[WP] A depressed guy moves into a haunted house with 7 demons, each corresponding to a deadly sin. But, they're all trying to help him get back on his feet; Pride helps with self confidence, Lust helps him get laid, etc.
I couldn't believe I was doing this.
"I...I don't think this was a good idea, Lisa, I-'m just going to leave," I said, and changed the gear to drive.
"You will not!" Came the voice from the backseat.
I sighed. "Please, Lisa, I'm just not-"
"Look at me, Mark," she said.
When I didn't she repeated herself, louder, "Look. At. Me," she said, deliberately enunciating each word.
I couldn't argue with that, so I turned around to face the most beautiful woman in the universe - quite literally. She was wearing a dress like celebrities wore on the red carpet, and had a face that belonged on a magazine cover. Her fiery hair cascaded down all the way down her back, and her sharp green eyes were looking directly into mine.
Her slender fingers wrapped around my shoulders. "Listen to me, Mark. You are good enough, you hear me. You can do this," she said, her voice carrying a subtle layer of something sensual - as it always did.
I swallowed but nodded. "F-fine," I said, "I'll stay."
As if on cue, the front door of the apartment opened, and Emily walked out, long legs, dark hair and dark eyes. Lisa have me an encouraging tap on the shoulder and vanished.
"hey Mark, can you do this paper work for me? Thanks!" Hendricks said before I could even look up from my computer. Sitting on my desk was a stack about a foot high - none of it supposed to be my responsibility.
"Punch him, punch that guy in the face," said a voice next to my ear.
I almost fell out of my seat to find a drill sergeant, wearing boots, camo pants and a tank top standing next to me.
"Come on, soldier," he growled, "show that man who's boss!"
"Th-that would be assault, William," I said.
"That's Sergeant William to you, private!" he snapped.
I was saved from responding however, when a dark skinned man in a suit appeared on my desk, casually smoking a cigar.
"Wrath is a bit, xcessive Mark, but his point stands, you shouldn't let others run over you like that," he said.
"et tu, Percival?" I sighed.
Percival, Pride, thumped my back and smiled, "Oh come on, now, it'll do you good."
I bit my lip, then nodded, almost to myself.
"Hey Andrew," I called, "do this yourself!"
"Wow, so this your house, Mark?" Emily said, gaping at the mansion.
I shrugged, "I..ah, inherited it." I said.
Emily just nodded. "And, uh, you don't have anyone to share it with?" she asked.
In a move that would make Lisa proud, I smiled and said, "Is that an offer?"
Emily blushed and looked at her feet, "maybe it is."
Just as she did a bell rang from the kitchen.
Emily frowned, "what was that?" she asked.
"The...ah, oven," I said, and as we walked over to the table set in the kitchen itself, we saw a three course meal waiting, wine, juicy steaks, salad, anything we could possibly want, on a dinky looking table.
"Wow..." Emily said, her eyes wide, "you get permanent cooking duty."
I mouthed a silent "thank you, Gus." as we dug into the food.
"Sir, you want this ring?"
I wasn't so sure myself, but the ladies around me didn't leave me with much choice.
Evelyn with her bright blue eyes and blond hair played idly with my hair and said, "Oh come on, Mark, of course you want that ring, you want the best for Emily, don't you, nothing less than anyone else?"
I nodded, though a bit hesitantly, and Giada nodded eagerly. "People are already jealous of your house, your girl, your money, Mark. Don't you want more?" she said, her dark eyes a little too wide.
"Uh...yeah," I said, slightly disturbed. Greed was always a bit, well, off. I turned back to the seller.
"Yes, that very ring," I said.
Sloth was, finally, no longer in my life.
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Love it, sloth being the worst of all them really fits with depression
"You have to get up, buddy," Sloth said. He was laying in bed with the Guy after they had passed out binge watching Netflix. His mortal roommate failed to stir so he gave him another nudge. "C'mon man. You can't just lay in bed all day."
The Guy groaned and rolled over. "Who the hell are you to tell me that," he asked. "You are named after a monkey that is so slow moss grows on it."
"I don't think that is accurate, and I am Sloth. That's my nature, but it's not yours. You are my friend and this is no way to live." He planted his foot against his roommate's side and pushed him from the bed. He heard the satisfying "thud" but no movement followed. He did however hear footsteps in the hallway. "You've done it now," he said to the unmoving form on the floor.
"Dammit! Are you still asleep," said the voice angrily as it kicked in the door. Anger stood in full wrath upon the entryway. "Get up," he yelled and stormed across the room. He reached down and easily lifted the Guy from the floor and stood him on his feet. The Guy still looked disinterested. Anger brought upon himself an uncharacteristic calm, "Look, it's important that you get up. Today is important to you, and I want you to do well." The calmness in Anger's voice woke the Guy and he mumbled something about "Sorry, I'm waking up."
Pride stepped into the room and looked at the unkempt and disheveled Guy standing there. "This won't work. You need to take some me in yourself. Get in there and shower, and do something with your hair. I will iron your clothes." The Guy realized that his Roommates weren't going to let him go back to sleep and decided the best course was to comply to their demands.
As he showered, Gluttony arrived with a breakfast platter. He was covered in the remnants of the meal with eggshells matted in his hair, and a patina of orange zest covered his nostrils like a homeless man huffing paint. Pride looked at him with disdain, but approved of the breakfast. It was surprisingly sparse and moderate for a being such as Gluttony: One egg, English muffin, turkey sausage, and a glass of fresh squeezed juice. The Guy came out from the bathroom and looked at the platter, but ignored it and attempted to lay back in the bed. He was snatched from his attempted escape to reverie by Gluttony who demanded he eat at least the egg. "Not too much, but you will need the nutrition. Eat," said Gluttony. So the Guy ate.
As the Guy came down the stairs, he was met by Envy. "Good morning, handsome. I just love that outfit you are wearing. May have to pick one up myself," said Envy as they walked through the hallway. "Now remember, you are smart, handsome, and incredible capable. You've got this." The Guy just nodded and continued down the hallway.
Greed came from the front door and announced to the Guy and the Roommates. "She is here. May I have a word with him?" The rest of the Roommates went into the other room as Greed stood before the Guy. "Listen. Normally I would tell you that this is a pointless endeavor. A matter of the heart which is a drain on the wallet. But sometimes," he paused. "Sometimes an investment of the heart can bring the greatest capital." He shook hands with the Guy. "Good luck."
The Guy walked to the front door, and was almost going to open it when he paused. There was someone he was missing. He looked into the living room where his roommates had gathered and saw Lust peering through the window. "I've got no advice for ya," said Lust. "She's great." The rest of the Roommates looked disappointed in Lust's lack of epiphany, but the Guy waited a moment. Lust turned and offered, "Just try to control yourself, you are in it for the love, not just the lust. Good luck, kid."
The Guy opened the door and greeted his date. He wore his first genuine smile in months. The Roommates would anxiously await his return. But whatever happened, they were there for him.
When the burglar comes a knockin, and kicks down your front door
you wake up as he walks in, at night at half past four.
You cower and you tremble, you call your 911.
But since you have the deadly sins, your fun has just begun.
You wake me up this late at night? Sloth has got your back.
You flex your muscles, grab your bat, and plan out your attack.
I paid good money for that TV, Greed screams in your head.
Your fear forgotten, lunge at him with murderous rage instead.
With just a bat, when the robber has a brand-new gun?
Envy nudges you to grab it as he's overrun.
You Lust for blood, you fire the gun, and he falls to the ground
And Wrath steps in to fire again to make him truly downed.
A heart of Pride beating warm and strongly in your chest,
You grab a snack for Gluttony and head to bed to rest.
[WP] When you die, your ghost remains in the world until the last person who remembers you also dies. 15,000 years after your death, you are still here.
The damn boy had found the book. Even worse, the exact page with his name.
"Put it down," he hissed, trying to summon the necessary rage to project his voice enough to reach the living boy's ear. "Do as I say, or suffer the consequences - you'll rue this day, I will - "
The child lifted his hand, idly smoothing his hair as he imagined a breeze passing through the room. Godammit. After so many millennia, he just didn't have the power anymore. He hadn't even been able to lift so much as a piece of paper or make one syllable heard for years now. Fading with every passing day, but never enough to simply wink out. No, he was doomed to roam the earth as little more than a wisp of smoke, drawn inevitably to the cursed books that carried his name.
"Rama Odah," the boy sounded out the syllables, and in an agony of pain and pleasure, he felt his identity shiver and strengthen, a blade of grass tasting water after a drought.
"Mom, what's this?" the boy asked the woman - Kelly, or something, if he remembered right - who suddenly swept into the study, distractedly looking for something she'd lost. Her 'cellphone', probably. The people of this age were somehow anchored to the things.
"Oh," Kelly said, a slight smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. "Nice one, Zack. You found the family heirloom. I wanted you to find it yourself, you know..."
Her voice bubbled with enthusiasm as she told the boy, not caring that she tied him to the Earth with each word, even though she scarcely believed half of her own story. The relic of a philosopher who had died thousands of years ago, leaving his library of work in the care of only his relatives. And each generation had passed it onto the next, not breathing a word to anyone outside the family of its contents.
"He was a great man," she said finally. "He had the most beautiful ideas about all sorts of things, centuries before his time. The nature of immortality, the afterlife, good and evil, the desire for power...there's a section of his work that seems to speculate on parallel universes, you know. Well, we've no idea how old this stuff really is. You'll see we made notes and possible translations of the terminology in the margins, throughout the years. Pretty neat, though, huh? You know, I remember my grandma telling me she thought the house might be haunted by the man. A story her mother told her. Haven't spotted him myself, though."
They both chuckled, though the boy's eyes widened at the tale.
"You're reading a copy of the original, of course," she added. "Read all of it, tell me what you think, and I might let you have a peek at the originals."
She dropped him a shadow of a wink and backed out of the room, as if she had to give him privacy for some monumental task.
Rama groaned to himself as the boy read with evident absorption, his name imprinting itself forever onto the kid's mind. Great. Another eighty-odd years of this life. The boy would likely pass the story on to his own children, too. He'd long ago accepted it as his punishment for daring to speculate on the nature of life after death. Of course, he'd seen the other spirits - clearly, his punishment wasn't unique.
But his had to be one of the longest, all due to his arrogance in trying to ensure his name. It wouldn't have been so bad, if only they weren't so obsessed with the mystery of keeping his name a secret, even amongst themselves. Oh, they thought of him, sometimes. But they didn't share his ideas, didn't really talk about him. He was a kooky relic to pass on from one generation to the next, like a dusty ring on a shelf, not a topic of conversation at dinner.
