You’re Not Really Human

It’s your 18th birthday and, upon it, you parents deliver some pretty shocking news: You’re not really human. They admit that they’ve been covering up the fact that you are actually a (fill in the blank). After hearing the news you still decide to go to school, but this school day is different than all your school days past, especially when it’s revealed to others what you truly are. Write this scene.

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

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667 thoughts on “You’re Not Really Human

  1. WritingisDreaming

    “Aaauuuhhh.” That was a good yawn. After brushing my hair I ran down the three stories of our little bed & breakfast home… in five seconds. I was just jogging and I hadn’t gone but two steps when all of a sudden I was moving so fast everything was a blur. I reached the main floor and jolted to a stop as if someone had hit the brakes, and tumbled to the floor.
    “Morning Rapunzel.” My mom said cheerily as if everything was normal about my graceful entry. “And oh my, today’s the super 1-8 isn’t it? You know why I say super? ‘Cause you have the triple supers again as I call them.” She was talking extremely fast, a sign of nervousness.
    Just then my dad looked up through his reading glasses (he was reading the newspaper) agreeing, “Yep.”
    I got nervous and glanced between the two of them and asked if it was some type of disease I should know about.
    My father only chuckled. “Punzel you’re right you should know, but no it’s not a disease.” Over in the kitchen my mom was nodding ferociously,
    “Uh huh. Yep. Go on honey tell her.” I had never see mum act so strange before.
    “Well you see you aren’t exactly human. The triple supers, as me and your mom call them, are super speed, super strength, and you have a super mind. So I guess you are human…. superhuman. You had them as a baby and then they were gone and now, they’re back! The weird thing was we never had powers.” I had begun to walk to the table where my dad sat. Think about something else, think about ANYTHING else! my mind was pumping.
    As casually as possible as I could I asked, “So what’s in the news?” I reached for the newspaper but it floated into the air and stayed there hovering. I stared at it.
    “Oh, did I mention that your brain’s so powerful that you can move things with it?” Things began to blur and sway and I felt myself falling. I felt myself go thump! and then everything went black.

  2. ThePrizm

    The school building loomed over me, like some powerful tyrant would to his fearful subjects. The place was a two story nightmare, complete with a gray composer. And I had been going to that hell hole for the past 4 years, or at least, 3.9 years. Today marked the second to last week of my stay in torture.

    I had been so ready, so eager, even, to graduate this year. But something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. Every dream and goal I had set for myself after this horrible darkness was spoiled. It was all too insignificant now.

    My parents could tell I wasn’t taking the news too well. You know how you’re eighteenth birthday is supposed to be “Sweet Sixteen [plus] II! This time it’s personal!”? You finally get to be an adult, to be respected and treated as one. That’s the irony of this whole thing, see? How can I ever be a man when I’m not even human?

    I was beginning to rethink my decision now. My parents (could I even call them that anymore?) had given me the option to quit school, to quit faking being normal when inside I knew, I KNEW that I wasn’t. The other kids knew too. And they let it show through four years of suffering and torture.

    I took a step forward, then another. I had come way too far to let something, anything, stop me.
    The hallways were as bustling as ever. Students were chatting to each other, failing to open lockers, and dropping books at every turn. In other words, your typical suburban high school.

    But it wasn’t. Nothing was typical anymore. Not now.

    Even though I was trans-versed the horribleness that was the front door with a caravan of other teens, all eyes turned on me. Usually, a normal teenager would’ve loved this. They would’ve appreciated the spotlight and glamored in it.

    Ha. There’s that word again. “Normal.”

    And that’s when I knew they knew. They fucking knew; the information has trans-passed my family and entered the minds of privileged teenagers everywhere.

    And those teenagers, they’ll claim to LOVE fiction. But when the villain out of an age old horror novel enters their lives, they’ll react in the same way all those idiotic heroes do. That is, they’ll gang up on it and murder it.

    It was the calm before the storm. Silence rocked the place, only broken by students rushing off to class earlier, either to avoid the coming violence or simply out of apathy.

    I felt something flat hit my face. It was a literature textbook. Aka, the heaviest and thickest book used in our grade. I know this because more followed, succeeded by history, then math. I just happened to wonder if they were gonna throw their lunches next to symbolize break when I went I felt my conciseness slip.

  3. trevonwallace

    i had stayed up all night.after all, my 18th birthday was the next day. but that wasn’t the only thing… there was something else, something strange going on with my body. the alarm had went off at 9:30 and i leaped out of bed, the motion so quick i was from the bed to the floor in an unseen motion. i bound down the stairs, my usual clumsiness gone from my precise and sure feet. rushing into the kitchen i come up short, my parents were watching me with dark and serious eyes, there usual wrinkles gone completely from their face, their features more elegant and graceful than the norm. ” mom”? i mutter “dad”? they say nothing , their bodies almost statue like, but it was as though even a statue couldn’t stand this still. dad gestures for me to sit.

    mom is the first to speak, her face so much younger than the usual age of forty it she appears as. ” since it now is your eighteen birthday you should know something” she says, turning to my father who sighs and begin to speak. ” two thousand years ago i met your mother, Clarissa lace. daughter of the pure-blood elders. the gods’… i was born to nix of night and Hades of hell, and you were born to me”

    i look between the two of them, expecting them to begin laughing. but they do not, and i do not expect them to. their words trigger images in my head, me in different bodies of my choosing. born one thousand and fifty years ago in the city of the sun, stardon ; goddess of chaos. i gasp, but in amazement the power wells with in me, immortal. ” you wake on your eighteenth birthday, ready to destroy another realm, and to day is your day” my mother smiles beautifully.

    standing in front of the school a smiles plays at my face, hundreds of oblivious mortals rushing to class. i can feel the power coursing through my veins. ” todays my day” i say grinning. i let out a tremulous laugh, drawing curious stares.”todays my day” i repeat, stepping towards the school.

  4. dariensdgva

    Today is my 18th birthday and my mom told me that I am a shape shifter. At first I thought it was a joke, but one look from my mom and I knew her was serious. so she explained to me how it is suppose to work.

    “All you have to do is stay calm, then think of an animal, then jump.” said mom

    So I thought of a tiger and I jumped, my skin started to get covered with fur and my teeth grew sharp and white then 1 min later I was a tiger.

    “Wow this is great mom why didn’t you tell me I could do this a long time ago” I said with a loud roar that should have scared the whole neighborhood.

    “I didn’t want you to do something crazy, but remember this that if you change into something and then do something bad then you will stay as that creature intill you do something nice ,and if you don’t do something nice in 45 hours then bad things will happen to you”

    So I went to school the next day thinking what i could do with this new ability i have

  5. dariensdgva

    Today is my 18th birthday and my mom told me that I am a shape shifter. At first I thought it was a joke, but one look from my mom and I knew her was serious. so she explained to me how it is suppose to work.

    “All you have to do is stay calm, then think of an animal, then jump.” said mom

    So I thought of a tiger and I jumped, my skin started to get covered with fur and my teeth grew sharp and white then 1 min later I was a tiger.

    “Wow this is great mom why didn’t you tell me I could do this a long time ago” I said with a loud roar that should have scared the whole neighborhood.

    “I didn’t want you to do something crazy, but remember this that if you change into something and then do something bad then you will stay as that creature intill you do something nice ,and if you don’t do something nice in 45 hours then bad things will happen to you”

    So I went to school the next day thinking what i could do with this new ability i have

    1. taylersdgva

      My eyes open at exactly 3:24. It’s too early but when I shut my eyes again, my stomach groans. Not today. But my stomach says, “yes today.” So I sit up, frustrated that on my eighteenth birthday, I’m doing this to myself. I thought I outgrew these killer stomach aches when I was twelve.
      Several hours later, when the rest of the world was awake, I felt better and was finally ready to enjoy myself. I’m a legal adult. I say “legal” because I still go to school, I don’t have a job, and for an “adult”, I’m still very, very stupid.

      I crawled out of bed and greeted my mother who was, as the sweet lady she is, making me pancakes and sausage.

      “Good morning ma’,” I said as cheerfully as I could.

      “Morning sweetheart,” she gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Are you excited for your birthday?”

      “Mom, I’m not seven any more. I don’t get mounds of presents so what’s the point?” I’m practically bouncing off the walls.

      “The point is you’re an adult.”

      “Legal adult,” I correct her, “I won’t be an adult ’till I’m 75, when I move out, get married, and have a job.”

      “Fine legal adult,” she pointed a fork at me, “but you’re moving out sooner than that, you just can’t get married until you’re 75.”

      “85,” that was my dad walking into the room. “And good morning.”

      “Good morning?” I ask

      “What?” his eyes got big “It’s not the afternoon yet, is it?”

      “No it’s my birthday!” I giggle.

      “I knew that.”

      “By the way, honey… have a seat.”

      I sit obediently, not wanting to waste my breath.

      “We have something to tell you,” my mom said in the nicest tone I’ve ever heard from her, aside from when she praises the dog.

      “Are you going to tell me that I was born on krypton or something?” Silence. Silence. Silence. Is. Deadly. “Are you?” I actually panic.

      “No, but you’re not too far off.” My smile fades. My dad continues. “You’re not exactly human. Don’t worry, you’re not a monster, and everything will be okay. The planet you come from is very close to krypton, but very different…”

      “Wait! Krypton is real?” I’m not believing this.

      “Yes Krypton is real. But it is full of savage people, and your birth planet is nothing like that. The people there live for centuries, in fact if you lived their, you might as well be a new born. You grow in age and size until adulthood when you turn 500. The planet itself has very different conditions than Earth, and every once in a while, I child there can’t handle it. Now that you’re 18, you’ll be able to live in the environment. It’s very cold and the air is very thin.”

      “Then, how can I live here?”

      “Well, there’s a reason we live in Alaska on the top of a mountain. The conditions here are more like your home, but still better. But, at times it can be 30 degrees here, and your planet can get as low as negative 300 degrees. So, ever since you were a baby you’ve been drugged. It’s nothing dangerous, it just cools down your insides,” explains mom.

      “Doesn’t the government want me? Shouldn’t I be in area 51 or something?” I stutter. This is all too much.

      “Right again,” dad sighs. They were looking for you. But you disappeared. We told them we found you and a day later you were dead. It’s worked for this long because they’re using the wrong tool to look for you. Upon first glance you look normal. Sure there are a couple differences between you and I, but you mostly look human. Also, the government never saw you. So, they use scanners that are meant to look for slimy green creatures that, the government thinks, will barely count as intelligent life.”

      At that, I stood up and walked out the door. I had a bus to catch.

  6. grey-tundra

    Ah, the yearly event revolving around consumerism, junk food, and celebration, and all with an excuse! My birthday. I too enjoy-enjoyed- this reveling, but this birthday was a slight exception. Of course, I write this now from a neutral position, back when I wasn’t riddled with silly emotions. Expect no bitterness from me.

    On July 2nd in my teenage foolishness, I woke and declared myself an adult. My parents let me keep this comforting thought as they slipped a note in my backpack before I departed for summer school. Cowards.
    Pulling the note out, I read the note, which said, “You are not a human, but an alien. Remember all those doctor appointments? Yes, those were sponsored by the government. Try not to be too shocked, and do well on your math test. (I packed some grapefruit in your lunch!)”
    No one would believe such a blunt note, much less from their jestful parents. I folded the note carefully and remembered to hang it up.
    After arriving at school from my tedious 15-minute commute, I headed to math. The whole school day passed in that manner, mediocre and mundane. I thought of the note and appreciated my parents attempt to brighten my day with a fun joke. I would thank them later.
    I returned home, but not after going to treat myself to a Pepsi. And then stealing a motorbike with the keys still in the ignition with which I drove to the hospital, deciding to play along with my parents joke. Reaching the doors, I conveniently noticed my doctor, adjusting his jacket.
    “Hello! Pleasant seeing you. Would you mind directing me to the nearest government facility for in-depth testing? I don’t suppose my parents have told you,” I said in a light tone. My doctor disliked me greatly.
    Grimacing, he dialed a number on his 1982 vintage cell-phone which he bragged about so much. He sighed heavily, and walked away. I stood there, suddenly unsure if my efforts were worth the trouble. Awkwardly and unused to rejection, I shuffled back out to the motorbike and drove home.
    My government friends were waiting for me ever so kindly. My parents looked ashamed and said, “Well, you know you shouldn’t have provoked the doctor like that.” Suddenly my teenage sarcasm which had been steadily crumbling broke to pieces. I bargained and pleaded with the officials as they directed me to a van. I only wanted some fun.
    “I’ll return the bike, okay? I promise! I was going to give it back, alright? Just- let me go… c’mon…” I said on the verge of tears. I later found out that no, they didn’t care about the bike, and indeed, I was an alien and they had been planning to at least let me enjoy my birthday before transporting me to a facility for testing, except that damned doctor gave them the go-ahead early. Now I sit here, in my spacious sunny room, given the luxuries of a prince, but unable to leave.

  7. georgegtx

    ” Everything seems strange, especially after what happened yesterday… What am I doing here? Am I supposed to even be here? Why would a father abandon his own son? That’s the way the divine cause is bound to fulfill the predesigned destiny of this world? ” -George talks to himself on the way to his first class.
    Nothing seems to be particularly interesting anymore. Not now that strange games of faith unfold a past so mysterious. Who could say that it would take a God-like alien father who descended upon this planet 16 earthly years ago, and an atheist excommunicated young girl to conseive a creature so unique.
    ” What the heck is hybrid supposed to mean? Why me? I just want a normal life..”
    Nothing could have prepared him for the revelation he was about experience.
    – Nick: ” Hey George!”
    – Nick: ” Hey George, over here! ”
    – Joe: ” What is wrong with him today?”
    – Nick: ” You haven’t heard?”
    – John: ” Yeah man, where is you mind ? the whole town is talking about what happened last night..!”
    – Joe: ” No. I mean, I went sleep early. What about George? You scare me guys!”
    – George: ” I don’t believe this! I should never have come at school in the first place! I knew it would end up like that! ”
    George starts running to the park next to school. Tears are running on his chicks. He can barely see the car speeding towards him as he crosses the street.
    BEEEEEEEEP! Watch out!!!
    That’s when the inevitable happened. Suddenly the car was spinning around high above his head!
    Seems like a higher power ever unseen has just presented itself in the most profound and impressive way!
    There was a blue-like radiant visible field around him, loosing its color back to transparency the further away from his head one could see.
    The car acted like it just crashed on an unmovable obstacle. The front shuttered into a formless mass of metal, while the rear was already flying into the air. It really looked like the field was protecting him from harm though the driver went right through the window, cross the field landing on his feet with great surprise and confusion in his eyes. He was totally untouched.
    George was bend around his knees with his hands holding his head tight when he heard the car crashing on the tarmac right across the other side. He stood up and looked around. The world had come to a stop in awe. Felt like mother nature herself saluted his foretold arrival.
    The ground around his feet has broken to pieces. The trees across the street were bent with their tops facing away from him, the windows of the surrounding buildings were shattered.
    – George: “Are you ok?”
    – driver: “Oh my GOD! Go away from me!”
    He didn’t know, but his glowing eyes had scared the driver to death! The light coming out from his eyes was brighter than the sun. And then the light flooded the place. It was so bright that it rendered everyone practically blind. Only those with a soul as clean as his own would be able to bare the brightness.
    The earth was shaking. The sky was cut in half, while bright rays of pure light were shed. And then a shadow in the shape of man appeared. It was getting smaller and smaller as if the man was coming closer.
    – Voice: “Come El, your Father is waiting for you! It is time my Son.
    He could hardly get himself together, just to remember the worlds of his mother:
    “You are not really human..”
    There was only light and a shadow of a man holding the hand of his little son, moving away. Darkness took its place as the sky got stormy. There was only darkness and a question: “What happened?”

  8. Mallen

    Shyne sat very still. She looked down and begin to examine her body. Her legs looked like legs, her feet and hands, all very human. She wiggled her toes down in her shoes, surely everyone’s toes felt like fingers on their feet, tiny short stubby fingers. These… were definitely real toes. She could touch them and they felt like her mother’s toes. She touched her breast. Firm, high, round. Real?
    She couldn’t get it out of her mind. “We made you.” It was her birthday. She was on her way to school. She should have kept walking. But she stopped, asked her parents what was wrong. And they told her…….
    Sitting in the little alcove off the kitchen, Shyne’s father sat clutching her mother’s hand. It appeared that they were deep in prayer. Shyne knew better. Her family didn’t believe.
    “Mom?”
    “Shyne come here, we need to speak with you.”
    “What is it Dad? What’s wrong Mom?”
    “Happy birthday. I have a special dinner planned for you. Roasted prime rib, garlic fingerling potates, stewed tomatoes with okra, sweet honeyed rolls, and a salted caramel and chocolate cake. Does that sound delicious? Does it make your mouth water? Would you like something else? I can change it. It wouldn’t be a problem. Really. It is a special birthday and I want you to have what you want.”
    “Mom it sounds ridiculous! Hells yeah it makes my mouth water. But no trying to change the subject. What is wrong with you?”
    “I think you should have a seat.”
    Her father straightened his glasses and looked directly into her eyes. This was serious and real. She sat down.
    “We need to tell you something Shyne. And I would ask that you don’t interrupt me. It is going to be hard and I am going back and forth on telling you now. Maybe we should wait for later, after school, at dinner….”
    “No! We need to tell her now. We have waited too long as it is. Plus dinner, well I want us to have a good time during dinner.”
    “Very well dear. Shyne. We love you and we wanted you so much. But we couldn’t have children. We tried and we tried. But we couldn’t. We just couldn’t. So I did something.”
    “No,” her mother interrupted, “we did something. Big. But not bad, never bad.”
    “Mom, are you trying to tell me that you took me?!?!”
    “Please! Let us all calm down. Not like that. We, well, what we did was, we made you. You aren’t human. Not, at least in the natural sense of the word.”
    “I am what? You did what? Made me? How, out of what? What am I?”
    “It is very complicated but you are lots of things: part human, part animatronics, some animal DNA, some other genetic matter and lots and lots of love.”
    “Mostly love.” My mother chimed in. Smiling, looking scared but brimming with hope.
    Suddenly she felt as though her body was a chamber of sorts that she was looking through. “We made you.” Her eyes darted back and forth looking to see or feel something that hinted of what she was. She was man made. Not human. Not human.

  9. jopgespn

    Today was my first day of school. Sure it’s the middle of the year but let me clarify. Today was my first day of school as a non-human. Just before my big birthday breakfast, my parents dropped a bomb on me. Not a literal one, in fact I almost wish it was a literal bomb; a bomb in the form of news. It went as such.
    “Happy Birthday, Dear. You’re not human.” Dad said as spooned a heaping pile of scrambled eggs into my plate, “Bacon?”
    “Hey, so, what do you mean I’m not human?” I asked as I poured myself a glass of orange juice and grabbed two slices of bacon of the greasy plate he sat in front of me. It’s hard to take him seriously, each year on my birthday him and mom like to play birthday pranks on me. Last year they pretended to forget about my birthday, but when I came home from school the living room was set up for a party and littered with wrapped gifts, including a BMX I had been begging them for all year. They like to spoil me. This year, however, they decided take a different route.
    “Yeah, hon. You’re not human. We’ve been waiting for your eighteenth birthday to tell you.” My mom said briefly staring up from her morning paper to sip on her coffee, “again, Happy Birthday. Where would you like to go to dinner tonight?”
    “Hold on. Why are you guys sticking to this? If I’m not human, than what am I?”
    “Had any weird dreams lately?” Dad asks as he took his seat at the breakfast table, “any other worldly type dreams?”
    “Well, yes but they’re just dreams.”
    Mom put down her paper, sipped on her coffee once more, took her reading glasses off and set them next to her paper, “For normal people they’re just dreams. For you, they are memories.”
    “Memories?”
    “Eight teen years ago, on this very day, your mother and I were in space, back in our NASA days, we landed on Mars, and began to explore. On the red planet, we made contact with a life form who insisted we take you back with us. It told us that one day, when you were ready, you’d get a call from them through your dreams. But, don’t worry, they won’t be taking you back with them, it’s just imperative that you know before ‘the weird’ things begin to happen.”
    “Uh, seriously, guys, tell me you’re joking.”
    “We wish we were. But we can talk more about this later, you’re going to be late for school.”
    “School? You’re telling me I’m some type of an alien and I still have to go to school?”
    “You got it, mister.” Mom gave a familiar smile and excused herself from the table to pour herself another cup of coffee.
    “So, what does this mean for me?”
    “Absolutely nothing, son,” Dad patted me on the shoulder and smiled, “Have a good day at school.”

  10. LiveOakLea

    Dear Diary, Happy birthday to me! Today I’m 18 years old. That’s a big milestone for humans, but – guess what! –my parents dropped a bombshell on me at breakfast. They told tell me it was time for me to hear the truth … they’re not my parents and I’m not really human. Arghhh!!!! What am I, you ask? Good question! I’m a chimpanzee!!! Like the ones that swing from vine to vine in the jungle and throw peanuts at visitors at the zoo. A hairy, uncivilized animal!!! Well, I would be hairy if they hadn’t been secretly slipping me a follicle inhibitor with my daily vitamins. And they worked diligently on my social skills so that not once have I tossed feces at anyone, though the impulse was strong at times. Mom and Dad warned me that I shouldn’t let this news change me, and I should stay the sweet, intelligent girl that I’ve always been. But, honestly?!!! One day you get voted the cheerleading squad leader and the next day you find out you’re a chimp!!!! So, here’s how my day at school went. And by the way, I should tell you that I’m writing this from a cage.

    Remember Julie Hines? The girl I told you about last summer who was all over Jimmy, giving him a back massage after football practice? Well, at lunch break she came into the bathroom while I was in one of the stalls. I could smell her. She went into the stall next to me. It was as if 18 years of squelching my chimpanzee self was over and I couldn’t contain it another moment. I jumped up on the seat, grabbed the top of the stall divider and swung myself up so that I was perched on the top of it, peering down at Julie as she sat on the toilet, her pants down around her ankles. She was posing for a selfie, give the girl credit for multi-tasking.

    At first she didn’t know I was there, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t going to sit there and do nothing. I didn’t put much thought into what happened next, just trusted my animal instinct (Get it?) and plunged down upon Julie Hines’ head, grabbing her around the neck and started to shake her, and not gently.
    She screamed mightier than I could have imagined possible, and tried to jump up, disentangle herself from the beast (me) grasping at her head, unlock the stall door, and pull up her pants, all at the same time, and none of them successfully. I snatched her phone away and aimed the camera at her retreating bare ass as she finally pushed out of the stall, still screaming.

    Don’t feel sorry for me. Yes, I’m in a cage at the zoo, but honestly I kind of like it here. And, from what I can tell, it’s not much different here than out there at Elmhurst High. Good night, Diary

  11. devsmess

    Everything I’ve avoided- it all comes back.

    “You’re a Lux. You can harness dark energy.”

    My mother’s voice.

    I slam into the empty school bathroom.

    I haven’t worn makeup in years. Makeup requires mirrors and mirrors show me something I’m avoiding.

    At first I thought it was the anxiety medication. Side effects. Hallucinations. But stopping the pills didn’t help.

    I still glow.

    A faint, swirling, fluorescent glow that reminds me of the aurora borealis.

    About a year ago, I started to have weird dreams. Only it wasn’t just random thoughts strung together. It was the next day. I won six bets and over a hundred bucks in 24 hours. And then I dreamt of my father’s face, aged to elderly, in the foreground of burning forests.

    I walk up to the mirror and rest my hands on the edge of the ceramic sink, my gaze on the faucet. I get bold and stare at the edge of the mirror, at the buttons on my cardigan.

    And then I start to feel it.

    I’d always felt an idle strength in me at night, especially when the sky was clear, like I was somehow plugged into the life-blood of the stars. But now that feeling returns- this time, an hour after dawn.

    My fingertips start to tingle. The energy cracks through my veins, up my hands to my wrists, inching up my arms. When it reaches my torso, it feels like my entire body is vibrating. I let go of the sink, unable to hang on.

    I feel like the deep bass vibration of a speaker when it’s too loud.

    Why did they tell me now? I could have spent the last eighteen years figuring myself out instead of doing everything in my power to distract myself from this monster I thought I was.

    Or…am.

    “…a Lux.”

    I look at my reflection.

    Black.

    The blue, green neon colors that normally swarm around me can barely be seen through the writhing black whips that emanate at my feet. Deep purple and white sparks zip from my skin.

    My mouth dries. I take a step backwards, eyes fixed.

    Someone walks through the door behind me and I spin around and throw my hand up to block my face. A colored wave shoots from my palm.

    When I look, she’s gone.

    Gone.

    I slowly lower my hand.

    A girl walks out of the last stall, texting. Then, out the door. The same girl I just made disappear.

    I turn to my reflection, but I can’t see it. The broken mirror is caked in dirt. Baby toys are scattered across the floor. Part of a stall door is gone, as if someone sliced it down the middle and took the other half. My fingers are dropping blood and it’s pooling on the floor.

    I drop to my knees and find the floor is as warm as the sun on a summer day.

    —-

    Thanks to Gemini Syndrome for some inspiration. :)

  12. mykidsareasleep

    You have no choice but to say I’m crazy. A lie like this only says “out of touch with reality.” I thought it was a joke, what else could I think? “Just keep your eyes open today. Look.” said my dad- Allen- I think I’m going to call him Allen from now on. Is he my dad?. What the fuck?
    It’s my 18th birthday. I’ve lived 18 pretty normal years. I’ve never been popular, not really the lowest on the totem pole, either. I’m smart; I realized a couple of years ago that school comes pretty easy to me. Before that I never really had my head organized enough to care, it’s like there was too much information floating around for me to make sense of it. I can’t explain it any better than that. I found out recently that I have a quantifiably really high IQ. I might also say that I’m kind of fearless compared to my peers. But I never really even noticed until today.
    I’ve always felt a little different, but then, who doesn’t?
    I brazenly poured myself a cup of coffee in the kitchen this morning. My parents are pretty rigid and they’ve been against kids drinking coffee. I am not a kid anymore, so it was a pretty lame kind of act of rebellion, I guess. It all seems kind of dumb now.
    My dad came in with a box. I’ll tell you more about this box and its contents later- it feels too crazy to talk about without more context. But here’s the news: apparently I’m not human. My DNA is 97.47 percent human. I only vaguely understand what that means. A monkey shares 96% of our DNA, so I guess I’m slightly more human than a chimp.
    It’s funny, this whole day I’ve spent looking for myself in the reflections of other people at school and seeing how I am different. This is like some bad sci-fi novel. I’ve managed to avoid that genre up until now. Now I’m living it. “Look at how different you are today,” says my dad. Maybe he’s crazy. Maybe he’s always been.
    I’m not a lot different. I stand out in a way that is kind of annoying. I actually learn languages in school classrooms. Fast. I feel words. I have been slightly aware of how this works for me for a while, and I guess I knew this didn’t happen for everyone. Today I saw it. I feel things that other people learn. I also remember things, things I wasn’t a part of. I don’t know, maybe I just have a vivid imagination, but I actually remember how history smelled. I’ve mentioned this over the years in class and I’ve got a reputation as kind of a quirk- or a flake, I try to keep it positive. My dad says that these feelings are probably going to get bigger. He says it’s kind of like a super power. Yeah. He said that. I don’t know what it means.

  13. seavulf@zoominternet.net

    It’s finally here – my eighteenth birthday! I’m so excited! Mom and Dad said they had to talk to me this morning. Maybe it’s that car I‘ve been hinting about.
    Downstairs, ready for breakfast, ready for anything, except what I actually got. Just when my mouth was full of strawberry, whipped cream, and pancakes, Mom began. “Honey, we have something to tell you.”
    “You’re not human, Claire,” said Dad. “You’re a cat.”
    Strawberries, cream, and pancakes spewed from my mouth straight onto Dad’s clean shirt.
    “Excuse me?” I managed to get out.
    “Yes dear, it’s true,” said Mom as she put her hand over my paw(?). “We did our best to hide it. We raised you like a regular girl. You even look like normal so far. The wicked witch said we had to tell you on your eighteenth birthday or something terrible would happen.”
    “Something terrible? Like what – I’d be embarrassed to death or claw my boyfriend’s eyes out or hiss at the principal?” I spat. “And anyway – a cat!? I don’t even like cats! Why not a dog or a horse? How about a bird? I hate cats! Wait! What? The Wicked Witch? Who believes in that stuff?”
    Shrugs, that’s what I got in return. My so-called parents shrugged and smiled crookedly but sympathetically.
    “The change will be gradual,” they said, “but it will start today.”
    “Will I shrink down to a normal cat-sized cat, or will I be a human-sized cat?” I wondered aloud.
    “We don’t know, Claire. You’ll have to figure it out as you go. Whatever happens we’ll always be here for you.”
    The revelation explained quite a few things. No wonder dogs never liked me, and my contented sighs sounded more like purring. No wonder my friends call me Kitty. No wonder I was unanimously elected school mascot of the Westover Wildcats.
    “Well I’m still going to school,” I insisted.
    “That’s fine dear,” they agreed. It’s important that you finish school and graduate.”
    “Really?” I thought. So I licked off the cream and headed out.
    My best friend Leslie waited at my locker with a special head band she’d made for me. Or was it a collar?
    As soon as she saw my face, she knew that I knew.
    “How could they have kept it from me all these years?” I whined.
    “How could you not have known?” she responded.
    “People always treated me like anyone else! And I don’t look different yet, do I? Hey wait! How did you know?”
    “I just did,” she shrugged. “Friends understand things about each other that no one else does.
    “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked.
    “I couldn’t. It seemed important that you find out in your own time.”
    People looked at me oddly all day, as if they knew something was different.
    We assembled for the big pep rally at the end of the day. The Wildcats were playing the Hound Dogs that night. After cavorting more than usual, I took the microphone.

  14. Jayski91

    It’s a joke, that was my first thought, as my parents told me exactly what I was and what an “honor” it is to be a Wilkinson. Why, oh God, why is this happening? I couldn’t stay in that awfully bright living room any longer when they literally ripped away the world I knew. Hysterical, who’s hysterical? This can’t be me. I’m calm and always level headed, but actually was that really even me. I’m a freak. I’m a monster. All the scary stories you grow up hearing, laughing at, they can’t possibly be real.

    I pushed my way through the packed hallways of Henley High. Jessy, she would know what to do. She has been my best bud since grade school and she always had an answer. Sometimes it was an annoying trait, but often enough it’s busted us both out of trouble. Today, I have a feeling the gift of knowledge bestowed upon my 18 year old shoulders should top any one of her many pressing issues.

    If only I could get to my locker. There are too many people in this corridor! The noises are suffocating; why can’t people just talk in a normal tone. I don’t see why beautiful Jessica with the perfect blond hair has to get pitchy when she describes her perfect shoes. I don’t really care about her picture-perfect world, but today it’s like she’s rubbing my nose in the awesomeness of her normalcy.

    Be calm. Mom said starting today the gene becomes active and if I get to excited I could shift and then all hell would break loose. Well that’s what I heard, but I don’t think mom would ever say hell. The thought of her cussing almost makes me smile. Bam! The lights from above make me squint. I had been dodging a crowd of rowdy boys, but now I’m lying on the floor because a side door opened and smacked me in the head. What if I just close my eyes? Can the world just stop? Can the day start over with a normal birthday gift? I would have been happy with nothing rather than knowing my life will now be ruled by the moon and the secrets of an underground real myth.

    “Are you okay?”

    I refuse to open my eyes, but I know that voice. Ryan has been in most of my classes this year and I avoid him like the plague. I can’t seem to ever form intelligent sentences around him and I can’t stop the tear that now slides down the side of my face. Why am I so weak? A searing pain rips down my spine, but my scream is jarred when he picks me up and runs out of the building.

    The crisp morning air is like a bucket of ice water and the pain starts to subside. I try to squirm free, but his soft words are paralyzing, “I know what you are Emma Wilkinson and I am your assigned body guard.”

    1. Reaper

      Are the Wilkinsons shape changer royalty? I know it’s odd but a teenager having an assigned bodyguard is the only part of this story I have a hard time wrapping my mind around.

      The frantic pace and rapid fire beginning to this seemed off until it became the internal dialogue of a frightened and shocked teen, then it made perfect sense.

      1. Jayski91

        Yes, she is royalty, I should have explained that better in the fist para. Maybe after the “honor” bit. :) It’s kind of difficult to get every thing in there in only 500 words.

        Thanks for the feedback!

  15. 1960Nova

    Right before I left for school on my 18th birthday, I sipped my favorite hot chocolate with whipped cream. Although it was spring and 86 degrees outside, my mother surprised me. She also surprised me again. Treesha, your dad and I want to tell you something and since you are 18 today, we think you are old enough to know what you truly are. I blew into my hot chocolate, the handle bigger and more round than the others in the cupboard and raised my big gray brown eyes. Honey, you are really a Spikey Steroguarus. A what? A Spikey Steroguarus. We thought by now you might notice a difference.
    I got out of my chair and walked out the door. I was in a hurry…..it seemed I was late. I walked fast, very fast as usual, my two top arms swinging fast, quick, beating the air and my two legs down below hitting the sidewalk hard, slap slap slap. The sun glistened through my electric blue hair tied short and flat on top of my head with a pink ribbon. I pushed the button on the traffic light pole and waited for it to turn green. Spikey what? Was it my back pack? I mean, I realize I never had to take it off, but I see back packs on almost every kid, tall and small. Granted, mine is a bit different, sort of one of a kind. An aquamarine turquoise, rubbery, with lots of spikes. I’m use to it. Gosh, I thought I got it at the hospital as a gift when mom and dad brought me home. The light blinked and I padded across the four lanes. Are people looking at me funny? Do they know it’s my birthday? A car honked and I smiled and waved and a man’s voice yelled “nice costume.” What’s that about? I touched the two tiny rings on my lower lip, remembered my 16th birthday when I cajoled my mother into letting me have two rings instead of one. I convinced her two would diffuse the lower, larger lip. Wait till I see Syd and Artekis and Fantasis in Study Hall. They will howl. Too bad the last tattoo faded into the same green as my arm. It was wild………..clover leaves. I love clover.

    1. Reaper

      I can’t tell if the block of text and lack of quotations is intentional. It feels like it might be because of the MC being a dinosaur. If you are making a point with it good job, because it kind of hurt my eyes and made my brain think in a simpler pattern like I assume an ancient lizard would.

  16. adriannelaray

    “Why do they keep looking away from me?”
    “Because they can’t handle your awesomeness,” answered my friend Chris. “Things will go back to normal once the shock is over.”
    “How long will that take,” I whispered to myself as I entered my first class. Even my teacher looked away from me. I took a seat in the back of the class instead my usual one near the door. Chris sat in the desk in front of me, sent a text to someone and stuck her phone in her back pocket. More students entered the classroom filling up every seat except the ones closest to me and Chris. I pulled the sleeves of my sweater down to hide my arms from the staring boy in the blue shirt. I didn’t remember ever seeing him in this class before.
    The bell rang. “Let’s get started,” said Mr. Ferguson. “I trust you all did your homework.”
    “I didn’t. Today is my first day,” the boy in the blue shirt got up and walked to the front of the classroom. He put out his hand. “I’m Tyler Blaze. Yes that is my name; I didn’t like my old one.”
    “Nice to meet you Tyler, you can sit where you like…”
    Tyler grabbed his things from the other desk before taking the one to my left. I tugged on my sweater sleeves again to make sure absolutely no skin was showing above my wrists.
    “It’s okay, I got mine last week,” he says showing me the thick dark lines running the length of his forearm that hadn’t been there earlier. “I can hide mine.” The kid on the other side of him scooted his desk over just a little bit. He hid the lines again as Mr. Ferguson reclaimed our attention to start class.

    I didn’t see Chris again until lunch period. Tyler was with her and they she looked completely fascinated by whatever it was he was saying. Not too fascinated to send another text, though. Oh, that text was to me: ‘Hurry up. Dying of boredom.’
    “People are just so weird. They know you their whole life but when your markings show up they act like you’re a monster,” I heard Tyler saying as I joined them at the table.
    “We are monsters,” I said.
    “Are not. We’re half-demons, which makes the other half human,” Tyler said.
    I thought about that. Maybe he was right. Maybe the only difference between me and other kids were the dark red lines on my arms. Striped arms and pointy teeth. I pushed up my sleeves to see that, thankfully, the lines had faded. Then I heard laughter. I looked up to see a trio of boys pointing my way and laughing. They stopped when their shoes caught fire.
    “Ohmigod! What did I do,” I jumped up from the table.
    “That was me,” Tyler said casually. “Things just seem to randomly catch fire around me. Things and people.”

    1. Jorderic

      This was fabulous! I love that there’s no unnecessary fluff. You just cut right to the chase. I also like how you didn’t over explain everything and just let the characters tell us whats really impotent. Well done sir or madam and keep up the good work.

    2. Reaper

      I really like the differences of the characters. Chris as the typical texting passive aggressive teen, your MC as an emotional and still caring human being, and then Tyler as a cold kid on his way to sociopath. He felt demonic and like the antagonist if this was a longer story, maybe the guy that tries to tempt the MC away from her humanity, all the while claiming he’s still human. This seemed like a characterization piece so those deep personalities were beautiful.

    3. devsmess

      I loved this. I was sucked right in, the tension stringing me along as I went through. I know who the characters are without a lot of description.
      Great to read. Thanks!

  17. Zane

    James Cole had no intention of attending class that morning as he burst through the school’s main entrance in search of his best friend David.

    It was five minutes till the first bell and the hallways were packed with pimples, budding breasts, and unwanted boners all desperately attempting normal at a time they were anything but.

    James stood for a moment taking in the sea of awkwardness. He was one of them yesterday. Now, he’s not so sure. He spotted David near his locker at the end of the hall and tore down the hallway shouldering his way through the crowd like a fullback looking for the end zone.

