[WP] Death is not some all powerful being. Rather, she's a socially awkward outcast. Somehow, you've managed to befriend her and things have started getting weird...
"Look," I said, "we need to talk."
Since my earliest years, I've been friends with Death. I found her standing over my best friend at the age of seven, shaking her head and opening her arms. Being so young, I did not understand the implications of my actions and sprung to her with tears in my eyes. Locked in Death's embrace, I felt safe.
"Yes, Alex?" Death asked, tilting her head to the side.
In those years of childish wonder and discovery, Death was my older sister. She sat on the porch when I played with friends. She sat beside me when no one else would. She gave me the chance to talk with the deceased, too young to have known great grandparents and great aunts or uncles. Death was kind, and in return I was her friend. For children, so innocent, do not understand.
"It's about..." I trailed off. "...my father."
As we grew older and I shed off the body of a boy, we grew closer. Romantically. Death didn't age, and I found her beautiful. She liked me, and without words exchanged and confirmation sought, we sat together in pleasant company. We understood one another. And I understood that Death did not mean harm whenever she took another to the great beyond. The natural order of things needed to be kept.
"Hmm, what about him?" she asked, taking a step back.
I guess we just weren't meant to be. Less kisses. Less hugs. More talks, and clashes. In my university years of studying medicine, my perhaps fickle heart sung out for another. Though we talked each day, I think Death felt uneasy at my attraction towards another. Yet I didn't blame Death when she was killed, drunk at the wheel on her 21st. But just like that, I was in Death's arms again, rambling through thoughts and holding her close.
"Well, not just him," I admitted, gritting my teeth.
Over one of the holidays, I returned home to find my mother having fallen ill. Cancer. That was the first time I begged Death, calling on our friendship for just one favour. Alas, she could not, she told me, shaking her head. The natural order of things needed to be kept. With a heavy heart, I nodded and clung to the shreds of time left behind. My mother withered away, but still remains strong in pictures, in videos and in my memories to this day.
Death furrowed her brows, taking another step back.
My father disappeared soon after, taking to alcohol to fill the void left behind. No matter how much he poured, the liquor could never fill that haunting hole. Struck by liver failure, I loosened my tongue and pleaded with my friend, Death. Once more she reminded me, the natural order of things needed to be kept. At the very least, she also said with arms around my head and clutching me close, it would not be my parents needing to attend my funeral.
"I want you to be honest, okay?"
Our romance flared up after my father's death, a desperate grasping at any comfort that the world could provide. Death seemed happier in those times. I just survived. Grief came and went, and near the end Death's worried face had become her default again. I tried my best to reassure her, we would always be friends of course. She... I know she wanted more.
Death nodded, showing an emotion I didn't know she had.
My first girlfriend, months after me and Death took to friendship over romance, died in a car accident. I blamed myself, not paying enough attention when a truck ran a red light and T-boned her side. At least, I had Death there to comfort me.
"Do you," I asked, pausing.
Second girlfriend, also gone through an accident. An old lady had a stroke, her car killed them both on impact. My second dog managed to break out the house, he drowned in a lake on a cold winter's day. And through it all, Death stood by my side.
"Love me?" I winced at asking. She was still my friend, I think.
Depression took hold somewhere in between it all. And though I had death, I wanted something more. The company of immortals is only sought out at the end of one's life, never near the middle.
Death didn't make a sound.
Three attempts, all foiled through chance.
I raised the gun to my head, and pulled the trigger.
Death finally made a sound, shouting a powerful, "No!"
The natural order of things need not be kept.
Locked in Death's embrace, she would never let me go.
Come and visit /sub/alexurwin for more stories.
[WP] You wake up submerged in water with only a flashlight and a note. The note reads "You're now immortal. Welcome to the bottom of the Marianna Trench. This is your first test."
Ever heard the expression 'put through the wringer'? That's exactly how I feel.
I woke up, or rather, got woken up to the sensation of being squeezed to death. Not like I could die, though.
There was a flashlight in a cage bound to my hand, which was in a shackle, like my other arm and my legs.
It was really fucking difficult to click the switch on the flashlight, I'll say. My hand was swollen, and I was pretty sure that I'd be ugly forever if I rescued myself from whatever this was.
And then I actually got conscious and realized I was underwater. Way underwater. With like, no air. At all.
So cue the initial panicking, drinking some nasty salt water. I could literally feel myself shriveling up like the slugs that you pour salt on. And then... I was fine. Somehow.
Back to the flashlight, which had been turned on before my panic and spun lazily around in the heavy water in the cage, sweeping a pale light that was just about enough for me to see my feet when it pointed in that direction.
I was in some kind of nylon body suit, but they'd left my hands, face, and feet exposed. Okay then.