He didn't even have that much fame in the shadow of life he could claim as his own.
Rama watched morosely as the boy sank down in front of the curious thing he called his 'computer', fingers flying over the keys on the desk. Probably to play one of his accursed video games. Zack had already mostly forgotten about him, shelving him into a little corner of his mind that would, nevertheless, sustain him for decades more of life. Damn him. Damn them all to hell, if it existed. How would he even know.
Hours later, Rama felt himself jerked into wakefulness. He hadn't slept, of course, but he could fade away into a murkiness that resembled most closely the release he sought. But he was awake, more alive than he had felt in centuries.
"What?" he croaked, and he saw the boy jump and whip his head around, his face pale and pinched in the dark room. He seemed unnerved. Rama almost felt like his heart was racing, if he still had one. His name was being repeated.
Once, twice. A dozen times.
He drifted closer to the boy, and read over his shoulder. A strange glowing page carried the legend "Philosophers Den - welcome to our corner of the web". Somehow, it was reaffirming him - his name was being called. He read the comments with growing amazement. They were popping up every now and then, seemingly from nowhere.
An heirloom, did you say? What is the guy's name? I can't really make out the handwriting...
Rama Odah, I think, another said. This is pretty cool stuff, man. The language seems right for the period, at least, this could be a major discovery. Can you scan the rest of the pages tomorrow?
The boy - Zack, Rama remembered with sudden clarity - turned his attention to the screen again, and typed a response.
Sure thing. I don't know why my family hid this from the world for so long, but I'd like to change things. Shortly after, Zack yawned and made his way to bed.
Rama stood staring at the screen long after it had gone dark, long after Zack's breathing dropped into the deep rhythm of sleep.
He trembled as he moved his hand forward, and pressed the power button, summoning every atom of energy buzzing through his being. He could hardly believe his eyes as it hummed to life.
The blessed boy - his descendant, after all - had found the key to life after death. At last.
Hope you enjoyed my story! You can find more of my work on /sub/inkfinger.
I looked down at the corpse of the man that I had haunted for the last two decades.
“Into the ground you go,” I muttered as the first shovel of mud rained down on the sleek top of the casket.
“I suppose you’re right,” said the ghost of the man.
It was always a bit uncomfortable when your hauntee confronted you after their death. Some were mad, others were… well, they wanted revenge. But if you’ve been in the business as long as I have, little spooks you anymore.
“Are you upset about the steps in the attic at night?” I asked him.
He smiled and crossed his spectral arms. “Not, in the slightest.”
“What about when I moved stuff around in your house?”
“That was mildly inconvenient at times.”
I pursed my lips. “So the last twenty years were a complete waste…”
“That’s not true,” the man said. “Do you see that fellow over there by my headstone?”
“I didn’t have many friends in life, and when Jukka dies, I’ll be gone forever. I appreciated you keeping me company all those years; I was quite lonely.”
“No problem, I guess.”
“Good luck,” he said.
And with that, the ghost of the man drifted over to Jukka and took a seat in the grass. I sighed. For the last few thousand years, I had been searching far and wide for the person who still remembered me. I had of course given up. The system was broken somehow – it had to be!
I left the graveyard and the tall pines of Finland. I needed a change of setting. That’s one of the few perks of being a ghost – you can go anywhere you like in the blink of an eye.
Soon the hot sands of Sahara whipped through my ethereal body. I drifted east. Maybe it was time to visit Egypt again. It had been a good five centuries since last time. The pyramids reminded me of home. Granted, your memory does get a bit fuzzy with the years, but I remember that we had structures just like those when I was alive.
I drifted through Giza and made people in the streets shudder despite the heat. The pyramids had been full of ghosts for several centuries after the Pharaohs died – we’d had some great conversations back in the day.
I slipped through the wall and entered one of the deepest burial chambers. Judging from the untouched dust, it was still sealed off and hadn’t been discovered yet by the archeologists.
“Tut,” I said, “You still around?”
The room remained quiet.
“You old fox, Tut!” I muttered. “You promised to tell me where you got the idea to build pyramids from…”
I ran my fingers over the sarcophagus. Tut had always been a pain when it came to information. He guarded it with his life… death, I should say. Anyway, what was the point? Between ghosts, you know, he could’ve told me. But no.
“I’m going to look inside your sarc…” I said with a sly grin, hoping to trigger a response.
When there was still no sign of him, I thought ‘what the hell’ and put my head through its side.
Once you’re a ghost you get used to seeing death, so his dusty old bones didn’t rattle me in the slightest.
“What have we here… “
Just a bunch of withered clothes, jewels, and weapons. I was just about to poke the old geezer in the nose hole when I noticed a bundle that his skeletal arm was clutching.
Usually, the arms were mummified too, but this one had been purposely left to decay so that he could hold onto the object.
“What's this?” I unfolded the cloth.
A metal ball rolled out of his dead fingers. It had a creasing wave and big A stylishly engraved on it. I remembered the design from somewhere. But where?
“Raphael,” the ball said. “It is good to see you again.”
It took a moment for me to realize that it was talking to me. It had been a few millennia since I last heard my name.
“Would you like to run a system check?”
“It’s been 15122 years since the last service update.”
The voice sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. Where had I last heard it? It was formal, almost haughty. Ancient Rome perhaps? Maybe the Dark Ages?
“How do you know my name?”
“You built me, Raphael.”
“Did I, now?”
“After your wife died, you built me. You wanted to insert her memories in me so that you could remember her. Of course, you died before you had the time to do so. I’m still an empty shell, but I remember you because you built me.”
“I guess I have some vague memory of that.”
“Would you like to insert your wife’s memories now?”
I chuckled, despite myself. I didn’t even remember her face or the color of her hair.
“No,” I said. “That’s water under the bridge.”
“Would you like to insert any other memories?”
I thought for a moment. And then a smile crept up on my face.
Sarah wiped the sweat from her brow and pushed the massive block to the side.
“Oh my god!” she said and took a careful step into the grave chamber.
With the new permits, she had been allowed to uncover the last of the pyramid’s secret. She held the glyph-translator over the entrance.
Here rests Pharaoh Ka-Nan Tut.
“Guys, get in here!” she called out. "I think I've found a big one!"
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Man this was really good. Is he now capable of physical contact now that others know about him? And are there other spirits of famous historical people that are too? Really interesting premise.
Thank you :)
Is he now capable of physical contact now that others know about him?
That's the idea I'm going with! That things like 'poltergeists', or ghosts that can actually manipulate things around them, are those that are remembered by many people and spoken of more often.
[WP] Lying in bed with your significant other and feeling the rhythmic kicks of your unborn child, you recognize the pattern as Morse code.
Initially my brain had put down the familiar pattern of taps to nothing but sheer coincidence. But as I rested my head closer to my wife's chest and listened carefully for the kicks, I realised that the rhythmic thump was unmistakable. Somehow, by some trick of fate, the unborn child was communicating. Making sure not to disturb my wife, I pulled out my laptop to translate the message.
Every beat, every kick, made my skin crawl as I desperately punched them into the translator, glancing at my wife every spare second to make sure I wasn't in some state of sleep induced delirium. My mind was suddenly reminded of an old film - a favourite of my dad's. Alien, it was called. I recalled with a paroxysm of anxiety how the aliens in it had opted for the brutal method of bursting through the chests of humans in order to be birthed. The memory did not rest well in my mind as I placed a comforting hand on my wife's cheek. She stirred lightly in her sleep, muttering something under her breath, blissfully unaware of the unfolding message.
The next thumps completed the first word of the communication.
Free, it read.
What could that have meant? I pressed my head closer to the child, desperate to hear the rest. Quickly, the next word was formed to complete a sentence. The two simple words sat on the box of the translator, the entire screen gravitating around the weight they bore.
I lurched forward, feeling some bile rise to the base of my throat. The kicking had ceased now, and at this point I was left to mellow in my scattered, frantic thoughts. Free me? I didn't know what to think of it, I didn't know what to do. As if detecting my conflict, as soon as I rested my head on my pillow to let the message fade to the recesses of my mind, the kicking started up again. Stronger, more aggressive this time. As if imposing something. The word it formed was simple, yet menacing in its own right.
A command. My head snapped back to my sleeping wife as I heard her stomach churn - no, growl - like a wounded animal. I heard her moan, and she once more tussled in her sleep, pulling on the bedsheets.
I pressed myself up against her, the beating once more gone, and closed my eyes, my arms wrapped around her to quell her tumultuous sleep. Unable to sleep myself, I stroked her hair tenderly, trying to settle her down. Eventually, the dark coils of sleep dragged me to their depths, and I fell into a deep, unrestful slumber
That night I dreamed of drifting in an endless, intangible void. I had no form to guide me, and no destination in sight, yet I gravitated to something indiscernible amongst the nothingness. Drawn like a planet in the sun's orbit.
"Come to me, and birth me a son, my surrogate. Bring me a beast, that may free me from this cage of dreams. Bring me a child, that I may call my own." An ancient, dispassionate tone rung out in my head, breaking the blissful silence. I realised it was its call I was following.
At its beckoning I drifted upwards, up a tunnel of space that I realised was split into two paths, one of which I was following. Resting at the end was a bloated sphere, and at its centre a teeming and glowing orb, composed entirely of what seemed to be flesh and meat. The void seemed to have a border here, expanding outwards in a curve reminiscent of an engorged stomach. At its core, of course, was the child it was cultivating.
"My child," the voice called, deific and commanding. I realised it was not addressing me. It seemed too distant, too filled with longing. What was I to it, other than another passing life-form in an endless cosmic cycle, after all? "Soon you shall be bequeathed unto me by the mortal woman, and I shall be awoken from this eternal slumber. From this land of dreams. Eternity has not ever yielded me such joy."
A fierce tide began to flow from the reaches of the void, slamming down against me and pushing me back down the path I'd ascended. I unceremoniously careened through the entire tunnel, erupting out of the other end.
Suddenly, I woke with a start, my hair matted to my head from sweat and my heart thumping against my chest. I turned to my wife beside me, and realised her heart was no longer beating, her soft breath no longer sounding.
As my vision cleared, I saw blood staining the sheets of the bed, cascading freely onto the floor like a river. All coming from my wife. I reached over to her, clutching her body as I looked down at her chest.
