and raised his arm toward Patrick. The battle axe dropped to the Irish soil as Brian walked toward the giant of a man.

    “What have you to say Brian”

    “You broke the faith, sir.”

    “You know?”

    “Yes, look at your arm.”

    “You have anything else you wish to say?”

    “Only this….”

    Brian whirled quickly and his body raised several feet as his left leg extended and landed directly in the center of Butler’s chest. The pride of Tara, fell like a stone wall, gasping for air, while Brian’s left leg pressed him to the dirt. Brian raised the battle axe, high over his head.

    “Go ahead and do it.” Patrick muttered

    “What’s the point? You would retreive your head and place it back but the village would know you have dishonored yourself. You’ve lost the fight Mr. Butler.”

    The crowd grew silent to a whisper, arms raised to the Irish sky. The battle axe arched toward the sky as Brian threw it across the field and extended his right hand to Butler. A roar from the crowd deafened his ears and he grinned at Patrick while helping the giant to his feet. Aileen and the crowd ran quickly to the center of the field with two opponents standing together as one. Blood flowed freely from Patrick’s arm and a severe pain etched his face.

    He extended his good arm to Aileen,

    “The two of you belong together,” he said. The village embraced the three of them in joyous excitement.

    “We’ll be going home now, ” Aileen said.

    “That you shall, lass. It’s about time after so many years, the battle should be won by another, my blessings go to both of you.”

    “Thank you for your spirit, Mr. Butler.”

    “Brian, you wished to call me Patrick and so you shall. Tomorrow, I will assemble the councelors and we’ll discuss your future. Bring Aileen to stand at your side.”

    Hand in hand Aileen and Brian walked to the village, surrounded by half the town. Arriving at the square, night had cloaded the town in dsrkness except for hundreds of lit candles placed by children left in the town. They warmed the couple’s spirits in their friendship.

    “Brian, the village is made up of those like myself who travel through darkness of death to battle Satan’ minions.”

    “Even the children?”

    “Especially are those honored by the privilege of becoming the young, for these have risked the most in fighting evil. We fill this village with happiness before duty call us.”

    “I wonder what will happen tomorrow?”

    “You mentioned thee purpose in life was not revealed, Well now it is laddie. Stay here with me, I want you in my arms. The councelors will render immortaliy upon thee. You will receive powers but along with the force, the battle of evil shall become your responsibility.”

    They walked along the pathway toward Aileen’s cottage, surrounded by a thousand lit candles.
    “The candles are a sign of respect,” Aileen said, “but they also are a symbol of love.”

    The two paused at the front of the cottage, and held hands.

    “When you close your eyes, lying upon your bed, I will be at thee’s side. When you awake, I shall be by you.”

    Brian lifted her in his atms and walked across the threshold.

    “Are you the daughter of Patrick Butler?”

    “Yes, is thee upset?”

    ” I saw the way Patrick looked at you, through the eyes of a father, not a jilted lover. Obviosly I passed the test.”

    “Beautifully did you score, is there nothing you don’t know about me?”

    “I know all I need to know.”

    “Come to me Brian, I shall put thee body to rest and thee’s mind at ease.”

    “No one could ask more. would you tell me, one more time?”

    “I love thee Brian O’Reilly with all my heart.”

    ,

    1. Reaper

      This is a strong finish to a very compelling story. Interesting to read today of all days. A hero who is not what he seems, who does not play fair and who is loved and feared in equal measures. With the name Patrick it is very fitting for today and seems like you’re hinting at the real story behind St. Patrick’s day. I don’t know if you are, I’m probably just reading into it but it does fit.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Oh, Kerry! This was a beautiful ending. I love how he defeated Patrick without having to kill him. And the last three lines are just lovely. Great job! 🙂

    3. lionetravail

      Thanks for finishing this Kerry- still catching up, but nice job and amazingly prolific this week! Congrats on blowing us all away with the amount of effort you put in, and the amazing expanse of a story.

  10. lionetravail

    Six Months Before ‘Shop Til You Drop’ (Your family’s life depends on it)

    “Dude, you got any more chips?”

    “No, Dex. That’s like the third time you asked, and we’ve already gone through two bags. The Costco-sized ones. You’ve got more salt in you than Lot’s wife.”

    “Is that the guy you intro’ed me to at that gnarly party the other week?” Dex asked, not looking away from his game controller.

    “Man, you are such a dork,” I said.

    “Honey, did you take out the trash?” my wife suddenly called from upstairs.

    “Uh,” I looked around. “Um, yeah?”

    “That doesn’t sound likely,” she called. “Get your ass up from that stupid game and…”

    “Dudette!” Dex protested loudly over his shoulder. “Wizards and Warriors is totally boss! Balls to the walls action and ‘Easter Eggs’ galore!”

    “Like this one?” I said with a smirk, maneuvering my controller so that my on screen character picked a coupon out of a treasure chest. “WTF? Saks Fifth Dimension? Good for ten free level upgrades?”

    “Now, please!” came from upstairs. “It looks like it’s going to pour buckets.”

    There was a bright flash, and then everything went dark.

    Sometime later, I came to with a groan.

    “Dude? You alright?” Dex asked. He knelt over me, and his stoner-face was concerned

    “No, not really. For one thing, I’m lying on something really uncomfortable.” I tried to sit up, but I hadn’t expected the weight and I fell back down.

    “Oh, that’s just your backpack and sword,” he said.

    “My what and my what? What happened? Hey, that’s not my ceiling!” I said, pointing up.

    Dex reached down and helped pull me up. “We’re not home, dude. The lightning hit and was about to annihilate us through the game controller, so I used one of the Easter eggs I’d picked up.”

    I sat up, and twisted so I could get at the sword, and drew it. “Shit, it’s heavier than my aunt Tilly, and she’s… Whoa.” I could now see around me. It looked like we were in some kind of… “Dex, are we in some kind of mall?”

    “Yeah.”

    “How?”

    “Tolja. Easter egg.”

    “How’d a computer gift get us out of my house and to a mall while I was unconscious?”

    “Dude, it’s almost like we didn’t leave your house, really. When I saw the flash, I just opened up a wormhole and we slipped over here.”

    “What do you mean, here? Where are we?”

    “Saks Fifth Dimension.”

    “You’re shitting me.”

    “Nope. Hey, you still got that coupon?”

    “I have no idea!”

    “Well, you’ve got a piece of paper pinned to your shirt.”

    I looked down, pulled it off. “It says: Beat em, I’ll send you home.” I turned it over. “Oh, and yeah, it’s the coupon.”

    “Dude! Cash it in!”

    “How?” I held it out to him. It wavered, became insubstantial, and disappeared. And suddenly the sword didn’t weigh as much as it had. I swung it back and forth, and it hissed through the air easily.

    “Like that,” Dex said.

    “You’ve been here before?”

    “Oh, sure. It’s cool, except for the invaders.”

    “Wait, what? Invaders?”

    “Yeah, they’re like berzerk shoppers come to the mall. I think the natives call ‘em ‘shopgoblins’ or something.”

    “You’re like serious?”

    “Pretty much. In fact, it sounds like they’re gearing up for a big one.”

    ‘“A big one what?”

    “Invasion.”

    “Dex, you are such a pain in the ass! I can’t believe what I’m hearing here!”

    “How else do you explain waking up in a mall, with a real sword that you suddenly know how to use? I mean, lighten up, dude, you’re melting my awesome.”

    “‘Melting your…’? Look, I don’t…. wait, what’s that?”

    “Shopgoblins on a rampage. Good thing we got in on an upper level; think they just broke through the main entrance.”

    “You’re actually serious? I can’t stay here fighting invaders! I got to get back home and take out the garbage or Sharon’ll kill me!”

    “Dude, we gotta kill us some shopgoblins or they’re going to kill us. Like, real soon.”

    “But it’s not my fight!”

    “Is now. You should be pretty boss with the upgrade though, and the fuckers drop these crystals when you kill ‘em. You can like buy cool shit with them here at the mall.”

    “God. I hate you so much, Dex, you know that, right?”

    “Cheer up; you can pick up something nice for the wife when we’re done.”

    “You are such a dork.”

    “Yeah, but I got dimension-traveling powers, and I’m like a wizard here.”

    “And I’m the warrior, I guess?” He nodded. “Shit. And what’s the plan?”

    “Like you were doing what Sharon tolja- we take out the trash. You in?”

    “Sure. Oh, and by the way?”

    “Yeah dude?”

    “I hate you so much.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Ah, so that’s what Sharon was talking about last week! This is wonderfully surreal, Lione. I love the tie together. I sense that action is going to be pretty intense for the next while, followed by equally intense shopping… 🙂

      And he’ll STILL have to take out the trash when he gets home. 😉

    2. JM Somebody

      He better buy something nice for Sharon at the mall. 🙂

      This was fun, and rolled right along with some snappy dialogue and comic timing. I had a little trouble seeing these goofs as old enough to be married, but maybe that’s just because I’m old.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        David, a complete gas. No need to worry about Sharon, she’s cheating on the side, has something goin’ on with another shopaholic with greenbacks. You ought to write comic strips and quit carving on people.

        1. lionetravail

          I love you guys so much 🙂

          Indirectly related- just got an experimental fiction/poetry hybrid accepted for publication in an anthology! Between that and the lovely comments here, the stress of cutting on people is suddenly less- bring on cloud 10, I say!

          1. JM Somebody

            Congratulations L’travail! What anthology, and where/when can we read it? Wow, you are just racking up the writing credits! So very happy to hear this.

  11. Kerry Charlton

    AILEEN OF TARA, AN IRISH BANSHEE, PART VII
    Parts 1 through six are below

    As Aileen and Brian approached the castle, village people lined both sides of an open field running alongside a steep cliff leading to the sea below. How the news spead so quickly was no surprise to the couple. The counselors appeared from the castle, being led by Patrick Butler, covered in mace, carrying a battle axe, the size of which chilled Brian to the bone. With both hands swinging an axe in a sea of enemy, devestation would be historic. On an open field with one opponent, the advantage might be Brian’s.

    Strapped to Patrick’s side in a sheath, rested wicked darts three in a row. Having thrown the javeiin in college, Brian threw for distance but these shafts thrown at a short distance would be fatal. Brian’s plan was to stay away from a swinging axe but close enough the darts couldn’t be used.

    Aileen by his side, Brian passed through the villagers to the center of the field. Patrick Butler entered also, his hand held high indicating he wanted to talk. He lay his axe down and Brian did likewise with the silver sword.

    “One more time Mr. O’Reilly, will you stand down? I do not relish killing you.”

    “Thank you for the offer Patrick, but I will not.”

    “Have you the right to call me by my first name?”

    “I have a thought, Patrick. By the time the sun’s down we’ll know each other quite well”

    Aileen tried to stop them but Patrick’s eyes widened with a fury of hell.

    “Wait on the side Aileen” Brian said

    “Please Brian, don’t fight him.”

    “God is on my side, I’ve prayed for the strength.”

    Patrick turned away and walked to the center of the field. In his mind he wanted striking
    distance for the darts. Brian followed him at a distance of fifteen feet. He watched as Patrick slowly wrapped his hand around the first dart before he turned. When he did, in his vision, the silver whipped through the air heading toward Patrick’s neck.

    Quicker than Brian thought possible, Patrick’s axe handle carried the force of the blade as if iron met iron. ‘My God, he’s quick’, Brian thought. ‘Could the handle be steel? It’s not possible.’ Vibrations traveled through Brian’s arms and he almost dropped silver.

    Instincts from martial arts pushed Bran’s body to the dirt as swishing sounds of the battle axe filled his ears when it passed over him . Roars of approval from villagers filled the air. ‘So this a fight of skill and not malice’ Brian thought. ‘The stage was set by Patrick. Well, we will see who wins the fray’

    Brian was back on his feet as quick as a cat. Patrick had backed forty feet. His left arm gripped the first dart Brian knew he would have to side step but when? He had studied Patrick’s eyes for a clue. Butler toyed with Brian jabbing the air.A twitch appeared in Patrick’s eye as he released the dart as it flew through the late afternoon twilight with certain death as its journey …….

    TO BE CONTINUED

    1. JM Somebody

      I think the only was a Harvard prof is going to beat a big, belligerent Celtic warrior is by using his wits. Can’t wait to see what Brian comes up with! This is riveting and I can see it on the big screen in my mind’s eye…

    2. Observer Tim

      Things have definitely heated up. This is a powerfully-written tale, wonderfully Irish in its take. It seems fitting that it will come to its climax on St. Paddy’s day. But then, I sense that was your plan all along, Kerry. Excellent work so far! 🙂 🙂

  12. jhowe

    As DeWayne drove southward on Highway 41 the relentless Georgia sun caused mirages of standing water to form and then disappear from the distant pavement. His dream or whatever it was from the night before was still with him to the extent that he had deleted Wizards and Warriors from his computer and swore off video games in a silent vow to himself. He pulled into a Taco Bell for bean burritos and a large Diet Coke and the summer heat radiated from the asphalt parking lot as the sky darkened very quickly. DeWayne looked skyward as a sudden lightning bolt knocked him back against his car.

    Dazed, DeWayne heard screeching and the sound of large pieces of fabric flapping to and fro. He kept his eyes tightly closed hoping fervently he could wake himself. There were a few moments of silence and a warm blast of rancid air enveloped him causing him to gag from the stench of what he knew would be dragon’s breath. Forcing his eyes open, DeWayne was relieved when the dragon backed away and lowered itself onto its haunches. The warrior dismounted and approached wearily, sword at the ready.

    “Greetings peasant,” the warrior said. “I see we are to meet again.”

    “You’ve got to be shitting me.” DeWayne rose to his feet. “I’m not playing anymore.”

    Another voice came from behind. “Ah, that’s where you’re wrong.” The wizard approached wearing his cloak of brown wool.

    “That’s it. No more.” DeWayne said, keeping his eye on the restless warrior. “I’m not playing the game. It’s daytime, so do something to get me out of here.”

    “Once you start the game continues,” said the wizard. “Until he wins one.”

    “I don’t want him to win.”

    “What can it hurt?”

    “I think it will hurt a great deal,” said DeWayne.

    “Stand back,” said the warrior, raising his sword.

    DeWayne raised his arms. “Wait! Will the mighty warrior strike down an unarmed man?”

    The warrior looked confused and adjusted his tunic.

    “He’s right Byron,” said the wizard, producing a short sword from the folds of his cloak. “The rules state that all contestants be armed.”

    “Very well,” said the warrior. “Give him the sword.”

    DeWayne took the sword and threw it to the ground. “If I recall, the challenged contestant has the option of choosing the weapons.”

    The warrior spat on the path. “Nonsense.”

    “He’s right Byron,” the wizard said. “He can choose the weapons.”

    “Very well then,” the warrior said. “Choose.”

    “I choose a battle of wits.”

    “A battle of wits?” said the bewildered warrior.

    The wizard stepped between them. “Obviously, Byron is now unarmed.”

    “The he can consult with you.”

    “Well, I’m a wizard. The odds will be unfalteringly against you.”

    “I’ll take my chances.”

    “Very well,” the wizard said. “Byron, you sit over there by your overgrown windbag and let me handle this.”

    DeWayne began. “If a man lives in the city in a red house, how many cats does he have?”

    “Three,” said the wizard.

    “Correct,” said DeWayne. “Your turn.”

    “Aha. You resort to trickery. The answer is obviously two.”

    “No, the third cat is a spare.”

    “A spare cat?”

    “Yes.”

    “Who would want a spare cat?”

    “The same person who would ride a screeching dragon and wear an ill-fitting tunic.”

    The warrior blinked. “Is he talking about me?”

    “Silence Byron. This man is obviously a skilled wordsman.”

    “Enough of this,” the warrior roared charging forward.

    DeWayne leaped to the ground and picked up the discarded short sword, rolled and threw it at the approaching warrior. The warrior stopped and stared dumbly at the hilt protruding from his chest as the wizard slapped himself on the forehead in disbelief.

    DeWayne woke and felt the hot asphalt through his jeans and rose. He no longer had the desire for bean burritos and got in his car and drove off. This was becoming a little monotonous.

    1. Reaper

      Nice jhowe. Your battle of wits was funny and a bit mind bending. Who would want a spare cat indeed! This was an all around good read and the dialogue read like an epic, I started hearing it in voices like Shakespearean actors.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nice, Jhowe. It’s great how DeWayne not only poses an inane riddle, but that the wizard is able to answer correctly and to explain his answer. That’s probably the strongest argument for a dream component (well, that and the fact that he keeps waking up). 🙂

    3. lionetravail

      Very well done, Jhowe- loved the continuation. The shift of the battle from brawn to brains was seamless, funny, and slickly handled. I’m not sure I get exactly why the wizard said three, claimed trickery and asserted the answer was two, and that part of the exchange, but I’m willing to roll with the excellent story 🙂

  13. Kerry Charlton

    AILEEN OF TARA, AN IRIsH BANSHEE PART VI
    PARTS 1-5 BELOW

    “I choose the silver sword, you provided for me.”

    “Do thee realize the councelor’s power will no longer protect thee?”

    I do and you will pay for your insults, sir.”

    ‘Brave talk’, I thought, ‘but I saw his eyes, those puplis, his inescapeable look of a seasoned warrier whose familiarity with death and destruction of war, was a way of lfe for him. Good lord, what have I gotten myself into?’

    He spoke again,

    To allow you a remote chance Mr. O’Reilly, I will assume mortality in battle. Do you desire a second weapon? It is in our rules of war.”

    “It won’t be needed, I assure you, sir.”

    “I admire your spirit, O’Reilly, tis a shame I shall depart thou head from thy body. Present yourself

    as the sun begins it’s decent towards the sea. There will be no quarter given. To the death them, O’Reilly?”

    “To the death. You shall die with a look of surpise on your face.

    He chuckled for a moment. “We shall see about that”

    Aileen and Brian turned sharply and walked out, their’s heads held high. As they cleared the door, she

    squeezed his arm,

    “Why did not thee, listen to me?”

    “It wouldn’t have made any difference. He planned it from the beginnng. And then mentioning we were related, 27 genrations apart,what was that all about?”

    “It might have been a way out for you.”

    “I doubt it, there is a chance for me, battles have progressed in the last seven hundred years.”

    “Is thee planning something?”

    “I haven’t the foggiest idea.”

    “Remember one thought Brian, Patrick Butler is not used to losing battles. He’s never been defeated .”

    “I figured that, the other warriors were intimidated by him.”

    “You wouldn’t wonder if you saw the two handed battle ax or Irish Darts he uses.”

    “I’ve seen photos of the axes. They are a clumsey weapon, what are Irish Darts?”

    “Small, spear-like javelins, deadly in the hands of an experienced fighter. Do you realize the challenge?

    Walking through a 14th century village, basking in a late moning sun, he wondered,

    ‘I may have found a purpose to my life, finally the mist has cleared. A battle to the death for honor will
    be a priviledge rather then an aimless life. A battle for the woman I love, there is no higher plateau of honor and it is finally here in my lfe or what appears to be my pathway.’

    They walked together in sweet silence, holding hands and Brian felt joyous, not despair. With Aileen by his side, they passed through the circle of friends she had. He could tell, the village loved her and he was proud of her.