Wriggling my hand, I managed to grab the flashlight and then point it around at my surroundings. Chains, medieval ones because what other kind is there, were indeed around all my wrists, glinting black, er, blacker, than the rest of the water. They were covered in the usual gross sea stuff, brown curtains drifting in unseen currents.
And my other hand had a cage, with a laminated note that read, "You're now immortal. Welcome to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. This is your first test."
I mean, I obviously wasn't at the bottom of the trench. Otherwise I'd be having a freakout. I seriously cannot handle deep sea stuff. It's not the depth, it's how disgusting everything looks and feels. But the rest seemed to be pretty accurate. I sure wasn't dying from being popped, though I was pretty sure I was leaking blood or organs or brain somewhere, and I didn't need to breathe.
Which raised another question; what kind of immortal was I? I'm no scientist, as you can pretty much clearly tell, but there are different ways of being immortal. There's that dude in the comic books that basically regrows stuff and can survive his brains being blown out because he just heals over it. Then there was how I was able to survive without air; I wasn't breathing, and maybe I didn't need to eat or drink. Then there was just like, not dying immortal, and then the one where your body just mutates, and I was pretty sure I didn't have gills, because that would suck.
So, I needed a hand free. Luckily the note cage let me remove my hand from it, and it just floated off. I double checked the note, and when it didn't have anything, I stuck it in the cage with the flashlight. That cage seemed pretty content to just hang around my right hand.
I used my left to feel my neck. Nope, no gills. I definitely felt pain, so I wasn't the cheerleader in that show either.
Now the hard part.
I raised my bulging hand, seriously, and moved it to my face. I felt my nails, and I started biting at them, hoping to get a hangnail. On my ring one, I bit just far enough for a small one, and I tore it off quickly, and moved my hand far enough to watch with the flashlight.
The dark water disguised the clouds, but the blood was inky enough to block out the little light the flashlight had. And yep, right before my eyes, my hangnail was closing up. I wonder why it didn't fix my bitten nails, but I guess they weren't injuries. Good to know.
So, effectively being healing immortal - let me make that fancy - regeneratively immortal, I had options. I could bite through all my limbs and swim up, leaving a pair of hands and a pair of feet at the bottom of the ocean, which I'd really rather not do. Actually, that was the only option that I could think of that dealt with regeneratively immortal.
And then I remembered the chains. They stretched down me, and me being all kinds of fucked up, probably wouldn't be able to swim down.
I looked around my suit, but as far as I knew, it was pretty skintight. No zips or anything. I was able to take the note and stick it in my sleeve, but the flashlight? That I had to carry bare handed. The right hand cage floated away nicely.
I gotta say, despite everything, it was kinda peaceful. The water had stuff in it, probably fish shit and whatnot, but they drifted around in eddies, and since I didn't need to open my mouth, no five course meal shoved its way down my throat. Instead, it glittered again, drifting, dancing. And I couldn't hear anything.
If I could have, I probably might have been more prepared for what came next.
As I was turning the flashlight down to begin pulling at my chains to actually reach the bottom, sandpaper slammed into me with a ton of force. That's a lot to say when you're at the bottom of the ocean, but that skin was like knives.
Of course me biting a hangnail bought some kind of demon shark at the bottom of the ocean to kill me. Or it was something else. I could really care less. This stupid thing with teeth skin was fast and after me, and it was only another hit that would cause me to bleed and summon more of them. Yeah, I know how sharks work; I watched Jaws.
Before it could swing around again, I grabbed the chains covered in the icky living vomit and pulled hard. I don't know how I did it, but my sausage link fingers curled and managed to pull me down, half a hand useless because of the bricky flashlight. Seriously, it was from the 1990s, big old flashlight style. Why? Who knows?
I spent a lot of time pulling myself down and down and down. The water got darker and I turned off the flashlight, cause obviously I'd need to use it, later. Horror films always have the flashlight spinning out of reach or flickering off or whatever, and I didn't need none of that when I was already effectively blind.
So in the black, I closed my eyes and kept pulling. A couple of times I thought I felt pulses of water swipe near me, miniature waves compared to the slow drifting there was earlier, but nothing attacked me again. Thankfully.
I gotta say, it was hard getting down all the way, but I did it. The rock wasn't actually too bad, all worn smooth. The chains had left the brown stuff... above me, I think. I couldn't really tell direction anymore. I might have been on the alien planet of Uru for hell knows.
The peace was now really disconcerting. I had no eyes, I had no ears, no taste, no smell. I just had to run through everything blind.
I pulled on the chain again, and I found my left hand one. It was stuck in a bored hole through the rock, really tiny, just barely enough space for it and maybe a finger. I gave up on that one, grabbing my right hand one before letting go of my left. I wasn't planning on rocketing back up to meet whatever that thing was up there.
On my right hand one, though, was some kind of nib. The chain ended on a plate that attached via screws, I think, and right under where the chain ended was a nib.