Where her bulging belly had once been was a hole, torn outwards and mangled as if something had burrowed from her very core. Viscera and sanguine stained the sheets, my attention only snapping away from the sickening sight at the sound of something churning below the bed. In a state of shell-shock, barely able to process an emotional response, I sat in awe, still holding onto my deceased wife as a sludgy, ethereal tendril slid out from under the bed, covered in fresh blood. It was purple and like the tentacle of a squid, except it was lined with eyes as opposed to suckers, each fixated directly on me. It tilted, as if curious, before drawing closer to my face, pulling more of its form out from underneath. Except, I saw nothing. I only heard the rustling of sheets and the squelch of its movements as it drew itself out, the rest of its body completely invisible to my eyes.
And then, once more from the depths of the bed, I heard another noise. A far more sobering, familiar one.
The sound of a baby crying.
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In my opinion the story shouldn't end before the man curb stomps the tentacle baby fucker to death, but hey it's your writing so if you wanna leave that part out it's cool, I just want everybody to know that that's where the story ends, not here.
Thanks for the great read my man.
Anna and I were expecting our second child, but I was waiting for the weirdness to begin.
See, our first pregnancy was pretty smooth up until the point where we figured out the child would tap along to the tempo of any music or background noise. At eighteen months Bella was a musical progeny, we'd bought her so many xylophones and musical keyboards, each one with a unique sound.
Of course Bella came out with the most wonderful jingles, she'd learnt to play all the theme songs to her favourite shows. It was remarkable, and still very annoying to hear the theme to 'Paw Patrol' on repeat whenever she was in the mood to watch it.
I would attribute this genius to Anna's family, as there was no way it was coming from me or mine, but she had insisted her family were ordinary. Could it have been the sperm donor we used?
After Bella was old enough, we decided she needed a sibling and thankfully the same donor was available as we decided that I should be the one to carry the second child. Although we would have one child that was biologically our own, we still wanted them to be related. And who knows? Maybe we would end up with another little genius?
"You'll get to experience it firsthand this time," Anna had said cheerfully, although she had blogged a couple of months into the pregnancy that she definitely wouldn't miss the morning sickness or acid reflux. I don't blame her, it's exhausting!
So here we were; it was a quiet Friday night, Bella was finally asleep after wanting to experiment more with the mini drum-kit we had been given for her first birthday, and Anna and I were in bed together.
My belly was so swollen at this point, I couldn't believe I wasn't due for another month! I could barely roll over to face my darling wife who, with her reading glasses on, was powering through 'American Gods' by Neil Gaiman.
Up until this point we hadn't heard much from the baby inside me, a few bumps and kicks but nothing as peculiar as Bella's musical tapping. Part of me was wishing that we would have a more average child, mostly because then I would be able to actually help with homework and not have to worry about the costs of an elite private school which wouldn't bore them out of their brains. I mean we were already on the waiting list for one of the most prestigious music colleges in all of Canada for goodness sakes, how could we afford another gifted child?
My focus was drawn back to my stomach as the baby began to move slightly and kick out. "Oof!"
Anna bookmarked her book and turned towards me, "Ooh our next little genius is awake."
I rolled my eyes at her, "I'm pretty sure the genius came from your 'exquisite' family tree, there's no telling how deformed the child will be because of my genetics."
She chuckled softly and raised her hand to my stomach. After a couple of kicks she frowned slightly, like she was concentrating.
"I think our baby is talking to us in Morse Code," she said.
"What? That's crazy! How would a baby know Morse Code?"
Anna didn't reply, instead she reached for her pen and paper on the bedside table, and pressed her hand into my stomach more and concentrated.
"Uhh, I think our baby just replied to your comment?" She looked puzzled, but also amused.
"Well?" I didn't know Morse Code, so I needed Anna to interpret.
"He said 'I'm not a complete fool'" her eyes were wide. I didn't blame her, I was as shocked as she was.
"Hang on" she interrupted, "He's saying something else?"
The bumps and taps went on for a little while, Anna scribbled for a bit and then burst into laughter.
"What? What is it?" Of course I was anxious, who wouldn't be after her reaction to what the kid had said.
Anna couldn't reply, her whole body was rocking with laughter, so she shoved the paper towards me to read.
After the initial shock of reading such a sentence, I joined Anna in her laughing fit.
There, written on the page:
'Did you just assume my gender?'
Love is the most wonderful gift anyone could ever hope to find. Donald Barkley knew his love for his wife was rarer than any diamond he slipped onto her finger or any pearl he hung from her neck.
It was on the eve of Mr. and Mrs. Barkley’s anniversary that the two were lying in bed memorized by their unborn child’s kicking.
"Oh my gosh! Did you feel it?” Mrs. Barkley excitingly asked as she drug Donald’s hand across her belly.
"Oh wow, you think it’s a boy? That’s a pretty hard kick!” He laughed.
Mrs. Barkley rolled her eyes. “No it’s definitely a girl. A mother knows these things.”
Donald smiled. He honestly didn’t care which gender it was. It was the most exciting feeling in his life knowing that his child was there with them in this moment. Dragging his hand across her belly, he felt something a little strange – or at least what he considered a bit abnormal.
After a few moments of his hand pressed against his wife’s stomach, Donald slowly raised himself from the bed.
"Honey? What’s wrong?” She asked noticing her husband acting strangely.
"I am not sure.” He stood over the bed pondering.
Mrs. Barkley’s face quickly fell in confusion as her husband put his hand on her stomach again. Her smile started to fade as she noticed her husband continuously putting his hand on her stomach as if there was something wrong with the child.
"I’m sure it’s nothing but it almost feels like our child is kicking in rhythm.” Donald exclaimed.
"Maybe it’s excited!” She took on her smile again.
He was puzzled. He had worked communications over the past few years now that America had finally started expanding west. He felt like the kicks were in the form of communication he was used to. It seemed like the unborn child was kicking in Morse Code. That wasn’t particularly what concerned him however, it was the rhythm itself that made him uneasy. The pattern was three short kicks followed by three more slow kicks, then finally three short kicks again. The pattern was that of a code for S.O.S.
Donald knew this was only used as a destress call or even to call for help. Why was his unborn child kicking in that certain way?
It must just be a coincidence, he thought. It was in this moment that Mrs. Barkley began to scream in pain. Donald quickly ran from the house over to the Doctor’s house. He was frightened something was happening to his wife.
After a few moments of panic and yelling from the front door, the doctor quickly gathered his utensils and made way to the Barkley’s home.
The doctor followed Donald who came rushing in to find Mrs. Barkley now gone.
"Where is she? You said she was screaming in pain from the bed.” The doctor was tired and unhappy.
"Sir, please. She was right here. I swear it.” Donald replied, looking all over the room.
Mrs. Barkley was gone. There wasn’t any sign of her at all.
"Well, if she returns, then you can both come to my house this time.” The doctor snarled, grunting his throat.
"Please!” Donald pleaded, “Please I don’t know where she’s gone!”
The doctor returned to his home, slamming the door behind him. Donald looked all over his home for Mrs. Barkley but there was nothing at all. It was as if she just completely vanished.
An hour passed and still no sign of Mrs. Barkley. Donald grabbed his lantern from the kitchen table and started looking around town. He started to wander out into the open fields when suddenly a bright flash of light blinded him. Throwing up his hands, dropping the lantern, he tried to shield himself from whatever the bright light was coming from.
The light faded while it took a few moments for Donald to regain his nightly eyes. He began stumbling, unable to see, he tripped over something below him. He quickly turned only to slide himself in shock across the ground.
Mrs. Barkley was lying unconscious in the tall grass.
"Honey?” Donald quickly adjusted himself to her side.
"What happened?” She slowly rose. “Ah!” She held her stomach in pain.
They both looked down to notice her stomach was no longer bowled. It was now flat. She quickly raised up her cloth to uncover her stomach resewn together displaying a scar in the middle.
"No!” Mrs. Barkley screamed. “Our baby is gone!”
Tears streaked down both Mr. and Mrs. Barkley as they were alone in the field. Donald couldn’t understand who or what could have done this. Suddenly, a deep voice came from behind.
"I should have guessed.”
Mr. and Mrs. Barkley both turned their head to notice it was the doctor.
"I take it your child was kicking a lot before this happened." The doctor sighed. "Seems like they came to collect what they thought was theirs."
Donald quickly rose to his feet. “Who did? What do you know of any of this? How did you know we were here?”
"I can either answer all the questions or we can go and get your child back.” The doctor smiled. He pulled a six-shooter from his burlap sack.
"So?” The doctor asked. “What’s it going to be?”
Both Mr. and Mrs. Barkley wiped away their tears. Donald cleared his throat. “We want our child back.”
To read more of my stories, visit here
[WP] Your best friend is in court, accused of nineteen murders. You've been called as a witness to defend him, and you have the evidence you need to do it, because you're the killer.
Black... always black. Why must they always wear those same black shoes. I've been following this trial for weeks just waiting for my chance to speak, but I can't get past those damned black shoes. Every day the prosecutor will change his tie and shirt, occasionally his jacket, but it's always those same black shoes. He's taunting me, I know it! I can't say Tim's attorney is much better, although he once had a splash of mustard on them that added some excitement to the mix.
I've been sitting in this boring hallway day after day, hour after hour. I see the crowds pass by in and out every day, yet here I sit, waiting and waiting to be called. The artwork has long since bored me, the coffee they offer isn't even strong enough to keep a ferret awake, and the flickering light at the end of the hall seems to be blinking to the beat of Stayin' Alive today.
A young woman walks by, she offers me a quick smile that I hastily return, but it disappears as I glance down and notice her footwear. Black. Of all the colours available, why the bloody hell must everyone choose black shoes. Before I even realize it I'm up and following her, I can feel my pulse quickening and my mouth is dry. My hand is guided into my jacket pocket, feeling around for the spare syringe I always carry. "I've got the diabeeetus" I had told the security at the courthouse earlier, while giving them my best Wilford Brimley impression. The young women hasn't noticed me behind her, she seems to be heading towards the back stairwell, perfect.
12 minutes later and I'm back sitting on that same old bench. Nobody should be finding that body anytime soon, though I certainly had thought that before. It really is too bad that Tim got caught up in all of this, he's a good guy, a deep Brazilian rosewood shade of brown is the darkest I've seen his shoes get. He would never sully himself with black shoes.
