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Monthly S. Story Submissions > April 2016 Issue - Short Stories - Topic: Fresh Start

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message 1: by Garrison (last edited Feb 27, 2016 10:18PM) (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments The current guidelines don't seem to object to my synopsis gimmick, so here's one for a story I plan on writing from scratch just for this contest. It's called "Medicine Man" and it goes like this:

CHARACTERS:

Tetra Engel, Thief
Jax Nightshade, Dark Paladin
Anya Kolobalos, Gangster

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Tetra wants to give his cancer-stricken sister a fresh start in life by healing her.

SYNOPSIS: Jax is the innovator of “maggot therapy” and charges excessively high prices to cure his patients. When Tetra’s sister develops breast cancer, instead of forking over his life savings, he goes out and attempts to steal the maggots from Jax. In addition to the so-called “Medicine Man”, Tetra also has to be weary of Anya, a spear-wielding gangster who wants to steal the maggots to make recreational drugs to sell at an even higher price. It’s a three-way battle on the rooftop of Jax’s satanic church. Who will survive?


message 2: by Anne (last edited Feb 28, 2016 07:42AM) (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Garrison wrote: "The current guidelines don't seem to object to my synopsis gimmick, so here's one for a story I plan on writing from scratch just for this contest. It's called "Medicine Man" and it goes like this:..."

Sounds like a wonderfully creative story!


message 3: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Anyone else tempted to just reprint their story / poem from week 293 - starting over? :D

I think I'll be good and do a new one.


message 4: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Thanks, Anne! :)


message 5: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Edward wrote: "Anyone else tempted to just reprint their story / poem from week 293 - starting over? :D

I think I'll be good and do a new one."


Oh, you have no idea! I have several old ones that fit this theme and I'm so tempted to just do a little touch up and submit. Still undecided. I'm just not feeling anything new coming on...


message 6: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Anne wrote: "Edward wrote: "Anyone else tempted to just reprint their story / poem from week 293 - starting over? :D

I think I'll be good and do a new one."

Oh, you have no idea! I have several old ones that ..."


I've started on one this morning (while at work, of course), so I should have a new one at some point, although the new weekly contest it tomorrow! Argh! I might end up with two stories on the go at once!


message 7: by Edward (last edited Feb 29, 2016 06:04PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Here is the official first entry ever to the WSS Monthly Short Story Competition! Enjoy! And feedback always welcome.

Title : You Can’t Go Home Again (Part 1)
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Thriller
Word Count : 2602
Rating : PG13

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things a person can do in their life, so how about uprooting your whole life and moving to another city? That’s exactly what Francine Monroe was forced to do, after everything that happened.

In the middle of the night Francine packed up what few belongings she could manage into the back of her car and left. She just left, without telling her family of her friends where she was going or, indeed, that she was going at all. She just drove and drove, all night long, until she reached somewhere that looked quiet enough to lay down roots and not be hassled by anyone she knew.

Finally she could make a fresh start.

Locating a local motel, Francine paid for a week upfront, paying cash at the front desk and taking a room in suite number 17. The man behind the counter eyed her suspiciously, but she was used to that. Unloading her small suitcase from the boot of her car, she carried it into the room and closed the door behind her.

Sitting down at the foot of the bed, Francine opened her suitcase, taking out a small picture frame that lay on top of the pile of clothes. It was a picture of her and a small boy; a small boy with her eyes. She tried to smile, but her eyebrows betrayed her and arched up in the middle, her nose starting to twitch as she tried to hold back the tears.

Placing the photo frame next to her on the bed, she rummaged through the clothes she’d packed, emptying them into the drawers in her new room. Once she was finished, she looked at the time. It was 11.45am, but she’d been driving all night, so she took off her shoes, lay down on the bed, and went to sleep.

Francine awoke to the sound of a truck horn blaring outside. She looked at the time, 2.30pm, and swung her legs over the side of the bed. Moving to the window, she twitched the curtain aside to see what was going on. A large Mack truck was parked outside, honking its horn at a car that had double parked in front of it, blocking it from getting in or out of the motel. Francine closed the curtain again, leaving herself in the relative darkness of her motel room.

At least it wasn’t someone looking for her.

It was 3.30pm before the truck stopped its persistent honking, and the owner of the double parked car finally moved out of the way. She watched as the owner, very apologetically climbed into the car and moved it, acting as if they didn’t even know how the car had ended up where it was. Francine took the opportunity to leave her motel room and see if she could find work in the nearby town.

After a five minute drive, Francine found herself wandering the streets, looking in shop windows for ‘Help Wanted’ signs. After coming to the conclusion that nobody in town needed her help, she decided to be a little more pro-active and start asking some of the shop owners.

The first shop she tried was a small market, selling the kind of things you might expect to find at a petrol station but without the petrol. The man behind the counter was middle-aged and looked suspicious when she entered the shop. He put down the newspaper he’d been reading, giving her his full attention as she approached the counter.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“I hope so,” Francine said quietly, “I was hoping you might have some work for me?”

“What makes you think I need any help?” he asked, “I can cope perfectly well on my own.”

Francine frowned, “I needed to find work. I was hoping we could help each other out – you get someone to work for you for less than minimum wage, cash in hand, and you get to take the evenings off.”

The man smiled, “You know, I might have a job for you if you come back this evening,” he smiled, actually looking genuinely helpful. Come back at 7pm and I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you so much,” Francine beamed at the man, then headed out to get something for her lunch, which she’d missed.

After returning to her motel, having had a late lunch consisting of an off-brand hamburger meal and an oddly tasteless milk shake, Francine lay down on her bed, happy that something might be finally going her way. That man at the market might be able to help her out in paying her motel bills, and she’d be able to save some money and move on in a few weeks time. She stared at the ceiling, smiling to herself, then closed her eyes to have a quick nap.

When she woke up it was night time, and she’d sweated through her clothes, her hair dripping wet. She quickly changed into something clean, drying her hair with one of the khaki brown towels from the bathroom, then looked at the time. It was 7.45pm – she was late for her appointment with the man from the market.

Francine raced to her car, starting the engine and driving across to the location of the market, pulling up outside and jumping out of the driver’s seat. Hopefully he wouldn’t have changed his mind, seeing as how she hadn’t turned up on time.

It was very quiet at the market, and there were no customers around as she walked through the door. I guess this was the middle of nowhere, and there probably wasn’t much customer for a market in the middle of nowhere that didn’t even sell petrol, especially when there was a petrol station not too far down the road. Francine walked slowly through the door, approaching the counter. The man wasn’t there, and the market seemed deserted...

...That was until Francine approached the counter.

Behind the counter lay the man, surrounded by a pool of blood. Francine’s eyes widened as she saw his motionless corpse almost floating in a sea of red, his skull caved in from being struck by something hard, a bat discarded next to his body and multiple knife wounds peppering the front of his shirt. Francine took a step backwards, panicking at the sight of blood and death, then ran from the market.

Clambering back into her car, she began to drive, heading back to the motel room. Why did someone do this? She thought to herself. Just when she had a chance to get ahead, some thoughtless monster had killed the man who’d been willing to help her. Hell, she didn’t even know his name. It seemed that bad things just kept following her around, like what had happened to her husband, and her son...

As she arrived at the motel, she parked the car and went to her room. Closing the door, she sat on the bed, burying her face in her hands as she began to cry. Thinking about her husband and her son, their faces when she’d found them, and how the police had treated her when they questioned her about what had happened. She couldn’t go through that again.

The next morning, after a fitful night’s sleep, Francine woke to a sunny morning. Despite herself, she managed to smile, pulling open the curtains to greet the bright morning sky.

But the view from her motel room window was far from welcoming. A number of police cars were parked outside, their lights spinning on their roofs, and Francine stared in disbelief at the shady turn that events had taken. Someone must have reported her car leaving the market last night, and then when they’d found the body they assumed she was responsible. Why did everything have to go wrong for her all the time?