Opening my eyes and turning on the flashlight, I was just barely able to make out that it was some kind of button.
I mean, what else do you do with a button? Of course I pressed it.
The rock began to shake, and my thought was that if I had just caused the end of the world, oops. It was a bit more dramatic than that. The chains on my arms and legs slackened a little, drifting down, and like that, I was free.
Not quite, though, cause what happened was that the chains were cut in their arc. Both of them, the set on my arms and legs and the set in the rocks.
And then I exploded. I don't know how literal that is, but that's what it felt like. The pressure went from 100 to 0 in the snap of a finger and my bloated form just like, split apart at the seams, releasing a shit ton of bubbles and blood.
I was out for some time while my body was fixing whatever the button did. Yeah, the button; who puts an "explode body" button at the bottom of the damn ocean? Anyway, when I woke up, the flashlight was dim, and I was floating in three feet of water in a huge cave. I stood, looking relatively normal aside from maybe a slightly pruney appearance, and grabbed the flashlight, which drifted lazily. Smug fucker.
Using the flashlight, I scanned the cave. It was big, and the chains still attached to me were long, twenty or thirty feet. Then, lengthwise, I spun around. It was in an odd jellybean shape. I investigated. The little bend in bulge of a jelly bean had a door on it.
So yep, I was officially insane. I died like seven times at the bottom of an ocean, fought off a demon shark stingray thingie, exploded, and now was stuck in a jellybean cave with a door. Only one thing to do left.
I sloshed through the water, which appeared to be draining somehow, and opened the door. It wasn't even a fancy one, just a typical metal one with a typical turn knob. It opened.
There was a small hallway with many grates and a sign that said "Please Close Door After Entry". I couldn't close the door while the seawater was pouring in, but once it stopped being a small flood and was more like roadside rain, I closed the door with a bit of effort.
These crazy people literally drowned me again. Not the literally literally, the literally figuratively. But yes, the smooth rock square hallway had streams in the ceiling, dumping a ton of fresh water on me, which then vanished down the grates too.
Then, the other end of the hallway opened up, spilling in light. I switched off my now useless flashlight and went.
It was some kind of high tech facility, sleek walls of metal and fluorescent lights and all that jazz. I almost missed the pissy pixie girl in front of me.
"Hi. You're late. Welcome to the immortal sanctum. Follow me."
And she stalks off down the hall. With nothing better to do, I followed.
[WP] When a child comes of age their greatest quality manifests itself as a familiar that will follow them for life. You just turned 21 and you still didn't have one, until this morning when two showed up and they terrify you.
The earliest one gets one's familiar is at 13. The latest is generally 18. The world record is something like 27. I feel bad for that guy; eight years waiting was hard enough.
Familiars are strange beings. The earliest recorded one came in the early 1800s, a great bear-like beast that followed a single man. They cannot be harmed by conventional means (they usually die with their masters, though they can be put to death under certain conditions), and they take on a variety of forms.
It's not like your familiar can do more than give you life advice and be a friend. They have a strict code not to harm others (though I've heard of some murderers and psychopaths having violent familiars), and they generally don't talk to anyone but their masters. Still, it sucks being the only one without a wise creature companion.
My friend Maya was an early bird; a day after her 13th birthday, she came to class with a bright red lizard with long tail feathers on her shoulder. "Confidence," it was called. Next was Daniel at 15; his great, shaggy, hulking beast was named "Listening." Then was Hannah with "Acuity," Kara with "Resolve," Eric with "Cleverness," and so on. And then there was poor old Emily Smith, the boring girl without a familiar.
My parents did their best to reassure me that I'd get a familiar one day. I didn't share their hope (incidentally, my dad's familiar, a large hawk). I'd seen statistics about familiars; the later they came, the more likely they were to be "undesirable" traits. Could I get stuck with "Hatred" or "Ego"? "Apathy"?
I grew distant from my friends. As they all bonded over their familiars and the wisdom they received from them, I was alone. I was jealous, but I tried not to let it get the best of me; what a familiar that would be. I distracted myself with learning, aiming for high honors and a reputation for hard work. I wasn't the smartest, but it paid off, landing me in a neat little college. Of course, I had no friends at that point, and I couldn't really make any at school.
Finally, my 21st birthday came. It was in summer before returning to school. I woke up just before dawn with the distinct feeling of being watched. And there I saw it, my familiar: a small, spiny creature sitting in the corner of my room, staring with beady red eyes. I was startled and quickly flicked on the lamp. It appeared to be a hedgehog, no larger than a softball, with a strange, long tail.
The creature spoke to me in a soft, yet commanding voice, "I am Isolationism, your first familiar. I have seen your heart and eaten away at your soul. You have suffered enough; now, you may confide in me."
