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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 319 (July 12-18). Stories. Topic: Dreamcatcher

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message 1: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments You have until the 18th of July to post a story and on the 19th to the 23rd, we’ll vote for which one we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group. Only one submission per person is allowed.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Dreamcatcher

Thanks to Marie for suggesting the topic!

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Have fun!

message 2: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9620 comments I just wrote this synopsis a few days ago and now it's perfect for this prompt. The story is called "Cold and Scared" and it goes like this:


Eric Bradley, Schizophrenic
Casey Rasmussen, Cop

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Eric keeps a dream-catcher with him at all times in hopes that it’ll ease his schizophrenic nightmares.

SYNOPSIS: Casey has been searching for Eric ever since he was reported as missing by his mother, who warns the cop that her son forgot to take his meds. After a month long search that turned up dead ends, Casey finds Eric alone in the forest cowering in fear. She tries to convince him to come home to his worried mother, but Eric is convinced that she’s been poisoning his food and trying to change him into something he’s not. The cop doesn’t know whether Eric’s story is legit or a schizophrenic delusion. The more she talks to him, the less she knows. The conversation comes down to the wire when they get company in the form of wild wolves.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Hidden Dreams by: Melissa Andres
Approximately: 2,015 words
(Feedback Always Welcome!)

The wall was a drab, grayish-green. I often wondered what lie beyond the wall of Jagas. Beyond the rusted metallic buildings in which we lived. Beyond the solitude, the hard work and beyond the death and decay.

As I lay on my cot I wished the morning light would come sooner to warm the weary walls. I felt so alone, so empty. Drawing the blanket around my thin shoulders, I thought of our homes. Not homes really, just places to exist. The structures were beaten down by endless seasons of weathering; the grimy windows never looked out onto beautiful flowers, children laughing or neighbors exchanging hearty handshakes. They only revealed the depression of souls.

The violence took years to cease. It played out on our wide-screen tvs, it played out in our streets and, sadly, in our own homes as well. We were unable to accept different cultures; different faiths.

That’s when the government stepped in. Fifteen years ago. Thankfully, I was too young to remember The Day of Chaos. That’s what my Dad calls it. I was only three then.

The higher-ups in the government were tired. Tired of protests. Tired of overcrowded jails. Tired of complaints and of those who thought they could run the country better. They talked of change but the talk didn’t last long. Change came. Fast.

Those higher-ups took control. They murdered the president who, in their opinion, wasn’t doing enough to stifle exacerbating problems. Corruption ran rampant. The Day of Chaos consisted of those corrupt individuals rounding up thousands and thousands of people. Military vehicles, buses and vans transported us to various camps. Blacks were separated from Asians. Asians were separated from Whites. Whites separated from Blacks. Each race went to a different camp. Those of mixed race? They were shot on sight; no questions asked. Resistance was futile. Resistance was met with a bullet between the eyes. I am glad I don’t remember.

I have heard that a few escaped. They are out there somewhere. Somewhere beyond the walls. Somewhere in the woods. Somewhere in the mountains. Somewhere near beautiful beaches. Somewhere surviving. I am jealous yet I know we have much in common still.

We are careful of every step. We are careful of every action. We are careful of our words; especially of our words. They watch. They listen. Always.

I rise slowly, wanting to begin the day so it may be finished. I want to stay in bed so the day will never come.

“Caysha, get a move on. It’s Unit Time, remember?”

Oh yes, Unit Time. We were allowed two hours, once a month, to come together. All of Jagas crammed into a long rectangular building, mingling, talking, hugging, whatever. But we were still under the watch of government eyes. Four armed guards, one in each corner, gazed at our “frivolity”. Guards were stationed at each outside doorway. Listening devices were attached beneath tables, chairs and, sometimes, people as well. Dad said it was to prevent a possible uprising but I was sure it would never happen. Too many people were compliant. Too many people were complacent. I understood their fears, their need for a peaceful existence but was mere existence enough?

I dressed hurriedly. Dad stuck his disheveled head into my sleeping quarters.

“Let’s not be late. I don’t want to face The Commanders’ wrath.”
We called the guards The Commanders. We younger people called them The Demanders.

As we walked down the dirt path toward the Unit Building, my mood began to change. My steps became lighter; my heart beat with a joyful thump.

Dad grasped my hand. “Drestin, right?”

I blushed.

“I know you like him, Caysha. I’ve seen the way you look at him.” He swung my hand back and forth, just as he had when I was a child. “And the way he looks at you.”

My blush deepened. “But it’s all for naught, Dad. You know that.”

The Demander Head, a short, paunchy, but highly powerful and frightening man named Mox Trilly decided Jagas’ capacity was not to exceed five-hundred members. Members, that’s what we were called. Like we were living in a country club! Anyway, no one was allowed to have more than two children and those children must consist of one boy and one girl. If the second child born happened to be the same gender as the first, that infant was removed, shipped off, and groomed and trained as a Commander. Uh, Demander.