    “I need to talk to you right now!” James said. He grabbed David by the arm and pulled him in to the restroom.

    “Whoa! Good morning to you too. Happy Birthday by the way.”

    The door banged shut. They were alone and David finally got a good look at his usually calm and well-mannered friend.

    “What the hell’s going on? Did you do some birthday meth this morning? That shit’ll ruin your life man.

    “Would you shut the fuck up? Here, look at this.” James unzipped his backpack and removed the crystalline remote control his father had presented him with that morning.

    “What is it? Like an ipod or something?”

    “First, I want you to fucking promise me that you won’t freak out.”

    “Freak out about what? You’re starting to freak me out already with your meth eyes and crazy….”

    “Goddamnit! Take this and promise you won’t freak out!” James thrust the device into David’s hands and took two steps backwards. “Push that button. After you get a look, push the button again. I won’t be able to.”

    “What’s going to…”

    “Push it!”

    David located the button and pressed it with his thumb. Nothing happened.

    “Ha ha funny guy. What’s the big idea anyway? I’ve got shit to do…”

    There was a low crunching sound like tires turning on a gravel road as James’ body began to contort in every unnatural way imaginable. David watched in horror as his friend transformed. The process lasted only six seconds.

    What lay before David now wasn’t human. There were no arms or legs. Just a face spread across a semi-transparent gelatinous mass. David thought the face almost looked like his friend James. But he was too paralyzed with fear to think much else.

    James knew David would take his changing as a shock but he hoped he’d keep it together well enough to change him back. It was a gamble he realized he shouldn’t have taken as he watched his friend lose control of his bowels. His intention was just to show him but know he realized he was going to have to communicate with him as well.

    Press the button. The words where inside David’s head. This was sensation overload. He couldn’t take it. He panicked and threw the device at the mass that used to be his friend. The control sailed high and smashed against the tile wall.

    What have you done! More words in David’s head. He thought is heart would explode as he ran screaming out of the restroom into the now deserted hallway.

    Simon Cole stood on his porch and watched the endless parade of police, fire trucks, and ambulances race toward the high school. It was a mistake for him to tell his son this morning, he sees that now.

    In his hand he held a crystalline device very similar to the one he gave James that morning. The device shown a familiar green light in the center that has been shining proudly for 18 years. With the touch of a button Simon turned the light off ending his experiment and the life of his son.

  18. Autumn Douglas

    This is it. My eighteenth birthday. This is the day I’ve been awaiting my entire life, and yet, I feel completely and utterly the same as always: A miserable excuse for a human being. I’m not sure why I thought today would be different. I just thought… maybe I would feel more free, more empowered; I am an adult now, after all. But, what a disappointment.
    I busy myself in front of the mirror, getting ready for school. I twist my white-blond hair into a knot at the nape of my neck and splash my face with a little water. A strange, itchy sensation spread across my face and down my neck. I began to choke on the air in my lungs as I stared in fear at my reflection. My once soft pale skin had turned almost transparent and scaly, and the light reflected against it as if it were a prism, shooting rainbows all around the bathroom.
    Good God! I’ve become a disco ball, and I’m dying! I’m dying!
    Suddenly the itchy sensation disappeared, as did my scales. Oxygen flooded back into my lungs again and I stood hunched over the sink coughing, my hands gripping the counter for support. It took a couple minutes for me to gain composure and process what had just occurred.
    A knock came at the door, “Honey? Are you ok?” Mom. “Honey?!”
    She’s becoming frantic. What do I do?
    I turn around and pull the door open to reveal my middle-aged mother, her white-blonde hair becoming more on the white end with every passing day. Now, I’m not sure what my facial expression must have been, but she suddenly pulled me into her arms, “Oh honey, you gave me a scare there…” Relief.
    “Mom?”
    “Yes, dear?”
    “Is there something I should know? Or…”
    She sighs, and pulls back from our embrace to study my expression, “What exactly happened in there?”
    So, I explained to her the mysterious scales and how I started to choke, and all she did was nod with pursed lips. When I finished, she took my hand in hers and led me to her bedroom. We both sat down on her bed, and she cleared her throat.
    “Michelle, your father… well, he was not exactly human, and neither are you.”
    I just stare, wide eyed at my mother, “Ok…?”
    She sighs again, “He was a merman. You are… well, I’m not sure exactly what you are, dear. A mermaid is half human half fish, but you’re half mermaid half human. So, I’m not sure if there’s a term for that.”
    I laugh, “You’re pranking me right? This is what I get for turning eighteen?”
    Her mouth turns into a straight line and she narrows her eyes.
    “Right?” My face falls.
    “I’m afraid not, dear. He told me that you would be a normal human until your eighteenth birthday. And, well, here you are.”
    “So, now what?” I ask desperately.
    “Now, you must go find your father.”

    1. Reaper

      Your descriptions of the change are perfect. I forgot to breath when your MC was choking. Perfect descriptions that had me thinking I knew what she was, and I was almost right, but not sure. The relationship between mother and daughter felt very real to me, in the style of a close single mother and only daughter that struggled with just each other. Your last line is dramatic and verges on melodrama without quite crossing over.

      1. Autumn Douglas

        Thank you! :) I honestly didn’t know where I was going with it until she splashed water on her face. I sometimes worry that my descriptions are too much, but I’m happy you liked it.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Autumn, there’s nothing wrong with your descriptive prose. The whole story vaulted in my mind with “I began to choke on the air in my lungs…”
          I immediately thought… ‘Splash.’

          And I agree with Reaper, Your last line walked the middle between power and melodrama.

          1. Autumn Douglas

            Yes I tend towards more dramatic tones because I find it entertaining. Haha hopefully it isn’t too cheesy to others xD but thank you for your comments :) much appreciated.

  19. miamegg

    Seventh Daughter

    “Happy Birthday!” Her parents greeted, and Sarah found herself staring evenly at the door sized collage pinned above their living room sofa.

    She glanced at her father who was puffing his chest with obvious pride. At her mother who was wiping happy tears from the corner of her eyes, and then at the collage with a close-up of her oblivious sleeping face. She turned to the culprits and pointed at the horrendous excuse of picture.

    “Did you just take my picture while I was sleeping?” Sarah knew the answer was facing her, but she wanted to let her parents know her disapproval.

    “But Sarah dear, it’s the only time you don’t wear black lipstick and eye liner. You’ll have to forgive us for wanting to give you something with you looking decent.” Her mother turned to her father and they both nodded approvingly. Sarah rolled her eyes and turned, but her mother grabbed her and sat her down the sofa before she had the chance to escape.

    Alarm bells rang in Sarah’s head at the sight of bother her parents looking at her in excitement. The situation did not bode well for her, and there was no place to hide or escape. Slumping forward dejectedly, Sarah gave her parents an even stare.

    “Mama, Papa, in twenty minutes I will be late for school. Please don’t make me suffer on my eighteenth birthday.”

    “But dear, aren’t you going to say anything to us? Don’t you feel different at all?” Her mother asked and closed in on her, whispering conspicuously. “Has anything…bizarre or out of the ordinary happened lately?” Her mother asked expectantly.

    Sarah wondered if her mother had gone crazy, but judging by the look on her fathers’ face, her father would have been crazy too. Seeing the look in her eyes, her mother waved her hand dismissively and sat on the floor by her knees.

    “Oh don’t give me that look dear. Have I not mentioned this before? You are a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. I’m not much for the occult, but surely you’ve got something to show us, right? Come on, you know you can telly Mommy and Daddy.”

    Sarah didn’t give. Instead, she looked at her watch, muttered about the wasted ten minutes of her life, and escaped the door to her freedom. She didn’t miss her parents’ “We’ll discuss this later” goodbye call and ran for the bus to school.

    She was just in time for the bell.

    Instead of walking to her classroom, Sarah made her way to the back of the building where a small shed kept outdoor equipment. She sat down on the bleacher facing away from the building and let out a breath.

    “Hey Jake, I think my parents are on to me. It’s a good thing I didn’t take you home with me yesterday. They’d have gone bonkers if they found me taking to thin air. Probably tears of joy.”

    “Yeah?” A male figure passed through the wooden walls and casually sat beside her. “Isn’t that a good thing?” Sara hummed.

    “I’m not so sure any more.”

    1. gamingtheblues

      I enjoyed this. The dialogue was realistic and flowed nicely. I am curious about the plot as there are a few details that leave me wanting more about what is happening. Is their daughter a goth and her parents think she is part of an occult?

      And…. is that a reference to devil worship or more of pagan origin? I know both have been used in popular literature. Also, I find it interesting that they would be excited and supportive of that. And finally…what exactly is Jake… a familiar, a demon, devil? But those questions are not really criticisms, just the reader curious to find out more!

      There is a certain lighter tone in the writing that belies the possible darker nature of the piece, but I suppose to really get a feel for the setting, we would have to know more of the world you are creating. All in all, a very interesting and creative story.

      1. miamegg

        Thanks for the comment! :)

        I guess I left too many plot holes in the piece, but I already went over the 500 word count limit so I just stopped writing more details.

        To answer the questions, Sarah is a goth and her parents like the idea of being ‘out of the ordinary’, thus making a big deal out of her being the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. As for that, the seventh daughter/son of the seventh daughter/son usually means that the individual is gifted with supernatural abilities. In this story, Jake is a ghost and Sarah’s affinity has something to do with the supernatural/paranormal.

        After the prompt, I thought opposite of Harry Potter. Where the Dursleys rejected Harry, Sarah’s parents in the story are trying too hard to pass something as extraordinary out of the ordinary and Sarah’s the one trying to keep a secret.

        I really did leave out to much information. I’ll try harder next time.

        Thanks! I’ll probably be continuing this piece now. :)

  20. Jorderic

    “A star?” Jeff was looking at me like me like I was crazy.

    “Yeah. A star.”

    “And you’re sure they weren’t being like “You’re a star because you’re so special” blah blah blah.”

    “No they were totally serious.” More serious than I’d seen them about anything for a long time actually when I thought about it.

    Jeff just shook his head and let out a slow whistle. “Man your parents are messed up.”

    “Thanks I really needed the reminder.” I said with enough sarcasm to poison a baby elephant. My parents had been in prison for about eight years now and just when I think they might finally be out of their drug induced fantasy land they go and spring this on me. I was done with it and honestly I was this close to just saying ‘so long, enjoy your incarceration’ but some part of me just won’t let me do it. I guess somewhere deep deep down I still cared about them. At least enough to not write them out of my life completely.

    Jeff could tell I was upset. “Sorry dude it’s just. I don’t even know what to say to that but hey you’re finally eighteen. A legal adult. Old enough to buy cigarettes, vote for slime bags, and get drafted into the army! What’s better than that right?”

    I wasn’t in the mood but I still laughed because I could tell he was trying.

    “Yeah and now that I know about my true “origins” I can use my super amazing star powers to save the rainforest and kick the Russians out of the Crimea.”

    “Not to mention solving global climate change and setting fire to sky walker ranch to ensure the world’s greatest threat to movies is no more.” Jeff said without missing a beat as we sat down in our math class.

    “Look can we just drop this and move on.” It came out a little more menacing than I had meant for it to but hey it got the point across.

    “Ok, no problem. No need to go supernova on me. Get it? Supernova…”

    I was starting to get seriously pissed. I shot him a look to let him know I wasn’t amused. It wasn’t that I was mad at him. Not really. He never knew when to quit so this was nothing new but reminding me of how screwed up my parents are and how many times they’d let me down wasn’t doing anything for my mood.

    “…Right…no more of that. Sorry.”

    “Yeah you’re sorry. Everybody’s always sorry. My parents are sorry, CPS was sorry, the police are sorry, everybody’s sorry for my sorry life.”

    1. Kemter

      Wow Jorderic, your story is fantastic! Leading with the dialogue that jumped straight into what the MC was (besides human) not only sucked me in from the first word, but was also a great way to allude to the talk he had with his parents without wasting time on going through it. And then the fact that his parents are in prison, and his best friend’s personality, and the attitude of the MC… the whole thing made me really want to get to know your characters and see what they do next!

      I’m definitely a fan of this one, well done

    2. gamingtheblues

      Ahhh now THIS this is a beautiful piece of writing. Witty, well written dialogue, just enough exposition to give backstory, but enough in the dialogue to keep things snappy. I kept waiting for the reveal and it never CAME… so nicely done with the cliffhanger (which I feel was “very” intentional.) I have no criticisms what-so-ever with your story and would definitely read more. Color me impressed.

    3. Jorderic

      Thank you both so much for the comments I really appreciate it. I’ve never posted anything I’ve written before so Its nice to know that other people like it. :)

    4. Reaper

      After your comment I have to say welcome to posting Jorderic!

      This is a good piece of fiction. There is a tense switch when the character is thinking about his parents in prison. Not sure if that was intentional or not, and it is the only thing I have to say that is not positive. I loved your imagery, poison a baby elephant was beautiful and spoke volumes with few words. I loved how you jumped right in and the friendship felt real and natural. I am not sure if the fact that your MC never expresses powers or anything is a cliff hanger with more story, or if it is because he is not really a star and the story is done. I lean towards cliff hanger because of the fiery personality traits he starts expressing. Either way this could be a very nice set up or a very complete piece and that makes it even better.

  21. john.huberty

    ok this is the first time I have ever written anything and so let me know what you think. I really want to be a writer and I think this site will go a long way toward helping me see that dream come true.

    “Why, why tell me this now” Jason asked his parents who were sitting on the couch across from him.
    “you turned eighteen today, when a ‘creature’ with your abilities turns eighteen there is a group that comes to take you away and use you, we don’t really know what for, but we don’t want that for you.” His father replied.
    “I can’t believe this; you are telling me that all this time I was not even a human being. I’m a creature from another planet. One capable of manipulating my surroundings any way I want. Well did the people, sorry creatures, that dropped me off tell you how I was to be able to do this at least. Wait who is this group that is supposed to come get me?” he asked.
    “It’s a government agency we know as the Counsel of Seven, which has made a deal with the beings from your planet that lets them use you as long as you get to grow up normally, and now they will be coming for you.” His mother explained.
    “When will they be after me?” he asked nervously.
    “Sometime today, that is all we know, we have only ever met one other like you and he was taken the day of his birthday. His parents never saw him again.”
    Jason got up and walked around the living room, which seemed so small now, trying to clear his head. This couldn’t be happening to him; he was supposed to be on the way to school right now to learn about chemistry and math. It was his senior year and he was already accepted into the college of his dreams in California only three miles from the beach but this would change all that.
    While he was moving toward the window he heard a sound like tires on gravel. He looked out the window but didn’t see anything in their long driveway; he must have been hearing things. On his way back to the couch he heard it again and this time he thought he could hear the engine of a vehicle with the sound of the tires on gravel. Could they be coming already? Where were they, they weren’t in the driveway?
    “Please say something sweety, we love you and we don’t want anything to happen to you.” His mother pleaded from the couch.
    “I don’t….”
    Before Jason could say anything else the door to the house blew in off its hinges and a man came through with a gun in his hands. Without thinking Jason reached into the earth and pulled as hard as he could. A huge bolder came up through the floor and pinned the man to the ceiling before he could get a shot off. The boulder was holding to the roof apparently contrary to gravity.
    Jason looked down at his hands and wondered, not for the first time that day, What am I.

    1. Reaper

      Welcome john.huberty! I can tell you that these prompts have helped me hone my writing and I’ve been doing it for a long time now.

      Your story is good, I could feel you getting into the flow of it. I can see art here and think you will progress nicely. You asked for thoughts so I can tell you four things that I notice that might help. Two technical and two more focused on the writing.

      Make sure you capitalize, the second second sentence starts with a lower case, it’s nit picky but important. A piece of advise that was given to me on my first prompt, try separating your paragraphs with a line break, it makes them much easier to read. Those are the technical and will make the work easier on the eyes.

      Now, these are focused on the writing and ultimately fiction is art so take them with a grain of salt and as advice based on my own biases and experiences. One you have some extra words that you could tighten up to give a stronger flow. Specific example – Jason got up and walked around the living room, which seemed so small now, trying to clear his head. – Reads long, it is a powerful thought in a lot of clothes, maybe something more like “Jason stood, walking around the suddenly to small living room to clear his head.” A few less words and not saying it should be that exactly but it is quicker words for an action. Another example being where you mentioned the sound of tires on gravel, then you had him hear it again with an addition and you mention the tires on gravel again, that specific sound does not need to be repeated with the heard it again already out there.

      The last piece of advise is I would focus on the voice in dialogue. Mom was very good, but to me father and son sounded like the same person. In this few words it’s hard but try to make them more distinct.

      Again, this is all advice based on how I read so take it or leave it just as I do with anyone who edits my work. Because in the end it’s your story.

  22. Cheerfully_Mad

    First time to do a prompt – Kept it at exactly 500 words (still not sure how I did that!).
    ****************
    “Home”

    On my seventh birthday, my very normal parents read me myths from all over the globe as bed time stories. For my thirteenth birthday, my parents taught me to make incense, instructed me in meditations, and encouraged me to keep a journal. My sixteenth birthday was no different in showing how different I was from my peers, courtesy of my parents. While I did receive a big family party, I also received hints and innuendos I was not like the others.

    With a giddy glee reserved for children on Christmas morn, my parents waited for me at the breakfast table. Their Indian honeymoon pictures intermingled with all the photos they had taken of me over eighteen years.
    I flipped one of the pictures of my parents at an ashram over. I have never see any couple more in love with each other than my parents. My heart ached at the loss I felt for my own lack.

    “Sara, you are eighteen now and entitled to your heritage,” Mama smiled at me. Daddy’s smile mirrored hers as anticipation crawled up my spine. Together, they handed me a passport.

    I smiled uncertainly back at them as I took the passport. Finally, travel? My parents had never left their small town with the exception of the two months in India. They were devoted to the normalcy of small town life, complete with extended family, though they never participated in the various feuds and dramas.

    Daddy cleared his throat, “Sara, your mother and I are the luckiest people in the universe. We have each other and you. We were not supposed to be together, but Fate decided otherwise and now it is time you knew.”
    My butt thudded into the chair. Their story and mine wove around me as they took turns explaining, reminiscing, laughing, and smiling. Blood drained from my face and my skin numbed as their words pelted me.

    Mama frowned for a moment. “Sara, don’t you understand? You are an Avatar! For your graduation, we are taking you to India in two weeks to meet the rest of our family. Our real, soul family. We are going home!”

    Daddy tugged Mama up from the table. “This is a lot to process. I thought we had been preparing her to accept her divinity, but let’s give her some time.” Then he turned to me, “Young lady, goddess or not, you still have school. You will not be late.”

    The finality of his statement slammed home as he shut the back door behind my parents, leaving for work.
    My birthday and subsequent two weeks at school passed in both a blur of light speed and the soul agony of January molasses. No one noticed I was not like them. Even Avatars had to take finals. Crap.

    On the last day, a classmate asked me what I was doing after graduation. For a moment, I really thought about my family and my parents.

    I smiled at her and replied, “Home. I am going home.”

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was wonderfully written. The prose was melodic and flowed nicely, the dialogue felt real and natural. I do wonder what exactly an Avatar is, as there are several in popular culture or if this is your own invention. As a reader I am very intrigued to know more. Nicely done and welcome to our little writing corner.

      1. Cheerfully_Mad

        Hi there!

        I was more aiming at the Hindu version of avatars, which are roughly the incarnations of various deities into humans to experience what human life is – sometimes to learn, sometimes for sheer boredom.

        I am currently working (what unpublished writer isn’t?) on a project involving intervention of a goddess on a drug dealer in Atlanta. :)

        Thank you for the welcome.

    2. Reaper

      Welcome Cheerfully_Mad! Your name made me go and listen to I’m Going Slightly Mad so I like you already.

      This was well written. I kept wondering about the slightly younger tone of your MC, it felt intentional so it was not off putting at all. The small town explained some of it, but then the divinity brought it home. Nice subtle use of voice there. I winced and sympathized with Sara as a god that had to go to school and take finals. Your ability to cause a connection over such mundane things was amazing.

      I don’t know a lot about the Hindu aspect but your explanation of your project about Atlanta made me realize why this felt familiar. To me this felt like a good interpretation of loa in human form. Some things translate universally but this translation was due to your words not something natural, which is wonderful. I loved the closing line, leaves me wanting to know more but also feeling very complete with this story.

  23. Hash_tag5

    *BANG! BANG!* “Wake up SUNSHINE!”…..
    “Great! Exactly what I need at…” I rolled across the bed and reached for the bedside clock. “7 AM!!!” I shouted, making my intentions of not getting up known to my mom.
    “But it’s your birthday! We want to be the first ones to wish you on your 18th birthday!”
    “Not me.” I could hear my brother scoff. And also the “OUCH!” that followed after the comment.
    “Get up! We have a surprise for you! And something else to tell you…” my dad shouted from the other side of the door. The last bit was said with less enthusiasm which certainly piqued my interest. I dragged myself across the bed unwillingly and opened the door. Mistake of the day.
    “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!”
    “Sheesh guys, could you all not be so loud at 7 in the morning?”
    “7:15 actually.” My brother corrected.
    Mom had a cake in her hand and dad looked happy and sad at the same time. Hmm…Interesting.
    “Go ahead! Sing me THE SONG while I blow at the candles which apparently will make my wishes come true”. On cue, the three of them started singing and throwing their hands up in the air. I couldn’t help but smile. I blew at the candles and here is the funny thing, I WISHED. I wished for them to always be happy no matter what.
    “Before we give you your gift. We need to tell you something.” My mom seemed troubled.
    “Wait, is this about the vase I broke the other day because I….”
    “No it’s not about the vase love….”
    “Then the dent in your car?”
    “No…we…”
    “My exams?”
    “YOU ARE NOT HUMAN!” My brother screamed and THAT was enough to shut me up now. I looked at my parents and they seemed serious about it. A few minutes passed and surprisingly, I wasn’t shocked. I never felt normal and people always intrigued me.
    “A vampire?”
    “No…”
    “A werewolf?”
    “No…”
    “A wizard?”
    “Oh for the love of GOD!! You are an alien!”
    “Wait what? An alien? Does that mean am from another country or from another PLANET? Wait I’m from Canada aren’t I? Or from England perhaps? ENGLAND!! I KNEW IT”. They ignored my questions are went off to do their work mumbling “Here we go again…”
    “Wait stop don’t go! Where is my gift?”
    Turns out I am the kind of alien who is from another planet. My family doesn’t know which one though. It doesn’t stop there. I, the big mouth that I have, told my best friend about this. And she told everyone else, thanks to the big mouth she has. Everybody looked at me funny in school but were smart enough to not ask me questions. Then dumb jock Jack spoke,
    “Hey ET! Wanna go home?” Did not see that one coming.
    “Am good. Hey, ever heard those alien encounters people had?” My evil smile seemed to have worked as Jack Kane paled. Well, this is going to be so much FUN!

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was interesting and whimsical at the same time. I could not decide if the fast almost hectic headlong into the plot was intentional or accidental but am choosing to believe intentional and it added some humor to the piece as I gather this was more of a fun than a serious one. Nice little story.

      1. Hash_tag5

        It was kind of intentional since I had to keep to around 500 words. I am glad that you liked it. :) Thank you. I must say, I don’t usually write comedy or even anything seriocomic for that matter.

    2. Reaper

      Aside from a couple of missing words I stayed in this story the entire way. Difficult to do with something that does have a frantic pace and a funny feel. I loved that you managed to capture a teen so well with the interruptions and the questions. The misunderstanding that had to feel intentional to the teen’s family but felt very real and then the wait what about my gift? Your characterization was amazing. Since you might be a teen since I have been told that before what makes that so good is not that you wrote it so well (unless you are past your twenties) but that you made me the reader understand it perfectly.

      1. Hash_tag5

        I just realized that there are missing words in it. Sorry and Thank you :) I am actually past my teen years. I am 22 but very far off but it’s just I have been through that phase. And I used to be exactly like the character. Kind of destructive. Although unintentional.

  24. PromptPrincess13

    So sorry for the length on this one and any typos, wrote it on iPad without access to word-count. Nice to “see” you all again!

    BEAST

    It’s amazing how 4 words can crumble your world; it can erase 17 years of life. I’d underestimated the power of truth, only came to appreciate it once I realized that my whole life has been a lie. A twisted, cruel lie.

    I crashed on rather than sat on the couch, feeling alienated from my own body, mind floating in numbness and muscles loose to the point of immobility. “What?” I asked for the third time, voice hushed almost to the point of inaudibility. My heartbeat didn’t slow much but my thoughts ordered themselves again, quickly recuperating from the train crash of revelation that had smashed into them.

    “You’re not really human.” My father said, with strained patience. My mother sat in the farthest end of the room, quiet and pale.

    “What kind if sick joke is this?” I could hear the defiance, hot and hungry, in my own voice. A stutter that had never before faltered my confidence made its way into my words now. “D-daddy?”

    A blasting jolt of fear hit me then, bringing with it a slithering wave of uncertainty and a pang of anger. I curled up on the couch and let the emotions stir and strengthen, all the while aware that my father was sitting across from me, pain in his eyes but impatience in his bearing. I closed suddenly heavy eyes, just for a moment, then shot bolt upright as a shudder of movement wriggled across my lips. I brought a shaking hand to my mouth; I felt wetness. With cramped fingers I wiped my bottom lip with my thumb and brought the tip to my tongue. The taste was awful; metallic and immediately recognizable. Blood.

    I searched my parents’ faces to find their expressions much softer than before. I worked my jaw, which moved with more power than I could have anticipated. Gently, I patted my face and my unusually frizzy hair, than moved a hand into my mouth, suspicion crawling through my insides and multiplying. My teeth had grown, flattened, with two fangs jutting out from my gums where they’d never been before.

    I looked down at my arms, wincing at the orange tint the hair there had become. My voice was a soft growl when I said: “what am I?”

    —————————–

    Having to go to school that day was the final blow, the final confirmation that I had reached rock-bottom. I received tons of birthday wishes, beaming faces of friends calling out to me from either side of those long hallways. I didn’t answer. I couldn’t- just couldn’t. I didn’t speak to anyone or did anything to draw attention. Everyone gave me my space, respected my bizarre crisis like they knew I was having one. I truly thought I’d make the day without my secret being revealed. That was at least, until I reached my last class: creative writing.

    We were all seated, learning about the art and usefulness of prompts when I felt my eyelids grow heavy again. Unwillingly I felt myself slump against my desk, a feeling of thick needles punching into my nails. Once I straightened, I didn’t have to look to know my nails had grown into claws. All my classmates were staring at me and so was the teacher, chalk in hand and hip cocked to the side. She gave me a smile exposing two fangs and tugged on her sleeve, behind which I’d caught a glimpse of orange. “Class, come on, let’s begin. Here is your topic. She pointed to the blackboard on which were the words: Unleash Your Inner Beast.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Well now. I do not know if I have made your acquaintance personally, though I do remember having seen your prompts before, but hello!! Now my thoughts on your story…

      Lets start off with what I loved. I loved the ending, it made the entire piece for me. Something about the teacher with her hip cocked to the side really brought the visualization home and made the story come alive for me in a way it had not completely before. I am also curious about just what the MC is. In general your story was well written, the plot imaginative and the dialogue nice.

      Now for a little constructive criticism. The use of adjectives in this piece took me out of the story to a large extent in the beginning. I have struggled for a long time to be able to tell someone just what I mean when I say that, as there are many authors who do this, and MANY who do it a lot more aggrievedly and extravagantly.

      Finally I found the term I was looking for. Your prose is a little purple. What does that mean? In answer, I will supply a link to a site that better explains it, though as mentioned you only are a little purple. ;)

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PurpleProse

      1. PromptPrincess13

        Hi Gamingtheblues! Thank you so much for having taken the time to analyze my piece and share some wisdom – I really appreciate it! I completely agree that sometimes I go overboard with adjectives and I found the link very helpful in pinning down exactly what that means and how to tone that down a little. Thanks again! PP

    2. Reaper

      Having read that link I believe the first paragraph is what generates such a contentious consideration (yes I am doing that on purpose GTB, just for you). It is much simpler and less descriptive than the rest, so it makes other bits seem purple. This is a case where the numbers being put in rather than spelled out seems out of place with the rest of the writing. I know it’s technically correct but is not as eloquent and your story is. Mostly I blame that on the limitations of your locked down device. I loved the cocked hip of the teacher and the description throughout had my mind on overdrive trying to keep up. I saw her perfectly and believe I would have a muddier visual without those adjectives early on.

      I loved this story. The reveal was good because there were hints that had me thinking the entire school was like her but I wasn’t sure until you confirmed it. This reads like an American tween concept along the lines of Harry Potter. I would like to read more of this story to see where it goes.

      1. PromptPrincess13

        Hi Reaper! I’m glad you enjoyed my story. I did regret putting in the actual numbers as soon as I saw it in the posted format but by then it was too late. I’m not sure what “an american tween concept along the lines of Harry Potter” is, but as I’ve been a die-hard HP fan since I was a kid, I’m taking it as something positive. Thanks for reading! PP

  25. jmedwrites

    ‘That rooster is a one hit wonder’ I say to myself as I hit the alarm snooze button. I hope to give my ears some reprieve from the mechanical yardbird. My dad likes to combine his love of sound mixing and electronics by creating obnoxious gadgets. My friends love my Dad’s inventions. My best friend Timmy especially loves to follow dad around in the garage and help ‘tinker.’ I usually brood in the den over a gratuitously violent video game while laughter from my Timmy and Dad comes rolling from the garage. It bothers me to share him with Timmy. Sometimes I thought my friend only comes over to hang out with my Dad rather than me. One day, the scratchy sound of a mono melodic bantam crying hideously was the source of the uproarious amusement.

    Dad and Timmy burst into the den. I sat on my beanbag, thumbnails white as I bear them down into the buttons of the remote control. This is how to fully annihilate zombies and demon dogs. I give them a disinterested look as I quickly appraise the silly little recording Timmy is so proud to announce. My dad gives Timmy a scrub on top of his mop of dirty blonde hair. I see Timmy look up at him beaming. This is what he comes for-a dad. Timmy’s dad is in the nursing home even though he’s only forty. His dad worked for the electrical company and was nearly killed in an accident. After work, he went to the pub and drained a couple pitchers of beer. Meanwhile, a tree had fallen on a power line that had to be removed ASAP. The small town hospital was on the grid and had lost power. Timmy’s dad was on call that night and the mixture of alcohol and hot electrical wires completely fried what little sense the man had.

    Timmy would visit his father at the nursing home. I went with him once. We sat in a chair next to the man while he stared blankly at the television. The Good, a The Bad and The Ugly played. A poncho clad Clint Eastwood gnawed a cigar. Timmy’s father groans. His hands reach for his face spastically. We looked at him as his efforts to paw his face become more excited and irritable. ‘He wants a smoke’ said Timmy. Timmy wanders to his father’s nightstand and pulls a cigarette from a pack of Pall Malls. The boy takes the cigarette into his lips, lights it and inhales a full drag. I delight in how the eight year old boy smokes like a man-like Clint Eastwood! Timmy exhales a heavy fog of smoke. My eyes tear, I put my hands out before me searching. I feel heat overhead and the sound of burning.

    I’m awakened by the rooster. I walk downstairs to my parents hoping some breakfast would be of comfort. My father is seated at the table. I hear my mother rustling around in the kitchen. The familiar sounds of my mother preparing a meal put me at ease until I see my dad. I cannot speak when I see him. I look at my father’s dark hair which has become grey overnight. His hair receded from the temples. A candle is burning and his eyes are fixed and forlorn. He’s holding a photograph in his hand. I approach him to get a closer look at the picture which has caused him such gloom. I hesitate to look into his hands so I put a hand on his shoulder. He winces with a howl of pain and bolts upright. ‘Anne!’ he yelps to mother. He’s holding his shoulder with the opposing arm. ‘Another nerve strike, Ernest?’ Mom asks. ‘Dad’ I say. I realize no one has looked at nor heard me. I look down onto the floor. I see the photograph. It’s a picture of me at eight smiling up from the beanbag at Dad-the-cameraman. It was the day Dad and Timmy made the rooster alarm. After Timmy left, Dad and I talked about what upset me. We made a pact to never let anyone between us.

    ‘I don’t know Anne’ Dad said. ‘It feels like a burning tentacle lashing me when the pain comes on’ he said to Mom. Mom holds him and together they cry. ‘Its always so hard on his birthday.’ I’m frantic. The front door opens. I hear a young man’s voice, ‘Pop? Momma Anne?’ Their eyes brighten. They open their embrace to gather the healthy blonde teen in a letterman jacket. ‘Oh, my Timmy’ dad said. ‘Our Timmy’ mother said. ‘Do I smell breakfast?’ Tim asks. ‘Oh, yes, you men sit while I make the plates.’ I watch mother heap scrambled eggs and toast onto plates. She opens the oven and a cloud of smoke whirls out. The smoke embraces me. It starts at my waist and folds itself around me. My throat inhales the hot briquettes of ash. I lay on the floor atop the old man as he wretches in convulsions. The linoleum bubbles beneath him and his flesh has merged into the floor. The smoke expands into my lungs. Each whiff of burning air devours my lungs. The old man is still. ‘The potato casserole is scorched.’ Mother said. ‘We have plenty Momma. Rest yourself.’ Timmy implored.

    ‘I was telling Pop about the memorial service we’re having for Daniel at school today.’ As Timmy speaks, I look into my hands. They glow like lightening-burning hot tentacles. I watched my murderer dine with my parents a little longer. Next I follow him to school and make good on the promise I made to my Dad-no one would ever come between us.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Well hello there! I not believe I have seen any prompts from you before? Are you a new face or an older one I am just meeting. In any event… wow. This was one of the most polished prompts I have seen. The story was engrossing, the dialogue well written and the pacing up to the reveal nicely done.

      This felt very much like I was reading from a book, so if you did editing it definitely shows and if not well done. Note, it is a “little” wordy, BUT…it was so well written that it was easy to overlook and fall into the heart of your story.

      I would suggest breaking up your paragraphs with spacing a little more just to make them easier to read. On a computer screen, full size book paragraphs often come off as blocky and over whelming.

    2. Reaper

      I don’t think I’ve seen any prompts from you either, so welcome if you are new, and welcome back if I am. ;)

      Amazing ghost story. It seems to take the idea of a spirit staying around for “good” reasons and being twisted by the loneliness, which is a take on vengeful spirits that I love. Assuming I read the murderer right as an accident and not something to steal the father. I believe I got that right. It is hard to do revenge while keeping your MC sympathetic so I would agree with GTB on the polish.

      I for one love the wordiness, but then I’m a fan of literary fiction. The words and the character focus won me over with this one, and I dove in as well. There are a couple of tense shifts that were a bit jarring. Some of them were obviously intentional. The thing is I can’t tell if those mid paragraph shifts, such as the middle of the paragraph in the nursing home are intentional to give the ghostly feel or not. If they are I would suggest those as good places to break up your paragraphs as it would allow for a smoother change in the mental voice of the reader as well as a little easier read. If they aren’t then staying in one tense in a paragraph would make this even more engrossing.

      Amazing piece and I look forward to reading more. If this is an early work I’m jealous of your talent.

  26. CyberDave358

    “Happy Birthday, Ed. It’s time you know, your 18th birthday is the traditional time of ‘Unveiling’. You aren’t from this planet. You were entrusted to us by another race of beings from… well, that’s enough for now, except to say that you have a purpose. Hurry up, you’ll be late for school…”

    Nice way to start any day much less a man’s birthday, discovering that your real parents are from another Galaxy. Or, discovering the folks are nutso. Which is worse? I’ve known my parents weren’t ‘my parents’ since I was three and it’s never been problematic. While I’d rather believe the crazy alien story, crazy parents seems more plausible. Which could someone believe should I dare share this little gem with ‘em?

    In retrospect, the crazy parents tale has seems more likely. But having driven over to West Virginia for a fifth of vodka to ‘celebrate’ here at the drive-in tonight, there lay the bottle in the floorboard, empty, and I’m not even buzzed. Usually a couple beers will makes me happy and after four I’m singin’ the blues. What’s the deal with that? Heck, Gregg bought a pint of Bourbon and he’s smashed from swilling about half the flask. Where is ‘ole Greg, anyway?

    But I know where he is. I can see; he’s skinny dipping with two girls in the reservoir, up near the Interstate. It’s December, dude! You’ll go into shock and drown. The two toasted women will take your car and you won’t be located until your bloated body rises to the surface in Spring…

    Yeah, that’s it… go back to your car, turn on the heat. Wait, until your brother shows up. No, don’t let the blond drive; she’ll wreck down on the bend. Wait for your brother. Brother, go fetch Gregg. Here’s where you’ll find him… And hurry.

    What was that? After being derided in class this morning when I asked Miss Snow to explain boson string theory (Bruce’s laughter still stings: “Yeah, the Bozo wants to know about Bozo Theory!”), I could explain it to her, now. I know Bruce will end his own life, alone, 16 years from now after three failed marriages and a life of alcoholism. Or is that just wishful thinking?

    Will that happen because I’ve planted the seed in his mind? Bruce, wherever you are, stop drinking, man. Is that possible? There’s his black Chrysler across the parking lot, no doubt with his pint of Jack Black – which he’s tossing through the opened window!

    I gotta get outta here, gotta ask the folks what else they know. Am I going crazy, mad as I’d thought them, this morning? Road clear, left turn onto 19… Were that I could speak to my real parents. Maybe they are from another galaxy; were that I could fold space and ask them…

    The scent of flowers… the heater’s stifling. Two moons… too much, STOP! The road… Two people approaching my car…

    “Welcome home, son.”