I was a bit disappointed. The creature called Isolationism was a bit creepy and discomforting, and it wasn't a very desirable trait. Something stood out to me, however.
"First?" To have multiple familiars was extremely rare.
"Yes. For as you allowed me in, you created something else. As you isolated yourself, you learned to work for yourself. You are bound by no one. And for this, we are not alone."
I noticed a larger shape in a shadowy corner of the room. Tall and lithe, it appeared to be some sort of crane, with a long sharp beak and cruel claws. It regarded me coldly and silently, not so much as stirring a single black feather. When it spoke, its voice was loud and clear.
"Call me Independence."
EDIT: Thank you all so much for the kind comments. This is the most I've ever gotten on a writing prompt. It's been a very stressful day, so I appreciate it so much.
EDIT 2: Okay, I know it's cliche to say, but thank you so much for the gold! I am literally crying right now from the hundreds of kind responses. I've never gotten so much attention for one of my works, and it means a ton. You all have inspired me, so I want to make this into an actual short story (I might rework the first part, then add more afterward). It might take a few days, as I have exams this week, but I will do my best.
Again, thank everyone so much. It's been a rough couple days, and you all have helped me so much.
[WP] Two men play a game of chess. One can read minds; the other can see the future.
On 12 August, 2100 the whole world stood still.
Hiran Dutt and Aiguo Bai sat at the table that would determine the future of the chess world. One man would walk away the greatest chess player the world had ever seen. The other would walk away, the monolith that was slain by the Goliath of the century. Both were too established to claim they were an underdog.
Hiran Dutt had defeated the R09-po processor. something that many had thought was impossible. In the year 2050, chess players had been rendered obsolete when the grandmaster Cindy Stone saw the words checkmate printed on the screen. On that day it finally hit us, all of us, not just the low IQ members who washed dishes for minimum wage, it was over. Humanity had rendered itself obsolete.
then, in 2085 something miraculous happened. A machine lost to a human. At first they thought it was a joke, but Hiran Dutt did it a second time, and a third. He was no fluke. He was the next level, the one who in spite all the processing power was always one step ahead of the machine in play. His moves were modest, his captures so sudden, many claimed the machines were helping him. The truth was much stranger, he was a seer. Gifted with the third eye, Hiran could always see the next step the machines would take, and just like that always planned a second move ahead.
When machine consciousness rose a furious debate rose up in all parliaments around the world. What were the rights of the machine? Was it base animal, our equal, or something ahead. The question was answered in installments. In the first decade it was like a baby, knowing its name, understanding stimuli and learning by downloading everything online. In its second decade it started to question its existence, it's purpose, and even its creation. In the third decade it proved way beyond. It had already made an earning as a chess player and now was going for the record of longest reigning grandmaster.
Had Aiguo Bai not been born, an android would have had the record of longest reigning grandmaster, but two years short of the record he reminded it that as far as domination of humanity in sheer intelligence was concerned it was still not yet freedom. He beat it once: in 2095. Then a second time in 2097 and a third in 2098. He was no fluke. He was the second human to rise above the machine. Aiguo was a recluse, unbeknownst to many he could not stand the public eye because of the voices. The voices of consciousness no one else could hear. They yelled, cheered, cried and whispered the thoughts all people were too afraid to speak. He discovered the android too had a voice. It was a monotone but through it he could hear every calculation it made before making a move.
Chatter broke throughout social media. Some talked of the rise of the valde sapiens (very wise), the next stage in evolution. Some called for them to donate their DNA for cloning we needed more to bring ourselves to the relevancy of global operations. More than that we needed one true grandmaster. Humanity was never satisfied with the prospect of two winners. We needed a spectacle of blood from which only one would rise.
The tournament was organized. Hiran and Aiguo prepared as best as they could, reading previous matches, playing against machines.
As they walked into the auditorium the audience clapped, and rose to its feet. Hiran was in a flamboyant red suit. He blew kisses to the audience, he caught a rose a fan threw at him, smelled it and handed it to another who had jumped over the barricade to congratulate him. He kissed her before security pulled her away. That was Hiran, the showman.
Aiguo walked in in his hooded jacket and jeans, his headphones covering his ears. He too got a standing ovation. The solitudinous genius. He took of his headphones and waved at the crowd. He pointed sternly at one of his fans. He could already read that they were planning to jump over and run to him. He didn't need the perverted thoughts interrupting his calculating process.
They shook hands before taking opposing seats. As the coin was tossed Aiguo's eyes widened. He could hear everyone, the critics, the fans, even the judges struggling to feign disinterest. He looked at Hiran. He could hear him, the only problem was his thoughts were in Sanskrit, a language he had never learned. English was already taught as a a first language world wide. He had never thought he would meet someone, let alone such an international figure who did not think in it.