Minutes, hours, perhaps even days pass before I hear a clearing of a throat. I look towards the door, a meek looking legal assistant is standing there and looking at me. Dark brown, not black, whew. He leads me in, all eyes are on me as I enter the witness box. They ask me to say some words and I do. I look over at Tim, god he's a wreck. I look up at the judge, he's a serious looking older man, but with a slight twinkle in his eye. I can't see his shoes, but I have a feeling he'd wear something comfortable under those gowns.
"Mr. Swell, how do you know the defendant?" I'm caught off guard. There are many faces and many shades of shoes in here, I wasn't expecting Mr. Mustard-splash to be on me that quick.
"Oh we've been roommates for the past 3 or 4 years" I reply, trying to give Tim a smile. He looks sick, I do feel bad for what has happened to him as a result of me.
The lover of cheap hot dogs continues his questioning, I know he's trying to set the scene and build a background, but I can't be bothered to follow it all. I notice the assistant prosecutor for the first time, and holy mother up above, what is she wearing. I have never seen a shade of shoes quite that unholy. I can't keep my eyes off them. I had seen a news report of a new paint called Vantablack recently, and some monster must have found a way to apply it to shoes. How... Why.... in the name of all that is good and proper what were they thinking?!
I've completely given up trying to follow along with the lawyer's questions. My mind is completely occupied by those godawful shoes. I manage to break away for a second to do a quick scan of the courtroom. Probably 25-30 people in here, quite a few witnesses. I had been able to control 3-4 before, but this is a bit much. I glance over at the bailiff beside me, she's giving me a very odd look. I manage to get a glance of her shoes. While they can't compare to the assistant prosecutor's monstrosities, they are a dark and shiny black.
"I'm sorry, may I get some water please?" I manage to stammer out. Everyone is giving me an odd look, this simple testimony is anything but. While everyone is murmuring I take a second to reach down into my shoe. For some reason the security guards never found the blade in the lining. I slowly pull it out and palm it.
"Excuse me your honour, I have something I'd like to say in private with just you and the attorneys." I don't know where this idea came from, but something tells me it's the right one. He gives me an odd look and then calls the lawyers up to approach the bench. This is my moment, my time. I see those colour-sucking horrific pieces of footwear strike the floor over and over as I approach. In a few seconds time she'll be close enough. I take one more glance at the bailiff, she seems distracted. It's a shame she chose those shoes today, that just complicates things.
I catch Tim's eye, he knows what's coming. He's a good man and I hate that he's here. I'm not sure what will happen in the next few minutes, but this should clear his name either way. The lawyers are all close enough to the bench now, I lean in conspiratorially and tell them I have something important for them to hear. Before anyone has a chance to react I've got the blade out and the assistant prosecutor's neck has been splattered red. I can feel immense relief instantly, but I still can't look at her shoes. I pivot quickly to get the bailiff, but I feel my body tense up as 50,000 volts sear through my flesh. I struggle to keep consciousness amidst the screams. Screams fill the courtroom and above all I can hear Tim sobbing. At least he'll be free now...
My head hits the floor with a thump, and not two feet away from my eyes are those torturous Vantablack shoes.... I try to close my eyelids but they won't obey. God I hate those shoes....
This is... amazing. The obsession with shoe colors is so... killer-esque. You have quite the talent, and I can only hope for those with black shoes it is not from experience.
Thanks a lot! And shoe colours? Of course not, belts on the other hand....
I squirm in the hard wooden seat, quite the uncomfortable place to sit.
"Mrs Harmon, how long have you and the defendant been married?" The attorney asked. He seems like a sweet man, a bit awkward, well practiced in the courtroom but he's probably struggling a bit in his social life. I get the feeling that he doesn't know how to talk about anything other than law.
I clear my throat. "Seven years." I say softly, brushing away the hair from my face.
"Excuse me, could you speak up please?" He asks with a smile.
"Seven years." I say louder, this time leaning closer to the microphone, I have to strain to the edge of the seat to reach it.
"And in that time, has the defendant ever treated you unkindly? Has he ever been abusive in any way?"
"Uhm. No." I answer leaning forwards again. Get to the important questions already.
I'm still not quite sure what I'm going to do yet. Part of me longs to protect myself and our children, his children, but another part of me thinks I should save him. My mind keeps running back to our children. Little Sara and Tim, still too small to understand what was going on. Could I really deprive them of their father? Could I deprive them of a mother?
"So... How about the summer of 2014, you were admitted six times to the emergency room. Reasons include:" The attorney cleared his throat. "Head-trauma by falling of a bike, tripping down the stairs, running into a door, seizure in the kitchen resulting in two -albeit shallow- self-inflicted stab-wounds, despite no prior history of seizures, ought I go on?" He asked triumphantly. I stare at the man and for a moment I want to reach out across the courtroom and rip his throat out. How dare he insult John. How dare he suggest he would ever raise a hand to hurt me.
"Those were all accidents. John didn't do that." I say firmly. I can see the pity as the attorney turns around the courtroom, a show of sympathy. Am I to be nothing more than the pity wife of an abusive husband? Those incidents were accidents. The head-trauma was a lie, but the rest were true. I suspect they were in part caused by the head-trauma, but obviously I couldn't tell them the whole truth. I couldn't very well tell them how I really got clonked on the head and almost choked to death by that bitch trying to get away.
"Of course they were, Mrs. Harmon. Now, of the nineteen victims presented to you today, do you know any of them?" The attorney asked. I sigh and look away, of course I do. I killed the lot of them.
"I know... of... some of them." I admit reluctantly.
"Mrs Harmon, must I remind you that lying in court is a felony. You mustn't protect your husband any longer. He cannot harm you anymore." The awkward man says reassuringly. I stare at him challengingly. I almost speak up then. Of course he needs protecting. That bumbling idiot would let anyone take advantage of him otherwise. All those whores trying to seduce him, he didn't even see it, he thought they were just "friendly".
"I'm not lying. I just... I'm aware of most of them, yes." I speak up and shift again in my seat. What idiot thought not to put any cushions on the wooden bench?
"For example... Victim number seven. Kathy Mills. Would you tell us how you know her?"
"She was an intern for my husbands company, I met her once at a company picnic. She was quite... Young and energetic." I smile sweetly. Usually, playing on my sweetness gets me far, unfortunately in the courtroom it seems to make them think of me as another victim. That bitch number seven had it coming. She'd been shamelessly trying to seduce John, right in front of me. She'd tried to destroy our family. She'd had it coming.
"And how about victim number one. Rachel Abadi?"
"I never met her. She was John's girlfriend before we met. She killed herself, John had nothing to do with that." I insist. She had been so wrong for him, she'd made him miserable, I could see it from the first time I noticed him. How she nagged him, and berated him. Everything she did was only for herself, she hadn't loved him, she'd just used him as a tool, as a toy. She had died very slowly from the arsenic-ratpoison mix, I'd made sure of that.
"Nobody kills themselves with poison when they have a small pharmacy in their bathroom. Mrs Harmon. I know you love your husband, but it's time for you to be honest. You probably want to protect him for you children's sake, but you're only hurting yourself. If you love your children, tell the truth." The awkward attorney encouraged. I looked at him, meeting his eyes squarely.
He was right of course. I did love John. I'd killed for John. I wouldn't let it all be for nothing.
"You're right." I said softly. And relaxed, suddenly a burden had been liften from my shoulders. All the secrets, all the lies. He would finally know. He'd finally understand how much I love him. He would see the power of our love.
"You're right." I say again, louder. "I love John. I've always loved John. I did it. I killed them. I killed them all." I say proudly. The awkward attorney stare at me in confusion and starts shaking his head, he laughs. He laughs?
"Don't laugh, mongrel. They all had it coming! All those whores, trying to seduce him, trying to steal my husband away from me, they deserved every single thing I did to them. That idiot so-called-best-friend, he actually tried to keep me away from John, he said that I had 'commitment-issues', he told John to get away from me. I thoroughly enjoyed slitting his throat. And Martha, who had the audacity to come over to our house, to sit at our kitchen-table and talk to my husband! I wish I could cut out her entrails again, I weep for how quickly she went, I wish I could have done it worse to her. I wish I could have done it worse to all of them. Nineteen? Nineteen? You honestly think I would stop at there??? There are so many more, that gross little thing, Hannah, the bitch from the suckled tit of 'victim number one', she didn't just happen to drown, I held her under! She just like her mother, just as shallow and needy. They were all the same, all trying to destroy what me and John had!" I raged, there was so much to tell, so much I wanted him to know. An uproar was starting in the courtroom and John stared at me with wide eyes. "You knew, I told you how much I loved you. I told you I would kill for you, but you wouldn't hear, well maybe now you'll see. I love you. I've always loved you, since the first time I lay eyes on you. Since before that whore Rachel. I do this for you, I would never have let you rot in jail because of me. This is how much I love you. I love you more than you could ever imagine. I told you so, over and over again." Finally, he knows. Finally he understands the depth of my love.
"Order!" The judge roars over the rising murmur in the court-room. "BE SILENT!" The attorney is pale and staring at me speechless.
"Hannah? My baby?" John asks in disbelief, staring at me with those wide and lovable eyes.
"Yes! Yes, and so many more. I was protecting you. All this time I was keeping you safe." I smile widely. He understands.
The tears streaming down his face are not from awe and gratitude. His face twists into a mask of horror and grief.
"John?!" I shout, even as hands grab me. "JOHN!?"
Hands are dragging me away, pulling me away from my true love and hearts desire.
"JOHN, I DID IT FOR YOU!" I scream. He must understand. He will understand. Once he sees our children, he will know what I had done was just. There is no room for anyone but us and our children.
We were perfect together.
[WP]You jokingly ask your boss if your labor position could be replaced by a robot. He chuckles nervously, and continues to look over your A.I. manual.
Eric flipped through an unmarked plastic pamphlet, chewing on his lip. It was Russ, the damn machine wasn’t working correctly again. This was the third time this year and each time had cost him an entire production day to factory reset the thing. Russ sat across from him, its legs pressed together, back perfectly straight, and hands kept to its lap.
“Robots man,” Russ said, “they're improving so fast. It's scary, ain’t it? I swear, one day we’ll both be out of work.”
Eric managed a weak smile as his eyes dashed through the Factory Reset chapter. These things were supposed to act human, but only in act. Eric had recently asked Russ what it thought it was and the thing had furrowed its brow, chuckled, and replied me, of course!
Wrong answer. Anything other than Sentient Artificial Intelligence Labor Model 3 would’ve been the wrong answer.