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was a very VERY unique take and story stylistically. At first the writing threw me as it had a frenetic feel that does not fit great with prose. As soon as I realized that the writing was stream of consciousness though, I had an AH HA moment and changed my thoughts from concerned to great appreciation for the imaginative and quite frankly excellent writing here.

      I liked following your MC’s thought patterns, as he is changing the world around him without even knowing it at first. Really enjoyed this one.

      1. Reaper

        This is another one where gamingtheblues said everything I wanted to say but better than I could have. So quoted for truth and I’m starting to think GTB is my Tyler Durden.

        1. jmcody

          Ha ha, Reaper, now I am picturing you and GTB as Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. What a visual! Thanks for the laugh.

          I was really trying hard to stay out of it at this point because I need to take a break and attend to my real life, but you just blew my resolve. :)

        2. gamingtheblues

          Well I will take that as the sincerest of compliments =) Though perhaps without the nihilism inherent in Tyler! Thank you very much reaper, and JM… I suppose I’ll let comparisons with Brad Pitt slide.

          1. jmcody

            I just know that Reaper made me spit out my herbal tea with the Tyler Durden comment last night. Reaper wins my comment of the week award. ;)

          2. jmcody

            Gosh I hope this isn’t coming out the wrong way. It’s just that the intellectual sparring (strong word, I know) and general mind reading that has been going on between you two has been very entertaining over the last few days. I am pleased to be in the company of two such fine minds, tea-spitting notwithstanding.

          3. Reaper

            I meant it as one. Definitely less nihilism. After seeing many of the things I wanted to say in better words I got this quote stuck in my head, so I made the comparison. Edits are mine, normally I don’t edit cursing but on here I try to respect ages and possible parental concerns. “You could not do this on your own. All the ways you wished you could be…that’s me! I look like you wanna look, I f*** like you wanna f***, I am smart, capable and most importantly, I’m free in all the ways that you are not.”

            Oh jmcody. I am okay with being the Ed Norton of your mind. ;) Sparring is a good word, sparring is friendly.

    2. jmcody

      I loved this, stream of consciousness and all. The voice of your MC was completely believable as a teenage boy with sudden newfound powers. His voice teeters on the edge between incredulity and knowingness. (“Bruce, wherever you are, stop drinking, man. Is that possible?”) The pace and pitch were exhilarating. Call me a fan!

  27. David Velasco

    I still remember that day. Seems like yesterday. The day I became an adult. In more ways than one.
    I sat silent, confused, in the back seat of our minivan, waiting for my parents to speak. They had wanted to tell me something. And we were only a few blocks from school.
    “Honey,” my mother said as she turned slightly in the driver’s seat. “Now that you’re are eighteen…”
    “And Happy Birthday again, Sweety.” Father had on big a smile, glancing up at the rear view mirror. He always made my birthday a special day.
    “Thanks dad… but…” I then looked over at mother, “You said at breakfast you wanted to tell me something before school.”
    They exchange looks at each other. I noticed their expressionless faces just as father nodded gently.
    “Honey,” mother began, looking right at me, “you’re not really human… some with think.”
    I still remember those words to this day. That instant in time, my mouth hanging open, mind stunned into silence, hands tightening their grip the laptop bag in my lap.
    “What” was the only word that I could think of.
    Father spoke next, keeping his eyes on the road. “You’re actually what is called now days… a Gam… a Gamer.”
    My mother’s smile was a bit odd when she spelled it out. “Genetically altered-manipulated human.”
    Back then being a Gam meant different things to different people. Now it means something else.
    In hindsight, I see why I was shocked. Scared too, but curious at the same time. What other eighteen year old wouldn’t be?
    “Sweety…” my father spoke next as I sat dumbfounded, “You’re going to hear allot of things about gamers…”
    “But we did it because we wanted the best for you…”
    “Things were… are so uncertain…”
    My head swung between my mother and father as they spoke. My mind raced, grasping for comprehension. I wanted to know more. But I could feel the car slowing and pulling up to the curb in front of the school. I looked out the window and saw other children heading towards the front door of the old brick style building. And I remember seeing Mr. Toliver, my homeroom teacher, standing near the steps. I did not think about it then, but he seemed to be watching us drive up.
    “Sweety… If you don’t want to go to school today. I… we understand.”
    I turned my head to look at my father as he spoke. Long story short, I said no. After some more conversation, I thought it best to go.
    Mr. Toliver smiled at me as I approached the front door.
    “Hello Reagan… and Happy Birthday,” he said in his normal, gentle voice.
    “Thank you,” I said, trying to smile myself. Then I told him, “My parents just told me I was a gamer.”
    His smiled broadened. “As is customary, we are told that when we turn eighteen.”
    He put his hand on my shoulder and led me inside.
    “Now your real education can begin…”

    1. Reaper

      This feels more like the beginning of an epic story that you need to tell than it does a short story. I was thrown off by you hitting your stride right before you ended. The teacher and MC feel like fully fleshed out character while the parents feel like a way of conveying information. As the opening to a novel it is excellent and I would be diving in to chapter two right now. As a short story I might suggest reordering a little. If you started with Mr. Toliver greeting him at the door and Reagan explaining he had an odd conversation with his parents, flash back to the scene in the van then end with the reveal about his favorite teacher it would seem like a full cycle story. As it stands it feels like there was a lot of, but not enough exposition leading up to the cliff hanger where I need to tune in next week. But I’m probably sounding like a jerk and I apologize for that. If this is a beginning for a novel I want to read it some day.

    2. gamingtheblues

      Hmm I have to tentatively agree with Reaper though perhaps for different reasons. I did not notice anything off putting on my first read through. Going through it a second time, I realized for me that the reasons it feels like an incomplete longer novel was that the first line and last line do not sit well together, as their tones and really who they are speaking to are very different. The first line speaks to the reader in an off handed way, but it is never addressed again that this is a shared memory or told-story. The last line feels as the MC is living the scene at that very moment, and not in a past thought…. or at least that is what I felt. ;)

      NOW…that being said, that is a VERY VERY small thought and not even a criticism, as there is nothing saying that there is anything wrong with these being blurbs from a larger narrative, meant to leave the reader wanting more. This was a very good story and the above takes nothing away from that.

      I enjoyed the emotional reactions and dialogue between the different characters and had myself a mild chuckle at first with the “gamer” tag (not sure if you are making a mild jab at people who consider themselves modern gamers) but as I “am” a gamer AND my user name has game in it, I found it highly amusing.

      1. Reaper

        I feel a need to clarify what I said because gamingtheblues said this so well. I understand that these can be excerpts and I did love the story, in case that didn’t come through. What flashed through my mind was an assignment in a High School English class to write a short story. I have this idea I have been working on for a series, it is my masterpiece and I don’t work on it enough. But I dove in and wrote a short based on that world. There were references to ideas that were in the book but left the reader wondering in the short. The comment from said teacher was while it was good and obviously part of a larger work to remember when taking a piece of a novel and putting it out as a short story that you have to explain these things again so your audience isn’t confused. That was the inspiration for my comments.

        Looking back on it I agree and think that is what I was trying to say about hitting the stride at the end. It does feel like a shift from one story to another. Though being a gamer from when that meant tabletop not video I found the label funny myself, especially with the reference to that didn’t mean then what it does now.

        1. David C. Velasco

          Thank you Reaper and gamingtheblues for your comments. I am honored you enjoyed my short story.
          Reaper is right wen he feels it is the beggining of a much longer story. I am not very good with short stories (especially less than 500 words!) Hence I frammed it along the lines of something that may be much longer.
          In my original draft, I did make reference to what we call gamers now days, and what that means in the distanct future. So I can see were gamingthesystem can relate :) But I tried to changed the pronunciation to găm-er (short a).
          Again thaink you for your time.
          David

    1. miamegg

      I’m really sorry.

      This is supposed to be a comment for the first story by snuzcook titled Revelations. I realized that I was making a reply to the thread and not to the piece a second to late and clicked POST.

      I’ll do my best not to litter too much with double(make that four) posts and incorrect replies.

  28. SarahRose95

    My eighteenth birthday was filled with bright pink balloons and a bright pink cake with bright pink frosting. As a heterosexual male whose favorite color is green, I was highly confused. My mother flitted around preparing dinner for me and my best friend Jay, who was trying to keep the chuckling to a minimum.

    What was even odder about this situation was that my parents decided not to join me for my birthday dinner. My dad was upstairs in their bedroom drinking beer and watching TV. He promised me a family dinner later but that was all the communication out of him. My mother was simply facilitating the evening and chose not to be part of it. Instead my best friend and I sat across from each other on the ebony dining room table with two lit candles in between.

    I decided then to corner my mom in the kitchen, the moment she saw me walk in she tried to escape but I quickly blocked the doorway.

    “Mother…” I tried to manage my most threatening voice, “what is going on? “

    She looked everywhere but at me, wringing her hands. When she realized I really wouldn’t move unless she told me something, she gave up. Letting out a small sigh, she began, “Well, John, the thing is,” another sigh, “you’re not normal. I was, well I realized. John. John, you’re gay.”

    I couldn’t say anything for a moment I was so shocked. I certainly tried to say something but my mouth just opened and closed uselessly like some goldfish.

    “I was reading this article the other day and it was talking about how you can tell around five if you child is gay. So I was thinking back and that’s when I realized that you are gay. I know this must be hard for you.” She placed a hand on my shoulder.

    “Mom,” I took her shoulders in my hands and stared her straight in the eyes, “I am not gay. I would know if I was gay.”

    “But John, think of when you were five” she leaned and whispered as if telling me some huge secret, “you wore a tutu once!” she continued, “and Jay is such a nice boy, I think you’ll be very happy.”

    “That’s not how sexuality works mother.”

    “That’s not what the article said.”

    With a heaving sigh I tried to escape but I could hear my mother quickly shuffling behind me, “Don’t worry John!” she tried to chase after me, “we are very accepting!”

    1. gamingtheblues

      I applaud you taking on a charged subject as sexuality in such an upfront manner. My own story could have been taken in that way depending on the the reader. I think that you did a nice job of walking a very very fine line, especially in a world where everyone gets offended so very easily.

      In a way perhaps you did answer the prop, because while John’s parents were very understanding if he did turn out to like someone other than girls, many still treat those who are different like less than human.

      I feel your story was trying to gently address the ridiculousness of stereotypes and inadvertent prejudices.

    2. jmcody

      To me, the story is about the folly of blindly accepting the advice that is so blithely doled out by so-called experts in the media, and particularly in media targeted to women. Anyone with a laptop can be an instant expert, and people give way to much credence to what they see/hear/read. I also think this is a send-up of how people will bend over backwards to be PC. It seemed like this mother wanted to believe her son was gay in order to demonstrate her tolerance. Tolerance is a beautiful thing, but so is common sense.

      Provocative story!

    3. Reaper

      I think you did reply to the prompt, with a twist but a very good one. You did very well since gamingtheblues and jmcody have different thoughts evoked by this and I think they are both right. I see stereotypes and inadvertent prejudice, I also see instant expert and a condemnation of being too PC. They weren’t what I took away exactly, though one is close, but I agree with them both.

      For me two things read in this. One is the idea of how ridiculous middle class white folks have become in trying to defend and protect those poor oppressed people over there. To the point that as a group we don’t realize the bigotry begins with seeing people as different, not with letting people fight their own battles. There is a brilliant moment in the Newsroom’s first season with a gay black man yelling at the main character “I didn’t ask for your help.” I see a lot of that in your story, and that is the one that I said is close.

      The second that resonates for me is the idea of people in power thinking they know you, and know what’s best for you. Without too many details I’m in a situation right now that has me reading the news every day and seeing that someone in government has said horrible things about people in my situation, or that we really need to help people by fixing the situation six months down the road and not helping out in the here and now. So every day I’m seeing people in power thinking they know me, and what’s best for me but nobody talks to me about it. That’s what I saw in the mother, and as well meaning as she was I wanted to punch her for telling not asking.

      Sorry to hijack with personal information, I just couldn’t find a better way to explain it. This story has a lot of power because it is touching so many places for different people. Keep up the good work.

      1. gamingtheblues

        Hey reaper!! I know what you are talking about!! Why??? Because I sit in the same boat my friend ;) and as I am very much aware of your intelligence and insight through your stories and your responses to people, those government officials truly are fools to type cast. All humorousness aside, I truly feel for you and wish the very best. Good luck out there.

  29. LindseyRachelle13

    I looked out the window at the sun-covered lawn and wondered what time it was. “Today you’re no longer a teenager”, I thought to myself. “18. Officially an adult. Now I can vote, smoke, and get a credit card”. Based on how I was feeling, I wondered if the U.S Government should change their rules. I had no desire to go out and gain my independence; instead, I wondered if my mom had already made my favorite breakfast – pancakes and bacon – or if she was waiting for me to wake up. I got out of bed and threw on a pair of rumpled jeans from the floor under a hoodie and headed down the stairs.

    “Hi honey!” My mom greeted me as I walked into the living room. She was always insanely happy and cheerful. I never knew if it was a girl thing or a preschool teacher thing. This morning, though, I was glad to have her giddiness greeting me in the morning. 18 meant that I was a little closer to leaving for college, and I was terrified of that, but no one. knew.

    ‘Hey. I can smell breakfast. Wanna go eat?” I asked eagerly. I wondered if there was a gift waiting for me in the kitchen. There always was on every other birthday. Would today be different because I was officially an adult?

    Suddenly my mom looked serious. “Jonathan, I have to tell you something before we eat. I’ve been watitng until your 18th birthday. It’s going to be a lot to take in”. She looked at me, scanning my face for a response.

    “Uh, okay.”

    “You….are really special. You know that though. But…you’re even more special than you know, you know?” My mom was nervous, stumbling over her words and talking too quickly. “You’re not really a person. I mean, you have a soul but you’re….not…human…exactly. Your dad – your birth dad, the one you’ve never met – was an experiment. He was completely manufactured in a lab. They didn’t know if he was going to be able to reproduce normally, but here you are so I guess he can.” She laughed nervously and then continued. ” The government needs to do tests on you. To see if there’s anything they couldn’t’ foresee. And you’ll get a large sum of money too. They agreed to wait until you were 18 so you could spend your childhood normally.” She stopped and looked at me expectantly.

    I let everything sink in. I’m…..some sort of lab rat? Full of produced chromosomes? What kind of tests do they need to do on me? Am I going to live as long as a regular person? So many questions were swirling in my head. I didn’t talk much as my mom and I ate breakfast, and wondered if I would be able to concentrate in school today. Was it obvious to everyone that I’m a freak? Does the school know? It was going to be a long day.

    1. gamingtheblues

      You have an excellent “voice” in your writing. It is natural and flows smooth. You lace your actually rather serious plot with humor and it creates a narrative that feels it could be real. I especially loved (and laughed out loud) with the whole…screw adulthood, I want mommy to make me pancakes and bacon! Awesome.

  30. snuzcook

    Thanks, Don. Your comment got me started thinking of all sorts of hypothetical ‘Acts’ I could propose, if I didn’t believe that legislation is the wrong way to fix the world.

  31. jmcody

    Oh, I just couldn’t resist…
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    Light bursts forth like a blinding revelation as the box is pried open for the first time in what seems like forever. I have no idea how long I’ve been trapped in here, or why, or who my rescuer is. I only know that I am instantly and deliriously grateful for the sunlight, the air and the promise of a life beyond my dark prison.

    A voice, heavy and rough-edged, crashes through the cocoon of my silence.

    “Well Happy Birthday!”

    Is it my birthday? Is this the reason for my release?

    “Would you look at that… eighteen years old! Aren’t you a sight for a parched soul!”

    It must be my eighteenth birthday. I don’t know why, but this seems important, and whoever this is seems pretty glad to see me. I want to thank him for rescuing me, but my voice is nothing more than a faint gurgle, perhaps from years of disuse.

    “Come to Papa, Johnny.”

    I have a name! And a Papa! This is more than I could have dreamed in my cramped, sightless world. I scan his face, searching for some vestige of family resemblance, some primal memory of the father-son bond that we share. Yes, yes, I see it now – it’s there, in his eyes, amber colored and glassy.

    But it’s more than that. The connection goes far deeper than eye color. I see myself in his face, lined and ruddy with family resemblance, and in his expression, haunted and wanting. I’m in his very breath and in his blood, as if it is my life essence that courses through his veins. After a lifetime of exile, I am found. I am home at last.

    “You always were my favorite, Johnny.” Papa places his hand tenderly on my head. I choke back the tears that threaten to overflow, as Papa cups my head in his hand and begins to squeeze.

    Wait a minute. That hurts.

    Something has gone horribly wrong. Papa, please, no! You’re hurting me! He tightens his grip and twists and twists, until finally there’s a sickening cracking sound. The pain is excruciating.

    Before it has even begun, my life is over. Papa hoists me up and tips me over. The acrid reek of death overwhelms everything as my life force spills out, sloshing over the icy grave he has prepared for me.

    “Happy Birthday to me,” Papa says, hoisting his glass in a toast to no one. “Eighteen year old Johnny Walker Red – best gift I ever got.” He raises the glass to his lips and begins to drink.

    1. jmcody

      I should have said Johnnie Walker Platinum, darn it. The red is a mere 12 years old, and that’s a whole other story. Next time I’ll do my research before I hit “post!” Hope you enjoyed it anyway.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m so used to drinking “Old Crow”, this story overwhelmed me! It was a neat-0 response. I had all kinds of stomach gurgling reading the first part in horror and then the bottom dropped out literally. “Gotya” you say. Just wait until the next prompt.

    2. gamingtheblues

      This was more than just an funny twist story. It was beautifully written and the prose of the “bottle’s” thoughts are excellent. In reading these stories, I attempt to read them in two different ways… first as an editor and skill analysis and then as a reader and emotional reaction. So, while it was funny and the twist got me as well, I also found that it flowed like poetry for me.

      1. jmcody

        Thanks, GTB. It started out as kind of a fun little prank, but I do feel that it took on a different character as it went along. Thanks for noticing.

    3. agnesjack

      This was enormously clever, jm, and very well written. There were so many hints throughout, such as “his eyes, amber colored and glassy,” and “his expression, haunted and wanting. I’m in his very breath and in his blood.” Although it was a quirky response, it also was sad and very human.

    4. Reaper

      Oh my God JM! Even in a funny story that began as a joke you write descriptions, emotions, and sensory overload that makes me weep. Loved the gotcha moment, and the reference to Papa even after the drinking began. As was said those clues were brilliant, but I thought you were going for the angels and demons idea you mentioned because of the glassy amber eyes. The sickening crack made me wince even as I was realizing something wasn’t right. Then I was laughing a minute later. I detest Scotch and yet your story makes me want to drink some and toast the man with the birthday. Well played.

  32. QuiverPen

    Carl sat with his eyes closed, head tilted back, reclining in his desk chair. It balanced precariously on its back legs, though Carl didn’t give it much thought. His mind was elsewhere.

    Am I really an alien?

    Well, if he really was an alien, wouldn’t he have figured it out by now? He had done everything that normal kids do as they grow up. Got in fights, sluffed school, won prizes, chewed gum, even kissed a few girls. He’d lived his life well and the gaggle of friends that followed him around like lost puppies proved it. He was normal. No matter what dad said. And yet…

    If he was honest with himself, his life had been slightly different. No, he hadn’t seen any strange creatures, nor had he manifested any awesome powers that shook the understanding of physics (despite his near perfect test scores in that area I might add), but he had lived his life differently. More vibrantly, than a number of his peers.

    There were aspects of life that held in awe even still, subjects that held just magisterial beauty that, at times, they left him in tears. The flight of a bird clawing its way into the sky on a spring morning, an insect clasped in its beak. A seed sprouting from the ground with a green, tender shoot. Stars flickering at night in the midst of the inky blackness of space. Physics. Ham sandwiches. It was all so…wonderful! None of the other guys his age ever noticed things like that.

    Maybe there is some truth to it. He thought. What is the measure of a man? His strength of arm or his strength of character? What makes humans human? What were aliens if not those outside the norm? He was different. So maybe he was an alien. He smiled and then shrugged. So be it then.

    A knock sounded at the door and his dad poked his head in.

    “Are you ok, Carl?” He asked.

    Carl smiled. “No, dad. I’m better than ok. I’m an alien.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I really liked your tale, very introspective in it’s nature. A positive feel for the MC from the very start. Also imaginative in it’s story telling. The thinkings of the interior mind far surpass any events in history. You have a lot of depth to your story and I thank you for posting it.

    2. gamingtheblues

      “What is the measure of a man? His strength of arm or his strength of character? What makes humans human? What were aliens if not those outside the norm? He was different. So maybe he was an alien”

      Seriously??? No one else on this forum has picked up on the intrinsic truth and incredible insight-fullness that these sentences show? Well then I shall take up the gauntlet.

      As human beings it behooves us to to attempt to make the world a better place and most importantly change the mistakes of the past, for the better of the future generations. Your story shows people that it is not only OK to be different, to question societal norms, but that it is desirable and something to strive for, as evidenced by the puppy like followers of your MC.

      I have personally striven to question the idea of just what makes “a man”, a man. This is one of my personal quests to change especially, gender expectations and prejudices for both sexes. I found your story to be resonating with this ideal, and one that should resonate and be applauded by all.

      Your short, innocuous story touches deep deep roots my friend, it really does, either by intent or unconsciously. The great thing is, for the sake of the messages stories can convey, it does not matter which one is the truth. I hope that the rest of your work reflects such deep conventions. Excellent excellent.

    3. agnesjack

      “What is the measure of a man?” is a question that has been contemplated by so many (MLK, Jr., Samuel Johnson, Plato, etc.), and your lovely assessment follows in the tradition that it lies in integrity, kindness, love and sacrifice, rather than power, self-interest and cruelty.

      I liked this concise story very much. I especially liked his appreciation at the end for his enlightened alien gifts.

    4. jmcody

      Your “alien” seemed steeped in humanity to me. He seemed to be in contact with the very core of what makes us human, with an awe for creation and appreciation of beauty that is the aim of great art. Given that relatively few humans are able to feel that deeply, then maybe he is an alien. Come to think of it, by your definition, there may be several aliens on this forum. :)

      Beautifully written, thought provoking piece, QuiverPen. (I like your name too. Wish I had been a little more thoughtful with mine…)

    5. Reaper

      The questions touched on are what make this a must read, the quiet happiness and nudge towards a duty to use our gifts to make the world around us better are beautiful. A possibly controversial topic, as any theme that teaches a lesson openly is, without any feel of preachiness is attempted and delivered wonderfully. Thank you for taking a stand in a way that will pull in those you want to touch, not push them away. I can’t really say it any better than the people that have already spoken. GTB is right to call us out here. Many of us approach these subjects from the side, the fact that you did so openly and brilliantly and took a chance on introspection instead of action marks you as a person of conviction, and I look forward to reading more of your work. I also enjoyed that you didn’t go the expected route. Visionaries are often outsiders, so giving your MC a stable of friends spoke volumes on a stance that it is important to accept the strange people that make a difference to and for us and not ostracize them like we often do. I also second the love of your moniker.

      The content of your story is unquestionably amazing. I want to compliment your delivery. What you did here is hard, and if all of your writing, or even ten percent of it is the same or similar I see amazing things for you. The calm, quiet approach with a focus on detail that evoked emotions without yanking them out reminded me of someone, and it took me a while to realize your story had a feel like Hemingway because of it. Your conservation of words, but the use of the ones you allowed yourself brought power to them. Stark but not bleak I realized that mixed with that you have a way with words that reminds me of Robert Frost. These men are giants and that I had to stop and think about who you reminded me of means there are not a large number of people that use words like they do, so your style is much needed. In many ways this also reminded me of the David McCullough commencement speech from 2012 that got so much press. Because it speaks to the idea that you have to make your life important. The character finding his own way and seeming to settle on a life of working hard while being proud of what he is and just accepting it rang with those ideas for me. An overall, inspirational and brilliant piece of fiction.

  33. thetelleroftales

    I was a border-line zombie the night after graduation, which, incidentally, was also my 18th birthday. But, after all the stress for finals, I was definitely happier than I had been in a long time. College in the fall! That night, after all the glamour and the wonderful dinner with my parents and friends, I had fallen asleep, wondering about college. Zythinex Arts University. In four short years I would be in the writing/illustrating business for life.
    When my parents called me in to the livingroom a few days later, I was puzzled. They had already given me the ‘graduation talk’, and it was too early for the ‘college talk’. Had I accidentally done something wrong? They both looked very serious, sad even, and I resisted the urge to say immediately, “Whatever anyone told you, it’s not true.”
    “Seraphina, sit down.”
    As I complied, I noticed Mom’s voice was gentle and sorrowful. Had someone died?
    “What happened?” I cast an apprehensive glance from one face to another.
    “We have something to tell you,” Dad said, “It might hit you pretty hard.”
    “What is it? Has someone… died?”
    Dad shook his head in a way that seemed to imply that what was coming was far worse. “No, dear. I, well, we, need to tell you something that we’ve been hiding for a long time, ever since a night eighteen years ago. I… I don’t know how to break this to you. You aren’t our daughter.”
    I looked at him sharply. “What? I… I beg your pardon?” It’s hard to describe my feelings at that moment. Shocked, certainly. But almost numb, as if it were a dream. The worse that I imagined was that I was illegitimate, or my parents had abandoned me.
    “Honey, it’s worse than that,” Mom said, as if reading my mind. Her hand touched mine.
    I half considered shrugging it off as the first sense of betrayal scarred my heart. But no. Whether or not these were my parents, they loved me, and I loved them. “How much worse?”
    “You, well, you aren’t even human.”
    “Huh?” The shock I had felt before was nothing compared to this. A sense of horror swept over me. I had suddenly lost all identity.
    “You’re not human.”
    Not human? I thought. I suddenly felt lost and bewildered, like an eight-year-old lost in a zoo. My voice trembled as I clenched my hands and spoke. “W…What am I, then?” As soon as I said this I dreaded the answer.
    “You’re a mix.”
    What did that mean? Was I part human, then?
    “Between a snogre (pronounced snow-gur) and an Elf.”
    What? A snogre! To be an elf was bad enough. To be a snogre was worse.
    To those of you who are tempted to dub the word ‘snogre’ as laughable or cheesy, let me explain. A snogre is a Snow Ogre. They are admittedly better than their cousins, normal orgres. For example, they (or should I say we?) do not and have never had the temptation to eat people or children. In fact, they/we are mostly vegetarians. But they/we are still weird, giant-like creatures, and because of our cousins’ reputation, ours had been besmirched, as well.
    And an Elf. Those fierce, war-like beings were much admired, and much feared. To some, much hated. They sometimes protected, sometimes oppressed the humans that were under them. The king in power at the time was a good one, however, so they were mostly protected now. But then there was the racism, a disdain on the part of the strong, highborn Elves for the ‘lowly’ humans, and hatred on the humans’ part for their proud overlords.
    A horrendous mix. Snogre and Elf
    But that did explain some odd things, discrepancies. Snogres do not have ‘snow’ in their name for nothing. Not only do they live in the highlands and mountains where snow abounds, but they are almost as white as it. And they’re cold blooded. Elves are tall and regal. Those two explained why I was abnormally tall (almost seven feet, and still growing), why I was so pale, why I my body temperature was 82 degrees Fahrenheit, why my hair was so black, and why my eyes were so light blue, almost white, why my features were so delicate, queen-like as it had been expressed, and why I looked nothing like either of my ‘parents’.
    “We didn’t want to tell you on your birthday,” Mom explained, “Because you were so happy.”
    I can’t remember what I said then, or when or how I left. I only remember lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling. I didn’t cry. Snogres are cold-blooded, and have little emotion. While my Elven background more than made up for that, Elves are too proud to show anything. Then I remember sitting up on my bed and looking down at my white, white skin.
    What kind of a perverted creature am I?
    I looked up at the mirror and stared into my blue, blue eyes. A halfling. A monster. My eyes were accusing, my thoughts a mixture of bitterness and shellshock. Snoelf.

    Note: Apologies for exceeding the word limit so terribly. Thanks for reading!
    T.T.O.T.

    1. thetelleroftales

      Okay, this is part 1. I kinda wanted to do the school, too. Now for part 2:
      Part 2

      First day of Zythinex Arts University, despite my parents’ warnings.
      “But no one knows me there,” I had protested, “Which will give me a chance to fit in.” I had pushed away the thought that my height and skin would make me stand out anywhere.
      “No one knows you there,” had been my foster dad’s rejoinder. “Exactly. They’ll be quicker to note the difference.”
      When my parentage had been found out, friends became scarcer than flowers in winter. People I had thought I could have relied upon to stick by me faded away like mist in summer. One friend had stood by my side. Tina.
      Anyway, that was all past. I was here now. My life could begin over. My gut churned when I realized I was the only one over six feet five. Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t fit in so well.
      That’s when I saw her and him. Delilah and Josh. When they had found out who I was, they had made sure everyone else had known, quickly, and with many side opinions of their own.
      Freak. Monster. A Halfling. What’s the likes of her doing here? She’s not even human.
      Does she even have the right to live? A mutation like that! Who knows what has gone wrong with her.
      I clenched my teeth. How could they be here? They would ruin me forever. A fire flicked to life in my eyes, the greatest warmth I had ever known. I would prove to them and everyone that I was worth something. I would make grades like no one had ever seen before. Without friends, I could at least have more time to study. Ultimately, I would prove them and everyone else wrong.
      Suddenly, a hand descended on my shoulder. I whirled, and found myself looking into eyes as icy blue as my own. Even more surprising, I was looking up into them. Someone taller than I was. Eyes like mine. Hair as black. A young man, just a bit older than I was from the looks of him.
      His eyes were quizzical. “Who are you?” He asked, wonderingly.
      “Seraphina.” My expression was also puzzled.
      “I… I’m Roger.” He stuck out a hand. I shook it reflexively. “What’s your last name?” he added.
      “Tay…” I paused. That was no longer my name. “I don’t know.”
      “Neither did I!” He was grinning. “Hey, you want to talk over some coffee?”
      I instantly liked his pleasant demeanour, though his use of the word ‘did’ escaped me. “Sure. Why not?” My voice was still dazed. Who on earth was this guy? Why did he look so much like me? A vague hope stirred.
      He walked off in the direction of Delilah and Josh. I caught his arm quickly. “Not that way!” I hissed.
      “Huh?”
      I gestured. “Those two are from my hometown. I don’t want to meet them. We’re… we’re not exactly friends.”
      I was grateful that he seemed to understand. “Okay,” He said, “Let’s go this way, then.” He took my hand and led me back. “I’m a junior here.”
      “What are you studying?”
      “Art and creative writing.”
      “Really? That’s what I’m going to do, too!”
      “Wow. Okay, let’s wait until we get to the coffee shop. Less people there.”
      Less people? Wait, he was trying to get me in private. Why? And why go to a coffee shop for privacy? I shrugged and decided to wait. I saw the stares around us and quailed. I caught the whispers.
      “I guess freaks attract, right?” was one.
      “You seem popular around here,” I commented. For a moment I wondered if associating would lead to my estrangement, then I realized that I was already doomed to that by the presence of Delilah and Josh. And, he would be lonely. I had been having a taste of such desertion and decided that to help someone in that situation was worth it.
      “Yeah. You see, well…” Roger hesitated, then stopped. We were in a large open space with few people around. “I’m a Halfling. A Snoelf.” He then continued on.
      I stopped dead. “What? You’re a Snoelf?”
      He turned inquiringly. “Yes. Why?”
      My voice had sunk to a surprised whisper. “I’m one, too.”
      He grinned. “I guessed as much. In fact, I think I might be your brother.”
      My eyes widened. A sense of unreality swept over me. “You’re what? How do you know?”
      “I’m pretty sure I’m your brother. I always knew I had a sister. My mother told me. My real mother.”
      “Your. Real. Mother.” The vague hope I had flourished.
      “And yours,” he added, “You’ll meet her tomorrow.”

      Again, exceeded the limit, and again, thanks for bearing with me. I couldn’t resist writing the rest of this one.
      T.T.O.T.

      1. gamingtheblues

        Ohhhh… .I wish I had read this one sooner!! I LOVE fantasy stories and fantasy mixed with modern today is…well inspired! In fact, I might have to take some inspiration from this story for my own writing. Nicely written. I really do like the concept behind this one. Keep on writing!

      2. Reaper

        This is interesting. I am a hard sell on all things Fae but you made a believer out of me. While I was resistant to your mythology you sucked me into it. You have it well thought out and believable, so I it was an enjoyable ride. I was starting to think there were too many coincidences and was ready to groan at another snoelf that became the love interest, because I mean two families like that? So I was glad you went the brother route. My curiosity now, and would probably be cleared up in the next part, is this. Was the switch intentional? In the first part you said her parents were dead, or her foster parents said that, in the second she is going to meet her mother the next day, if it is her mother. If that is an intentional change to keep us and her on her toes good job. I thought it might be one of those where the change came during the second story though, because she didn’t seem surprised by it even though she was given that information in the first piece.

        1. thetelleroftales

          Thanks guys! Just saying, gamingtheblues, don’t take too much inspiration, because I might use it myself. ; )
          In answer to your question, it was an intentional accident, if that makes sense. It started by accident, I caught it, and decided it was fine as it was. And I prefer the ‘brother route’ myself. Not to say anything against love stories, but I think that romance in stories is a bit overrated. A little bit’s fine, but if you have it all over the place, well, it loses its charm. Again, thanks for the feedback.

  34. Arazimith

    Bridget woke to the shrill whistling as the wind snuck through a crack in her bedroom window. Reluctantly, she crawled from under thick quilts to begin her morning ritual. As she washed the night from her face and brushed the bed-head from her hair, she noticed a strange reddish mark on her neck. It looked like the oak she passed on the way to school.
    As she descended the stairs, Bridget heard her mother, Renee, moving about the kitchen.
    “Good Morning,” said Bridget.
    Renee smiled and said, “Happy Birthday.”
    “Do I go to school on my birthday?” asked Bridget.
    “Sorry, honey, it does’t work that way. Not unless you’re sick,” replied her mother.
    “Well, I do have this mark on my neck. Could be a bug bite and I should stay home just in case,” said Bridget.
    “A bug bite. Let me see,” spoke Renee.
    Bridget turned her head as her mother moved her hair. When Renee saw the mark, she took a quick step back and dropped the wooden spoon she was carrying.
    “I was afraid of this,” she remarked.
    “What? I was only joking. It’s just a bug bite. I’ve had them before,” said Bridget.
    “No, it isn’t.”
    “What is it?”
    “Honey, sit down. There’s something I need to tell you,” stated the mother.
    Renee’s serious tone emptied out a hollow spot in Bridget’s chest.
    “The mark is the Signet of Oberon. An elf switched my own daughter for you when you were barely a month old. You’re a changeling,” explained her mother.
    “Is this a joke? Elves don’t exist,” said Bridget.
    “They do, honey. When the world changed, everything from the old stories returned. We loss the technology that had kept them hidden, kept them away,” continued her mother.
    “This is a bug bite. Not this some of Sign of Oberon. I am not a changeling. I am your daughter,” said Bridget.
    Renee stood and wrapped Bridget in her arms and said, “You are my daughter. I raised you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a something else.”
    “How can you be so sure?” asked Bridget.
    “Because when you were four, I was visited by a couple of elves. They told me that you were their niece. That your parents had been killed. My daughter with them. They wanted to take you, but when I pleaded with them to allow me to keep you,” explained her mother.
    Bridget stood and pushed Renee away. “How could you do this to me?”
    “Do to you? Honey, I’ve done nothing to you. You are what you are,” replied Renee.
    “You lied to me my whole life,” said Bridget.
    “I did not lie. I have always told you what you are. My daughter. That’s all that matters,” said Renee.
    Bridget looked at her mother through tear laden eyes and asked, “Will anybody see this mark for what it means? Will I be seen as some kind of freak?”
    “Some may, but there are others like you out there. You just never notice them. Now you will,” answered her mother.
    Bridget was at a complete loss. Bridget grabbed her backpack and walked out the door. She headed towards school without knowing if she wanted to arrive. As she made her way down the damp dirt road, she kept her head down. As she neared the old oak, she looked up. Standing resolute beneath its branches were two small individuals. She slowed. They were dressed in white gowns that shimmered in the sunless light. They glided with silent steps towards her.
    “Greetings beloved niece. I am Telrunya and this is my spouse Coamenel. I am brother to the one who was your father,” said the taller of the pair.
    Bridget was frozen to the spot.
    “You have naught to fear from us. We mean you no harm. We just wanted to see you on your naming day,” said the other.
    “It is good to see that the milk of a human mother has made you tall and strong,” said Telrunya.
    Bridget let out a scream and dropped to her knees. She could not see through a veil of tears.
    She heard Coamenal say, “We have caused her anguish.”
    “Let us leave her,” replied Telrunya, “Heed this young one. If you ever have need of us, we have but to speak our names.”
    Bridget had no idea how long she knelt in the mud, but when she finally looked up the two were gone. She decided she was not going to school today.

  35. Carlos Hammer

    The One… The Only…

    She looked down at my red shoes before pulling the cold metal door handle. School wouldn’t be any different; it wasn’t like she now had hooves or something. Suddenly a girl shoved her aside.

    “Move it weirdo!” she shouted as her and her friends giggled. You know what, she thought, maybe being the devil wouldn’t be so bad. She smiled and followed the girls in.

    His mother, Rachel, held her tear streaked face in her hands. Joshua sat next to her. He touched her back calmingly. But it only made her shiver more.

    “Don’t touch me,” she sobbed, looking up at him. Joshua shushed her. He tried to sooth her.
    “Hey, it’s okay,” he called out to her. He smiled and stopped touching her back. “What’s wrong?” She turned to him angrily and his smile got bigger.

    “You know I didn’t what to tell her!” she shouted. He laughed. More cackled than laughed actually.