    Shadows lengthened across Aleen’s cottage, her anxety heightened toward hysteria. The thought of being on an ancient field of war, brought on by a spured suitor, seemed surreal to Brian, The last two days he had been through, were merely a prequel to today’s challenge

    TO BE CONTINUED

    1. Reaper

      This continues to have a very compelling voice and story. Towards the beginning you had a slip into the first person.

      One thought, and just a thought, is you have Brian acting with instinctive cunning and intelligence to work towards overpowering the marshal might of an unbeaten enemy. This has certain fairytale elements to it. The thought is to combine the two. When he is asked about a second weapon you might have him choose something that is not a weapon but in a fanciful way can be used as one against this enemy. Something like Irish pride or family honor. It just felt fitting right there. Nothing works as well however.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks, JM, i didn’t realize I was writing a metaphor, sometimes I’m only one or two sentences ahead of my own story and usually pray for automatic to kick in, it’s easier.

    2. lionetravail

      You are seriously putting all of us to shame, Kerry. What an amazing amount of creative energy! I’m exhausted just watching you go.

      (Of course, I’m always hovering on the edge of exhaustion, so maybe it wasn’t a long fall, but still :))

      It continues to engage, Kerry- I just have to ask about what a ‘duel to the death’ means in the context of a battle of spirits in the afterlife, and the same with a threat to cut off Brian’s head. The nature of the stakes of the fight is well understood, but the fall out to what is essentially a spirit of a human is unclear in the mythology you’re creating. I’d love to know more of what ‘death’ in the context of these spirit battles mean, or what specific threats to the anatomy mean, in order to put them into a proper context- after all, he’s already died from the lightning bolt: how’s a beheading of his spirit form going to have any terror for him?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A major point David, I didn’t even think of it, I’m been so busy with the plot. At first glance, Death might be death of honor or privilege. Or perhaps a lower assignment. After all, spirits need a leader or they’d be jumping all over creation. Somebody has to be boss!

  14. cosi van tutte

    I decided to do another take on this prompt:

    I leaned forward, frantically mashing the X button. My character, Isio Malachar, shot endless reams of arrows at the off-screen team of vampire ghosts. Every now and then, one would whoosh forward, only to get a face full of arrowed death. Their collective health meter dropped at half-inch increments.

    I grumbled, “I should have bought the Grandheim bow at the last shop, but it was so expensive. But this is taking forever.”

    The health meter had just reached the half-way point when a large person in an ill-fitting rabbit costume semi-hopped on the screen. I spared him a quick glance before returning my attention to the depleting health meter. “Come on, you stupid, lousy—”

    “Derrrruuuh.” intoned the rabbit person.

    My game froze up on me. “What? What? No! Why now?” I grab the sides of the tv set and shook it, which didn’t help at all. Even though it almost made me vomiting sick to do it, I pressed the reset button on my game console.

    Isio remained frozen in place with a series of five arrows stuck in the air before him.

    Rabbit Guy twanged his lips to ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’, which irritated me. I jerked my console’s cord from the wall. “There. That should do it.” I sat up straight.

    Rabbit Guy rubbed his costume’s nose. “My pa told me to—-uhhhh…give you…uhhh…” He leisurely searched the pockets of his costume. “Derrrrrr. There it is.” He pulled out a small crystal ball. Purple-blue lightning snapped and sharped inside of it.

    I asked, “What is that?” even though the rational part of my brain told me that I shouldn’t have conversations with my tv set.

    “What? Oh! This. This is very, very, very special.” He patted the crystal ball with every very. “It’s also very delicate too.”

    “Okay. But what is it?”

    “What? Oh! This. This is…Ohhh. Pa told me not to get into any big talkings about it. He told me to give it to you and be on my way. So, that is what I will do.” He threw the ball at the screen.

    Lightning – wild and purple and sharp and cold and hot – burst out of the tv, zapping me.

    “Oh, this is stupid! I’m being electrocuted by my tv set and I wasn’t even doing anything wrong!” The lightning arced around me, laced around me. I screamed in pain and terror and several strong curse words.

    It took me forever to lose consciousness. The last thing I heard was Rabbit Guy twanging ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ on his lips and it irritated me.

    to be continued….

    1. cosi van tutte

      And, at long last, here’s my continuation. (Sorry it took me so long.)

      “Hey.”

      I woke, feeling like a mess of jittered up nerves.

      “Hey!”

      But I was alive.

      “I’mma sayin’, Hey!”

      I had no idea how I could still be alive. I should have been burnt crispy dead. I opened my eyes to the bright sun and the blue sky. “Oh. Oh, that’s nice.” I stretched out my arms and luxuriated in the sunlight.

      “Hey! Whatcha doin’? We ain’t got no time for this. Isio neeeeeds your help, girl.”

      I didn’t know who was talking and I didn’t care. I yawned. “Go help him yourself.” I closed my eyes.

      “I’mma gonna punch big holes in you if you don’t git a move on.”

      “Mmmph.”

      “Doncha think that I’mma bluffin’. ‘Cause I sure ain’t.”

      “That’s nice. Go away.”

      Someone whacked my mid-section with a thick stick. “Ooof!” I opened my eyes to find a scabbard floating above my face. A white-blue ball of light with dragonfly-style wings fluttered furiously next to the scabbard. “If you don’t git your lazy, lousy self off the ground right now, I’mma gonna drop this real hard-like on your face.”

      “All right! All right! Get that thing out of my face and I’ll get up.”

      She flittered out of my sight. The scabbard bobbled after her.

      I rose to my feet and glanced around at the rolling fields of generic little yellow and white flowers. An ugly black spire spiked the western sky, ruining the whole bucolic scene. But it made me realize exactly where I was. “I’m in the Maizie Meadows and that over there is the ruins of Brickbrack City.” What the heck? I thought. I’m inside the game? How did that even happen? Oh. Right. Rabbit Guy.

      “I’mma sure you done notice Isio ain’t around.”

      I looked around again, hoping to catch sight of a certain archer with long, black hair. But he was nowhere to be seen. “Where is he?”

      “Captain Isilaluck’s bunny minion caught him a-nappin’ and dragged him on down to the ruined city.”

      “Huh. Well, that’s rotten luck. Say, do you know how to—” The scabbard whooshed into my face, stopping just a puff of air in front of my nose. I staggered back.

      “It ain’t no rotten luck. It’s allll you. You let that yokelized bunny boy distract you into stoppin’ time and all.”

      “What? You’re blaming me?”

      “Well, I sure ain’t dumb enough to go blamin’ myself for somethin’ myself ain’t done wrong. The wrongdoin’ is all your a-doin. If’n you had ignored bunny boy, nothin’ would’ve happened. I’mma bettin’ you all didn’t know that. But you all just had to go peekin’ at him. As soon as you up and done that, time here froze all stiff and solid-like. All except for bunny boy. He went and scooped up Isio and hoofed him out of here.”

      I frowned. I felt like I was looking at an almost complete puzzle with two pieces that just wouldn’t fit. “Rabbit Guy captured Isio, but Rabbit Guy brought me here. Why would he bring me here? Does he expect me to help him? Or does he have some self-defeating glitch and he expects me to stop him?”

      She finally lowered the scabbard. “I don’t be knowin’ none of that stuff. All I know is Isio needs a rescuin’ and you’re the one to be a-doin’ it.”

      “Are you coming with me?”

      “Ain’t no sense in my doin’ so. My magic don’t work in ruined places.”

      I sighed. “Isn’t that convenient? How do I get back home?”

      “What? You think I’m a dummy? I ain’t gonna tell you nothin’ about any of that until you get Isio rescued.”

      That didn’t seem fair to me, but I let it go. For now. “How am I supposed to rescue him if I don’t have a weapon?”

      “There’s a mighty fine pretty sword in the scabbard. You all can use it, but don’t you be breakin’ it none or losin’ it or barterin’ it for another sword. I’mma expectin’ you to bring my girl back safe home to me.”

      I grabbed the scabbard out of the air and pulled out the medium-sized sword. ‘Arabella’ was etched in elegant script down the steel blade.

      This was the most epic moment of my life. I was holding a real sword with real sword looks and real sword weight. I couldn’t help myself. I burst into a giggle fit.

      She flew full force into my forehead.

      “Ow!”

      “This ain’t no time for no gigglin’ fun. Git a-goin and rescue Isio.”

      “Yes, ma’am.” I ran down the hill leading towards the black spire.

      “And don’t you be callin’ me no ma’am neither!”

  15. Kerry Charlton

    AILEEN OF TARA, AN IRISH BANSHEE PART V
    PART 1 – IV BELOW

    The village of Tara stirred with activity as an early sun rose to an azure sky. Swans waited for the couple when they entered the pond. Brian cared not what state of existence he was in. Reflective thoughts filled his mind. Forty seven years on earth, yet he had no clue what his purpose in life was.He realized an understanding of what was expected of him that morning, regardless of what form he was.

    “It is time, Brian for our meeting with the counselors. It is but a wee walk to the edge of the sea where the castle is.”

    “Will you stand with me for this meeting?”

    “Aye, that I will love. They are pleased with you and have told me. Thee should not have a hard time this morning.”

    As they approached the forbidding castle, built as a fortress overlooking the Irish Sea, Brian pondered, ‘If my meeting matches the architecture, I’m really in for trouble,’ Understanding the counselors were ancestors of the Fitzgerald and Butler clans, had put his soul on it’s knees. Judging from his vast knowledge of Irish warfare, he estimated most of them had passed their 700th birthdays.

    ‘They couldn’t be worse than the evil banshee’, he thought. ‘But I had the counselor’s sword and power then. I’m not fool enough to believe the sword can protect me now, especially since Aileen has mentioned they werre determined to have their commands answered.’

    The couple approaced two massive oak doors. fourteen feet in height, six wide and eight inches thick. Hinges were balnced perfectly, the doors swung open to a massive great hall, with a ceiling rising more than forty feet. Walls ran 120 feet in length, covered in burning torches, bringing light but also fumes and smoke. A horseshow, massive oak table sat at the far end with thirteen counselors seated around the perimeter of the table.

    Their appearance as warriors in the prime of life and dressed for battle, cast a doubt of sincerely with Brian. The men wore beards, clothes covered in mace with symbols of their clans. As Aileen and Brian entered the horseshoe, the leader of the counsel arose,

    “Greetings to you Aileen and to you, Brian O’Reilly. A job well done, the saving of of Mr. O’Reilly’s soul.”

    “it was not I who recscued him. Brian with the help of your sword, vanquished the evil Banshee, kind sir.”

    “Ah yes, we realize but why is he here, a mortal man? Do you take favor with him?”

    The head counselor toyed with Aileen. Brian stepped in front of her and raised his hand stopping the councelor’s banter.

    “Why do you trifle with her, my lord?”

    “You need not address me as lord, O’Reilly. Why do you consider it your issue?”

    “It is my choice, sir. She doesn’t deserve your intrusions. She has done nothing except to honor Ireland.”

    “We shall see, you are dismissed O”Reilly.”

    Aileen took hold of Brian’s hand and whispered,

    “This councelor has personal issues with me, do not anger him.”

    “You spurned him?”

    “Yes, be cautious.”

    The councelor’s eyes trained on Brian,

    “Will you stand aside, O’Reilly?”

    Aileen tried to pull him out of the circle of warriors, “Unless you stop, you will have to battle him for his honor.”

    “Your decision, O’Reilly?”

    “I will not stand aside, you have personal issues.”

    Twelve pair of eyes turned to their leader. Brian sensed the others had little persuasion over their leader. From the look on their faces, Brian realized they wanted the head councelor to stop.

    “Judging from our records O’Reilly, we are directly related, although twenty seven genertions apart. Do you still persist?”

    The giant of a warrior left his seat and stood in front of Brain. Seventy pounds heavier, and taller, his body resembled a giant oak. Brian studied him, I have not strength enough for close battle but I’m quicker and trained in martial arts.’ Aileen remained by his side, holding onto his arm,

    “Do not battle over me.”

    “I have nothng without you, love.”

    Brisn moved within ten inches of the brute,

    “I will not stand down, sir.”

    “You have the first choice of weapons, O’Reilly.”

    TO BE CONTINUED

    Brian glanced quickly at Aileen, then turned to the councelor,

    1. lionetravail

      Great stuff, Kerry- I love the conversations and the brisk pace of the dialogue, so nice work.

      To continue constructive suggestions rather than just the accolades you deserve: were i rereading my own work and looking for things to cut for short fiction word count, I’d consider losing some of the detail of the physical nature of the castle, and the dimensions. You could say: “To Brian, everything about the Counselors’ abode seemed huge, of gigantic proportions.” and save yourself words and details which don’t add to the spiritual nature of your story as a good vs. evil, greater than humanity, irish fairy folktale adventure. Note, that for a novel, where length is not key, you could certainly be more expansive, but then that degree of lush detail should be consistent in other areas of the story as well- spending words to create ambiance.

      As it sits, though, this is lovely and one of your strongest pieces so far. Better and better with each section, for me.

  16. Pete

    “Are you going to let me play or what?”

    “What.”

    “Are you going to let me or—ughh!”

    Lani threw her head up and laughed. I hated when I fell for it. She tossed the lone controller my way. We were down to one because she’d smashed the other one against the wall when she failed to jump and died a humiliating death in Super Mario Brothers.

    It was another rainy Friday night and we were holed up in her basement. The fact that we were even allowed to hang out after the whole fire department fiasco at my a few weeks back was a miracle. But the pesky little urge to steal glances at my lifelong friend’s ass made me want to scream.

    “I’ve got some left, you know?” Lani patted her bag. Her eyes were glimmering with mischief. I knew what was in that bag. Pizza toppings. Mushrooms to be specific. But I wasn’t about to succumb to her after-school-special-worthy pressure tactics. The last time I took something Lani gave me I peed my pants and thought the walls were licking me. Oh, and that whole fire department thing.

    “Don’t be a wuss, Jack.” Lani said reading my thoughts. Hopefully not all of them. I pressed the button to reset the game when a clap of thunder hit and nearly split the sky to daylight.

    “What the..?” Lani was gone. I glanced around the room. Only her canvas bag lay crumpled where she was sitting only a boom ago.

    “Lani?” I waited to hear her giggle or snort. When she was bored there were no limits to her goofiness. Something pinged the glass of the old floor model television. It was Lani.

    She was in the game. Hang on, one more time. Lani was inside the game. She was clunky and eight bit but it was her. Even blurry and tinted green I knew it was her.

    Shit.

    I watched her take in the animated world, like a mime with her hands against the tv screen. I leaned closer when she said something, but it was all polyphonic and I couldn’t make it out. She looked down, to a note on her shirt.

    “Beat the game,” she mouthed.

    “Well this might as well be happening,” I said to myself. I mashed the start button, it was caked with a sludge of peanut butter. We’d made peanut butter and Hershey-spread sandwiches, with chocolate chips and the remnants were all over the little square controller.. Admit it, you miss your teenage metabolism, don’t you?

    I’d never beaten Wizards and Warriors. We’d only recently discovered her father’s archaic game system and being grounded together we were up for anything, including 80’s nerd culture. Lani motioned for my attention, because it had been four seconds and i was checking out. Where were we? Oh yeah, the controller. I thumbed the down pad. She bent down and picked up the sword.

    We slashed and jumped our way from level to level. Lani helped navigate the way and I focused. She was like a ninja in there, kicking and clawing and swinging from trees. I’d never seen Lani so much as walk fast but in that game she was not to be effed with.
    Together we made it to the final stage. Lani waved to me and I looked up. She’d caught me staring at her eight bit ass.

    Damn.

    Mr. Wizard came out all breathing fire and looking like an asshat. And then, Zap….the power went out. The television sucked the game into a hole and I was left in the dark.

    “Lani?”

    I heard some giggling in the corner. A flash of lightning and I found her right beside me. Close, I could feel her breath’s on my neck.

    “What the hell?”

    She was close and smelled like peanut butter and flowers. Her voice was full and real and without its usual boredom. “I told you it would be fun.”

    “Uh, I…”

    She flung herself off of me just as the door at the top of the steps opened and the power groaned back to life..

    “You guys okay down there”

    We exchanged looks. It was not my best fiend I saw–she was still stuck in that game. This Lani was something else.

    This Lani was a girl…

    1. Observer Tim

      Pete, this is wonderful. I’ve said a number of times that the discovery of love is one of my favourite plotlines/themes. You did a really great job capturing that here. Kudos all the way! 🙂 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Pete, this was a real blast to read and a lot of fun skipping along wth your tale. Your writing is carefree and campy and I mean that in the best way.

    2. lionetravail

      Fantastic Pete! I love the recognition of her as a ‘girl’ at the end- labels are important. And just the hint of mystery that she knows more than we (and the MC) do… nice touch with this 🙂

  17. Hiba Gardezi

    I Posted this before but I, by mistake, put a lot of it in italics. Read this one.

    I lie on my back on the ground of God knows where.
    Above me the sky weeps in solitude, unable to abstain from the sweetness of grief. She has no one to help her up but the ground who soaks up her tears. How much they love each other. Light-years away, they still dry up each other’s tears.
    I smile.
    And sit up on the wet grass. I’m soaked to the skin. Beside me sits a red back pack. Beside it, a knife.
    I crawl to it on all fours.
    It’s beautiful.
    The rain sits on it. Splotches of light-filled domes fall as the light spills in.
    I take it in my hands. Inside I see a girl.
    She is not me.
    I am not her.
    She knows not me.
    I know not her.
    Yet we are close.
    Her brown locks are sopping wet and her gray eyes fear-stricken. She doesn’t know where she is. Trapped inside a world where even the sky cries.
    She spots something on my shirt collar and her hand moves to her own. There hangs a note .she rips it off.
    ‘Beat me and I’ll send you home.’ She lingers at that word and looks around. Then she looks me in the eyes finally getting this.
    She drops her knife.
    I, my own.
    I shove it in the pack. Her along. She despises the thought.
    I, too.
    I sling the pack over my shoulders, the killer beauty in hand and start down a path into the woods.
    The light falls upon an old tree. It is strong. It is good.
    I start to climb it. I fling my body over the first branch. I can do this. I am not me I think climbing higher so I can do this
    I reach the top and below me spills an army of blue cloaked figures, engulfed in blood fire.
    Their own fire.
    They aren’t ready yet.
    I could beat them now. Sneak attack. But I would get disqualified.
    I stretch out on the top of the tree.
    ‘Let’s sleep under the stars’ I whisper and remember a tender memory. I let it take over me, over my dreams as I drift off to oblivion, to another dimension.

    The dusty stars litter the sky like millions of burning lanterns guiding a lost traveler home. And the moon smiles down at me as if expecting a conversation. No time for conversations, now I think. Now is a time for war. One warrior against a million. Whoever said life was fair.
    Appearances I think slipping of the tree can be deceiving.
    Such a scary night dressed so seductively.