Stepping away from the window, Francine sat back down on her bed, wondering what the best thing was for her to do. Should she just go down there, explain the situation, and hope the police understood? Or would they simply not believe her and lock her up for the crime? She didn’t know what to think.

As she rocked back and forth, she heard a knock at the door to her room. A voice spoke from outside, a booming masculine voice:

“Francine Monroe.” The voice spoke, “This is the police. Come out with your hands up.”

Francine shook her head, running her fingernails up the side of her face in sheer panic and terror. Why couldn’t they see she wasn’t involved? Why did they always blame her?

A booming noise came from the door as the police began to try an knock it down, and Francine stood up from her sitting position. The door suddenly burst in, and four heavily armed police officers barged into the room, pointing their weapons at Francine. She fell to her knees, tears welling up in her eyes as she was cuffed and dragged from her room.

“It wasn’t me,” she insisted as the police drove her to the station. The officer driving snickered at her pleas.

“Save it for the judge,” he snorted as they pulled up to the police station.

(continued)


message 8: by Edward (last edited Feb 29, 2016 06:03PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : You Can’t Go Home Again (Part 2)
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Thriller
Word Count : 2602
Rating : PG13

(continued)

Francine was locked in a cell on her own. She wasn’t even offered a phone call or read her rights. After about an hour of sitting silently on her own, a man in a brown suit walked into the holding area, stopping outside Francine’s cell. Am armed guard was with him, and when Francine finally looked at the face of the man in the brown suit, she recognised him as her family physician, Dr Franklin.

“What’s going on?” she asked him, “Why won’t anyone listen to me?”

“It’s okay, Francine,” Dr Franklin said soothingly, “we need you to come with us to another room. Everything is going to be fine.”

The armed guard opened the cell door, cuffing Francine before leading her into another room with a television and a DVD player, “We got these from the supermarket last night,” Dr Franklin explained, “we want you to see what’s on them.”

Francine sat down in front of the television as the doctor turned on the DVD player, two armed guards flanking him. Grainy security footage appeared on the screen, and Francine could see herself in the market standing with the owner, but the time stamp was off. It was when she’d been sleeping.

She watched as the woman who appeared to be her pulled out a knife and began to brutally stab the owner until her fell to the ground. Even then, she continued to stab him. Eventually she picked up a bat from a display and lifted it above the market owner’s head. You could see he was still alive as he lifted an arm to protect himself, but the bat came down hard on his head, and his arm fell limply to his side.

“That isn’t me,” Francine insisted, “it can’t be. I was asleep in my motel room.”

One of the guards put in another DVD, pressing play and allowing the video to begin without giving it any introduction. Francine watched as her husband and son appeared on her old home security system, running from someone who looked just like her. Similarly the woman was carrying a knife, and she thrust it downward into her husband’s chest.

“No, please, make it stop!” Francine shouted as she watched her husband fall dead to the ground. Her son appeared to be silently screaming in the footage as Francine’s twin turned to him, thrusting the knife upwards into his chin where it buried itself in his brain. Francine wept as she watched her son fall dead to the ground, then turned from the screen.

“There must be some mistake,” Francine insisted, “that wasn’t me. I’d never kill my husband... my son... anyone!”

“I’m afraid there’s too much evidence that says otherwise,” Dr Franklin said in a soothing tone, “it’s not just the video footage. We found your blood soaked clothes in the motel room from when you killed the market owner. I’m sorry Francine, it’s as clear as day that you are behind these murders.”

“Then why can’t I remember?” Francine asked.

Dr Franklin straightened his tie, “We think you may have been suffering from a dissociative fugue state,” he told her, “it’s pretty rare, but people have been known to spend hours, days, or in rare cases months acting in ways that they later forget all about. Sometimes they can create whole new personalities during these periods, then have no memory of them when they return to their normal state.”

Francine shook her head, “I don’t believe you,” she said, “that must have been someone posing as me.”

“I’m sorry Francine,” Dr Franklin shook his head, “but we’re going to have to get you evaluated. You’ll remain here at the station until we can organise transportation, but you aren’t going anywhere for a long time.”

Francine wept profusely as she was returned to her cell, thinking about the fresh start she’d been planning after her husband and son’s murder. Now she was being accused of the crime? It just didn’t make any sense to her.

A few hours later, as she lay dozing in her cell, she heard a voice speaking her name:

“Francine,” the voice spoke quietly in a mocking, lilting tone, “Francine, wake up.”

Francine opened her eyes, looking at her hand which was hanging through the bars of her cell. Attached to her fingertips through the bars was another hand; a hand that led to another person. She looked up into the eyes of her exact double, a woman who smiled wickedly at her.

“I’m glad you’re awake for this,” the Francine-double chuckled, “I really wanted you to realise that all that fugue state nonsense was exactly that... nonsense.”

“What are you?” Francine asked pleadingly, “Why are you doing this?”

“Have you ever heard the myth of the Changeling?” the double asked, “A fairy child left in the place of a human one?”

Francine shook her head.

“Well, it doesn’t really matter, but there are creatures that can replace grown people too, just by merging with them while they sleep and taking on their form. And I was so looking forward to replacing you.”

“What did I ever do to you?” Francine asked sadly as the hand of the double slowly separated from her own.

“Nothing at all,” the double said, swiftly grabbing a hold of Francine’s wrist through the bars, “but I do so enjoy killing. Maybe I’ll take on the form of that Dr Franklin next. What do you think?”

Francine struggled through the bars as her double pulled her arm through, producing a knife and slowly beginning to slice a deep gash into Francine’s throat.

“Don’t worry,” the double smiled, “I know how to do this so that you bleed out quickly. One slice should do the trick.”

The double pushed Francine away, and she fell to the ground gripping her bleeding neck. The blood poured over the bed and the floor, and Francine felt the life draining out of her. She tried to scream for the guards, but she couldn’t find her voice through all the gurgling of blood as it quickly spilled from her throat. The last thing Francine saw was her own face laughing down at her as her eyes slowly fluttered closed.

Her final thoughts; was there really a creature that had done all these horrible things or had she, in her fugue state, just taken her own life?


message 9: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments Not bad, Edward, not bad at all. I thought the pointed questions at the start and end were a little too on the nose, but that's always the problem in short stories. Quite an unnerving tale, because neither option presented is favorable.


message 10: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4216 comments !


I thought I didn't have an idea for a story but last night inspiration struck. Hope to post soon to be part of this debut monthly entry (also read everyone's entries!).


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Shorrocks | 17 comments Ha For a moment I didn't realise there were two Edwards and I thought that was you pretending to be your alter ego or "changeling".

Nice story Edward that'll take some beating.


message 12: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lionesserampant) | 2869 comments Oh wow, yikes, Edward. That story was very chilling, to say the least.


message 13: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Edward wrote: "Not bad, Edward, not bad at all. I thought the pointed questions at the start and end were a little too on the nose, but that's always the problem in short stories. Quite an unnerving tale, because..."

I have a habit of pointing out the obvious in short stories. That's what keeps them short! :D


message 14: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments A wrote: "I didn't read it yet, but when I scrolled through I saw "Francine" and "double" and thought of that older TV show with Jennifer Garner called Alias. Spoilers! Francine had a double.

I'll read it ..."


Too true! I remember when they killed her and replaced her, it was very upsetting. Like when they killed Fred in Angel.


message 15: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments "Caveman wins." Last words of Winifred Burkle.


message 16: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Poor Fred. :.-(


message 17: by Edward (new)

Edward (edwardtheresejr) | 2434 comments Ian wrote: "Ha For a moment I didn't realise there were two Edwards and I thought that was you pretending to be your alter ego or "changeling". "

We should have a way to clarify. I could go by Therese, as my writing name is Edward Therese Jr..


message 18: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Edward wrote: "Title : You Can’t Go Home Again (Part 2)
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Thriller
Word Count : 2602
Rating : PG13

(continued)

Francine was locked in a cell on her own. She wasn’t even offered a ph..."