    “Come on!” he cackled, “You know I like to joke around!” she put her face back into her hands.
    “Is he coming? Is he almost here?” she changed the subject. He smiled again and cocked his head to one said jokingly.

    “Again, you should know that I’m not one to lie,” he joked. He then looked down at his watch. “Hmm…” he cooed as if he had to think, “he’ll be here as soon as your end of the bargain is held up.”

    “What do you mean? I already told her. What more could you want?” Rachel asked, bringing her head up again.

    “Maybe I should rephrase that. As soon as she holds up her end of the deal.”
    “Oh.”

    There was silence for a minute. Then the door opened. Joshua walked in, he looked just like he had when he was alive. Just like when he was still Rachel’s husband.

    “Hey Rachel!” he said it like everything was okay, like nothing had happened. “Who’s this?” he asked slowly, obviously confused, stopping in front of the other Joshua. But it wasn’t Joshua. It was the real devil. He stood and put his handout to shake Joshua’s hand.

    “Hello Joshua. I am the devil, as you’ve probably noticed. You’ve died but me and Rachel here were able to work something out,” he turned to Rachel and smiled.

    “Wha- wha- what? Rachel, what’d you do?” Joshua surprisingly just went along with this.

    “We told your kid she was the devil, but Rachel would only do it if I let you come back. So, here you are,” the devil answered.

    “Why would you tell my daughter she was the devil?” Joshua asked. Rachel had started crying again.

    “Well she got mad at some friends, and, thinking she was the devil, killed them for me. That’s all. Happy doing business,” the devil walked out. Joshua looked at Rachel and then back to where the red monster had just exited his home.

    1. gamingtheblues

      I suppose I will be the one to say this. I know that there is a good story in this, I can feel its bones so to speak. That being said, you really need to go back and re-edit this one. There are some word usage mistakes that do not make sense and I am having a hard time following the story. I would like to suggest that your read you story out loud to yourself, it will help identify the areas that need some cleaning up. I would really like to know what is going on, but I would not wish to assume or read the wrong feel into it, so if you get this comment please go back, re-edit and then re-post.

      I would gladly make suggestions if you want, but for now I will leave it at this – We all had to start somewhere in terms of writing and my first piece was a travesty compared to the few mistakes you have, so please do not take the criticism as anything more than wanting to help a fellow writer best find the means to convey the story they have in their heart.

      1. Reaper

        gamingtheblues, get out of my head. I have held back on comments like this because I don’t want to be an ass, but you do them very well.

        Carlos Hammer, there is a story here, and I want to read it. I would suggest going through what gamingtheblues said because I also want to like this but find it difficult to parse. The two suggestions I have in addition are this.

        One, I would put the focus on one scene. There is so much info that you seem to want to get out there, so many nuances that putting three scenes, though one flows into another in one case, makes this feel rushed. If you started with the return of the husband and explained through emotion and dialogue, or ended when he came in I think you could get all of this in the word count without leaving it feeling like it needs to be fleshed out.

        Two, the devil is a hard sell. We all have an image and we often say, that’s not right, when someone else presents theirs. To sell your version of the devil you have to write one that you believe strongly in and describe him quick and well. My own image is someone subtle and menacing but that you want to like. What you have here feels more like a high level demon of pain and suffering. If you use the devil spend a bit more time on him as a primary aspect of your story or keep him a bit more vague and let the reader imagine even more. I wanted to find your devil scary but since he was in that in between area I didn’t have enough detail to understand why I should, but had too much to let my mind manufacture reasons.

  36. ilovecupcakes

    The alarm clock buzzed on my phone as I groaned and stopped it. My 18th birthday. As May would say, ‘Happy one more year closer to death,my child.’ I sat up in bed just to see my mom staring back at me. “Umm.. Hi Mom?” I asked. “Happy Birthday,” she said uncomfortably.”There’s something I have to tell you. You’re not exactly human.” “What?!” I said, stunned. “Yes, you’re a cyborg- half of you isn’t real, it’s a machine. You haven’t been able to tell because artificial skin has been placed over it. That’s why you’ve never hurt your left arm or leg before. I’m sorry, we should have told you earlier.” I said nothing. How could my own parents not tell me? I got up, and prepared for school. When I got to my locker, there was a paper taped on to it, reading, ‘Happy Birthday, freak’. I felt someone grab me into a hug. I spun around. “May!” I exclaimed. “Happy Birthday,” she said. She looked at my locker. “Wow, someone can’t accept the fact that you’re special.” “How long have you known?!” I stammered. All of a sudden, she looked embarrassed. “Since 7th, during Hershey Park,”
    “How could you like, not tell me?” “I’m truly sorry, but you know I’ll always accept you for who you are!” Ugh, May and her ways…

    1. gamingtheblues

      Short and interesting. I would like to hear more about your cyborg MC. Some quick advice. Separate your dialogue as you see others in the forum doing. It is not “book” proper but it makes reading in this format a lot easier, and allows us to better differentiate characters and motives.

      Also, break up different thoughts a bit, even if not exactly grammar proper for full paragraphs. See above reason for this as well. I would also suggest saying out loud dialogue, it helps give it that little extra edge. That being said, these suggestions are more for mild improvement and education than horrific transgressions. The basic bones of your story are good and make me want to know more.

      I look forward to reading more stories from you and keep practicing and keep writing!

    2. Reaper

      I liked this because it was short and sweet. While formatting could be good I would suggest something other than what gamingtheblues did. While those edits would make it easier to read, if you don’t wnat to do that I would remove the line break before your last line. While unusual and daring it would make this a completely stream of consciousness flow of words. I would rarely recommend that but in this case that format makes a sweet story read like a nightmare and adds an interesting juxtaposition to this particular work. Daring and not technically correct but not a bad experiment.

  37. Observer Tim

    Here’s a second take: all dialogue, but it should be fairly clear.
    _____

    “I’m not sure, Son. Flying to Europe costs a lot of money.”

    “But Paw, everybody’s going! Lana checked the prices; I can afford the flight from my paper delivery money. And Alex has offered to help with the hotels …”

    “Son, you will not borrow money from that boy! He’s bad news and you know it!”

    “Yes, Paw. But it would be so much fun to be on a plane with Lana and Pete and Alex. We’ll take Europe by storm!”

    “Son, you could take Europe by storm all on your own. After all, you know you’re not human.”

    “I know, Maw. You found me when I was a little baby, and I look human and all, but this is the kind of shared experience that would really make me feel like one of the gang.”

    “I bet this is more about Lana than anything else. You have such a crush on her…”

    “Maw!”

    “Anyway Son, we saved up some money for your eighteenth birthday present; we were going to get you a car, but I guess that’s not really needed now. We can pay for your airplane flight, but you’ll have to use your money from delivering papers for hotels. And you have to come home and do your chores every day; the animals don’t feed themselves.”

    “Of course, Maw.”

    “And Son, …”

    “Yes, Paw?”

    “Don’t get in trouble with the French authorities. And be careful going through the metal detector; don’t mess it up with your x-ray vision.”

    “No, Paw.”

    “And remember not to overdo it. The last thing I want to see is some magazine cover with you holding a car over your head.”

    “Of course not, Paw.”

    “And remember Son, we may be simple farm folk, but you can always be proud of the name Clark Kent.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Yeah, but he wanted to sit by Lana because the year is 1946 and she finished filming “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” and she promised to wear the same tight white shorts in the film. Wouldn’t you?

    1. gamingtheblues

      Ahhh you had the guts to do the thing which I WANTED to do last prompt but chickened out. An all dialogue story. These are ALOT harder to do than people believe and especially, perhaps, with a well loved title character. This was interesting and fun, I enjoyed “Clark” Wanting to go on a euro trip like the average, hormone crazed teenage boy.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, GTB. I absolutely love all-dialog stories. Most of my life I’ve been a fan of radio drama, and it always amazes me how clear a mental image can be painted with a few Foley effects and dialog. Now that I’m trying it myself, I’m very aware how hard it is. But when it works, it’s magic.

        Please conquer your fear; from what I’ve read of your work, I know you can do it.

    2. Reaper

      I love the all dialogue. My mind is mixing Clark with Dukes of Hazard, probably because of Pa Kent in Smallville. Fun read. The format is interesting, and reading the comments add new elements because of that form.

      The problem is gamingtheblues’s comments about typical and hormone crazed adds the line from Mallrats into your story for me. You know, the one about a shotgun right through her back.

    3. Observer Tim

      In the 28 years I read Superman (1970-98), this is the one type of story I don’t recall much of. What it’s like to be human, and wouldn’t he sometimes just want to be “one of the guys”? Because of the Comics Code, you’d never see the JLA sitting around drinking beer, but all these people with all this awesome power have to give up something because of that power: relationships, normality, all the stuff they’re defending for everyone else.

      There. I’ve had my mini-rant, time to get back to work.

  38. Suzelhead

    I walked back to my room and slammed the door. I stopped as I caught my reflection in the dresser’s mirror and realized that everything was about to change. Everything. I felt myself tearing up and then realized the milk I just drank with my heavily-sugared cereal was curdling in my stomach.

    I ran over to my toilet, pulled my hair back holding it in a ponytail with my hands, heaved two times and barfed. It was absolutely disgusting seeing the half-chewed cereal in the toilet bowl. “Happy birthday to me!” I cried as I pushed down the silver handle to flush.

    I stood up, let my hair go and looked at my wet-with-tears face, red swollen eyes and running nose when my mother—or whatever she is—pounded on the door, “Honey, nothing has changed! It’s going to be all right! We just thought you should know the truth.”

    “Going to be the same?” I blurted. “Are you fucking kidding me? I just found out that I’m one, two, or, I don’t know, 37 zoo animal parts, mixed with a gazillion dead human body parts! Oh, and by the way, if you’re craving tuna, that’s because of the dolphin brain you’re sporting! Yeah, it’s all fine. I’ll just take my little brown bag lunch and go about my day! No problem!”

    “You’re overreacting,” said my father –or whatever he is–calmly.
    I opened the door and glared at both of them. “You’re out of your minds! Both of you!” I yelled. I turned and grabbed a few Kleenex, wiped my face and reached for my backpack.
    “And you thought this, THIS, would be a GREAT time to tell me? Right before school when I have two tests? Are you idiots? Oh! Wait! Maybe it’s my superior dolphin-brain that thinks so? Maybe I’ll just conjure up my gorilla strength and beat the hell out of both of you, then I’ll simply claim I’m not responsible because I’m not human! I’m a test-tube—NO! I’m the daughter of a—I don’t know what in the hell I am!” I said as the tears streamed down my face.

    I wanted to hug my mother so bad, but I hated her. She had tears rolling down her face too, and it killed me to see her crying, but my emotions were so confused, I really couldn’t feel the sympathy that should have been there. I wondered if that was an animal trait or something from the soul-lacking cadaver parts I housed.
    I threw my backpack over my shoulder, pushed my parents out of my bedroom doorway and stormed toward the door. “I won’t be home after school. Don’t even try to call me. I won’t answer,” I snapped.
    I slammed the door, and it felt good. It was the only thing that felt good that day.

    I started walking toward school, but called my friend Jeanie for a ride. Luckily, she hadn’t left yet, so I was spared the two-mile walk. Of course two miles is probably nothing for a horse, and I have horse DNA as well.
    As I turned off and put away the cell phone, I thought, “Jesus Christ! I’m a freaking mutant. “I’m like Frankenstein with animal parts.” I was trying to clean up and look like I hadn’t been crying when Jeanie pulled up. It didn’t work.

    “What’s wrong?” she asked.

    “Major fight with my parents.” I said.

    “You? YOU had a major fight with your parents? I NEVER thought I’d see this day. You’re parents are SO cool. I wish they were mine. I wish—

    “Can you just shut up? They’re not who you think. They’re not who anybody thinks. I hate them, and I don’t want to go back home,” I admitted.

    We headed to school in silence.

    We pulled in the school parking lot, Jeanie stopped the car and said, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but you can tell me abou–” She stopped suddenly, and when I looked at her, she was staring at my ear with her mouth open.

    I felt my ear and realized it had slipped out of place. I stretched the rubber back over its frame and covered it with my long, curly blonde locks. “I told you, I was in a bad car accident as a baby, and I have had lots of surgeries. My ears are, um, a little loose.”

    Then it hit me. The accident was all a lie. There was NO accident; it was just a cover story. All of my surgeries, and actually, my entire life, were just one big science experiment. I was a freak. A BIG freak, and the entire student population was about to find out at school assembly.

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was excellent. I really got pulled into the story. I love re-imaginings or likewise stories of Frankenstein-esque MC’s. Their internal conflicts are very interesting. I love the self deprecating/tongue-in-cheek comments from your mc. (maybe its my superior dolphin brain thinking that!?!?! really????? Rolling on the floor hilarious)

    2. Reaper

      This is a wonderful take on the Frankenstein idea. As much as I want to sympathize with your MC I don’t because it is such a teen over-reaction from beginning to end. Sometimes there are things we would rather not know. You did a great job of telling a human story with an inhuman character. That moment of realization at the end was a stroke of brilliance, even though she had all of the reactions it was still hitting her even then, great human foibles.

      GTB, we all know from Douglas Adams that dolphin brains are superior, they are the second most intelligent animals on Earth.

  39. kbaktygul

    – Wow, he says, and this is the present you’ve prepared for me on my 18th birthday. Well, that is really a good news for me to find out that I’m as beautiful as a swan or maybe monkey.
    — We are really sorry that you we can tell that you are not actually a human only now, but we as responsible parents came to the conclusion that you finally should know about it.
    — And do you think I’m supposed to think about myself and maybe all of you? what am I gona do?
    — Well, first of all, you should continue to go to school tomorrow as you usually do, shouldn’t you?
    — o.k. give me some time to think over the news that make me shake all over, please leave me for a moment.
    — my poor dear, says mom, you should know that whatever or whoever you are I will always love you. Be sure on that! Please take it easy!
    With such words he was left in his cabin by his parents. The news he was not a normal human hold his mind throughout the night where he plowed the emotions and the factual sides of his life. He had to reconsider what he had before and how to move ahead. But for the actual moment he was litterally confused. He didn’t really know how to act propperly with the new array or maybe image. But any way the morning came up and he was to go to scool.
    The first person he met was his pal who had known somehow of the friend’s new look.
    — Hey, I always knew that you have your own fly or bee that will sting some day even me, your bossom! Though I should say that I don’t really know what you are going to do with the new, let’s say, chellenges, we gona cope with all the pittfalls, you know.
    — God, you don’t actually realize what kind of life is waiting for me. You are just trying to cheer me up, aren’t you?
    — No, I really mean what I’m telling you! Just don’t worry. Everything will be fine.
    As his pal finished his encouraging him the voice of the girl he has recently had a crush on came next to him as closely as never before.
    — Now reveal the secrets that you have to me and I’ll tell you mine! I believe you can tell me a triller story that will turn me on.
    — What kind of secrets do you mean? Do you take me for an alien? I don’t look that damn green, do I?
    — Well, look, I’m not that mean that I would think of you as simple as that. Take a deep breath and calm down. I’m sure you are gona be a shining star!

    1. gamingtheblues

      OK… *puts on gentle gloves* Alright… Now…

      You have a very sweet and possibly inspirational story here. Let me just say that. To reach your audience the way that you would like, you have some work ahead of you.

      First, you need to use the automatic spell checker that comes in the forum. If a word is has a red line underneath it, it means that it is spelled wrong. If you right mouse click on the word, it will automatically guess at the word you want to use. Misspelled words are very distracting for readers.

      Next, I am not against the use of — to show someone is talking, though it “is” unconventional and not really proper, sometimes for artistic reasons it is OK to skip tradition. But if you do so, make sure you have a – at the beginning and end of what each person has to say. Also, each time someone different speaks, you should separate it with a space

      -like this. –

      In terms of what you have your people saying, you should say each line out loud to yourself or a friend to get a feeling for if what they want to say sounds natural, realistic and what someone would say in real life. Some of your character’s phrase their words a little awkwardly.

      The reasons for these actually very common errors do not matter, we all make mistakes at some point in our writing careers and I hope you do not take these as reasons to not write. What I want, is for you to learn how to better communicate what you want your story to say to your readers, because I feel the story you have to say is one worth hearing.

      Let’s just work on that editing and my suggestions. If you have any questions or comments please leave them. We all want to help fellow writers on this forum.

    2. Reaper

      I don’t want to pile on because I see honest effort and passion here. Despite everyone wanting to tell us what a real writer is when we look go publish we all know that writer’s are artists that want to touch and inspire. So I’m going to focus on the positive.

      While this is difficult to read I see a diamond in the rough. Emotion, passion, and a story to tell. I think it is trying to get out of your head so fast that the medium becomes secondary. Once the writing is clean I believe the words will leap off the page because certain phrases here want to stick in your mind.

  40. DMelde

    too long, sorry. not a lot of time to edit lately. :)

    When I was eight years old I watched Bulletman on television every Saturday morning. He flew with a jet pack that he wore on his back, and he had a silver helmet that glistened in the sun. He’d fly around here, and then he’d fly around there, and he fought bad guys and saved people (who were almost always women). It seemed women always needed rescue, and I’d get so mad at the bad guys for kidnapping them. I couldn’t understand why they were wasting their time on women because some of these bad guys were really cool. They had spaceships and ray guns, and they had really cool names like Emperor Zan from Planet Saturn. Why would an emperor, with the evil goal of conquering the Earth, ever waste their time kidnapping a stupid woman? I didn’t get it and if it were me, I’d be off shooting stuff with my ray gun, or I’d fly my spaceship around the sun and surf through the stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Maybe I’d never come back. Maybe I’d lose an eye in a ray gun fight. That would serve my parents right for giving me so many chores.

    That was ten years ago. I’m eighteen years old now and it’s my birthday! I still think about Bulletman at times. He always wore a yellow cape and I saw it catch fire one day when he was battling the Mole people. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it before, but it’s kind of stupid to wear a flammable cape so close to a fire-breathing jet pack. But now at least, I understand why he rescued all those women, and why Emperor Zan kidnapped them in the first place. Women don’t seem so stupid to me anymore. In fact, thinking about women takes up a considerable amount of my time.

    I was thinking of them when my parents brought out my presents and birthday cake. I was so preoccupied that I didn’t hear most of what my mom was saying. I just caught the last part…

    “….and I’m not your real mother.”

    “What?” I responded dumbly.

    “We’ve been waiting to tell you.” She continued. “This is so hard to explain.”

    “Maybe if you open your presents it will help make things easier to believe.” My father added.

    So I started opening my presents while they continued talking.

    “Your real father asked us to wait until you were old enough to understand. You know how we told you that the green tint to your skin was because you fell into a vat of pickles when you were younger?”

    I nodded with a little apprehension.

    “And how your webbed feet happened because you kissed a duck when you were little?”

    “Yes.” I said slowly.

    I looked down at my presents. A yellow cape, silver helmet, and a fire-breathing jet pack.

    “Well, what we told you wasn’t true. Your real father is Bulletman and your mother is a green-skinned princess from Venus that he rescued from Emperor Zan. We’ve been keeping you safe for them. Son, you’re half Venusian.”

    Realization slowly dawned on me and, smiling, I looked up at my parents. Best…birthday…ever.

    The following day I went to class at my high school barefoot. I could feel the eyes of everyone on me as they admired my helmet, jet pack, yellow cape, and of course, my webbed feet. As I looked around at my classmates I caught the eye of a pretty girl.

    “Say,” I said to her, giving her my best smile, “do you, by chance, need to be rescued?”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      That’s so good a story, it puts me in a wonderful mood today. It’s one of your best and the story line is believable. I especially like the kissing the duck for the web feet and falling in the pickles for the green skin. You have the making here a of a great children’s tale, 8 to ten year olds.

      Start drawing the pictures to go with it, DMelde and publish it. I’m in for three grand , for a share. Kerry

      1. don potter

        Oops, the above comment was supposed to be for Observer Tim.

        My comment for you DMelde is all 10 year old kids dream of the adventures you described and 18 year old boys think about girls all the time. You successfully captured these moments in time. Nicely told tale from beginning to end.

    2. gamingtheblues

      Pickles and ducks and Bulletmen, OH MY. This was awesome. I LOVE the pickle and duck line if you could not tell.. Just brilliantly funny. Also, I can completely picture the MC, with his webbed feet, silver helmet, yellow cape, jet pack, cocky eye and smirking, ” Hello miss, do you by chance, need to be rescued?”

      Face meet smile, smile meet face.

    3. Reaper

      I love this, and agree it has the makings of a great children’s story. Being that kid who still believed in Santa Claus in sixth grade (I know, what happened after that?) I have no problem with the teen believing the silly lies his parent’s told him and love that they covered up that way.

      I agree about the pickle jar, kissing a duck and do you need to be rescued being amazing and funny lines! Perfectly happy and funny. Though I do have to ask. If he knew how dangerous and stupid the cape next to the jetpack was why didn’t he break with tradition and lose the cape?

  41. miamegg

    LEAP

    “Happy 18th birthday Mr. Stephenson”, The Lawyer said and handed me some documents. I accepted them without much thought and eyed them suspiciously.

    In truth, it took minutes for me to process his words, and in truth, I’ve been living for 68 years. Alas, I was unfortunate enough to be born on a Leap Year, so I was technically 18.

    I squinted my eyes and turned to get my glasses from the living room table.

    ‘A lawyer first thing in the morning on my ’18th’ birthday’, I scratched the skin under my pajama top and wobbled to the room with my cane in hand. When my glasses were on and I could finally read, I scrunched up my brows in confusion.

    “A letter and an enrollment form?” I said out loud, reading the letter first. It was dated back when I was 18 years old.

    ‘Dear Andrew, the letter said.

    Happy Birthday! You might find this mind-boggling, but you’re not exactly ordinary or human.

    It’s hard to explain, but the person who told us about you said that you’d know once you turned 18. We thought it would happen once you were ’18 years old’, but it didn’t, so we figured it would occur on your 18th birthday. He’ll probably meet you to explain thing better, but don’t expect him too soon.

    In the mean time, we made sure to arrange things in advance for your convenience. Our family lawyer should have sent someone trustworthy to help you out.

    Take care, the letter ended.

    ‘A prank letter from my parents. I’m too old for this’, I thought with a lengthy exhale and blinked. When I blinked again, everything I saw turned blurry.

    “What the heck?” I said, and panicked when I heard my voice. It was young. Too young for someone who’d lived for 68 years. I suddenly remembered the letter and threw my glasses on the table to rub at my face. When I looked my house over, everything I saw was crystal clear.

    “…Seriously?” I said and looked over myself. I dropped the cane and felt no aching in my knees. My skin was no longer wrinkled, and when I got around to look in the mirror, my whole body had returned to the days of my youth. I stood there astonished.

    “…Wait…Am I supposed to go back to school?” I asked the lawyer, remembering the enrollment form. He’d come in after me and stood a few feet away. He was surprisingly calm about the situation. Heck, I was taking things in stride better than I expected.

    “Indeed Mr. Stephenson. As your new family lawyer, I’ll be here to help you,” The man said and took out a packet from his bag. He handed it to me and I found myself staring at a High School uniform.

    ‘Oh man this is rich’, I laughed and walked to my room.

    “You should hurry. Term’s already started and your classes are starting in an hour.”

    “What?! Say those things earlier!” I ran for the bathroom, but didn’t miss the way he snorted. I was going to bring that up on the way to school.

    Younger or not, I was still older than him in years.

    1. gamingtheblues

      I liked this! A very imaginative take on immortality and the downside to finding yourself young again! (Though I graduated HS when I was 17) So 18 would be fine with me! Good story, I have a feeling this “gentleman” is going to get into all sorts of trouble and adventure.

      1. miamegg

        Thanks! I didn’t realize it got posted since I tried around 4 times and didn’t see it appear. And now I ended up with a double post. How do I take down the second one?

        My basis on HS at 18 are Asian Schools. Middle School has an age range of 12-14 and High School from 15-18, right?

        1. gamingtheblues

          You can’t take them down, though our invisible moderator can I think.. and you have a quad post ;) I think it posted each time you tried lol. The other two are down the line more. I don’t know age ranges to be honest… My own school experience was not typical, so I think 18 is when most graduate. I graduated at 17 but they wanted me to graduate at 16. My parents wouldn’t let me skip a grade though, they wanted me to stay in my age group.

  42. miamegg

    (Forgive my inexperience. This is the first time I’m trying this.

    LEAP

    “Happy 18th birthday Mr. Stephenson”, The Lawyer said and handed me some documents. I accepted them without much thought and eyed them suspiciously.

    In truth, it took minutes for me to process his words, and in truth, I’ve been living for 68 years. Alas, I was unfortunate enough to be born on a Leap Year, so I was technically 18.

    I squinted my eyes and turned to get my glasses from the living room table.

    ‘A lawyer first thing in the morning on my ’18th’ birthday’, I scratched the skin under my pajama top and wobbled to the room with my cane in hand. When my glasses were on and I could finally read, I scrunched up my brows in confusion.

    “A letter and an enrollment form?” I said out loud, reading the letter first. It was dated back when I was 18 years old.

    ‘Dear Andrew, the letter said.

    Happy Birthday! You might find this mind-boggling, but you’re not exactly ordinary or human.

    It’s hard to explain, but the person who told us about you said that you’d know once you turned 18. We thought it would happen once you were ’18 years old’, but it didn’t, so we figured it would occur on your 18th birthday. He’ll probably meet you to explain thing better, but don’t expect him too soon.

    In the mean time, we made sure to arrange things in advance for your convenience. Our family lawyer should have sent someone trustworthy to help you out.

    Take care, the letter ended.

    ‘A prank letter from my parents. I’m too old for this’, I thought with a lengthy exhale and blinked. When I blinked again, everything I saw turned blurry.

    “What the heck?” I said, and panicked when I heard my voice. It was young. Too young for someone who’d lived for 68 years. I suddenly remembered the letter and threw my glasses on the table to rub at my face. When I looked my house over, everything I saw was crystal clear.

    “…Seriously?” I said and looked over myself. I dropped the cane and felt no aching in my knees. My skin was no longer wrinkled, and when I got around to look in the mirror, my whole body had returned to the days of my youth. I stood there astonished.

    “…Wait…Am I supposed to go back to school?” I asked the lawyer, remembering the enrollment form. He’d come in after me and stood a few feet away. He was surprisingly calm about the situation. Heck, I was taking things in stride better than I expected.

    “Indeed Mr. Stephenson. As your new family lawyer, I’ll be here to help you,” The man said and took out a packet from his bag. He handed it to me and I found myself staring at a High School uniform.

    ‘Oh man this is rich’, I laughed and walked to my room.

    “You should hurry. Term’s already started and your classes are starting in an hour.”

    “What?! Say those things earlier!” I ran for the bathroom, but didn’t miss the way he snorted. I was going to bring that up on the way to school.

    Younger or not, I was still older than him in years.

  43. lionetravail

    “Kitsu! You come down here this instant! Your birthday does not excuse this ‘B+’ on your paper!”

    Wow. Dad was pretty irate this morning, but he usually was where grades were concerned. The B+ was in Freshman Lit, and I’d gotten straight A’s til now. I was distracted while writing this last paper by the early snowfall of late November, during which I’d had the almost uncontrollable urge to go walking in the snowy woods at the end of the lane where we lived.

    “Coming dad!” I yelled, and looked back in the bathroom mirror to fix my hair, which was stubbornly not doing what it was supposed to. I got some water in my palm, and slicked it down to the left, and saw something I’d never seen before.

    “What the…?” I started, and reached fingers up to feel the tip of my right ear, which was now a little more pointy than I remembered it, and with a tuft of hair growing out of it.

    In shock, I didn’t hear my father come into the room, angrily, and even open the bathroom door with a grunted: “Kitsu, I swear…” before he stopped.

    Our eyes met in the mirror, but where mine were wide with confusion and not a little fear, his were fixed with concentration, with a hint of excitement and triumph.

    He knew something! “Dad, what’s happening to me?”

    He thought for a few moments, and said: “Come, let us go downstairs and sit, and we will talk.”

    I felt puzzled, uncomfortable, excited, disconnected as I followed him down the stairs. We went to the kitchen, and sat at the table, and he poured me tea: the usual, green, hot, strong, and unsweetened.

    “You are special, Kitsu,” he began. “And not just as our son. We had just found out she was pregnant with you, and she and I still lived in Japan, on Hokkaido. We were walking among the cherry blossoms in spring in Goryokaku Park, and we were alone on a beautiful trail.”

    I listened raptly, never having heard the story before, and feeling anew the absence of mother since her death a few years ago.

    He continued. “The day was perfect, the blossoms perfect, and we felt drunk on each other. And out of the trees trotted a fox… we were surprised, but not alarmed in our seemingly inebriated state. And the fox spoke to us, little yips that were somehow clear…”

    His voice was dreamy, his eyes out the window, caught in the memory. I swallowed, riveted to the story.

    Looking back to me, meeting my gaze, he said: “He blessed us that day, blessed you, inside, and told us his blessing would strengthen your spirit. We believed him to be ‘Kami’, a spirit creature, a guide… You are touched by the fox spirit, Kitsune. You are more than human.”

    I sat back in my seat. It would take time to understand this, to come to believe that the spirit world of Shinto actually existed, to what this would mean to me. And excitement seized me. “Oh. My. God. Can I change shape Dad?”

    He smiled, eyes crinkling. “I don’t know,” he said. “Go outside and find out!”

    So I did.

      1. sperye

        Well written.
        The imagery you created with your descriptions made me fell I was actually in the park with the characters.

        Look forward to more of your posts.

    1. gamingtheblues

      I am sort of in love with Japanese art, decor and culture, this was beautifully written. I was there with the cherry blossoms (My favorite flower and I am special ordering a cherry blossom bonsai when I can afford it) and the very poetic phrasing of your dialogue especially. I too look forward to more from you. Very well done.

    2. jmcody

      I don’t know how you did it, but I could hear the Japanese cadence as I read the dialogue. You have a wonderful ear.

      I don’t know much about the Shinto spirit world, but it reminds me a little of Native American spirituality. I would definitely want to read this story and find out more.

      As for the Dad, we have all heard of the Chinese Tiger Mother. Is this the Japanese Tiger Dad? A B+? Really?

    3. Reaper

      This is wonderful. Beyond what everyone has said I was groaning at the hard nosed dad until the end. When he suggests going outside and finding out he suddenly becomes that perfect type of parent that not only wants the best for his child but allows them the freedom of self discovery. Nice switch up on the feelings about him.

      I agree with GTB about the cadence, the English is just a little too perfect but also off and it translated well. I’m also a little jealous of the cherry blossom bonzai, now I want one.

      Come on jmcode, we all know that a B is the Asian F. Thankfully there is the fox transformation to save the child.

  44. AlienAlmanac

    “I’m a robot?”

    Dad frowned. “Well, you’re much more sophisticated than that.”

    “I’m a robot. You’re messing with me right?”

    Dad held that disapproving look I had seen so many times before.

    “Impossible. My skin is real.” I pinched myself hard on the hand.

    “Your skin has all the same properties as human skin but with some enhancements,” he said.

    “I breathe. I feel my heart beating.”

    Dad folded his hands together like he does when he lectures over at the Hall. “Your heart is synthetic, however far more efficient than any human heart. It charges your system and circulates lubricants to your legs, arms and joints. Your breath is simulated though. A reciprocating air sack forces air in and out but serves no other purpose but to…fit in.”

    “I eat. I piss. I shit. Explain that?”

    “An internal processor. Some of your ancillary components need small amounts of minerals to function properly. Foods provide the best source. But for the most part, digestion is simulated to…”

    “Fit in!” My mind was reeling. “I have memories of Mom and the beach and that time I fell out of the tree and broke my arm.”

    “It’s all coded, son. Those memories are necessary to help you in future situations.”

    “And Mom knew about this?”

    “Yes.” Dad winced. Her passing was still raw. “She coded your emotion bank and taught you to feel.”

    “How long, Dad?” A well of tears pooled under my eyes. “How long have I been alive?”

    “Eighteen,” he said switching to his caring voice. “You’ve been our son for eighteen years.”

    “No. I don’t believe you.”

    Dad reached for my hand. He turned my hand over and squeezed my thumb at the first joint. My knuckle cracked and the tip of my thumb opened like a hinged cap. A UBS plug sprung out of the end.

    “Dad, why…why have you done this?” I leaped out of the chair. “No, don’t! I can’t…” I stormed out of the room and ran up to my bedroom and locked the door.

    I stared at myself in the mirror for a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. I finally grabbed my backpack, threw on a coat and headed for the door. Dad was standing nearby.

    “I don’t think that’s wise, son. You should stay home today.”

    “Why, Dad? So you can program me some more? From now on, I’ll be programming myself!” I slammed the front door so hard one of the hinge pins sheared off. I walked to the end of the driveway just as the school bus pulled up. The bus driver gave me an odd stare as I climbed the steps. I stood at the front of the aisle. All eyes were upon me as if they all knew. A half grin stretched my mouth as a new thought entered my mind. Today was going to be much different.

    1. sperye

      Great story.
      This is almost believable with the speed technology is advancing. Well, maybe not waste management, but that’s another story!

      Excellent details and writing.

    2. agnesjack

      His reaction to the news was very realistic. I kept thinking, “sometimes it’s just better not to know,” because I felt so sad for him. The ending, however, worried me. Did the people on the bus know? And was he going to turn all Terminator on them?

    3. gamingtheblues

      This was another exceptionally realistic take on the prompt. I can imagine how someone would feel to this news… (I’m personally weird…. I would be ecstatic about the possibility of living forever, as long as emotions and memories and what not could be made and were not “simulated” lol) This was well written, dialogue was realistic and flowed naturally. Nice job.

    4. Reaper

      I like this. It is believable and has strong dialogue. Take this next with a grain of salt as I am not a scifi guy, but some of the voice seems a little off. When writing a scientist and educator and his robot son there are a a few places where the wording feels like it should be a bit more stark. Such as “Dad reached for my hand. He turned my hand over and squeezed my thumb at the first joint.” seems like it should read something more like “Dad took my hand, turning it over and squeezing the thumb at the first joint.” While not necessary because the original is correct the more succinct wording makes me think science while the original is art. But again that is just two cents before tax.

      With all of that I will say I recently heard the definition of the difference between science fiction and fantasy described as, “Science fiction makes the improbably possible and fantasy makes the impossible probable.” On that note you have succeeded in starting a beautiful scifi tale.

      1. Reaper

        Oh, one addition that I meant to say first. The most beautiful thing about this is you just start with a bang, throwing me into the middle of the story without making me fight to keep up. That was brilliantly done.

  45. shreya.giria

    All the stories were really good here! Here’s mine. I hope you enjoy reading it!
    I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling. What is this – dream or reality- I don’t really known- I’ve never known. I turn eighteen today. Eighteen agonizing years of dreaming- relentlessly, of my mind conjuring up the strangest images and sounds, sometimes even smells. Ah, well one more day. But it’s okay I guess- everybody has to live. And live I will. I see the ceiling alive with the white paint dripping on my skin. I wince- imagining the wet paint hitting my eyes and realize this is another of my dreams. On wobbly legs I get up and walk to the washroom. While around me my friend from my kindergarten plays in the mud. There’s a huge aquarium on the place where my bed must be and inside it there’s only my old toys.
    I resolutely get on with my morning, knowing that my mind is playing with me. Only today it’s strangely pleasant. As if today I’m more in control. These days are the best.
    I sit down for breakfast. My parents wish me happy birthday. They kiss me on the cheek. My mother wears a fluorescent green toga. Her hair is purple. I see a hint of a tear. I blink. There she is sitting primly in her brown plaids. My father is in his customary nervous demeanor. Fussing over our breakfast.
    They told me. They told me what I should have known they would. I’m not human- I’m a “dreamsnacher”. Apparently I’m a rare one. I must be one hell of an assignment for a psychoanalyst, but for those who know about the mystical powers of nature know who I am. I’m the shadow. I’m the soul. How I came to be – my parents don’t know. My mother saw me in her dreams- she said- and then I was there. A “normal” looking baby. That was it. That’s my history.
    “Honey this doesn’t change anything. You’re still the same you? Right?” my mom showing a week’s worth of emotions on her usually serene face. “We don’t want you to stress…you’re going to go school?” Can I say no? Do I want to? No. No, its fine I tell them. I’m going. I’ll be fine, of course. A nervous giggle escapes me as I make a poor joke to make light of the heavy duty morning. Doesn’t work.
    I had to come to school. If nothing else- then high school offers a thread normalcy in my otherwise supernatural life. I don’t talk much. I don’t do anything much. By any onlooker’s standards, I’m the mousy one sitting in the last bench with her head bent, reading something or staring into space. Today I see all the chairs and desks floating about the place while there’s only me in the class. The windows open and a warm flow of air that looks like a red haze comes in, stinging my eyes. I’m gasping for breath. It whispers in my ear. It asks me something. Suddenly I open my eyes taking a quick intake of air. The beady eyed teacher looks at me like she’s just waiting to give me detention- again. I don’t offer any mumbly answer today. Today, I get up and let out a scream. A painful, deep –from-within-that-would-scare-even-myself scream. A class-full of “human” eyes pop out of their sockets to stare.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Oh wow. You have a remarkable imagination, and a very “string of consciousness” style of writing. Excellently interesting, and the creep factor at the end makes me want more. I have some editing suggestions for you. Your style of writing reminds me a lot of mine with shorter sentences structure, almost liked writing out a thought process, used for dramatic or emotional effect.

      In both that style of writing, and in this format, it is better to use spacing to work for you. Such a large block of text, especially on a computer screen or laptop makes it difficult to pick out sentences you want to re-read or points you want to think long about. So I think you should look at using spacing like some of the other authors on this forum do, and it will really make an improvement on an already very good story. Very nice piece of writing.