I would be eighteen next week. I feared it would be happening to me soon.

“Oh, Caysha, you look so pretty.” Old Mrs. Tansy patted my cheek. “I so want you and my grandson Clove to end up together during the Pairing Ceremony. You would make a lovely couple.”
“Please don’t say that too loudly, Mrs. Tansy.” I looked over my shoulder. “The Dream Catchers.”

The elderly woman raised an age-spotted hand to her cracked lips. “You’re right, dear.” She leaned forward, her voice lower, raspy. “But it is my dream to see the children you will create. I imagine them to be so beautiful.”

We both turned when we heard the click. Two men wearing white, starched jumpsuits burst through the front door. My head spun at their quickness, their mechanical nature. Abena Tansy screamed and pleaded for the Dream Catchers to spare her life.

Each Jagas member stood in silence. A few bowed their heads. A few allowed tears to slip down their cheeks. I wanted to do something, anything to rescue the woman but what could I do? How could I stand up to them?

“I told her,” the deep voice beside me seemed so disconnected. “I told her to dissimulate but she wouldn’t listen.” Clove Tansy stared into my eyes. “Now look what happened.”

I nodded, not knowing what to say.

“She knew the Dream Catchers would come. She knew they and the Demanders too, don’t want us to think for ourselves.”

“Let’s not talk about it, Clove.” I was afraid.

He put a tanned arm around my shoulders. “She wanted the best for me.” He winked, long dark eyelashes brushing his upper cheek.

I shrugged him off. “My condolences for your grandmother.” I walked quickly to a table full of chatty teenage girls.

Clove Tansy was a nice enough fellow but he was certainly no Drestin Keek. My love interest was tall and muscular with dark hair and deep, sky-blue eyes. He didn’t smile often but when he did, it was dazzling. He made the dark, dank Unit Building as light as the sun itself. But I knew my heart was wasting its time. Drestin was a year younger. We could never possibly come together in the Pairing Ceremony.

Once a year, all eighteen-year-olds were gathered onto a big, crumbling stone platform known as Jagas Square. A boy’s name was drawn. A girl’s name was drawn. After each name was drawn, the couples were forced to recite words that would bond them together for all their days. Any resistance was considered defiance. Both parties would be put to death for such defiance. No one, in my recollection had ever disrupted the Pairing Ceremony.


I looked up to see Drestin Keek gazing at me. Oh, God! Oh, God!

“Hey,” I responded back.

The chatty table girls fell silent. A few giggled.

“Can we talk for a minute, Caysha?”

I didn’t even know he knew my name.

He clasped my elbow, leading me toward the north wall. My skin felt like it was on fire, but in a good way. Tingly, sweaty. He was bending forward, whispering in my ear.

Butterflies flip-flopped in my stomach. What was he saying?

“The Demanders have commissioned me to fix the cracks in the perimeter wall. They said I could choose one person to help me.”

I looked around the crowded room. I saw my father smiling. I saw Clove’s pale eyebrows knit together in confusion.

I was confused too. “You’re working for them? How could you work for them?” I took a step backward.

Drestin grabbed my wrist, pulling me forward again. “Caysha, you don’t understand. They offered me medicine for my Mom. They offered a doll for my little sister and better food.”

“Why? Why you?”

He shrugged. “Guess they figured I’m strong and a hard worker. I’ve kept my nose clean too. Besides, my family deserves it.”

Anger rose in my cheeks. “My Dad and I deserve stuff too. Why didn’t they ask me?”

He shrugged again. “Because you’re a girl.”

“Thanks for noticing.” I rolled my eyes and turned to walk away.

Pulling at my clothing, he dragged me back. “Believe me, Caysha. I noticed. I definitely noticed.”

My knees began to buckle. His breath was sweet and fruity, hot on the side of my neck. I looked him full in the face. I tamped down the desire to kiss his inviting lips.


“You’ll help?”

I held tight to his forearm, trying to steady myself. “Yes.”

Over the next week Drestin and I carried buckets and buckets of cement attempting to fill fissures and crevices in the grayish-green brick wall. The work was grueling, hot and seemingly impossible to finish. The great wall was higher than the rooftops in our shanty town. Higher than the Unit Building. Higher than the Demanders Tower.

“How are we going to get this stuff up to the very top?” I asked.


“Yeah, right.”

“No, really.” Drestin grabbed a small rope, tied it along one arm and slipped the cement bucket through its other end. He clutched his fingertips to the grout, testing its strength and durability. Then he raised a leg, then another. Soon he was scurrying toward the top like a spider on a hot plate.

“C’mon, Caysha. Try it.”

No way! I couldn’t do it. No way.

“It’s exhilarating. Please, share this experience with me?”

He always said the right things.

The climb took me a lot longer than it had taken Drestin but I succeeded. My fingers were raw and bloody. My toes ached. Ringlets of wet blonde hair clung to my forehead and cheeks. My breath came in short, sporadic puffs yet I grinned.