    I stand before Kripew now. He stands tall and proud. His face once close to my heart, now gives rise to an anger scratching on the inside of me.
    ‘why so angry?’ he laughs. Oh God, that laugh.’ I thought you loved this game.’
    ‘Love. Not loved I say ’
    ‘Is that so? How much?’
    ‘As much as the stars love the sky.’
    ‘And how much is that’ he says looking amused.
    ‘Endless. The sky hides the stars when the sun comes out to make way for her master. But when the sun goes away and the sky is lone, the stars never waver in their loyalty but come out to give the sky light.’
    ‘I wish your love for people was like that ’he says failing to summon a look of disgust.
    ‘I wish the same for yours ’ Little does he know how truly I mean those words.
    ‘Enough chitchat,’ Lara comes up out of the crowd.’ We are here for a reason’ she cocks her head ‘No?’
    ‘Yes.’ I say looking behind me as if at an army of my own.
    And now as I look up at the sky it is only in dreams of you
    Shall I survive to tell the tale flinging myself out of this hopeless sea of nightmares?
    Or will we meet again in death in the graves of those forgotten?
    Whatever may happen, remember this ; I am yours. And you mine

    1. cosi van tutte

      This is so beautifully written. I especially loved this whole paragraph: “Above me the sky weeps in solitude, unable to abstain from the sweetness of grief. She has no one to help her up but the ground who soaks up her tears. How much they love each other. Light-years away, they still dry up each other’s tears.” It’s so pretty and poetic.

      Great job, Hiba!

    2. Reaper

      This is just gorgeous from start to finish. I want more because I want to know the story behind and beyond these words, but I want more just like this. It is so moving and just musical.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a beautiful and poetic tale, Hiba. It reads as much like a love poem as a story. 🙂

      I was a little confused by the phrase “failing to summon a look of disgust”. That means he wasn’t disgusted; using it this way implies he should be disgusted, and I see no reason for that. If you meant that he was disgusted, it should probably be “summoning a look of disgust”. That’s my two cents.

      1. Hiba Gardezi

        Thankyou 😀 By “failing to summon a look of disgust” I meant that he was trying to look disgusted but was unable to mask the fact that he was acting. The MC knew this because she knew Kripew so well. She also expected him to try to look disgusted. I know what you’re talking about and I agree with you 😀 Thankyou as always, for reading and commenting and pointing that out 😉

        1. Observer Tim

          Ah, that makes sense. Thanks, I can be a bit thick at times. 😉

          Maybe “with an unconvincing look of disgust” would do it. Feigned emotions are really hard to write about because the descriptive cues can be very subtle.

          1. Hiba Gardezi

            You’re not thick, Observer Tim. You were right about what you said and I really appreciate it when you tell me how I could’ve down better 🙂 Why else do I post here? Thankyou 😀

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      I really enjoyed the dreamy, poetic lull of your post, Hiba- well done! (I know it’s been said before, but praise doesn’t grow stale 😉 )

    5. lionetravail

      Lovely, Hiba- it’s mysterious, and leaves much to the imagination; things I’d like to know about the mechanics of the world and situation you pain, but that may just be me being classically geek and male.

      As a stand alone piece, it’s certainly poetic and lovely. I would suggest you work on this, and add to it,; work out in your head how the mythology and the rules/mechanics of this experience were working, even if you don’t take time to explain them. In the end, it will let you follow a consistent flow so that the mechanics make perfect sense in continuity; for me, expanding it and taking the story to its conclusion (wherever you want to go with it) would be rich and rewarding and satisfying.

  18. Hiba Gardezi

    I lie on my back on the ground of God knows where.
    Above me the sky weeps in solitude, unable to abstain from the sweetness of grief. She has no one to help her up but the ground who soaks up her tears. How much they love each other. Light-years away, they still dry up each other’s tears.
    I smile.
    And sit up on the wet grass. I’m soaked to the skin. Beside me sits a red back pack. Beside it, a knife.
    I crawl to it on all fours.
    It’s beautiful.
    The rain sits on it. Splotches of light-filled domes fall as the light spills in.
    I take it in my hands. Inside I see a girl.
    She is not me.
    I am not her.
    She knows not me.
    I know not her.
    Yet we are close.
    Her brown locks are sopping wet and her gray eyes fear-stricken. She doesn’t know where she is. Trapped inside a world where even the sky cries.
    She spots something on my shirt collar and her hand moves to her own. There hangs a note .she rips it off.
    ‘Beat me and I’ll send you home.’ She lingers at that word and looks around. Then she looks me in the eyes finally getting this.
    She drops her knife.
    I, my own.
    I shove it in the pack. Her along. She despises the thought.
    I, too.
    I sling the pack over my shoulders, the killer beauty in hand and start down a path into the woods.
    The light falls upon an old tree. It is strong. It is good.
    I start to climb it. I fling my body over the first branch. I can do this. I am not me I think climbing higher so I can do this.
    I reach the top and below me spills an army of blue cloaked figures, engulfed in blood fire.
    Their own fire.
    They aren’t ready yet.
    I could beat them now. Sneak attack. But I would get disqualified.
    I stretch out on the top of the tree.
    ‘Let’s sleep under the stars’ I whisper and remember a tender memory. I let it take over me, over my dreams as I drift off to oblivion, to another dimension.

    The dusty stars litter the sky like millions of burning lanterns guiding a lost traveler home. And the moon smiles down at me as if expecting a conversation. No time for conversations, now I think. Now is a time for war. One warrior against a million. Whoever said life was fair.
    Appearances I think slipping of the tree can be deceiving.
    Such a scary night dressed so seductively.

    I stand before Kripew now. He stands tall and proud. His face once close to my heart, now gives rise to an anger scratching on the inside of me.
    ‘why so angry?’ he laughs. Oh God, that laugh.’ I thought you loved this game.’
    ‘Love. Not loved I say ’
    ‘Is that so? How much?’
    ‘As much as the stars love the sky.’
    ‘And how much is that’ he says looking amused.
    ‘Endless. The sky hides the stars when the sun comes out to make way for her master. But when the sun goes away and the sky is lone, the stars never waver in their loyalty but come out to give the sky light.’
    ‘I wish your love for people was like that ’he says failing to summon a look of disgust.
    ‘I wish the same for yours ’ Little does he know how truly I mean those words.
    ‘Enough chitchat,’ Lara comes up out of the crowd.’ We are here for a reason’ she cocks her head ‘No?’
    ‘Yes.’ I say looking behind me as if at an army of my own.
    And now as I look up at the sky it is only in dreams of you
    Shall I survive to tell the tale flinging myself out of this hopeless sea of nightmares?
    Or will we meet again in death in the graves of those forgotten?
    Whatever may happen, remember this ; I am yours. And you mine

  19. Kerry Charlton

    AILEEN OF TARA, AN IRISH BANSHEE PART 1V
    PART 1 – 3 BELOW

    Brian and Aileen descended gently and swiftly to an ancient hamlet that might have existed in 15th century Ireland. An afternoon sun cast it’s shadows across the village square, and bathedthe medieval town as a crown jewel in an extraordinary setting. A soft breeze caressed Aileen’s cheek, a pond nearby entertained a gaggle of white geese and deer roamed freely. partaking of lush fields of blooming clover Dogwood trees burst in colors of the rainbow across their limbs.

    “The village is called Tara,” Aileen said. “The home of the counselors, an ancient medival seat of power in Ireland. It is also my home and of those who, like myself fight evil in the name of God and Ireland.”

    “This is beautiful. Never had I realized an existence of an idyllic area in the world, would appear as this.”

    “Aye Brian, remember we are not on your earth or in your time. The city exists as a pleasure for the counselors and for us.”

    “Is it heaven?”

    “Nae, it is simply Tara, my home. Thee will understand when you are presented to the council in a day or so. But for now laddie, we will rest and I will show the village to thee when you care to see it.”

    “I’d rather see more of you than your hamlet.”

    “Aye lad, that you shall. My cottage is but a short stroll. Care to join me?”

    Walking along a well worn stone pathway, they wandered past thatched roof cottages, scattered either side. Women and children scurried about, while in the fields, men toiled at their crops and tended flock of goat and sheep. Walking through a village seven hundred years in the past, Brian didn’t comprehend.

    “Aileen, it looks authentic, is it real?”

    “Aye, that it is, as genuine as we are. If not for forces of evil we encounter on our journeys, once we leave here, it would be a perfect existence. The next cottage is mine.”

    “It is difficult for me to realize, but one thing I know, I am fortunate to be here with you.”

    She placed a finger to his lips, and led him to a small pond behind her cottage. They shed their torn clothes and entered the water. ‘It feels warm and soothes my body as if magic’, Brian thought. Around the pool, large carp flipped their tails in delight that the two shared their pond. Water lilys floated close by and sounds from song birds burst the air gently. Brian’s eyes closed in peace.

    When he awoke, he rested on a soft bed of white. Aileen sat closely by, dressed in a long green gown, gathered below her breasts. As she brushed her hair, she turned toward him, her eyes mirrored love.

    “You’ve been asleep for hours,” she said as she brought a vessel of wine and a bowl of fruit.

    “It’s not the wine I desire.”

    She raised softly from her chair, and placed her body between the setting sun in full view. Rays of light filtered through her gown as if there were no interuption of desire. She danced before Brian, moved her form through her gown and sang softly to him. Her dancing stopped, she leaned over him, and placed her tongue deep with his mouth. Brian felt a throbbing sensation, that lifted his desire to a high plain.

    She placed her mouth to his throat, nibblied his skin in small bites. Her lips traveled down his chest, and stopped briefly with a playful bite unto she arrived to his desire. An electric current of uncontrolableforce jolted Brian’s body as if he rode a run-away train.

    Aileen slipped from her gown and showed her perfect form. Firm to Brian’s touch of her brests, her body soared as a sympathy of curves to her soft silkness. Brian lifted her high above him, then carefully lowered her down to his desire. “How dd you know, Brian?”

    “You little tease, what else would you want?”

    She started to rock back and forth slowy, then hesitated, feeling Brian inside her. She placed her hands on his chest, and quickened her pace and rose to a non-stop fury. Brian ascended to the top of a raging, wanton desire and pwhile consumed in a white heat of fire. His love flowed into her passion, deep within her.

    She lay on top of him and kissed his face and neck and started to travel with her lips again.

    Evening settled upon the village, the cottage bathed itself in the blissful moonlight glow. They had not moved for hours and he stroked her hair and kissed her neck, the color of a white swan it was. Brian moved lower and she started to moan in delight. Softness of night found them entwinded together.

    She rose up,

    “We can not stay in bed forever, laddie”

    “And why not?”

    Tease me again if thee will, I can’t think of a reason why?” She threw her arms around him again.

    “Once more laddie thou art magical at love making.”

    Early dawn arrived, they lay as one. Brian fantized about Aileen’s loveleyness even afte making love all night. She slept, perhaps in a dream she seemed to enjoy. Eyes closed, her body seemed a key to paradise. He stroked her love and found her desire had tightened around him. As he stroked quickly, her arms raised and pulled him toward her, yet her eyes remained closed. As they consumated, she placed a kiss upon him with a passion he had never known.

    “That was delicious love, perhaps thee might have one more desire for me this morning?”

    TO BE CONTINUED

    1. cosi van tutte

      I’ve been following this story and I like all of the other parts, but…I don’t know. Maybe I’m being a prude but Aileen didn’t sound like someone who would stick her tongue in a guy’s mouth. It just seems too coarse and somehow too beneath her to do that. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. Also, would she really want to make love to him again after doing it all night? The poor girl may be all passionate about him, but I think she’d want to take a break. Get some sleep.

      Just my fifty-five cents Absolutely no offense intended. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I hope you will accept my apology, cosi. This was a thoughtless and poor judgment on my part to respond to this prompt in this manner, I also want to aologze to anyone else who read,this post, Tim, Reatha any one else who stumbles this pieceof trash. I amyvery ashamed f myelf and wouldn’t blame Brain for eliminating any postI have made on the web site. I am sorry and I hope some of might understand a rally stupid idea in the first place. Kerry

          1. JM Somebody

            Kerry, I really think its the website. It’s doing the same thing to me and driving me crazy.

        1. cosi van tutte

          I’m sorry if I upset you, Kerry. I only meant that she seemed like the kind of character who would show love or make love in a different way. A more refined or a more gentle way, if that makes sense. Think of that as a writing challenge. 🙂

          I hope my prior comment doesn’t scare you off, because that wasn’t my intent at all. You are a very talented writer and it is always a pleasure to read your stories.

          On a side note: Next time you write a love scene remember that the woman is on the receiving end of the deal. She can’t just keep making love non-stop. Otherwise, things are going to get very uncomfortable for her. And, I don’t know, she’ll wind up with some bad irritation/infection. 🙁 Just something to consider.

          1. lionetravail

            I have the same reaction every time I hear singers croon about ‘going all night long’… I’m thinking chafey bits and feeling stupid from lack of sleep the next day.

            Put it in a mystical thing, I can suspend disbelief, but the classical real life scenario I am totally with Cosi on this 🙂

        2. JM Somebody

          Kerry, this is not stupid or trash, and I admire you stretching your boundaries like this. I also admire your courage. Please don’t get down on yourself for taking a risk. I responded below, but when I saw this I had to tell you that your wrote with great sensitivity and poetry and you should not be ashamed of it! It will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but so what? You wrote from your heart and your soul, and it shows. The courage that you showed may help other writers on this site reach a little deeper into their imaginations and take greater risks, so please don’t be upset!!! 🙁

        3. Observer Tim

          No need to apologize, Kerry, you just caught me off guard and in an area I’m not comfortable writing about. It was well presented and well done. I’d say you might be pushing the envelope for the site, but I haven’t seen anyone else get reprimanded for it, except by fellow readers. 🙂

    2. JM Somebody

      Ok, here’s my two cents on the controversy, for whatever it’s worth. I would tend to agree with Cosi for two reasons. One, because Aileen is a supernatural being, I would want such a scene to be more mystical and less graphic. Second, it feels a little weird because she has been a guardian to him his whole life. It feels like a professional boundary has been breached. I think you would need to show Aileen developing these feelings for him, or having harbored them for a long time. Otherwise it feels just a bit too casual for the story.

      If this were a longer work, I would suggest holding off on this scene, building the tension for a good, long time, and then making it something of a mystical event, with maybe a little less said and more implied. (Uh oh, did I just rewrite Twilight? Yecchhh…) Unless you are targeting the “Fifty Shades” market, in which case, pile it on. 😉 Aileen is, after all, a banshee, so things are bound to get wild.

      I am astounded at the depth of imagination you have tapped into for this whole series. You are really stretching yourself as a writer, to stunning effect.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, you spent a good deal of time, thought, and energy with this story, and I don’t want my comments to seem more than what they were. I’ve been incredibly busy and didn’t have time to write a lot, but just to agree with what the others were saying, I don’t think they were saying what you wrote was trash, just that some areas were a bit jarring, and actually stopped the flow of the story, at least for me. I think JM summed it all up very nicely.

    4. lionetravail

      “A sympathy of curves to her soft silkiness…”- now that is as poetic a description as I’ve just about ever read before. I can’t emphasize just how much I love that turn of phrase, Kerry!

      I, too, congratulate you for exploring the erotic here in this story, and think you did it justice. I don’t think you have anything to be concerned about; it’s nowhere near ‘explicit’, as far as I’m concerned, and handled in a lovely way: you should feel fantastic about how it turned out.

      JM did bring up some valuable feedback, however- I agree with her analysis in terms of how the love expressed here- emotional, physical, spiritual- while beautiful, is less ‘magical’ than the rest of the experience portends. Her suggestions are bang on, I think, though there are many ways to approach where you went with this. Still pushing through to the rest of the prompts, work permitting.

  20. Bilbo Baggins

    HIGH SCORE

    Ed woke up in a dark forest with malicious branches covering the sky and an acute need to go to the bathroom. A note with “beat me and I’ll send you home” in block text was strapped to his chest. He sat up and rubbed his head, or rather the knot that had enveloped his head. He had no clue what was going on, but the setting looked like the Rotten Forest.

    He stood up and noticed the iron sword at his feet. Of course, a weapon. But to defeat whom? Ed decided it didn’t matter at the moment. While relieving himself on the nearest tree, a box materialized to float above him.

    “Achievement completed: Pee on tree.”

    “Yes! That’s another ten points!”

    He readjusted his tunic. A giant branch grabbed him by the waist and lifted him off the ground.
    “Who awakens me?” the tree growled. Two green eyes opened in the thick bark.

    Some dialogue boxes appeared below. Ed thought of battling it but knew he wasn’t in exactly the right position to. And that sword was way too freakin’ heavy.

    “It is I, Sir Bottomsley,” Ed heard himself say.

    “Who awakens the Guardian of the Forest?”

    “Can you please let me go?”

    “Who dares awaken the mighty Ent?”

    “I have come to fight the Dark One,” his voice said.

    “Ah,” the Ent said. “The Dark One has been pillaging—“

    “Got it.”

    “In the town of McGreed you will find—“

    “Got it.”

    “A man by the name of—“

    “Got it.”

    The Ent lowered Ed to the ground, still looking on with a disapproving face.

    “Go, defeat him. And may the Force be with you, Luke.”

    Ed picked up his sword and shook wood splinters off his clothes.

    “My name’s Ed. Have fun out here until you rot and die.”

    He turned to walk away. A massive root wrapped around his foot.

    “Who dares insult the Ent?”

    Ten other roots burrowed out of the ground like tentacles. Ed raised the sword and started chopping. Once he was free he ran and ran until he collapsed against a wood fence.

    “Level Up!” a voice boomed, and cornets played vigorously. “Choose upgrade.”

    Ed hauled himself up, still panting. “Increase stamina.”

    At once he felt more energized. Now he knew what he had to do. But he remembered how hard it was to beat the Dark One last time. And that was with his hero, the Knight Awesome. If only he were here.

    There was a small town up ahead, with ten cottages lined up on the road. Ed approached a sign saying, “McGreed, population 120,” and the number changed to 121 as he passed.

    Once in the town, he headed for the blacksmith’s. Smoke was billowing out of it like a forest fire. Everywhere chickens were clucking and people were walking around with question marks above their heads. Ed entered the shop and started coughing.

    “What brings you here, weary traveler?” The blacksmith was a portly man with overalls and a moustache.

    “I require a better sword.” Ed laid his battered blade on the counter.

    A window popped up, displaying the ten swords in stock. He chose the most expensive one, a green cleaver shimmering with poison sparks called The Destructionator.

    “You cannot afford this item.”

    Ed clicked on it two more times, getting frustrated.

    “You cannot afford—You cannot afford this item.”

    He closed out the box and took back his old sword.

    “What brings you here, weary traveler?” the blacksmith said.

    “Just shut up.”

    Ed went out the door and into the street. He spotted a tavern and went that way. Maybe now he could get some mead without his mother finding out.

    Inside the bustling room, Ed looked around for anyone to get information from. There was the Quasimodo-looking hermit in the corner but he wasn’t going to go that far. He was considering joining a poker game until he was him across the room. It was the Knight Awesome—in the pixel.

    1. Observer Tim

      I think I’ve played this game, Bilbo. It reads like the adventure games of the late 90’s, which were halfway between the old “party-on-tiles” games and the newer “first-person-stabber” types. I love the dialogue boxes and the people with question marks over their heads. 🙂 🙂

      My favourite moment: “Achievement completed: Pee on tree.” 🙂 AH-HA-HA-HA! 🙂 One of my characters just got the ‘Indecent Exposure’ achievement in Elder Scrolls Online (for having a guard confiscate an entire set of stolen clothing).

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thanks, Tim. I always enjoy those obscure achievements that take hours to get with no real purpose. Here’s the second part. Not my best stuff but here it is anyways.