    2. jmcody

      Oh wow is right. I am crazy about this idea of dreamsnatchers, although I agree with GTB that your writing needs a little more structure to be effective.

      I dreamed of my daughter five years before I had her, and she’s kind of a miracle baby (long story). Just saying.

    3. Reaper

      I am going to be the third to say wow on this one. As the others I would suggest some formatting because as a thought structure this is easy to read, as a story it could be a little easier to digest. It is all formatting though, for story, style, and method this is so naked and raw that I can’t help but be awed by it. I think this may be the definition of unique and interesting voice.

  46. starvingwriter

    Gemma Nessin awoke, muddled and disoriented.

    “Get up, Gemma! Up!”

    Her mother’s voice, yelling at her, very anxious. What was going on? Gemma turned towards her alarm clock, reading the time: 2:12 AM.

    “M-mom, what do you want?” Gemma croaked.

    “We need to tell you something before it’s too late,” her mother said, still shaking Gemma’s arm.

    “Ok, stop shaking me!” Gemma sat up, wiping drool from her check. It was a hot evening, her covers were on the floor, her pajamas clung to her skin like plastic wrap. The bedroom was suddenly brightened. A person at the doorway flipped on the light switch. Her father leaned in the doorframe, half-smiling, half-grimacing.

    “Dad? What’s going on?” Gemma said, picking her covers off the floor.

    “Happy Birthday sweetheart!” Gemma’s father said with pride. “The big one-eight!”

    “I know you’re not waking me to give me birthday greetings, Dad,” Gemma groaned. “It’s two in the morning, I have school tomorrow!”

    “No,” Gemma’s mother said in a quiet voice, taking her hand off Gemma’s arm and resting it on her lap. She was seated on the bed, and Gemma’s father came and sat next to her. “No, we didn’t wake you to say Happy Birthday, but it’s because it’s your birthday that we’re here.”

    Gemma rolled her eyes. Precious sleep was calling her name and her parents weren’t making sense. “Can you just tell me what you want so I can go back to sleep?”

    Gemma’s father looked at her mother. “Well, honey, we said you’d be the one to tell her, but now that the moment’s come, I think it’ll sound better coming from me.”

    He scooted closer to Gemma, taking his hand in hers.

    “There’s no real easy way to say this, Gemma, and I have to say it quickly, so here goes. In about 10 minutes, give or take, a group of armed soldiers are going to burst into this house and shoot you dead. That is because Gemma, you are not a human. You are a monster.”

    After staring blankly for two seconds, Gemma rolled her eyes and threw her covers over her head. “Get out of my room!”

    But the covers flew off her head. Her father, still grimacing, stroked her face gently.

    “It’s true, sweetie,” he said, gently but with a stern voice. “I don’t like being the bearer of bad news, but soldiers are coming to kill you. You have two choices. Stay here and die or get up and run.”

    “You see, Gemma, you are what’s known as an Arcus,” Gemma’s mother muttered. “It’s something like a reverse-human. Arcuses are identified at birth, as you were.”

    “Mom, Dad, please…”

    “Sweetheart, believe what I’m saying,” Gemma’s mother said, sounding desperate. “Do you honestly think we’d wake you up at two in the morning to tell you that you are a monster and men were coming to kill you if it weren’t true? Your father and I work in accounting, we’re not comedians.”

    Gemma looked between both sets of her parents eyes. They were serious. She felt a slight shiver run down her spine. Was what they were saying true?

    “And what am I supposed to do?” she asked in a somewhat defiant voice.

    “Run or die, sweetheart.” Her father stood, walking over to the window. “We’d be in trouble if they found out we told you. We’re supposed to keep you in the dark.”

    “Why? I don’t understand…”

    “We’re not supposed to tell you you’re a monster,” he said. “We’re supposed to raise you like a normal child, give you no hint or idea of what you really are. And on your eighteen birthday, allow you to be murdered by soldiers.”

    Gemma shook her head. She didn’t understand. This was insane. “If I’m a monster, why didn’t they kill me when I was born?”

    “It’s called a gestation cycle, or something, I don’t know, it’s very technical.” And now Gemma’s mother was standing and moving towards the window. “It ends on your eighteenth birthday and then you transform or something. Jeremy Higgins mother explained it to me.”

    “Jeremy Higgins’ mother?”

    “Yes. Jeremy is an Arcus, just like you.”

    Now Gemma’s mind was blown. “That’s not funny, Mom. I had a crush on Jeremy. He died two years ago. Overseas in the Marines.”

    Gemma’s father resumed his seat on her bed. “No Gemmy, that was the story we told you. Jeremy didn’t join the Marines, and he isn’t dead, at least as far as we know. He’s alive. Because he ran.” Her father stood, taking his wife by the arm and moving towards the door. “We better get going. You need to leave.”

    “We don’t want them to kill you, Gemma,” her mother said in a choked, tearful voice. “We love you honey. Please. Run.”

    “Run where?” Gemma said.

    “Away,” her father said. “We have to go. Don’t stay here. Get out Gemma.”

    The light switch clicked and the door closed. Gemma was alone. She sat back on her bed, pulling the covers up and around her neck. Suddenly all of her senses seemed to be working on overload. The darkness in her room seemed darker than it ever had before. Her pajamas, no longer sweaty, felt ticklish and itchy all at one. And the sounds of car doors slamming and a multitude of footsteps echoed inside her ears.

    Gemma tossed the covers back to the floor, easing off her bed, making for the window. She peered out onto the street from her second story perch, looking from street corner to street corner.

    No one was there.

    But the footsteps were getting louder. Closer.

    Her hand turned the latch on the window and eased it open as high as it would go. And Gemma, her brain full of fear and confusion, jumped.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Well Starving writer, I have a feeling you might not be one for the rest of your life. This was engrossing and well written. The dialogue flowed nicely and I REALLY want to read more. I love this type of story and find Gemma and your strangely dystopic world very compelling. You inspire me to want to write a larger story, when normally I focus on my stories as one shots.

    2. Reaper

      I’m with the crowd on this one. I’m hooked and want to know what an Arcus is, where it goes, what they’re doing. All of it.

      There are certain things I wanted to disbelieve. If they test at birth and there is no cure why don’t they kill the kids then? What’s up with the parents, why did they wait until the last minute? A couple of other things like that threatened my suspension of disbelief.

      However, the dialogue is so compelling, and the emotions so intense that the part of me that was deep in the story kept screaming at the analytical side of my brain to shut the hell up it would get explained as the story unfolded.

  47. miamegg

    (Hi everyone. I’m not very good at this but I’d like to give it a try. It passed 500 by a few words.

    I also tried posting this twice before. I’m not sure what happened, but it didn’t go through.)

    LEAP

    “Happy 18th birthday Mr. Stephenson”, The Lawyer said and handed me some documents. I accepted them without much thought but eyed the papers suspiciously.

    In truth, it took minutes for me to process his words, and in truth, I’ve been living for 68 years. Alas, I was unfortunate enough to be born on a Leap Year, so I was technically 18.

    I squinted my eyes and turned to get my glasses from the living room table.

    ‘A lawyer first thing in the morning on my ’18th’ birthday’, I scratched the skin under my pajama top and wobbled to the room with my cane in hand. When my glasses were on and I could finally read, I scrunched up my brows in confusion.

    “A letter and an enrollment form?” I said out loud, reading the letter first. It was dated back when I was 18 years old.

    ‘Dear Andrew, the letter said.

    Happy Birthday! You might find this mind-boggling, but you’re not exactly ordinary or human.

    It’s hard to explain, but the person who told us about you said that you’d know once you turned 18. We thought it would happen once you were ’18 years old’, but it didn’t, so we figured it would occur on your 18th birthday. He’ll probably meet you to explain thing better, but don’t expect him too soon.

    In the mean time, we made sure to arrange things in advance for your convenience. Our family lawyer should have sent someone trustworthy to help you out.

    Take care, the letter ended.

    ‘A prank letter from my parents. I’m too old for this’, I thought with a lengthy exhale and blinked. When I blinked again, everything I saw turned blurry.

    “What the heck?” I said, and panicked when I heard my voice. It was young. Too young for someone who’d lived for 68 years. I suddenly remembered the letter and threw my glasses on the table to rub at my face. When I looked my house over, everything I saw was crystal clear.

    “…Seriously?” I said and looked over myself. I dropped the cane and felt no aching in my knees. My skin was no longer wrinkled, and when I got around to look in the mirror, my whole body had returned to the days of my youth. I stood there astonished.

    “…Wait…Am I supposed to go back to school?” I asked the lawyer, remembering the enrollment form. He’d come in after me and stood a few feet away. He was surprisingly calm about the situation. Heck, I was taking things in stride better than I expected.

    “Indeed Mr. Stephenson. As your new family lawyer, I’ll be here to help you,” The man said and took out a packet from his bag. He handed it to me and I found myself staring at a High School uniform.

    ‘Oh man this is rich’, I laughed and walked to my room.

    “You should hurry. Term’s already started and your classes are starting in an hour.”

    “What?! Say those things earlier!” I ran for the bathroom, but didn’t miss the way he snorted. I was going to bring that up on the way to school.

    Younger or not, I was still older than him in years.

      1. miamegg

        Thank you!

        So I thought 2 of my 4 attempts to post got through, but now I’ve realized 3 of them were successful. I guess I should be more patient with posting next time.

  48. Critique

    “I wish we could sail forever. A cruise for my eighteenth birthday – my friends will be so jealous.” Shannon smacked her lips after another spoonful of tiramisu. What friends? “Mama you gotta try this.” This was the happiest she could remember being.

    “Honey, don’t you think two desserts is… oh never mind.” Shannon’s mother sighed dabbing her mouth with a napkin. “Your Father and I have to tell you something before we leave the ship in the morning.”

    Although Shannon focused fiercely on the next bite she couldn’t stop the noise. The lovebirds in the corner – on the cruise without their spouses, the whispering waiters working illegally, a retired couple discussing their fifteenth cruise, the chef shouting orders to staff four decks below. Shannon’s ears tingled painfully.

    Looking at her parents faces – she knew she would finally get answers to the troubling questions she’d asked all her life.

    ***********************************************************************************

    The headline in Monday’s paper read: Extraterrestrials Among Us? Shannon Toulene a young woman gifted with supernatural powers.

    Shannon read it and wished for the obscurity of foreign soil. Of tropical breezes and sand between her toes.

    Driving to the school her mind conjured up bizarre scenarios when she got there. Pushing through the doors her ears were ambushed. She concentrated on disentangling dialogues and zeroed in on a conversation at the end of the hall.

    “Crazy isn’t it.”

    “I knew she was weird.”

    “This explains a lot of stuff eh?”

    “Totally. Like the time she called 911 for that guy choking at Joey’s Diner.”

    “That one freaked me out. Two blocks away!”

    “Oh yeah, remember how she knew Jerry and Linda were… you know doing it in the janitor’s closet.”

    “Wicked! Did she actually hear them?”

    “Uh oh. Earthquake alert. She’s here.”

    Grabbing books from her locker Shannon lumbered past them and up the stairs. The entire school probably knew by now they didn’t just have the ‘biggest’ loser in their midst but a real live freak.

    When she got to her seat she was out of breath and sweat trickled down her back. She scrounged in her backpack for a chocolate bar.

    At noon the cafeteria was packed – no seats available. Scanning the chattering crowd her fury grew. She was fricken tired of thinking she needed these losers. She knew of skeletons in their closets, their dark secrets – things that once exposed, could destroy.

    Tom Bradshaw – the star football player had all the girls drooling over him – was getting some on the side with the pretty Arts teacher, Miss Price.

    The principal, middle aged Mrs. Albright had the hots for the star athlete too.

    The popular Setter twins worked at a strip club.

    Realization hit like a sugar high. They were the puppets. She was the puppeteer. It was time for her version of: The Puppet Masters.

    Shannon waddled determinedly to the office. She needed access to the intercom.

    1. Reaper

      Never piss off the freak with good hearing. This was very believable in how people would react to someone with super powers. Instead of welcoming they are still judging, finding ways they can be superior so they don’t have to focus on their bruised egos that the overweight girl they have picked on is better than them. Made me think of conversations on why in the comics the superheros always wear masks. I’m just glad she’s going for the intercom instead of turning all Carrie on her schoolmates.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Lumbered, Biggest And Waddled, tells it all. She would have been ostracized from the school’s elite and it had to painful for Shannon. You did well on pointing it out. High school society can be so unforgiving. And for them to find a extra-terrestrial among them would be impossible for her.

          The end was perfect. It’d be fun to continue with it and describe the action she would take. I liked your story a lot!

    2. agnesjack

      I liked how you gently revealed not only her supernatural gift, but her prodigious girth. Those catty girls and the others who were so judgmental are overdue for a rude awakening. She seemed like a very sweet character, but enough is enough. I loved the last line.

    3. gamingtheblues

      I have little to add that was not already said. Very likeable MC, I too am glad she is using intelligence instead of force for her revenge. Well written, nicely paced story.

  49. miamegg

    (Hi everyone. I’m not very good at this but I’d like to give it a try. It passed 500 by a few words.)

    LEAP

    “Happy 18th birthday Mr. Stephenson”, The Lawyer said and handed me some documents. I accepted them without much thought.

    In truth, it took minutes for me to process his words, and in truth, I’ve been living for 68 years. Alas, I was unfortunate enough to be born on a Leap Year, so I was technically 18.

    I squinted my eyes and turned to get my glasses from the living room table.

    A lawyer first thing in the morning on my ’18th’ birthday, I scratched the skin under my pajama top and wobbled to the room with my cane in hand. When my glasses were on and I could finally read, I scrunched up my brows in confusion.

    “A letter and an enrollment form?” I said out loud, reading the letter first. It was dated back when I was 18 years old.

    Dear Son, the letter said.

    Happy Birthday! You might find this mind-boggling, but you’re not exactly ordinary or human.

    It’s hard to explain, but the person who told us about you said that you’d know once you turned 18. We thought it would happen once you were ’18 years old’, but it didn’t, so we figured it would occur on your 18th birthday. He’ll probably meet you to explain thing better, but don’t expect him too soon.

    In the mean time, we made sure to arrange things in advance for your convenience. Our family lawyer should have sent someone trustworthy to help you out.

    Take care, the letter ended.

    A prank letter from my parents. I’m too old for this, I thought with a lengthy exhale and blinked. When I blinked again, everything I saw turned blurry.

    “What the heck?” I said, and panicked when I heard my voice. It was young. Too young for someone who’d lived for 68 years. I suddenly remembered the letter and threw my glasses on the table to rub at my face. When I looked my house over, everything I saw was crystal clear.

    “…Seriously?” I said and looked over myself. I dropped the cane and felt no aching in my knees. My skin was no longer wrinkled, and when I got around to look in the mirror, my whole body had returned to the days of my youth. I stood there astonished.

    “…Wait…Am I supposed to go back to school?” I asked the lawyer, remembering the enrollment form. He’d come in after me and stood a few feet away. He was surprisingly calm about the situation. Heck, I was taking things in stride better than I expected.

    “Indeed Mr. Stephenson. As your new family lawyer, I’ll be here to help you,” The man said and took out a packet from his bag. He handed it to me and I found myself staring at a High School uniform.

    Oh man this is rich, I laughed and walked to my room.

    “You should hurry. Term’s already started and your classes are starting in an hour.”

    “What?! Say those things earlier!” I ran for the bathroom, but didn’t miss the way he snorted. I was going to bring that up on the way to school.

    Younger or not, I was still older than him in years.

  50. miamegg

    (I’m not very good at this but I wanted to try it out.

    Hi, I’m new.)

    LEAP

    “Happy 18th Birthday Mr. Stephenson”, The Lawyer said and handed me some documents. I accepted them without much thought.

    In truth, it took minutes for me to process his words, and in truth, I’ve been living for 68 years. Alas, I was unfortunate enough to be born on a Leap Year, so I was technically 18.

    I squinted my eyes and turned to get my glasses from the living room table.

    A lawyer first thing in the morning on my ’18th’ birthday, I scratched the skin under my pajama top and wobbled to the room with my cane in hand. When my glasses were on and I could finally read, I scrunched up my brows in confusion.

    “A letter and an enrollment form?” I said out loud, reading the letter first. It was dated back when I was 18 years old.

    Dear Son, the letter said.

    Happy Birthday! You might find this mind-boggling, but you’re not exactly ordinary or human.

    It’s hard to explain, but the person who told us about you said that you’d know once you turned 18. We thought it would happen once you were ’18 years old’, but it didn’t, so we figured it would occur on your 18th birthday. He’ll probably meet you to explain thing better, but don’t expect him too soon.

    In the mean time, we made sure to arrange things in advance for your convenience. Our family lawyer should have sent someone trustworthy to help you out.

    Take care, the letter ended.

    A prank letter from my parents. I’m too old for this, I thought with a lengthy exhale and blinked. When I blinked again, everything I saw turned blurry.

    “What the heck?” I said, and panicked when I heard my voice. It was young. Too young for someone who’d lived for 68 years. I suddenly remembered the letter and threw my glasses on the table to rub at my face. When I looked my house over, everything I saw was crystal clear.

    “…Seriously?” I said and looked over myself. I dropped the cane and felt no aching in my knees. My skin was no longer wrinkled, and when I got around to look in the mirror, my whole body had returned to the days of my youth. I stood there astonished.

    “…Wait…Am I supposed to go back to school?” I asked the lawyer, remembering the enrollment form. He’d come in after me and stood a few feet away. He was surprisingly calm about the situation. Heck, I was taking things in stride better than I expected.

    “Indeed Mr. Stephenson. As your new family lawyer, I’ll be here to help you,” The man said and took out a packet from his bag. He handed it to me and I found myself staring at a High School uniform.

    Oh man this is rich, I laughed and walked to my room.

    “You should hurry. Term’s already started and your classes are starting in an hour.”

    “What?! Say those things earlier!” I ran for the bathroom, but didn’t miss the way he snorted. I was going to bring that up on the way to school.

    Younger (now)or not, I was still older than him in years.

    1. jmcody

      The leap year wrinkle was different. This was well done, with lots of small details that made the story, like his vision becoming blurry because he was wearing glasses. You have a unique way of looking at things, which is a good quality in a writer.

    2. Reaper

      See, now I’m the one just saying what jmcody says. This is definitely interesting and makes me want to know where the story continues. The perspective is beautiful, and I agree the glasses and little details like that are beautiful.

      Also, welcome.

      I would not say you are not very good. You are just getting your feet wet. With that said I think you have a strong voice. There is a bit of fluctuating style that I can not tell if it is intentional. Most of your wording is very literary, character driven, and a bit more classical. Because of that I would suggest spelling out things like eighteenth because the shortcut does not match the rest of your style. Otherwise I the fledgling promise of someone I will enjoy reading on these prompts as the weeks go on.

      1. miamegg

        Thanks for the warm welcome and the helpful feedback! I’ll take your advice and write numbers in words. As for the fluctuating style, I didn’t notice it.

  51. Bilbo Baggins

    (I am extremely sorry for the length of this, guys. Just bear with me here and read it, and I’ll try extra hard to keep it under again next time.)

    JULY 1863

    Jim Greene stiffened his grip on the rifle and peered out from the grassy knoll. He wiped sweat from his forehead with the blue hat. He didn’t see any troopers scurrying below.

    “You all right down there, Patrick?”

    There was an uncomfortable silence, before he looked over and saw his friend slumped against the brick wall with a bayonet thrust through his chest. He whirled around to see a grey-clad soldier lunging for him from behind an oak.

    “Great saints in heaven!”

    Suddenly there was a blinding flash from behind him, and there was nothing to be heard except the steady rumble of the cannon fire and the ironic gentle swaying of the trees.

    SEPTEMBER 1874

    “The doctor is here! Louisa, get the blankets!”

    The old man entered the house and was escorted to the bedroom, where he opened his bag. The six-year old lay on the bed deathly ill.

    “What is the patient’s name and condition?”

    “We don’t know what’s wrong with him,” the father cried out. “And, his name is Peter.”

    The man smiled distantly.

    “I will see what is wrong. Doctor Henry is out of town. You will need to stay away for the next week while I work. We are not to be disturbed.”

    The parents worriedly nodded and went out. The old man, who was not actually the doctor’s assistant, began to hook up the clear vial of purple liquid to the bedside.

    “You are destined for greatness,” he whispered softly above the sleeping child.

    FEBRUARY 1886

    “Well, son, we think you’ve reached the point where you can take over the family.” My father beamed in his suit from behind the table.

    A sly grin began taking over my face. My father was one of the richest businessmen in the East, and I assumed this was part of being groomed for the role.

    “So, when do I go out to see the factories?”

    He gave me a look that wiped away my hiding smile. “You’re not.”

    “Excuse me, but—“

    “No, son.” He pointed over to my younger brother, who was sitting at the head of the table with a cocky grin. “Edgar will be inheriting the fortune instead.”

    Words retreated from my tongue as quickly as they had formed. Edgar crossed his gaunt arms and tipped his head at me. I felt like smashing his smile in, but kept still for mother.

    “Well, that’s certainly fine by me. I’ll just have to choose another profession.”

    Edgar seemingly thought my relinquishment authentic. But Dad had seen through it, for he waved me over into the parlor.

    “I know you might be disappointed son, but don’t worry, I have something to tell you.”

    “How important can it be? You already gave away my whole life to him!” I judged our distance from the open kitchen door.

    “It’s very important. Very.”

    “What, am I supposed to guess?”

    “No.” He flipped open a paper clipping and showed it to me.

    “The 1865 Courier? Is this some joke or—“

    “Look closely, third row, second from left.”

    I leaned it to study the splotched photograph, and recoiled.

    “No, that can’t be! That’s not me, just a look-alike!” I should have known he was going to fall for some fraud. There were stories from the war of how he was injured in the head. Some even said that his insanity was what got him so rich.

    “You have been the one to inherit the role of a time traveler. Do you—“

    “No, just stop it!” I hissed.

    “Do you remember when you got sick when you were six, and that doctor came and healed you, even though I found out later it was cancer? He must have done something to you, your genes—they’re unlike anything in this family.”

    I admitted to myself that he was making sense. I remembered when that happened, but had never thought twice about it.

    “So, if I am a time traveler, how come I’m not famous? Shouldn’t President Garfield come knocking on that door, Vanderbilt, Carnegie?”

    “About President Garfield… never mind. But, son, you have to go down this path. You are meant to exploit your powers.”

    I had grown bold. “Well, what if I don’t want to?”

    My father suddenly seized me by the collar and looked into my eyes.

    “No, son—you have to travel back. For me.”

    I was taken aback by his sudden outburst. “But, I want to live a normal life!”

    “That was not meant to happen,” he spat back. “You can better history! Starting first with Little Round Top, July 3rd, 1863.”

    “What does that have to do with this?”

    He peered at me desperately. “So you can save me from being killed. So you can exist.”

    1. jmcody

      No worries, Bilbo. I think of the word limit as sort of a guideline — meant to keep the yammering in check, but not to squelch creativity. This certainly was creative, intriguing and well written. I love historical fiction, and you did a great job of putting the story in historical context. I am astonished at how well you write for someone so young. I think we are going to see great things from you, Bilbo.

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Well, thank you very much, jmcody! I love historical fiction as well, especially war scenes like the first part I had at Gettysburg. I actually visited there once and drank in all the sights, pretended to have a fight on Little Round Top with a few twigs posing as guns. To read such comments as yours are encouraging. I think we are going to see great things from you as well.

    2. stoland1999

      This is a great post! I love it when things come full circle. I think we all know that feeling of trying to find the last line that clicks and this one brought it home.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You captured me with the 1863 and the civil war. It’a always fascinated me in the manner of battle. Your wording is concise, clear and in a relaxed style as if you sitting around your fireplace, relating a story. Your time bites strengthen your story nicely and it was a easy and enjoyable read.

        Sometimes writers show off their knowledge of words and emit phrases that don’t add to a story, but you’re not a word-waster. Your writing seem effortless and that’s what’s so good about it.

        1. Bilbo Baggins

          The Civil War is one of my favorite parts of American history to study, for some reason. I always have some books about it congregated around my computer. I just thought that it would be nice to have a scene from there and the idea of time travel just leapt onto the document. Thanks, Kerry.

    3. Reaper

      What makes your story doubly impressive is it hooked someone that is not a huge fan of historical fiction. I never once thought about skimming and skipping, and that heavy burden to carry your MC is shackled with at the end. Amazing story.

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Reaper- thanks a lot for the comment. I always try to work on how good the flow is. The MC is indeed shackled with a heavy burden, but we already know he’s going to do it because he does exist in the first place.

        Sperye- thanks as well. The time travel thing is difficult to do, especially since its been used so often, but I managed.

    4. gamingtheblues

      There are so many dynamics to this story, from the arc of time traveling, to the nature of their family and the personal politics involved. All sorts of interesting questions in a nicely written story. I would definitely be interested in reading more about this time traveling family? Person? You always create interesting plots and allow us the chance/opportunity to examine them at our leisure as they are created with such care. Go Hobbits!

  52. jmcody

    Meh. Not my finest, but at least it’s under 500 words for once.
    ____________________________________________________

    Today is my 18th birthday and I’m pissed.

    My Mom, she like, doesn’t love me or something. Today she told me – get this – that I DON’T EXIST. Can you believe that? On my BIRTHDAY. It’s totally tragic.

    I am so mad right now, do you know what I’m going to do?

    Well, first let me tell you what I’m NOT going to do, and that’s go to school on my birthday. Or, like, ever. They’ll just throw me out anyway, or call the cops, 911, whatevs. Totally lame. I am so done with that.

    What I AM going to do is put on something short and tight and plunging – you know, the kind of thing she just HATES – and I’m going to fish her ID out of her prissy little Talbots bag and then I’m going to go out. If she won’t celebrate my birthday with me, I’ll find someone who will.

    Maybe I’ll even get me a tattoo – a little something to commemorate the occasion. Then maybe she’ll get the memo that I AM REAL.

    She says her therapist told her to ignore me. Harsh, right? What kind of therapist tells a person to ignore her own kid? Seriously, my mom has got issues. Why can’t she just accept that I am she and she is me and we are we and we are all together.

    Huh? Where did that come from? OMG, don’t tell me it’s that skanky hippie chick again, the one from the seventies. What was her name? Willow Sunshine or Rainbow Starship or something like that? The Beatles, Rainbow, really?

    I don’t even know how she got in here. Mom doesn’t know about her yet. Or any of the others, for that matter. She thinks it’s just the two of us. Wait until she gets a load of that army dude with the flattop haircut, all boo-ya this and maggot that. Totes loud and annoying. And then there’s Benny the drug dealer, and that Italian lady, Elenora, who likes to sing opera – also loud and annoying, but every once in a while she makes me cry just a little. Oh, and pervy professor guy who totally creeps me out, and brainiac nerd-girl who thinks she has to explain every little thing to me. As if.

    Worst of all is the little girl who just cries and cries all the time. My heart breaks for her, it really does. Sometimes I just want to pick her up and hug her, although most of the time I just wish she would shut the hell up.

    New plan – I’m going to throw myself a little birthday party, just me, Mom and the rest of the freaks who have taken up residence around here. OMG it’s going to be hilarious. I can’t wait to see the look on my – her – face.

    1. stoland1999

      Great post! I enjoyed all of the teenage lingo. It made me have a flashback to when valley girl speak was the in thing. The build up was timed well. The mention of the little girl tugged at my heart strings. Of the entire story, I felt that the MC’s line contrasting her feelings regarding her illustrated what was really going on in her mind. Well done.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I think your talking about a girl with dissociative idenity disorder. When I caught it was her mother denying her existance. It must be crowded in her mind with ten personalities sharing her body and mind. Think how frightful her mother denying her in so many facets of her mind.

        I do know there are cases with this many personalities and they are both male and female. Your brought the theme out from inside the MC’s head and her language reminds me of years gone by. You’ve donea great job with this from the mind of the sick girl and it disturbs me and is a terrifying thought that Ben Franklin who lives in my mind, will eliminate me.

      2. jmcody

        Right, Stoland. I figured the mother might have been a teenager around the time when Val-speak was big, so that would be reflected in her tortured internal dialogue.

      1. jmcody

        Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. I struggled with this one — I had this whole angels and demons choosing up sides for the end of the world thing going, but Reaper did it ten times better than I would have. Then I thought of ghosts and witches and various inanimate objects, but nothing really clicked for me. So I went with mental illness. Go figure.

    2. gamingtheblues

      Self deprecation does not suit you. Sure, this is more whimsical that other posts but a stripping cowboy isn’t? There is nothing wrong with a lighter prompt and really….when you think about it, this is more creepy and weird than anything when you get down to brass tacks. I bet if this story continued you would start seeing cracks in the facade until it all came tumbling down in an emotionally devastating mess.

      That being said, this was well written, the teenage dialogue was appropriately exaggerated by a woman with multiple personalities. I did not see there being anyone but this one lady. There’s the mother, the teenager, ect… She is tapped and when she blows it will not be pretty.

      1. jmcody

        Blues! Thanks for the pep talk. Went to a funeral in another state this week. I think it affected my mental state, but I guess that’s to be expected.

        Yours was tremendous, as always.

    3. Reaper

      First I have to say, I’m sorry for your loss.

      Second I must say, thank you for the compliment about ten times better. I’m not sure it’s true because you rock this place every week.

      Lastly… I know it has been said but you are your own worst critic. This is not as in your face and intense as some of your stories but it is just amazing. I started out seeing one of the Kardashian girls and was proud of mom pretending they weren’t real. Then your reveal of DID sliding into full blown MPD. I’m assuming you did your homework because you have the protector and victim personalities that most multiples develop lined up nicely in your cast of characters. You kept me smiling with your MC’s antics even as my heart was breaking for all of them. I’m envious that you could pull off both at the same time.

      1. jmcody

        Thanks on all three counts Reaper. I have to say I enjoy your comments as mch as your prompt responses. You put a lot of thought into your responses. Glad you got it — I was beginning to think it was a little obscure.

    4. agnesjack

      This was great, jmcody. You really got into the head (heads?) of this girl. Loved the segue into the quote from “I am the Walrus”. So funny. Also, it just took off when all the extras (personalities?) showed up. Loved the army guy’s description. Very fun to read.

    5. Critique

      Have to admit I was a confused – not a quick study with personality disorders – then I realized it was Mom who was having identity issues and I felt sorry for her. Her internal conflict came out well in your writing.

    6. don potter

      Your post brought back memories to me, a long-time resident of the San Fernando Valley. But your tale has a lot more going for it than Valley Girl Talk. Nicely done.

      1. jmcody

        Don’t some of them still talk like that out there Don? I have no clue — east coast girl here. We’ve got our own issues when it comes to accents.

        1. don potter

          “For sure, for sure,” is pretty much dead and “Oh, my God,” has been replaced by OMG. Besides teens don’t talk to each other, according to my 17 year old granddaughter, they text instead. Being from Philly and working in NYC, I’m familiar with the range of accents on the east coast.

          1. don potter

            Kerry, my description of Scrapple is a spiced breakfast meat made from ingredients that are not good enough to go into cheap hotdogs. What’s your take on it?

          2. Kerry Charlton

            I’m having to reply above my question. Having been forced to eat scrapple as a kid, I drowned it in catsup and said a prayer. My grandmother’s ancestors ate it all the time for breakfast and most of them didn’t live past forty from clogged arteries. Pork parts, and I do mean parts, mixed with mush and stuffed in a dish in the icebox until it was hard, then sliced thick into slabs and fried in lard until no one recognized it. Yum!. Do you want the actual recipe?

    7. stoland1999

      Ok, I have to say that I need to read these when my little ones are not interrupting me every few minutes (well, sometimes seconds it feels like!). My first comment was from this morning when I thought I had grabbed a few quiet minutes to read posts. I completely missed what Critique was so kind to point out. Now that I have actual quiet time I got a chance to read it again and caught the subtle nuances. It was even better this time. Very clever and a wonderful post!

      1. jmcody

        Wow, thanks for coming back and posting again, Stoland! It was not entirely obvious what this story was about, so I appreciate the effort. As for the little ones, I have one of those running around at home too, and I know how distracting they are! I also have a big one, the kind with hormones and mood swings, which is a whole other level of distraction — just wait! :)

  53. Artemis4421

    The day had finally arrived.

    I woke up on the day of my 18th birthday with a smile on my face. Glad it was Saturday, I’d be meeting my family and friends at a fancy restaurant down the road at noon. After said event, a few friends would come back to my house and join me in dancing and singing (not very well, I must add) to our favorite songs until they finally decided to leave.

    With the sunlight tentatively coming in my bedroom window, I got up and walked down the stairs in a wonderful mood. I expected to be greeted with “Happy Birthday”‘s and “You’ve grown up so fast”‘s from my parents. However, when I walked into the kitchen, I felt those positive feelings take a downward slope. My parents sat at the kitchen table with grim expressions on their faces, and awkwardly shifted their eyes to me when I walked in the doorway.

    “Uh, good morning,” I say, suddenly unsure of myself. My dad clears his throat, nodding at the table after a sideways glance at my mom. I take the hint and I sit down. I had always poked fun at my dad’s small beard, but it suddenly seemed not funny at all, and almost menacing.

    “We need to talk, honey,” my mom told me gently, reaching for my hand. I resist the urge to pull my hand away and ask for them to please just get to the point and tell me what’s going on. “What, are you going to tell me I’m adopted or something?” I asked with a small laugh. I had only been trying to lighten to mood but when my parents look at each other, their eyes wide with unmasked horror, I know it wasn’t funny. “Sorry,” I mumble.

    “Okay well I guess there’s no good way to ease ourselves into this topic. You’re not human,” my dad said in his professor voice. Their faces are serious, but there’s nothing about this conversation that seems serious. I let out a small laugh, getting up. “I know, I’m a freak, right? I’ve heard it before, people tell me it all the time,” I said with a crooked smile, grabbing a pack of Pop Tarts from the cabinet.

    My parents stay silent, which is out of character. I shrug it off as them being sad that I’m growing up so fast or something. As I round the corner to head back up to my room, the whispering starts. I stop outside the door, trying to find out what’s going on here.

    “I know, Diane! I tried, but you know her. She’s a practical thinker; did you really think she’d believe us?” Whispers my dad.

    Mom shoots back with, “No, but I expected you to at least stop her and explain William!”

    In that moment, I realize they weren’t kidding. I pop my head around the corner, bracing myself. “Mom, Dad, what am I?”

    My mom looks down before responding. “Honey…you’re a genetic clone.”

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was a very well conceived story. I like the plot and the dialogue was spot on, tight and realistic.

      I have three additional comments. 1. On an emotional reaction to her parents saying shes not human…imo a genetic clone should be considered human… jerks!! (this is not a criticism of your story but of her parents!)

      2. You switch tenses back and forth a couple times in the story and it was a tiny bit distracting ie… using walked down the stairs then “clears his throat” Sometimes its an intentional artistic choice, sometimes accidental from the flow of writing, but thought it would be useful to point it out.

      3. Your first paragraph is not as strong as the rest. The rest of the story is really really good. The first relies too much on straight exposition (telling the reader what is going to happen) instead of showing us in some way through the thoughts or actions of scene or characters.

      Good job on this story and I really like your MC (I have a soft spot for intelligent, strong female leads. There are not enough in literature or the movies)

    2. Reaper

      I have to second a lot of what GTB says. Mostly I wanted to post for two reasons. I have a soft spot for believable, likable, intelligent, strong female leads. I find those lacking because strong intelligent female leads tend to be written as men with boobs, or people I want to smack. So yours was brilliant.

      Reading his comment I realized I do not think the opening paragraph lacks strength as much as it is an issue of impact. If you moved it closer to then end and made it a paragraph about her running over the plans that are now in question, I wonder if I still get to do these things, it would add depth and empathy for the character while making the mundane things powerful tools.

  54. Artemis4421

    The day had finally arrived.

    I woke up on the day of my 18th birthday with a smile on my face. Glad it was Saturday, I would be meeting my family and friends at a fancy restaurant down the road at noon. After said event, a few friends would come back to my house and join me in dancing and singing (not very well, I must add) to our favorite songs until they decided to leave.

    With the sunlight tentatively coming in my window, I got up and walked down the stairs in a wonderful mood. I expected to be greeted with “Happy Birthday”‘s and “You’ve grown up so fast”‘s from my parents. However, when I walked into the kitchen, I felt those positive feelings take a downward slope. My parents sat at the kitchen table with grim expressions on their faces, and awkwardly shifted their eyes to me when I walked in the doorway.

    “Uh, good morning,” I say, suddenly unsure of myself. My dad clears his throat, then nods at the table after a sideways glance at my mom. I take the hint and I sit down. I had always poked fun at my dad’s small beard, but it suddenly seemed not funny at all, and almost menacing.

    “We need to talk, honey,” my mom told me gently, reaching for my hand. I resist the urge to pull my hand away and ask for them to please just get to the point and tell me what’s going on. “What, are you going to tell me I’m adopted or something?” I asked with a small laugh. I had only been trying to lighten to mood but when my parents look at each other, their eyes wide with unmasked horror, I know it wasn’t funny. “Sorry,” I mumble.

    “Okay well I guess there’s no good way to ease ourselves into this topic. You’re not human,” my dad said in his professor voice. Their faces are serious, but there’s nothing about this conversation that seems serious. I let out a small laugh, getting up. “I know, I’m a freak, right? I’ve heard it before, people tell me it all the time,” I said with a crooked smile, grabbing a pack of Pop Tarts from the cabinet.

    My parents stay silent, which is out of character. I shrug it off as them being sad that I’m growing up so fast or something. As I round the corner to head back up to my room, the whispering starts. I stop outside the door, trying to find out what’s going on here.

    “I know, Diane! I tried, but you know her. She’s a practical thinker; did you really think she’d believe us?” Whispers my dad.

