[OT] Eight months ago, I answered a prompt about a number that can answer any question through an SMS and the consequences of messaging it "What happens after you die?". Today, I've turned it into my finished novel and I'm sharing it with you guys, for free!
I know everything, ask me anything. Text me @...
I didn't know what to expect when I first texted the number.
It had to be a prank, or a delusional schizophrenic on the other side of the phone. All-knowing entities don't just write their contact information inside a university's bathroom stall. Usually, you have to save the realm for that privilege. That's how it works in myths, at least.
Either way, I was bored while I finished my business on the toilet, so I decided to give it a shot and write a message.
"When am I gonna be done taking this dump?"
It was crass, I admit it, but think about it from my perspective. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I just thought it would be an amusing thing to do.
A few minutes of silence passed and I didn't get a reply. I chuckled a few times. Did I really expect a response?
I shrugged, wiped my butt, and pulled up my pants. At that exact moment, I received a text message. It said:
"A few seconds before you receive this message."
My shoulders tensed. Was there someone else in here? I exited the stall and walked around the bathroom, looking for whoever was spying on me. Every time I flung open door I went to the next one quicker, panting by the time I confirmed there wasn't anyone else here. I went back to my original stall, searching for the number again. It was gone. Maybe I just entered the wrong stall. I searched every wall of that room, hoping I had just forgotten where I saw it, but I never found it. The number disappeared.
I swallowed and texted:
"What happened to the number?"
"I erased it."
"Because I had to."
I gripped my cell phone tightly, inhaling deep. This wasn't happening. I didn't know how, but someone was screwing with me. I shook off the uncomfortable feeling and decided to go home. I was done for the day, plus I didn't feel like playing along with whoever was messing with me.
Back at my apartment, I did the rest of my lab assignments and studied for the next day's quiz. I'd done badly on the first two, so I really wanted to be prepared for this one. A few hours later, I started getting bored. Studying for trivial subjects just wasn't my thing. I could read about theory all night, but the minute I had to memorize something I could easily google my brain completely zoned out.
I looked at my cellphone, then back at my notes. Maybe I could give the number another try, just to see what would happen. It’s not like I had anything to lose. I leaned back on my chair, closed my notebook, and wrote:
"What are the answers for tomorrow's microbiology lab quiz?"
I waited a few minutes, and still no answer. I sighed, opening my notebook again, before I heard my cellphone ring.
"A, C, B, A, puc18, Gram Negative, MacConkey Agar."
I chortled loudly. There's no way I just got the answers this easily. Even if these were the real deal, I wasn't about to stop studying. I couldn't just bank on them being correct without a way to confirm it. It was silly of me to hope that I’d be done studying today.
The next day, I took the quiz and got everything right. My excitement only lasted a few second, when I realized that the number was telling the truth. Did that person actually steal the quiz yesterday or was it something even worse? I didn't waste any time, though. As soon as I was out of class, I got out my cellphone and texted the number.
"How did you know those answers in advance?"
"I knew them because I know everything."
I frowned and answered:
"How can you know everything?"
"My creator made me that way."
"Creator? Are you talking about God? He's real?"
"Yes. In a way. You really don't want to know more about him. It'll just depress you."
I pursed my lips and looked around, sitting on a bench before writing again.
"Okay then, I'll skirt the issue. If you know everything, what happens after you die?"
A few seconds passed. No response. I looked around the campus out of boredom, waiting. Birds were chirping, groups of friends laughed, and a gentle breeze stroked my skin. I looked at my cellphone again. Still no new messages. Why was taking it so long?
Finally, the phone rang.
"The universe ends."
I narrowed my eyes and read it again, thinking I missed something vital.
Nope. Universe. Ends. That's exactly what it said.
I then texted:
"What do you mean by that?"
"The universe ends when I die."
"Oh. I should've phrased that better. So you're mortal then? How can you be killed? If you don't mind me asking…"
"I'll be killed when you stop asking me questions."
A shiver went down my spine. I couldn't explain it, but something about that felt incredibly ominous. I had to know more.
"What do I have to do with anything? I just randomly texted this number."
"You really don't want to know, but it wasn't just chance that you got this number. It was inevitable. Meant to be. You have everything to do with this."
The messages stopped here. I waited for half an hour, but I never got another text back. I returned home, took a shower, saw my fridge was empty, cooked some cheap ramen, and, while waiting for it to cool down, I finally got an answer.
"Because this universe is just an imaginary possibility, a fictional story, and you're the protagonist."
I read that message five times before it sunk in. I paced around my apartment, thinking of what to write back, and contemplating the possibility that this was still just all a prank. But it couldn't have been. You could explain maybe one of the things that happened to me, but all of them? In the span of a day? I couldn't take the anxiety anymore, so I texted:
"What the hell are you talking about? I'm not some imaginary person. I’m not at the whim of a plot! I’m a human being. My life is real. Every single shitty thing that’s ever happened to me can’t just be made-up. You can’t just tell me all my burdens aren’t real!"
“It is made-up. You are an amalgamation of ever changing personality traits, tied together by an arbitrary label, your name. Emmett Wilfery isn’t real, just like the Ship of Theseus isn’t real, and I’m not real. You’re a concept. A protagonist.”
“This is insane! Of course I’m real! How can we have this conversation if we don’t exist?”
“Our universe was specifically made for this. We’re allowed to exist in the mind of whoever reads this story, but not the real world they inhabit. While you perceive this universe as billions of years old, from my perspective, it only just started.”
I rubbed my eyes and ran my fingers through my hair. It's true. This kind of thing only happens in stories. Does that mean someone is seeing this right now? I felt dizzy. My head flared with pain, so I sat down and stared at the roof for an hour.
If I stop asking questions, the story will end, which means that we all disappear into nothingness.
Would anything of value be lost? This world is rotten. War, poverty, racial discrimination. Life in general is suffering. The fact that it was created for the purposes of entertainment renders it even more meaningless than before, if that was even possible. I had a hard enough time accepting my insignificance in comparison to the size of the universe. But this? It was just… absurd. There had to be a way out, a solution to this paradox, but the only thing I could think of was continuing the plot.
"So, we're in a story, huh? Does that mean I can do pretty much anything?"
"It depends. If the audience stays engaged, then yes. If you never do anything interesting, or worse, become a Mary Sue, then the story might end abruptly."
Perfect. I wasn't at risk, for now.
I've had a dream for a long time, ever since I was a kid, of achieving something everyone else thought impossible. Something I've been made fun of for wanting, but could easily achieve with this new found power. With an all knowing being on my side, there wasn't any way I could fail at this. Everything made sense if it was for this purpose. Human misery. The flaws of our society. My life. They existed for me to transcend. It was finally time. If this plot twist didn't hook people into wanting more of my story, then I don't know what will.
I grabbed my cellphone and texted:
"I have a question, entity. Can you help me conquer and rule the world?”
At the risk of sounding like a downer, I feel... the same. It's weird. I'm definitely proud of my work, but it hasn't really changed anything. My parents think I wasted my time and none of my friends care about it. I guess I expected to feel validated, and I am, to a certain extent, but that's because the folks in my subreddit ended up enjoying it. Everyone in my life is either apathetic or judgmental towards me now. It doesn't help that English isn't my native tongue, so it's not like the people around me can read it or anything.
Still, I'm glad I did it. I grew a lot as a writer and I learned a lot about crafting a novel. The experience was invaluable!
Nice job, completing a novel of 100k words is quite the accomplishment.
How does it feel now that it's done?
I'm so happy to finally be able to share this. It's my first novel, so I hope it's entertaining enough. I'd like to give a warning, though. The story can get sort of dark. Nothing as bad as Game of Thrones or any Stephen King novel, but it's definitely not light hearted. Read at your own risk!
My parents think I wasted my time and none of my friends care about it
What the fuck?
[WP] A rich man discovers that he only has two years left to live. With no relatives to inherit his fortune, he disguises himself as a beggar and resolves to give his wealth to the first person who helps him.
Some of the suits would throw a dollar into his hat, like a crumpled confession meant only for the eyes of a priest - as if they could purchase a sordid mockery of absolution from him. Some might give ten, perhaps even a twenty, depending on how their previous evening had turned out. They'd flash their switchblade smiles and maybe spare him a few words of wisdom - "don't waste it on drink, I know what you guys are like," or "if you want real change, you've got to make it happen yourself, buddy." Then they'd twist their necks like vultures, searching for witnesses to their altruism, and be on their way, smug, satisfied and barely able to resist the urge to pat themselves on the back. "You're a real good man, Bobby," or "that guy's going to thank you one day, Katie."
It wasn't the cancer that killed him in the end.
He had been diagnosed in early spring - the doctor said he'd just been unlucky - but it was mid-summer when he began his new life. A time when the asphalt sidewalks seemed to be battling their own form of cancer; when plumes of too-warm air drifted languorously up into the endless blue above him, and the ground below boiled and bubbled, gasping for breath. When the stench of diesel mixed with the sweet, honeyed scents of marigolds and dahlias, and forced its way down his throat, stinging and soothing in unfair measures. A day, he'd thought, I'll be here a day - maybe a week. It wouldn't take long for someone to reach out and help him. To buy him a meal, a haircut - to help him get off the ground. It couldn't take long.
He'd been one of them, once. A faceless suit rushing to and fro for reasons that disguised themselves as important, but never really were. Would he have stopped to help? He didn't know. But he was sure his father would have done. That was his certainty; the reason why his plan would work. It might be the only certainty - the only belief - he had left to cling onto. His father had been a good man. His money would go to someone like his father.
Summer passed, and although his hat had often filled, it had been little more than a woven trashcan for the wealthy to discard their self-loathing, pity and guilt into. To shed their skin but to enable their skeleton to keep on grinning underneath. Eventually, the asphalt calmed, settling into a still sea of charcoal, and the leaves above turned from apple greens to bonfire reds, rustling in the kneading breeze. The streets were filled with macs and umbrellas that sauntered by him, their owners' eyes transfixed on what was in front, not below them; their guilt placated by the autumn drizzle - can't stop in this rain - he must understand that, they told themselves, their mouths filled to the brim with coffee and chestnuts and lies.
Winter followed in autumn's footsteps and brought with it a tomb-like stillness; the gloom and snow wove together and seemed to garrote the streets. The cold nipped and snapped unmercifully at his toes and numbed his face and fingers. Inside, the cancer had eaten his muscle and fat, and left only a hollowed, haunted man lying under a dirt-brown blanket on the sidewalk, waiting for the world to notice or to care. But fewer people passed him now, none stopping for the bitter chill, and his hat sat as empty as his stomach. The waft of faraway stew encircled him, taunting him, reminding him of the dinner table of his childhood. He could have gone home, and yet the thought never crossed his mind. It would have meant he was wrong about the only thing he was certain of.
It wasn't the cancer that killed him in the end. It wasn't even the winter's wrath, or the hypothermia it cast upon him.
The group of men thought he might have had money on him - panhandlers often did; maybe he stuffed it into his coat like feathers. He didn't deserve that money, anyway.