        HIGH SCORE- PART TWO

        Ed gasped. But what was he doing here? And something was definitely wrong. The once noble knight was looking into a full bowl. His rugged face was a mask of sadness.

        The tavern was full, dense smoke billowing across the tables. Halfway across the bartender noticed him.

        “What can I get for you?”

        Ed scanned the menu. He didn’t have much money, but he could afford a drink.

        “The Black Widow Special sounds alright.”

        As if on cue, the musicians and the entire tavern stopped. Townspeople stared at him. One spoon clattered onto a plate.

        “What’s wrong?”

        An old man at the poker table spoke up. “No one’s drank that and lasted five minutes.”

        “It’s your funeral,” another croaked.

        “Why is it even on the menu, then?”

        The bartender served it up. Ed took the metal cup and walked towards the knight’s table. Gradually they stopped staring and descended into low whispers.

        “Can I sit here?” he asked.

        Knight Awesome looked up with recognition. “Ed! What brings you here?”

        “Had to run from a malevolent tree. How about you?”

        “Just having lunch. Or trying to, at least. Want some?”

        Ed saw the dead frog floating in the soup. “Uh, no thanks.”

        “If you insist.”

        “I insist. And, the only reason I’m here is for your help.”

        “Help? Don’t make me laugh.”

        “Why? I thought you had no fear. You were the bravest of the brave!”

        Knight Awesome lifted his weary face. “I was. But the princess ran away with some reindeer herder named Kristoff last week. Never been the same since.” He grabbed a Kleenex and blew his nose.

        “The princess doesn’t matter. I’m stuck in the game.”

        “Stuck in the game? How did that happen?”

        Another box appeared above the table, slowly rotating.

        “Achievement completed: Piss off blacksmith.”

        “What was that?” the knight said.

        “Oh, nothing.” Ed looked behind him. “But I have no idea how I got here.”

        Knight Awesome sighed. “The way things look, you could be here forever.”

        “If we beat him once, we can beat him again.”

        “I did all the work. You just moved some joysticks and ate chips.”

        “We all lead different lives.”

        “Fair enough.” The knight stirred his soup. “Maybe your backpack has the answers.”

        “What backpack?” Ed suddenly felt weight on his shoulders. “Hey, where did that come from?”

        “You’ve had it the whole time. I activated it for you.”

        Ed slid it off. “Open inventory.” Inside was a compass, a knife and a map. He laid them on the table. “Well, these could sure help.”

        Knight Awesome looked at the map and his face paled. “You’re headed for Ma’Qwa Inlet?”

        “Yes, and you’re coming with me.”

        “I’m not ready—“

        “That’s an order!”

        “Achievement completed: Boss around your hero.”

        “Fine.” He picked up his sword and helmet. “Let’s go.”

        They weaved around the tables, people still staring at the drink in Ed’s hand.

        “I wouldn’t drink that if I were you,” Knight Awesome said when they were outside.

        Ed spilled it onto the ground. The liquid bubbled and made a hole two feet deep.
        “As I said.”

        The duo walked to the knight’s house at the edge of town. Ed peered into the dark forest and asked if he could have a better sword.

        “Here you go,” the knight said. Ed staggered under the weight. “That’s a kid-sized one.”

        “Thanks,” he grunted. “Let’s head off. No time to waste.”

        They started along the path.
        “Oh, and by the way, your fly’s down.”

        1. Nicki EagerReader

          A reindeer herder named Kristoff… hmm 😉 No, seriously, a very enjoyable tale, BB. I like the interaction between your MC and his gaming counterpart. The only thing I didn’t quite get is how Ed pissed off the blacksmith, but maybe I’m just a little daft today.

          Oh, and now I’ve got that earworm again. Let it got, let it go…

        2. lionetravail

          Love it, Bilbo! ‘Not your best’? Bah, humbug! This is so impish, light, and fun, it’s almost as awesome as Knight Awesome!

          And from the very first line of the first part: Ed woke up in a dark forest with malicious branches …

          This is really fun, great work!

  21. Observer Tim

    R.P.G.

    Wizards and Warriors is the hottest new Role-Playing Games out there and I just scored a copy with a username and password.

    User Name: lily666

    Password: xxx

    The password is ‘xxx’? What happened to 20-letter access codes? This protection is useless; not my problem, though. I watch the little rotating sword turn a few times while the game loads.

    Lily666 has four character slots, all in use. Screw that. I delete the bottom one and hit ‘Create New’. About three dozen choices later my character, Burak Blackblade, is ready. He’s a rough-edged, muscular, unshaven barbarian type with a great honkin’ two-handed sword. I hit the ‘start’ button and wait. Loading…

    The starting flash is blinding and deafening, jarring me to the bone and actually knocking me out of my chair. Whoa, I can’t tell whether this is potentially dangerous or just awesome!

    The white spots slowly fade from my vision and my eyes clear. W-T-F?!? My bedroom is gone; I’m lying on the ground; squishy mud is oozing into my butt-crack and the whole place smells of manure. A blue sky overhead plays host to fluffy white clouds and circling carrion birds. Standing over me is Burak Blackblade.

    He lifts his loincloth and the family jewels I’d carefully selected from the menu splash me with warm and pungent yellow liquid. His harsh laugh echoes in my ears. He reaches down and hoists a fully-grown pig onto his shoulder.

    “Thanks for the bacon, kid. Grow some muscles before you come at me again.”

    I try to stand up but nothing happens. As he fades in the distance something changes and I can finally move.

    A woman with a brown ponytail and a matching peasant dress walks into view and offers me a hand up.

    “Come on, kid. Welcome to Wizards and Warriors. Your player rank is dumbshit.”

    “What?”

    “You took the bait, pirate. We leaked some special copies of the game to Megatorrent and hid fake passwords where they could be found. Now you’re playtesting the Immersive version of the game.”

    “Immersive version?”

    “Yeah, it’s the next step after RPG’s. Your body’s been disintegrated for as long as you’re here, so you’re in-game for the duration. All you have to do to get back to reality is beat your nemesis… Burak Blackblade? Didn’t want anything too easy to say, did you?”

    “How are you doing this?”

    “Trade secret. Anyway, your backpack is right there, and your sword is in the mud. You’ll have to fish around a bit to find it. You’re Level 1, Burak’s level 50 Elite. Shouldn’t take more than a hundred hours to play up to his level, unless you get killed.”

    “What happens if I get killed?”

    “You reset to Level 1, your treasure vanishes, and you get to taste more of Burak’s urine. By the way, is your real self male or female?”

    “Male. Why?”

    “You should have picked a male user ID.”

    She slaps me on the ass – forcefully – and vanishes with a laugh.

    1. Reaper

      Nice. The morality lesson and the snipe at choosing female bits and names. Just perfect, though I might be biased due to a few too many years addicted to a couple of MMOs before I kicked the habit.

  22. Roan

    Another crash of thunder and Jed looks up from his computer and out the window. I really should get off, he thought, but he had just entered Wizards & Warriors. He knew it well, but occasionally liked to revisit. Too late, doesn’t matter, because lightening struck the TV antenna on the roof and it was “Game Over”, or was it? Jed fell off his chair, slammed onto the floor and blacked out.

    Gamers in North America, Europe and Japan bolted upright in their chairs. “What the fuck,” they yelled simultaneously, but of course, in their own languages. On the screen before them a human had suddenly appeared lying on the ground, in the second set of forests of “Elrond”, not far from “Castle IronSpire.”

    Jed slowly opens his eyes, and squints at the familiar face. No I must be dreaming, he thought. He closes his eyes, counts to three, then opens them wide.

    Kuros, the brave knight, leans forward, brushing his shoulder-length purple-black hair out of his face. It was not the same magician he had known before, who had so mysteriously arrived like this one, but definitely they must be related.

    Jed raises his head, leans on his elbow and sits up, “Kuros”, he whispers.

    “Yes. And you are?”

    Just then, large insects zoom down at them, their red pulsating stingers the size of javelins.

    “Quick,” Kuros yells. “Grab your sword.”

    Jed spots the sword on the ground next to him. He grabs it, scrambles to his feet, a little off balance as he was still wearing the backpack he had forgotten to take off when he got home. He swings the sword just in time. An insect falls, way too close for comfort. He’s used to controlling Kuros; not being in the thick of it. Still, he is savvy. He knows the game. He knows the ropes. No time to rest. The “undead” make their welcome, and together, he and Kuros defeat them. With no time for words, they quickly move to “Castle IronSpire.” Entering the underground tunnel, they make their way to the main chamber. In the dim light coming from the chamber, they rest before entering. Kuros plucks Jed’s shirt, “What is this?”

    Jed looks down and turns around the note pinned there, and reads it out loud. “Beat me and I will send you home.” Neither of them had to question who wrote it. It was written in blood. It was the evil wizard Malkil, who holds the princess prisoner. That was why they were there, to rescue her. That’s how the game went.

    Suddenly, Jed remembers his backpack. He grabs the shoulder strap and yanks it in front of him, unzips it, and pulls out his cell phone, and punches Zac’s number.
    “Yo.” Zac answers.

    Jed whispers, “Zac, listen, I’m stuck in … log into Wizards and Warriors, you’ll know where I am. Zac, help me defeat Malkil!

    Zac logs in and immediately goes into action, just in time, as Malkil casts a spell on Kuros and Jed. Zac counteracts it and keeps Malkil busy while Jed and Kuros make their way through the chamber into another chamber where the princess is being held. Kuros rushes in and grasps her hand.

    “You made it again,” she cries. “How much time do we have until it all starts over again?”

    Kuros turns to Jed. “Please take her with you. I love her, and I will die if need be so she can be free.”
    Jed punches in Zac’s #.” How are we doing?”

    “Just hold on. We, I mean all the gamers, have Malkil cornered. He’s done for. We’ll get you back. Don’t worry.”

    “Zac, the princess needs to come with me!”

    Jed comes to on the floor by his computer table. In the dim light, there is a presence; someone’s lying beside him.

    “Game Over.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is intense and action-packed, Roan. I love the way the reader doesn’t quite get a chance to take a breath until the story’s over. It’s a lot like some video games :). Great job!

      My red pencil notes the verb tenses are a bit shaky at the start and could use another run-through, but there’s nothing that disrupts the narrative.

    2. Reaper

      What Tim said is pretty spot on. The tense change in the beginning made sense to me, it was very stylistic but the one in the middle about why they were here threw me a bit and I’d suggest going back to past tense in the last line. Keep the real world past and the game present. It helps with that break neck pace you set in the game. Very lovely story.

      1. Roan

        Thank you Reaper. I see I really do need to give more attention to the tense changes and not let the storyline carry me away. Great suggestion for the ending.

    3. lionetravail

      Hey Roan, nice job with this. I like the present tense for it and the immediacy of the story. There’s a bunch of perspective shift in this which is a bit disorienting of a style for me, but I enjoyed it a lot 🙂

  23. rle

    Okay, so this is not a certified prompt response, just something that has been weighing on my mind recently that I thought I’d share.

    ————————————

    It was on this very week one year ago, that I posted my first prompt response(Howdy Partner). At the time I was timid and uncertain where I wanted to take this writing thing. Was it just another feeble attempt to rekindle the love I once knew, or was it the real deal this time?

    To find out for sure, I decided to embrace these prompts and make them a personal challenge. If I could answer fifty prompts in a year and still felt the desire as strongly as I did at the beginning, I’d do something about it.

    Now here I am fifty prompts later and facing a fork in the road. I’ve always felt that there were three kinds of things in life: things you do to live, things you live to do, and things you were born to do. I’ve never been known for profound philosophies, but I’ve always been kind of proud of this one. Over the past year I’ve discovered that writing may be one of those things I was born to do. I was never the best student in school. I always struggled to maintain a 3.0-3.5 GPA. There were a lot of kids who were far more intelligent than I was, but when it came to writing assignments, I always seemed to soar head and shoulders above the rest.

    I published my first magazine article at age fifteen. The editor asked for clarification on a couple of points and then added, Believe me, if you wrote this unassisted, you have a bright future ahead of you in writing.” In college I’d taken a Sociology course. The professor and I disagreed on EVERYTHING. Half of our final grade was based on a single term paper. I laid it all on the line. When she handed it back, mine was filled with little red notes in the margins, telling me how vehemently opposed she was to my position. I knew I had failed. I turned to the last page and one final note: “Although I disagree with almost everything you’ve written, your position is well stated, well researched, and the writing is extraordinary. Great job A+. My high school English teacher(who I’m still in contact with today) tells me yet that I was one of the top three or four writers to have ever passed through his class.

    I know it sounds like I’m trying to drum on my chest, but I’m only trying to make a point. The signals have been right in front of me all along like flashing neon signs. Have I simply ignored them? Been too blind to see them? Or did I just need to arrive at this juncture in my life to understand them? Whatever the reason, believe you me, I see them now.

    As some of you know, I’ve began work on my first novel. It still sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud, but the reality stares me in the face every time I flip open my lap top or trusty blue binder. I’m nearly a hundred pages in and having the time of my life.

    As I’ve delved into the heart of this project, I’ve come to realize that I may have to scale back on this forum a bit. I’ve completed my challenge and now feel it’s time to embrace the next one. But this is not goodbye. I don’t have any intention on leaving altogether. This is way too much fun to totally abandon.

    In closing I’d like to leave you with this. I know there are a number of you who are accomplished authors and for that you should be extremely proud. Someday, when I grow up, I want to be just like you guys. For those of you like me, who haven’t figured out just where you fit into the puzzle just yet, I urge you to forge ahead. I know it’s hard to justify the time spent scratching out these tales we feel compelled to tell, but look back and see if you’ve somehow missed the signs that pointed you here. You may not write to live and you may not live to write, but maybe, just maybe, you were born to.

    R.L. Emerson

    1. Observer Tim

      Thanks, RL, for the compliments and the personal essay. I came from being a college dropout whose English teacher had told him had no future in writing to where I am now, which people tell me is beyond that. Sometimes life is our biggist teacher. I write because I can’t conceive of not doing so; I’m just glad there are people who I can show and who can help me grow.

      My unsolicited advice is twofold: (1) get going on that novel and visit us when you can, or when your creative focus needs a break to re-energize; and (2) never grow up, at least not all the way.

      Best of luck, and make sure we know when you’re published. I would read your novel.

      1. rle

        Thanks Tim, you know it’s folks like you here on this forum that have given me the courage to give this a go. I can’t tell you how much I’ve grown as a writer over this last year and I owe much of that growth to many of you.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      Thank you RL, both for the sharing and for your advice. If you don’t mind, I’d like to print your post and glue it to the front of the black folder where I keep my scribblings. Have a productive time-off from the forum and I’m looking forward to the post announcing you’ve got your project cut and dried.
      VN

      1. rle

        Not only would I not mind, I would be flattered if you chose to glue my words to your notebook. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that they meant enough to you that you would want to do so

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I’m sorry, rle, I don’t want you to go anywhere. You know I give you my best wishes and hope you drop one of your charming stories on us. I wrote my first story at the age of seventy and now I’m wanting to write all the time, despite still working. I just ignore my age We want you to soar like an eagle and fly by and wave. Good luck and happy writing..

          1. rle

            I don’t actually plan on going anywhere per se. I’ve just reached a point where I need to shift my focus and concentrate on making this crazy dream of mine a reality. I’ll still make an appearance here on a semi regular basis. You guys are all great and I can’t imagine not coming around once in a while

    3. Reaper

      Definitely let us know when the novel is out there. I would say I see certain echoes of the fear I felt through your story. One of the biggest things that hold us back is the fear of success more than failure, because we put a lot of ourselves into the story, no matter how well we hide it. I mention that mostly because you mentioned the chest pounding. In some ways you are, and you know what? Good! You deserve it. Keep doing it. We all love and support you but there will be people in your path that say things or say nothing that tear at you. Keep pounding your chest and knowing you’re awesome because you are and you need to. Never grow up, I refuse to, and always remember it’s hard to justify this time only because the world tells us art is frivolous. It’s not, it defines life. When you know that it gets easier to keep going at it. Thank you for this essay, it is amazing and inspiring.

      1. rle

        Oh Reaper, where to start. I guess I should just say this. Thank you a million times over for your always insightful commentary. I only wish I could offer such meaningful critiques to my fellow writers week in and week out. Your words mean more than you know my friend and a lot of my newfound courage has been a result of your support. Now I just need to take that courage and do something with it. Again, thank you.

        1. Reaper

          rle you do me a kindness and I am happy for any helpful encouragement I have provided. I see great things in your future so I am happy for any small part I have in helping you to move towards it. You have the ability as you have encouraged me with your insights greatly, I just have too much free time and am unable to currently apply my encouraging people in a way that provides an income. So doing so hear keeps me from getting rusty and allows me to feel at least a little useful. Not something to envy I assure you. 🙂

    4. JM Somebody

      Well, RL, we will miss you and your charming, relatable tales around here, but I am thrilled for you that you are heeding the call to bigger and better things. Please let us know when and where we can read your novel, as I will definitely read it. And let me know if you figure out the secret to managing it all — the job, family, kids, parents, marriage, etc. I admire your courage and drive and wish you all the best. I’m sad to see you go, but can’t wait to see who you turn out to be. 🙂
      JM

      1. rle

        You guys are making this feel a lot more like goodbye than I intended. I’m still going to be around here quite often. It’s just time to take a backseat here while I concentrate on the novel (which might actually end up being a trilogy) and a couple of other projects I’m contemplating. If it weren’t for that pesky business of actually earning a living, I think I’d have it made. If I can figure out how to balance everything out and not loose my mind, I’ll let you know.

        JMC, I truly feel you have an awesome gift. As I said its difficult to justify the time spent writing when there are about a million other things we think we should be doing. Like me, you need to keep going even when the going gets tough. Keep at it and I know good things will come your way!

    5. lionetravail

      Congratulations on reaching one set of goals, RLE, and for immediately diving off the cliff after another. I, personally, have found that desire and sticktoitiveness count hugely in the process, but write, and write, and revise and so on and eventually you’ll produce a novel.

      If you don’t take it amiss, I’d like to offer some advice from someone about 2 years ahead of you on these decisions:
      1. absolutely cut back on things which are not time-essential in order to write and focus, but… don’t forget the other things in your life which are mission critical: family, exercise and personal health, writing for exercise. Yes, you may slow down your novel production, but every effort you put in makes you better and better.
      2. don’t avoid writing short stories and submitting to contests and magazines, etc; publications of any kind add to your credentials and believability when you’re querying for your novel
      3. get friends to help you read/revise/repeat. I can’t thank enough some of the people from my personal life and whom I’ve met through the site (JM, Kerry, Tim in particular) who’ve been willing to read and critique my pieces and help me revise them to better and stronger. The topical ‘writer’s group’ approach, where you learn your craft by reading and critiquing others, and having them critique you, is invaluable.

      Good luck, and all success, and hope we still see you around to enjoy your writing and progress!

      1. rle

        Thank you David. I think sometimes encouragement from like minded people goes a long way when it comes to writing. I don’t know where I’d be now if I hadn’t stumbled across this site a year ago. I’d probably still just be working and dreaming about writing instead of actually doing it. What a blessing this place has been. As I’ve said to the others, I’ll still be hanging around here at least part time. I just won’t be as hellbent on answering the promt each week. Again, thank you for your kind words and who knows, maybe when I get the first four or five chapters polished up, I’ll ask some of you guys for your thoughts.