Then a thought escaped Hiran as the timer started, "Did you think I wouldn't prepare for you, mindreader? I already saw your future, you lose to me." Then once more Hiran's thoughts faded to a chatter of Sanskrit as he lifted a pawn.
[WP]People have powers based on their strongest emotion, and become stronger as they embrace it. Healers might draw power from love or empathy, warriors; anger or self preservation, etc. You draw power from being incredibly sassy.
Or other emotions, like being passive aggressive, or overly dramatic.
I could hardly help it. The temptation to use my power was just too strong. Everyone else was doing it! The healers were so kind and caring, they could magically heal injuries. Apathetic people couldn't even get into med school...and warriors, every war was fought with mystical power, with every soldier bursting into white-hot rage at every opportunity. So why couldn't I use my power?
Because it came from something beyond love. Beyond hatred.
Bill and I were going to visit Tom in the hospital. He was a war veteran suffering third-degree burns. Bill had been getting on my nerves, and I wasn't going to let him get away with it.
"Y'know, this is the hospital where I was born," Bill stated absent-mindedly.
"Really?" I replied. "I figured you were born on a highway. That's where most accidents happen, right?"
I didn't mean to do what I did. I can't control it sometimes.
I literally burned him.
Looks like I'll be visiting both of them in the hospital tomorrow. I just hope they don't start a conversation about their mothers...
[WP]Today I found a 1949 British Shilling in my change. This is particularly interesting as I live in Pennsylvania. It must have had one hell of a journey since 1949. Tell me how it made it's way to me.
In 1949 I was born in a simple mold used by the treasury to mint millions of me. Though one in a set of innumerable copies, I knew I was important to keeping the world revolving and rolling. So when I went on my first big excursion to the bank, the treasurer promised great things for me.
First given as change, I traveled in a short, hairy man’s pocket, who used me almost immediately for petrol on his way to his family. War torn and weary from the great unpleasantness of the preceding conflict before my time, my presence reassured him of the inherent political stability that won over the Eastern threat, and more importantly, I helped him obtain transportation to his family, who only a few years prior, he was unsure if he’d ever see again.
In the cash register, I quickly turned over as change to a man who bought cigarettes, who in turn delivered me to buy a paper, telling all the inconsequential details of some facet of the world. The retailer used me to buy another stand, and then the retailer used me as change from the purchase of a stool. Traveling in a woman’s purse this time, I stay in the bottom of her possessions for quite some time, until a rather unpleasant vagabond asked her for change, so she dug me out from the depths of her purse to deliver a small token of charity.
In the hands of Richard, a man whose life left him for his raging alcoholism, we traveled in the streets of London for a while, collecting me with a dozen of my compatriots. We all watched in horror as he held out with shaky hands to a liquor store clerk, counting us out individually to prove his ability to buy whatever bottom-shelf whiskey he appreciated the most.
From there, I traveled from register to pocket to purse all around the United Kingdom and, on aboard a ship, I found myself in northern France as a rather wealthy Londoner spilled me out of his pocket and onto the hot concrete of a sidewalk. I stayed there for hours, baking in the sun, totally unaccustomed to the pure, unabated weather, especially the sun. I found refuge, however, by a little girl, who decided I might be an excellent addition to her collection of European currency. Stuck in the bottom oh sock drawer for some time, along with the rest of her collection, I found a home for quite some time.
“Oh my,” she said one day, fully grown in a way a coin may never be. At least, that’s what I imagined she said; I’m an English coin, so I don’t really understand French. “My little collection! Oh how I forgotten about you!”
I enjoyed what I imagined was her cooing, but that could just be how the French talked.
“Throw them out,” he mother demanded, I think.
“No!” I’m pretty sure I nailed this translation.
“You are too old to have a coin collection. All the other girls will make fun of you in college,” the mother insisted, probably.
“No, I will take my precious coins with me,” the girl refuted, I imagined.
She, of course, took me with the rest of her coins to America, on one of the finest colleges, where a roommate stole me from her. Careless, she lost me along with all the other currencies either in the shuffle of moving or in the bustle of parties, and I found myself once again floating the hands of the public, who freely exchanged me in a case of mistaken identity.
I, however, ended up in your caring hands, who took the time to appreciate who I really am, and thought over the incredible journey that each and every one of us embarks. With those thoughts in your mind, you sparked the imagination of the internet and inspired others to think about the magnificent potential found even in just a tiny shilling.
More stories at /sub/andrew__wells
[WP] You're Woody and you've just been "adopted" by a new family. This person has a lot of toy collections but by far his Warhammer 40K collection is the strangest and it's making Buzz Lightyear nervous.
There were some things Woody noted every time Jerry left his room for the day was that continued to etch into his thought process. First off, the room was immaculate, save for an above average sized desk, which had been splattered with paint of a thousand shades over what had to be decades. It was possible the desk was not his own, or possibly not even the first but its true age was hard to determine. It also smelled of aerosol paint, but as a toy Woody did not find this to be a problem.