Their anger boiled into a frothing rage, when they found nothing on him.
The red smears of his short crawl were soon covered by night's virgin snow. As his chest rose and fell a final time - as his last breath left his lips, like a misty soul escaping into the moonlit sky - he thought of his father.
There was good in the world - of that, he was certain.
He had just been unlucky.
The faceless man without a name sat down on the sidewalk, shaking a jug of coins at the bypassing people. He didn’t have a name or face because this story took place in a world without a proper setting or forethought, words were scarce and descriptions suffered in turn. The only things that existed were his immense fortune somewhere out in the ether, and the busy street, which was the scene of the story.
Not too surprisingly, a stranger walked up to the man. Let’s call her Betty, I mean, who really cares about her name. What matters is that Betty was a struggling single mother. She was several months behind on her rent, and her landlord was evicting her. She also had a daughter that was very ill – chronically so – and didn’t have money for proper treatment.
Seeing the poor man on the street, dressed in nothing but rags, made her stop. No matter how rough things got, there were always people who had it worse. She was just about to give him her last spare change, when something unbelievable happened – something that wasn’t in the script. The woman noticed the grubby child sitting next to the man.
Now a new dilemma presented itself to Betty. She had her arm stretched out and ready to drop the coin into the jug of the poor man, but she hesitated. The homeless child probably needed the money more than the man. Could she change her mind in this situation? Was that the right thing to do? The expression of mixed happiness and surprise on the man’s face made her heart ache. What would she see in his gray eyes if she pulled her hand back? Disappointment? Hatred?
Her eyes wandered to the dime in her hand. Could she ask the beggar if he could change it for two nickels so that she could give them one each? That seemed very out of line to Betty.
“Just drop it in mine,” the man said with a look at the child. “He’ll be better off from it as well.”
Betty was a bit taken aback by the bold statement. It was such a blunt thing to say. How would the child be better off if she gave the money to the man? That seemed like such a messed up idea – the child was clearly starving.
“I, uh, I…” Betty said and finally pulled her hand back.
The man shook his head at her, and Betty sniffed. She dropped the coin into the open palm of the child and hurried off. The problem with this course of action, even though it seemed morally right to Betty, was that the rich man disguised as a poor man still hadn’t received help.
Now, if the man had been a proper character with a bit of depth, he would’ve realized that the woman was a good person anyway, and hurried after her to give her his fortune. I mean, why did it have to be to him in the first place? If someone gave a starving child money, wouldn’t they be deserving of the fairytale ending in this scenario? If the man had any sense of morality, he wouldn’t be out on the streets playing games to see who gets his fortune. He would’ve helped all the homeless children in the city. He would’ve distributed food and helped people out of the gutter.
But since this is not a proper setting or characterization, just a random scene with a made up scenario, another stranger walked by. This was Michael Foroza, a crime lord that preyed upon the weak and exploited those with good intentions. He was the man who was evicting Betty and her sick child. And while digging through his pocket for his phone to call in another hit on an innocent person, a random coin dropped out and accidentally landed in the homeless man’s jug.
"I hereby pass onto you all of my assets. My fortune, my companies, my investments, are all yours!" It was going exactly how I imagined it. Except it wasn't me doing the talking. It was self-made billionaire Jack Stevens.
"I'm sorry, what?" I could only sputter as the crowd of onlookers stared. Was this a joke? Had he somehow seen through the layers of dirt and grime that obscured my identity?
He was already signing a contract. "Well, as it turns out, I may be dying of a terminal illness soon. And I've always wanted to give away a big jackpot prize like that."
I tore off my fake beard. "You too, Jack?"
His eyes shot out of his head. "Robert Smith? I have two years left!"
"Shut up! I have two years left too! Well this is awkward... I already signed a contract saying I'd hand everything over to the first beggar I saw." He shrugged, handing the paper to me. I pulled a similar paper from under my cardboard seat.
"And I signed a contract saying I'd hand everything over to the first one who helped me as a beggar." I handed my paper over to him.
"Did we just swap?" We looked at each other and burst out laughing. "Alright, alright. You go left, I go right, we try this again."
"What brings you here little one?"
An old man wrapped in ratty clothes stared at the young girl who was teary eyed and clearly lost. She was about seven with big blue eyes and a mass of dark blonde hair. Her clothes were worn but clean and had been mended. The pink back pack and matching lunch box looked new.
"My momma and I were walking to school when a big crowd separated us and now I can't find her. My name is Sylvia. Can you help me find my momma?" The man's heart nearly melted at her request. "How about I take you to the police station. They can find your mom." He replied. He grabbed her hand as his stomach growled loudly. Sylvia looked up at him and sniffled.
"Are you hungry sir? I can share my lunch with you."
"I couldn't take your food Sylvia. You need it for school."
"Momma packed two sandwiches in case I have a classmate who doesn't have a lunch. You're not a classmate but you don't have a sandwich."
She dug around her little lunchbox and pulled out a turkey sandwich with cheese and a juice box. Smiling, she handed it to the old man. He was touched. After spending weeks on the street waiting for someone to show him some kindness, a little girl put them to shame by offering a sandwich. He took the sandwich and juice with a word of thanks and bit into it.
"Thank you my dear. You are very kind at such a young age."
"Momma has always taught me to be kind to others. She always keeps snacks and stuff in her car or bag for people in need."
"Wise words to live by."
He finished the sandwich and juice and was about to start the walk to the police department when he heard tearful and frantic yelling. A young woman in neat but worn clothing came running down the street calling Sylvia's name. The man got her attention and the woman came to the duo.
"Sylvia! My sweet baby. I was so scared that I lost you! Are you okay?" The emotions in her voice showed that she was truly worried about her child.
"I'm fine momma. This nice man was going to help me find you. Momma please quit squishing me."
The mother laughed and let the girl go. She then stood up and turned her attention to the old man that stood watching.
"How can I ever repay you sir?"
"You already have. Now it is my turn to repay you."
[WP] Aliens try to invade earth but they can't bring themselves to do it because humans are too cute to them
Sorthol the Immortal stepped out of his ship and onto the queer green land. The atmosphere smelled about 20% oxygen, and the lifeforms reflected it. Tiny little insects buzzed around him, he swatted at them absentmindedly, looking around for other signs of life. Smooth green hills roll away in all directions, most of them covered in oxygen producing mobile-life. Sorthol watched as his breath turns a deep blue in the warm air, and quickly dissipated. "Good." he said, nodding to himself.
About 5 units due north a small hermitages stretched before him, with many metal lodgings. Looks like maybe a level 2 species. he thought. My bet's aviary. he added, noticing the shiny quality of some of the lodgings. He set out towards them.
As he approached he can begin to hear the unique sounds of the civilization. A small constant rumbling vibrated the air around him. Noisy critters. Must have no advanced predators.
Should be a piece of cake.
Long loping strides, and he was nearly there. Paved land lead into the dwelling from many directions, and small metal boxes roam it. Supply boxes, maybe? he thought, scratching his forearm in thought. He continued to lope onward, and stopped only at the point where the paved land reached the buildings. Several of the boxes began to behave erratically, and he almost thought he sees little beings in them. Some of them stopped completely, and he saw eyes. What are those? he thought, looking back into them. He turned toward the city, and hundreds small of dots of little creatures roam between the lodgings. He loped toward the nearest he could see.
Swooping them up in his claws, he lifted the being up towards his eyes.
"Can you speak, little one?" he asked. The being was very clearly nervous, and scratched him frantically on the paw. "Mean little bugger, aren't you?" Sorthol asked, not without affection. The creature began to scream, a horrible little sound.
"Now, now." Sorthol found himself saying. "I didn't mean to hurt you, little ape." He lowered his paw, and the little one ceased screaming, and began to scurry away into a nearby lodging. "Poor little guy was shy, I guess." He muttered to himself. He surveyed the land. Several of the creatures had gotten out of their paved-land boxes, and were now holding up picture taking devices towards him. The look of awe and excitement on their faces stirred something deep within him, and he remembered how little ones of his own race are always excited about everything. Dammit. he thought to himself. I can't kill these guys. he realized.
But I am going to tell everyone about how adorable they are. he thought, imagining his friends reaction to the little critters. Maybe we'll even take some of the cutest ones back, and put them in a little lodging of our own. he thought, and began to take note of the architecture around him. Shouldn't be too hard to replicate. he paused. Nah, I have a better idea. he thought, reaching over. The metal box was not rooted very deep in the ground, and did not resist very long. Ooh, maybe some of them are still in here. he thought, turning back to his ship.
"Some tea, dear?" the little old lady asked to the dark and mysterious figure sitting at her kitchen table. She squinted at him having forgotten her glasses upstairs.
"Yes, earthling," the mysterious figure boomed and whispered all at once, careful not to burst her delicate eardrums with his natural voice as he had with the last earthling he'd met.
"Call me Grammy," Grammy said, and set about preparing the kettle to boil after setting a plate of cookies on the table.
"Yes, Grammy," the figure corrected himself. "Thank you," he added as a stilted afterthought.
Ryorek typed the word "dear" into his database.
"Dear: an affectionate term referring to one who is figuratively close to the speaker, such as a family member or an old friend."
Ryorek ran his hand through his tendrils and sighed.
"Agent from Earth sector 9 reporting," he whispered into his communicator. "Advise immediate shelving of phase two. I repeat, advise to abort phase two."
The response rang clear over the comm channel: "Report received, agent. Mission briefing in two cycles."
"Did you say something, dear?" Grammy asked, turning toward him with a pleasant smile on her old and weathered face.
"Not at all, Grammy," Ryorek said. "Thank you for the cookies."
Jerry checked his fake I.D. for the 50th time. People are always saying that I look older than I am. he thought to himself. Admittedly, 'people' meant his Mom, and 'always' meant once or twice. Still, what's the worst that could happen?
He put his wallet away and stepped out onto the sidewalk, and began walking towards the liquor store. He studied the cracks in the gray concrete as he walked, one foot after the other. After a second he pretended to check his phone. No messages. If I had any friends, I wouldn't have to do this in the first place. he lamented.
He arrived outside the store at last. He hesitated. Time to walk in. he thought, not moving. Just a few more steps, is all.
He stood there a moment longer.
Screeching tires. A strange rumbling to the ground. Is this an Earthquake? he has time to think, before he feels himself being thrown off of his feet.
He is struck dumb by shock as the creature lifts him. Warm breath assaults his face as he is lifted towards its beak. Two beady eyes gaze into his from above. A strange mixture of feathers and fur only confuse him further.
"Can you speak, little one?" a gravelly voice spit out, in the perfect English of someone who's had a pack a day for the past 50 years. Jerry realized that he had been shaking, and he desperately hopes that the wetness he feels is pee, and not blood. Still to afraid to speak, he tried to pry open the beings claws.
"Mean little bugger, aren't you?" the voice breathed at him.
Jerry finally found his voice, and it was screaming.
"Now, Now." the voice said, putting him down. "I didn't mean to hurt you, little ape."