Congrats on being the first! And with a fascinating story, too! You do come up with some great twists --I love it when I don't see them coming. I do like the way you left the ending, open for the reader to decide.


message 19: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4216 comments Title: A Fresh Start
Author: CJ
Word Count: 2,106
Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including suggestiveness.

Young Amy was crying in her bathroom feeling like the world was on her shoulders. At only twenty-nine she couldn’t help but think of what she was missing, all the things in her life that were daily passing her by. Just why did she have to do so much at her age?


Things were going so well when she a couple of years back had her own job, her own apartment.


Her own life. It all seemed somewhat perfect.


Then only her mother back at home showed signs of turning. Changing. The doctors were telling her and Amy she had dementia.


She wiped her eyes in front of the mirror. She regretted that her make-up kit was just outside, in a pack within the walls of a make-shift room, a hole she had to sleep in so her mother would be waited on hand and foot.


She did love her mother deeply and now she had to go back and move in like everything she moved on from had to happen all over again. She left behind her new life, her old job and though she found a new one in a month she still felt like her life was frazzled; everything had gone to crap according to her struggling thoughts.


She washed her face, deciding to keep her face bare. Hey, it was her mother. She had nothing to hide from her. Plus she took off a week from her job so her paid vacation time would be spent not needing all the facial upkeep.


Opening the door her mother had been peering in, waiting just outside.


“Amy, what are you doing here?”
“Hi Mom, I just needed a break. The bathroom is yours.”

“No. I mean why are you here?! I thought you moved away?”



Amy paused. She was never used to any of this.


“Mom, I moved here a while ago. It’s okay. I just want to take care of you.”
“I don’t need your help. I have nurses.”
“Your medical plan tried nurses but that only went so far. The insurance dropped you, remember?”



Amy didn’t want to tell her they dropped her because she was considered the type of patient they couldn’t afford. Basically to them they couldn’t profit off of her (too old to work) so she was taken off as if they preferred she die instead of being given elderly care, programs for seniors, anything.


But being eighty-one, still kicking and physically active she was seen as a shut-in with no chance to help them so the government saw her as unfit for their program. Strange how different the tides have turned over the years even since Amy was little.


After a pause her mother let the surprising news slide.
“Well what were you doing in there?”
“Just … thinking.” she was thinking of a saying her mother would say to her every night before she’d go to bed when she was a tyke.


”Go to bed. Tomorrow’s a fresh start!” How true those words gave her encouragement and had stayed with her every morning that followed her during her childhood.


How much they felt like words that forsook her when she had bad days at school that wouldn’t quit and the many trials as a teenager. How that faded every day she also had to stay here in this house that made her think her life was over before it could really take off, she sighed.


When she came back to reality her mother apparently had been satisfied with Amy’s excuse. She had disappeared. The sound of plastic bags crackled from her own bedroom. She was surprised she had done something so dramatic so Amy went into her mother’s room to check.


Amy had only taken a couple of personal breaks (two days) staying at her boyfriend’s house and now finding out just how much her mother was doing on her own.


There were ten to twelve plastic bags in her mother’s already cluttered room. Each one tied neatly, all piled on her bed.


“Mom, did you sleep in your room last night?”

Her mother wasn’t listening. She scooped up two dirty cans that once held soup, enclosing them within a fresh bag and it clamored after being thrown onto her sleep space.


She nodded at the pile, noticeably proud of her collection.


“Mom…”

“No. I slept on the couch.”

“Why don’t you throw these things out?”


“Nothing special.”



“What? Mom… why--”



A new thought entertained her mind and it shook her to her core. She should have noticed the warning signs.


“Have you taken your medicine the days I was away?”


“I did get sleep last night.”

“Mom, did you take your meds? Did you remember?”



She thought about it. Then after a moment she threw her face back and forth resembling a child being force-fed split pea baby food.


“Oh gosh…” While her mother kept scrambling around in her room, Amy went down to the kitchen. She searched the fridge and found the two meals she had left her mother wrapped in saran film sitting on the middle floor.


She didn’t even eat anything?! her anxiety increased as she herself assumed her mother must have felt the food was all for Amy. Did she have a bite of anything in the fridge?


Now she felt even more guilty. She thought she was given a free pass to be an adult. She was old enough to go off on her own, why did she have to stay at home for the last two years when she could let her hair down and feel like she could really live?


Being at the house taking care of her mother every second was trying for her especially because she was doing all she could for a person who would probably not even remember her selflessness. Amy sighed as if it had all been for naught.


Then a note that had fallen onto the floor drew Amy’s attention. As soon as she picked it up she recognized her boyfriend’s handwriting. Thinking of how free and full of fun she and her boyfriend spent not just last night but also the last couple of months made her mind swim with lustful desires. The fact that she would do this with someone as often as she wanted didn’t exactly satisfy her, but she knew this guy felt the same way. She and him had a special relationship: to the point they didn’t like to even call each other actual boy and girl friends. It was more of an unofficial label, only mattered when they had their adult goings on.


Then she realized as her heart began to sink how not important the relationship really was.

Her eyes scanned over the letter again, feeling they at first had denied what they saw.


In brief scrawlings her guy friend David said:


Amy,

Tell me when you’re done playing house. There are so many things I want us to do on our next “time off.”... if you know what I mean. Work has swamped me the rest of this week but I finally have some weekend vacation to use.

--

ps Send your grandma my regards.


David “the king” ;)



message 20: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (last edited Mar 04, 2016 09:30AM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4216 comments A Fresh Start- Part 2 (final)
Author: CJ

He hadn’t known how serious her time home had been. Yes, she hadn’t been serious with this man and yes she and him, in an unwritten contract had known what kind of personal fling it was concerning each other, but the words still cut into her soul like a knife.


Her friend didn’t even think the time she devoted was worth it. Didn’t even think it was her mother she was tending to but some old lady. Her mom was not that, she was more than something like that.


After hearing her mother coming down the stairs patiently squeaking each wooden board, Amy started to sob. It was not about anything specific, just hopeless feelings and the thought that there was only so much she had accomplished with little results she got her past her brink and now the dam was broken.


Amy cried with her hands over her face. A moment after she felt a slightly cold hand touch her elbow. When she brought her limbs down, as if a curtain was drawn, she saw revealed between them her mother who was staring curiously at her.


“Amy, honey. What is wrong?”
“I’m sorry. I have had a really tough time lately. I love you Mom but things have become so hard.”
“Do you want some tea?”
“No, you used to give me tea only when I was sick. I’m feeling fine. I don’t need that.”
“Well, we’ve got to do something.”

“Thank you Mom. I think I would just like to sit down and relax.”


Maybe even get something hard to drink…though I haven’t done that in years!


After sitting on the couch her mom revealed she did get something to eat. She had trouble cooking food with the oven so she ate many of the things that were available. Food straight from the can, an orange, eating leftover macaroni salad Amy made with slices of green pepper, she even told Amy she would eat some sardines that were still in the house because she heard about their nutritional value.


“That’s wonderful to hear, Mom. I’m glad that you are still taking care of yourself.”
“A lot of this is what I’ve told you…. I told you this stuff before. Years ago. My child. . . do you remember?”


Amy instantly remembered many of the wondrous things her mom (and her dad, who since passed away) did for her. It was not just food that her family had taught her of some times ago. There was also love and endless care.


After adopting Amy they went on trips, had happy times at restaurants, even had weekends where they went away out of the house as her parents showed her so much. They had set aside so much time, sacrificed days even weeks just to be with Amy.


Thinking of this her heart was moved. She fought back new tears, good ones as she felt she had a new hope.