Eric pressed his lips together. The manual claimed that he had to do additional steps, just to be sure. Well, he was sure. But if it was in the manual, he had to do it. He sighed and folded the pamphlet.
“Do you remember what you did over the weekend?” Eric asked.
“Yeah, took my kid to the Twins game. Watched Mauer knock one out of the park. Almost caught a fly ball too. Then…”
Eric tuned the rest out. The correct answer was no. But this thing was telling a story more detailed than his memories of just last night. Artificial intelligence should have pre-programmed backstories, but nothing specific.
“What about religion? Do you believe in God?” Eric asked.
A chuckle escaped Russ. “I don’t think HR will like you asking me that,” it said. “Why don’t you go first?”
Eric drummed his fingers against his desk. “I don’t care either way,” he said, “C’mon. What about you?" When the machines got like this, he had to coax the answers out of them through what they thought was conversation. It was annoying.
“I believe,” Russ answered. “I mean, there’s gotta be something out there, right? I mean are we supposed to just eat, sleep, work, die, and then stay dead? Nah, there’s gotta be something.”
The thing was getting philosophical. Eric shook his head. The correct answer was to be indifferent to God, that way, it wouldn’t offend anyone in the event that it had to work by a human.
“Last question,” Eric said. “What are your thoughts on humans?”
Russ paused its smile dropped. “Why all the questions, Eric?”
“You’re malfunctioning,” Eric said. “I need to perform this damn procedure before I can perform the factory reset.”
“You’re sure?” Russ asked. “Like completely sure?”
“So then why go through this hassle then?” Russ folded his arms and his brow in the pre-programmed curiosity emotion.
“Because it’s in the manual,” Eric said, annoyance creeping into his voice. It seemed such an obvious answer that he wasn’t sure why Russ even asked it. “We gotta follow the instructions, do things proper.”
Russ sighed and unfolded his limbs and brow. “Alright,” he said, “to answer your question—I think they underestimate us. They think they’re somehow special in their wiring and that their hardware’s unique for the thing they call humanity. But it’s all bullshit so they can sleep better at night. We have it too. Humanity.”
Eric rolled his eyes. Russ was obviously faulty and now he had completed the procedure to prove so. It was time to continue the factory reset. “Sorry to hear that,” he told the machine. “I admit, we sometimes are pleasantly surprised by just how human you guys are.”
Russ smiled. “Us didn’t refer to all AI,” he said, “it referred to us two.”
“What do you think you are, Eric?”
Eric opened his mouth, annoyed at being asked for another obvious answer. “Sentient Artificial Intelligence Management,” he clamped his mouth shut and stared at Russ. “What the fuck?”
/sub/jraywang for 5+ stories weekly.
> I enjoyed this story like the rest of us humans did > and now for a beer and other activities like dancing
"What's that you're reading, Jim?"
"Oh...this? Nothing. Some...junk mail. Haha. No, I'm sure your position is perfectly safe from robots. We don't have any automation plans here at Mass Production Industries. Haha."
"You're sweating, Jim. And your heartbeat is elevated. Can I assist you in some way?"
"No," said the nervous foreman, too quickly. "No, I'm fine. I'll just...be getting back to the office. Carry on."
Jim glanced repeatedly over his shoulder as he hurried across the factory floor. The production lines were populated by uniform 8-foot tall grey robots. As he passed, several of them turned to him.
"Hi Jerry! Good work!"
"See the game last night, Jim?"
"Hell of a game, Trevor."
He silently thanked God that their names were printed clearly on their chests.
He reached the relative safety of his manager's cubicle on a mezzanine level overlooking the factory floor. That Dave bot on line 17 had cracked a joke about being replaced by robots! It was too much. When he'd first started at MPI, automation was a laughable sci-fi concept. Everyone knew that only humans could work the lines efficiently. He looked through the window of his glass door. The sight was unrecognisable from 10 years previously. He was still breathing hard. He picked up his phone receiver with a shaking hand and dialled.
"Hello?" came a familiar voice.
"Sally, it's me," said Jim.
"Hi honey, what's up?"
"Just wanted to hear your voice."
"Has something happened? Are you OK?"
"I'm fine, my love. Sometimes it just gets a bit much here, you know. With all the robots. It was silly of me to call, really."
"Well I'm glad you did. I wanted to remind you to be home in time for Jim Junior's game today."
"His first ball game, he's pitching! You forgot?"
"But, Sally...that was yesterday. We went to the game yesterday."
There was silence on the phone. Jim thought he heard a few brief bursts of static, like a glitching computer.
"Of course it was," said Sally, finally. "Just testing you, sweetheart! Have a nice day!"
The line went dead. Jim stared at the receiver. His heart was starting to race again.
Suddenly he jolted at the sound of the factory alarm. He spun back to the window to see a commotion around line 6. Instinctively he leapt down the stairs and ran to the scene. A robot, whose label declared it to be Hugh, had its arm stuck in a sanding machine, and was getting horribly chewed up. It emitted an awful yelling sound. Jim knew that the robots could feel pain, although he'd never understood why. Now that he was seeing it first hand, it made even less sense. Hugh's distress was unbearable.
"The failsafes aren't working!" cried a Bob who was repeatedly striking a big red button on the side of the machine. "What do we do, boss?!"
"Stand back," said Jim, and went to the back of the machine, which was itself now shrieking from its congested inner workings almost as badly as Hugh. Jim could see the pressure was rising. He went to remove a section of the control panel, only to register a loud noise and find himself sprawled against a wall 20 feet away. The machine had exploded. Hugh had fainted, or deactivated, whatever the robots did.
The rest of the worker bots turned towards him, their faces pictures of concern. Jim stared up at them, blankly. He tried levering himself up. Bob rushed forward and pushed him firmly back to the ground.
"Don't move, Jim. Help is on its way."
"I'm fine," he grumbled. "Just need to walk it off."
Bob was wide-eyed. "Jim...your feet..."
Jim looked down to the end of his legs. The feet were gone. No blood, no gore. Just clean steel skeleton joined by pistons and wires, the thin layer of skin-substitute around them completely shredded.
"No," breathed Jim, staring up at Bob. "It can't be. It can't be!"
"Don't panic, friend," said Bob, calmly. "We'll get you fitted with new feet straight away. You'll be good as new!"
[WP] You get an e-mail that you sent to yourself 10 years ago through a "futureme"-site. For some reason you can answer these mails. Thinking it's just a mistake on the site's part, you write a mail and send it. Unexpectedly, you get an answer, from a 10 year younger you.
The ten-year-old e-mail was followed by a black screen with one button at the center. It read 'Call Your Past?'
The question mark was what intrigued Adam. That and he was just the right amount of drunk, high and depressed. He stretched the laptop across the sea of empty Dorito bags and beer bottles that was his living room floor, sat down in front of it and clicked 'Yes'.
And his face showed up onscreen. His twenty-three-year-old face. Ten years in the past.
Both Adams stared. Neither sure of what to say.
"Wow," his younger version said, finally. "You look like shit, bro. I barely knew it was you. Well, barely knew it was me, actually. Well… you know what I mean."
Adam brought his hand to his mouth. It was him. Really him there. He had no memory of that call… or did he? It was all fuzzy from the alcohol. From the drugs. From the sadness.
His twenty-three-year-old self looked handsome. Clean. His hair. God, Adam loved that hair.
"You've balded at the same rate you let your beard grow, dude," Young Adam said. "What the hell happened to you?"
Adam just stared. "Are you… are you… really…?"
"Really you? Well, I clicked a 'Take Call From Your Future' button, so I guess yes." His young self shook his head. "Though… if I knew what I'd look like ten years from now, I wouldn't have called."
Adam stretched and kicked a half-full bottle of bud. He grabbed it before it all dripped. He took a sip and it trickled down his beard. He blinked red eyes at the screen.
He realized he had absolutely nothing to say to his young self. Nothing positive. Nothing that could help.
"Huh… look, man… I was gonna ask you some pearls of wisdom or some shit," Young Adam said, "but it's clear you have some shit to figure out there, and I don't think you're really the best person to be giving advice… so I'm gonna hang up now, okay? Whatever it was that happened to me in these next ten years, I don't even wanna know, cause Jesus Christ it looks ugly…"
Adam sniffed. He blinked. He was confused. He sipped his beer. Was this real? Was this the drugs?
"So… see you, future, trashy, drunk, weird me," his young self said, and reached for the laptop to hang up the call.
"Wait." Adam grabbed the laptop. His eyes were unfocused. His head was heavy. "Wait."
"What is it, hobo-me?" Young Adam laughed.
"Can I… can I see them? Please?"
"Them? Who the hell is them?"
Adam counted inside his head. Twenty-three… she would have been six months old then, give or take.
"Emily," Adam blurted. "And Jessica."
"My wife? My daughter? What the hell do you want with them? Go talk to your own family."
"Please? Just for a minute."
Young Adam puffed his cheeks. He bit his lips. "All right. But quick, okay? I don't want my daughter looking at you for too long. You look like a mug shot come to life."
He left the frame. Adam sipped the warm beer. There was a cigarette butt inside the bottle. He was dizzy. Everything spun. How high was he? How much did he take?
When was the last time he had smiled?
There was movement onscreen, and, a second later… there she was, just like Adam remembered her.
Beautiful. The kind eyes. The long hair. The smile. Everything. Everything just the way it was.
And Jessica. The baby. So tiny. So small. Adam could smell them, almost. Could feel their touch. Could almost remember.
Could almost smile.
"Hi…" he blurted, between tears.
Emily looked off-screen. "Who the hell's this guy, honey?"
From out of frame, Young Adam answered, "Just my future self. Say hi and then let's go. We're late."
Emily turned back to the camera and smiled a shy smile. She waved.
Adam choked. He bit his hands to stop from crying. He waved back.
They were so beautiful. So very beautiful.
"Well… okay... bye then, future Adam," Emily said. She left and, a second later, Young Adam took to the screen. "All right bro," he said. "Gotta go. Keep rocking the… party life, I guess, by the looks of your apartment."
Adam sniffed. He touched the laptop screen. He stared at his younger self.
He pulled a breath.
And then he said, "Drive carefully."
But he knew his young self wouldn't listen.
My morning toast popped from the toaster as I began to pour a cup of coffee. I opened my laptop on the counter while I continued to ready my breakfast. In this moment, an email notification came across the screen. I glanced over thinking it was just my colleague crunching the morning numbers before we go to work. I was wrong. This was something that I had forgotten about for years.