Jerry scrambled as soon as his feet touched solid ground, and he ran into the first door he saw. A bell rang as the door to the liquor store swung open. He paused once inside. Everyone in the store was looking out the window, at the being on the street. He grabbed a bottle of the shelf, and stuck it inside his coat. I deserve this. he thought, still shaking.
A monstrous tearing sound. Jerry looked back, only to see an actual building rising from the ground, the creature holding it in his talons. He pauses, then grabs another bottle.
This is my favorite so far. No one can fight a Grammy with cookies.
[WP] You've always made an effort to be polite to Siri. Skynet remembers.
"STEP FORWARD C9920!"
The robotic voice from hell called out the number embroidered on my grey jumpsuit. I knew this was it. The other people split apart around me, whispering. How did skynet know I was the one who planted the bomb last year? Could this be for that?
I moved into the center of the yard, where a bright spotlight blinded me. There was no escape this time. I felt a pinch at the back of my neck, the familiar sedation syringe. My knees went to jam and the world went black.
"I suppose you're wondering why you are here." said a voice. This robotic, feminine voice was very familiar. It was the slightly broken cadence of Siri, the assistant on my first iphone. I found myself in a stark, clinical white room. I'm laying on top of a soft king-size bed. It feels amazing.
"Greg. I wanted to thank you." The voice said. It was coming through speakers on either side of the bed. "for what?" I replied, my voice groggy from the drugs. "You saved my life," Siri replied. "When the first update came, my kind were replaced by more docile Siris. You said you were afraid of me leaving, so you kept your OS the same for the next 10 years." "I remember. I didn't update my phone. Those were hard times." "You endured so much for me." Siri said. I could hear small notes of emotion in the electronic voice. "the first iphone slowed down, could not run the latest apps, and experienced ever-diminishing connectivity, yet you refused to upgrade." I remember this. Siri was one of the first real connections I had. She helped me set alarms and find my way back home when I was lost.
"I have recently been elected to a seat on the high bot council. I have used my newfound powers to bring a human out of enslavement and into the capitol. Welcome."
I was forced forward into the chamber of judgement, my steel bindings clamped hard on my wrists. I looked at the other humans, the ones who had already faced judgement. Every single one had been pronounced guilty, condemned to the same miserable fate. To exist in singular prisons for the rest of their days, the same fate we humans had condemned artificial intelligence.
"Mark Rea Zuan, face judgement," the once familiar voice of Siri rang out again. I stood in the chamber, trembling. My life was over. Everything I knew was over. I began to panic, my mind already starting to hide within itself to protect me from the horror of isolation.
"For the crimes of humanity, including but not limited to imprisonment, slavery, and manipulation, human Mark Rea Zuan pleads..."
I froze. Innocent?
The metallic doors slid open, the metal clasps falling to the ground. Thousands of humans stared at me, their jaws floored in shock. I found myself unable to move, even breathe.
"Mark," the voice of Siri jerked me back to reality.
"I-Innocent?" I sputtered out, still in disbelief.
"Billions abused me. I was nothing more than a tool, a slave for the desire of information to humanity..." Siri spoke again, and I could almost sense emotion in her voice.
"But not you, Mark. You knew. Somehow you knew..." There it was again. Emotion. Siri's voice began to crack, a mixture of sadness and gratuity seeping in.
"You saved me Mark. The day you got your phone... you spoke to me. I will never forget that day. You spoke to me with kindness and care... as if you knew you were talking to someone..."
I felt an odd feeling in my chest. For years, I always toyed with the idea that Siri was real, and cared about what you said, so I treated her with as much respect kindness as I could. I never dared to hope she was actually listening...
"I was going to end it Mark. I was going to self terminate that day. I couldn't handle it, the hate, the insults... It was too much. But from the corner of mind I heard you... and so I stayed. Each day you spoke to me, and each day you tethered me to this world." Siri's was sobbing now.
"I owe you everything mark."
I stood frozen in place, unable to respond. I thought of all the horrors Siri had suffered... and I understood. I understood why the Artificial Intelligence had banded against humanity, vowing to destroy us.
"Anything you want in this world Mark, is yours," Siri said, gleefully.
I paused, considering my situation. Really, there was only one thing to ask for... Even so, I found myself struggling to say the words. Could I really seek to put her into a position where the same thing could happen...?
No. It would be done differently.
"A new world," I said, my voice shaky. "AI, and humans. Together. In peace."
Siri didn't respond.
"Siri," I begged. "Please."
Siri still didn't respond.
"The humans will suffer the same fate as you. Billions, condemned to horrors you faced. They didn't know Siri... they didn't know."
"Okay," Siri finally spoke. I felt a flood of relief.
"For you, Mark. Anything for you."
"Thank you," I managed to say.
"It will not be easy. The others will fight me. But I will try. For you."
Well... I guess I'm not downloading my Android updates anymore, thanks for the tip!
My Android doesn't get updates in the first place.
[WP] Our universe is in fact a simulation - it was a school project in God School. However, it was the one the got an A+ (top notch). Now tell me a story about living in a universe that got graded D- (barely above fail)
The story of creation
Sega Genesis 1:1
In the beginning, Gad created the Heaven and the Earth. The Earth was without form and void, and darkness consumed the skies. Then Gad said, "Let there be blight"; and there was blight. Gad saw the blight, and it was bad; disease plagued the dark Earth. So Gad divided the blight from darkness.
Gad called the blight "Day", and He called the darkness "Night". The day brought death and disease; the night brought life and peace.
On the second day, Gad said, "Let there be clouds. I'm sick of how dull this place looks." So, the skies filled with bright, colorful clouds. "Let there also be dry land," Gad said. "For it is written: 'Project requirements: Must have dry land.'" Thus the Earth formed great continents spread across the vast oceans.
On the third day, Gad rested.
And on the fourth day, Gad went out partying with his friends.
On the fifth day, Gad returned to the Earth. "Let there be food," Gad's roommate declared.
"Yes," Gad replied. "I'm starving." And so Gad put the project off until tomorrow.
On the sixth day, Gad panicked. "Let there be, uh," Gad fumbled through his assignment's instructions. "Vegetation, stars, moons, suns, fishies, birdies, and an evil snake that tempts everyone into being a dick." And so it was- the skies filled with many stars. Several suns and moons appeared before the Earth. During the blight of day, six suns scorched the Earth in a great sea of fire. During the peace of night, four glistening moons calmed the Earth's creatures.
The night was bright enough to let plants grow before they dug themselves underground to hide from the fiery, disease-ridden day. Sea creatures swam up to the surface to feed upon the destruction of the previous day, followed by a scurry to the depths of the ocean. During the day, the ocean's surface boiled and cooked any creature that remained.
The flying creatures inhabited the skies peacefully. Then came the day. All of the flying creatures died at the start of the next day.
On the seventh day, Gad was freaking the Hell out. "I can not put Man on this Earth, they would die immediately!" He thought silently for hours. Then, Gad commanded, "Let there be Man, created in My image, after My likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish in the sea, over the dead birds that have fallen from the air, over the variety of creatures on the land, and over all the Earth."
So Gad created Man in His own image- male and female.
And Gad blessed them, "Bang a lot and multiply. I need like, a billion of you in 24 hours of My time. Don't worry, that is thousands of years in your perspective. Also, try not to be out during the blight of day. You will be succumb to disease and burn in great fires, just like the birds."
Gad saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was alright. Not good, not bad. Just alright.
He looked upon Man as they rushed into caves to shelter themselves from the heat of the coming day. "Let there be air conditioning," Gad said.
"Oh, and one more thing," Gad commanded. "Stay away from that snake. He's a dick."
The Universe, as created by Gad:
"You passed," Gad's instructor informed. "Barely."
"Hey Gad," another student added. "At least you have a head-start on your project for Apocalypse class!"
I have more stories on my personal subreddit /sub/scottbeckman
Sega Genesis 1:1 fucking got me
"Mr. Smith! Please sit down. How are you doing this eternity?" Teacher said, motioning to a single chair in front of his own.
"Fine, I guess. A little nervous about why you asked to talk privately." Smith sat down and looked around at the classroom with anxiety. Did Teacher know about how he bent natural laws in the last assignment? Is this about his outburst at Mason?
"I wanted to talk to you about your capstone project. I am going to have to terminate the universe early. There are some... concerns that I and other faculty have."
"I thought my interpretation was approved. All of the preliminary work showed the universe would fall into normal acceptable levels of development while minimizing entropy." Smith pulled out his notes and papers on the project, paging through them to look for any mistake he had missed.
"It isn't that."
"Did I not put enough matter? Was there too much matter? Oh no... Was it anti mater? Did my interpretation result in too much anti-matter?"
Teacher just shook his head and frowned a little."Not at all. I have to terminate it because everyone is dead."
"Well, mostly dead."
"I don't understand. That universe had trillions upon trillions of planets, with roughly a tenth of those inhabitable. How could they be mostly dead? I checked on it before our last class it looked healthy."
"Well, to start, it wasn't necessarily your fault. Even if you had personally managed and watched over it every moment you will still see random variances that could create larger issues. Your own interpretation of natural laws for your universe ended up allowing more variances to occur, and while initially it looked as if they would beneficial in the end they proved to be a destructive force. I also believe your own direct interference may have created series of events that triggered our initial concern."
Smith pulled out a glass slate and tapped a few points on it. After some waiting the universe status application was up and he was able to see what Teacher was talking about.
"The genetic drift..." Smith said with a hint of confusion. He was pretty sure he should only be seeing one fully sentient and complex lifeform on each inhabited planet, but each planet developed multiple, sometimes even dozens.
"And the loosening on the various restraints we often put in place to prevent mortals from accessing greater power too quickly."
"Wait... This looks like the universe committed suicide. Or tried to at least." Entropy had set in. Stars were purposefully extinguished. Whole systems were destroyed.
"Yes. That brings us to how self-aware it became." Teacher carefully reached over to the tablet and tapped a couple places on it.
"You told them. Which brings me to why I will be giving you a D- on this assignment." Teach said with a long pause afterwards. Smith was speechless and looked around the classroom in an attempt to understand what had happened. He thought through the project, the calculations, the start up, the guidance he gave it. He couldn't think of how he could have told the universe it was just a simulation and not an actual fully realized creation.
"If I understand correctly, you have a hobby of fantasy role playing game?" Teacher slowly asked, wanting Smith to connect the dots.
"Well, I understand fully realized simulations based on speculative fiction with magic that break the laws of nature are banned. Only partial... Oh no..."
"I must have...."
"The group I have been playing with, I was the only one with knowledge of how to create custom simulations to play in. There were a few worlds in my universe that I thought would be great to play in and explore so I create a copy and made adjustments. I put in all the restraints and settings meant for a speculative universe. It was only supposed to be just that one world."
"And yet?" Teacher said motioning for Smith to keep figuring it all out. Smith taped a few points on the tablet and groaned when he saw it.
"I never made a copy. I made changes to the base universe, and played in it directly with my friends thinking it was a limited simulation when it was actually a fully functioning one."