She no longer felt the urge to go back to drink and instead spoke to her mom about her problems. While she spoke it was Amy herself that decided she and David would no longer be together. It was a fling that was not healthy to her and him and she thought that one day she could find someone to be serious with but just not at the moment.

As she continued their chat Amy made some new food for both of them.


She cooked rice, chicken, and veggies in a creamy sauce and they enjoyed it with happy indulgence. Then Amy asking her mother how to make it began an apple pie. After she had given up on that she decided something more simple so Amy made an apple crumble.


The delectable tastes mingled on their tongues. They both forgot how wonderful the simple things in life really were. Also while doing so Amy realized she would honor her mom and help her do whenever she needed it since she herself had been shown such unconditional love. It would be awful not to give that love back.


And Amy wanted to as it was not a guilt thing or done with the wrong heart. Amy knew now her stage in life was something that needed to be done.


It was funny as Amy thought about it that the things she had thought were “mature” were actually full of selfishness and were futile to her life. She had believed what she was doing was growing up. Yet now she knew that things in life like taking care of another human being though they were tough and sometimes were things ones would wish to avoid were all a part of life. Sometimes life dragged one through the mud. Sometimes it felt like one was like a rock being horribly scratched, but it was the only way for that piece of ore to shine.


As she lay her mother down that night, she gave her a pill then kissed her on the forehead.


“I love you Mom.”
“Love you too, honey.”
“Don’t forget to wake me up tomorrow.”
“I know. Because tomorrow’s a fresh start.”

“Well I didn’t mean that but I get what you mean, haha.”

As Amy walked to her room she fought back a smile.


Because she for the first time ever believed those words again. And this time Amy knew they were true.


message 21: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lionesserampant) | 2869 comments Aw, that was very cute, CJ. I like the dynamic between the two characters. Super sweet.


message 22: by Anne (last edited Mar 07, 2016 02:56PM) (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Finally got it together! This is a sequel to a story I wrote a few weeks ago, but it should work as a stand-alone, too. Critiques welcome.

Author: Anne Findeis
Title: A Taste of Hope
Genre: Sci-Fi Romance
Word Count: 2530

“You're not still mooning over her, are you, Mick?” A friendly jab on the shoulder accompanied the question. “Pun intended, since you're on the moon, staring off into space.”

Mick turned to look into the bright hazel eyes of Orion, his friend and co-worker. His own dark eyes were blackly troubled. “Of course not.”

“You mean, 'Of course, yes'. It's been what, a month? And you saw her once for what, an hour at that conference on Earth?” Orion took a hard look at Mick, analyzing each nuance of tone and body language, as a well-trained Sense-therapist did when facing a troubled soul.

“I'm sorry I ever mentioned anything,” Mick replied. He hadn't been able to shut up about the magnificent creature, a sea-human no less, that he'd encountered in the hotel pool, as eager to learn about him as he was interested in her. And that kiss. One kiss. But it was enough.

“Hey.” The soft word was joined by a shoulder rub and brief side hug.

Mick shrugged him off.

Mick had been sitting on a bench at the edge of Reflection Park, a moss-grass covered haven that sprouted amber flowering bushes along the edge of the pond. Colorful, translucent, eel-shaped moonfish frequently jumped up from the clear water.

He was gazing at the Earth that hung above the horizon; peering through the luminescent space dust that encircled the moon like the rings of Saturn. And staring intently at one particular place on Earth, the Carib Ocean that separated what was left of the north and south continents.

“So what was it about her? You're surrounded by women here who adore you --”

“-- they're scientists,” Mick interrupted. “And they're all much older.” He paused. “And it's work here. You know that. They only want to be with me when they have problems...or needs. You know that as well as I do”

Orion did. The genetic engineering that enabled them to sense gas, liquid and minerals below the surface of the moon had an unexpected side effect. They could sense others' feelings, emotions, and needs. When mood disturbances – a side effect of the moon's atmosphere on those not born here – affected the scientists' work, mineralogists like Orion and Mick were trained to deal with that.

Mick glanced at Orion. “For once, I was with someone just because we both wanted to be.”

“So what was it about her exactly? You're both different half-human species – She was bred to live underwater --”

“-- Underwater and above water,” Mick interrupted. Just like we were bred to breathe both Moon air and Earth air.

“My point exactly. The one thing you have in common, you can't really share. You're here. So what's the attraction? She doesn't even look human.”

“Maybe being different is what we have in common.”

Orion snorted.

“She has a perfectly shaped face,” he motioned with his hands. “Pixie-like, one that's just begging for my hands to wrap around,” he cupped his hands in front of him.

“And the brightest green eyes, they shine like the emerald sky-dust in the morning sun,” he nodded upwards and continued, “Hair the color of copper...and her skin...like pearls tinted a pale gray, so smooth, so firm.”

“I get the picture.” Orion held his hand up to stop.

“No, that's not all,” Mick turned to him. “It's not just the physical. She's so fresh, so clean inside. I don't know how to say this.” Mick turned his face away, rubbing his fingers over his face, brushing back the black curls that hung over his charcoal hued forehead, “she's innocent, vulnerable.”

“Sounds like you want to protect her.”

“That's part of it,” Mick admitted. “Mostly I appreciate the naturalness of her, if you get what I mean.”

“Especially after the games people play around here.”

“Exactly.”

A moment of silence ticked by before Mick spoke.

“I want to leave.”

“What? How?” Orion sputtered, “They'll never let you, or any of us, just go. We're a multi-million dinari investment for them.” He added in a quieter tone, “How do you even know she wants to see you again? Or would be allowed to?”

Mick shrugged his shoulders. “It's a risk,” he admitted. “I never thought I'd say it, but I'm too restless now to stay here.” As if to prove it, he began to walk away. Orion hurried after.

“Mick, we've spent our whole lives training for the work we do. This is all we know What do you know about living on Earth?”

Mick jerked to a stop, his eyes suddenly wild with deep emotion. He fiercely spat out, “Nothing. I know nothing! But doesn't it bother you? Having our lives defined from birth to death? Not having any choices about anything? They treat us like we're robots. Or slaves. Like we don't count, except as an investment that they expect will pay off!”

Orion stepped back from his friend's clenched teeth and hands. The anger took him by surprise. By nature, they were both affable, easily accepting the circumstances of their fate. Or they used to be. But Mick wasn't finished.

“We're supposed to be mineral specialists during the day and therapists any other time? It was fine at first – you feel good helping people, but when talking isn't enough for them, how do you say, 'Enough'?”

Mick whirled and pointed a sharp finger at Orion, “I have to spend my nights with them, too? Because they need it. Because somehow it's become my job. I can't remember the last time I had a bed to myself.”

He began to pace.

“Sure, when you're sixteen it's a thrill. Exciting. And I was proud that I could be good in bed. I could see the difference it made for them. But now...”

Orion nodded in understanding, “Now that you're a seasoned veteran at eighteen...”

“Yeah.” Mick looked his friend up and down, “I'd give anything to be seen as a nicely comfortable son-of-the-guy-next-door type like you are.”

Orion responded with a twisted grin and a shrug of his shoulders.

Mick took a deep breath, “I want to start my life over. On my terms.”

Orion stared at him, then said slowly, “How do you think you'll get off this rock? It's not like they give you vacations.”

“I know,” Mick muttered. “I've got some ideas about that. I'll have to talk with our station leader.”

***

Dr. Jupe Bourn prided herself on becoming the first, and in her mind the most important, of the seven station leaders on the moon. She oversaw the research, processing, sales, and transportation of the moon's resources in her arc, with hundreds working under her. It was a coup for someone only 35 years old. Born on Earth, she had lived on the moon since she was 15 years old and rarely returned. She came from a long line of scientists devoted to the development of lunar resources; although she knew some considered it exploitation. The long investment in time and money was finally beginning to pay off. She would soon be recognized as a force to be reckoned with.