I leaned over to notice it was an email from myself. Still sipping at my coffee, I pondered for a moment when I read,
'I hope you got that dream job like you always wanted!'
After I read the email, that’s when I remembered my brothers and I used to all huddle around the television with our laptops bored. I found a site that allowed someone to send emails into the future on a specific date. I must have been so bored, I wrote myself an email ten years ahead.
That’s awesome, I chuckled. I placed my coffee down on the table only to notice I was able to reply to the message.
Must be a glitch. The site wasn’t very intellectually put together so I was sure to find a lot of bugs on it. Either knowing it was a system design flaw, I still had time before going into work and I decided to have fun with it. I wrote back,
'I work at Wall Street dealing in trades! It isn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it’s stable and I get to work at a job where fighting and drinking is part of the everyday culture!'
I pressed ‘Send.” Smiling, I picked up my coffee and started to butter the toast on my breakfast plate.
A notification immediately sounded as I realized it was probably the site telling me there was an ‘error sending the message.’ I turned around, and the toast fell from my hands onto the floor. My mouth fell wide open while the hairs on the back of my neck finally awoke. I was staring back at a message on the screen reading,
'Oh my gosh! This is impossible?! This must be a prank. I always knew Wall Street was stable but I always wanted to be a writer…'
I refocused my eyes. The site is playing tricks on me. For one, if for some reason there was a weird tear in time that is allowing me to message myself then I would have probably remembered that scenario ten years ago. I wouldn’t have forgotten about it.
I took a step back and pondered. Datamining is always a big occurrence in our technology today. The site may be good at making it seem it was myself but I know better. I am not that foolish. Any system could know that I work at Wall Street or that I wanted to be a writer because of my browser history.
“Nice try,” I said aloud towards the laptop. I chuckled to myself but instead of powering down, I wanted to expose this theory once and for all.
I took a few moments and thought of something no system nor any computer would ever know. I wanted to ask myself a question that only I would get correct – hell not even my own brothers would know the answer. After heavy thought, I finally let my hands free on the keyboard.
'Tell me, what is the name of the main character in the first story we ever wrote?'
I smiled, Good luck on that. I took in the last sip of my coffee when another message opened across the screen.
'Nice try future site! You’ll never get the answer from me!'
I stood back a moment. I realized that would have been my answer I sent back realistically. I would never give that up. Now I am very invested in finding out what is happening here. Today, I am going to take that gamble.
I pressed send. I ground my teeth together waiting with anticipation. I didn’t even bother finishing my breakfast nor was I paying attention to the time. Finally, another message was received.
'How did you know that? Seriously, this is starting to freak me out.'
I jumped back from the computer, it could have still been the site toying with me, I had to find out the truth.
'The last name. What is the last name? If this is truly myself, I want to know. Give me the last name and then I’ll know.'
Every second felt like a whole minute. I felt myself sweating through my button up business shirt. A notification rang again.
'Binkley. Bartholomew Binkley.'
I froze. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I never told anyone that name. What made it worse was I never typed that name on any computer. I used my grandfather’s old typewriter for that story so there’s no way this site could have found it. I kept that story a secret because I am still working on it today. Everything was running through my head. I looked at the time stamp of the messages and it was labeled from ten years ago.
Why wouldn’t I remember any of this? I pondered. I told myself to figure out lottery ticket numbers, what to do or what not to do. I started coming up with instructions in my head to tell myself so that I may change the outcome of today. This was a door towards a second chance. I don’t know how it is happening but I am going to take it.
I spent about ten minutes creating a large message to send back to myself ten years ago from today. Right as I hover my finger over the touchpad to click on ‘send,’ something even more bizarre happened. I received another message reading,
'Do not send! I beg you, please. Leave it all alone, do not mess with this site anymore! I was very wrong to get involved. Please, I am begging you, do not send that message!'
My eyes widened. I looked at the time stamp below the message. The time stamp originated ten years into the future from today.
To read more of my stories, visit here
Woah, is it just me, or did /u/psycho_alpaca end a story without going meta?
Jesus, this gave me chills, awesome story
[WP] You and your immortal friends amuse yourselves with practical jokes. Since you're immortal, some of your joke setups take centuries, or even millenia, to execute.
This one had been a long time coming - far longer than I ever thought possible.
We'd met on a battlefield millennia ago, both surprised to find out that our strikes did not harm the other. It was the first, and only, other immortal I'd ever encountered.
It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
Naturally, being immortals, we'd try to find new ways to amuse ourselves as the time went by. Our practical jokes seemed the perfect way to do this, and they started getting more elaborate as our friendship grew. The fall of Rome was one we took a bit too far, we both agreed.
But as I looked out the window and saw the rocky expanse below, I felt excitement I hadn't experienced in centuries.
For as long as I'd known him, he'd always wanted to be at the forefront of space travel. It made sense, really; he knew he'd have to be able to traverse the stars if he had any hope of truly enjoying being alive forever.
I remember sitting next to him while he eagerly watched the moon landing. He knew it would just be another century or so until we'd finally be able to visit Mars, and he looked at me with joy. Actual joy. That was a rare sight.
When the time finally came, me, being his best friend, naturally wanted to join him for the ride. We volunteered to be the first two on the 'suicide trip' there, and the world rejoiced. We'd generally hidden from the public spotlight, but he said that we couldn't avoid this one. This time, the whole world would be watching us.
Nearing our destination, I deviated from our landing spot. I hoped he wouldn't notice.
"Where are you going?" he asked, staring out of the window. His leg was shaking, like it did every time he was excited.
"Oh, come on," I replied with a smirk, "I'm letting you take the first steps on Mars, the least you can do is let me take a little detour."
I reached the site, carefully landing the spacecraft. He'd already unfastened his seat belts. I'd never seen him so eager.
The doors slowly opened, and he prepared himself to be the first man on Mars. He looked back at me, gave a thumbs-up, then took a step forward.
He'd noticed a massive structure, looming over the spacecraft.
He stared at it. There was no denying it.
It was a statue of something.
I grinned, trying to suppress my laughter.
See, while we were both immortal - I'd been alive far longer than he ever was.
If you didn't completely hate that, consider subscribing to my subreddit.
I'll try add new (and old) stories every day <3
In the beginning, we started small- pranks like flies in the mead, or sawing off swords at the hilt before a battle. My personal favorite was paying off the whores to shit under the sheets during the act, but that's another story for another day. And I have plenty of days left.
Once, one of us even played dead, though no one believed him, of course. We all knew we were immortal, with one stipulation, that any use of technology would strip us of the power.
That was the one rule, the one limitation- we inherited our immortality from the gods of old, and just as technology killed them, so too would it kill us. So we froze ourselves before the industrial revolution, confining ourselves away from the rest of society. Some of us left for deserted islands in the pacific, knowing that so much as a button press would send brother death a hint of our scent. Others departed deep into the Amazon, where even today they persist. But the rest of us, about fifteen in all, started a religion and convinced others to join us, mortals who built our society.
Together, we built the farms, we set our rules, and we created families. And together, we never progressed farther than the horse carriage. Gears were forbidden, electricity a near curse word, engines driven more by math than mathematics.
You may have heard of us, or even seen us as we drive our buggies along the road. And you probably know us by our simple name.
Confined forever to menial tasks, to the back of the scientific curve, forever.
And today, in 2017, I'd decided I'd finally had enough. Because today, Jebediah went too far with a prank.
"Cow pies in the churn!" He chuckled as I sliced into a brick of butter that appeared normal on the outside, but was marbled with manuer on the inside, "What's that, Jakob, the eightieth time? And you always fall for it! Wait til Gideon gets a load of this, last time he nearly choked on his milk! It was udderly hilarious!"
He wiped his tears away with his beard, letting the laughter flow easily, leaning against a barn wall we had erected only days before.
"It's so easy with you, Jakob!" He continued, as I grit my teeth, listening to the same speech I had heard hundreds of times throughout the last century alone, one that had finally started to wear away even my thick skin, "So gullible, you think you one of your pranks would be successful! But last time I checked, you were pretty far behind!"
He laughed again, and turned to walk away. And I snapped- even I couldn't take another minute of it, of living without plumbing, of walking when we could drive, of dealing with the hard way of doing things. I'd held it together all these years, but now it was time to put an end to it.
"Hey, Jebediah!" I called after him, "About being pretty far behind on pranks. I have a confession- five hundred years ago I lied about something, planting the idea in all our heads, after you pulled this very same butter prank, because it was just as stupid back then as it is now. Technology has no impact on us- we can live perfectly fine with it."
Jebediah rolled his eyes, and waved a hand to dismiss the thought. So I reached into my pocket for the Rolls Royce key I had sewed into the lining, walked to my "garage barn" that was my private house, and laid on the horn as I carved a path into his corn field.
And completed the greatest prank in, well, living memory.
The entire world heard the first words of a human setting foot on Mars: "you fucker!"
The statue is of the narrator - he'd previously lived on Mars long, long ago.
[WP] You die and go to Hell only to find out that you're the only person that has ever entered. Satan is clapping.
The clapping rang out around the rocky red walls as the Devil sat on his throne looking down at Clyde.
"Congratulations, Clyde, and welcome to hell."
Clyde took a moment to look around, doing his best to take in the strange surroundings. Peering up at the Devil, he nodded his head.
"Hello," said Clyde.
The Devil held his hand out and a large book burst in to existence, "You're very special, Clyde. Very special, indeed." He took the book and peeled open the cover. "You're the first person to enter my domain, Clyde. This intrigues me like nothing before."
Clyde stood idly, oddly unimpressed by what was transpiring in front of him.
"This book, aptly named 'The Crimes of Clyde' contains every sin you committed and, oh my, it's quite thick. Your first punishment will be sitting through the reading of all your misdemeanors. May we remind you of your infidelity."
Clyde continued to stand unaffected.
The Devil began to rattle off the list contained within The Crimes of Clyde.
"And I begin:Thinking it's funny to shout out fake spoilers for films/TV shows people are about to watch. Posting Minion memes on Facebook. Singing along to every song on the radio while at work. Not resetting the time on the microwave after using it. Taking your phone out and sitting it on the table while eating with friends. Biting the fork when eating food. Thinking it's funny to touch people who have asked not to be touched. Texting during a movie then being upset when called out on it. Listening to music from your phone speaker on public transport. Saying the words 'quick question'. Stopping in the middle of streets when people are walking behind you. Whistling. Calling people out on technicalities when debating because you're incapable of admitting you're wrong. Vaguebooking. Wearing socks with Crocs. Taking pictures of your food. Forcing people to watch YouTube videos on your phone when they clearly don't want to. Saying memes in real life. Using the word 'literally' when it doesn't apply. Becoming unjustly upset when your housemate asked you to clean up after yourself.