    6. Tea_and_a_book

      Thank you so so much for writing this, it’s nice to know beforehand that everywhere in life is full of discouraging moments. I personally, as a high schooler, do run into bits and pieces of life far too often that make me feel like my writing will never truly be noticed. But, I write. Because, to express themselves, some people use poetry, some people use art, and some people use music. But the only way I know, is my stories. I would like to print this out and keep it with my writing notebook, or tacked up in my room. May I?

      1. rle

        You know, you are the second person to ask to print this out and I am both honored and humbled that my simple words would somehow inspire you. I’m glad that many young folks are still interested in writing. I have a teenage daughter of my own who is a very talented writer. Keep it up and watch yourself improve. Heed the advice as I have from the folks on this site. Their critiques are very helpful.

  24. Kerry Charlton

    AILEEN OF TARA, AN IRISH BANSHEE

    PART III [PART 1 & 2 BELOW]

    As Aileen lay there, close to death, Brian stood to protect her. The evil hovered over the floor, looking at her severed leg. A snake slid off her torso and wrapped itself around the leg and brought it back to her. She took hold and reattached it and hovered over the two, preparing to attack.

    A rumble at Brian’s feet, split the dirt of hell before him. There arose a silver sword, double edged, six feet long in front of him. Still barely conscious, Aileen gathered her strength,

    “The counselors look upon thee with favor Brian. Tis a sign of valor, they bring their sword to you, that thee might avenge me. Take it in the name of God. He will grant thee the power to defeat her.”

    The evil made a cautious retreat but spoke in a horrible voice,

    “”The sword of the counselors will no help you, for you are merely mortal. I am losing patience with you. My claws of death will rip every drop of blood from your soul.”

    The evil approached Brian cautiously. He noticed she showed a level of fear she had not shone before. Two hands gripped the sword handle and strength flew to his side. She circled him just out of range looking for an advantage. Brian feigned a lapse of attention to draw her forward. She rushed him in a fury as he turned quickly to circle her, raising the sword and he turned again with the flashing of silver headed toward her neck.

    The banshee, startled by the swords speed, screeched as it sliced thriough the snakes wrapped around her shoulders and continued and cut the evil’s head off in one swing. To Brian’s horror, the severed head spoke,

    “”Do you think cutting my head from my body will save you?”

    The headless horror reached down, and retrieved her severed head, again approaching Brian. He stepped out of her way and a surge of power, not even he knew, strengthened his arms. He lifted the coundelors sword high, and charged the banshee, bringing the edge of death down upon her ugly neck with such power, the sword cut through the length of her torso, spliting it into two mangled chunks.

    Remaining snakes met their death as the silver sliced them to pieces. The sword continued it’s duty chopping pieces of the banshee into hunks no larger than a loaf of bread. And not a drop of blood appeared. Brian laid the silver down and rushed to Aileen’s side. She whispered again,

    “Gather me in thou strong arms. You have not seen the last of her, for she will rise again and pursue us.”

    “Will you be alright Aileen? I don’t want to lose you, my love.”

    “Did thee mention love?”

    “I do love you, my Irish lass.”

    “Then gather me close. Point the counselor’s sword toward the sky away from the depths of hell. The sword will take us away from this place. Will thee have faith?”

    “With you at me side, of course.”

    He raised the silver, pointed toward the heavens and they rose from the soil of hell, heading toward a blood red sky. Darkness surrouned the two in a rick crimsom color. Aileen had not the strength to light their way and they wandered through the darkness.

    “Look toward the faint glow on the horizon,” she said. “Point the sword thy way and hold me with thy strength. I haven’t the power to encircle thee with my hair.”

    Rush of the winds returned as they gathered speed. Brian locked one arm around her waist, the other held the silver sword pointed toward the horizon. Aileen placed her arms around Brian’s neck, her face to his. Her body returned to her beauty as before, her hair grew to incredable lengths binding their bodies again.

    Climbing higher and speedier, the wind ripped their clothes to shreds. Visions of Hades had disappeared and the curvature of the earth appeared as their speed vaulted again. Winds became icy cold but the thickness of Aileen’s hair, kept the two from freezing. Quickly, the ferocious winds dropped to a whisper and a darkness Brian had never witnessed, surrounded them.

    “”We’re passing through to the other side of existence, Brian. Soon we will be free from all cares and tribulations of your world. I will hold thee to my breast until we desent to Tara.”

    TO BE CONTINUED

    1. Observer Tim

      This continues wonderful, Kerry. Epic quests are a staple of the fantasy computer game genre, so even without experiencing them you’re on the right track here. As a reader I’m confident that Brian and Aileen are going to make it, because that’s how the epic quest works. But I’m drawn to continue reading by the style and imagery. 🙂

      My red pencil is chomping at the bit, but I’m keeping it in check because the story is so good.

    2. JM Somebody

      Kerry, you really got your Irish out for this one! The fantastical feel is very much like some of the old Irish legends. In particular, the second half, from “He raised the silver…” on felt like a dream. It was one of those passages that makes you forget for a moment where you are and that you are reading. I feel like you tapped into something very primal an tribal here. Heading up the page to read the rest now.

    3. lionetravail

      Nice work, Kerry! The soaring elements of the story are echoing your muse with this- keep on soaring!

      I’m enjoying the ride right along with you, and your sense of inspiration and drive to write this shines through in every word.

  25. Penney

    The call of the white lion Ezermon protects Flint with every ounce of blood in his being. They were in love but it was conditional. It was only when she lay, chest heaving for breath, lungs stinging with the pain as each becoming less and less that he was able to appear.

    “Flint my dear, what have you done?” His white paws strode to her beautiful body. Every step he took, blood raised higher through his fur.

    She was limp, every portion of her body in agony. Ezermon took his paw and scraped her mated burgundy locks of hair from her face. He cringed at the deep gapping slash from chin to temple that marred her one of kind features.

    “Flint, I can only do this one last time. You will defeat the Blaster Mage once and for all.” He knelt to meet face to face, almost muzzle to nose and blew at her with all his might.

    All things will be hid in the mist, but this is much more then hiding a minor wound. She was dying. She had given her all. She had started this quest with a backpack and her sword. Now, her quiver of arrows scrolls of knowledge, and book of spells both good and evil were spent. Even her sword and dagger dripped with elf magic for making untreatable wounds.

    The Mage was certainly close to his own end. She had abandoned all she knew, all she loved to defeat him, so she could one day go home. She had become a thief living only with the strength of the moon goddess, Selene, and broken bargains with the evils of the underworld. She was a wanted woman. She had flown with the faeries and drank with the dwarfs. She slept with her ghost and demons. Now, she lay twitching in agony, mouthing pleas only Ezermon new he would ignore.

    He blew at her and the mist flowed from his inner being. He blanketed Flint with mist and power watching; concentrating on the life force that came from deep within. The wind rose around them and she flinched and convulsed as an invisible force lifted her from the blood she laid in. Her back arched as the wind and breath lifted her into the mist and a glowing ribbon of light wrapped around her body. Clothing ripped to shreds, body thrashed with wicked wounds of war, her back arched as she rose higher and higher.

    Ezermon cringed with disgust as he blew harder and harder allowing the ribbon to extend around his darling elfin warrior. He glanced at her heaving breast to see if the powers of Selene had begun to work. Her arms and legs still limp, he watched the ribbons wrap around hands where her missing digits once were. The Mage had made sure she would not throw another arrow.

    At that moment one of the faeries whisked to his ear. “My Lord?”

    He roared, teeth exposed, “Do not disturb my concentration!”

    “But my Lord he is waking!” The faerie glanced at the ribbon and knew his cost.

    “Kill him!” He roared and blew to the goddess his final gift.

    Flint’s body flew with the strength of a glowing pillar of light and magic high into the clouds and he watched for her return. There was a blast of fireworks and the ribbons of life lowered her to him. Transformed, powers spent and lost for her, he reached out and took her healed glistening body into his arms. She was weak, but healed. She ran fingers through his white hair and kissed him.

    “You ass. Your powers, they are lost. Now you will always be a man, only a man.”

    “Only for you.” He opened his cloak and wrapped her legs around him. She took all of him into her and moaned.

    The faerie fluttered past his ear, and he roared, “What is it you pest?”

    “It is done My Lord, he is dead,” the faerie looked on for a moment and smiled dismissing itself from them.

    Flint woke, still feeling the aftershocks from the lightening blast. The Wizard’s and Warrior’s game was still frozen on the screen. She rubbed her aching head. It was a game, it was just a game, but it felt so real. She was still a little short of breath. Sitting up on the floor, back against the sofa she felt her chest where the lightening had apparently struck.
    “What are the chances,” she asked herself? A piece of paper fell into her hand. She unraveled it. It read, ‘Until next time. Mage’

    1. Reaper

      Well, that was not what I was expecting. Very good, especially considering it crosses into a genre I don’t normally read. Your tasteful delve into the erotic was well done and the story was very well written. I was actually a bit shocked when it went there, which was a sign of how good the writing was and how compelling the story. You have a lot of background expressed in very few words here.

      1. Penney

        I am finding out that there are some vivid video games out there nowadays. When they say “adult content” they really mean it. So I’m thinking you weren’t too impressed because there was a touch of baufing.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nice take, Penney. While I find it a little odd to see a video game scenario described in language befitting a romance novel, the effect really works. My mind is immediately drawn to Aeris’s death scene in Final Fantasy VII. 🙂 🙂

      Two things threw me. In the third paragraph, “limp” and “agony” normally don’t go together: if limp, she should be tired, worn out or expended; in agony she would be tensed or contorted. Also, Ezermon’s “disgust” while helping his love seems a bit out of place.

      Also, my red pencil notes a few tense shifts and word substitions (e.g. “new” for “knew”) to be dealt with.

      1. Penney

        Thank you Tim. The red pencil is my friend not my enemy. I have no doubt there is a tense issue, sometimes I still frag that up. Contradictions abound, the disgust while helping, I think would be either disgust at what the wizard has done to her face while still wanting to help her. You can be grossed out by a horrible wound but get past it to fix it. As for agony and limp, well, I dont know. Suggestions are welcome. Is it possible to be unable to voluntarily move due to injuries but feel agony or such agonizing pain or be beaten to a pulp conscious enough to feel the excruciating pain of it all? That is Flint. The typos; sorry, I should had done better not to gone an doed dat.

    3. lionetravail

      This is a fine story, Penney, and I agree with earlier comments about the handling of the erotic in a well-done way. The parts for me which I found challenging were the opening which didn’t leave me sure that the story was from Flint’s POV, and then confused me further when it seemed to flip to mostly from the perspective of Ezermon, but the main character (and sole human, it seems) is Flint. And, then the story ends with her awakening, and her perspective. The bounce between them is probably better handled as ‘scenes’ so as not to confuse your reader… but here, also, if Ezermon wasn’t a ‘real’ person, then telling the story from his perspective seems, at the least, unusual.

      I like the story, I love Flint’s erotic day(er, game-)dream- we all-too-seldomly see female characters embracing their sexuality, so for me this was a plus- and the fact that, for her, it was more about the romance and all than about defeating the Wizard… after all, a faerie was able to push it over the edge.

      I feel like this could be shined up and it would make a wonderful story, particularly in a “Female Voice” fiction category.

  26. Trevor

    Word Count: 1,034

    Saving Princess Kaitlin

    When I woke up, my surroundings had an animated, stylized feeling to them. The colors were too bright and the sky looked flat and motionless. It was like I’d walked into a painting. But as soon as I stood up and got a good look at my surroundings, I realized where I was. It was in Wizards & Warriors!

    Wizards & Warriors was an online game I had been playing for the past month. In the game, you play a warrior who’s travelling to the capital city to overthrow the tyrannical leader, Roderick McHale, and rescue the princess he’s holding hostage in his castle. But you have to fight your way to the city, slaughtering McHale’s warriors and competing in wizards’ side quests to fund the journey. Gradually, the game grew on me to the point where I was playing it every night.

    It was late that Saturday night and I was up slaying warriors. It was raining outside, and rain was pattering loudly on the roof. I was navigating my avatar across a desolate valley when I noticed something lying on the ground. It stuck out because it was a bright shade of red. When I bent over and picked it up, I saw it was a piece of paper with a message written on it in red ink.

    “I have the one you hold nearest your heart.”

    Before I had time to comprehend this mysterious message, there was a loud crack, a flash of light, and everything went black. Now, there I was, in the video game I had been obsessing over for a month. I looked around, hoping to find other people who might have been sucked into the game via lightning storm, but I had no such luck. But I did find a sword and small knapsack on the ground behind me. Attached to the backpack was another note.

    “I have your best friend. Defeat me and I’ll send you home. I dare you to face me, commoner.”

    I dropped the note in shock. I knew exactly who the note was referring to: My best friend, Kaitlin. She had been my best friend since college and we lived in the same apartment complex. She was even the one who introduced me to Wizards & Warriors. Roderick McHale had somehow managed to pull Kaitlin into the game and was now holding her captive in his castle, challenging me to come rescue her. It was a challenge I had no choice but to accept.

    Taking the sword in hand and slinging the bag over my shoulder, I started on my quest. It was a long, hard, bloody journey. The sun was scorching, my food supply was gone in the first hour, and I couldn’t go a full minute without a warrior trying to kill me. By the time I reached McHale’s castle, I was starved and battered.

    After another gory battle outside the castle, I ran down the entrance hall and burst through the large brass doors. Behind those doors was McHale’s throne room. A red carpet led up to the huge golden throne, where McHale sat wearing his flowing blue cape. He smirked when he saw me enter.

    “I didn’t think you’d have the guts to come.” McHale said as he stood up and walked over to me. His tall stature and sneering expression made me feel like an ant.

    “Yeah, I’m here. Where’s Kaitlin?” I asked, trying not to give away my fear. McHale turned back around, his flowing black hair swishing over my head as he did. “Come!” He shouted toward his throne in a deafening bellow. Timidly, Kaitlin stepped out from the shadow of McHale’s throne.

    I gasped when I saw what had become of my friend. Rusted chains were clamped around her wrists and she had a look of pure dread on her face. What shocked me the most was the large black bruise on her forehead. It made me want to punch the pompous tyrant in the jaw, but I wisely restrained myself.

    “I’m here. Let her go.” I demanded, trying to match McHale’s booming voice.

    “I will. But first, you have to kill me.” McHale started to walk back to his throne. “And I’m a much harder opponent than my pathetic warriors.”

    All of a sudden, McHale pulled out a large sword and started toward me. I quickly evaded his attack and slashed my sword at him. Unfortunately, I only succeeded in chopping off a chunk of his hair. Enraged, the king kicked me in the stomach, sending me toppling to the ground. Then, he tried to thrust his sword through my throat, but I held my weapon up and used it to shield his attack.

    “You’re just as pathetic as the others.” McHale hissed at me. But at that moment, I saw a way out of this deadly predicament. Using all my strength, I kicked McHale directly in the crotch. McHale cried out in agony as he collapsed to the ground. Seizing the distraction, I grabbed my sword and brought it down on McHale.

    And sliced his head off. His disembodied skull fell to the ground and blood began to stain the white marble floor.

    I turned back to Kaitlin and saw she was in tears. I ran over to her and wrapped my arms around the trembling girl. “It’s OK, Kaitlin. It’s over. We’re safe now.” Then, all of a sudden, there was another flash of light and we were both in my apartment.

    “Thanks for saving me, Dylan. You were so brave.” Kaitlin said, her blue eyes sparkling with gratitude.

    “Thanks. I went through a lot to get there. But it was worth it to save my best friend.”

    Kaitlin smiled at me. Then, a loud yawn escaped from her mouth. “I’m so exhausted. Can I spend the night here?”

    “Of course. The sofa in the living room pulls out into a bed.” I explained. But as Kaitlin started to leave, she turned back to me.

    “Let’s agree on one thing, Dylan.”

    “What’s that?”

    “Let’s vow NEVER to play Wizards & Warriors ever again.”

    “Damn right we won’t.” And to this day, neither one of us have even looked at that game.

    1. Penney

      This is good, very detailed. Questioning blood on white marble although there is red carpet leading to the thrown. Or the mentioning of rain on roof and rain outside in same sentence but generally it is enjoyable and definitely describes a video game.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very nice, Trevor. I love the direct feel of the tale and the way it played through. It reads like a morality tale (on wasting too much time with computer games), and does a very good job of it. I could see this being expanded to a total of about 4000 words or so by adding more description of the MC’s suffering just to drive the point home. 🙂
      ___

      In the paragraph introducing Kaitlin, you don’t need to call her Dylan’s best friend twice. The second time you could say the two had known each other since college and the best friend thing would be assumed. You might also expand on the relationship, indicating what they’d been through together (be it exams, drinking binges, or whatever) or explaining why there wasn’t a romantic context (is it one-sided, frustrated by fate, or something they’d never been interested in).

      In a fantasy setting, Roderick McHale seems a little too mundane a name. To fit the trope, maybe look for ways to misspell it without mashing the pronunciation, e.g. Rodrik M’Kale, Rod’rick Mac Hayle, or something like that. That seems to be how game designers do it. [For example: Ma’iq the Liar, a recurring character in the Elder Scrolls games].

      When describing the combat, go through and carve adjectives and adverbs; the ones that stay should be carefully chosen to carry as much information and emotion as possible. Your goal is to make the sentences shorter, which causes the reader to parse them faster and create a sense of urgency. For example:

      All of a sudden, McHale pulled out a large sword and started toward me. I quickly evaded his attack and slashed my sword at him.

      could be

      McHale pulled out an enormous sword and charged me. I dodged his attack and slashed at him.

      The expression “You were so brave.” seems out of place from the sort of girl who would play adventure games. Maybe she could just hug him or something.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      I think the sentence, It was like I’d walked into a painting, helped me better understand this world, because I know almost nothing of gaming. However, I think I’m getting an education from the stories and comments.

    4. lionetravail

      Your second two paragraphs are in a style I find less attractive: they are narrative which is not as exciting as the rest of your story to me. I’d lose them both, and “tell” what you want to from them inside the active part of your story. You use them to explain the setting, and why your MC is there, but that levelof explained detail is actually unnecessary to your story, slowing it down imho.

      ie: When I woke up, my surroundings had an animated, stylized feeling to them. The colors were too bright and the sky looked flat and motionless. It was like I’d walked into a painting. But as soon as I stood up and got a good look at my surroundings, I realized where I was. It was in Wizards & Warriors!

      “Holy crap!” I said as I looked around. It was all there, the virtual scenery, just like it always looked online, only it was close enough to practically taste it! The red note which said ‘blah blah’ was there, only it was right HERE in my hand!

      The main idea is to keep the pacing on your story- I’ve said it before, and will say it again, I think the explanation (aka exposition) takes away from the immediacy of what is otherwise a very entertaining and imaginative story 🙂

  27. Kerry Charlton

    AILEEN OFTARA, AN IRISH BANSHEE PART !!
    PART ONE BELOW

    Placing his hand on her shoulder, Brian felt the ground vanish under him , a feeling of weightless energy. The sky had turned a dark crimsom color, rush of the the wind blew his skin taut across his face and the sound , the moaning, begging and cries from the dead in hell filled his ears to the point of insaneness. Through the turmoil, Aileen stayed by him, gripping his waist with a show of masive strength.