She took a deep draft of moonshine ambrosia, one of their most popular exports to Earth, and tucked the bottle into the bottom drawer of her desk. She stroked the desk's smooth surface, made from moon obsidian, another lucrative export. Straightening the fur mantle around her shoulders, she patted the ultra short honey gold hair that lay against a caramel forehead.

The door opened. Jupe was pleasantly surprised to see Mick in the doorway. She loved the way his near black eyes and curly black hair complemented his light charcoal hued skin. He was a young man of many talents. Jupe smiled and beckoned him in.

“Mickelin,” she purred his formal name in a deep throaty voice, “My favorite Sense-therapist. How delightful to see you. What brings you into my office?”

He gave her a wide smile, then sat down in the obsidian chair across from her matching desk. He leaned.back, elbows on the armrests, and crossed his legs at the ankle.

“Business, I'm afraid. Of the mineral kind. I have designs to make you wealthy, famous, and respected.”

“My favorite words. Tell me more.” Her eyes glittered. Mick had planted the idea of obsidian furniture in her ear some time ago. She liked that she could count on him to actually think.

“I think it's time to take Energite to Earth.”

Jupe's eyes narrowed as she leaned forward. Resting her elbows on the desk, she tented her hands together in front of her lips. A heavy silence hung in the air between them for a moment.

“We need it here. There's not enough to – “
“-- Actually there is,” Mick was one of a select few allowed to interrupt her. “If we play it right.”

A tentative smile formed at the edge of Jupe's lips. “You're using all of my favorite words today,” she said archly. “I'm beginning to feel manipulated.”

He gave her another wide grin, “No one, not even me, would get away with that. But seriously...” Mick now leaned forward, arms resting on his knees, speaking in clipped phrases.

“Teaser amounts only. To a select group. A special convoy, sent for research and humanitarian reasons. Get the funders to pay for it. Tout it as a revolutionary energy source on a trial basis in a new environment. Which is true. Of course we'll be showing our hand early, but so what? It's not like anybody else has anything better out there. We control who we give it to, when and how much; and what to charge for it. They'll eat it up. They'll feel we're doing them a favor.”

“And who do you suggest should receive this boon?” Hands still tented, she was stroking her fingertips across her lips.

“The Sea-Lifers.”

“What?” Jupe dropped her hands and stood up in fury, sputtering, “They're the competition! They've stolen our funding. They despise us. Why should we do anything to help them?”

“That's why you'll become the most respected global humanitarian, known for your fairness and impartiality, above the politics. Just remember, you'll be the one in control. They'll be at your mercy.”

She sat back down. “Another good choice of words. You really are manipulating me. I wonder why. However, your appeal has merit. I'll think about it.”

“There's a shuttle leaving this weekend. It has enough extra space on it for a first test shipment... and for a rep.”

Jupe's eyebrows rose. “So soon? What's the rush?”

“No rush, but it'll be cheaper to piggyback it with compatible cargo, something that won't explode.”

His lip twitched as Jupe grimaced. They were both thinking about the risks of transporting moonshine ambrosia. A few small explosions had occurred in the past. In the presence of Energite, a high-energy flammable mineral containing both gas and liquid components, the whole shuttle could explode in space, or worse, on landing. Jupe shuddered.

“And you know you need a rep. Someone to sell it to them and explain how to use it. And it should be a Sensor, because we can see how best to spin it. And it should be soon, because we're approaching the end of our slow season. And it should be someone that knows Energite inside and out.”

He paused a moment. “And it should be someone who is at least somewhat known to the Sea-Lifers, someone they won't be too suspicious of.”

“Ah ha! You want to go. Why?”

“It would be a novelty, that's all. But you have to admit, I'm the best person for this mission. I believe it's worth doing.”

“So... how would you sell it to them?”

(cont'd)


message 23: by Anne (last edited Mar 07, 2016 03:03PM) (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments A Taste of Hope cont'd

Mick leaned forward, the eagerness evident in his eyes.

“It would be perfect for their under-oceanic farming industry. They spend day and night down there, sometimes as deep as 1000 feet. Their primary source of light is from the luminous coral and the fish they keep. They have artificial light too, but it's not cost effective. One of our mineral globes could generate enough energy to light up their sea floor for at least 6 months before it needs to regenerate.”

He stopped to do a quick calculation in his head. “ And it should cover about 100 yards. I figure we could start by sending them a dozen. Enough to make things a little more pleasant; it probably won't have much impact on their productivity. In a few years, we'll be able to provide more if we want.”

“And you know all this how?”

“I am a mineralogist.” he said stiffly, then relaxed to a friendlier tone. “And I was talking to Sea-humans at the Earth conference you sent me to last month, those not focused on getting funding. There are some. Truly.” His conspiratorial smile convinced her.

Jupe rose and stretched out her hand. “I'll make the calls. Get ready to fly.”

He shook her hand. She held on a little longer than necessary, then puckered her lips in a mock kiss and said, “I'll see you tonight.”

***

“So what happened? You don't look that happy,” Orion observed as Mick came stalking out of the administrative pod.

“I said what I had to say to get what I wanted. That's all. I hope it doesn't backfire on me.” Mick stopped and gave a weak smile, “I'm going.”

Orion slapped him on the shoulder, “But that's great! So how come you're not happier?”

“Because now I'm nervous.”

“Are you coming back?” Orion whispered.

“Don't know yet. But I do know this: whatever happens, I'll have gotten at least some of what I want.”

“A new life.”

“And hope. There's always the hope for something better.”

***

Mick left his meeting with the Sea-Life for Human Survival directorate, feeling very pleased. They were enthusiastic with the offer to share the moon's resources. They even wanted to pay – Mick had expected no less. The head, Dr. Pomea, had as much pride as Jude and would not want to be in her debt, even if Central Funding was covering the cost. He figured Jude would be getting reimbursed from both ends of the funding spectrum now. That should appease her and quell any doubts she might have about him.

He headed for the next, most critical part of his mission, meeting with the Sea-humans working in the field. He kept his mental fingers crossed.

She strode out of the water, a slim, delicate vision, flowing in silver and red, all wet and shiny. He knew the exact moment she recognized him. She stumbled and her eyes grew as large and wide as moon-plates. He could tell she didn't know whether to stop, walk, or run. He put on a warm smile and lifted his hand towards her. Come.

She glowed. She ran. Her welcoming grin was all he had hoped for.


message 24: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments CJ wrote: "A Fresh Start- Part 2 (final)
Author: CJ

He hadn’t known how serious her time home had been. Yes, she hadn’t been serious with this man and yes she and him, in an unwritten contract had known what..."


A very touching story written in a thought-provoking way. I can relate to Amy - it's so much like how I felt when I had to move back home to care for my mom. Good job.


message 25: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lionesserampant) | 2869 comments Anne, your story was absolutely delightful! I devoured it and reached the end wanting more. Such an intriguing premise!


message 26: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Kat wrote: "Anne, your story was absolutely delightful! I devoured it and reached the end wanting more. Such an intriguing premise!"

Thanks Kat!


message 27: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lionesserampant) | 2869 comments You're welcome!


message 28: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments Quick question: So it's not looking like I'm going to be able to get a new story written for this. Would it be allowed for me to submit 'The Last Text' which is a story I posted in one of the weekly contests a while back?


message 29: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments Awesome! I'll get it up here tomorrow.


message 30: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments The Last Text
Author: Ruth Erskine
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 679



January 22, 5:30 pm

HELP!!!!!

What’s wrong?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I thought I had everything ready, but now I
don’t know! Are you sure the shirt isn’t
too casual? Should I go with my black dress
instead? What if the place is really fancy?
I don’t want to seem like I didn’t even care
enough to dress up! And what about
makeup?