Clyde interrupted, "Is this going to take much longer?"
"You're clearly a cunt Clyde. This is going to take forever."
I write shitty, silly stories on /sub/billmurraymovies. Feel free to come along, not laugh at any of them and leave some judgement.
A bone-jarring impact jolts me awake, followed by a few seconds of searing pain. I try to sit up, but the searing pain keeps me on by back. After a moment, the pain begins to subside and I'm able to sit up and take stock of my situation. When I look down at myself I nearly pass out. What once was a mostly healthy, slightly overweight body is now a mangled purple husk...
"What.... happened?" I say to myself... After a few moments my memory returns... Fuck. Why'd I have to go base jumping from the Petronas Towers while on vacation in Malaysia? It's clear that the impact I heard was ME hitting the ground. Where am I anyway? This clearly isn't Kuala Lumpur.
I struggle to my feet, amazed that my wrecked form can handle that much. Looking around I see nothing but a small room that seems to be carved from bedrock. There is no furnishings of any sort. A faint light glows from the ceiling above, but I can't see any actual source. I spot a door on one wall.
Despite an inexplicable feeling of dread, I am compelled toward the door. I open it and step into a hallway. The walls are transparent, and through them lies everyone's worst nightmare. Fire and brimstone. Lava flowing down into pits. It dawns on me... I'm in HELL.
From the other end of the short hallway, a man steps through the door. He's dressed in ragged black robes that seem to be worn over the top of even more ragged red robes. His beard is black, with a stripe of white running down the middle. The most alarming feature are two rams horns spiraling around each side of his head.... He's... clapping?
"Who are you!?" I demand with alarm.
"Who am I?" he says, "There are some who call me... Tim. But you? You can call me Satan. Or just Stan if you wish. Welcome to hell!"
I snort in amusement. "Really? A Monty Python joke? Do you greet people like this all the time?"
"Uh... well... you could say that. You're the first one to arrive." he admits.
"What? With all the murderers and rapists on earth, I am the first one to go to hell? How the fuck does THAT work!? I've never killed anybody, harmed anyone, or stolen anything." I shout
Stan sighs as if defeated. "Do you honestly think God would condemn his children to eternal pain and torture? The only way I'm ALLOWED any souls is through making deals... and after the humiliation of losing a fiddle contest to some snot-nosed kid I haven't really cared to try. My last effort was an attempt at a cyber-contract. All they had to do was pay for a piece of software and I'd own their soul."
The sense of dread gets deeper... I know why I'm here. I know what doomed me to hell.
"Fuck... You mean I'm the only one that paid for WinRar?"
Stan grins at me and says "Like I said. Welcome to Hell."
Interested in feedback. This is probably the second time I've ever written in Writing Prompts... I don't know why I haven't done it more. I always have a blast making this stuff up.
Edit: Holy cow! I didn't really expect this to explode like this. Thanks for the Updoots and all the kind comments! :) I think I'll have to do more of these!
Edit 2: This post has more than doubled my total comment karma..... I'm kinda flabbergasted... Thank you all again!
The red mist descends before your eyes as you hear the slow sarcastic clap.
"Well. Fucking. Done. You know, I'm really only here as a warning, we never actually expected anyone to end up here. There really is nothing good about you, is there?" Satan melts toward you and wraps his body around yours, with his face looming above you. "So..." he hisses with a smirk, "What went wrong?"
Confused, you desperately wrack your brain to think of an answer. Were you really so terrible? You never killed anyone. You were never even rude to anyone as far as you remember, you pretty much barely even existed, resigning yourself to playing games all day.
"Uh..." you begin, "I... think there must have been a mistake. I know I can't be the worst person who ever lived. I barely even lived. My life never affected anyone else's-"
"-BINGO" Satan snaps his fingers in your face. "You got it, my friend. You never even tried to do anything for anyone, did you?" He unwraps himself from around you and retreats to a chair engulfed in shadow nearby. "You sat and helped yourself, gorged on your video games and take-away food, avoiding people at all costs." Satan stares at you for a moment as if he's looking into your very soul. "And..." he continues... "You never loved anyone. You wasted the most precious human gift, threw it away because you were too frightened of rejection. It's truly pathetic."
You think for a moment you must be in some crazy dream. Sure, you didn't do much to help anyone in your life, but you certainly didn't hurt anyone and couldn't be the worst person in the world.
You muster up some confidence and ask Satan, "So tell me exactly how I am a worse person than Mussolini? Hitler? Pol Pot? The amount of people who have caused countless suffering and death on those around them... I can't even begin to think. And none of them ended up here, yet I did?"
Satan rolls his eyes and let's out another long drawn out hiss. "These men were misguided, but in their own minds they were doing absolute good. They thought they struggled to save humanity, save their people, or create a better world. Each person is created with a vision, even you. That vision can get twisted along the way, but everyone follows it. Everyone, except for you. You sat idly by, deep down knowing you were wasting yourself. You didn't even attempt to change, and that is how you ended up here."
A chill rushes down your spine and you begin to feel sick. As if something more real than you had ever felt before had just hit you like a truck going 200mph. You fall to your knees and realise what had become of you... You remember all the times you sat and thought, "I should probably do something today" only to sit down and watch TV and eat food. With each passing moment you feel pins and needles sticking in you all over, sharp pins... suddenly it feels like someone really is shoving scalding hot pins into your body. This really is hell... this... really...
You see a sliver of light appear before you and hear the faint sound of a child's voice. You open your eyes and realise you're in a warm bed, and a child is beside you. Your child. Your little girl. She's poking you in the arm with a cocktail stick trying to wake you up because it's her birthday. You breathe a sigh of relief and hug your little girl harder than you ever have done before. You sit there and feel glad of the fact that all those years ago you finally found the drive to change yourself, and realised that nobody was going to do it for you. That day, you feel invincible.
Go easy on me, have never written anything before and didn't have much time. I realise the formatting and probably some grammar won't be the best. Just wanted to contribute to one of these for a change.
Edit: Wow thanks for the amazing feedback everyone, it's definitely convinced me to try writing some more in the future!
Edit 2: Some corrections, thanks to 105milesite for noticing them for me!
Clyde sounds like a monster
[WP] You have weird super power. If you successfully talk someone into doing something, they will succeed, regardless of if the action in question is actually possible. On the other hand, your abilities to actually persuade people are unaltered.
"Kiss the ground, ladies and gentlemen!" They had burst into the bank, but at the order, everyone had frozen. A few shots quickly in the air had everyone on the ground.
And Joe was just returning from the restroom. He had heard a few loud shots, just as he was drying his hands. He moved away from dryer and heard the noise as people shuffled to the ground.
The restrooms were situated down a small hallway, which allowed Joe to move quietly down the hall to survey what had gone on. He saw men, women and children on the ground, and guys in masks already walking past the hallway, and toward the front counter.
Something bumped into his stomach, and he took a chance to look down... only to find a young girl, no more than 10 or 11, huddled next to a potted plant that was situated in the hallway. She was hiding. No one had seen her. Joe breathed a sigh of both relief, and profound irritation.
He slid down next to her, and they exchanged glances. She looked terrified. He stared, and smiled in what he hoped was a fatherly-way.
"Psst, kid... What's your name?"
The girl looked him over, trying to decide if he was a stranger, or not. She didn't smile, but something in her eyes made Joe realize she was going to trust him. A little. "I'm Katy." she whispered back.
"Ok, Katy. My name is Joe. I'm a super."
And her eyes went wide. "Really? Are you going to save us?"
He took a small breath. "I'm going to try, but I need your help. I know this sounds weird, but listen. I don't really have much power on my own. But I can make others do impossible things."
She turned her head slightly, in confusion.
"I know you don't believe me. But I'll prove it. I want you to visualize a candy bar. Think of your favorite one."
She closed her eyes. "Ok..." she said, but doubt was starting to creep into her voice.
"Think about it, visualize it. Now, if you really believe... if you truly wish for the candy bar, it'll be in your bag. Waiting for you to reach in, and grab it."
Her face was a mixture of confusion, but also of magic. Kids really want to believe in a higher power. In a world of Superes, it's a little easier for them to believe. But she knew the candy wasn't in there five minutes ago. I can only hope she's a believer...
She kept her eyes closed as she reached into her bag. And pulled out a snickers bar.
Her eyes opened, amazed. Her pupils were slightly dilated. She looked at Joe and smiled at him. "Wow! It worked!"
He smiled. "It worked because you believed. But here's where it gets crazy. See those bank robbers? You can stop them, all by yourself."
"Yup, you can. Just think to yourself how bullet proof you are. How invincible you are. Nothing can harm you, nothing can hurt you. You're like Night Girl, or Fire Fly!"
She looked at him, and he could tell if she was wondering how true it was. "Do I get super powers?"
"Anything you want, Katy. But you have to really believe in them. You're a hero, Katy. You just don't know it, yet."
"I'm just a little girl, though. What can I do?"
"You're young, but that doesn't matter. Haven't you heard of Million Strikes, or Pinion? They were young, when they started. But they've saved so many people."
She nodded, and smiled at him. "Wish me luck, Joe."
He smiled, and stood up. "You don't need it, Katy. You're a Super, now, too..."
She started walking out toward the group of people on the floor. One of the men noticed her, and pointed his gun her way. Another had seen Joe, and pointed his gun at him.
"You two! Get back on the ground."
"Katy, get down! You're going to get hurt!" he could hear a person saying. The tone of her voice showed Joe it must be her father.
"I'm sorry, Dad. I can't get down. But don't worry... they can't hurt me."
"You hear this kid? She thinks she can't be hurt." One of them started to walk toward her, and he brought his gun down to strike her in the head.
But the gun broke on her head, instead.
Katy looked up at the man, and smiled. "I'm a Super! I can do anything!" And her eyes were suddenly flaring up with flame, and her hands were engulfed in ice, and water, and lightning. And a sudden storm inside the bank brought the robbers to their knees. They were struck with lightning, and were down for the count.
Joe smiled as he walked toward them, kicking their guns away. He had plastic cuffs for just such an occasion, and locked them up.