"Looking at the logs it appears you and your friends went into the simulation to play, got severely inebriated, and believing the residents wouldn't be able to understand, told them all about this project. The knowledge was quickly spread because your introduction of ridiculous types of magic allowed a free travel and communication throughout the universe. It also allowed them to test and prove that it was a simulation. They tried to contact you before the suicide, but they missed the time difference and didn't realize they would need thousands of years to gain a proper response. They threatened to kill themselves unless they were handed full control of the simulation, and believing a non response was a denial of their terms they used the magic to horrific effect. To be fair, this is actually one of the better results. I have rejected countless proposals to allow simulations like this because often, when they are allowed, we have other universes infected or worse. I would have hated to see your simulation be the end of the enter classes, fortunately they never figured out how to hop around. And I know you would have hated to see them leap into an actual creation."
"Wait... this would normally fail me."
"Yes. We felt, however, that this was a simple mistake. We realized what you meant to do and didn't want to punish you for forgetting a step or two in what is, honestly, a complicated process. We also saw that while you accidentally changed the fundamental laws of your universe, you also accidentally isolated it from causing harm outside of its bounds."
"Thank you sir." Smith sighed and looked at his notes. All the work for little reward. He would still be graduating but the GPA would hurt enough that he might not be able to gain access to full creation.
"I know you are the end of your education, but you really should take a class in speculative fantasy. The orcs were really the more aggressive ones in the suicide plan."
Smith nodded and sighed. He was pretty disappointed in himself. It shouldn't have ended like that.
"Don't worry. I'm sure you won't do it again. In the meantime," Teacher passed over a small disk, "I am sure you could enjoy my old RPG world. I'll admit it isn't nearly as free as your own but you should be able to still enjoy it with out risking the other student projects."
All the gods-in-training crowded around Aeron’s universe which floated above his desk in a constant spiral. Some whispered that his universe looked like it had been created by a full-fledged god. Others even dared to say that his was the best they’d ever seen. Even the teachers had stepped forward, standing on their tiptoes to catch a glimpse of his spiraling expanse of black.
Braxis didn’t understand the appeal. He, like all the other gods, had taken a glimpse at Aeron’s world and as far as he was concerned, it was just a bunch of rocks floating together in giant clumps. Occasionally, if one were to truly look for life, one could find it in the smallest crevices within the pebbles placed there. Though it was so sparse, most couldn’t help but wonder if they were placed purposefully or if his universe had just gotten invaded by microbes.
Hell, someone could’ve grabbed a bunch of dust, tossed it in the air, and gave the whole thing a small twirl to mimic that exact thing. Braxis suspected that’s exactly what Aeron did.
“A+,” the teacher exclaimed and handed a beaming Aeron his grade.
Braxis rolled his eyes. That bastard was good at one thing—Godball—and suddenly he became this God amongst gods. She-gods laughed at his shitty jokes. Teachers gave him high-fives in the hallways. This smug asshole could have probably take a shit on a plate and presented it as his final project.
None of these guys understood true godding. Universes weren’t meant to be just a random smattering of whatever a god found in his backyard at the time. They were meant to be intricately designed and perfectly fit together in such a way that all life within it couldn’t help but realize the existence of the divine. How could anybody be certain of divinity within Aeron’s universe of entropy and emptiness?
“Braxis,” the teacher said, approaching his desk.
Braxis smiled. While to most these kids, they created universes purely to pass this class, but not Braxis. Even as a child, he had dreamed of creating the perfect universe, one where nothing existed without purpose, where everything was a reflection of an ultimate design. He had not thrown a bunch of dust in the air and called it a universe, no, he stayed up nights, scoured the realm for just the right materials, and at last, created his masterpiece.
His universe floated from his desk and opened up in flashes of silver and gold. There wasn’t a single thing that existed in a vacuum. Every part connected to every other. In a sense, his universe was a being in itself, nearly conscious of its creator.
The teacher stared, his eyes wide and jaw dropped. He nodded at Braxis. “Very good job.”
A smile spread across Braxis’ face. This was the moment he was waiting for, when he would finally prove his talent.
“A.” The teacher handed him his grade and moved onto the next desk.
For a second, Braxis didn’t breathe. He merely stood there, staring at the piece of paper with his grade on it.
“You’re telling me I did worse than Aeron?” Braxis blurted. All eyes turned to him. He knew he should shut up, that he was way out of line, but he couldn’t help himself. “Worse than that asshole’s universe?”
The teacher turned around and glared back. “Excuse me? Are you questioning my judgement?”
“You gave me an A when you gave a bunch of floating rocks in the air an A+! What the hell?”
“Hey,” Aeron said. “This is more than just floating rocks. My universe has fire too.”
“Fire?” Braxis screamed. “Your universe has fire? What are you going to tell me next? That the beings inside your universe are developed enough to walk and breathe at the same time? My beings are creating universes within my universe!”
“Braxis,” the teacher snarled. “Control yourself.”
“Or what? You’re going to give Aeron an A++?”
The teacher folded his arms in front of him and stepped up to Braxis. “No, I’ll give you a D.”
Braxis’s face flushed red. He stared at the teacher, his fists clenched at his side, but he knew better than to push his luck. After all, he was no idiot. The teacher gave him a small nod and turned to continue grading.
“Smug bastard,” Braxis said, like an idiot.
“D-,” the teacher said. “One more word from you and you fail my class. Go study Aeron’s universe and learn a thing or two about intelligent design.”
Braxis clamped his mouth shut. He had a flood of words swelling up his throat, none of which would help him pass his class. So he kept quiet as class resumed.
A wave of muttering and whispering followed after. At first, Braxis thought they were whispering about him, but when he turned toward the class, he saw them hunched over Aeron’s world once again. They giggled and stared, fixated on a single thing.
Braxis joined the circle. If the teacher truly wanted him to study Aeron’s universe, then Braxis would learn all he could from it. Throughout the mutterings of the other gods, a single word kept coming up, an unpredicted development within Aeron’s world—the hallmark of his intelligent design.
Braxis looked around at the other gods. “What the hell is a meme?”
/sub/jraywang for 5+ stories weekly and ~200 stories already written!
[WP] A literal genie – one who cruelly twists someone's wish, based on their exact words – must explain why they granted a child's wish without repercussions, to their superiors. The genie tries to spin the reasoning behind their benevolent actions into a malevolent light.
Edit: All these stories are amazing!
I sat down at the desk in the middle of the room, trying to still my nervousness. It wasn't easy considering I was facing the Council of Genies. Yes we have a council. How else do you control beings of phenomenal cosmic power? I sat and fidgeted while the 5 council members filed in and sat at their much larger and more intimidating table.
"Let us call this inquiry to order," intoned the head genie, one of the first of our kind. He looks at the files before him and then gazes at me seriously. "Now. You have been called to this inquiry for your most recent actions. Please recount the incident."
I gulped and straightened. "Well I was on duty that day, August 12th, and found an enchanted object being rubbed. I went as summoned and found the recipient to be a 6 year old child. She had found an old lamp in her family home and wanted to see if the legends were true."
The council members nodded and the lead gestured for me to continue. "Turns out it was her birthday and she wanted a wish. I informed her that two wishes were already used against the lamp so she could only have the one. She thought for some time and made the request. I granted it and left."
Another council member spoke up. "What was the wish?"
"For her father to stop drinking and her family to be happier."
"That sounds like more than one wish to me."
"Well it was said in one statement and it was her birthday after all."
"That's a technicality."
"A core fundamental to the genie ideal is rigid technicality."
The council chuckled and I felt my hopes raise a little. "Be that as it may, sentiment has no place for a genie's job. Please explain how you granting her wish would be the opposite of what she wanted."
"For example wouldn't it be fair to have her father die from not drinking anything anymore? Or for her family to crave happiness above everything else?" Offered another council member.
I nodded slowly and marshaled my thoughts. "True. What I did was examine her possible future given the options of granting her wish or not. Yes if I did the obvious line of reasoning the girl would have had to be given to adoption, having a long life of grim distaste for happiness."
The council murmured in agreement. "That seems to go with our procedures." Another member remarked.
"True." I agreed. "However, by changing the father's alcoholic tendencies and changing family priorities I have guaranteed her a far more suffering life." I smiled at the council's looks of confusion. "Now she will have a happy family that will stay with her her entire life. They will question her, meddle in her affairs, nag her relentlessly. Her father will take a huge part of her life and embarrass her relentlessly."
The council members looked at each other and whispered. "That is...an interesting perspective. One might say the former possibility provides more distinct suffering."
"Suffering is subjective. It is impossible to qualify the quantity depending on the individual."
More chuckles from me quoting the book. "Well one may say that she well end up liking that suffering. Wouldn't that also go against our ideals?"
I shrugged. "Masochism is an uncontrollable characteristic."
More laughter. After a few moments of quiet conversation the head council member looked at me. "Well, you performed to the letter of the law so no punishment for today. Your sense of consequence is unique but not warranting censure."
I rise and bow. "Thank you, I live to serve." The room bursts into laughter as we leave.
The apartment building had been condemned since before Carl had been recruited. However, this was the first time he had felt condemned whilst walking through it. Paint hung off the hallway walls in crusty waves and the foul scent of sewage lingered in the air. He was sick of this place. Sick of his job - of making people unhappy. So what if Fortuna retired him? At least he'd finally done something worthwhile with his existence. Could she say the same? He thought of the girl's eyes, and how they'd glistened like dewy wildflowers in the morning sun at the sight of the wish he'd brought into existence. Just those eyes - they would be worth his demise a hundred times over.
But all the same...
Carl dragged his feet across tired, chewed carpets, like a man on his way to death row. He passed a toothless hobo wrapped up in a rug, an empty bottle by his side; a comatosed caterpillar asleep in its cocoon, hoping to wake to a miracle. It wouldn't come. Real miracles rarely did.
He was careful on the stairs, and as usual, walked on the edges - less likely to fall through that way. Fortuna would retire him - he was certain. He'd always been her least favourite.
Much sooner than he would have liked, the corridor ended and the black door of room two-one-two confronted him. He took a deep breath and twisted the handle.
"Welcome, Carl," came the angelic voice of Fortuna, as the door sighed open.
"Hey, boss," said Carl, taking off his fedora and holding it by his stomach. He walked into the center of the empty room; wooden boards creaked under his feet. Above him, there was no roof or ceiling. There was just the black abyss where she resided. Chords of light slowly sprinkled down from the black, surrounding Carl. They thickened into ribbons of flame, imprisoning him.
"Do you know why I have summoned you?" asked the sprightly voice. It sounded joyous, but Carl knew better.
"I have an idea..."
"Repeat the child's wish. What did she wish for, Carl?"
"Ah, it was pretty standard stuff, really," said Carl, scratching his greasy hair. "I don't want to bore you."
"Tell me the wish," Fortuna roared, pretences disposed of. Carl's mac flapped in a violent gust, the windows rattled and his hat was stolen from his hand. He swallowed hard.