    Mom shoots back with, “No, but I expected you to at least stop her and explain William!”

    In that moment, I realize they weren’t kidding. I pop my head around the corner, bracing myself. “Mom, Dad, what am I?”

    My mom looks down before responding. “Honey…you’re a genetic clone.”

  55. don potter

    “Happy birthday,” Mom said as I sat down for breakfast.

    “How does it feel to be eighteen?” Dad asked.

    “Thanks,” I said. “It’s great to be an adult.”

    “Scrambled or sunny side up?”

    “Over easy, Mom.”

    “See she’s already showing her independence.”

    “Oh, Daddy.”

    “Now that you’ve come of age, it’s time you learned a few things we’ve been holding back,” he said.

    “Sounds ominous.”

    “Depends on what you do with the information,” Mon chimed in. “Just listen to what your father has to say.”

    “I’m all ears.”

    “Well, the situation started out weird.”

    “How?”

    “I’ll tell you everything from the very beginning. Just let me do it my way.”

    “Okay, Daddy, but this is kinda frightening.”

    “And that’s exactly how it was. I found this huge egg down by the creek that runs through the back of this here farm. Needed the front-end loader to get it in and out of the truck and put the egg in the warm end of the barn so I could keep an eye on it. A few days later, it cracked open and a baby was inside.”

    “Not a regular baby, but a pretty one nonetheless,” Mom added.

    “We couldn’t have no kids, so we kept ya.”

    “You’re saying I was the baby in the egg?”

    “Yep.”

    “Humans don’t come from eggs.”

    “That’s right. It’s our secret, and now it’s yours too.”

    “Whoa. This is mindboggling. If I’m not human what am I? And where did I come from?”

    “Your guess is as good as ours. All we know is you’re not one of us, but we love you just the same,” Mom said in an assuring tone.

    Suddenly, my skin began to peel and shed away just like a snake in spring. Then I grew in size while taking on a different form. Moments later I resembled a ten foot tall pre-historic reptile.

    Mom and Dad, or I should say my step-parents, cowered in the corner of the kitchen.

    “Don’t hurt us,” he begged.

    “I’m the only mother you’ve ever known.”

    My ability to talk seemed to have been taken away during the transformation. That is when my instincts kicked in. The next order of business was to eat both of them. Once this was taken care of, I knew it was time to go to school.

    By the time I arrived, it was eleven o’clock. The three mile walk helped me work up a good appetite. I went directly to my scheduled Physics class. My fellow students did not appear all that happy to see me.

    I was able to keep about half of them from escaping, including Mr. Andrews who I was never that fond of. After making a meal of them, I headed toward the creek where I was found eighteen years ago. For each of those I consumed my body metabolized them into an egg, which I deposited along the banks of the creek.

    After a brief nap I went for a little swim, all the while looking forward to visiting the town’s folk when they get together at the VFW hall tonight for bingo.

      1. gamingtheblues

        LOL om nom nom nom indeed!!!! Doug your comment wins the internet. Though it had to be inspired by this awesomely funny and twisted tale.

        Please take this with all the love it implies but this is the perfect plot for one of those old late late night 4am Cinemax movies I used to watch as a teenager when I should have been sleeping. (not THOSE types of movies people…minds out of the gutter if you know old Cinemax) They were amazingly entertaining as was this.

    1. jmcody

      Hmm… you raise an egg baby, give it all the advantages in the world… you’d think you could expect a little gratitude. Kids today. Not like us cabbage patch kids who never once thought of eating our parents.

      Actually, this reminds me very much of a children’s book that we have (can’t remember the name). Except it doesn’t end such a gory note.

      Fun story, Don.

    2. stoland1999

      Well done! I have to admit you got me. I was thinking… egg, farm, not human. Yep, it’s going to be Superwoman – watch out Clark Kent. Once you set the stage, you did well with balancing the creature’s remnants of humanity with its new role. You threw in a dash of humor and left the reader knowing that this was just one scene out of a much bigger story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        We’re talking about one hungry egg baby here, eating through the school and waiting for the VFW croud. They’re going to be a little harder to digest because threy’re feisty. A really fun read and I liked your casual prose describing her appetite pleasers.

    3. Reaper

      Don, you got me. This was great. Halfway through I was thinking, oh a nice peaceful story. Reminded me of a line from Spider Robinson about how they had met four aliens and fought two of them and got drunk with the other two, and they liked the getting drunk better. So I was happily waiting to get drunk with this one, then, nope, bloodshed. The alien transformation with shreds of humanity was very nice I have to agree. I definitely won’t be trusting any egg babies because like jmcody I would expect some gratitude.

      I am doubtful that you’re a punk person. But I have to add that because this is about a big lizard in the back yard the reference to VFW made me think of the song by the Dead Milkmen as much as it did the organization. How do you manage to make me think with a story that seems like a simple black humor piece?

      1. don potter

        My 40 year old son, the youngest of the kids, was a big fan of the DEAD MILKMEN. We have laughed about that period in his life over the years.

    4. pinkbamboo

      noooooo!! how could you eat your own parents?? lol .. did not expect that turn of event .. i thought the parents at least would be spared. love the egg concept.

    5. agnesjack

      I just loved how you kept on going with this, so calmly, to the horrific end. Would hate to be around eighteen years after all those eggs hatch. But then, teenagers will be teenagers.

  56. moscoboy

    IH

    I woke up with wood. My right hand was about to work it’s magic when I heard my mom call me to breakfast. It was my 18th birthday. I skipped my shower and came down to find my dad smoking in the house and my mom crying as she cleaned the counter.

    “Hey, why the long faces?”

    “Mom, let’s get this over with.” Mom’s eyes were as raw as a fresh cut steak and my dad was hiding his eyes with his left hand as he puffed on a camel with his right hand.

    “Ok guys, who died?”

    Mom stuffed the dishrag in her mouth and started to wail. Dad drew on the unfiltered camel until the flesh on his fore finger and thumb started to sear. “Well son,” said dad, “we’re celebrating your new life.”

    “I didn’t know turning 18 would be this hard on you.”

    The weak attempt at humor spilled on the vinyl floor like a cup of burnt coffee. “We had a visitor last week, he called himself IH1642, he’s come for you.”

    “Come on this isn’t funny.”

    “Our Cody died the day we brought him home. We were grieving and desperate. A well-dressed man with a nurse showed up at our house within minutes and offered us a chance at a new life. We exchanged our dead baby for a live baby you looked like twins. Now this IH thing shows up and lets us know that your true identity has been leaked to the press. Skip school and pack you bags, they want you here at midnight.” Dad slipped a yellow slip of paper filled with numbers and symbols.

    “What am I?”

    “The IH said you belonged to a planet that we won’t discover for 200 years. The name is on the back of the paper. ZOMPSZIK.”

    As soon as I touched the yellow paper I was filled with a rushing pulse of electricity that made my muscles twitch and filled all of the voids in my brain with information. “Yes, I understood.” Strange names, odd symbols and wondrous pictures filled my brain.

    When I got to school the sheriff and two deputies met me. “Look Mr. Spock, you’re a threat to our school, it’s on lock down. Go home and leave us alone.”

    “I know I’m different, but I still have friends I’d like to see one last time.”

    “Leave before we call SWAT.”

    lH1642 met me at home. “I’m an intergalactic harvester. You and many others were placed in different worlds will be studied. After a 100 of your years you’ll be allowed to propagate with the naturals. F136667, you’re one of us. You were selected to live on this world so you could give us an assessment as to its potential viability as a colony for Zompszik.”

    “Can I pack a few things?”

    “All that you’ll need is in your head. Stand next to me so I can teach you how to travel in space.”

    1. jmcody

      First, yes, this is an interesting story that begs for more.

      Second, you had several shining moments in this. I especially like the description of the parents’ anguish — the mom with eyes like raw steaks, stuffing a dish towel in her mouth, and the Dad singeing his fingers on his camel. Somehow even your descriptions of misery are funny. That’s a neat trick.

        1. gamingtheblues

          I think you need to give yourself more credit here. This is not at all in King’s style and that is not a bad thing. This was a very interesting take on the prompt and I find the reference reaper made to Bradbury a lot closer to the style of the piece, especially his sci-fi short stories.

    2. Reaper

      Your opening line made me expect a very crass story. That’s well done since it’s part of the teenage experience most of us don’t touch on and then you went in a completely different direction. This was enjoyable and had hints of some very creepy possibility with the mention of a colony. You mentioned Stephen King and being a huge fan of his I can see some elements of that in here. That statement makes me wonder if you are also influenced by Ray Bradbury? This has a nice mix of horror and scifi while being intense but easy to read like many of his works.

    3. agnesjack

      I agree with jmcody that your descriptions of despair were oddly funny. I enjoyed that — especially the line, “Mom stuffed the dishrag in her mouth and started to wail.” When I saw your title, at first I thought it was a typo (HI spelled backwards). Was that intentional? This was an easy read that left me wondering, what’s next?

    1. Observer Tim

      Personally I’m waiting for the 14th lune of the Paschal new moon following today (April 20), when Lent ends and my project is “done”. That way I can get back to commenting on all the excellent stories & scenes I’ve been reading.

      May you not have to shovel snow again until well past the autumnal equinox.

    2. jmcody

      The same to you Nancy! Maybe just put it near the door in the garage, just in case.

      Just got back from a trip to North Carolina, where the trees are starting to bloom! It’s only a matter of time for us New Yorkers.

    3. Critique

      Thanks, I’m with you Nancy! In my experience, putting the shovel away too quickly seems to jinx Spring’s arrival – if you leave it in plain sight, Spring is up for the challenge ;)

  57. Observer Tim

    I stare at my so-called locker. Normally I’d carry my Journal with me, but today I left it in the locker for ‘safe’ keeping. Now it’s gone and I am in deep trouble. I scrape my cloven hoof on the ground, leaving a mark in the fake marble. I’m drawing a crowd, but that’s what today has been like. It started in second period … no, it started at breakfast.

    I began the day as a (relatively) normal guy. When I came down for breakfast Mom wished me happy birthday, then got this serious look on her face. She told me there was something I had to know now that I was eighteen.

    “Tyler, you’re not human. You’re a magical creature called a ‘spiritus scriptus’, that your father and I summoned eighteen years ago. You know your Journal? That’s your true form; your human body is a convenience for interacting with people.”

    “You know how crazy this sounds, Mom? Here’s a clue: Really, Really, Crazy!”

    “You need proof? Write ‘I’m wearing my new watch’ in your Journal.”

    “I don’t have a new watch.”

    “Just write.”

    I did. Then I stared at the brand-new Rolex on my wrist.

    After that I got the talk about keeping the Journal safe; whatever was written in it would come true for me. I decided to leave it in my locker so I wouldn’t be tempted to use it until I’d had a chance to think about the implications.

    I turned into a robot halfway through Chemistry class. After that I became a tree, and then a tentacled alien; now I’m a unicorn. I guess keeping this secret isn’t an option. The weirdest part about being a unicorn is being able to look at someone and know whether they’re a virgin. Stacy Engels is, which is why I had no problem with her sitting on my back and combing my mane.

    Stacy dropped into my front seat. It took a moment to get used to suddenly being a car, but at least I could communicate. I used the radio, like those robots in that movie.

    “Stacy, can you help me? It’s Tyler. Somebody stole my Journal and I have to get it back.”

    “Tyler Harrison? Nerdy Tyler?”

    “The one and only.”

    “I never knew you were cool. Can you turn into other stuff?”

    “Not without my Journal.”

    Whatever the speed limit was in the hallway, we more than tripled it. With Stacy at the wheel we found the perps in seconds: a matched pair of stoners in a stairwell who were taking turns doodling all over my life.
    Stacy demanded the book. One stoner suggested a price, but when Stacy twisted his arm he reduced it to “Just let go! Please!”

    “Great work, Stacy. Can you turn me human again?”

    She took out a pen and started writing. Finally she put the book away and climbed onto my back. One hand grabbed my mane and the other caressed my spiral horn.

    “Eventually.”

    1. gamingtheblues

      Wow… we are getting all sorts of interesting “others” to take the place of human in this prompt. I like this one a lot. And Stacy is obviously not quite as naive as MC might have thought.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        What better way to go through life Tim, than with you horn always ready and a fair maiden riding your back. I’d take it in a heart beat. No, half a heart beat. A really fun pomp and I’m sure you remmber my uncorn story a few months ago. Wonderful write, Tim.

    2. jmcody

      Wow, another story that reminds me of a children’s book series — like the Magic Tree House, only raunchier. I think you’ve got something here.

    3. Reaper

      Silly intellect spirits. They think they know everything but still can’t understand women when in a male form. A lot of enjoyable intensity here for a light hearted story which made it a fantastic read.

  58. sperye

    Vestige

    With one breath, Henry extinguished all eighteen candles. His mother clapped with excitement and his father, a molecular geneticist, sat in silence, probably processing a complex genetic formula. After the cake and ice cream disappeared from their plates, his father spoke.

    “Henry, we need to talk.”

    Here it comes, Henry thought, his cheeks flushed with heat. His first adult speech.

    “I’m going to get right to the point,” his father began. “Henry, you’re not…exactly…human.”

    Henry grinned. “Ok, I’ll play along. If I’m not human what am I?”

    “You’re a…a…vestige.”

    “I thought I was Irish?” Henry replied.

    His father cleared his throat. “When I started at Biogenetics Corporation we were working on a government program code named “The Genome Project.” Our mission was to decode human DNA sequences and document every gene in the human body.”

    Henry interrupted. “This is starting to sound like a bad sci-fi movie.”

    “Our intentions were honorable. The objective was to eradicate every disease on the–”

    “You’re freaking me out dad.”

    “We were young, idealistic, and brash and led by a brilliant scientist, Dr. Lazarus Long. Eighteen years ago, we succeeded and mapped every human gene—all 20,500 of them—then the project took a dark turn.”

    An icy finger ran down Henry’s spine.

    “I discovered a process we designated ‘segmental duplication’. You…you—”

    “Are you saying I’m a mutant?” Henry blurted.

    “The human body has 20,500 genes; because of segmental duplication, you…your body has three billion genes that regenerate every sixty seconds.

    “What does that mean?” Henry demanded.

    “Your body has become resistant to the protein isotope injections I’ve been giving you since birth. You will exist in your current state until the end of time,” his father said, his voice trailing off to a whisper.

    Henry looked at his mother, her eyes red with sorrow. “You mean I’m going to live…forever? How could this happen?” he screamed, leaping to his feet.

    “Hyper uranium exposure rendered all of us in the lab sterile, including our spouses. Your mother and I wanted a child but we couldn’t….Then Lazarus isolated a derivative of the segmental duplication process. He called it ‘the seed of life.’”

    Henry buried his face in his hands. A lump in his throat left him wheezing for air.

    “Lazarus artificially inseminated over fifty women including your mother with the seed. You won’t be lonely, Henry.”

    Henry looked at his father. “How will I know who–?”

    “The crimson scar on your left shoulder is a vestige of the duplication process. You all have same one.”

    Henry froze. Three boys and two girls in his swimming class had the same scar. “How could you?” he pleaded.

    “Arrogance and ignorance.” his father replied, averting Henry’s glare.

    At school the next day, Henry stood with the others who carried the mark of eternal life. Yesterday, they were neither friend nor foe. Today, he stared into their sullen eyes, numbed with fear but hopeful about the future. It didn’t matter; they would have eternity to create their own…vestige.

    1. snuzcook

      Great premise, well written, and a fab ending. Lazarus Long was a fun insert here.
      I wonder if I were 18 and I learned I would live forever, if I would be quite so heartbroken about it.
      Don’t we all think we’re entitled to live forever at that age?
      Nice work, Sperye!

    2. gamingtheblues

      You touched a sore point for me. I WANT to live forever :( Ahh well.. perhaps science will decide to accomadate. Nicely written though I do think everyone is being far too morose about living forever.

    3. jmcody

      Ah yes, the Lazarus derivative. Authentic-sounding scientific mumbo jumbo with ominous biblical undertones — a recipe for some excellent drama. I loved it.

    4. stoland1999

      Well done! I’m left feeling like I want to look at everyone’s left shoulder this summer at the pool… The way you had the father plow on despite the MC’s attempted interruptions reminded me exactly of how a highly intelligent driven scientist would behave at finally confessing the big secret. The science lingo felt natural and not too wordy, which is important for the audience. I’ve read books where the author must have memorized every inch of the science books and they made the science more important than the characters. You did no such thing. Henry became a real character that I cared for and wanted to know what happens to him. Great work!

      1. sperye

        Thanks for kind words.
        I was concerned the story didn’t get into the MC’s head enough after I wrote it.
        I’m glad you felt the MC became a real character.

        I almost want to continue the story!

    5. Reaper

      What makes this great is the little details. Not too much time spent on science as some have said. More than that it’s the fact that someone so superior would likely fear living forever because they would understand they were going to be alone, and the answer of arrogance and ignorance is beautiful in its simplicity. The true answer to why scientist have done terrible things since the beginning. Bravo.

      1. sperye

        Thanks for the comment.
        I like your take on the possibly of eternal life for a superior being.
        So many different takes on this and so many story possibilities!

        Thanks again.

    6. Critique

      A great base for continuing the story. Poor innocent Henry. What will he do with forever? Thought-provoking phrase in relation to scientists: arrogance and ignorance.

  59. Marc

    Saturdays are fantastic–especially birthday Saturdays. This one was my 18th birthday.

    Unlike most teenagers, I love to get up early on Saturday mornings and go for a walk. Frequently, I’ll see Mr. Murphy, our next-door neighbor, reading his newspaper on his porch swing. Occasionally, I end my walks at his house and listen to his stories about “back then”. Mr. Murphy, a widowed, well-preserved man in his 80’s appreciates my company.

    That morning, I noticed Mr. Murphy had an assortment of cookies by his swing when he called, “Hey Charlie, come on up.” My best friendships seem to be with the elderly. I have my own share of aches and pains. I could really feel the pinch in my hips as I climbed the porch stairs.

    I found a sunny spot to sit, and Mr. Murphy said, “Here you go buddy.” He tossed one of the treats my way. I got comfortable and lost myself watching a pair of squirrels play tag in a nearby tree.

    “Charlie, breakfast is ready.” It was my sister’s voice calling from home. I walked across the yard, grabbed Dad’s newspaper, and carried it inside as Cloe opened the door for me.

    “Happy Birthday buddy,” Dad said as he patted my shoulders. He looked at Mom and said, “Charlie’s really going to miss going to preschool with you and Cloe next year.”

    “Mommy, Charlie can come to school with me and sit by my desk,” said Cloe.

    “Sorry sweetie,” replied Mommy. “School is only for people, and you will be there all day starting next year. Charlie and I won’t able to stay and wait for you like we do now.”

    Only for people? I found this disturbing. I’ve been a part of this family as long as I can remember. What does Mom mean? I ate my birthday pancakes and resolved to talk with Gloria the next day.

    The following Monday, Mom, Cloe, and I arrived at preschool. Mom parked the van, and Cloe jumped out, grabbed her lunchbox, and sprinted inside. I followed Mom to the park across the street and trotted over to Gloria who was also waiting for a sibling at preschool.

    I didn’t waste any time. I said, “Gloria, my mom told me I couldn’t go to school with Cloe next year because it was ‘only for people’. I don’t get it. What is she talking about?”

    “That’s very curious,” said Gloria. “My brother said I couldn’t go next year either. Maybe school is only for people that walk on two feet. Since we know how to use all four, we don’t need to go.”

    “Hey, that makes sense,” I replied. “I guess Mom never learned. She’s so weird.” I ran over to where she was reading her book, jumped in her lap, and gave her a big lick on the face.

    Desperately trying to shield her face from my slobber, Mom screamed, “Oh Charlie, get down! You’re such a silly dog!”

    1. snuzcook

      All members of the same family, just otherwise enabled. Fun story, Marc! Your clues were good all the way through for those who wanted to sniff them out.

      1. Marc

        Yes, I know the 18-year-old dog was a stretch–possible, but not that probable. An 18-year-old dog that can still hop in a lap is even less likely, but hey, one can imagine. I wanted to play around with the idea of the geriatric dog and his neighbor a bit more, but I was quickly using up my word quota.

    2. stoland1999

      This was such a sweet story and well written! It is poignant, but upbeat, which can be challenging to achieve. It’s a unique perspective that you chose to use and one that touches many of your readers’ hearts. I see so many cute photos of animals with sweet or funny captions that make my heart melt. Your story gave me that same feeling.

    3. jmcody

      I loved Charlie’s reasoning as to why humans have to go to school but dogs don’t. We secretly want to be like them. They don’t call it “a dog’s life” for nothing. Sweet story.

    4. Critique

      I absolutely loved your story – well written – and fell in love with Charlie! Our much loved family dog – now in doggie heaven – thought she was human and we didn’t dare treat her otherwise :)

  60. stoland1999

    Mr. Wisby loved math. It showed in the way he taught his classes. It was the reason I love math. But today, I couldn’t keep my mind on what he was saying. Not after what my parents told me. As of today, I was an adult. One who was as frightened as a lost little kid.
    “Oh my God, someone call 911!”
    My attention snapped back to the class. Mr. Wisby had collapsed. I felt time slow as I pushed out of my seat and rushed to his side. The students were quickly becoming hysterical.
    “Everyone calm down,” though I didn’t raise my voice, everyone heard me. They turned to me with frightened eyes. Touching his neck, I felt a weak pulse.
    “I can save him,” the words nearly stuck in my throat, but I forced them out, “I’m an angel.”
    After a stunned silence, there were shouts that I was crazy and to get away from him. I waited to be pushed away, but no one touched me. Instead, they began scrambling back. It was no wonder. My skin had started to glow.
    I hovered my hand over his chest and tried to will the feeling of warmth inside me into his body. I could feel his heartbeat. But instead of growing stronger, it grew more faint. I frantically tried to figure out what I was doing wrong.
    “You’re not doing anything wrong.”
    A man had appeared next to me. He emanated strength. His hand reached out to cover my own and I felt our warmth combine. My vision blurred as tears spilled over onto my cheeks. A translucent figure of my teacher faded into view next to us . He stared down at his body.
    “Huh, didn’t expect that.”
    “Put him back,” I begged. “I was supposed to save him!”
    “That’s not your role,” his kind eyes regarded me.
    “Then what is?”
    “To guide him.”
    I swallowed past the lump in my throat and finally nodded.
    “Mr. Wisby, I’m sorry.”
    “Sorry?” he looked at me, perplexed, “Don’t be. I’ll get to hold my Clara again.” His smile was radiant. “Can I look around just a minute more?”
    I looked askance at the man. He nodded. We watched as my teacher turned to survey the room.
    “Your training is nearly complete.”
    “To pass as human? I clearly failed. I revealed it to them,” I motioned to the students.
    “Look.”
    I did. They were all crying, some holding one another, but none of them were looking at me.
    “They can’t see me,” I whispered. “Will they remember me? What about my parents?”
    He slowly shook his head.
    “Why?” my anguish poured into that one word.
    “To understand them. To live as they live. Experience their joy and pain.”
    I slowly stood and approached my charge.
    “I always loved that saying,” he pointed to the plaque on the wall. Life is full of infinite possibilities. The profound honor of my existence began to dull my aching heart.
    “Let’s go find Clara.”

    1. snuzcook

      I love this story! Being pulled through the daunting revelation with the MC, then quickly presented with a challenge, the confusion of apparent failure, and at last the realization of the full truth. Poignantly executed. Well done!

    2. stoland1999

      Thank you everyone! There are times when I write and (though it is on a computer these days) I want to wad up the ‘paper’ and toss it in the trash with frustration. Then there are those golden times when I start typing and it just feels… right. And it is a great feeling to be at a place where what I just said will resonate with those of you reading this reply.
      I’m working through everyone’s posts and enjoying every minute. Thanks for reading mine.

    3. jmcody

      We tend to view death as failure. Most acts of heroism,and most compelling drama in some way involves cheating death. This is what we call victory. Your story takes a more eternal view, that death is a passage, not a failure. Very profound.

    4. Reaper

      Gorgeous and uplifting in a melancholy way. This makes me think of Nothing in the Dark in the way you paint the reaper as a loving and sympathetic character. I feel bad for your MC because you did take the long view and portray death as something that is a gateway, for humans. The teacher gets to see his love again, but the character loses everything they loved. Very sad and perfect for the point of learning what “they” go through.

    5. Critique

      I could sense the warm caring heart of the MC and then sense his despair at not being able to revive his teacher. Forgive me… I’m a little confused – is the other man actually Mr. Wisby? And did the MC disappear?

  61. lionetravail

    (Number 2 for me- got the idea, and couldn’t resist)

    I always knew I was odd- I mean, I didn’t much look like either of my parents. I had thick hair even when I was born, they tell me. Dad looks a bit like an egg and my mother only has thin stuff left on top.

    They speak, and I can understand everything they say, but I can only make sounds like coarse grunts or piercing shrieks. There’s something wrong with my vocal cords, I think, which is why my parents taught me sign language. I understand what they’re saying, and I sign back to communicate.

    I’ve been home-schooled, because my parents didn’t want me to be picked on by “ignorant folk who are closed-minded”. I explained once, with my hands, that everyone was closed-minded unless they had it forcibly opened, and dad had laughed and clapped. I remember mom gave him a cross look, and just said I’d get a better education at home with her teaching than with “those bumblers down at that school”.

    I do know that I’m a bit slow. I kept making potty mistakes until I got the hang of it. I’m clumsy with small things- I still have trouble writing, except with the iPad. It makes my handwriting look much more graceful than pencils or markers, and makes much less of a mess.

    I was excited today, because a few months ago I’d seen this program on cable about ‘emancipated minors’, and realized I could start making my own decisions when I turned 18- if I could support myself financially. So, I’d taken an online course, and started getting odd jobs writing for others- pretty much anything I could do on my computer. I even made a Paypal account so they could send me money for the work I did.

    And today I turned 18! No home school today, because we would have a party! I was expecting presents and cake- birthdays were always good for cake.

    I opened the door to my room and went downstairs. I saw my parents standing in the living room, smiling, and they yelled: “Happy birthday, Ike!”, and I could see and smell my favorite kind of cake, banana cream!

    “Thank you! I love you mom and dad!” I signed. “The cake looks yummy, but there’s something I want to tell you first.”

    “What, dear?” mom asked.

    “I want to start going to school with other kids,” I signed. “I can even pay for it- I’ve been working as a freelance writer online and saved $14,000 dollars already!”

    My parents looked shocked and then my dad said: “Er, Ike.”

    “Yeah?” I signed.

    “The money aside, you know you’re not like other kids, right? I mean, you’re probably a lot smarter, but, you’re different, you know?”

    “Well ‘duh’, dad,” I signed. “No kidding.”

    “You are our son and all, but, you’re, er, not exactly human.”

    “Wait… what?” I signed. “But I’m your son!”

    “You’re our adopted son, Ike,” mom said. “And there’s really no easy way to say this, but you’re actually a chimpanzee. There’s no way you can go to human school, or become ‘emancipated’. But we love you, you have to remember that!”

    Well, of course I knew that- there was birthday cake. I decided I’d have that first, and then later I’d go google exactly what a ‘chimpanzee” was.

      1. Marc

        Nice story. I like that it wasn’t about a ghost, an alien, or other sub-human monster. The only thing I didn’t like was that you posted your story before mine!

    1. snuzcook

      A very entertaining story, lionetravail, not-with-standing the backhand to on-line piece-work writers (after all, a chimp could do that!). I love the last line.

      1. lionetravail

        Heh, that’s actually a funny point Snuzcook, but it wasn’t where I was going with it. I have no problem with anyone working towards healthy goals, and as I have my own writing aspirations, I would never fling poo at someone else’s. (Sorry, channeled Ike there for a moment!) Seriously, I was just looking for a way for a smart person to make money over the internet without ever being seen. :)

    2. gamingtheblues

      Man…I need to take lessons from the MC, I have been struggling to find piece work online to pay the bills! Nice job with the reveal. I couldn’t see the tree for looking at the forest, but it was still a swinging good time, though the mystery was driving me bananas!

    3. agnesjack

      I got it pretty early on, but still enjoyed it because of the characterizations. I thought, gee, if he had an infinite number of chimpanzee friends and an infinite period of time, he could write “Hamlet”!

      1. lionetravail

        Thanks everyone, and GTB for the extra puns :). The idea made me giggle, though I had an actual guffaw when I imagined the scene where Ike sees the original “Planet of the Apes” movie, and says: “But mom, why did that man with so little hair call the man with tons of hair a ‘dirty, stinking ape’?”…

    4. Reaper

      This was funny in all the right ways. I picked up on what Ike was a little more than halfway through when I realized you had been giving subtle clues all the way through. If it weren’t for that ability to feel superior to Ike because I got it before him I too might feel very depressed that you have a chimp making more money than me with his writing. I feel a Bobo liberation movement coming on.

    5. Critique

      Wonderful story. Guess I’m the dull one here ;) I did not know Ike was a chimp – even though he could only grunt and shriek – until his Mom told him. I need to do my research on chimpanzees along with Ike :)

    6. don potter

      I believe the adage goes something like this. The law of probability says that if you put a thousand chimps in a room, each with a computer, they would eventually write all the great prose that was ever written. For emample, “To be or not to be that is the sbdfghjklcxv…”

  62. Kemter

    The rose tinted sunlight streamed through the sluggish, undulating limbs of my living curtain to speckle both my face and the ChameWal I lay against. The wall had been installed when I was three, the newest in the line of OneTouch products. The paint was really a pigmented solution of Nanoelectric-heatdetecting pixels. As advertised, I could change the color of the entire wall, stream television, play movies, video chat, you name it; with one touch. I’d been begging for the newest holographic technology download since Christmas, and today was the day a glorious mail-bot would program it into my unbearably low-tech existence.

    I struggled to open my eyes against the glare of the well-placed sun spot, reaching for my glasses on the nightstand. The tinted lenses were not corrective, but they protected my sensitive irises from a sun that would make me blind if I went without them for too long.

    It was the curse of a birth defect, one my mother and father couldn’t afford to fix.

    My bed began to vibrate like a gentle earthquake, glitching as usual. The alarm I had set was supposed to go through a series of increasingly jostling movements to wake me up naturally.

    Not shake like a Chihuahua on speed.

    Silly me for forgetting the only consistent thing about technology was its tendency to break. I climbed lithely over the side of my bed; the shape of two hands cupping together and stretched happily. The HOLO-door evaporated a second before I walked through it (another unfortunate circumstance if the energy field flickered out).

    I inhaled the sugary aroma of caramelizing ambrosia from the top of the movastairs, racing down them instead of waiting for the slow-turning mechanisms to deposit me at the bottom.

    Light poured into the kitchen from the clear plexi-roof above, bathing my mother and father in a deluge of gentle warmth. On the counter, sizzling on a self-cooking griddle, the carcasses of the sweet ambrosia flower drained from their vibrant fuchsia to a more subdued salmon color.

    “Happy birthday, Atkia,” my father intoned jovially around a mug of Vita-Juice.

    My mother smiled at me through the HOLO-paper running loudly through the day’s headlines:

    “– Another protest threatened to spill over into the early education plant this morning, resulting in the deaths of two more Hesians. Consequently Victor-President Buhro has applied for the termination of the Hesian Protective Rights Act in lieu of so many recent attacks—”

    Hesians: impaired humans of a species all their own. A protein sequence gone wrong, a mutation in the human genome at some critical position had been all it took for a new Genus to emerge. Most retained a somewhat humanoid appearance, others….not so much. They were different; some could do.…things that weren’t supposed to be possible. And if they weren’t causing riots, they were slowly turning into something undefined.

    With a flick of her wrist my mother shut down the broadcast.

    “Those Hesians are something else,” I angrily began. “I mean, an E.E.P.? Where children are? Why can’t they see that the Healers are just trying to help them? The news is always talking about this or that Hesian being cured by The Trials, you’d think they would get the message.”

    “Only one in one-hundred survives The Trials, Atkia,” my father sighed at my lack of empathy.

    It came to my attention that my mother had started crying.

    “Mother,” concern mingled with a question in my tone.

    “You can’t be so closed-minded,” my father quickly chastised me for her.

    How fun, a crying mother and a lecture, “why should it matter?”

    “At—Atkia,” my mother managed brokenly despite my father’s protests, “baby you aren’t—you—oh honey you are a Hesian!”

    I could explain the stages of denial, anger, parent-loathing, self-loathing, and finally detached recognition that ensued in the long discussion we had as a family. However, learning I was a sub-human species for my birthday was a bit exhausting.

    In the end, I steeled my nerves, I looked into my mother’s indigo eyes, and I said firmly, “Then I’m going to do The Trials.”

    My parents gasped in horrified astonishment, forbidding me from even considering such a thing.

    I should have listened.
    I really should have listened.

    1. snuzcook

      Great story, Kemter. A truly serious take on the prompt, and a wonderfully complete world introduced in this short piece. The arrogance of the MC is wonderfully consistent with the premise, and the final line was perfect.

    2. gamingtheblues

      Even though he was a bit of a naive jerk to the plight of the hesians at first, I was really pulling for your MC when he announces he is doing the trials. At least he was not being hypocritical by suggesting the others do so earlier. Then I read your last line….. WHY why did you do this to me???
      I liked this story.

    3. Reaper

      Your descriptions in the opening are breathtakingly good. You tone them down but keep the feel throughout so after your setup I could see everything so clearly. Putting together your early clues made me both love and hate your MC. Now my mind is imagining a very Logan’s Run/Running Man (book not movie)/Dune existence for the MC and I would love to see where you take this.

    4. jmcody

      I have to admit the first sentence threw me. I couldn’t get a fix on what in the world the sluggish undulating limbs and the ChameWal were, and I was not sure I wanted to know. But woah — everything, and I mean everything after that was pitch perfect and fascinating. I also got a Logan’s run vibe, along with shades of Hunger Games. I want more!

      1. Kemter

        Thank you all for the wonderful comments! I joined this site about two weeks ago and its the first time I’ve ever really put any writing out there. Your feedback is incredibly appreciated.

        And don’t worry jmcody, the “sluggish undulating limbs” were a like a curtain of vines but more coral-esque in appearance. And the ChameWal is like a wall sized, ipad.

  63. gnatseyebrow

    That morning was like any other morning, except it was my 18th birthday. When I went downstairs to have breakfast, both of my parents were sitting at the breakfast table with serious looks on their faces.

    “Did somebody die?” I asked sarcastically.

    “Allen, there’s something we need to talk about.” My mother said.

    “Okay,” I said. “What is it?”

    “Sit down, dear. What we’re about to tell you may come as a shock.”

    Then my dad spoke, “Son, you’re not really human. You’re an alien hybrid.”

    I started to laugh. This must be some kind of birthday joke.

    “Seriously son, you’re an alien-human hybrid.”

    Then my mother spoke. “You see, Allen, 18 years ago I was abducted by aliens. They performed all kinds of weird tests on me, including alien fertilization. Nine months later you were born. So, you see, your father isn’t your real father. Your real father is an alien.”

    “This is a joke, right?” I was getting angry. “There’s no such thing as aliens!” I shouted.

    “Allen, listen to me. Now that you’re 18, weird things may start to happen. If things get too out of hand at school today, you call me and I’ll come pick you up.

    I was angry. I stood up and stormed out the door. As I walked to school, I thought about what my parents had told me. It couldn’t be true. Aliens aren’t real. On the other hand, I am really good at astronomy and physics and sometimes I can communicate with people telepathically.

    “I don’t know what to think.” I said out loud to myself.

    I got to school and ran into Jenny Hill. All I had to do was think “I can’t believe I’m an alien hybrid.”

    Jenny must have read my mind because she exclaimed “You’re a what?”

    “It’s nothing.” I said. “Just forget it.” I turned around and walked away.

    I sat through first period barely able to focus on class. I just couldn’t help thinking about what my parents had told me. The bell rang. I got up to go to my second period class. On the way Seth Osbourne, who everyone calls “Ozzy,” stopped me in the hall.

    “Hey Allen, I hear you’re an alien.”

    “Where did you hear that, Ozzy?”

    Jenny Hill was telling a bunch of us that you talked to her telepathically and told her you’re an alien.

    “First of all, I’m an alien hybrid, not an alien. There’s a difference.”

    “It doesn’t matter. You’re still a freak.”

    I started getting angry. I was trying very hard to control my emotion, but the feelings kept building up inside me. It felt electric. I couldn’t control it. The next thing I know, Ozzy was laying on the floor with his hands on his head screaming at the top of his lungs.

    I walked to the school office and asked to use the phone.

    “Hey mom, I think things just got too out of hand.”

    1. snuzcook

      Nice one, Gnatseyebrow! Made me wonder how his parents knew that at 18 things might get out of hand–were there other kids in the community that were alien hybrids?
      (I had to chuckle at one line. It reminded me of a friend, when I asked how she liked her new electric car she said, “It’s not an electric car, it’s a hybrid. There’s a difference.”)

    2. gamingtheblues

      With the nonchalance involved in the story this could have easily taken a step into silly but it didn’t . There was even a mild Hitchhiker guide to the galaxy feel to some of it, at least the better parts of the book. This could do with some continuation!

    3. Reaper

      This was fun to read. Your MC was easy to relate to, and so believable as a hybrid because of the combination of heavy emotion and cold logic by turns. You managed to write this in a way that I would love to see more but could also be very happy with this being the only piece of it. Hard to do in my opinion.

  64. Doug Langille

    Initiation Day
    =========

    Samantha woke and leaped out of bed, throwing open the curtains. She basked in the spring sunlight and smiled. Happy birthday to me, she thought while slipping on her robe to head to the shower.

    Not only did her eighteenth birthday put her in a great mood, but today her brother Dorian would come home. He’d been overseas since his birthday ten months ago.