    Her eyes turned to glowing embers of coal,lighting the pathway for them. Aileen’s hair grew to a incredible length, wrapping itself like silk ropes binding their bodies together against force of the wind. Screeching, moaning sounds of the dead, grew louder. Brian felt his ears would burst from the noise Looking below, his eyes riveted upon great fields of fire and smoke. From intensity of the flames, bodies gestured and pleaded for Aileen to rescue them from Satan in the underworld. Moaning and wailing of souls below increased. Brian tried to cover his ears but his arms were entwined by strands of Aileen’s locks, gripping him to her body.

    Suddenly, Aileen stopped and Brian felt the grounds of hell rushing toward them. His mind recoiled at the sight standing before them, blocking their way.

    What stood there, a ghost like form of the devil appeared. Her emaciated body, ugly beyond belief in it’s nakedness, played host to large snakes spitting fire from their heads like so many cobra’s. Snakes originated from the top of her head, writhing, slithering completely around her skeletal form. Her face, if you could call it one, had little skin left covering her skull. Long, rotted teeth remained in both of her jaws. In place of a nose, emptiness spitted out fire as a torch from Hades.

    Instead of eyes, hooded crows sat, their beaks the color of death. Her long, bony hands ended in claws six inches long and glowed in their razor sharness.

    “I must do battle with her,” Aileen said. “she is the evil one, Saten doesn’t use names. She above all, is the most powerful banshee in existance. She is too strong for you to help. Pray to God to give me the strength.”

    Aileen rose in the air, turning herself into an enormous white tiger pacing around the evil one, who hovered in mid air. Howling sounds of fury chilled Brian’s flesh to the bone as she approaced the white tiger. A lunge forward from the huge beast, carried teeth and jaws ready to decimate the evil one, but met with empty space. The evil banshee circled the tiger in high speed.

    The villainy one, settled on the back of the tiger, serpents crawled off on the animal and sunk their jaws with deadly venom in it’s flesh. Shaking them off, the tiger turned toward the evil one and staggered a moment, then lunged forward and clamped her jaw into the banshee’s thigh.The leg and most of the thigh was ripped from the evil one body. A scream of pain from the villian emitted as she rose quickly and landed again on the tiger.

    Snakes continued to sink their fangs into the tigers back, until the brave animal fell to the ground in a death drop. The maiden of deadly evil hovered again and let out a scream of victory over the tiger.

    “You’re next,” she screeched, looking Brian’s way.

    The tiger evolved back into the form of Aileen and she whispered to Brian,

    “I’m sorry Brian, I can not save you from her.”

    TO BE CONTINUED

    1. Reaper

      Waiting for more. If I were to give one suggestion it would be to choose a term like terror or nightmare for the evil Banshee. You have a lot of good action so the evil one slows it down because it is a mouthful and you are contrasting it to tiger for the good one which is sharp and crisp. I definitely want to see where this keeps going.

    2. JM Somebody

      What a thoroughly imaginative take on the prompt. I just read both parts and was riveted throughout. Your writing was fluid and beautiful, and the story entrancing. I am curious — is there a “good” banshee in the Irish legend, or was that strictly from the mind of Kerry? Either way, it made for a terrific read. Now write some more because I need to know what happens!

    3. Observer Tim

      Wow, great mythical take here, Kerry. I’m not sure quite how it links to the prompt (unless this somehow turns out to be a video game, which I doubt), but it’s riveting reading nonetheless. You have me hooked; don’t tarry too long before Part 3! 🙂 🙂

    4. lionetravail

      I’m enjoying the mythology, and your foray into combat action! One suggestion: when your mythical immortals do battle, and an avatar is ‘slain’, it’s a mite confusing to have them fall to the ground in death. Similarly, when the avatar of the evil one takes damage (I’d say: “The leg, including most of the thigh”, or “The leg, nearly to the hip joint”), there should be some effect on the immortal being which Brian can ‘appreciate’ for it all to be continuous:

      As just a suggestion for smoothing those points and for painting the picture of how watching is affecting your MC, I (and realize I’m offering only my perspective) might say:

      As the banshees circled each other, Brian watched with horrid fascination, rooting for Aileen. Her tiger form leaped and spun, snapping for the other even as she was forced to dodge the claws of the villain. Screeches and growls were thrown as challenges, threatening to burst his ears with their ferocity…

      (Sent you more via email- love to see you go further, and will keep working through the posts to see if you’ve got part 3)

  28. Colonel Plops

    SIR AWESOME VS. A LOCAL INKEEPER

    “Hello SIR AWESOME. I am a local inn keeper, would you like a drink?”

    “Actually, I came to ask if you knew the way out of this game, but a drink couldn’t hurt.”

    “One drink, coming up!”

    “Umm, dude, where’s my drink? If you’re looking for the counter it’s that way, right now you’re just walking into a wall.”

    “One drink coming up!”

    “Maybe I’ll have a drink later.”

    “One drink coming up!”

    “No I said no drink! No drink! How do I beat this game?”

    “Are you looking for work?”

    “Yeah sure. Is that how I win?”

    “Deep in the woods there is the kingdom of AWESOME KINGDOM…”

    “Man, I really wish I’d given things better names.”

    “… AWESOME KINGDOM is under attack by an evil wizard. Can you help them SIR AWESOME?”

    “Probably not…”

    “Good! Then you should be off! Here is what you should need!”

    “Whoa, these swords are a lot lighter when you aren’t actually holding them, how do I equip the armor?”

    “You should probably be off…”

    “I get that just how do I equip this armor?”

    “Hey!”

    “Oh, uh, sorry dude, I didn’t mean to hit you…”

    “That’s it!”

    “Wait no! I said I didn’t mean it!”

    “One drink coming up!”

    “If you’re just going to walk toward that wall and yell at me I’ll go find a different local innkeeper.”

    “I inherited this inn from my father, a great warrior from AWESOME KINGDOM…”

    “No, I don’t listen to your backstory when I play the game, what makes you think I’d want to listen to it when I’m in the game…”

    “Oh, hello, back so soon?”

    “I didn’t go anywhere…”

    “One drink coming up!”

    “Okay, I’m leaving. See ya.”

    “Goodbye SIR AWESOME, may you journey be good.”

    “Did you just say may you journey be good? Just, never mind. I’m leaving.”

    “One drink coming up!”

    1. JM Somebody

      I’m not a gamer, but this was funny. I think it needed a few more dialogue tags though because I had to backtrack a couple of times to follow the conversation.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      Kudos, Colonel Plops- I really cherish well written, all-dialog stories, and this one had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat all the way through. The conversation felt real (or as real as virtual reality get), and I actually felt myself getting exasperated with the MC- isn’t it odd that you can kill wolves and bash trees until they shed leaes, but the stupid innkeepers just keep on walking into their bars not matter how often you club them? Anyway, great job.

    3. Observer Tim

      L.O.L., Colonel. I’ve had these conversations with in-game characters so many times! The scariest part is, since 1981 when I discovered computer games, things have not improved. You captured the inanity of computer dialogue perfectly. 🙂 🙂

    4. Colonel Plops

      I wrote a part 4 to my Sarcasm Sam story and it’s on my blog (my name is linked to it) if anyone who read the other parts (or wants to read the other parts) wants to check it out, or if you guys want I can post it on here (I’d love to get feedback as I move along with this, I didn’t expect it to become as big as it has), just tell me if you do! Thanks for all of your comments on this story too, sorry about the dialogue being confusing, I was trying for an all dialogue story and I guess didn’t really make the mark. It was only supposed to be only two people, the “sir awesome” character and the innkeeper.

  29. ReathaThomasOakley

    The Girl’s Mama

    “Myrtis?”

    “Mama? Mama?”

    The woman couldn’t move, but she could hear.

    Myrtis, that’s my name, she thought. Somebody’s callin’ me. Nobody calls me Mama, nobody but my Girl, my Girl’s callin’ me. Where is they, where am I at? Someplace dark, Myrtis thought, and so close my knees is pushing up to my chin. She tried to think, to remember what happened before coming to, all mashed up, with folks calling her name.

    The tourist homes, Myrtis thought, I been cleaning the tourist homes like always on Thursdays, the Girl’s tending Mama, so’s I can get back to what I been hired for. The storm’d been brewing since ‘fore light, but I hadda get to work, new Northern tourists comin’ in, they’s depending on me. The vacuum cleaner’s been actin’ up, but I cain’t stop, iffin the ‘lectricity goes out, I cain’t get my work done. I gotta move them rabbit ears off the top that new television set, so’s I can dust. I’ll jest move ‘em when I vacuum over that way…

    That’s when it happened, she thought. Must of been a lightenin’ strike right when I grabbed them rabbit ears, holdin’ the vacuum cleaner, ’cause it all went black. Now I’m someplace and the Girl’s callin’ and I cain’t answer.

    “Miz Tuggle, what we gonna do?” Her Girl talkin’, soundin’ like she’s ’bout to cry. “Is it the red haints? Did they get my mama?”

    Oh, Girl, the woman thought, I’m sorry you see the haints. Me and my sister and little brother we ain’t never seen ’em, but you and my mama, you see ’em all the time. Only since you been back from Washington DC, you been seein’ the red ones what scare you so bad. I shoulda listened to Mama, shoulda kept you home.

    “Miz Tuggle,” the girl was real close now, “Miz Tuggle, why you ‘spose them rabbit ears is way ‘cross the room? Why ain’t they on top this here television set?” The Girl’s voice sounded like it was right in Myrtis’ ear. “Miz Tuggle, this television ain’t right. It’s like I can see right into…Oh, Miz Tuggle, I see my mama’s pocketbook in there. She don’t go no place but she takes her pocketbook. I see a knife like what you give me. There’s paper with some writin’, I can pick out the words, but they don’t make no sense. Why anybody gonna beat my mama? Miz Tuggle, that there looks like my mama’s blouse what she wore to work today. Miz Tuggle,” the Girl yelled, “my mama’s inside this here television!”

    That’s it, Myrtis thought. That’s where I am.

    “Miz Tuggle, what…”

    “Girl, hush up now. This here’s yore test. You got the gift, the real gift. Yore mama’s dependin’ on you.”

    “But…”

    “No buts. Time’s come to use all yore gift, and to use that knife I give you, that’s yore sword.”

    Inside the television set Myrtis thought, The Girl’s time’s come, Lord help her.

    (Note to self, not part of the 500 words: Why on earth did I set these stories in 1960!)

    1. jhowe

      Oh what great characters you have going here. 1960 was a bit early for video games but you pulled it off. So is she getting out of the TV or what? Very enjoyable.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you. I didn’t read many of the past prompts before joining this writing community, and didn’t anticipate so many using contemporary situations. But, I enjoy challenges, so will continue as best I can.

    2. JM Somebody

      So you could work rabbit ears into the story? 🙂

      Love the continuation, and you’re still in great voice. I’m looking forward to seeing what this girl can do with her gifts!

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you for commenting. I think 1960 is late for rabbit ears, but couldn’t think of any other way to get her inside, she would never have turned the TV on while working.

    3. Observer Tim

      Another good one, Reatha! You did a great job showing the girl as a fish out of water in the fancy tourist places. I love the story, the characterization, and where things seem to be going. I can get the sense of more going on behind the scenes which I’m anxious to see. The slow reveal of the backstory is wonderful. 🙂 🙂

    4. lionetravail

      Reatha, “Girl” works across so many prompts in your capable hands. Nicely done, with the perspective shifts; very inventive and wonderful. I’m loving the stories, and the flavor of it all, and I’m flat-out wowed by your creativity with these. Nice, nice work, and so well written.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you. As I’ve written before, I’ve needed this challenge to force me to write, at least weekly. I’ve also enjoyed reading how others are responding to the prompts.

  30. Kerry Charlton

    AILEEN OF TARA, AN IRISH BANSHEE

    On a quiet summer evening, Brian O’Reilly, chair of history at Harvard, sat in his office, staring at his computer screen. Harvard’s super computer searched fifteenth century Ireland, warrier clans of the Butlers and the Fitzgeralds as tales of historic battles flashed on the screen before him.

    “Fascinating,’ he thought. Over his shoulder, out the fourth story window, a fierce summer storm arose and lightening flashed the heavens. ‘To late to make it home,’ he pondered, ‘I’ll ride it out here.’

    A bolt of electricity shattered Brian’s skylight, hitting him directly. Fire alarms wailed their warning but Brian lay dead across his desk as sirens split the storm, racing to the university, too late to save his life.

    Mysteriou green eyes shone through a mist of unconsciouness as Brian struggled to gain sight, He lay upon a grassy knoll, too weak to move. He settled hs gaze upon her as his head rested in her lap, one hand she had placed on his forehead, the other on his chest.

    Dressed in a silk, shimmering white gown clinging to her frame, her body was a rare memory of beauty. Her skin, the color of porcelalin, reflected her Irish hair which fell beneath her waist. Her lips, a lucious shade of a spring rose, parted slightly when Brian closed his hand over her’s and a slight hue of color, rose to her cheeks.

    “Do angels blush?” Brian said.

    “I imagine they do but I’m not one of them, my name is Aileen.”

    “Your face is a lovely shade of pink.”

    “It’s the Irish in me, I’m from County Kerry.”

    “My ancesters are from that part of Ireland.”

    “That I know laddie, that’s why I’m here.”

    “I thought I died when the lightning struck.”

    “Alas, saving you, I arrived too late.”

    “I’m alive, how did I get on top of this hill?”

    “One thing at a time, Brian. You did not survive the storm, I rescued you and brought you here. An evil Banshee sought your soul and pulled you toward the Black Coach, leading you to a fate worse than death.”

    “That’s a most didturbing story, you’re teasing aren’t you?”

    Aye Brian, I am not. Did your mother not teach you there were good as well as evil banshees? We have looked after your clan for over six hundred years.

    Numbed by her response, Brian looked puzzled at her. A true Irish lass, she was young enough to be his daughter but her eyes held a wisdom of the ages. “Perhaps she’s right’, he thought.

    She smiled at his awe,

    “You are real Aileen, I feel the warmth of your hand and the care in your eyes. Can banshees exist in our world? And why do I feel the soft grass and the gentle breeze?”

    “I chose to enter a himan form, perhaps this will convince you.

    She pressed her hands to his face and her lips upon his. Brian felt her body, her mind and the passion of her kiss.

    “Come with me, we must not linger, Aileen . “The evil banshee is searching for you. They are relentless to capture your soul.”

    “And just where am I Aileen?”

    “You are in a temporary state of physical being, hovering between good and evil.”

    He sensed an awareness of danger.

    “Hold my hand,” she said, “be not afraid of the wind and the cries of the dead pleading for help. We must pass through the underworld to reach the other side of existence.”

    TO BE CONTINUED

      1. Penney

        The premise for the story is excellent. The environment and characters once again leave room for a sizable tail, that as I scrolled to get to this, I see there is more. Every sense a few glitches with computers and this website I have noticed a few issues with writing that seem are less the writer and more possibly the computers. You have a few words that are missing letters. Also at some point you seem to lose the Irish accent and then it comes back and there may be a mess up or Aileen speaking to Aileen when actually speaking to Brian. The story itself though, I am ready to read more

    1. lionetravail

      I’m looking for the next part- what a wonderful and rich swerve into Irish fantasy! Love the totally different feel, and the mythology of ‘angels and devils’ refreshed in good and evil banshees.

      I will read on- couple constructive thoughts… I think you’ve brought up a couple of options of what’s happened to Brian, but if his physical form is dead I’m left unsure of ‘where’ he is and interacting with Aileen, and where the ‘other side of existence is’. I hope you answer some of this in continuations, because I’m enjoying the mythology flavor. 🙂

  31. qwert

    I lazily wiped the beads of sweat on my face. Were video games always this hot? I sat myself down on a nearby rock. Well, at least, that was what I was attempting to do but instead my body cut through it and I landed on the ground with pixels which shook, at the unexpected impact.

    Virtual. I had to remind myself. Everything here is virtual. Everything except for me.

    In the few years that have passed, many people have asked me about my addiction towards the video game “Wizards and Warriors” because of course, they don’t know that I was the one who created it. People would ask me what was so interesting about it. And I would reply, with but a pinch of modesty in my voice, that there was only one word that could truly sum up the awesomeness of that game. “Heaven.”

    But that was before I was actually playing in it. Before I knew that Ms. Scarlet’s signature move the “Dope Dancer” was more lethal than she made it seem. Before I had the reason to regret ever creating the game.

    It was all so fast. I was finally about to crush that warrior who had been refusing to get killed for weeks now, when a flash of light, which looked most oddly like a strike of lightning in the middle of a sunny afternoon, blacked out the T.V screen and along with it, me.

    When I woke up, I realized that I was stuck in my own video game with nothing but a makeshift sword, a backpack, and a note taped to my shoulder that said: Beat me and I’ll send you home.

    You’d probably be thinking Pshaw! This guy probably knows every nook of corner of this virtual world. Take us out of here and don’t build up false suspense!

    And you’d probably be right. Because I did create this. But my dear, dear, friend, to my complete and vast knowledge I knew not of any exit out of here except for my computer back at home where I could reprogram this whole thing. So I’m stuck here now; in a virtual world where heaters are turned on during the summer, rocks don’t like to be sat on, and food doesn’t fall from the sky. Around me, the trees swayed but there was no wind. What a world I have created! I thought.

    I stood up and found myself face to face with Muffles. The bird who if you kill, gets you a bonus. I reasoned that if I killed it, I would get some food for the bird was carefully designed to get what you needed the most. And boy, was I hungry!

    I raised my sword and prepared to bring it down when it screeched in such a high pitched voice that my sword broke into half. I didn’t know if I was more the surprised by the fact that the bird was not virtual or by the shrillness of its voice or rather the sheer cheapness of the quality of the sword.

    The bird raised its maroon coated wings and with its pitch growing higher with each word it spoke, “Okay, Okay! We’ll hide it no more. You were send here to settle your score. To friends who traveled nigh 2000 miles to get away from the past for a little while. Until, of course you came along, as if to prove they were still wrong in their hearts and in their soul by trapping them into this virtual world!”

    “Well, look here Ms. Muffles-“

    I was stopped short by a squeaky ahem form the bird. Who would have thought birds could actually clear their throats! “My dear sir, it is mister.”

    I rolled my eyes. “Well then, look here Mr. Muffles, I know absolutely nothing about what you’re talking about.”

    The bird laughed and this time I was not surprised. “Of course you do not, for you were not the one that left them here to rot. You but created this stupid place that I am burdened to live in everyday.”
    And what I would not have done right then, to kill that tiny beast. But I controlled my anger for the sole reason that this bird could obviously be tricked into saying what I was doing inside a video game.

    And in the kindest voice I could manage, I asked, “Would you care to elaborate, Mr.Muffles?”