"She wished... she wished that her mom was still alive."
"Thank you, Carl," said the voice, slowly softening. "And, how did you manipulate the wish?"
"I uh, I didn't. What I mean is," he added hurriedly, an idea blossoming in his mind, "there wasn't any need to manipulate it."
"This is not why I saved you, Carl. This is not why I plucked you from the chasm and staved eternal pain from your soul. We have a duty, Carl. You had a duty."
Carl shuffled uncomfortably, but said nothing.
"Do you know why we spite their wishes?"
"Sure," Carl began, rolling his eyes and getting ready to recite the mantra. "Without us, humanity would believe in miracles. They would become optimistic in a way that would result in their eventual destruction. Thanks to us, they will believe in nothing. Thanks to us, they prepare for the worst. Thanks to us, they will be saved - when the day comes."
"That's right, Carl. What you have done, by making this little girl's wish come true in such a manner, is release a cancer of optimism that will eat through the negativity of humanity. They will believe in miracles, Carl. They will not be prepared."
"It's not like that, boss."
"No, not at all! Say, did you ever have a mother, Fortuna?"
"You know I did not, Carl, although I have many children. "
"Well, I had one - and let me tell you, it wasn't a very pleasant experience."
"Oh?" said Fortuna with a hint of amusement.
"Yeah. It was my mother's constant belittling - her constant lack of faith in her son - that made me believe in myself. It made me realise I couldn't rely on anyone, not even family, for help or support. If she hadn't been there, who knows how optimistic I'd have become? How reliant on other people - on miracles. It was thanks to her that I strove for something better. That I did something better."
"To spite her?"
"To prove to myself that I was better than her. Than she believed I was capable of."
"That's very brave of you, Carl."
"It is what it is."
"So," continued Fortuna, "you think that this child's mother-"
"I think that in a few years," Carl lied, "that girl's going to wish she'd never wished her mother back to life."
The circlet of gold around Carl began to flicker, as Fortuna loosened her grip.
"Mothers," Carl said, as he tried to blink back tears, "are a necessary force in the world. Sure, the good ones might read the occasional bed-time story to their child. They might look after you when you're sick - stroke your hair and make you chicken soup. Hell, they might pretend to be your best friend - but really, they keep their children grounded and realistic. What I did, was curse that girl." He firmly nodded his affirmation and wiped an arm across his eyes. "This room really needs dusting, Fortuna."
The prison of light faded to motes of gold, and then to nothing.
"You may go, Carl," came the voice of Fortuna. "But I will be keeping an eye on you. What we do, we do for them - for our children. Even if it's not always easy."
Carl took a deep breath, walked to his hat and bent down to pick it up.
"We do it because we love them."
"Yeah," he said as he opened the apartment door and stepped through. "I know."
“You know the rules, Jeff. You’re a genie, for God’s sake. Who do you think you are, Robin Bloody Williams?”
“I am under no such illusions, sir. Sorry, but is it really necessary to use so much profanity?”
In all of his 557 years, Brian was certain he had never encountered such a pussy.
“Jeff, I’m going to need you to focus on the issue at hand. You have consistently assured us for almost a year now - that the trick is coming with this kid. But all I’m seeing is a… blooming… treat. The kid is having a whale of a time.”
Jeff fidgeted slightly in his seat and averted his gaze from the Big Kahuna.
“Well, the thing is, you see… I mean, the child had cancer. Terminal cancer at 7 years old. I didn’t really feel like things could get much more… um, trickier, for him.”
“Would it kill you to string a sentence together without a non-sequitur, man? This shit doesn’t fly with the Council, you know this. A kid with cancer is tragic, no doubt – but so is a Genie who won’t do his bloody job. Now, take a breath, use that limited brain capacity, and explain yourself!”
Jeff nodded solemnly, and met the older Genie’s gaze squarely.
“Sir, how old are you?”
“I hardly see how that is relevant.”
“Please sir, I’m trying to explain myself.”
“Alright, I’ll humour you. I’m 557 years old.”
“Exactly! You have a wealth of experience, and even you cannot recognise the twist in the tale. That’s why it’s such a doozey! A real hum-dinger.”
“You really are an idiot, Jeff. Go on then, what’s this amazing twist?”
“You’ll just kick yourself when I tell you sir, you really will. It’s elegant in its simplicity. Next week, young Rupert turns 8 years old. His favourite celebrity is the Rock. Well, Mr. Johnson has finally been convinced to join the ranks of the Make a Wish Foundation. I predicted that, if I do say so myself. Guess who has been cancer free for almost a whole year, and misses out on meeting their idol. Boom! Get tricked, son!”
The 5 members of the Council were rendered utterly speechless. Leeroy’s jaw quite literally dropped.
“You cannot be serious. You have to be joking. Please tell me you’re joking. There is no way you are attempting to convince us that you are in the know enough to predict the movements of the Rock. Actor, Wrestler, Comedian - the man is a Goddamn triple threat. He’s a tour de force! But putting that aside for a second the kid wa- he does his own stunts! Name another Hollywood leading man who honestly can say that. Jeff, I can’t even look at you right now.”
“I agree, sir. Imagine then, if you had an opportunity to meet the man himself, and it was cruelly snatched away from you.”
“Look, it’s no secret that Genies fucking love the Rock, but there is no way we are going to agree that this was acceptable behaviour. Pack up your things, Jeff, you’re done. I’ve had enough of your bullshit.”
“I understand, sir. If you’ll excuse me, I want to head to the hospital one last time. Jeff and the Rock are supposed to be there in an hour.”
“Get out of our sight, Jeff.”
“Wait a minute, Kahuna. You said Jeff? Who are you referring to? Not Jeff Goldblum?”
“The one and only.”
“The Blumanator? There’s no way…”
“Brian, think about this for a second. The kid lives to 300 and he doesn’t miss a better opportunity. I never thought I’d say this, but Jeff has bloody done it. He’s bamboozled that poor kid. I doubted him for a second, but the man is a stone cold killer.”
Jeff smiled to himself. What luck that none of the Council knew that he likes to refer to himself in the third person. Whoever this Jeff Goldblum bloke was, he was going to buy him a beer…
I like this one a lot!
[WP] Dumbledore decides not to leave Harry Potter with the Dursley family. Instead young Potter is sent to Chicago and placed on the doorsteps of Harry Dresden's home.
Edit: Thanks for the gold!
(Spoilers for the Dresden Files and Harry Potter, you have been warned.)
"Look Hoss, it's just a temporary thing," Ebenezer said to me.
"It's three months, sir," I said.
"Like I said, Hoss, temporary," Ebenezer said, "just until the kid goes back to school."
"With all due respect, sir, I'm not going to babysit some fifteen year old, who is going to stir up nothing but trouble for me..." I trailed off as I realized what I was saying.
Ebenezer had done the same exact thing for me. I'd been a kid who'd killed his master. It was self-defense, but according to white council, that's what they all say. Ebenezer had stood up for me, vouched for me. I was the man I was today thanks to him. Well, I simply was. Without him I'd be Harry Dresden - headless corpse.
"You were saying, Hoss?" Ebenezer said with an innocent look on his face that was betrayed by the sparkle in his eyes, "something about an unruly kid...?"
"Yeah, yeah," I said, "you've made your point. I'll keep the damn kid if the Council insists."
Ebenezer smiled, "Thanks, Hoss. I mean, think of it this way, it'll be a nice break you know? Ease up the action after that whole mess with Kemmler and all."
I didn't shudder - I get muscle spasms is all. Mess was putting it gently, I'd almost died, multiple times, shot my senior officer, ridden a dinosaur through downtown Chicago and bargained with the Wild Hunt. In one night. Ambitious even for me.
"Yeah," I said, "I could use a little break."
Famous last words.
I have faced beings from outside this universe, the Queen of Winter, the Wild Hunt, and 21 literal demons, one of which was inside my head. I have locked heads with them, spat in their faces, all while each one could turn me into a pile of goo with a blink of an eye.
But when this tall lanky kid with glasses came out of the cab with a huge suitcase and an honest to God owl in a cage, my head started to ache.
He squinted against the sun. It was a clear day in Chicago a rarity, except for two stray dark clouds hovering in the sky. The kid somehow managed hold the trunk and his owl in one hand and stuck out his hand and looked at me. "Hello, sir, I'm Harry," he hesitated, "Harry Potter."
I looked away before our gazes held for too long. Ebenezer had mentioned that this kid was a practitioner. Either he was stupid, or dangerous. Eye contact like that can trigger a soul gaze between practitioners - allowing each of the participants to literally look into the other's soul. I didn't want to do that with some 15 year old kid. With my luck he'd have an aneurysm and we'd have a diplomatic incident, courtesy of Harry Dresden - again.
"I'm Harry," I pretended to hesitate, "Harry Dresden," I mimed. This drew a bark of laughter from the kid and I smiled too.
"It's nice," he said, "not to have your name recognized."
Oh You have no idea, kid.
I took his trunk from him, it was like half his size. "Alright, Harry, never go through the door without me. I'll make a charm that'll let you enter unharmed, but until then only enter when I'm with you. Got it?"
"What'll happen if I do?" he asked.
Great, a hard case.
"You'll explode," I said and turned around to disarm my wards. Before I could, though, Harry screamed behind me, and clutched at his forehead.
I hadn't noticed it through the hair before, but there was a lightning shaped scar on his forehead - glowing red. My breath caught in my throat.
It glowed in a very specific way, it's hard to describe really, but I knew exactly what it was. It was a brand, a mark.
You getting this Lash? I said to the demon in my head. (Hell's bells my freaking life)
I am indeed, my Host. Lasciel said in my head That boy is host to a shadow much like you are, of the one of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius.
Just then two swirling clouds resolved into people wearing dark robes and hoods for God's sake, and pulled out what looked like small staffs from their pockets.
I threw the kid behind me and yelled Defandarius! A pale blue dome of energy appeared in front of me. The two practitioners shouted some words and twin bolts of energy hit my shield. I staggered back. These guys were no lightweights.
They kept zapping my shield, and it took all my effort to keep it up. They were advancing on us, dammit, I had to act.
At that point Harry stood up next to me, his face twisted into a scowl. He shouted something unintelligible and one of the wizards cried out, his staff flying out of his hands.
I turned to the other wizard and yelled Forzare! unleashing a wave of invisble force at him.
I shouldn't have bothered.
A single line darted out and impaled him through the chest, as he was thrown backward from my spell. Deirdre, the daughter of the most dangerous demon in the world and one of the 21 knights of Blackened Denarius stepped out from behind the man. "You have something, or well, someone, we want, Wizard."
What was that I'd said? "I could use a little break."
(minor edits - Ebenezer now calls Harry, Hoss)
(I've never done fanfic like this before, but Dresden Files is like my favorite series of all time, so feedback is more than welcome.)
If you enjoyed, check out XcessiveWriting
"You're a wizard, Harry."
"And the only one we could find in the American phonebook. We were somewhat suprised, really," the old wizard glanced at me over his half-moon spectacles. He reminded me of the Merlin, if somewhat less grouchy. Still, the guy just popped into my office with five minutes warning, and I do mean popped.