Kris, chill XD the shirt’s perfect!
If you’re really not sure, try wearing
my lucky shoes. I left them over at
your place the other day :)


Oh I see them now! Are you sure
you don’t’ mind if I wear them?
Cause I think that’ll really help


Yeah! Go ahead! That’s what
friends are for, right? ;)


You’re the best, Marcy :)

I know ;) now go have fun!
I’ll talk to you later


Ttyl :)

January 22, 9:08 pm

OMG it was amazing! He’s so
sweet and charming, and he
asked me out again tomorrow
night! I’ll tell you all about it
at school tomorrow :D
By the way, where are you?
Your mom called and said you
weren’t home yet. Is
everything okay? Don’t worry,
I won’t tell ;)


January 23, 8:32 am

Marcy? Where are you? Are you okay?
I asked around, and nobody’s seen you
at school. Is it a guy? You’ll have to tell
me all about it ;)


January 23, 4:47 pm

Okay, Marcy, you’re freaking me out
a little. I saw the cops at your house
on my way home. Where are you?


January 23, 6:12 pm

Marcy?

January 24, 9:24 am

Mom told me to stay home from
school today. Her and dad are
downstairs talking to the cops. This
is getting serious, just tell me what’s
going on, okay?


January 24, 9:30 am

They’re coming upstairs now- I think
they’re gonna ask me questions. What
am I gonna say?


January 25, 2:10 pm

They’re looking everywhere. Tell me
you’re okay, please.


February 1, 1:18 pm

They’ve called your mom and us down
to the station. They didn’t tell us why,
but you’re there, right? You’re okay, you
just lost your phone or something.


February 1, 11:54 pm

It wasn’t really you, It can't be. Just
some girl who looks like you. You’re
still out there somewhere, right? Please,
Marcy, just reply, please


February 8, 3:51 pm

Your funeral was today, Marce.
Tommy flew in all the way from
Oregon. Your aunt Jen showed
up. They said all grades of nice
stuff about you. You would have
liked it. Oh, and you know that song
you liked, Going Home? Well, they
played it.


March 3, 8:34 pm

They found him. Can you believe
it? They really found him. We just
got the call. Apparently he
confessed before shooting himself
in the head. I should feel like it’s
resolved, shouldn’t I? But I don’t.
I miss you, Marcy.


May 10, 7:44 am

Happy birthday :)

June 15, 2:20 pm

Graduation day. They gave you
a memorial. I told myself I
wouldn’t cry again, but I think
you know I didn’t keep that
promise.


December 25, 8:03 am

Merry Christmas :)

January 22, 6:17 pm

Today’s been hard, again. Mom
wants me to go to therapy. I
don’t know what good it’ll do.
They’ll just pump me up on meds
and try to make me forget. I don't
want to forget, Marce.


January 22, 9:02 am

It’s been two years, Marcy, but
I still miss you. I heard Payphone
on the radio the other day. I still
don’t get why you liked it
so much. I’ve tried getting a fresh start.
I’ve tried moving on, but I can’t. I just
keep wishing this was all some stupid joke.


January 22, 3:16 pm

I saw a movie in the theater
the other day that you would
have loved. Why do so many
things still make me think of
you? Three years, and it still
feels like yesterday. I miss
you, Marce! We were
supposed to be best friends
forever. I’ve got to stop this,
though. This isn’t goodbye,
and this isn’t me letting you
go. It’s see you later. I know
you understand, wherever
you are. See you later, Marcy.
I’ll never forget you. You’ll
always be the best ;)



message 31: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Medicine Man
GENRE: Dark Fantasy
WORD COUNT: 2,049
RATING: PG-13 for violence and swearing



Maggot therapy wasn’t the prettiest form of medicine nor was it the safest. And yet, Tetra Engel knew he had to have it. It was his sister Lily’s only chance at survival. Dressed in brown rags with a demon mask over his face, Tetra took deep breaths in and out in order to calm his nerves. One wrong move could mean certain death. Then again, knowing that there was arguing going on inside the Church of Darkness could prove to be a worthy distraction for those guarding the maggot farm.

Tetra pulled out a rope with a hook at the end of it and twirled it over his head. As the whooshing noises were getting progressively louder, he threw the hook with all of his might and hit his target: the rim of the church’s roof. He was certain the maggot farm was on the top level and getting in through the roof would be his best shot at stealing the medicine.

With the hook firmly grasping its target, Tetra held the rope and walked up the wall of the church. His faith in maggot therapy was met with stomach wrenching anxiety as he saw the designs in the multi-colored windows. He saw minotaurs slashing the throats of small children with sling blades, death angels breathing fire on veiled women, and dragons spitting acid on helpless farm animals. Such violent imagery caused Tetra to puke in his mouth a little bit as he was scaling the wall.

His blood also started to chill when he heard the argument within the church intensifying. Voices were throatier and louder. Plus, the sounds of weapons clanging together and wooden furniture breaking didn’t relieve Tetra’s anxiety any further. He took a break from climbing and wiped the cold sweat off of his forehead. He also spit out some bile onto the street below and then continued climbing until he reached the tiptop of the church.

The rooftop was ordinary enough with its flat stone surface. Nothing unusual there. And then Tetra Engel saw the steeple, which depicted a baldheaded vampire chowing down on a unicorn’s neck and splattering blood every which way. “God, these people are fucking disgusting!” said Tetra silently to himself.

Before the cunning rogue could take his first step, the middle smashed open and a purple light beam shone from within the church. Flying from that magical beam was a dark-skinned woman with a red Mohawk, a black halter top, and black baggy jeans. As she rolled backwards toward Tetra, the metal spear she was carrying dropped in his lap. Tetra tossed the spear aside and crawled over to get a closer look at her.

As soon as he saw who she was, the thief cowered backwards in an anxiety-driven crabwalk until he was at the corner of the roof. Being a thief gave Tetra a certain level of street wisdom. This woman was Anya Kolobalos, the leader of the Blood Dagger Syndicate. Anybody who messed with her would end up as a little shit on the floor after she gutted them alive with her spear and drank their blood like religious Kool-Aid.

Anybody except the dark paladin who sprouted black demon wings and flew gracefully up the purple light beam and onto the rooftop. This man was Jax Nightshade, the innovator of maggot therapy and the city’s most vile businessman. His black trench coat and steel armor underneath gave him that villainous look he always wanted. The baldheaded, dark-skinned knight slowly walked over to Anya and Tetra with a bloody smile on his face.

“Well, well, well, it looks like we’re not alone after all, Anya. I didn’t know my church had a rat infestation. In fact, those are the two biggest rats I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Jax in a smooth baritone voice that sent chills up Tetra’s spine. “Which one of you shall I exterminate first? Should I just play a game of spin the bottle? How about ink-a-dink? Or maybe I’ll just take both of you at the same time. Yeah, that’ll be lovely!”

Tetra stuttered, “L-L-Listen, Mr. Nightshade. I didn’t come here for any trouble. I just want s-s-s-s-ome of your maggots. My sister Lilly has breast cancer and I was hoping th-th-th-that…”

“Shut up, you sniveling cretin!” shouted Jax in a voice that mustered up intense winds. He smiled evilly once again and said, “Of course, if you want to have access to my maggots, you’ll have to pay just like everyone else. But judging from those rags you’re wearing, it doesn’t look like you have deep pockets full of gold. Couple that with the fact that you came here through the rooftop instead of the front doors and I know exactly what’s going on. You’re a thief. You’re a liar. You’re a fucking sewer rat!”

This arguing allowed Anya enough time to pick herself and her spear off the ground before charging at Jax with rapid fire thrusts. Jax held a purple cloud of energy in his hand like a shield and blocked every single one of those shots with perfection. The dark paladin then slapped the gangster across the face and sent her rolling to the ground. He jumped on her chest and began raining down punches with green lightning around his fists. Anya covered her face with her arms before reaching up with her free leg and placing a kick to the back of Jax’s head to stop the assault.