    1. Reaper

      You have a few odd wording things like breaking into half instead of in. They are a little harder to notice because the bird’s speech pattern is intentionally different and that works really well for what it is. I loved the imagery and the commentary on the lack of wind and how the world works. That statement of it not being real even while it is being observed and treated as if it is. This speaks to addiction and escapism. I’m curios about the friends trying to escape after being abandoned. Very intriguing.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a very nice feel you’ve created, qwert. I can really get the sense of the main character feeling trapped and a bit confused inside the game. The not-quite-serious tone works very well for you. 🙂

    3. lionetravail

      Nice job, Qwert- what a zany world to find oneself in! I have to admit a little confusion, mostly, I think, because you have such a rich story here that you need more room to do it justice. Like, about the MC creating the space, but not trapping others in it, and how exactly did you mean ‘trapping them into this virtual world’, and how Muffles knows he’s in such a world.

      I have to admit, I’m game to know more, so I think it’s a good tale which would benefit from a longer go at it than trying to keep it short/close to prompt lengths.

      Fun!

  32. jhowe

    The bewildered man took another tentative step up the winding stone staircase and hunched against the howling wind. The large wooden door stood between him and God only knew what. He looked back at the darkened landscape of bent trees and barren terrain. He heard screeching in the distance and quickly pulled back on the scarred iron knocker and let it fall. A moment later the door swung inward and an old man with bad teeth and a patchy grey beard stood wearing a cloak of course brown wool.

    “Who are you?” the old man said.

    “I’m DeWayne.”

    “DeWayne who?”

    “DeWayne Minor.”

    “You’re supposed to be asleep.”

    “I was up late, playing a game when something happened, lightning I think.”

    “You’re not supposed to play at night.”

    “I couldn’t sleep.”

    “Well then I suppose there’s nothing we can do about it now.” The old man motioned him in, shut the door, threw the latch and walked to a small table and sat.

    “Where am I?” said DeWayne.

    “In the game, where else?”

    “Wizards and Warriors?”

    “Is that what they call it?” the old man said.

    “Yes.”

    “Then I suppose that makes me the wizard.”

    “How do I get back?” The screeching from outside was growing louder.

    “If I were you, I’d pull that sword from your satchel and prepare yourself.”

    DeWayne shrugged off his backpack and there it was, a shining steel sword in a scabbard tied to the pack. He drew the sword and tested its sharp edge. “If you’re the wizard, can’t you do something?”

    “Only in the daytime. You’re not supposed to play at night.” The screeching now was almost unbearable.

    “Is that the warrior?” DeWayne said backing from the door.

    “That would be his mount. He rides a dragon you know.”

    “I do know that.” DeWayne moved closer to the wizard. “How did I get here and how do I get back home?”

    “Oh for crying out loud,” the wizard said plucking a note from DeWayne’s tee shirt. “Read this. You have to let him win.”

    He read the note. “But the only way he can win is to kill me.”

    “So be it.” The wizard walked to the door and threw open the latch. “You’ve been beating the breeches off him for a year now. Don’t you think it’s time for him to win one?”

    DeWayne threw the latch closed. “No, I don’t.”

    “Just let him win and we can all go back to bed.”

    “But I’ll be dead.”

    “Only in the game; you’ll be fine.”

    “You say that. You don’t have to get cut down by the warrior.”

    “He slaughters me one day and then next time I slaughter him. It all works out.”

    DeWayne made up his mind. He opened the door and ran out onto the staircase. The warrior was dismounting and drawing his sword. “Wait,” Dewayne said. “Before you kill me, I want to know one thing.”

    “What is that peasant?” the warrior said adjusting his tunic.

    DeWayne thrust forward and buried his sword into the warrior’s chest. “How many lives do you have left?”

    A clap of thunder startled DeWayne and he picked his head up from the desk. The computer screen came to life and the wizard walked out onto the staircase, raised his arm and flipped the bird.

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Nice one, jhowe! I enjoyed the wizard’s attitude and how you played with a gaming character’s everyday routine of getting killed and coming back to life. I was rooting for your MC not to get himself slaughtered, so I’m glad he found a different way out; plus, I’m pleared to have learned a new expression: I hadn’t come across “flip the bird” before. So thanks for the read and for expanding my vocabulary 😉 .

        1. jhowe

          The key to flipping the bird effectively is to not do it too often. That way, when you do flip it, it has much more meaning. Plus, you don’t want to be labeled as a frivolous bird flipper.

          1. lionetravail

            Not to mention that one could say that every Angry Bird tossed was flipped at some one 🙂

            (Kids today! Yeesh. Might as well forget about birthdays and just get someone from National Geographic to radiocarbon date me every so often.)

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Good job telling the story so I understood what was happening without understanding the game. I like that you used dialogue so effectively to move the action. Very well done.

    3. Reaper

      the first part of this was intense and brought me into a dark medieval world with crackling fires and quiet voices. The end was very fast paced and a much more light hearted feel. It blended together well and the wizard flipping the bird was funny. I really liked the you’re not supposed to play at night mantra.

    4. Observer Tim

      I love the interplay between DeWayne and the wizard especially. I’ve been involved in this type of argument, though not with compter-game characters. You didn’t just break the Fourth Wall here, you ground it to rubble! 🙂 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Better than nice jhowe, it’s great. I loved the whole story and the last line in particular. You really are a master at dialogue, it flows perfectly.

    5. lionetravail

      This was wonderful Jhowe- smooth, fun, and halfway philosophical. I’d love to see a series of continuations on this, where the Warrior keeps trying trick after trick, trap after trap, each more outlandish… and the stakes go up each time, of course.

      Loved how easy it was to read and enjoy 🙂

  33. Observer Tim

    This is the story of how GUTC was formed. It’s set several months before the snow-shoveling story.

    ADVENTURE GAME ADVENTURE

    It’s dark all around me, but I can still hear the rumble of the thunder and the ongoing patter of rain striking the window. The last thing I remember was a bright flash of light; I hope I’m not blind.

    “Becky?” It’s Sonya’s voice. “Where are you?”

    “Right here! I can’t see!”

    “It sounds like you’re coming through the computer speakers.”

    “Maybe I am. What’s on the screen?”

    “Press any key to continue.”

    “Do it.”

    “Okay. Did anything change?”

    “You’re in a clearing at the foot of a hill. Atop the hill sits a small but imposing keep. You hear wild animals howling in the distance. Lightning crackles overhead. There is a note pinned to your chest.”

    “What?”

    “That’s what’s written here. I still can’t see anything except words.”

    “What does the note say?”

    “I don’t know, I can’t see it!”

    “Try reading it.”

    “READ the NOTE? What the… some of the words are in capital letters… wait, more words are showing up. It says ‘Beat me and I’ll send you home.’ What the heck is this?”

    “It’s a text adventure, Becky. You do stuff with simple verb-noun commands and get your answers in writing. My brother wrote it for his Advanced Algorithms class at college. I don’t know how you got in there, maybe it was the lightning.”

    “Okay, what do I do?”

    “Try saying ‘inventory.’”

    “INVENTORY …Okay, I have a backpack and a sword. What now?”

    “Start exploring.”

    “EXPLORE …it doesn’t understand that. LOOK AROUND …it doesn’t see any AROUND here. GO up the HILL …that did it.”

    “You still there, Sonya? I finally got something. I’m at the top of the hill by a small keep. There is a graveyard to the south with shambling figures in it. To the north is the small-but-imposing keep. There is a holly simbol here.”

    “You mean holy symbol?”

    “No, it’s spelled ‘h-o-l-l-y s-i-m-b-o-l.’”

    “Oh-kay, pick it up. Um, say ‘take,’ not pick up.”

    “TAKE HOLLY …Okay, I have it. What now?”

    “Try going north or south. You should be able to just tell it the direction. But watch out for those shambling figures; I don’t know how combat works. I’m going to call Tom and see if he can walk me through beating the game.”

    “Thanks. NORTH …yeah, that worked. I’m standing in front of a small-but-imposing keep. There is a moat and a cat and a apple tree here.”

    Twenty minutes hours later…

    “Sonya, I just fell through a hole into the floor; I’m in a dank pit with several rat skeletons and a dead Frenchman. I’ve tried all the directions: NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, WEST, UP, DOWN. Is there something I’m missing?”

    “It’s another puzzle. Tom said you’d always get a clue, but it’s usually a bad pun. It’s probably the dead guy.”

    “Hmmm. Why is he French? What do the French call a pit? An oubliette! That means ‘forget.’ Bad puns, eh? REMEMBER …That did it! I’m out! Remind me to beat your brother with something when I get out of here.”

    Two hours later…

    “CROSS BRIDGE …Okay, I’m… yikes! The Wizzard’s here! How do I beat him? STAB WIZARD … there’s no WIZARD here. STAB WIZZARD …he turns my sword into a thorny rose. PRICK WIZZARD …he opens his robe and …I’m not reading that part out loud! How do I beat him?”

    “Remember the zombie? You have to beat the wizzard, right? Try the simplest command.”

    “BEAT WIZZARD …Yuck, that’s gross! What kind of dirty-minded creep wrote this?”

    “My brother Tom. Did it… oof! You’re out! Yaaay!”

    “What an ordeal! Solving the puzzles was kind of fun, though. I think I’d like to try this when I’m not stuck inside it.”

    “Yeah, I guess it was kind of fun. Uh, Becky, where’s your shirt?”

    “I left it in there. There’s no way I was keeping it after what that Wizzard did on it.”

    “Beck, why does this keep happening to us?”

    “I don’t know. Maybe we should form a club to investigate it.”

    “What’ll we call it?”

    “I don’t know; something gutsy I think.”

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Hilarious, Tim, especially the scene with the wizard- it’s the sort of humor that abounds in Pratchett’s writing (though obviously the rat skeletons were a nod in the direction of the Death of Rats :D).
      Good job!

      1. Observer Tim

        I hadn’t thought of that. Actually, the Pratchett thing was the word “WIZZARD”. Had there been time for a description, he would have looked like Rincewind.

        And I totally missed out on having a character talk in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Sigh.

        1. Nicki EagerReader

          Hah, I was so enthralled with the rat skeletons, I completely missed that- plus, my orthography really isn’t the best, the spelling seems quite legitimate 😉 Chin up- THERE WILL BE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES.

    2. jhowe

      Having the second person involved and using mostly dialog to tell the story was well done. The concept of one person in the game and one on the outside was perfect. Nicely done.

      1. Observer Tim

        One thing I recall about the old “Infocom” and “Scott Adams Adventure” games is that, as soon as you started playing, anyone who walked by would immediately start kibitzing, reading over your shoulder, or providing suggestions of commands to give. I decided to use that in a positive way here.

        I miss text adventures. They were one of the few types of computer game I could play reasonably well.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Your stories are just so much fun. I enjoy the adventures, the characters, their dialogue, and how they interact from story to story. Great writing.

    4. JM Somebody

      Ok, the mom in me says if you are going YA with this (and I think you should), you may have to tone down the pervy wizard bit. Also, I’d like to borrow your red pencil for the spelling of “wizzard.” At first I thought it was intentional (eww) but then I see it spelled correctly in some places, so I’m not sure.

      That aside, this was fun, clever and yes, gutsy. Just one question: How did the MC know the dead guy was French? Was it the beret, striped shirt and neck scarf? 😉

      1. Observer Tim

        Good thought on the tone. I went into pun mode and got carried away. In a version released to the general world I would change that. Of course, in a version released to the real world there wouldn’t be a 500-word limit so I could poke a little more fun at the whole text-adventure genre.

        Note: “Wizzard” is my Pratchett tribute. His character Rincewind (a major recurring character in the Discworld stories) had a bright red wizardly hat that had the word “WIZZARD” spelled out in sequins on it. Rincewind’s primary skill was not spellcasting (or spelling) but running away, a feat he was particularly good at.

        Other grammatical errors (e.g. “a apple tree”) are also typical of the era when these things were popular. I was trying to think of a way to fit “All your base are belong to us” in, but that was more of a video-game thing.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            This is the funniest story I’ve read in ages. Where do you come up with this stuff?
            Are you drinking funny orange juice for breakfast. I’ve got to read it again. I got amost half of it the first time. One more read should do it.

          2. Observer Tim

            When my parents bought a Vic-20 in 1981, I went out and paid my hard-earned $15 for a copy of Adventureland, an early text adventure game. The thing would accept two-word commands (verb-noun) and only read the first three letters of each word. The English was one step above awful and the puzzles were sometimes inscrutable, but it entertained me for hours.

            So maybe it was the orange juice.

        1. JM Somebody

          Ah ha! I should have known because your red pencil is pretty sharp and you do not usually have spelling or grammar issues. Also, I think I meant to say Middle Grade, not YA, but even YA is usually pretty sparing with the adult humor. You raise an interesting point about how writing for prompts is different than writing for the real world. Makes me want to branch out and try some real world writing!

        2. Nicki EagerReader

          I don’t think this needs censoring- though I have been out of school a full five years now, I doubt much has changed about school yard humor and 6th graders’ fascination with dirty jokes. We had quite a repertoire, and compared to them Tim’s writing is positively tasteful 😉

          1. Observer Tim

            The issue is not the YA or middle-grade audience, but the gatekeepers who wish to protect them from the perils of growing up. The idea is to shield kids from reality to “protect” them so they’ll retain the innocence we project on them.

            You can probably tell my opinion on this from that comment. However, sometimes there’s no fighting city hall. 😉

      2. Observer Tim

        I just noticed that I missed answering one question. The game text said:

        Thudd!! You have fallen through a hole in the floor. You are in a dank pit with several rat skeletons and a dead Frenchman.

        That’s how Becky knew he was French. His nationality was one of the “subtle” clues on how to get out of the oubliette. Text adventures were full of this sort of crap.

    5. lionetravail

      Tim, one word only for this: Brilliant. I positively love the pervy wizzard and the send up of the text-based adventure. If you haven’t yet found “Ready Player One” to read, you simply must: it’s all about a search in a humongous virtual reality for ‘Easter eggs’, but you have to be savvy in 1980’s pop culture (computer games included) to solve the puzzle and win controlling stake in the company that owns the bloody Virtual Reality.

      This puts me right back into a dozen different text games, each with their own teasing puzzles to solve them. Great fun- one of your best, I think. (I also don’t think the pervy wizzard was too overtly pervy… but JM might have a point if you’re looking to market to a YA or teen fiction.)

  34. Reaper

    Enter the Something New and Original

    Pellets of hail pounded the glass like angry fists of tiny, forgotten gods. Clouds turned the night so dark it took on a smell; Old Spice, Rohypnol, and the sweat of Clive Barker’s fever dreams. The oppressive atmosphere slipped inside like an unwanted visitor into a celebrity’s home, Cleetus powered on his console.

    Lightning ripped vibrant wounds in the sky. Cleetus thought of his mother admonishing him to turn off the power when storms grew electric. He almost did. Then the start screen of Wizards and Warriors brightened his home and life. He clutched the controller. Soon blood wizard would save the princess. Mom’s ghostly memory could suck it.

    Cleetus pressed start. The screen faded to the dim world of Magicstan. Mother’s ghost didn’t take kindly to being ignored. At the moment of ecstasy between worlds the obnoxious woman tossed another lightning bolt from heaven (like she was there), striking the house.

    Cleetus shat himself. The electricity flowing over the controller and into his hands was to blame. The sudden jolt also caused him to pass out.

    Cleetus awoke in a world of lines, Disneyfied versions of powder electric blue and toxic neon green. Futuristic motorcycles zoomed past. Cleetus held some sort of light based sword. A hard-shelled backpack covered his spine. In his other hand was a note.

    -Find me and I’ll send you home.

    “Really?”

    “What?” The air responded, in the voice of a nineteen-eighties Mac.

    “This is your test?”

    “Why not?”

    “One, it’s weak sauce. Two, don’t you think it’s a bit derivative of Tron?”

    Cleetus awoke standing in a field, a long-sword firmly gripped in one hand. A pack covered his back. In the other hand a note.

    -Beat me and I’ll send you home.

    “Come on! Did you play too much D&D or are you just another Game of Thrones hipster?”

    Cleetus came to with a straightrazor, a Hello Kitty fanny pack, and a note he didn’t read. Flesh wounds, patent leather and spikes surrounded him.

    “Because I thought of Clive Barker when I looked out my window, right?”

    Cleetus sat bolt upright with a chair supporting his back. He held a Jolt Cola in one hand and nothing in the other. An ancient computer sat on the desk in front of him. Words began to type themselves, echoed by that electronic voice.

    -Would you like to play a…

    “Oh hell no! I thought the shit up ‘til now was derivative. This is outright plagiarism if you ask me!”

    Cleetus opened his eyes on a brave new world. His sword hand stood empty. Nothing adorned his back. Looking from horizon to horizon he saw only the muted brown of cheap cardboard. He was inside his game, literally in the box. The space, while claustrophobic, seemed insurmountable. The note in his off hand was the final touch.

    -I tried to be nice. Good luck getting out of this one, dick!

    “Ummmm… I was just kidding?”

    Cleetus stepped into the lack of response.

    “Should’ve listened to mom.”

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Nice. I loved the structure- it was like holiday slides clicking past on a wall, with a dissatisfied Cleetus (what a name) in everyone of them.
      One point of “criticism”: you put the speech of the bodiless voice in inverted commas in the first scene; in “-Would you like to play a…” you switch to a hyphen. Otherwise well done!

      P.S.: The first sentence won me over- great image!

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Nicki. Your description is amazing. Thank you for the comment on the first line. I chose the hyphen for that line because all the writing was hyphened and since that was both I chose to relate it to the notes rather than the speech but I can see where that could cause a hiccup as it was both.

    2. jhowe

      Your imagination was in double overtime on this one. I liked the repetitive sequences of Cleetus’ ventures. I too liked the first sentence, and the first three paragraphs were well done and set the scene nicely.

      1. Reaper

        Thanks jhowe. It was getting some exercise. I was worried that repetition would get overdone but was trying to make each one until the last get a little more mundane and rushed through like he started out taking stock then just started dismissing the things as soon as they were noticed. Have been trying to work on style elements the last couple of weeks, more than anything else.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      This was just great, and since I know who Clive Barker is, I felt a little less lost in this world. Plus, boys should always listen to their mothers!

    4. JM Somebody

      Hmmm… it may be because I am not a gamer and a lot of the references were lost on me, but I got a little confused as to who was messing with him. At first I thought it was his mother (you should never tell the ghost of your dead mother to suck it), but now I just think it was the crappy old gaming system? I’m afraid I am demonstrating my ignorance here.

      The rapid fire scene changes were effective, as were your vivid descriptions. You mixed up the details well. I liked the juxtaposition of the Hello Kitty fanny pack with a straight razor, which is so weird but perfect. And like everyone, I loved the first sentence.

      1. Reaper

        The references are all to movies or TV series but at least some of them aren’t things I would expect to be your usual style. I used Tron, Game of Thrones, Hellraiser, and War Games specifically but was trying to keep them vague. Most of the confusion likely came from the focus on the style elements over the story in this one. I was leaving it open to interpretation as to whether it was his mother, the system and game, or just all in his annoying judgmental head. I don’t think it is a demonstration of ignorance. The writing wasn’t too focused on expressing that unless the reader knew the stories being referenced and a lot of what was there got lost when I trimmed this down to fit. So that one is on me.

        Thank you. That was supposed to be weird because Clive Barker is a strange cat and puts things together that fit like oreos and ketchup. Thank you for the compliments.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I loved the last line, cemented the story together. I’m afraid I’m wandering around lost this week. Would it be shameful to admit I never played a video game? Well, if it is then I won’t admit it. I did however play a lot of tennis until I reached sixty or so. Does that count for anything? I always find your stories breathless, Reaper. You’re writing is in a different dimension from mine. Nevermind, I love it even if I don’t understand all of it. I’m goin’ back and read it all over.