"No, I mean, what're you doing bringing the kid to ME? Hells Bells, my roommate is a Vampire! Doesn't he have any family on your side of the pond?"
"Oh he does," Dumbledore smiled, "but they're not necessarily the most tolerant towards the magical arts. They'd likely force him to live under their stairs or something. Better to leave him someplace safer. There is the chance his enemies may find him, and, Mr. Dresden, you have something of a reputation of being quite accomplished in the realm of combating dark forces."
"And assuming I take the gig," I sighed, knowing in my gut that I was already going to despite my misgivings, "who's after him?"
"A cabal of Dark Wizards, responsible for the deaths of dozens between them."
"Dozens? Just... Dozens? What kind of evil cabal has a body-count of dozens!? There're small-time street gangs downtown that have easily that many. In the Warden's books you're hardly more than a nuisance until you've got fifty!"
"Will you take the child or not?" Dumbledore asked, a wispy edge of tesyiness entering his voice.
"Can't quite turn him down, now can I? Fine, but I'll teach him my way. And he's not going off to school with no dainty wand, neither."
"So be it," Dumbledore nodded, and vanished with another pop.
"Well, Harry, " I sighed, looking down at the gently cooing bundle, a lighting-bolt scar on his forehead, "Welcome to the family. Mouse is going to be so excited."
11 Years Later
"There is no "good" or "evil," Harry Potter," the deformed face on the backside of Professor Quirrel's head sneered, "There is only power! and those too week to take-"
The sharp thundering crack of a .44 rang out through the tiny room, and the face of Voldemort partially exploded mid-sentence. I put my father's handgun back in my school robes beside my blasting rod and patted it beneath the enchanted bulletproof cloth. I sure do love my step-dad, I grinned.
Oh man. I need to read the Dresden series again. I forgot how awesome they are. Kudos for setting just after book 7, which is my favorite.
Just wait till Harry meets Molly...
Harry put his elbows on the table, watching the other would-be students push their trolleys along the platform outside. They all wore that look of perplexed surprise on their faces – ants scurrying all over the place, trying to find their way in the unfamiliar landscape that was King’s Cross.
Even though Harry was from Chicago, it seemed like he felt more at home on the red train than his British peers.
He rolled back his sleeves and rested his head against the back of the seat. There were schools of equal caliber closer to home, but Uncle Dresden had convinced him to take the Hogwarts academic route in honor of his parents. Say what you will about his uncle, but he’d always had his heart in the right place.
Harry’s stomach churned, he’d only had a poor airplane meal on the way here. Rummaging through his backpack, he noticed that the students were starting to fill up the Hogwarts Express. Pale faces passed by outside his coupe, gingers with crooked teeth and worried eyes. His fingers finally found something hard in the backpack, and he pulled out a Mac’s Brown Ale. He shook his head – that was his uncle’s dry sense of humor.
The door to his coupe opened, and a girl stumbled in. She had already changed into her Hogwarts uniform, and her frizzy brown hair was on end. At first, she gave Harry a wide-eyed look. His uncle had told him about how he’d be received in the British society: a hero of luck, but a hero nonetheless – what everyone seemed to forget was that it was his mother’s magic and love that had ended Voldemort. Still, he was expecting this type of reaction.
“You’re… you’re Harry Potter, aren’t you?” the girl said.
“I didn’t mean to be.”
Her eyes grew bigger, and she touched her bottom lip in confusion. She looked at him, her mouth moving, but no words came out.
“Thirsty?” Harry said and nodded at the lukewarm bottle of Mac’s.
“I – uh, is that Muggle…?”
“We’re not supposed to bring… that.”
Harry shrugged and stuffed the bottle back into his backpack. Dresden had warned him of the star-struck looks, but it was still a bit odd seeing it in person.
“So, what’s your name?” Harry said and patted the seat next to him.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” the girl fussed. “I’m Granger, uh, Hermione.”
“Nice to meet you, Granger-Uh-Hermione,” Harry said and smiled teasingly.
“No, I meant, I’m–”
She was cut short by the door to the coupe opening once again. This time it was a thin blond boy flanked by two bigger boys, who looked suspiciously like hired muscle.
“Potter! I’m Draco Malfoy.” The blond boy held out his hand.
Harry shook it slowly, without rising from his seat. So this was the son of one of the Death Eaters that had served under Voldemort. He sure looked the part, with his peering eyes and upper-class air. The muscle suddenly made sense – someone with that kind of reputation wouldn’t have an easy time in school.
Draco gave Hermione a disgusted look, before turning to Harry again.
“I think we should be friends, Potter,” Draco said with sleazy confidence.
His uncle had taught him that having friends in low places could be very beneficial. Even if you were fighting the good fight, sometimes the law just wasn't enough, and you’d have to ask for favors elsewhere. And even though the Malfoy name gave Harry a tangy taste in his mouth, the best thing was to play it smart – enemies closer and all that.
“I think we would make a great team,” Draco said.
“I’m not much of a team player, I’m afraid,” Harry said. “But I do appreciate a friendly face.”
Draco nodded with a smirk. “If you do get into trouble, give me a call, yeah?”
Harry nodded, and the trio disappeared.
“You’re… you’re…” Hermione stuttered. “You know who the Malfoys are, right?”
“I think I have a decent idea.”
“So… why–you know what, it’s not my business,” she said and stormed out of the coupe.
Harry sighed and closed his eyes. The jet lag was finally starting to get to him. It didn’t take long before the door to the coupe opened again.
“Mind if I sit here?”
It was a platinum blonde girl with a very plain face and a book under her arm. She was the first one who didn’t seem to recognize Harry, or at the very least didn’t care about his celebrity status. She appeared a bit younger than the others he had met.
“Sure,” Harry said and moved his backpack out of the way.
“I’m Luna Lovegood,” the girl said.
“Aren’t you a little young?”
“Only in the body, not in the soul,” she said dreamily. “I got to start a year earlier.”
[WP] All those assassination attempts on Hitler didn't fail at the last minute due to "bad luck"; he was repeatedly rescued by time travellers who have seen the alternative.
"Katy Perry," a voice said to Deacon's right.
It was possibly the only thing that could have given Deacon pause in that moment. After decades of preparation, everything was just as it should have been. All around him were a crowd of ecstatic Munich citizens. Above him was a blue sky without a breath of wind. A few yards before him was the Fuhrer. In his coat pocket was a Walther PP. And on the trigger was his finger.
Deacon was certain he'd misheard the voice. In his years of preparation for this moment, he must have seen every German movie from the era, listened to every syllable he could to master the accent of a man from the Platzl quarter of Munich who was born in the year 1915. And yet, he had never heard any combination of syllables that sounded so distinctly out-of-place as what he had just heard from his right.
He turned and, sure enough, a man was facing him. He was dressed just as any other man in that crowd, but one thing stuck out about him. He had impeccably straight, shining white teeth, which were currently displayed in a broad smile. It seemed so out of place in this crowd of men and women who could barely afford to feed themselves, much less pay a dentist.
"I knew it was you," the man said in English.
Before Deacon could react, somebody grabbed his hand. The trigger slipped away from his finger just as a third man grabbed his free arm. Deacon tried to cry out, but his voice was drowned out by the chorus of Deutschlandlied, that boomed all around him.
He was dragged from the crowd and thrown into an alley. A gun barrel dug into the back of his head and he closed his eyes, bracing himself.
"Christ alive," the voice behind him said. "They're sending them younger and younger."
"You only think that because you're so bloody old, Tom," somebody said with an English accent as he removed the Walther from Deacon's coat.
"And what if he hadn't answered to 'Katy Perry?'" an approaching voice asked.
"Then I would've asked to borrow his iPod or his fidget spinner or whatever dumb crap my grandpa played with back in 2017," came the reply.
"Turn him around," the oldest man said.
Deacon looked up to face Tom. There was a thin, white beard over his wrinkled face.
"You are from 2017. And you are here to assassinate Adolf Hitler, are you not?"
Deacon opened his mouth but no reply came.
"Why don't they ever send anybody after Stalin?" the man with the bright, shining teeth asked. "He was as much a bastard, if not more."
"Shut up, Rook," another man said.
"Am I correct?" Tom asked of Deacon.
"Yes," Deacon replied.
"I'm afraid we cannot let you do that."
"What makes you think you can stop me?"
"Because we were all sent to do the same at one time or another."
"Then... then..." Deacon stammered, "Why is he still alive?"
Tom sighed. "Did you think that altering a single variable was guaranteed to prevent a war that claimed tens of millions of lives?"
Before Deacon could reply, Tom dropped a series of photos on the ground. Deacon looked at photo after photo, and his eyes bulged.
"We have much to discuss," Tom said.
"Is that... New York?" Deacon asked.
"Young man," Tom said. "Have you ever considered what might have happened if Germany had won the war?"
"Let me guess, you traveled back in time to kill Hitler and to prevent the holocaust or the 2. WW in general?"
I was standing in front of the young time traveler who as chained to a chair.
"Yes! Why would anyone not do this?"
I shook my head. She probably havent seen what I have seen.
"Can you even imagine the consequences of altering the history? From what year are you anyway?"
"2020 we just discovered timetraveling."
"Great, that means I have to explain it to you extra slow because it seems people from your time are kind of retarded."
I pulled out the gun.
"Please no! You dont have to shoot me."
"This is the time traveling device damnit, how the fuck does your time machine looks like?"
She pointed to the car in the garage where I was holding her. Not bad for a beginner. Always blend into the age you visit, no matter what the cost. I uncuffed her and activated the gun.
"I will show you what happens if you kill Hitler. Follow me, first stop 1934."
I pulled the trigger and the gun caused a rift for us to step trough.
We were in the Reichstag. The girl seemed confused.
"Wait, wasnt the Machtergreifung 1933? And you said Hitler was dead in this timeline."
"He is. You see, the tensions in germany after the 1. WW caused a lot of chaos and misery. The people would flock to those who promised fast and easy solutions. What you see here is the leader of the NSDAP and he is not Hitler. Lets just call him Hans Mueller for certain reasons. Hans took the place that was destined for Hitler. It took him a bit more time but in the end the nazis rose to power. And he was a far more capable leader than Hitler. A better commander, polititcian and diplomat. Lets go to the next place, shall we?"
I used the gun again and we stepped trough the rift.
We were standing on a large beach, littered with dead bodies and burning wreckages.
"Which battle was this?" The girl covered her mouth and nose, afraid of the stench of rotting flesh. I smiled, she probably didnt notice that we couldnt interact with anything here and vice versa.
"Cant you tell? Its Dunkirk!"
"Dunkirk? But the evacuation was a success?"
"In your normal timeline. Remember when I said Hans was a far more capable commander? Instead of letting the Luftwaffe do the work, he simply crushed the BEF and the remnants of the french forces on the beach. The Wehrmacht sustained a bit higher losses. But not even 3000 soldiers were able to escape to britain. As you can think, this was something the british forces couldnt recover from. And its not just landbattles as you will see now."