The dark paladin rolled off of the gangster and clutched the back of his head in mock pain. He even let out some unconvincing “ouches”. Anya tried to pick herself up off the ground again, but her arms were fried and she couldn’t get a stable grip. Out of the corners of their eyes, the two of them saw Tetra trying to pick the lock to the trap door that lead into the maggot farm.

“Hey! Those are mine, bitch!” screamed Anya as she crawled agonizingly across the roof. Tetra shot up and said, “Uh-oh!” while looking for a way out. He tried to run back to the grappling hook, but was intercepted by a flying Jax Nightshade, who grabbed the thief by his neck with one hand and hoisted him in the air.

“Why didn’t you tell me you wanted off of this roof? You can fly like a birdie if you want!” said Jax with a sick smile and gritted teeth. He dragged Tetra kicking and wheezing by his neck to the edge of the roof. Still holding the thief by his throat, Jax dangled him over the edge and forced him to look at the street below.

Tetra’s vision was fading from being strangled, but when he saw how high he was off the ground, his stomach had a knot the size of a watermelon and his eyes were tearing up like rivers. He thought of his cancer-stricken sister Lilly and how he had failed her not only as a caregiver, but also as a brother. His last supply of oxygen would be spent thinking of how shitty of a way this was to die. His eyelids were getting heavy and he was ready to sleep his life away.

And then Jax let go of his grip and Tetra got a whirlwind of oxygen back into his lungs. He snapped back to reality and had enough alertness to grab the rope next to him and hold on for dear life. His hacking and wheezing caused him to slip down a few notches, but not without looking up and seeing Jax Nightshade with a metal spear through his head. The dark paladin’s purple and green magic faded out and he fell over the edge of the church, hitting the ground with a sickening thud and a bloody splatter. The spear went all the way through his head upon impact and spread his brains all over the cement ground.

Tetra heard the sounds of Anya moaning in pain. Her burned arms gave their last ounce of strength when they put the spear through Jax’s head. This was Tetra’s chance to break into the maggot farm. With the little strength he had left after being choked, the rogue pulled himself up the rope while grunting and straining along the way. He fell down a few notches, but then started walking along the wall like he did before. He made it over the lip of the roof and rolled around on the stone floor. He laid there for a while taking deep breaths in and out and smiling to himself.

And then his breathing was hindered when he felt the presence of Anya Kolobalos sitting on his stomach with her bloody and blackened fist raised high. Her other fist grabbed Tetra’s hair and she said, “I have had it with you fucking street rats! I’ve still got one more punch left in me and guess who’s going to get it!”

Tetra grabbed hold of Anya’s hair-grabbing arm and sunk his teeth into the fried meat. She squealed and rolled on the ground in pain afterwards while bleeding all over the rooftop. The thief took a few more deep breaths and rolled over to pick himself up. Anya tried to do the same, but Tetra quickly wrapped his arms around her waist, hoisted her up, and used the last of his dying strength to suplex her over the edge. The gangster hit the ground doubled over and snapped her neck while shattering her skull on the pavement.

The thief looked over the lip of the roof and smiled in satisfaction as he saw two of the biggest scumbags lying on the ground dead and bloodied. “What a couple of morons,” he said to himself while laying on the ground and catching his breath once more. Those maggots were as good as his.

The next morning, Tetra, without his demon mask, crept happily into Lilly’s bedroom and saw her lying in her bed peacefully with a smile on her face and her hands folded in front of her. Even with a bald head and a weak body, she still looked like a beautiful warrior. “Pssp! Lilly, wake up! I have something for you!”

The sickly woman slowly stirred from her sleep and looked up at her brother with hopeful eyes. “Good morning, Tetra! Did you get the medicine?”

“I sure did. I got all the medicine you’ll ever need,” said Tetra as he pulled a jar of hungry black maggots out of his coat. At first, Lilly’s face was covered in anxious fear. “Don’t worry, dear sister. This will help. I know it will. Trust me.” He opened the jar and poured the maggots all over her cancerous left breast.

The sensation of magical maggots digging into her flesh felt like a massage when it was first happening. And then it felt ticklish, which put giggles in Lilly’s throat. And then she started arching her back in agony. She wanted to scream, but couldn’t because blood was pouring out of her mouth.

Tetra grabbed his sister by the arms and shouted, “Lilly! Don’t die on me! What the hell is going on here?! Fight it! Fight!” It was too late. The maggots ate through her breast and chowed down on her lungs and heart. Her face was covered in the vomit and blood she spit out. She was dead.

Tears were forming in Tetra’s eyes as he backed away and slowly sat down against the wall. Mild tears turned to loud sobs. And loud sobs turned to shouts of “Fuck!” and “Shit!” Curse words turned to fists pounding against the ground and wall. Tetra was a thief, which meant tricking people was part of his job. The irony wasn’t lost on him. He fucked up big time and lost his sister because of it. All he wanted to do was die and meet his sister in the afterlife. He wanted to tell her how sorry he was that he bought into Jax Nightshade’s bullshit. “The Church of Darkness? What a crock!” he shouted to himself.

His suicidal thoughts were racing harder in his mind when he took a look inside the jar and saw there were still some maggots left. “What the hell?” he said. “I’ll probably taste better than piss-flavored beer.”


message 32: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments CJ wrote: "A Fresh Start- Part 2 (final)
Author: CJ

He hadn’t known how serious her time home had been. Yes, she hadn’t been serious with this man and yes she and him, in an unwritten contract had known what..."


Such a sad tale, and not just for the mother. Poor Amy may think she hasn't done much, but she has given up her job and potentially a boyfriend / husband for her mother. Parents do make sacrifices, but it's rare for them to give up having a partner for their child. I guess we're seeing things from Amy's perspective, and perhaps she feels a lot more guilty than she should about trying to get some enjoyment out of life.


message 33: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Anne wrote: "A Taste of Hope cont'd

Mick leaned forward, the eagerness evident in his eyes.

“It would be perfect for their under-oceanic farming industry. They spend day and night down there, sometimes as de..."


I loved A Taste Of Love and I hoped you'd write A Taste Of Hope. :D I'm glad to see Mick and Coral get together, and can't wait to see what happens next. You've paved the way for a potential novel here, with 6k words already wrapped up and in the bag. Way to go!


message 34: by Edward (last edited Mar 10, 2016 07:30PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Ruth wrote: "The Last Text
Author: Ruth Erskine
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 679


January 22, 5:30 pm

HELP!!!!!

What’s wrong?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I thought I had everything ready, but now I
don’t know!..."


I'm so lazy! This is what I wrote when I read this originally.

"This is a pretty clever concept, two friends texting back and forth, then the second continuing to text her friend even after she's dead."

Garrison, I promise to read yours before the weekend is up!


message 35: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Take your time, Edward. No rush necessary. :)


message 36: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments I'm just about to leave work for the weekend. If I don't get to read it over my weekend, I can read it at work Monday morning, which is still technically Goodreads Sunday! :D


message 37: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments If you like hardcore fantasy violence, you'll love "Medicine Man". :)


message 38: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "If you like hardcore fantasy violence, you'll love "Medicine Man". :)"

It's not like you to write hardcore fantasy violence, G-Man! :D


message 39: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Your sarcasm made me chuckle with delight. :)


message 40: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 90 comments @Edward

Well I was pretty lazy myself for not writing something new, so you don't have to worry. Thank you though!
I'll try to read the other stories here when I get the chance.


message 41: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Edward wrote: "Anne wrote: "A Taste of Hope cont'd

Mick leaned forward, the eagerness evident in his eyes.

“It would be perfect for their under-oceanic farming industry. They spend day and night down there, so..."


Thanks Edward, appreciate the warm and generous feedback! The hard part is taking it to the next step and building on what I've started. I always seem to peter out trying to develop plot and character depth... Ah, maybe one of these days...


message 42: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Medicine Man
GENRE: Dark Fantasy
WORD COUNT: 2,049
RATING: PG-13 for violence and swearing

Maggot therapy wasn’t the prettiest form of medicine nor was it the safes..."