          1. Reaper

            Kerry, with the insights into your life you have shared I don’t think there is any shame in it. Not in what you have not done and the much longer and more impressive list of what you have. Thank you for the kind words, they have me floating.

        2. JM Somebody

          Yeah, still ignorant. 🙂 I haven’t seen any of those series. (Horrors! I’m culturally deprived when it comes to this genre.) But I see now where you were going with this, and as always, the writing was superb.

          1. Reaper

            I think the only one I would call anyone deprived for not seeing is war games. That movie was amazing for its time and actually had a wonderful message. Thank you again.

    5. lionetravail

      Heya Reaper- this was awesome! I loved the feel of everything, including the rapid click-click-click of the alternative ‘game worlds’ open to hard-to-impress-Cleetus.

      I’d like to comment on more than the first line: the first paragraph looked and felt like you were stretching yourself literarily, and the comment about the smells definitely had a William-Gibson-esque quality of ‘oooh, nice!’. It seemed like you had a ton of fun carefully crafting that first paragraph, and it was like old home week for me- loved it.

      1. Reaper

        thanks lionetravail. I did work a lot on that one, when I originally wrote it it was very, things were this. I put some time into making it imersive and it was a lot of fun to work on. Thank you for noticing and commenting on that.

  35. Nicki EagerReader

    Virtually Reality

    The world around me is digital. Though processors and graphic cards allow for ever better approximations of our rendition of reality, the computing power of artificial circuits is still no match for the organic network of our brains.
    Dimensionality is an issue. The landscape lacks depth. There is no distance between the objects, just perspective and vectors. The people I meet are substantial only at first glance. Strip away the surface, ablate layer by layer. No vessels net the tissue where you peel off the skin, no nerves tingle with excited pain. Nothing but chromatic information on a spacial scaffold.
    Spontaneity is another give-away. The creatures of this world have a very limited repertory of actions. They never execute a movement without prompt or trigger, and their lips line up words that others put into their mouth.
    I know this isn’t real. Less so than ever. Normally the game manifests itself visually on a screen, auditive via speakers. But this time everything I perceive is entirely fictional, a scenario from the repositories of my memory, booted by a brain malfunctioning with fever. Occasionally I surface into the dark of the hospital room, which isn’t a smooth darkness at all but one textured with flashing dials and intermittent lightening. The images of the senseless game don’t fade entirely but my frantic faculties rest with relief on the shapeless black that penetrates the garish geometry of the game world.
    Only for a few moments, though. Then I yield again to the suction of my subconscious, am flung into a maze of metaphors.
    The computer game. Mindless people doing mindless things. Shedding red color, screaming without pain, swinging shams of weapons. Hurling bolts and thunder, bringing preordained terror and calculated confusion. The reasons used to be so clear, the motives palpable. Now the game defies logic.
    But not as badly as my brain. My brain, calculating that a circle is square and triangluar at once. My brain, tying the timeline into a knot with five ends. My brain, finding no fault as effect precedes cause. My brain, shattering realities and wedging the wrong pieces together.
    I push through the milling crowd of avatars. My subconscious has pasted faces onto the matrices. I recognize them. Facial features of family and friends, of acquaintances and celebrities. But I don’t know them. Their movements are automated. Their expressions preprogrammed. Steered by an internal script of finite numbers. Characters on stage and TV have an actor underneath. But these figures are hollow. I am hollow. It is what we are. Coordinates in space and time. Thoughtless. Mindless. Soulless.
    Nothing make sense. Everything is sensible. It must be the Trojan inside me, with the Latin name that flaps on the tongue. It is disrupting my software. My brain knows how to deal with an enemy. That’s why it put a sword in my hand, not one cast from pixels but one welded from neuronal activity.
    But this bug is not virtual. It is melting my hardware. A mental edge won’t slay it. Savage thoughts not maim it. But my brain doesn’t understand. It never grasped the difference between virtual and physical. It’s all stores in the same place. The only reality it knows is its own.
    Another subroutine shuts down. Thoughts spin out of control. My temperature rises. Realities fuse.
    Life is a game. And this one I’m losing.

    1. Reaper

      Don’t edit in paragraphs. I normally don’t say that but damn! This is some modern, matrix-like, Kafkaesque stuff right here. The morality and message and metaphor and all of it. Just, wow. No, just, WOW!!!

    2. Observer Tim

      This is mindbending, Nicki. The structure helps the sense of confusion and leaves me with the sense that it’s taking place inside a computer that’s crashing. Really powerful writing in a darkly poetic way. 🙂

      One thing threw me: “Savage thoughts not maim it.” Because of the line break after ‘not’ I had to go back a couple of times and see if I hadn’t accidentally skipped a line. A verb would help there, or tying it to the preceding sentence.

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Thank you, Tim! I’m really glad you find it “darkly poetic”- that’s very high praise in my books. 🙂
        I’ll definitely edit the part you mentioned and probably some more- once I’ve read what I actually wrote there yesterday…

    3. JM Somebody

      At first I read this as an actual human being having a feverish mental meltdown while succumbing to a real-world virus, until you told me that “my brain doesn’t understand. It never grasped the difference between virtual and physical.” But it’s very cool how so much of it can be read two ways. For example: “Occasionally I surface into the dark of the hospital room, which isn’t a smooth darkness at all but one textured with flashing dials and intermittent lightening.”

      Also cool was how you gave the computer a voice that was both human and Spock-like in its analytical precision. This was some cerebral and thought-provoking writing. Very impressive!

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Thanks, JM! It actually did come to my mind as a human being with a “feverish mental meltdown” (great image!) 😉 little biographical there, though the fever was just a really fever, not meningitis, and the game in question was Sims. But I really like your interpretation, too!

    4. lionetravail

      I very much like the stream of consciousness feel to it- gives it serious immediacy, and the sense of a direct brain-computer interface. I see where you could clean up, but the short, staccato sentences have the feel of thoughts.

      If you wanted to go more cyberpunkish with it, you need more obscure, almost poetic metaphors in it, but it’s certainly conjures some William Gibson style echoes for me.

      (Neuromancer is an amazing book- don’t know if you’re familiar with Gibson, but writing like that you should be :). A Gibson-ism for your last coupla lines, just by way of example): “Another subroutine shuts down, leaving neurons firing into emptiness like a frightened soldier all alone in a foxhole. Thoughts spin out of control. My termperature rises,another circuit melts and realities fuse….)

      Nice take on this.

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Thanks for your feedback, lionetravail, and thanks also for believing I can still give it a trim and a polish (because I really think it coud do with a makeover).

        I really haven’t heard of William Gibson yet, but I’ll certainly see to it now that either Neuromancer or Pattern Recognition find their way onto my bedside table- and I absolutely adore your “neurons firing into emptiness like frightened soldiers all alone in a foxhole”. Brilliant!

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Thanks, Tim, for being the first to post. I came to the website to do so but wasn’t sure how to broach the subject. Damn. First Nemoy, now Pratchett, before that Williams…

      Well, they continue in other worlds. Thanks especially to you, Sir Terry (wherever you are now), for paving the path that leads into the Discworld. Not a day passes when I don’t hit this special highway and take a recreational stroll through the Ramtops. Pratchett wasn’t just a writer but a thinker, too. If we all could love humanity as he did (does) with all its quirks and flaws and lovliness then the world would indeed be the place we know in our hearts it could be.

      Live long and prosper all of you wherever you are.

    2. Cceynowa

      I had not heard! Thank you for sharing. This news saddens my heart. I have many of Sir Pratchett’s books, and will be most likely rereading a number of them in the coming weeks. 🙁

    3. JM Somebody

      Just read a bit about him, and I am ashamed to admit I’ve never had the pleasure of reading a Disc World novel. But I am very sorry to hear of the loss of someone who inspired you so much.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I consider this a marvelous essay on our present society. It couldn’t have been expressed better than you have. I grew up in a world laced wirh reality and am living long enough to the fastest revolution of society the world has ever wirnessed. Is it good? I doubt so but that’s a essay Reaper and I are working on. Stay tuned.

  36. cosi van tutte

    Mom always told me not to play my video games during lightning storms, but I was winning. Darn it all, I was winning that stupid game. After four hours of level grinding and two hours of final boss fighting, victory was in my reach. The Evil Lord Edwin Malarkey was down to his last two health points and Iron Man was gearing up to blast him with his Mega Ton Metal Tank Missile attack. Then, lightning hit the tv. I blanked out. And now.

    Jeff glanced around at his surroundings. He stood in a field with a semi-circle of forest behind him. Just a few feet in front of him, a long, lazy hill stretched down to the village far below. This should be a normal, charming scene. he thought. Maybe even lovely. But the trees rustle like plastic bags in the wind and the blades of grass are sharp enough to stab anyone who’s fool enough to fall on the ground. The village resembles something that a PlayStation 1 programmer would create. It looks fine enough from afar. Up close, however, the colors and patterns blur and smear into each other. As for the villagers—

    A man’s blotchy voice exclaimed, “There he is!”

    “I’m going to get him first!”

    “No! I am.”

    “I am!”

    A whole group of village people sprites blobbed up the hill. Half of the group carried pitchforks. The rest carried frying pans.

    “I want to go home. So, I get to beat him—”

    “No! I want to beat—”

    “I have puppies that need tending at home. I get to beat him up first.”

    “No! Me!”

    “Me!”

    “Me!”

    “Oh, for cryin’ out loud!” Jeff tried to rip the note off the front of his shirt. “Urrr-raaaaagh!” He failed to tear even a corner. “Darn it all!”

    “I’m gonna beat you first.” The leader reached the top of the hill and blobbed his way over to Jeff.

    Jeff removed his backpack and struggled to pull out the magic sword.

    “I’m gonna beat you up second.”

    “No! Me!”

    “Me!”

    “Me!”

    “Arrrgh!” Jeff kicked the backpack and ran towards the forest as fast as his stubby two-inch long legs could run.

    “Stop!” chorused the whole group. “I want to beat you.”

    He ran down a sketchy brown path flanked by trees that rustled like plastic in the vinyl-scented wind.

    “Stop!”

    “Stop!”

    “Stop!”

    Their voices faded into distant noise into silence. Only then did he stop.

    Jeff tried again to tear off the sign plastered to his shirt. And he failed again. “‘Beat me up and I’ll send you home.’ It’s like the old high school ‘Kick me’ prank, but ten thousand times worse.” He shook his fists at the darkening sky. “Who did this to me?”

    “I did.”

    Startled, Jeff curled his hands into fists and got into a fighting stance. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”

    A figure in a black hooded cloak rose out of the bushes and stepped onto the path.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Sorry about the delay. Here is the continuation/conclusion. Enjoy!

        Startled, Jeff curled his hands into fists and got into a fighting stance. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”

        A figure in a black hooded cloak rose out of the bushes and stepped onto the path.

        Jeff frowned. “Who the heck are you?”

        “I am the thing of your nightmares. I am the cause of your insomnia. I am—”

        “If you say that you’re Darkwing Duck, I’m leaving.”

        The figure stomped his feet. “Don’t mock me! I am awesome! I am splendid! I am—”

        The village people’s scuffled footsteps and noisy voices came closer. Jeff hurried into the bushes, leaving Cloak Guy all alone.

        “H—Hey! You aren’t supposed to run off on me.”

        Jeff ducked down. “I’m not running off. I’m hiding.”

        The village people came around the corner. Their leader walked up to Cloak Guy. “Get out of our way, weirdo. We need to—”

        “I am not a weirdo! I am—”

        “Yeah, whatever. Just get out of our way. I need to catch that kid with the sign on his shirt.”

        “No!” exclaimed a hysterical villager. “I need to catch him.”

        “No! Me!”

        “Me!”

        Cloak Guy stepped aside and let the quarrelsome group pass. As soon as they were long gone, Jeff came out of hiding. “Thanks.”

        “You thank me now, but soon you will not be so thankful!”

        Jeff shrugged. “If you say so. I’m going to find my way home. Bye.”

        “Mwa–hahahahHAHAHAHAHAHHA! You cannot leave until you defeat me.” He uncovered his head. “Me! Ah-HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!”

        It was none other than the Evil Lord Edwin Malarkey.

        “You!”

        “Yes. Me. MWA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! And you don’t have a sword! Ahhhh-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

        “Oh, look. Is that Iron Man over there?”

        “Where?” Evil Edwin glanced to his right.

        “Waaa-chaaa!” Jeff punched him right across the jaw.

        “How dare you!” He pulled out his sword and held it high over his head. “Powers of flame, fire, and lava come to MEEEEEEE!” The blade transformed into livid, hungry flame.

        Jeff thought sad, wistful thoughts about the sword he’d left behind.

        “DIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!”

        “Wait! You can’t kill me yet.”

        “I can and I will. Fiiiiiirrrrre–”

        “Wait! Hold that thought for just one moment. Please. I simply have to know one thing before you slaughter me.”

        “What?”

        “Were you hiding in the bushes this whole time?”

        “Yes.”

        “Why?”

        “Because I knew that you would come this way.”

        “And so you sat in the bushes.”

        “Yes.” Evil Edwin smirked, which didn’t do his face any favors. “And now you will die. Fiiiirrrre—”

        Jeff punched him in the gut.

        Evil Edwin doubled over. “Ohhhhhh!” The sword fell out of his hands. The blade’s flame flickered and died as it hit the ground. “Ohhhh, my stomach! Oh, my intestines, my spleen! Ohhh, they will all rupture and ulcerate and I will sue you for all of your pennies!”

        Jeff picked up the sword. “Pennies?”

        “Yes. Pennies. You will have to go to the poorhouse and live on stale cricket juice and old mold.”

        “Village guy was right. You are one big weirdo.”

        Evil Edwin stood up straight with anger blazing in his eyes. “Don’t insult me! He always insulted me. He always called me an ugly little squid. I’ll have you know that I am Mr. All That in this world.”

        “That’s not saying much. Everyone here looks like super deformed PlayStation 1 characters.”

        An angry green glow emanated from his body as he rose up into the air. “I am not super deformed.”

        “Uhh, I didn’t say—”

        “Uhh. Uhh. Uhhhh-aaaaahhhhhh-urrrrgh!” He transformed into a giant Hamburgler. He looked down at Jeff and giggled maniacally. “I am going to kill you and then I will return to your world and steal all of Burger King’s hamburgers. MWA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

        “Huh? But the Hamburgler is a McDonald’s mascot.”

        “DIIIIIIIIEEEEE!” He raised his foot to stomp on Jeff.

        He dodged Evil Edwin’s foot as it hit the ground. I don’t have any magic powers. he thought. Just a sword. But he’s so tall. Can this sword even hurt him? “Don’t you think you’re overreacting?” He evaded another foot stomp. “I mean, why pick on me? You seem to have issues with Iron Man.” Another evasion. “Go stomp on his face.”

        Evil Edwin stopped and thought about it. “You’re right. But you were helping him. You told him to attack me with his Mega Ton Metal Tank Missile attack. You are on his side. You are his team captain. I will take you down.” He smiled and rubbed his red gloved hands together. “And then I will trample him to death. Isn’t that a lovely plan?”

        “Not likely.” Jeff ran forward and stabbed Edwin’s closest foot several times.

        “Iiiiiiieeeeeeee!” Evil Edwin fell backwards, splatting a good portion of the forest. “I’m dying! OHHHH! I see the light. Ohhh, it’s glorious and sparkly and…and…Skittles.” And he died. From being stabbed in the foot.

        “Okay.” Jeff glanced around. “That was a—”

        A portal appeared in front of Jeff. Sparkling Skittles swirled and twirled inside of it. “I don’t think that’s how I got here, but ehh. What the heck.” Jeff walked into the portal.

        ***

        The Internal Editor shook his head. “I can’t believe that she’d use lie instead of lay. Oh, she has so much to learn when she returns.”

        The portal reappeared and spat out a teenaged boy.

        He walked over to the boy and gave him a scrutinizing look over. “Red hair. Glasses. Boy. You are not my author. I’m sorry, but you must leave.” He picked him up like an enormous bag of flour and tossed him back into the portal.

        He returned to his seat. “As I was…”

          1. cosi van tutte

            😀 Thanks, Bilbo!

            I was in a silly mood when I wrote the whole last half of this story. As for Edwin turning into the Hamburgler…I was thinking about how the final boss in most RPG games have a second form. I randomly decided that his second form was the Hamburgler. 🙂 Just because.

            As for the Internal Editor, well. I couldn’t help it. 😀

        1. JM Somebody

          Oh no you didn’t just kill Edwin…

          Eh, no matter. I’m sure he’ll be back, especially since portals of the skittles variety seem to work in both directions. Plus, I’m sure it was just a flesh wound and Edwin is just being dramatic as usual.

          Wow, this was random and silly, and just good fun. (And I don’t even like video games.)

          1. cosi van tutte

            Hey, JM!

            😀 😀 😀

            I wouldn’t be too worried about Edwin. I’m sure a random sorceress will come around and revive him. And he’ll owe her some favors as usual. After that, Edwin will undoubtedly find his way into another prompt. And who knows? He might even drag poor RDJ into it. 🙂

    1. JM Somebody

      Hahahahaha. 🙂 This is the best response I can imagine to this prompt. You win even though there aren’t any others yet. I loves me an Evil Lord Edwin story. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      I loved the “trees that rustled like plastic in the vinyl-scented wind.”

      I’m a bit confused by the POV. It seemed like it was Jeff talking in the first person in the first paragraph, and then the POV changed. Or was that not Jeff talking? And why aren’t there any skittles?

      I would say you did the prompt justice. 🙂

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, JM!

        Sorry about the POV shift. I accidently edited out the line about him having a mental monologue moment and I forgot to add it or a variant of it back in.

    2. Observer Tim

      Clever and very fast off the mark, Cosi. I love the twist that it’s the MC who has to be beaten. It’s nice to see Edwin make a comeback, too. 🙂 🙂

      You did confuse me a bit with the POV switch after the first paragraph, but I’m hoping it will be explained away later. I’m patient. Mwa-ha-ha-haa-haaaaaah!

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Sorry, that response really lacks enthusiasm- nothing to do with your story, that’s lovely, but I think it’s just sinking in that T.P. did indeed pen his last Discworld Novel on this side of reality.

    3. Reaper

      Other than the POV and the tense shifts mentioned I have no criticism for this. Liked the story. It was very amusing. Though I am unclear if this is a Swordart online thing where bunches of people actually were pulled into the world or if it was just the MC and the others are characters playing a part. Look forward to the continuation.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, Reaper, for your comments!

        It is an on-line game. I’m not sure why it has such bad graphics, but oh well. Maybe it helps with loading times. 🙂

    4. ReathaThomasOakley

      I enjoyed reading this, your descriptions and dialogue are great, but this world is foreign to me as is the prompt. But, who knows, I could learn something here.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This whole story gave me a pleasent headache. I mean that in a nice way. I got so lost in this I barely found my way out. Campy, imaginatine, funny, silly and wionderful. I’m so impressed, I’m gonna write something similiar. I’ll wait for a prompt to do it. I really loved your story.

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