    Wrapping her dark hair in a towel, Samantha dressed for school in her typical fare, jeans and a tanktop, and went downstairs for breakfast. Her mom and dad sat at the kitchen table whispering to each other. They stopped when she entered the room.

    “Happy birthday, Sam,” said her parents in near unison.

    Her mom sipped her coffee and asked, “So Sweetie, any plans after school?”

    “I think we should just tell her, Irene” said her dad.

    “Tell me what?” Samantha’s curiosity was piqued and looked to her mother for clues.

    “Since your dad insists,” she said, shooting him a dirty look. “Remember when Dorian left?”

    “Yeah, it was weird. We had cake, then he up and enlisted.” Samantha stiffened and her eyes widened. “He’s still coming home today, right?”

    “Yes, Sweetie,” her dad said. “This afternoon. That’s why we’re asking about your plans. We have to celebrate then get on to business. Family business.”

    This annoyed Samantha. Her dad always talked this way, like he was some sort of secret agent or something.

    “Look, I gotta go,” she said grabbing her bookbag and turned to go.

    “Wait,” said he mom with n urgency that stopped Samantha’s escape. “Tell her, Phil.”

    Phil pointed to the chair and Samantha sat down and crossed her arms, her good mood long since vanished.

    “What?” she said.

    Her dad took a swig of his coffee. “Dorien didn’t enlist. Not in the way you think. He’s been in training since Initiation Day.”

    “What’s Initiation Day?”

    “It’s when people like us, our family and others, assume our true nature,” said her mother.

    “Our true what?”

    “We’re not the same as other humans, Sam. We’re special.”

    “Stop pulling my leg, guys. This isn’t funny.”

    “No one is laughing, Sweetheart.”

    Samantha put her hand up and shook her head. “Look, I gotta split,” she said and left for school, leaving her parents looking at each other with shared concern.

    “Well, that went well,” said Irene.

    ***

    Samantha met her best friend, Erin, on the sidewalk in front of the highschool.

    “Hey, Sam.”

    “Hey.”

    Erin handed her friend a daisy she picked.”Harpy Birfday.”

    “Thanks,” said Samantha as she tucked the flower behind her ear.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “Nothing. The ‘rents were just weird this morning. Don’t worry about it. Did I tell you that Dor is home today?”

    “Only every day for the last month,” Erin said, rolling her eyes. “I can’t wait to feast my eyes on his manly manliness.”

    “Down, girl. He’s but mere mortal.”

    “Sure he is.”

    ****
    okay, this is obviously going to need more words….

    1. Reaper

      Definitely needs more words because my brain is screaming for more. Every once in a while you find a book where the first chapter is not enough and yet it is a perfect short story that leaves you wanting the rest of the novel. This is that first chapter.

    2. Kerry Charlton

      I say go with it Doug and finish the story. You left me like a movie short friom the forties when the damsel in distress is tied to a train track, yelling, “Please save me!” And the train is almost upon her. The screen goes black and you hear,

      “See the hair-raising conclusion next week. Will she be rescued or not?”
      It’s a great story rolling down the track and if you don’t finish it, the forum will come for you.

    3. Doug Langille

      Thanks, all.

      These prompts have produced in me a terrible affliction: starting stories and never finishing them. I’ll never be bored. My idea cup overfloweth.

      But, I will indeed finish it this weekend and post on my blog if you’re interested.

    4. jmcody

      Nothing says we have to fit an entire story into five hundred words. It’s just supposed to be a “scene” right?

      It’s a great way to practice writing beginnings — and an effective way to get people to your blog!

      Excellent writing, Doug.

    5. Critique

      Intriguing that it’s all in the family. This definitely needs a second chapter… I’m left hanging. One little detail: I’m picturing Erin going to school with her hair wrapped in a towel?

    6. Doug Langille

      The morning passed without incident. Samantha endured the friendly jabs and birthday wishes from her friends. She was between boyfriends at the moment and enjoyed the attention being single had.

      Lunchtime in the cafeteria was always a zoo. Samantha and Erin found their usual table by the window and chit-chatted while they ate their lunch.

      “Did you see Mark yet? Stacey said he had the hots for you.” Erin always tried to hook her friend up with her latest interest.

      “No. I thought he had his eye on you, to be honest,” said Samantha.

      “You think so?”

      “Uh-huh. You should go tell–”

      Samantha stopped talking as a sharp pain erupted in her temple. She scrunched her face against the dizzying onslaught.

      “What’s wrong, Sam?” asked Erin.

      “I… don’t know,” she said then opened her eyes. The pain stopped.

      She looked at Erin then around the cafeteria. All the colors of the room took on a brilliance, the full spectrum of blues and reds glowed in their richness. Samantha stared at the emerald green of Erin’s apple and knew its entire life story from its own perspective: rain, sun, light and dark. Samantha saw the harvest and Apple’s death. She mourned for Apple. Her eyes welled with tears and then it was gone. The harvest, the rain, blues and reds. Gone.

      Erin touched her on the arm. “Are you okay?”

      Samantha blinked and looked at her, saddened by the loss of her secret world of color.

      “Yeah. I think so.”

      “You blanked out for a sec. You sure you’re okay?”

      Samantha forced a bright smile and said “Let’s get out of here. It’s my day and I want to have fun.”

      When they went outside, Dorian was waiting for them, thumbs in his pockets and a silly grin on his face.

      “Dorian!” she squealed and ran to her brother and gave him a massive hug.

      “Hey, half-pint. I missed you too,” he said as he ruffled her hair. Even though they were close in age, he was more than a foot taller than Samantha.

      “Stop that,” she said, combing her hair with her fingers. How come you’re here? I still got school?”

      He looked at the girls and smirked. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure afternoon classes wasn’t on the agenda.”

      Dorian turned to Erin. “Listen, me and Sam got some catching up to do. You mind if I steal her for a while?”

      “Not at all, stud.”

      “Erin!” said Samantha.

      “Just being real, girl. Catcha later,” she said and headed back up the steps to class.

      “Let’s go, sis. We need to talk.”

      The siblings walked along the sidewalk towards home, the sun peeking through the tree-shade.

      “You’ve been gone a long time, Dor. Things are crazy weird lately.”

      “I know. Mom told me.”

      “That’s why you’re home, isn’t it? Something about Initiation Day. What the hell is that about?”

      “Can’t fool you, can I, Sam?”

      ****

      dammit… still not done.

      1. Reaper

        Nice addition though. The ladies can correct me if I’m wrong, but while I am still interested for a moment you seemed to lose the female voice. It comes back but the one piece of constructive criticism I would offer is that, again in my experience, men comb their hair with their fingers. Women fuss with their locks, or run their fingers through their hair to fix it.

  65. Amyithist

    Today was the day. The day I’d been waiting for since I knew what being 18 meant for me; no more answering to people, no more being tied down to rules and curfews and what not’s. I was an adult now. And that meant one thing: I was free.
    I stumbled down the stairs, sniffing the air with anticipation. The smell of hot cakes, sizzling bacon, and fried eggs wafted on the air. As I entered the kitchen, Mom looked up at me from the stove. She didn’t smile as she flipped a hot cake over.
    I felt a sliver of discomfort edge its way into my stomach as I poured myself a fresh glass of orange juice. The sweet liquid filled my mouth and it tasted so fantastic, I almost couldn’t believe it. Odd, I thought, bringing the glass back. I don’t remember orange juice tasting quite this way…
    As I looked up from the fascinating new discovery, I realized my mother was studying me. A strange look fell over her pretty face and the feeling of worry quickly overwhelmed me. She arched her eyebrow at me and folded her arms over her housecoat. “Angelica, we need to talk.”
    My heart seemed to thrum against my chest so hard I thought it was going to rip through my skin. “O-okay,” I stammered.
    She suddenly looked ten years older as she looked out at the beautiful spring morning. “I made a mistake a very long time ago,” she said. Her tone was so sad and sullen I felt an ache for her.
    She crossed the kitchen and sat across from me, taking my hands into hers. I noticed my skin felt cold and clammy in her hands and I wondered if I’d ever felt so cold in my life. “When I was a young woman, I found out that I couldn’t have children,” she said, taking me away from my thoughts. Tears welled in her eyes and she squeezed my hand a little harder. “I went to this place where I heard you could make deals…”
    She bit her lower lip as it began to tremble. “You aren’t exactly human, Angelica. I mean, you’re physically a human, but your soul is more…supernatural.” She dropped her head and began to sob. “I didn’t think this was going to actually happen,” she cried. “But I knew I had to tell you before…” She stopped and looked up at me. Her eyes were wet and wide and searching for a hint of my understanding.
    “Mom, tell me what,” I cried, pulling my hand back. “You’re scaring me!”
    Her chair scraped against the floor as she stood. “I made a deal with a witch,” my mother admitted. “A warlock, really. I got to have you for eighteen years; at which time you would be relinquished unto him so that he may marry you and carry on his legacy in the afterlife. You’re dying, Angelica. He’s coming for you and you’re dying.”
    I looked down at the orange juice that had tasted so sweet earlier. Had that been why it tasted so different from what I remember? And why my hands felt like snow melting in my mother’s grasp?
    Suddenly, the bright cheerful morning began to burn with decay and rot. The flowers that had been in full bloom in the window box wilted before my eyes. Clouds swarmed the deep blue sky, swallowing the sun up behind their dismal embrace. A burst of wind roared through the house, ripping the door wide open.
    I screamed as a figure loomed in the doorway. “Mom,” I cried, turning back to her.
    She didn’t move. Her eyes were wide and full of pain and resignation. She knew what she had done all of those years ago…and what would happen to her should she renege. Somehow, I knew what she knew. And one thing was clear: there was no escaping this.
    The figure stepped through the foyer. His boots thudded against the floor with such force it shook the entire house. Dead leaves scraped the ground behind him. Without saying a word, he extended his arm to me. I glanced back at my mother, my entire body trembling.
    “Is this the part where I die,” I whispered. She nodded slowly, her shoulders bobbing against her violent sobs. I turned back to the warlock, my eyes flitting to his awaiting hand.
    Before I could consider the consequences further, my hand lifted involuntarily and rested atop his. Without speaking, he turned and led me outside. The air was bitterly cold and empty. The neighborhood I’d grown up in was inexplicably gone. In its place was a cobblestone street lined with druids. I looked down at myself and suddenly realized I was wearing a wedding gown. Tears formed in the corner of my eyes and I took a sharp breath. This was my fate…a fate that had been decided for me before I was even brought into the world. Turns out, I wasn’t really free after all.

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was very well written. It also made me distinctly uncomfortable with the idea of an immutable fate, especially marriage. This is not a bad thing though as it begets thought and discussion. Dramatic and dark, inspired take on the prompt.

    2. Reaper

      Beautiful imagery as always, you always engage the senses in a very real way. It was very dark and uncomfortable in the perfect way. I was filled with joy and then terror for your MC so this got in my head. You seem inspired on this one. Packing into a small space a tragic coming of age story and a metaphorical lesson. The child that yearns for that day, the one when they’re free only to step out into adulthood and find they are still shackled, they still don’t have as much freedom as the always thought their parents did. Only now there is no escape from the things that bind them, and unlike their parents who loved them and wanted the best for them the forces now limiting freedom and controlling their lives are cold and impersonal and just don’t care about them. I hope that’s what you were going for, I think the depth and imagery I am seeing in this prompt has me overthinking some stories though.

    3. Foxwriter

      I love the imagery in this story. You really do a good job of using every object down to the orange juice work for your writing. The plot moves pretty fast for 500 words. This may be more fitting for something longer-length, but you still make it work.

      Additionally, I like the deeper theme. This has so much to do with the choice (or illusion of choice) an adolescent female has in our society. I want to read more and see Angelica fight to reclaim her free will.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hard read in the dark of the morning, but beautiful in it’s description of inevitable terror. I felt myself there, helpless to try to defend Angelica, my character from a couple of stories back. But in my thinking, the dark angel is in for a real shock. Her mom gave her this name for a reason.

        Onto the rescue by the hosts and a great battle ensues between the battle angels and the druids. You realize you’ve written a great videogame here and you’re goning to be rich and famous. What do you think?

    4. snuzcook

      Wonderful images, Amythist. Very dramatic and engaging. Great beginning to a longer tale.
      One thought–could either the MC or the mother hint that she is unwilling to comply with the arrangement? That’s is what I would be reading the rest of the story to find out.

    5. jmcody

      I am always amazed at how you are able to capture such a broad spectrum of sounds, smells, tastes, colors, textures that paint such a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, while simultaneously conveying the emotional subtext so viscerally. You’re like a magician. I am going to have to study your writing a little more closely.

    6. Critique

      I agree with the previous comments. This is a story loaded with imagery and descriptions that engage all the senses. Will Angelica fight for her freedom? I’m rooting for her :)

  66. gamingtheblues

    All of Us
    —————-

    The warm haze of morning lay suspended in the stillness of my bedroom. My eighteenth birthday, marking the transition from childhood to reality. I could feel the gentle heat on my eyelids.

    “Get out.”

    My mom and dad stood over the bed, faces twisted with disappointment and something… else. What was going on?

    “I said get out!. Now!” My dad repeated. The covers were torn away, and dragged from comfort, I was thrown onto the floor.

    “What the h-”

    “I knew this couldn’t last. I knew that you would do this to us, after everything! We taught you how to act, what to do and say, we even prayed for you. Your mo… Sheila said that it was a phase, that you would grow out of it. ‘Wait till she’s grown up she said. Well I’ve waited, watching and knowing. Here you are, sitting with pathetic tears in your eyes and nothing to say.”

    He bent down low, spit flying from his purple lips. “You aren’t even human. You’re not one of us, you’re one of… them.”

    I screamed, ” I am human! I look like you, talk like you, have the same eyes and hair! What’s wrong with me? I love you Daddy. Why-”

    At least that’s what was in my head.

    “Get out, go to school, and don’t come home.”

    Father didn’t look back. Mother was gone.
    ———————————————————–

    At school they all knew somehow. That I was no longer one of us. Ugly, sullen faces stared at me in the hallways, in the classrooms.

    Nothing prepares you for the ‘Alone.’
    ———————————————————-
    At lunch the cook turned her back as I approached. “Bee…please… I’m hung-”

    “Get out”

    It was Chrissie, my best friend. Her fingers dug red into my arm.

    As I turned, hands from all sides grabbed and clawed, pulling my hair, ripping, grasping. Hate.

    “STOP.” The Principle. “Let …it… go. Look. There is a school for…your kind, over on the other side of town. Go.”
    ————————————————————————
    I walked slowly, my arms bruised, blood covering my face, my hands torn and painful. The eyes everywhere silently asked me why I was alive. I had no answer.
    ————————————————————————

    “Sarah!”

    I looked up in surprise. No one had used my name all day. A boy ran up as I neared the school. “Happy Birthday!” We were told that you would be coming from…”

    He cast a dark look and steered me into the building.

    “Thank you but w-”

    “You’re one of us now! My name is Sam.”

    As we walked into the cafeteria everyone cheered and shouted greetings, smiles frozen on their faces, glossy eyes bright.

    Then I noticed one girl who did not shout or clap. She sat alone, her skirt white with delicate lace and flowers. A birthday skirt. It was ruined, covered in dirt, maroon stains and ripped in several places. She had red welts on her arms and her hair was a mess. Sam noticed the direction of my gaze.

    “Don’t mind…,” he waved his hands vaguely in her direction. “She’s not one of us. We’ve done all we can to help her. We’ve talked with her, prayed with her and she won’t stop being.”

    I broke off from Sam and went to her.

    I studied her face, her hair and hands, her wide staring eyes and her tears. Finally I smiled gently, taking her hand.

    I could see surprise and something else in her eyes. “but….I’m….one of them…”

    “So am I,” I responded and wrapped my arms around her, feeling her hot tears on my shoulder. The sweet smell of her hair so like mine. “We all are.”

          1. gamingtheblues

            Wow..I cant stop replying to my own thread..what an attention hog… but this one was specifically written to make you ask that exact question.

    1. Dennis

      Nice take. My thought is it’s a take on how as people we put are selves in different groups pointing fingers at those not like ourselves. Yet we are really all just people. Nicely written.

    2. Reaper

      The acceptance of intolerance in one direction but hatred of it in another was a subtle but powerful undercurrent. People that have had to shake of shackles only to later put them on others kept going through my mind. That it has happened, and does happen and there are so few people that stand up and say enough, we’re all alike is what made your MC a powerful hero, especially as he continued to love his persecutors and chose likely ostracism over compromising himself. Warm and terrifying at the same time. You packed a lot of emotion and subtextual imagery in a very short space. This is a greater thinker GTB, thank you for the gift.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m writing this and I realize I need to travel back to your story and take the journey again with you. As Reaper said, it’s the shackles of the human mind that we are burdened with and in that respect we become “All of Us”.

      2. gamingtheblues

        You are very welcome, especially if it helped or inspired critical thinking. I truly enjoyed your thoughts and interpretations and thank you for really reading into subtext. I put a lot of subtext into most of my work and oftentimes its not seen (though always there!) :0

    3. sperye

      Bravo…You dug deep on this one.
      In a minimal number of words you accomplished what all of us writers set out to do. I’ve read your story a few times and still see something new with each read.
      Well done!

      1. gamingtheblues

        I did dig deep actually ;) Most of my work has some basis in experience. I am glad that you enjoyeed it to the extent that you would re-read it more than once! I think that’s amazing. Thank you for your comment

    4. Foxwriter

      This story is very tongue-in-cheek in a way. I like the style you use to pull out and exaggerate something we all do at some unconscious level or another–that infinite boundary of “us not them”. I feel like you could spin this in a way that is deeply political. Then again, it could be anything. You leave it so creatively open to the reader. I hope to see more of your writing soon.

      1. gamingtheblues

        My favorite personal stuff to read is often very tongue-in-cheek so its not surprising to me that there are layers of it you see. This could easily be very political or turned to as a social commentary. I wanted to really leave interpretation of what it “means’ to the reader themselves, so that they would bring their experiences with them to help interpret. As for more of my writing,!!! I write at least every week on these prompts and you can always go back to other weekly prompts and look up other work I have done recently!

        Thank you for the kind reply.

    5. agnesjack

      A story of the never-ending idea of “the other,” I think. A meditation on the human tendency to judge and categorize and isolate and want to be only with their “kind.” This was quite chilling, GTB.

      1. gamingtheblues

        I appreciate your thoughts on the story. It was actually rather chilling to write, especially with editing down the words. The more words I cut, the more hard and mean their little world seemed. I find the concept of the story being a meditation quite succinct.

        1. agnesjack

          Forgive me GTB. In my “meditative” comments on your story, I forgot to mention how much I liked it. Although the concept is chilling, Sarah shows compassion and wisdom at the end.

          1. agnesjack

            Ah, GTB. I had heard of that video but hadn’t watched it until now. It is just so tragic. My heart hurts for Amanda and her family.

            My story (which is way down below because I actually managed to post early this week) touches on this topic in different way. I like what you said about being inspired to write in order to make a difference — trying to find the words that will shine a little light.

    6. stoland1999

      A very intriguing read! I felt my heart breaking for her when there was such a sharp contrast with what she was expecting to wake up to and what happened instead… and I barely knew the character at that point. The denial of a basic need like food was a sharp point and the betrayal of her best friend leading the lynch mob capped the feeling of ‘alone’ for the reader. The scene from Highlander came to mind when they are running him out of the his village. Again, you struck a chord when you had Sam treat the other girl the same way and not realize what he was doing. The finish was fitting and the last line clicked. Wonderful job!

      1. gamingtheblues

        I am pleased that you read so much into the story, and invested enough to point out a number of moments that touched you so to speak. Unfortunately I do not know highlander and might have to do some research into it, as this is not the first reference on this forum I have heard, and the name does ring a small bell from the 80s in my brain.

        Thank you for your comments.

    7. jmcody

      “Nothing prepares you for the alone.” Ain’t that the truth.

      I think you’ve captured one of the core problems of human existence here, and judging by the comments, you’ve really touched a nerve. But I expect no less from you, GTB, and you do not disappoint. Someone further down said that you are sharp as a tack. That you are, my friend, and a very bright light indeed.

      1. gamingtheblues

        Thank you Jm, that really means a lot. By the way… check your messages in the forum, I sent you one. You also bring a light and…humanity to these forums, along with many of our other great co-writers and commentators.

        For everyone that reads and does not comment, please consider doing so. It means an awful lot to especially amateur writers to have someone actually read and comment on a piece of writing they worked on.

        1. gamingtheblues

          Oh..I put that last part in the wrong spot meh…. these forums have a funny way handling replies sometimes. Oh well. I suppose the point is still there though in my own story thread it seems a little needy….. its not supposed to be here!!!!

        2. jmcody

          Yes, I got your smoke signal, Kemosabe. Will respond via stagecoach express as soon as I get my act together. See — my head is still stuck in the cowboy prompt. :)

    8. don potter

      The human condition calls for us to belong to something. And, when turned away from one group we tend to seek another that will accept us. That’s what I got from your well written post.

  67. Foxwriter

    I smile at my mom and dad with hesitation as I walk through the front door. They have really gone out of their way to make my birthday count. The house is decorated with family photos framed with festive birthday colors, and I can barely make out a massive cake in the kitchen.

    “Happy birthday, sweetie!” My mom says. She’s is unable to contain herself as she lunges to give me a hug, her springy orange hair bouncing madly on her head. My dad trails behind her, and shakes my hand. Their behavior seems entirely out of place.

    “Alright, guys,” I say looking at them. The smiles are almost plastered on their faces. My dad’s jet-black hair even has a few grays in it. “What’s the catch? You going to tell me to get my own place now that I’m finally 18?”

    My mother’s plastered smile begins to crack at the edges, and I see she’s trembling. My reflexes are faster than my dad’s, and I catch her before she falls to the ground. I carry her over to a couch in my thick arms.

    “Okay, what’s going on?” I demand an explanation as I lay my mother on the sofa. They have been acting strange for weeks, and I need to know if I need to pack my things.

    My dad keeps deflecting my gaze, “I’m going to go get your mom a glass of water.”

    “Stop!” I almost catch myself growling at him. I can hear him gasp and head back into the living room where I am standing.

    He smooths back his cropped hair and begins to speak as though he has a gun to his head, “Ben, son, you’re a werewolf.”

    I begin to laugh so hard my sides are threatening to burst, but my dad refuses to say much of anything. He just gives me a cold stare, as though he has sent his son off for slaughter.

    “You know the blackouts you’ve been having? Or the times you have woken up locked in the basement?” he does not look amused, and the smirk melts off my face. I remember a time I woke up from the basement, the taste of blood in my mouth. It made me sick the entire day. Is he telling the truth?

    Unable to speak, realizing that most of my life has been fabricated on lies and cover-ups, I retreat to my room. I don’t celebrate. I don’t sleep. I just give a pensive stare at the partially full moon outside. My dad knocks on the door, but I ignore him.

    The next day I wake for school. In the hallways, everyone is avoiding me. At first, it isn’t obvious, but after awhile I feel like a wolf among a massive flock of sheep. At lunch, I find that everyone has abandoned our usual table. Kate, my best friend who usually sits with me and the other popular kids, is sitting at another table giving me a sorrowful look. They know what I am. No popular kid would be caught dead sitting with a freak like me.

    That’s when I am caught off guard. Ellen, one of the school freaks, drops her tray down at the table next to me. She is dressed in all black. The only color she has is the frosted blue bangs of her long black hair, covering her face. She is followed by her friend, James. He is not quite as eccentric as her, but he is still very quiet. Large glasses obscure his thin face.

    “We heard what you are. It’s a rare genetic mutation you have. I learned about it recently,” says James very matter-of-factly.

    I don’t want their sympathy, “Yeah, okay,” I say, hoping they will go away.

    That’s when Lizzie does something unexpected. The food on my lunch tray transforms into raw meat. I get up to shout, but she has one hand on my arm. She begins to speak to me, “Look, you’re a wolf, I’m a witch, and James is a psychic. We’re all three a part of a genetic experiment.”

    I begin to laugh at the absurdity and ask, “What experiment?”

    Frustrated, she slaps a newspaper in my lap, “Just hurry up and read it.”

    I open up the newspaper and begin reading about a man named Dr. James Mason. He was a resident doctor in our town around the time I was born 18 years ago. He was formally a genetic engineer. Apparently he was arrested for some form of malpractice. Something in my stomach drops, and I begin to fit the pieces together.

    “He did this to us?” I say on the verge of being sick.

    “Yes,” James says. “And he has been working with an underground network from his prison cell. It’s going to be our job to take him down from the inside.”

    “Like an assassination?” I ask, swallowing.

    “Worse,” Lizzie begins. She pulls out a small vile of strange liquid from her bag. “We’re going to give that monster a taste of his own medicine.”

    These kids were freaks to me that I avoided like a plague only days ago. Now they are my only source of consolation. I listen to them intently, drowning out all the youthful cacophony from the surrounding tables. Surely, all these other kids have to discuss are rumors. However, here, I am among friends. Together, I know they will soon be my allies in the destruction of Dr. James Mason.

    1. Foxwriter

      Just a quick edit on my part: Lizzie and Ellen are the same character. I changed the name later in the story, but missed a few spots. Not sure how to edit it.

    2. gamingtheblues

      That’s ok about the Lizzie, Ellen switch. I did not notice and took it for granted that the person speaking was the same. So first the good. I think this is a very very interesting story idea that you have pieced together. I love this type of thing to be honest, a little sci-fi, a little fantasy, a little darkness and its at the very least a plot I would read, and expect in a Dean Koontz book.

      That being said, I felt the reveal about the good Dr. was a little rushed. I understand the word count restraints really are tough, but there might either be other, less important information that could be cut to make time to fully flesh out the more interesting points. Also, I felt some confusion about the parents. Do they still like their son, afraid of him, for him?

      You have an awesome idea and I think with some editing you have a very cool story.

    3. Amyithist

      This was fantastic! I kept imagining a young Alcide from TrueBlood. You could build a whole story off of this! Well done. I enjoyed reading this very much.

    4. Reaper

      I would agree that this seems like the beginning of a longer story. If it were I would agree with GTB that the reveal is rushed. It feels rushed but for a short story I understand the necessity. For myself I will say that I /hate/ the over humanization of monsters that is prevalent in modern stories. We want our monsters to be good guys and heroes. I mention this because I think you avoided it nicely. Because of how they were made the human aspect is perfect, and the ostracism they feel is poignant. When they are witches and werewolves they aren’t monsters, but that act of separating them begins the real transformation. Where they become monsters for me is when they decide to take revenge in their own hands. I would love to see the trail into darkness and compromise these teens take in a longer story.

    5. Foxwriter

      Thanks, everyone for the constructive comments. I may consider stretching this out novel length at some point. That would give me some time to use more foreshadowing and suspense rather than dumping it all on you at once… It did feel a little force-fed upon reading it again.

      Reaper, I love your idea. Monsters can be made as much as they are created.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you, I love moments where I can be a muse. I admit you are writing such a grey world with the oppression and black market science that my mind tells me the kids would arrive to find that their creator was not in jail but a government black site. Too dangerous to be let out or lost, but forced to keep his work going to create human weapons. But then I have a soft spot for the sympathetic villain even while I hate the humanized monster. I left that comment out of my original post because it did and does feel arrogant to assume I know another person’s story that well.

  68. benhli38

    My eighteenth birthday dawned on the coldest day of the year. It didn’t help matters that I was born without a biological father either. How do you explain to other kids your own age your actual father was unseen? I often got made fun of and ridiculed. Even most adults wouldn’t look at me. More often than not they would avert their eyes and as soon as my back turned to them I heard the words, “bastard,” and sometimes even, “son of a lying adulteress.” So, naturally when I woke up this morning, on my birthday, my mother met me in the kitchen.
    The walls looked sparse but immaculate, no dust to be seen on any of the countertops. A canister close to me held a few utensils: a stirring spoon, a ladle, a spatula, and a whisk. Next to this a wooden bread-box held day old bread, which was still good. I grabbed a bit of it and waited as she blessed the little food we had.
    “Son, I have something to tell you.”
    She closed her eyes a moment and sighed deeply.
    “Mom, it’s okay.”
    “It’s not. I know what people call both of us and it’s time I told you the truth about how you were born.”
    “Okay…”
    She took a deep breath, willing tears away from her brown eyes, brushed her hair back behind her ears and pulled me close, holding my hands. “My love, my dear, sweet boy, your father, while he was alive—God rest his soul—never touched me.”
    It took a moment for this to sink in. I felt the gravity of the situation and felt I didn’t have to say anything to truly comfort her. She knew me. She knew who I was. She always called me her “gift from God.” She told me stories over the years about our people, about the traditions, the laws, and the prophecies concerning the One who would be known as “the Anointed One;” the Messiah. When I was younger she would call me Immanuel—God with us. I knew what she meant.
    My father, Joseph, taught me the skills needed to make things out of wood. I could carve just as well as he could when he lived. After all he mentored me and bequeathed me his tools the day he died. He referred to me as his Redeemer. It made me feel awkward, honestly.
    “So, the stories you always told me about Gabriel, the angel coming to you, announcing God would overshadow you ring true.”
    “Of course.” She kissed my forehead, wrapped her arms around my shoulders and hugged me. “You gave Joseph and I such a fright when we had to come back for you at the temple.”
    “Mom, I told you I had to be about my Father’s business.”
    “I know. I just wish you got to know Joseph better.”

  69. jhowe

    Daniel Mossberg awoke to see his father tucking an envelope under the lamp on the nightstand. With a dry, putrid mouth Daniel tried to speak but his head throbbed and his words came out slurred. He tried again, “what’s going on Dad?”

    “Time to get up Danny. Your mother and I forgot to give you a card last night at your party. You’d better get ready for school.”

    “Party? What party?” Daniel said.

    “You have a big day today. You’d better get ready,” said his father.

    Daniel’s head swam as his father left the room. He had dreamed of uncontrolled mobs and horned figures and dragons and unrelenting chaos but he didn’t remember a party. He got unsteadily to his feet and opened the card. It was a plain white card with a single black candle on the front. Inside it read, ‘Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. 1 John 2:18’

    What the hell?

    Daniel dressed and went down for a glass of juice to soothe his parched throat. The house was a mess. Wads of wrapping paper, up-turned furniture, half full Solo cups, scraps of festering food and multiple piles of green slime littered the entire lower level. His mother and father were nowhere to be seen.

    Daniel arrived at school on his Honda scooter and chained it to a lamp post as he always did. The smoking crowd lingered at the base of a big oak tree at the edge of campus. “Hey Mossberg,” one of them said. “Come light up with us.”

    Strange. They had never spoken to him before. Outside the school, large crowds of students gathered on opposite sides of the steps leading to the entrance. They appeared to oppose each other in body and spirit and the air was charged with derision.

    Daniel tentatively climbed the stairs and the hateful jeers and calls of praise intermingled and became a constant din. One student held a sign that read, ‘the Antichrist will be slain by the power of God.’

    Another sign said, ‘apocalyptic pseudo-prophecy sucks.’

    Yet another read, ‘lawlessness rules.’

    At the top of the stairs a lone figure emerged, blocking the entrance. He was dressed in white and possessed remarkable features. His eyes shone of controlled rage. “Let no one deceive you in any way,” he said to the crowd. “The self-proclaimed exalted one will employ all types of deception to win you over. The true beast, upon provision of faith will be revealed.”

    The crowd came alive and merged as Daniel turned and ran. He heard shouts and cries of pain behind him. As he reached the parking lot one of the smokers had the Honda ready to go. Daniel hopped on and took off. He noticed wetness on the handlebars and the seat and looked down to discover the scooter was covered in green slime.

    All along the streets, mobs had assembled and fought each other with sticks and stones and many turned their attention to Daniel as he rode. A euphoric agony started to work its way into his core and the truth hit him like a high speed train. He suddenly remembered his birthday party and what he had been chosen for. He turned north, toward the side of town where his supporters awaited. The streets however were empty when he arrived. He was greeted not by his supporters, but by the figure in white, standing alone.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Let it roll jhowe. I’m caught in the fire of your prose and realized what you were portaying. Frighting good write jhowe. Descriptions were awesome in their power. “covered in green slime” I won’t forget this for a while.

    1. gamingtheblues

      To be honest I am not convinced Daniel as written is ready to accept his role in the apocalypse. Rather tense, dark atmosphere in this one jhowe, nice job with the tone especially.

    2. Reaper

      This is concise, with wonderful imagery. I would like to see more because my mind plays devil’s advocate here (I can’t believe I just said that). On one side you have a boy that can’t remember until the end what he is, and it is never really revealed to us except by circumstantial evidence. Assuming the figure in white is telling the truth I wonder which one of them is the antichrist? The self proclaimed exalted one, being that Daniel has not proclaimed himself but the figure in white has makes me think we may be seeing it wrong and maybe the slime is illusion. Then we get to all of the followers being gone and just the two of them on the field. Were the followers smote? Or were they perhaps raptured away. I’m sure I’m reading too much into this but the fact that there is another possible interpretation makes this story amazing for me.

      1. jhowe

        You know, I kind of wondered where I would take this from here. You have given me an idea I like. Maybe Daniel is meant to face the figure in white, who is the antichrist in disguise. Hmmm. I kind of inadvertantly left it open for this to be the case. Thanks. If this works, perhaps I’ll work The Reaper into it somehow, in tribute to you.

        1. Reaper

          That would be an amazing tribute jhowe. I’m glad I could help get the creative juices flowing.

          Part of the greatness here was that it was open to be interpreted either way but you seemed to be going in one and hinting at another.

    3. agnesjack

      This was terrific, jhowe. I could be completely wrong, but I don’t think the white figure is one of salvation and light. Daniel is. There are so many hints. The green slime made me think of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and the pond of green slime that the Pilgrim had to struggle through. Daniel experiencing “euphoric agony” made me think of Jesus on the cross. And, of course, the devil would always point to someone else and claim that they are the “self-proclaimed exalted one” of which the people should be wary. Anyway, I obviously thought this was a tremendously thought-provoking piece. (p.s. I liked the added modern elements.)

  70. john godfrey

    Disclaimer: This is WAY over the word limit, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. I tried to go back and slim it down to 500, but I couldn’t have everything I wanted to in that space. Every author writes that kind of story, right? I apologize, but I just left it all in. Next week, I will force myself to stay at 500…or I will suffer the consequences. Thanks for reading!
    ****************************************************************************************************************************
    The Day Their Earth Stood Still

    When I awoke, the sun has just risen. Another perfect, beautiful sunny day, just like every day seems to be. In fact, I don’t even remember a rainy day at all since I was six…that was when my grandmother passed. It rained during the funeral, but the next day, sunny. It had stayed that way ever since. The flowers never needed watering; there was no drought, but no rain. Everything stayed perfect.

    I walked out of my bedroom and took the stairs down, like I did every morning. Halfway down, I stopped. I realized that today was my eighteenth birthday. I lit up with excitement, and flew downstairs, practically running into the kitchen. My parents were in there, my father dressed for work in a neatly-knotted tie and white shirt, reading the morning paper with a cup of coffee in his hand. My mother was in her floral-print dress and white apron, making breakfast at the stove. I sat at the table.

    “Good morning, honey.” my mother said to me, turning around from the stove with a smile. “Sleep well?”

    “Like a newborn baby!” I said with a grin.

    Both of my parents laughed at the same time, and then stopped together.

    “You crack me up, son.” my father said approvingly from behind the paper. “Say, son, today is Friday, right? Tonight’s the big game against Juniper High, isn’t it?”

    I beamed. I was the big football star for my high school. We were playing our rival, Juniper High, tonight in a big championship game. A football scout was there, and I was hoping to get noticed tonight. Hopefully, I could get a football scholarship into the college of my choice.

    “Yes, sir!” I said to my father. “The football scout will be there tonight also. Maybe I’ll get some good luck since it’s my birthday and everything.”

    My parents both froze.

    “Today…is…your birthday, son?” my father asked, putting down his paper and looking at me in the face.

    I was quiet for a moment. “Yes, sir…you didn’t know?”

    “He turns eighteen today, Ward.” my mother said.

    My father’s face changed into one of thought. “Eighteen, huh?”

    “Is something wrong?” I asked.

    My mother turned off the stove and turned to look at my father and I.

    “You need to tell him the truth, Ward. Before it gets out of hand.” she said to my father.

    He nodded slowly. After a minute, he turned to me.

    “Son?” he said.

    “Yeah, Dad?”

    “There is no easy way to put this, but…you are not one of us…you are not human.”

    I was in disbelief. “You’re joking, right Dad?” I said with a smile.

    “No son, I’m not. Years ago, your mother and I were newlyweds. My father had just bought us a new ride, and we were exploring around the universe, looking for a nice place to settle. We found this beautiful little planet called…Earth. When we landed, we were enamored of the charming era they called the 1950’s: the wardrobe, the lifestyle, everything. We both fell in love with it, your mother and I. We continued to make visits to Earth, hoping to integrate ourselves into the world once our technology allowed it.”

    “You mean…?” I asked. I had read science fiction comic books before.

    “Yes, son, camouflage suits. To make us look like humans. But as the years went by, the 1950’s passed. Times on Earth grew ugly. The worst was the era called the 1990’s. It was there that we saw a scrawny, drug-addled woman called Nadine give birth to a baby in the street, then leave it there, crying in cardboard box. That baby was you. Your mother did not want you, so we took you and brought you back to our planet. We would raise you in a world not unlike Earth’s 1950’s, except it would stay that way. We would keep everything perfect.”

    My mother hit a button under the cabinet. The world changed. My parents became massive, drooling, insect-like creatures. The world outside was not sunny and blue, but dark and polluted and dirty. A large, insect-like hive hovered where the sun once was.

    “Our leader said we could only keep you until you turn eighteen.” my mother said. “That was when earthlings let their offspring leave on Earth television. You mustn’t be allowed to live here anymore. The proper authorities will come get you after school.”