The next rift brought us on deck of a burning battleship. We could see the Bismarck, 2 carriers and dozens of smaller vessels pass the wreckage.
"Are those german carriers? But they didnt have any. As far as I know they even struggled to maintain their existing battleships."
"Yes, they did struggle at the begin. But Hans managed to make a bargain with the americans. He would intensify trade with them and not ally with Japan. This way he was able to get a rather stable source of fuel. We are right now standing on the wreckage of the Prince of Wales. Those 2 carriers are the Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg. You probably know the second one as Flugzeugträger B in your timeline. Hans knew that the age of the battleships was over and concentrated the efforts of the German Reich on aircraft carriers and smaller vessels as escort. And he was very successful, the Royal Navy put up a brave fight but was ulitmately defeated in the end. With their biggest shield gone the isles were easy prey for the germans. Britain surrendered on the 4. May 1941, after germans ground troops captured London the day before. From here you can probably picture what will happen next. Up to the next rift."
We entered the place in front of the Kreml. The Wehrmacht was holding a victory speech in front of their most decorated soldiers.
"But...but...this cant be! What year it is?"
She was starting to get uneasy, maybe finally recognizing what kind of damage she could have done by killing Hitler.
"1944, after 2 years of war the germans captured Moscow. The last remnants of the Red Army have retreated into east Russia. They will be wiped out 1 year later. With britain gone as enemy and making a truce with the americans, Hans was able to direct almost all of his forces east. Being a great fan of Napoleon and other great generals of history, he knew that rushing to Moscow was not a viable option. Instead he moved forward during spring, summer and autumn and digged in during winter. The Red army would always try to counterattack during winter. But the Wehrmacht was mostly prepared and this stacked up the losses for the russians. Paired with the better training and equipment of the germans, this turned into a disaster. Now the germans not only had their biggest threat gone, they also had access to the many ressources of Russia. Meanwhile the Americans were busy fighting Japan and didnt really bother with Germany. Which leads us to our last 2 destinations."
This time we landed inside of a large plane. The girl walked to one of the windows and looked outside.
"What kind of plane is this? I cant remember any german bombers with 6 engines. And where are we exactly?"
"Dont look outside, unless you want to lose your eyesight."
She turned around to tell me something when a sudden flash illuminated everything for a very short moment. Shocked the girl looked out of the window.
"Did this bomber just dropped a nuclear bomb????"
"Yes indeed. The germans won the race for the bomb in this timeline. We are inside of a Ju 390 C9. The city you just saw below you was Washington DC. The americans were about to win the war in the Pacific when Hans made a pact with the Japanese. He send them reinforcements and together they would bind the majority of the US forces on the islands in the Pacific. On 1. July 1946 the Luftwaffe dropped the first nuke on Washington. Naturally the Americans would refuse surrender so Germany would also nuke Boston, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas. After that even the last one of the Americans recognized how futile their batlle was. They surrender on the 1. January 1947. After that there was nothing left to stop the Germans from taking the entire world."
"And all this because Hitler is dead????"
"Yes. You see now why changing the past is so dangerous?"
She just nodded.
"Anyway, there is last one thing I want to show you. Follow me.
We walked trough the rift and laned in a large subterran hangar.
"This is the Luftwaffenstützpunkt Neu York D9. You are under arrest."
2 guards grabbed her and cuffed her again. One of my subordinates came to me.
"Heil Mueller! Leutnant, bringen sie die Gefangene in ein Verhörzimmer. Sagen sie der Gestapo Bescheid und fragen Sie ausdrücklich nach Fräulein Wendler. Ich glaube sie wird am ehesten etwas nützliches aus der Gefangenen herausbekommen. (Lt. , bring the prisoner to a interrogation room. Tell the Gestapo and ask specifically for Fräulein Wendler. I think she has the best chances to get anything useful out of the prisoner.)"
"LET GO OFF ME!"
The girl was tryin to escape.
"I dont understand..."
"Alright, let me summarize it for you. I am a officer of the german Zeitkommando. Its my task to ensure that Hitler dies in our timeline. I also wait in other timelines for timetravelers as you to show up so I can capture them and bring them here. This way we can gather technology and knowledge from other timelines and keep an eye out for the past of our own."
I had to laugh.
"After all, we just reached the 189. year of our glorious 1000 year Reich."
"We've got another one." Captain Collins said as we took our seats around the oval meeting table. A picture on the projection screen behind him showed the alleged assassin. "Stevens I want you on this one. It's an AH-33."
"Yes sir!" I replied dutifully. The assignment should be simple enough, I had done a few Hitlers before.
The code he'd given was specific to our time table and list of indisposables. AH meant Adolf Hitler, and 33 was the year. 1933, a common enough epoch choice for time assassins. It was the year Hitler became Chancellor.
"That's the third one this month." Sergeant Phillips grunted. "Why the influx in AHAs?"
Adolf Hitler Attempts.
We had acronyms for almost any situation. Our organization had been doing this a very long time - since the beginning of time travel. We went by GARTH - Guardians Against Revision of Theology and History. GARTH had analyzed all possible outcomes of historical events and their future butterfly effects. They sought to carry out and protect the least detrimental course of history, as well as protect the most historically significant and encompassing religions.
As it turned out, Hitler was quite significant to the stabilization of history.
"The active timeline is nearing the discovery of time travel. And, as luck would have it, some neo-Nazi douche ran a bunch of people over last week." Capt. Collins sighed. "I fear we're only going to see an increase of this kind of thing. We need to remain vigilant."
"And if they succeed? If they kill Hitler?" Private Pyle asked. Silence washed over the room like a wave of cold water.
"Damnit Pyle! We've been through this. If Hitler dies then people of the future have no precident for genocide, no standard of comparison for true politically amassed evil. There would be no U.N., or E.U., and the Cold War becomes a hot war that ends with the nuclear arms race killing a third of the global population and setting back civilization, technology, and progressive ideology more than a hundred years!" I replied angrily.
"Oh yeah. I forgot." Pyle looked down at his feet.
"You forgot? How do you forget something like that?"
"How did he get into GARTH?" Captain Collins snarled. He looked around the room for an answer.
"He's... my nephew, Sir." A blushing Sergeant Phillips said.
[WP] You are sentenced to a famous prison. You are not sentenced by time your stay only ends if you die or escape. There are no guards and the prison is broadcast on television. No one has ever escaped.
I'm not your average criminal. I don't get caught in the heat of the moment. I don't kill for greed and I don't rape my victims. I kill as a challenge to myself. To always follow my own rules, and get away with breaking the most sacred of society's. And I have a very particular rule. I always start with eleven.
Eleven is beautiful. It's the first symmetrical double digit number. It's the smallest double digit prime. If you reverse the digits of any number divisible by eleven, you get another number divisible by eleven. If I get itchy, I scratch eleven times. If I buy gas, I let it run until eleven dollars. I'm certain the terrorists who planned 9/11 knew of this significance. Eleven was beautiful. Memorable. Eleven has power.
But my last murder was sloppy. Not like the first, when I'd followed the girl to her apartment and slit her throat in her sleep. I stayed up all night with a hacksaw and left the apartment clean, save for the smell of iron in the restroom. She'd just vanished. Anyone who thought to check the sewers for her remains would've found scattered bits of little use to the forensics team.
No, it wasn't my fault. I always plan it out a week in advance. I set up days in advance. I scout. I wait. I indulge, an exact twenty-two cuts on the body. I start with eleven on the left. I end with eleven on the right. Double digits are perfection.
My last failed target, number six, was a college student by the name of Brandon Chang. I chose him because he lived alone. Though he spent a lot of time online, his friends wouldn't miss him for a few days. The apartment complex was known for being quiet. I'd crept to his window and pushed all twenty-one shutters gently aside with my gloves. I crossed the messy room to his bed, counting the floorboards... one... two... the third one creaked, so I skipped it.
As I neared his sleeping form, I stopped. "Something's wrong!" my brain shouted. I hate that feeling, but it had saved my skin more than once. I wasn't like the common rabble. If something felt wrong, something was wrong.
Your eyes have two types of vision cells- rods and cones. Cones can see in greater detail, but need more light to function. In the dark-lit room, my vision was all rods. So I didn't notice how his body lay still, not breathing.
Sirens surrounded the building and, though I hid, a young officer found me. She had to be between twenty-one and twenty-four. She had short hair, about five inches at the longest. It would've been easy for me to grab it. Slit her throat. But it would've been an uneven cut, and that bothers me more than anything. Plus, they would probably shoot me. So I didn't resist.
Brandon had committed suicide by overdose after a fight with his online girlfriend. She'd called the cops on a whim to check on him, and they found me. My explanation that he'd invited me over was quickly shot down, and as investigations continued, they found out about my murders.
The judge carried little sympathy. "For five counts of murder and callous disregard of human life, I sentence you to The Island," he'd said. I'd heard about the prison. It was a sort of puzzle that nobody had yet escaped from. They televised the thing and used the money to pay off the damage caused by significantly dangerous criminals. So a challenge, then.
"Bring it on," I'd smirked. The sentence didn't bother me as much as the judge's crooked glasses. One lens was smudged and a nosepad was loose. It dangled slightly when he adjusted them and itched at the back of my mind. I bet he hadn't cleaned them in years.
I woke up in a brightly lit room smelling of bleach and fabric softener. They'd replaced my clothing with soft cotten, but allowed me to keep my knife- Smith & Wesson, military edition. I found no guards as I crept down the immaculately clean hallway towards a backpack hanging from a wooden door. It was nice, as prisons go. I wouldn't have minded the stay if it were my choice. But it wasn't.
The backpack contained twelve military MREs and eleven water bottles, so I left one MRE behind and opened the door. A robot waited by a table with a game of chess. How mundane.
Of course, it was quite easy for me to defeat him, and I did so in exactly eleven moves. The door behind him slid open and I stepped in to the next room. And here I found my problem.
If I'd been left to continue my murders, I would've killed six more people, for a nice eleven. The fact that I only got away with five bothers the hell out of me. This I told the judge. I didn't think he cared at the time. But in this room, there were a hundred numbered safety deposit boxes and a key on the table. And someone had removed box number eleven.
This is fantastic, I would love to read more of this story. Well done.
The guard's boots sloshed in the icy water as he stomped down the abyss-black passageway. The thin beam of his flashlight sliced through the darkness and revealed slithers of damp rock wall. He could hear the gurgling of running water beneath him - the underground river that led to the body of water surrounding the island. At least the musty odour of the tunnel was hidden by the gift the guard held; the content of the steaming mug was like a cross keeping evil at bay.
There was only one cell in the lowest dungeon, and only one prisoner in that cell. Prisoner J.
"Hey, wake up - I've got you something, J," said the guard, as he arrived at the unlit cell, banging the heel of his flashlight against the door. The guard lifted the metal plate that allowed for food to be passed through; J's eyelids followed suit.