Among other bric-a-brac on the table at all times was a cutting tool, various paint brushes of various sizes and thicknesses, each one marked by Jerry in some fashion he found to be better than the factory did.
Another were something he heard of but had never actually personally met until now: models. Toys that the owner builds themselves before they play with them. To Woody it was quite strange but far from a problem. It implied a care for personal effects that as a toy Woody felt was gratifying. Jerry would always care for those he considered his toys.
Another were that many of these models were grouped together, sometimes on display and other times in cases and containers meant to hold them with the utmost care. Many were beautifully molded by the designers. When one got past the foul-mouthedness of each group.
"DEATH TO THE FALSE EMPEROR!"
"AWWWW SHUT YER GOB!"
"THE XENOS SHOULD BE WISE TO KNOW HE SPEAKS AMONG HIS BETTERS!"
".......Why couldn't Jerry have taken us today? The Mon-Keigh are more restlesz than usual."
Woody scratched his head in confusion. Despite being only about as tall as his boot, most of these models had voices that could shout down damn near anything Woody had ever seen. The family dog often followed orders from the blue coloured soldiers with the angry looking helmets whose insignia apparently required an upsidedown omega symbol. Not even Woody had gotten that far without lots of bribing bellyrubs.
But what unnerved Woody most was how often Buzz stayed away from them. Like he knew something. Finally, after 3 weeks of nothing but insults or ignored pleas of answers from the models, Woody went over to see what was wrong with Buzz.
"Buzz you have to help me here. I can't get through them. You seem to know something about them. Can you help?"
"....Buzz? You ok?"
"Buzz, can you speak up? I can barely understand you when you look away from me."
It was only now that Woody realised he hadn't seen Buzz's face in five days. Ever since he talked to the spikey red soldiers who looked like the blue ones but far more aggressive. Woody just assumed it was a case of owner envy. How wrong he was.
Buzz kept muttering to himself, a wild look in his eye as he looked at his own face in the reflection of his collapsable helmet. When Woody got closer he thought he could hear better but the muttering was still only half heard.
"You! He who calls himself Woody!"
This was a first. The models were talking to him. Well, the elf ones were. But Woody always felt like he was being talked down to by them. Still, they appeared to have something to say now.
"Look can it wait? I need to get Buzz out of this funk he is in."
One of the elf-like models, which called itself an Eldar Farseer held a hand up as if to bid Woody to stop speaking a moment. "I am afraid you have greater troubles with him, Mon-Keigh. He is no longer himself."
"What are you talking about? Buzz is Buzz. At least when his factory settings aren't messed with."
"Look closer, and see what we see."
Woody turned from Farseer to Buzz and back again in confusion.
"....But you are over there, all the way across the room. How can you see better than me?"
"Because you merely look where we see. Pay attention to everything. See the whole image as opposed to a single fleck of paint."
Woody shrugged at the comment, muttering to himself as he walked over to the Farseer. ".....ice cream koans never do anyone favours.....hate these riddle answers......"
Woody climbed up to the display zone of the desk, where the Farseer currently stood upon its base, the grass around her feet bending and flowing in accordance to a phantom wind that Woody just now noticed. "Wait, how-"
"Before you ask how, you should instead ask why. You have not considered everything about your friend's recent actions. He has spent less time at the Shelf with you and more at the Table. But to understand why he changed you must understand our lore."
"Yeah I don't really have the time for that, can you just tell me what I need to know?"
"I fear he has become corrupted by Chaos. By Khorne, specifically."
".......can you explain to me how food we cannot eat corrupted my friend?"
"I can see why you believe I said a foodstuff instead of a proper name but suffice it to say your friend is likely lost to you and it would be wise for you to let him go. The Blood God is not one to share attention."
Woody crossed his arms. "You know this is just pretend right?"
"Yes, and in the lore it was so for a time too. But things change and Chaos has a power none should underestimate. It is better if you do not talk-"
"Yeah whatever. I'm gonna go talk to my friend now. We have been through too much to let it end like this."
Woody dropped back down to the floor and went off to talk to Buzz. At that point Buzz finally moved. He turned to Woody. And all Woody heard next was a near manic cry from Buzz in a voice not his own and also not his Spanish Mode.
"BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE!!!!!!!!!"
[WP] After lulling other countries into a false sense of security, Canada finally makes its move to conquer the world.
As the bear cavalry and mounted moose erupted across the globe, the commander smiled. Their plan was finally coming to fruition.
Their attack would be swift and efficient. Casualties were to be kept at an absolute minimum - this was not about world domination. It was about saving humankind from itself.
Wars were constantly fought across the globe. Animosity had reached an all-time high, and World War III was rearing its ugly head.
Canada, the nicest of all nations, could simply not let that happen.