Talk about a terrible twist! I didn't see that coming! Poor tetra, after all his efforts, to be screwed over. Nicely played - all the violence masked the trickery until the very end!


message 43: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments The one person who uses stealth as a tool of the trade got tricked himself. Thanks for the feedback, Edward! :)


message 44: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Been super busy and tired, so I'm not as satisfied as I would like to be, but I did get it written, so that's something.

Title: The Queen
Author: CP Cabaniss
Length: 554 Words


The Queen wiped the blood from her sword, surveying the land around her. It seemed that nearly everything was coated in red. The moans of the dying filled her ears, but she blocked it out, focusing on her target. He was just ahead, tip of his sword resting on the ground as he watched the two armies clash in a shower of blood.

Arrogant idiot, the Queen thought, turning to watch an approaching horseman.

Horse and rider barreled toward the Queen as she stood alone, surrounded by her fallen enemies. The rider had the advantage, in many ways. He was fresh; she was not. He had height advantage and better leverage. She, however, was the Queen. It had been years since she suffered a defeat and she would not break so easily.

As the horseman approached, the Queen spun, meeting his downward slash with an upward swing of her own, red cloak swirling around her. Their swords met with a clang and sparks flew. The Queen held firm, barely giving under the blow. The horse cantered past, his rider unsteady. They always underestimated the Queen, and they always paid for it later.

Hooves pounded earth as the rider swung back around, ready to make another pass. The Queen watched, calculating her next move. She never liked harming animals if she could help it; men chose to fight, horses did not. And so, as the horse charged toward her again--rider poised to inflict another devastating blow--the Queen stepped to the side, bringing her sword up in a graceful arc. Steel met leather and the girth strap gave with a snap, saddle carrying rider to the ground as the horse cantered onward, no longer burdened.

The thrown horseman found his feet unsteadily, fighting to untangle himself from the saddle. To the side, the Queen waited, sword held at the ready. She refused to slaughter a man while he was down. Once on his feet, the man charged, bellowing a war cry. As he ran at her, the Queen ran forward to meet him, thrusting her sword through the small opening where helm meets breastplate. His eyes bulged as he began to bleed out, staring at her in disbelief. She smiled as she pushed him off her sword.

His body hit the ground with a sickening crunch.

Battle sounds surrounding her, the Queen dashed from her fallen enemy, toward the King. He no longer held himself with such arrogant confidence. In his eyes, the Queen saw fear. She could almost smell it on him as he raised his sword to meet her, tried to parry her blow.

The King was no match for the Queen. Her sword found its mark and he fell, eyes wide in shock, mouth open on a silent scream. All around them his men began to flee. The Queen stood victorious, surveying her latest victory with a cold smile.

**

The white king rolled across the board, hitting the table with a loud thwack. A long sigh followed. The boy glanced up at his opponent, shaking his head. She grinned at him, green eyes shining, as she flipped her ponytail over her shoulder and reached to start setting the board again.

“My turn to be white,” the girl declared, flipping the board around.

The boy just continued to shake his head.


message 45: by Grace (new)

Grace Crandall | 299 comments Courtney, that story just made my morning. Love it!


message 46: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Thank you! I'll probably do more to it in the future, but that makes me happy to hear. :)


message 47: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Courtney wrote: "Been super busy and tired, so I'm not as satisfied as I would like to be, but I did get it written, so that's something.

Title: The Queen
Author: CP Cabaniss
Length: 554 Words

The Queen wiped th..."


Even though I knew what was coming, I still loved the detail of the 'battle'. Nicely done, Courtney!


message 48: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 639 comments Thanks, Edward!


message 49: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lionesserampant) | 2869 comments Yo my story is on the way I just have to finish editing, preferably after I sleep so it's actually understandable.


message 50: by Natalia (last edited Mar 16, 2016 05:32PM) (new)

Natalia Am I still on time? I hope so *fingers crossed*

Title: The Things in Common
Author: Natalia Anglada
Words: 860

We loved each other. That was the only thing we had in common. And it was more than enough. We proved the universe that opposites do attract. I loved him and he loved me. Yet we were different in every other way. While he was a planner, I was spontaneous. While, he was blonde, I was ginger. While he liked Math, I liked English.

While he was sick, I was healthy.

Cancer. Liver cancer. He was diagnosed when we were nineteen, after only one year of dating. He entered my apartment and made me sit on the couch, and, then, he told me and we cried together, holding each other so close in case one of us broke into a million tiny little pieces.

“You’ll be okay, Cal. The treatments will work,” I told him over and over again in between sobs. He shook his head knowingly but gave me his signature half smile anyway for my own sake.

Another difference: I was a positive while he realistic.

I was wrong. The chemotherapy didn’t work. It just made Callum feel sick and look like a zombie. He lasted twenty months - not even two years - before I found myself sitting in a chair next to a white hospital bed; my boyfriend connected to a hundred and one tubes.

Another difference was created between us that November 19th. While I was alive, he was dead. While I was crying, he was dead. While I wanted to die, he had already left without me. I realized we never had only one thing in common like I thought we did; we had had two. We loved each other and we both were living humans. We were both alive. And then he wasn’t and because of that he didn’t love me anymore so we didn’t have any similarities left. Which only made me cry harder.

I didn’t talk to anyone for over a month. He was a good person; he didn’t deserve to leave this place so early. And I didn’t deserve to go through life all by myself. Even if it sounds silly – we were only eighteen when we first met, after all – but he was my soul mate and I wasn’t so sure if I was going to be able to go through life without him.

“Cassidy, sweetie, you need to snap out of it, please,” Mom told me one day. She had just barged in my apartment for a surprise visit just to find me lying on the couch in my pajamas, a framed picture of Callum and me at our graduation on my hands. “He wouldn’t want to you see you like this.”

“Then it’s a good thing he’s not here to see me,” I snapped back.

“Sweetie, I’m worried about you. Two months have gone by. I’m not saying you have to forget him and move like nothing ever happened but you can’t put your life on hold forever.”

“You don’t get it, do you, Mom?” My eyes filled with tears. “He was the love of my life. It’s too painful to go outside and see all the places where we used to hang out; the classrooms, the Starbucks a block away his dorm, even my apartment. I miss Callum so much and I don’t think it will ever stop hurting.”

“Then get a fresh start. Request to transfer to some other city. You always wanted to live in San Diego, right? Don’t let your grieve ruin your life, Cassidy. Start over.”

A fresh start…

“I don't know, Mom. Maybe…”

“Just think about it, Cassidy.” Mom gave me a kiss on the forehead and hugged me tightly. “I love you.”

I didn’t answer. My mind was already somewhere else, running a thousand miles per hour. A fresh start… An idea starting forming in my head.

As I didn’t answer her goodbye, my mother gave me one last pitiful look and left the apartment. I didn’t even wave; instead, I waited until she was out and had closed the door before rushing to the bathroom. There, I opened one of the cabinets where a little orange bottle laid; just what I was looking for. I removed its cap and took in my hand all the white pills that were inside. Sleeping pills, the doctor had said, so you can sleep without fearing the nightmares.

I filled a glass of water from the tab and took it – along with the pills – to my bedroom. As I took my shoes off, I studied the room, looking for a pen and some paper.

‘I’m sorry,’ I wrote. ‘I love you all. But my life ended the day Callum died.’

I folded it and left it gently on my nightstand. Then, I lied down on my bed and put one pill in my mouth. And another one. And another one. With the help of the water, I swallowed every single one of them, until there was nothing left in my hand.

I’m coming, Cal. I’m coming for you, I thought as my eyes closed. We can have a fresh start together.

And suddenly, we had something in common again. We were both dead.


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