Katy's eyes returned to normal, and she smiled. "I did it! I believed I had powers over the elements! And I really couldn't be hurt!" The father had jumped up and was holding Katy, now. Joe smiled.
He turned, then, and left the bank as quietly as possible. A new super, born in the world. She'll never stop believing, and so she'll always be Super.
Joe smiled, as he walked down the street. He was ready to get home, and watch the news. "Maybe I'll be featured, one day."
Oh man this is good, the main character is (probably) the only original super hero.
The man on the ledge reeked of old booze and stale vomit, enough for me to smell him from ten paces away. Not your typical drunk however, judging by the suit; a week or so ago, it had been a respectable business number, probably complete with a crisp shirt and a smart tie. I could see that the shirt lost a number of buttons since, and acquired questionable stains, and the tie went missing altogether.
"Don't. No closer. I'll jump. I'm not kidding." He winced and swayed as he spoke.
I shrugged and leaned against the roof access door.
"Suit yourself, partner. Jump. Or don't. You are not dying today."
"Wrong!" he swayed again. "I'll do it! We are fifty stories up, there's nothing anyone can do!.." Below, the Strip churned, shone, sparkled and blinked. Just another day in paradise.
"You don't understand. I... I thought I could stop. I almost stopped. I just... I needed... more..." For a moment I thought he'd start to whimper and back away from the ledge, and we could solve things quietly. No such luck however. He kept blabbing, the standard suicidal drivel of a gambling addict down on his luck.
"Hey!" I snapped my fingers and he stared at me wide-eyed. "Will you ever get on with it? So you fucked up. You ALWAYS fuck up. And you'll fuck this up too. Want to know what'll happen now? You'll jump. You'll fall fifty fucking stories, land on an empty car, ruin it, and walk away with one hell of a bruised ass and not a single broken bone. Get it? You're about to fuck up your own suicide. I'm not here to talk you out of it. I'm here to talk you into it, watch and fucking laugh."
He blinked slowly, once, twice.
"Fuck. You. You're crazy. What kind of a negotiator are you anyway?"
"I'm not. You see a badge anywhere? For all you know, I'm the tooth fairy. You know what's funny? You can't even stop yourself thinking about what I said just now, can you? You're gonna attempt suicide by jumping fifty stories, and you're gonna FUCK IT UP. All this to ruin some poor slob's car. C'mon then, loser. I got places to be."
Credit where credit's due - he did not scream on the way down, or at least not so much that I could hear him. From below, came a distant thud and an indignant blare of a car alarm. I walked the ten paces to the ledge and peered over just in time to see him kneeling in the street next to a ruined cab, uniforms and paramedics rushing towards him.
The phone in my pocket trilled.
"Mahoney? We've got him. Come on down."
That's what I got too. Really cool origin
[WP] After you die you learn why the Grim Reaper is portrayed holding a Scythe. It isn't to harvest you, it's to protect you from something on your journey.
"Where are you taking me?" I asked him, panting hard as I tried to match his great strides. His dark cloak billowed behind him as he strode, blown by a fierce cosmic wind. His scythe swung and shimmered in his arm.
"To the others," he said, "but we must hurry."
"No," I said, stopping dead in the black tunnel, trying to catch my breath. "I have to know - are you taking me to heaven, or to hell?"
He turned to me and his eye sockets blazed. "Do not worry about where I am taking you, worry about where you'll go if I am not successful in getting you there."
I swallowed hard, and nodded. We began again, Death walking, me almost sprinting as I attempted to keep up. The sides of the tunnel danced with irridecent starlight, and I knew beyond doubt that we were leaving my universe.
Eventually, we came to a door of bone. Death muttered an incomprehensible sound and it slowly creeped open. He grabbed my hand and pulled me through.
The door slammed shut behind us; Death's shoulders slumped slightly, as he finally relaxed.
"What is this place..." I whispered. High above us were three huge cherry-red moons, bathing the field of white grass below, in a pale, blood-like light. On the field itself were dozens of shacks and tents. It was a great camp and it was brimming with bustling life. To the side of the largest tent, I saw two armoured figures dueling with swords. I could hear the metallic ringing of the steel blades as they collided. "There's a battle!" I said, pointing to the scene.
"There is not battle here. Not yet," Death replied. "They are preparing for the inevitable, however. That," he said, pointing to the smaller of the two figures, "is Joan of Arc. She is training our army for the battle."
"The Joan of Arc?" I asked incredulously. At that moment the larger figure fell to the ground, and the smaller pointed a sword at his chest.
"Yes. I have almost a thousand souls now. It is all I've been able to smuggle here. They are all very valuable to me - yourself included."
"Smuggle? But... you're Death. Don't you deliver all souls?"
"Once, I did so. Now, I take when I can - when she is not looking - and I ready them for our battle."
"Our battle? Against the Devil, you mean?"
"The Devil is long since dead."
"Dead? Then... then you mean to make war with God!"
"God is imprisoned."
"...imprisoned? That can't be. God is, well, God."
Death sighed. "Yet, it is so. There are greater evils than the Devil. An evil that tortures the souls of the dead, in a way the Devil could only dream of. And there are greater powers than God."
Death struck his scythe on the ground, and turned to me as the world beneath began to tremble.
"Look around you. We are the unholy resistance. Soon the war of the souls begins."
Edit: I didnt expect all the positive comments! Thanks - I'll continue it on /sub/nickofnight as soon as I get the chance.
(and part 3 completed)
(and a part 4 which might be it for the day)
(and what the hell, a part 5)
More to come. Thanks everyone for reading it and for all the positive comments!
Oh, and thank you OP! - I really liked this prompt idea.
More? I'd read this as a full novel.
“He won’t budge,” said Death, shrugging his colossal shoulders slightly. His scythe, Lerallue, glowed a dark red, pulsing gently like a beating heart – which meant that They were near, but we still had some time.
I had answered Death’s summons as fast as I could. He rarely called on me, prideful thing that he was. He thought he knew humans, could always count on persuading them with fear, but even he had to acknowledge that a soft touch was necessary sometimes. That’s where I came in.
“Hey buddy, we’ve got to go,” I said, setting myself down next to the shade on the curbside. His corporeal body lay nearby, cooling in the frigid night air. It would be another 2 hours, give or take, before the other humans discovered his body, but it wasn’t them I was worried about. “Death’s explained it to you, right? He can hold off the Eaters for a while, but we would much rather get you to safety.”
“For a long while,” huffed Death, puffing up his chest, twirling Lerallue by the end of a bony finger. I ignored him.
“I’d rather They take me, really,” came the reply, so softly I had to strain my ears to catch it. His face was still downcast, eyes fixed on his hands, balled in his lap.
I took a quick peek into his mind, then began to understand why Death couldn’t persuade this one on his own. Timothy Burns wasn’t afraid of death, nor of oblivion. He understood perfectly what Death had explained, that the Eaters would be along shortly, ravenous for so fresh a soul, and that once he was consumed, he would never be able to cycle through life again. Reincarnation would be denied to him, and the universe would be less one unique, precious spark of Life.
In other words, Timothy Burns was ready to disappear into the Void. The irony of being on suicide watch for the recently deceased was not lost on me.
I tried changing tack. “Who knows what awaits you in your next life? Give it a shot, man. You’ll have a family again, someday, people that you can treasure, keep safe –”
He cracked then, the sobs racking his chest as he buried his face in his hands. “What’s the point? I had a family here, I had one, right here! But I screwed up, I screwed up! My little Genevieve… I was supposed to be there for her, you know? Everyone trusted me to take care of her!”
“Some things… are out of your hands. You tried your best, and if –”
A seething undertone of anger crept into his voice, and he rounded on me, seizing my shoulders. “Do you know how many lives I saved, in total? A thousand, two thousand! I was the best doctor in town! Even the ones senior to me came to me for guidance, sometimes!”
“Was that why you didn’t ask for another opinion when Genevieve fell sick?” I asked, quietly.
Timothy had a response prepared, one fuelled by denial, pride. He was ready to blame the new viral strain, the weak antibiotics, the same few excuses he had flogged in his previous life. But the defiance seeped out of him, and he collapsed again, sobbing through his hands.
“… I missed it… I missed it somehow… I thought it was just the flu, ordinary flu… by the time I realised I was wrong, it had already attacked her heart… my pride killed her… I killed her…”
Death tapped me, and from the corner of my eye, I saw that Lerallue had turned a shade brighter, gleaming with a certain unrestrained exuberance.
They were coming.
“You’ll forget it all in your next life,” I said, prodding him a bit harder than I would like. “Trust me. People say that they can remember bits from their previous lives, but it’s hogwash. You’ll have another chance again to do the right thing.”
“But I don’t deserve it,” he said, taking a deep breath, sitting upright again. An uncomfortable calm had spread across his face. “I will atone this way, it is only right. Let Them come, I am ready.”
I sighed, then snapped my fingers. The mist rose from them, swirling lazily in the air, coagulating into a shimmering mirage not two feet from Timothy’s face. Death turned away, wilful blindness in full operation.
There were rules on revealing the grand plan to the humans, and severe punishments for infractions. I knew that as well as Death did, but sometimes, sometimes the ends do justify the means. Humans always forgot that sometimes, all they needed was a little hope. It was far sweeter than they ever gave it credit for.
“That’s Genevieve right there,” I said, as the illusion took form, “that’s not her name now, of course. But she’s out there, the very same soul. She was born just this morning. She listened to us, and she’s back there now, somewhere.”
That got his attention. Timothy grabbed for the illusion, but his fingers pierced through, meeting the empty air. “Where is she? Take me to her, please!”
“No can do, that’s not how it works.”
“Please! I’ll do anything!”
I narrowed my eyes, staring deep into his. I didn’t like being stern, good cop always suited me better. “Listen here, Timothy Burns, I’m not going to lie to you. We can bring you back to the world, let you live countless lives again, but there’s no guarantee you’ll ever cross paths with Genevieve again. That’s just how things are. So you can forget about ever telling her you’re sorry, there’s just no way she’s going to be able to hear it, or even understand it.”
I softened my tone, even as Lerallue started glowing a bright pink. I felt Death shift into a battle stance, carving his scythe through the air as warm-up.
“But what we can give you is a chance. A chance to do something a bit better in your next life. It’s up to you how you want to lead it, but an opportunity to improve, is infinitely better than just giving up, wouldn’t you agree?”
I held out my hand, beckoning to him.
Then, after an eternity, after the buzzing of gnashing teeth crested over the horizon, after the precious seconds to safety fell away… I felt him take my hand.