    My drooling father snapped his mandibles together, and spoke. “You are no longer one of us, son. You are no longer considered “human” on our planet. You are an alien.”

    After I got ready, my parents told me they loved me and sent me off to school. On the bus, I looked at all of the freakish bug-kids. Sandy Harmon was a bug…I liked her in seventh-grade. Travis Bond was a bug…he beat me up once in fourth-grade.

    Suddenly, I saw Mavis Radley, the weird girl who I had known since kindergarten and who had been ostracized by everyone since. She was known for her weird customs that made her so different from the rest of us. She was sitting alone, as usual. But she wasn’t a mass of insect-like arms and legs and mandibles.

    She looked just like me.

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was a very unique take on the prompt, taking the word human as a universal quantifier of belonging versus as a species identifier. I find it interesting that the MC still says “us” after he is told he no longer belongs.

    2. Amyithist

      Never saw it coming! Great take! Well written. As far as going over the word count… I think everyone does from time to time. 500 words is hardley enough to convey an entire story! Well done!! :)

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Very imaginative response. I like last lines that tell the whole story and your’s certainly did. Now how are we to get them back to earth and at the same time back to the 1950’s. Another whole story for you to write. I’dv really enjoy reading it. If you need references from the 50’s I am a walking source.

  71. lionetravail

    “Mything Links” (went over again, but trimmed as much as I could, honest)

    My life’s course could be mapped by the tragedies which had cursed my mother and me: the loss of my father, her husband, when I was but 4, the fire which burned down our apartment when I was 6, the crane which fell and killed 20 people at the first concert I’d ever been to when I was only 9, and too many others over my 18 years.

    I remembered them all, because I often wondered how one young woman could have so much absolutely awful crap happen to her and her mother. And, because I was probably the direct cause in all of them.

    It’s hard to credit, I’m sure, and psychiatrists I’ve seen over the years are certain that it’s repressed guilt, psychosis, or something or other. But I’ve been equally sure it’s been me, so who really knows?

    Take my mom’s current boyfriend. It took her a long time to get over dad’s death, and she had boyfriends over the years, only none ever came around more than once or twice. But Karl is one of the good ones, not a creep- he treats my mom and me well, listens. But just last week he was diagnosed with the big C, and it’s probably incurable, and that just sucks for all of us.

    Today was the morning of my 18th birthday. I faced the day with dread, even as I looked in the mirror. I saw clear skin I could be thankful for, decent lips, and not a bad body.

    “Ima,” my mom called from downstairs. “Breakfast!”

    Her voice was beautiful, but it always felt like there was supposed to be this dirge playing in the background when I heard it. When I was younger, I even thought there was music some of the time, but that had earned me one of the trips to said psychiatrists. I quickly came to agree with them that it was my imagination, which probably saved me a lot of therapy.

    “Jeez, Mel,” I heard Karl say, with a little chuckle you could hear pain in. “It’s her birthday, give her a few minutes to get it right.”

    I smiled at myself in the mirror: he was a good guy. I turned towards the door and heard the mirror slip, and turned back in time to see it fall sideways and smash. Damn.

    “Ima!” mom yelled. “Are you alright?”

    “Yeah, it… I mean… well, the mirror fell…”

    “It’s okay dear,” she called. “Just come on down: I made waffles in a new thingy that Karl brought over!”

    I had to smile.

    I got to the kitchen with the smile still on my face, and lost it when I went over to give Karl a kiss and he inhaled a piece of waffle and started to choke.

    “Oh no, not…!” Mom ran over and did the Heimlich, and Karl coughed up the waffle and also about a quart of blood. I started screaming, and the rest was a blur of emergency phone calls and emergency vehicles and emergency comforting of a pale 18 year old shaking in a corner. I swear, I don’t know how my mom handled it, as she held me close, her own tears hot against my forehead.

    It was dark, and Karl’s blood was dried all over the table and floor, when I came back to myself in mom’s arms. “I did it again, it’s all my fault, isn’t it?” I said.

    “Nonsense, dear,” mom said. “If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine.”

    She sounded like she was going to cry, so I looked closely at her face. “How?” I said. “I’m the stupid jinx!”

    She smiled sweetly, sorrowfully, and said: “Oh, my darling girl, it isn’t your fault! It’s mine, for wanting a normal life. I put you in this position!”

    “Position? What are you talking about?”

    “It’s past time I told you about me, about us,” she sighed, stroking my hair. “This is important, Ima. I’ve been around for a long time… very long, in fact. I got tired of things, and tried to grab my chance at a normal sort of life.”

    My heart probably skipped a couple of beats while I listened.

    “You’ve heard your father and Karl and others call me Mel, right?” she said. I nodded. “It’s short for Melpomene.”

    Despite all the crazy, I had to smile. “Mom, that’s a totally dorky name.”

    She smiled too. “It is, but wasn’t so dorky in Greece, back in the day,” she said. “In fact, I’ve never told you much about your grandparents, or your full name.”

    “My full name isn’t Ima?”

    “No, it’s Atychima. It’s Greek,” she said.

    “What’s it mean?”

    “It means I have some rough news, kiddo- you’re the granddaughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne, and in another age someone might have called you a Muse.”

    I blinked, but what she said resonated, and, bizarre as it was, made sudden sense of my life. “So, what does my name mean? What kind of muse would I have been?” I said.

    ” ‘Accident’, my dear one…”

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was dark but the Grecian references brought an ethereal beauty to it. I enjoyed the idea of the muse in modern society, even if one of them brings about the downfall of all around her. Do we blame the daughter for being the muse of accidents? I don’t think… I did a little research. Turns out her mother, originally the muse of song… was later known as the muse of tragedy….

  72. peetaweet

    My eighteenth birthday started with a bang. As I stumbled down the hallway and slipped on a banana peel, my backside crashed to the floor. Dad hopped out of the kitchen and paraded around with laughter.

    “Gotcha!”

    Helping me up, the wrinkles in his forehead grew soft, a sure sign that something was on his mind.

    “So, first off, happy birthday son,” Dad said, squeezing the plastic horn in his pocket. I rolled my eyes.

    “Never gets old, does it Dad?”

    He fidgeted with his corsage, his eyes darting about. “Well, uh, you’re an adult now, Nokie, and your mother and I think it’s time we uh…”

    I turned to Mom, on the couch, stroking her silky blue hair, “Oh just come out with it Barry, it’s not like he doesn’t suspect something.”

    “Quiet Lula! Dad snapped before regaining his composure.

    “Dad, what’s going on?”

    “Well son, as an only child, you probably have noticed that some things are uh, different about us than your classmates.”

    “Different? I’ve been called a freak since I was in the fifth grade.”

    “Yes, uh, well freak is such an ugly word.”

    “Oh for Pete’s sake,” Mom finally looked up to me. “You’re a clown sweetie.”

    I turned to Dad whose eyes dropped to his size 29 shoes.

    “Clown?”

    “It’s true son.” He said gravely, but then perked up. “But this is a good thing. Be proud of your heritage. You come from a long line of entertainers.”

    Mom snorted. “Oh brother, we do birthday parties Barry, not Carnegie Hall.”

    “A gig’s a gig, woman, and I haven’t seen you twisting up any balloon animals lately, not since you got all chummy with that Bozo.”

    “He had his own show, Barry.”

    Waving Mom off, Dad’s shiny black eyebrows arched. “Anyway, son, I just thought you should know.”

    I arrived at Miller Prep Academy in a fog. Jake my best friend, only friend, found me at my locker.

    “Dude, Mr. Wheeler wants to see you. Some balls man, wearing that bowtie. Today of all days.”

    He gave it a squeeze and a stream of water hit him in the face.

    “Dude!”

    “Mr. Boopie, can I have a word with you in my office.”

    I turned to find the stoic face of our Dean. He curled a finger and I followed his rigid steps into his office where he shut the door and motioned for me to have a seat.

    “What’s with the getup today Mr. Boopsey? Might I remind you of our strictly enforced dress code? This is a preparatory school, not a circus.”

    I slouched, deflated as a spent whoopee cushion. The dean had been gunning for me since his arrival at the beginning of the year. As he jabbered on about rules and codes, I heard a commotion out in the hallway. The tinny sound of a horn followed by the deliberate plodding of large size 29 shoes.

    The door swung open.

    “Dad?”

    “Barry?”

    Springs unsprang and cymbals crashed. Mr. Wheeler’s eyes bulged, two golf balls dangling from their sockets. His jaw hit the desk and his tongue rolled out like a red carpet on opening night. I turned to dad, then back to our dean, who’d retrieved his tongue and eyes and wore a painted on smile. His suspenders were yellow and thick. He stuttered and stammered before Dad held out a large white-gloved hand.

    “Save it Wheelie. Now what’s this I hear about you giving my kid a hard time?”

  73. Kerry Charlton

    HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH!

    “The sapience of homo sapiens can br simulated by machines,” Tom said.

    Brian stared incredulously at his father.

    “What are you trying to tell me Dad, that I’m a cruddy machine? I don’t believe you, it’s a cruel joke, Mr. O’Reilly.”

    Tears streamed down Denise O’Reilly’s face.

    “Brian, you have our DNA installed in you as well as our personalities.”

    “You too, Mrs.O’Reilly? How can you treat me this way?” Brian said.

    ‘What a hell of an 18th birthday present’, he thought, as he hopped on his motorcycle and rode to highschool. ‘I’m never going back to the house. I’m as real as they are and I can’t believe I’ve been lied to all these years.’

    Brian felt his life was over. Despite being chosen as valedictorian, he felt edgy around girls who considered him a geek.

    His Harley crept through the student parking lot and as he swung off the bike, a small crowd of girls approached him and started wrapping their arms around him, kissing his neck and cheek while running their hands over his arms and chest area.

    “Stop that,” he said. “I have no feelings for you. You’re wasting your time girls. I’m a stupid machine and I’m not programmed for kisses.”

    The girls, now over fifty, escorted him down the hallway. Lisa broke from the crowd, threw her arms around Brian and kissed him passionately. Brian could hear his heart pounding as he felt Lisa’s tongue slide in his throat. His body hit overdrive but he pushed her away, carefully.

    “You’re wasting your time Lisa. I’m just a programmed robot.”

    By this time, half the girls in the school surrounded him and started chanting in an ever-increasing volume,

    “We want Brian. We want Brian. We want Brian”

    He raised his arm and silenced the girls’ screaming.

    “It’s a remote possibility that I might be able to have some kind of emotional experience from one of you and you’re welcome to try but you’ll have to allow me privacy on a one on one basis.”

    Brian managed to work his way to the gym’s equipment room and proceeded to interview eight girls an hour, [no lunch break] until by three in the afternoon, fifty girls had failed their mission, while the other twelve hundred waited in breathless anticipation.

    Energing from the equipment room, barely able to stand, he addressed the girls,

    “I appreciate all your efforts, ladies. Perhaps tomorrow I will find the key to my emotions and my happiness.”

    Brian staggered down the hallway, while the girls he hadn’t intervied, followed him in a hypnotic trance. Brian turned toward the expectant, beautiful and innocent faces, well some were innocent.

    “I’ll give all of you a chance, but remember be fair. No repeats until I’ve seen every one of you”

    It took the last of Brian’s strength to sprint to his bike. As he mounted his Harley, he gunned the engine, rose high in the saddle as it roared from the parking lot. He let a monster yell out as the Harley climbed the hill toward home.

    Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

    1. gamingtheblues

      What a quirky, yet strangely…thoughtful take on the prompt. A slightly bemusing story, but one of the opening sentences hints that it is more than just a lark with a bunch of girls mooning over a robot. The sapiens of homo sapiens can be simulated by a machine… sapiens.. wisdom..

      What of human wisdom is conveyed through a harley, high school girls and a hunky robot… and the religious refrain…

      Maybe that regardless of origin the world is a beautiful place full of diversity and adventure so be grateful for it? hmmm This one made me think.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        My mind works in the area of free spirit rather than analytical as far as my writing goes, so basically I don’t put a lot of undertones in my stories and I read your response and that of Reaper and realize perhaps my subconscious writes rather than I

        This prompt and the previous were overcome by automatic writing. That’s rare to have two in a row. The automatic process fascinates as I see the words appear on the screen and read along as you would. It’s rather a fun ride because I have no clue where the story’s headed.

        I’m pleased that you interpret as you do, so I can understand what I’m really writing. I always look forward to your responses.

        1. gamingtheblues

          I truly believe that (and this is the tagline of my website I’m building) ” You place your heart inside each word written on the page, so write with everything you are. For you reveal you secret self and must learn to love and embrace it.”

    2. Amyithist

      What exactly was Brian? What kind of machine was he? And what role did the girls play in his journey to find himself? This is one that definately needs a continuation. :) Well written, as always.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Amyithist. I think Brian is a real human. He was however grown in a tank until his ninth month and then was raised as a normal child. As far as the girls, this was his first experience in the manipulation of other humans. He didn’t plan it, it just happened and when he realized the power he possessed, he experimented with it.

        However, the interviews were fifties in character, a lot of smooching and a little tease here and there. He really has a lot of good qualities and doesn’t bend to peer pressure. So the girls were not in danger. But when they find out what Brian was up to, there’ll be a real stink in the next chapter. Thanks for reading.

    3. Reaper

      I have to say I just slid down a rabbit hole, or stepped through a dark mirror. I’m not sure which but I loved this. At first I was convinced Brian misinterpreted his father, but then I went back ealized mom threw that idea out. With the major differences in personality coexisting I feel like you were describing an internal conflict between the mother and the father personality fighting for control. I just wonder when Lisa is going to club him with a frying pan. My brain is pudding and I need to listen to White Rabbit, a lot. This was brilliant Kerry, like GTB this one made me think.

      As for the sapience being installed I will say I looked it up too but I followed Sapience to Sagacity instead of Wisdom, then to sagacious – Of keen and farsighted penetration and judgment. So I took the having girls for days to be Brian’s first step on the road of using his installed sapience.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Reaper, you have to stop reading my mind when I write or maybe you’re taking over, disguising yourself as what I think automatic process is doing. I sedom plan a story but write the opening scene and see where it goes. ButBrian realizing he’s just a machine, actually liberates him from typical thought and restrictions of a typical eighteen year old. His experiment with the girls is similiar to Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot, when he convinces Marilyn Monroe he can’t experience emotion with a woman.

        The scene on the yacht with Monroe placing passionate kisses on Tony Curtis amd his gazing into her eyes and saying, “Nothing.” is one of the greatest classic comedy scenes in the movies.

        1. Reaper

          Now I have to go watch that movie. You keep adding things to my watch list. Not that I’m going to complain about watching miss Marilyn. Most of my favorite stories happen when the author sets the scene and then lets the characters do as they will. I was amazed to find out not everyone writes that way, that a lot of really popular authors don’t or didn’t. So I will attempt to stop reading your mind, but I don’t think I’m taking over on the automatic process. I believe that is Ben Franklin.

    4. agnesjack

      This made me curious about a lot of things. The most intriguing was why the throng of girls suddenly found Brian so irresistable. I had fun zipping though this, Kerry, without really understanding what was going on. When you write “automatically” as you said, some very unusual things happen. :-D

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Nancy. I should have explained it better. The reason his parents had to reveal to Brian was the secret was out and the whole city thought he was a robot. I guess the girls were curious as what a machine kiss would be. But since Brian was a cultured child and installed with sapience and enormous intellect, he decided to use reverse psychology on the girls and fein non-interest in their advances. But I wrote earlier in the responses, it’s a fifties thing, innocent smoocking and a little “feely” now and then. You do know what a “feely” is, do you not?

        1. agnesjack

          Of course! I was born in the early fifties and experienced the crazy sixties as a teenager. Forgive my being so dense. The motorcycle should have clued me in to the essence of the time period.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Don. When you figure out what this is all about, I wish you’d let me know. I asked Ben about the second half, because he overtook my mind and wrote it. But he wouldn’t answer me because I didn’t list him as co-writer.

        I guess I’ll have to sign my stories, Ben and Kerry.

    5. jmcody

      Kerry, you are the master of writing stories that are more than what they seem on the surface. I am wandering down a different path, wondering if the allelujah was a case of life overtaking technology, or of technology simulating life, or I guess I should say sapience. Either way, it’s a fascinating thing to think about. Ben Franklin must have worked overtime on this one.

  74. Reaper

    Between Worlds

    Deus, infernus, liberum arbitrium. Elige opservator!

    Words I do not understand; whispers becoming shouts, chasing me from sleep. My nightmare is darkness illuminated by green fire. For seven days this terrifying voice wakes me. There is no break from it, even on my birthday.

    I try to tell my parents about it. For six day my mother brushes it off. Today she is finally ready to discuss it.

    “It’s because you’re not human Araqiel.” She gives me her martyr voice.

    “Dad, what…”

    “He’s not involved!”

    Dad looks at me with haggard eyes and sunken cheeks. He soothes my mother gently while explaining.

    “You’re a Nephilim. Your mother cheated on me once, with my permission. You’re named for your real father.”

    “Why?”

    “Because he told us how important you would be.”

    “I don’t…”

    “Go to school.” Mom whispers, “It will make sense.”

    I walk through the streets towards a one room building, out of place in the modern world. There are sixty-three students all within a year of each other’s age. Private schools, am I right? I notice there are less people than there should be, by about twenty percent. Four of our teachers, Ares, Thanatos, Nosoi, and Limos roar by on mismatched motorcycles. I feel myself swell as I walk so when I arrive I have to duck through the front door.

    My friends have all reformed as well. The transformation is different from one to the next, but the most common changes are wings, extra faces, and a strong ethereal glow. Very few are giants like me. I try to ask what is going on. My best friend Jude is the only one that answers with more than one word.

    “Lilly will explain.”

    Lilly is the school beauty, and my girlfriend. She sits, looking out the windows, sporting bat wings, with crimson tears upon her cheeks. I pull a chair up beside her. She answers my unasked question.

    “Our time has come.”

    “What are we?”

    “Half breeds, children of man and greater things. We were conceived for this day. That is why we were segregated.”

    I follow her gaze to witness grander versions of my friends doing battle. White wings on one side, black on the other, blood flowing in the field between. I whisper to the girl I love.

    “What are you?”

    “I am like you, born of man and other; but demon, not angel.”

    “So you lead us?”

    Her warm fingers settle on my hand. “Yes, after you choose a side. We are the children of man, born of free will.”

    “Well that’s obvious.”

    “Because a book says? They all abandoned us. Think carefully as we are not bound by destiny like them out there. I will lead our friends to fight one army or both at your discretion, love.”

    “I don’t know what to do. Lilly, help me.”

    She looks at me with sad eyes that mirror those of my foster father. She whispers the words I dread the most.

    “Deus, infernus, liberum arbitrium. Elige opservator.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A marvelous story reaper, full of fantasy, right vs. wrong, imagination, emotion and wonder. I felt lifted there by your prose, standing at the scene. You’re running on all eights with this tale. Supurb!

      1. Reaper

        Thank you for that Kerry! I had a hard time deciding on a take for this prompt, but once I started I wanted to keep expanding it. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that liked it.

    2. gamingtheblues

      Love the deep references this weeks prompts people are pulling out. As one of the biblical Fallen angels who “watches” (opservator) the world of man, I find it interesting that your Araqiel fears his destiny of choosing sides. Interesting read and definitely well written.

      1. Reaper

        Well the original Araqiel was the watcher, mine is his Nephilim son, I think the senior might have less indecision. I’m glad the fear resonates, I figured the Grigori would be the choir that fit best with that internal conflict. Yes I love me some angels.

    3. Amyithist

      Fantastic, as always. I like the Latin: God, Hell, Free will… what is the last part? Well written and wonderfully imagined. Thank you for a well comprised peice. :)

      1. Reaper

        GTB is right, it is choose observer, mostly because it was the word for watcher that didn’t translate back into English poorly. Thank you for that. I was afraid it was going to lose something when I had to cut almost three hundred words, but doing so actually kept me from being too blatant with some of the references.

    4. jmcody

      Reaper, I loves me some angels too, and I loved this story. I was also thinking along the lines of angels and demons choosing up sides for some epic final battle, but you blew me so far away with this that I didn’t even bother trying. Outstanding, Reaper.

      You know, now your name is kind of scaring me a little.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you jmcody. I posted on your story that it is high praise coming from you.

        That made me laugh. As much as I like that because I do write dark the origin of the name is much lighter. Years ago some friends started a BBS that was nerd based. A few people had semi religious names. One was Prophet and the guy that ran it was Rabbi Sexy. Being the darkest of us Reaper seemed to fit. For years it was my username anywhere I went. Then the movie Doom came out, and the show Reaper and suddenly it was never available anymore, but I always tried. The board was like my second home while it was up and running so I was so happy when the username was available here, and as this has taken that spot in my life I have become even happier about it.

    5. don potter

      Your story spoke volumes in few words. The choices we make are more important than we might think, even though the fate of the world does not depend on them.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you Don. Your words inspired a response on an earlier story. I agree that we often forget how much power we really have, and the ripples of our decisions. Seeing that description applied to this story means a lot to me.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you Ashuniv. I wanted to make this feel big and leave it with a question because choice is the option. So I feel successful because of your comment.

  75. pinkbamboo

    “Are you sure you want to go to school today?” mom asked wth a quick glance outside. I sighed and followed her glance to see my blue car tainted by red spray of ‘I suck Brad’ and drawings of profanities.

    “Claire is coming to pick me up. I have no choice cause after school we have rehearsals” I waved the script before putting it down. Mom was quiet as I poured myself a cup of coffee.

    “My birthday dinner is still on right?” I asked.

    “Yeah, there’s something I have to tell you..” mom was hesitating. I waved my hand impatiently for her to continue.

    “Today you turned 18 and your power has come in” she said slowly.

    “What power?” I frowned.

    “You have the ability to be invisible”

    “Right …” I nodded.

    “You just have to think about it and then you’ll be …”

    HONK!

    “Okay mom, got to go. Bye!” grabbed my script and ran out. I knew who vandalized my car. It’s the same person who tore my text books, rip off my camisole and covered my locker with chocolate. All because Brad asked me out. Brad. Pam’s ex boyfriend. Pam who shoved her hips against me while I was drinking from the water fountain. I cut my bottom lip and tears were in my eyes.

    “Oops, sorry. Didn’t mean to hurt you” she mocked me.

    “What did I ever do to you?” I wanted to scream.

    “Cause you suck Brad. You want my leftover” Pam smirked and walked off.

    Claire took me to the nurse but she was late to hand in her work.

    “I’m sorry Claire” I felt guilty. She shook her head.

    “Mr Kaplan is a jerk anyway”

    As Claire headed off to her next class, I thought about what mom told me this morning. I went into a vacant classroom and thought about being invisible. Within a minute, I looked at my hands and they’re not there … I mean I can feel them but I can’t see them. My clothes are gone too. Luckily I don’t have to be naked. I should get to class but .. I want to play with my power. I mentally excused myself on the birthday reasoning.

    **

    “You’ve been missing the whole day. Where have you been?” Claired was annoyed with me.

    “I sneaked out” I tried not to giggle.

    “Without me?” she sounded surprised.

    Truth is, I’ve been around school – submitted Claire’s assignment, match make teachers, oogling Brad (and other guys!) in the shower – all without being seen.

    “Come on, let’s go. We’re going to be late” Claire pulled my arm. I walked with her halfway before I stopped.

    “I forgot something. Save me a seat” I ran back to my locker before turning into the bathroom.

    **

    “What’s the commotion?” Claired pointed to the large crowd gathered in front of the girls bathroom. Seth stopped us mid way.

    “I don’t think you girls want to go in there”

    “Why? What’s up?” I frowned.

    “Pam was found on the floor, her hands and legs were full of cuts and she’s unconscious”

    “Oh my gosh!” I covered my mouth in shock.

    “What happened?” Claire’s voice went up high.

    Seth shrugged. “It could have been me” I started crying.

    “Hush don’t worry. She’ll be fine” Seth gave me a hug.

    I snifffed “I got to go rehearsal”

    “You’re sure you’re okay?” Claire looked concerned.

    I nodded and blew my nose ” My mom will pick me up”

    Claire and Seth walked to the car park and I headed the opposite direction. I held out my hand and watched it transitioned from visible to invisible then visible again. I used my hand to wipe off my tears and replaced it with a smile, a chuckle. Happy birthday to me.

    1. gamingtheblues

      You’re MC starts very sympathetic and turns vicious! I liked this story, it was light hearted and…not at the same time. Still, I suppose most of us have something untoward that we would consider if we were invisible at will.

      1. pinkbamboo

        I would make her much more vicious but I chickened out! Hopefully I’ll be able to evolve my future characters and push my boundary out the norm that I do.

    2. Reaper

      That is a vicious MC. I’m also glad she was able to find a use for training as an actor. Sadly I wanted to think, teens would do that, then I remembered how vicious people can be, and how early it starts. The lack of control was perfect because of her age. I hope you keep pushing those boundaries because your stories are enjoyable every week so far, and different with each prompt. You have amazing range and great readability as well as what seems to be a keen insight into the human condition. I would have loved to see the more vicious version of this character.

      Sorry I waited so long to say this. I was afraid of what you might do to me if my post offended after this story. ;)

      1. pinkbamboo

        aww don’t be. i am a sweet girl, promise! haha all things aside, i planned to have some mangled body corpse thingy but it just got a little too much for me, i’m so used to sweet roses and candy endings but nevertheless, I’m slowly testing the boundaries. thx for the support!

        1. Reaper

          I believe that you are. I actually like you sweet roses and candy stories because you do them well and I find that most of them are boring. However I’ll make you a deal, and I’m going to regret this, when I see those boundaries pushed and some mangled corpses I will push my own and write a roses and candy story in tribute to you.

          1. pinkbamboo

            alright, it’s on! might take some time though .. oh dear what did i get myself into! mangled corpses, let’s see which prompts these fit into aight? =P

          2. Reaper

            You take as long as you need, since writing something romantic and flowers will be hard for me. Shock and horror are easy, something that is romantic and still well written is hard. The fact that you are looking for a good prompt to put mangled corpses in speaks volumes about your dedication to the craft and your integrity as a writer. I knew those things were there but expressing them openly takes courage. With as eloquent as your writing is I can’t stop laughing at the aight. :)

  76. Sherarara

    A cool tide flushed through my veins. Fluttering waves tingled beneath my skin with a burning sensation as if I was injected with Scope mouthwash.
    “I’ve gotta spit!” I yelled out in Ms. Perkins AP Chemistry class. Falling my way through a fading kaleidoscope vision, the urge to vomit came to a halt.
    THUMP!
    Gasps, chuckles and whispers chanted around me.
    “Deena! Deena! Do you know where you are?” Ms. Perkins sweet voice vibrated in my head.
    “That’s not my head!!” I freaked and tried to grab my head, but my hands were contained in buckets of ice.
    “You have to calm down,” she insisted. “Do you recognize where you are? Do you know who you are?”
    “Oh my gosh her eyes are glowing!” A terrified raspy voiced fellow warned from the back.
    My eyes felt like what I’d imagine cracked windows felt like on a freezing winter night. It took everything in my power not to roar.

    ‘Formations are what form…. the crystals will not break in pure form… keep the vision…’
    “I will keep it!” I cried. The whispers returned at a reasonable pitch. I understood it clearly. I couldn’t say the same for the blinking eyes and hollowed mouths around me.
    “Who’s she talking to?”
    “That steam from her mouth!”
    “Ms. P the water is melting!!”

    The bickering and panicking silenced as I fell into a deep sleep once more and finally awakened in the original seat I fell from.
    “Deena,” Ms. Perkins said. “Would you like to get some air? You’re staring at the window again.”
    “No, I’m fine…thank you,” I replied. She was the only person in the world who knew both of my parents and that they were both missing. Her patience with me were both continuous and serene like a flowing creek along Cherokee Trail.

    Who could ever understand their voices in my head always, telling me things- crazy things!
    ‘I’m only 18!’ I would sigh at the clouds, at every rock and river. However, I enjoyed vanishing into thin air in the scorching summers, floating on the Pacific like a bubble only to become a wave rising upon the shores of the Atlantic in just nanoseconds. ‘What does this all mean, Gypsy?’ I would ask myself daily. I’m not even sure if it’s daily anymore. It all seems like one enormous page of forever.
    “Well, Deena,” Ms. Perkins said. “Come write for us this equation on the blackboard, please.”
    Still in my Ferngully funk I pierced my eyes at the board to slowly calculate the equation.
    “GASP!” The class popped out of their chairs covering their mouths. “The board is writing Ms. P!!”

    1. gamingtheblues

      I had to re-read this a few times to full grasp the meaning. There is a poetry to your words that you need to be careful not to lose too much in the prose. That your opening was actually a vision/dream was a saving feature, but not 100% apparent on first read through.

      I really enjoy the flow of your writing though, poetic and thoughtful as I said, and intriguing in the question of just what the heck is the MC and what is she capable of.

      1. Sherarara

        Thank you gamingtheblues!! It’s been years since i’ve wrote anything. I’m sure as heck still rusty- i appreciate your honesty. I look forward to encouraging your advice in my writings. Thank You again!!

    2. agnesjack

      I agree with GTB that there is poetry in this piece that is quite lovely. I have to say that I am not at all clear on what the story is telling us. What I get from it is a glimpse into someone who seems to flow in and out of a delusional state that is sometimes serene and beautiful and sometimes frightening and chaotic. You’ve painted a very intriguing picture, however.

      (If I might add, I find that too many metaphors/similes can weigh down a story. It’s something to be aware of.)

    3. Reaper

      I third the poetry point. I am a lover of heavy metaphor and simile. I think what causes that stutter pause here is that they seem drawn from somewhere outside of the story. The reference to Cherokee Trail doesn’t seem to fit the character point of view, but then it kind of does when the character calls herself Gypsy, but that makes the Ferngully reference seem less in character. So it might just be we don’t have enough understanding of the character to get them as reference points. I also think the loss is more in the layout than the prose. There are some points I find an extra line would make a clear point, such as before the THUMP would separate the dream from reality.

      All in all I will agree I’m not a hundred percent sure of what I just read, but I loved every second of my confusion and I want more because I want to know what your character is and exactly where her parents went.

  77. benhli38

    SON OF GOD

    My eighteenth birthday dawned on the coldest day of the year. It didn’t help matters that I was born without a biological father either. How do you explain to other kids your own age your actual father was unseen? I often got made fun of and ridiculed. Even most adults wouldn’t look at me. More often than not they would avert their eyes and as soon as my back turned to them I heard the words, “bastard,” and sometimes even, “son of a lying adulteress.” So, naturally when I woke up this morning, on my birthday, my mother met me in the kitchen.
    The walls looked sparse but immaculate, no dust to be seen on any of the countertops. A canister close to me held a few utensils: a stirring spoon, a ladle, a spatula, and a whisk. Next to this a wooden bread-box held day old bread, which was still good. I grabbed a bit of it and waited as she blessed the little food we had.
    “Son, I have something to tell you.”
    She closed her eyes a moment and sighed deeply.
    “Mom, it’s okay.”
    “It’s not. I know what people call both of us and it’s time I told you the truth about how you were born.”
    “Okay…”
    She took a deep breath, willing tears away from her brown eyes, brushed her hair back behind her ears and pulled me close, holding my hands. “My love, my dear, sweet boy, your father, while he was alive—God rest his soul—never touched me.”
    It took a moment for this to sink in. I felt the gravity of the situation and felt I didn’t have to say anything to truly comfort her. She knew me. She knew who I was. She always called me her “gift from God.” She told me stories over the years about our people, about the traditions, the laws, and the prophecies concerning the One who would be known as “the Anointed One;” the Messiah. When I was younger she would call me Immanuel—God with us. I knew what she meant.
    My father, Joseph, taught me the skills needed to make things out of wood. I could carve just as well as he could when he lived. After all he mentored me and bequeathed me his tools the day he died. He referred to me as his Redeemer. It made me feel awkward, honestly.
    “So, the stories you always told me about Gabriel, the angel coming to you, announcing God would overshadow you ring true.”
    “Of course.” She kissed my forehead, wrapped her arms around my shoulders and hugged me. “You gave Joseph and I such a fright when we had to come back for you at the temple.”
    “Mom, I told you I had to be about my Father’s business.”
    “I know. I just wish you got to know Joseph better.”

    1. jmcody

      I always wondered what happened to Joseph. I also always wondered if Jesus always knew the truth about himself, or did it dawn on him slowly, or did his mother inform him on his 18th birthday. Interesting speculation, Ben.

    2. Reaper

      I like this Ben. It feels Gnostic in a good way. It is hard to touch on religion in a way that is inspirational, interesting, and not offensive. This is quiet and powerful.

  78. benhli38

    My eighteenth birthday dawned on the coldest day of the year. It didn’t help matters that I was born without a biological father either. How do you explain to other kids your own age your actual father was unseen? I often got made fun of and ridiculed. Even most adults wouldn’t look at me. More often than not they would avert their eyes and as soon as my back turned to them I heard the words, “bastard,” and sometimes even, “son of a lying adulteress.” So, naturally when I woke up this morning, on my birthday, my mother met me in the kitchen.

    The walls looked sparse but immaculate, no dust to be seen on any of the countertops. A canister close to me held a few utensils: a stirring spoon, a ladle, a spatula, and a whisk. Next to this a wooden bread-box held day old bread, which was still good. I grabbed a bit of it and waited as she blessed the little food we had.

    “Son, I have something to tell you.”

    She closed her eyes a moment and sighed deeply.

    “Mom, it’s okay.”

    “It’s not. I know what people call both of us and it’s time I told you the truth about how you were born.”

    “Okay…”

    She took a deep breath, willing tears away from her brown eyes, brushed her hair back behind her ears and pulled me close, holding my hands. “My love, my dear, sweet boy, your father, while he was alive—God rest his soul—never touched me.”

    It took a moment for this to sink in. I felt the gravity of the situation and felt I didn’t have to say anything to truly comfort her. She knew me. She knew who I was. She always called me her “gift from God.” She told me stories over the years about our people, about the traditions, the laws, and the prophecies concerning the One who would be known as “the Anointed One;” the Messiah. When I was younger she would call me Immanuel—God with us. I knew what she meant.

    My father, Joseph, taught me the skills needed to make things out of wood. I could carve just as well as he could when he lived. After all he mentored me and bequeathed me his tools the day he died. He referred to me as his Redeemer. It made me feel awkward, honestly.

    “So, the stories you always told me about Gabriel, the angel coming to you, announcing God would overshadow you ring true.”

    “Of course.” She kissed my forehead, wrapped her arms around my shoulders and hugged me. “You gave Joseph and I such a fright when we had to come back for you at the temple.”

    “Mom, I told you I had to be about my Father’s business.”

    “I know. I just wish you got to know Joseph better.”

  79. rle

    I held it up and read it again by the light of the moon shining through my bedroom window. It still didn’t make any sense.

    Today was my eighteenth birthday and I was almost certain my parents were going to do something epic to help me celebrate the occasion. I thought they might even give me the old Honda to drive back and forth to school. Instead, they gave me a single folded sheet of paper with one sentence scribbled on it. It had to be some kind of prank or a clue to something bigger. I read it one final time before drifting off to sleep: On the day you turn your eighteenth year, goat legs and body will appear.

    I awoke earlier than usual the next morning to a nagging itch on my leg. A I reached down to scratch it, I realized to my horror, that I seemed to have sprouted a thick coat of fur.

    I threw off the covers to find that my whole body, from chest to ankle was covered with it. When I swung around and my feet hit the floor, I found that my feet wern’t really my feet at all. Instead, they were tiny cloved hooves. What on earth had happened to me?

    I raced to the bathroom awkwardly on my foreign feet and flipped the light on. I nearly passed out at the sight of what stared back at me. The gaunt face only barely resembled the old me. Wispy sideburns plastered to my cheeks, a pointed goatee grew from my chin and two, inch long horns protruded from my forehead.

    I ran down the stairs with an annoying click, click, click, click and rounded the corner into the kitchen where my mother sat quietly reading the paper.

    “Good morning honey,” she smiled sweetly, like seeing a friggin goat stampede into her kitchen was the most normal thing on the planet.

    “Grass or oats?” she asked as she slid her chair back.

    “Grass!” I said irritated. She knew I always had grass for breakfast. Why did she even have to ask?

    Then I stopped dead. I always had grass for breakfast? That could only mean one thing. A goat is who I had always been and thinking that I’d once been a young man had only been a dream. Still, something seemed a bit askew.

    As I walked to school, everything seemed as it always had. Everyone I met, everyone I passed, all looked remarkably like me. Same goat legs, same goat fur, everything.

    When I arrived at our school, our principal Mr. Driggs greeted students at the door like he always had. We always called him the old goat and for some reason, today that seemed extremely funny.

    On my way to first period, I ran into Margo Miller. For an instant I remembered her as a human blond haired bombshell. Even as a goat though, she was smokin’ hot.

    By the end of the day I’d decided once and for all, the whole human thing had been some twisted dream.

    That night I slept well. In the morning when I woke I put my feet on the floor and knew immediately something was wrong. They were feet, human feet. I spotted a folded piece of paper sticking out from underneath my pillow. I pulled it out and read: On the day you turn eighteen and one, once again you’ll be our human son.

    1. Reaper

      I take back every time I have said something was surreal. When I was in high school I made the mistake, or great choice not sure which, of taking a class in which I read Spanish Surrealists for a semester. This kind of belongs alongside those stories. You have me nostalgic.

    2. gamingtheblues

      This was delightful and enjoyable. Made me think of satyrs and and reminded me of more greek mythology. Everyone is taking this prompt of what it means to be human and touching thoughts of divinity and mythology. (or the ‘singing’ goat vids on youtube lol) but fun as well. Nice job.