Surprise attacks were carried out with deadly precision across the globe. Surgical strikes toppled world leaders overnight. Diplomatic meetings became revolutions.
The world was thrown into disarray, then swiftly reigned into order under one leader.
A broadcast was sent across the globe, the Canadian commander addressing the world.
"Let me start off by saying one thing," he said, adjusting his tie.
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I'll try add new (and old) stories every day <3
[WP] You are known as the Ultimate Substitute Teacher, but not because of your exceptional skills. Rather, everything you teach is so utterly and ridiculously wrong that students are driven to find out the truth just to correct you.
Based on an episode of a show from my childhood.
“…and that is why East Virginia seceded from the Union, all thanks to an eccentric governor who thought Richmond was actually Atlantis,” I concluded the fun tidbit. The class of around thirty students stared at me with eyes in which a fierce debate raged if they wanted to correct me or simply allow me to continue with my lecture. Patiently awaiting a hand, I surveyed the room to find a few students already vigorously searching their phones in the laps, not nearly as discretely as they thought.
“Actually,” one student in thick glasses began. “There’s no East Virginia. West Virginia, however, seceded from the Confederacy because it disagreed with their stance on states’ rights and slavery.”
“Is that so?” I mused. “Well that takes us to the first battle of the Civil War: After Abraham Lincoln, AKA Captain America, denounced Jefferson Davis, who came out as Iron Man…”
“Sir,” a young lady interrupted with an outstretched hand. “You’re thinking of the Marvel movie. Abraham Lincoln was the new president of the United States while Jefferson Davis was elected to the Confederate States of America. I don’t think either of them were superheroes.”
“Yeah, but Lincoln could have been a superhero,” I argued with the class. “In the night he donned the mask under the name, ‘El Americano,’ and became a luchador. On nights that he wasn’t defending his title, he was a vampire hunter.”
“Um…” another kid fiercely reading Wikipedia in his lap protested. “While Lincoln is inducted in the Wrestling Hall of Fame and while lucha libre has origins dating back to 1863, it was very regional until the 1930s. I really doubt Lincoln was aware of it. And also, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was just a movie…”
“I see…” I continued the lecture. “Well the first battle of the Civil War was at Fort Summer in Southern Carolina, before they split, fought with giant mechanized men, resulting in the deaths of millions, one of the reasons why the Civil War is one of the bloodiest in American history.”
“That’s bull!” One kid argued.
“You’re full of it!” Another contradicted me.
“Somebody tell this idiot what really happened,” somebody in the back shouted.
“Well for starters,” a girl in a long skirt began. “The Carolinas were divided in 1729, well over a hundred years before the Civil War. The first battle took place at Fort Sumter, not Fort Summer. Furthermore, there was only one casualty: a union soldier accidentally killed during a flag-raising ceremony after the fort was surrendered. No mention of giant robots.”
So the class continued as I made grand declarations of lies, each becoming more subtle as the children wanted to contradict me at every turn. By the end of the class period, they became experts in the early Civil War, not because I taught them, but because I gave them the inspiration to teach themselves.
More stories at /sub/andrew__wells
[WP] You own a magical camera that is similar to a thermal camera, but instead of heat it shows you value. A ring glows as bright as the sun while a piece of plastic wrapping is almost invisible. You have been careful never to look at a person with it for your whole life.
Before I tell my story, I must ask you one thing. Is value absolute?
Please, keep the question in mind as you read.
On my twelfth birthday, I was given a gift by my great aunt Catherine. You see, I'd recently fallen in love with photography. Months earlier, grandfather — a war photographer — found an old album lying about. Covered in a layer of dust as thick as my pinky, we sneezed and coughed together when he pulled it from its resting place in the attic.
There's just something untouchable about those photos. A moment, captured through human ingenuity, and immortalised beyond our inconsistent and so very mortal memory. I couldn't help myself, brushing my fingers across the pieces threefold older than I. Seeing faces of those that had passed away, seeing the expressions that would otherwise be lost, and feeling — oh so importantly, feeling — as if I had been there. There are no words for that first spark that sets your life in motion.
That said, I almost threw away my first camera - crazy, isn't it? When my aunt had told me that beneath the wrapping was a camera, I ignored all my other gifts in a squealing fit of excitement. I even cried, holding that polaroid camera to my chest, uttering far too many thanks - if her red cheeks were of any indication. The only downside was that the film wasn't included. Not that it stopped me from cuddling that gorgeous piece of machinery all night.
The very next day, armed with a handful of bills from uncles that didn't know what little girls wanted, I dragged my parents to the shops and bought as much film as possible. Gosh, speaking of moments to capture, I wish there was a photo of me after the second picture I took. If a picture is worth a thousand words then my sobbing form, crumpled on the ground, would have been the textbook definition of devastation.