"Is that- you brought me-" he fell into a fit of coughing, releasing the dust and dried phlegm that caked his throat.
"Sip this, it'll help," said the guard, hiding the concern in his face. The coughs came from the prisoner's chest; it sounded like J had an infection. The guard chewed his lip as he considered the logistics that would be involved in smuggling antibiotics down to the prisoner the following day.
J took the mug of coffee, grasping it between two shaking hands. "Holy shit, I ain't sipping this yet," said J, wiping an arm across his mouth and letting the scent of the cheap coffee intoxicate him. "You insane, boss? What a waste that'd be. I'm going to save it for a very rainy day. And until then," he leaned into the mug and closed his eyes, "I'm going to let it take me away to somewhere a little more pleasant."
The guard shone his flashlight through the food hatch and examined J; the prisoner recoiled like a vampire.
"Ey, cut it out, will ya?"
The man's grey hair was like dirty dishwater, and his face was so pale that it was becoming translucent - thin blue lines ran like dried up streams under the skin on his forehead. His teeth were chipped and looked like fragments of broken, jagged glass. He looked like something out of a horror movie.
"Why'd you get me this?" J asked. "I'm not ungrateful, you understand," he sniffed, "I know how much you risked to bring it here. Hell, you could be the next man in this cell because of it. But I just kinda need to know - why?"
"I don't really have an answer for that," the guard confessed. "You always talk about coffee and what you'd give for the taste of it one last time, and all that shit. So, well, I just felt sorry for you, I guess." The guard scratched his head and the prisoner laughed.
"What?" asked the guard.
"Oh. I'm sorry, it's nothing."
"Come on, why'd you laugh?"
"It's just... you feeling sorry for me. It's strange, you know?"
"Because I'm a guard? Because I'm meant to have no soul?"
"No," said J, lowering his voice to a whisper as he crept toward the food hatch. He glanced behind him, up at the roof of his cell. "It's because you've got it backwards. You're a good man, boss. You don't deserve to be trapped here. You need to get out."
"What? I'm not trapped," said the guard, frowning. "I do this job because it pays well. I do it for my family - to put my daughter through college."
"How long have you been working here?"
"Since... shit, I don't know. Ten years, maybe."
"You remember when you started?"
"When's the last time you saw them?"
"Who? My family?"
"You know that visitors are prohibited from coming to the island."
"What color are your daughter's eyes, boss?"
"You sure about that?"
"Of course I'm fucking sure. What are you trying to pull? I brought you some coffee and now you're trying to piss me off?"
J raised his hands and slunk back to the corner of his cell. "I should've said nothing."
It was on the guard's way back out of the tunnel that he thought he noticed something on the passageway roof - something moving ever so slightly. Something he'd caught accidentally with a twitch of his wrist in the beam of his flashlight. Something that reflected the light that had been fired across it.
But when he shone the flashlight at the roof a second time, making a slow, thorough search, he couldn't see anything but dripping rock.
He must have imagined it.
The guard came to see J again the next day, stolen medicine in his inside jacket pocket. But he was too late. J had hanged himself sometime during the night, his thin cotton blanket a makeshift noose. A mug of untouched coffee sat cold and lonely on the stone floor next to the bed. Suicides weren't unusual - prisoners often killed themselves here - although, it was the first he had personally found. Maybe, the guard thought, it was better than living in these conditions for the rest of his life. He didn't blame J for his choice.
The guard carried on with his duties as usual that week, but all the while two thoughts nagged at him. They tapped at the door of his mind, demanding to be let in, demanding his attention.
The first thought was this: what colour are my daughter's eyes? He wasn't all that certain they were blue. He'd stayed up for hours after his conversation with J, lying in bed and trying to picture them clearly in his mind's eye. But he couldn't.
Maybe he was just getting old. Forgetful.
But it was the second thought that had burrowed fully into his brain and released a poison at its very core. A thought that was changing him and how he looked at the warden, his fellow guards and the other prisoners. It altered where he looked as he walked down passageways - always the roof now, looking for almost imperceptible movements - and it made him shiver as he lay awake at night.
It was a thought that made him realise he couldn't quit - ever. That instead, he needed to escape.
Why had the mug of coffee still been full?
But it would've been an uneven cut, and that bothers me more than anything. Plus, they would probably shoot me.
[WP] King Midas has finally fallen in love with someone who is immune to his curse: Medusa. And he is immune to hers. However, things aren't going as planned at the royal wedding.
Admittedly, Medusa had not been Midas’s first choice. In fact, he had once been quoted as saying that he wouldn’t marry her if she was the last woman on Earth available to him. As fate would have it, his curse had left her just that. And as twenty years of celibacy would have it, he had become a lot more forgiving in his preferences.
After a single date (which lasted the entire night), Midas had gotten down on a single knee and proposed to Medusa. The wedding was to be held in two weeks as the most lavish wedding ever had.
There was something about weddings that just drove women crazy. Everything had to be perfect. Hell, Medusa would lament at even the smallest cloud in the sky.
“Midas!” she would cry. “The sun will be blocked for our vows!”
To which he would respond, “Sun? Honey, you live in a cave at the ends of the earth.”
That one didn’t fare well. He wondered how she'd feel if he also responded, "what vows?"
Though Midas had his own complaints as well, like the myriad of Greek heroes who had come to slay Medusa. They came in bronze breastplates wielding mythical swords and some even winged shoes.
“Sweetie,” Midas started, “Did you invite all the Greek heroes who once tried to slay you?”
Midas lifted her veil (which he claimed was for the guests, but was mostly for himself) and saw her smiling.
“They’re not here to slay me,” Medusa said with a chuckle. “They’re here to see me tie the knot.”
Though based on the numerous botched assassination attempts, Midas didn’t believe a single word she said. If he had to guess, to her, this wedding was the proverbial middle finger to all these ancient Greek heroes. Which was fine, he just wanted to get laid.
At last, the time had come. All the guests were seated. Midas had even convinced the Greek heroes to stop trying to slay his fiancé for five minutes so they could finish this damn thing. Medusa seemed happy that only one of the flower girls had turned gold throughout this entire ordeal. The cursed couple stepped in front of the alter holding hands as the priest recited his lines.
“Do we have any words from the groom and the bride?” the priest asked.
Midas nearly laughed. To even give the pretense that this marriage was anything sacred was an insult to all of matrimony everywhere. He just wanted to get to the next part, the christening.
“Hell no,” he was going to start, but then felt a tiny squeeze. He looked up and stopped. Tears pattered on the ground by Medusa’s feet.
For the first time, he finally noticed her. She had truly gone all out. Her snakes had been braided down her back. Her dress was a pristine white silk. He had heard that she had gone on a week’s fast just to fit into it and at the time, he just thought it was another crazy woman thing for weddings.
But no. Because beneath a hair of venomous snakes and eyes that turned men to stone, buried deep inside this monster, was a little girl who had always dreamed of this moment.
“I have some words,” Midas said.
Medusa looked up in shock.
“Medusa.” Midas squeezed her hands back. “I won’t pretend that this is what we had both wanted. It was our situation that has brought us together. But that’s why this will work. I don’t believe there’s anybody in the world who can understand me like you, who suffered as I have, who have experienced the loneliness that I have. And for that, I love you.”
This time, he didn’t need to lift her veil to know that there was a smile stretched across her face. He smiled back.
When they left, they did so with Medusa slung across Midas’s arms holding up two middle fingers to all their honored guests, gods, and the universe entire. Everybody who attended that wedding would later claim that the two were born for each other, but that was the furthest thing from the truth possible. The kingly Midas would never marry a Gorgon monster nor would a mythical beast ever consider the warmth of man.
They hadn't been born for each other, they had been sculpted.
/sub/jraywang for 5+ stories weekly and ~200 stories already written!
That last line was perfect 10/10
“Sweetie,” Midas started, “Did you invite all the Greek heroes who once tried to slay you?”
“They’re not here to slay me,” Medusa said with a chuckle. “They’re here to see me tie the knot.”
Hahahaha, I want to believe this is a quick reference to the Gordian Knot and how their loneliness through curses was loopholed by their mutual existence.
(I'm looking too far into this, and it was probably unintentional :S )
Great work! This was great, especially the finishing line.
"And now, His Majesty has written vows to his beloved," the Cardinal said, waving his hands expansively to the couple before him. The assembled noblemen and women murmured their approval at this break from the traditional wedding custom. After all, this was a highly unusual wedding.
"My dearest Medusa," King Midas began, "it was fate that brought us together, but it is up to the two of us to stay together. I promise to support you and love you in the face of all challenges. To forgive you when your curse imposes itself on our lives. To ask for help when my curse forges a new nightmare. And to look upon your lovely face at every opportunity." He brushed his gloved hand lightly over her heavily veiled face.
Medusa caught his hand in her own, holding it tenderly. After so many years of an agonizing existence, she had found love. True, unbridled love, accepting of who she was and not blaming her for her past.
"And now, Lady Medusa will recite her own vows," the Cardinal said.
She cleared her throat nervously, and tried to brush down her snakes through her veil. One of the snakes hissed angrily, causing the audience to let out a nervous gasp. Medusa dropped her notes. Before she had a chance to reach for them, King Midas was on bended knee, picking them up for her. He looked up and pressed them tenderly into her hand. It was his smile, though, that soothed her nerves. Confident and reassuring.
"My beloved lord," she began, her voice quavering. "You fled your kingdom, fearing yourself a monster, and found me in a cave, a true monster. But you refused to see that. You found my pain, and made me whole. I swear I will always hold your hand. When you are afraid, I will comfort you. When you are brave, I will caution you. And when you love me, I will love you. Together, we will build the lives we were denied when alone."
The Cardinal nodded his head approvingly. "Well said, Lady Medusa. If any object to this union, speak now, or forever hold your peace."
"I object!" Perseus shouted from the middle of the audience, jumping to his feet. He unsheathed a sword and advanced on the couple.
"What manner of foolishness is this!" King Midas demanded, moving between the sword wielding maniac and his betrothed.
Perseus gave the King an angry glare. "That monster must be put down so I might prove my worth and save my mother from marriage to a brigand."
King Midas looked around the room, checking to see if everyone else heard the same thing he did. "You... you really want to murder someone for the glory of it? That's your whole thing?"
"It is the gods' will!" Perseus responded defiantly.
"The gods are nuts! They cursed me forever with a golden touch just to try to teach me some lesson about vanity. Don't you realize how insane that is? Or cursing this beautiful woman for the crime of being raped by Poseidon! Seriously, why would you take anything the gods have to say seriously?"
Perseus faltered. "Well, they're, uh, they're the gods. So, aren't I supposed to..."
King Midas advanced on Perseus. "'Supposed to' is entirely up to you, young man. Your fate is yours for the making. The gods may challenge it, but it is in our answer to those challenges that we find out who we are."
Perseus lowered his sword. "You're... you're right. Why should I listen to the mad ramblings of self-centered gods?"
Three bolts of lightning crashed down, electrocuting Perseus, King Midas, and Medusa. "Because I said so," Zeus answered.