But, as people of that age tend to do, I got over it and set to making the thing work. First thing, I called my aunt who said she bought it at some pawn shop. The owner told her that it was special, an old man with more wrinkles than fingers and toes. To this day, that's all I know of origins of this mysterious camera.
Second thing, I took pictures. It took me four or five shots before I realised that the quality wasn't actually bad. See, I had thought that the lens was broken, as some things like our grandfather clock stood out whilst my old ballet shoes were transparent.
It's embarrassing to admit this, but it took me the entire week to figure it out. Having been initiated through amazing wartime pictures, I refused to take pictures of people until I could get the blasted thing working. So I took in the details of rings, captured the shimmering of fading batteries and saved the glasslike outlines of toys that I owned. For days, I sat in my room thinking. And, I must have bought... what, a hundred push pins in that single week? At the very least, that many.
Again, I wish I had my picture when I finally figured it out. I bet you'll never even guess how I figured it out. It's almost laughably simple. I just took out some money, laid it out on the table and snapped a shot. Normal table. Nigh on invisible coins. And right there, in the bottom right corner after a curve of light, glowed a bright hundred dollar bill. If string light bulbs sat in brains, my eyes lit up like never before.
I, a budding photographer, had a camera that could capture the value of something. In an instant, I was a comic book superhero. Camera Girl. Sidenote: never thought of a proper name. I thought it was silly to have a comic book name, so I just went by Alex Woodkite. My own name. Hiding in plain sight.
In the coming years, I became quite famous and wealthy. Never took a picture of a human, though. Don't get me wrong, I was definitely tempted to do so. For the weeks at a time, I would lie awake at night wondering how a human would look. From what I gathered, taking pictures of animals, we would be valued based off our meat and organs. Caviar was bright, chicken was dull. With how much hearts, livers and kidneys cost, I figured that humans would be like gold. But it was just a 'maybe'. A 'maybe' that I never crossed.
Besides, I had other things to do. Like capturing the world. And, making a good amount off the world of art and forgeries. Fun fact: Forgeries are sometimes brighter than originals, if you make them well enough. My photos have been everywhere, Time, National Geographic and so on. Photo of the year awards, being able to determine from a hundred shots which photos were the most valuable in a single snap - my life was amazing.
I travelled the world in my late teens and throughout my twenties, capturing it wherever I went. Even took some human photos with normal cameras. And like anyone, I fell in love.
Things come in three, don't they? For me, there have been three sparks in my life.
The first, seeing those wartime photos and listening to my grandfather explain them to me. I wish he were still around today, there is not a soul who doesn't love his stories.
The second, falling in love with Joshua Urwin. A connection like a lightning strike. For him, I would have given up photography. Thankfully, we shared the passion and travelled the world together, making sure to immortalise it all.
Finally, the biggest spark in my life — my baby, Lucy.
Lucy, the one to get me to break my rules. In a bout of excitement and human foolhardiness, I broke my only rule and learned the definition of a word that I once thought I knew.
One snap. That's all I've ever taken of her. One snap, a single immortal photo.
An empty crib.
I couldn't bear to look at it, but didn't have the heart to destroy it. So much for a mother's love...
For months, I cried over that photo. Joshua never saw it. I kept it hidden away, tucked in a small chest in my dresser. And each month, I would look at it, again and again, wishing for her to appear. But nothing. Just a blank spot, and gentle depressions in the crib where she should have been.
Three times. I almost killed myself three times in that year. Overdose. Drinking. Gunshot. The hospital saved me, twice. The gun jamming saved me the final time.
And if there is a deity above, I need to thank them for that jam. That night, crying over my dresser with tears in my eyes on Lucy's first birthday I showed the photo to her.
A million sorrys left my mouth, and a thousand tears hit the floor. But that night, there is a lesson there that I will never forget.
Remember at the start, when I asked you, "Is value absolute?"
It is not. People do not get to assign value to other people.
That night, as I looked into Lucy's big blue eyes, I saw the reflection and glint of the photograph.
Come visit /sub/alexurwin for more pictures (in the form of thousands of words)!
Edit: A lot of people are asking for the ending to be explained so here goes. Alex thought that the camera showed the absolute value of everything, the reason being that the camera was able to earn her money through art and photography. However, she finds herself distraught once she takes a picture of her child and sees her as worthless. Later on, she sees the reflection of the photo in her child's eye, which is pure white - signifying great value.
The point of the story is to show that 'People do not get to assign value to other people.' But, there are a few ways you can take it due to the ambiguous ending.
The camera maker made an exception for people.
Humans are special.
Magic is found within ourselves. Not others.
Those are just three off the top of my head, but I'm sure if you looked around you'd find some more. Hope it clears up any confusion. And please, if you have other endings that you want to discuss, by all means.
Forward apologies if I don't get to your comment to explain!