“Beautiful, huh?”

“Gorgeous,” I agreed.

“Tell me, Caysha, what are your dreams?”

He had snatched me back into reality. “You know we can’t voice our dreams. The Catchers will come.”

He shrugged and scooted closer to me on the wall’s edge. “Tell me.”

I shook my head.

He leaned forward and cupped my chin. Kissed me. Soft. Moist. “Tell me.”

I sighed, my breath coming faster and faster. “I dream of not going through the Pairing Ceremony. I dream of pairing with someone I love and someone who loves me. And, I dream of having children; one boy and two girls.” I looked away, over the other side of the wall; the wall that had kept us inside, our dreams hidden.

“Your birthday is tomorrow, isn’t it?”

“How did you know?”

“A guy knows things about the woman he loves.”

He kissed me again. I never wanted to open my eyes. I never wanted this particular dream to end.

“What if I told you dreams can come true? Our dreams?”

I cocked my head, a cool breeze touching my face. “Tell me,” I whispered.

Swinging a leg over the top of the wall, Drestin disappeared on the other side. “Come with me, Caysha. Let’s leave Jagas … together.”

I thought of my mother who had perished on the Day of Chaos. I thought of my father who had raised me during the toughest of circumstances. Would escaping this place make him proud? The answer was Yes. Yes, I would make him proud.

Drestin and I both climbed down the big wall and into an unknown world, helicopters hovering overhead. We ran and ran and ran until we could run no more.

A new dream formed in the back of my mind. One day I will return to Jagas so my father can meet his grandchildren – a boy and two girls.

message 4: by Grace (new)

Grace Crandall | 299 comments Melissa, that is beautiful!! I love it :)

message 5: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Title: The Wraith Lord
Author: Angie Pangan
Words: 2,363
Feedback always welcome!

Part 1 of 2:
A hollow moan waxed and waned as a wind blustered across the expanse of the Stygian Plane. Vast fields of wheat churned before the gusts, their motion barely detectable in the moonless night. To anyone foolish enough to venture into the darkness, the endless swaying of the crops gave the persistent impression of a massive army approaching on swift feet. The village of Lyrna seemed to hunker down lower as the gales grew in intensity.

Along the town’s edges, watchmen huddled around small iron braziers for warmth. Occasionally, one of the men moved to add a log to the fire before returning to his station. The watchmen scrutinized the darkness for possible threats to the villagers sleeping peacefully behind them.

But the threat they would face tonight would not be one they could fight.

Castor prowled along the top of the Dikisi Cliffs, reveling in the emptiness that gaped before him, just beyond the precipice. The flatness of the Stygian Plane below allowed him a clear view of Lyrna, even at two miles away. The town had grown much since he had last seen it, since he had been exiled. Rows of newer buildings squatted along its edges, built of limestone rather than wood.

He wondered if any of the townspeople would remember him. It had been more than two decades since he had last step foot within its borders, and he was no longer a child. They’d likely forgotten him years ago. Or were more content to pretend that he had never existed. Castor looked down at his scarred and calloused hands, knowing that there was little in him that remained of the boy that he had been. No, the Castor he had been had fled in terror and shame, unable to even meet his parents’ eyes one last time as he’d run. That Castor had allowed the town elders to condemn him for trying to fulfill his duty. That Castor had borne the blame for a mistake that had not been his fault.

That Castor, the Dreamcatcher, was gone.

Now Castor, the Weaver of Nightmares, the Wraith Lord, stood above his childhood home and readied himself for vengeance.

Tonight, the people of Lyrna would pay. They would learn of the grave mistake they’d made all those years ago. And what Castor planned to do would make them wish he had just killed them.

Phantoms roiled around Castor, feeding off the rage and bitterness that cascaded from his soul in waves. They brushed against his skin in earnest, intangible save for the slight chill that seeped into his flesh. Release us, Master, they whispered. Let us feast on the humans, they pleaded. We shall win you vengeance and glory, they vowed.

“Soon,” he promised. He stepped off the precipice.

The first time he had jumped, Castor had almost emptied his stomach, certain that he would die. But now, he didn’t so much as flinch when the shadows wrapped around him and lowered him to the earth. His black cloak billowed in the wind. The phantoms became more fervent in their pleas. Master, Master, they begged. Without responding, he began to walk to Lyrna.

When he was halfway to the town’s edge, he released the wraiths. The night sky above Lyrna grew imperceptibly darker as the swarm descended upon the unsuspecting town, until even the stars were blocked out. The Wraith Lord felt a flush of pleasure.

As he drew closer to the town, he saw the watchmen writhing in agony by their posts, clawing at the shadows that wrapped around their bodies. The phantoms’ shrieks of glee joined the terrified screaming that permeated the air. Castor was certain that his symphony of fear and anguish could be heard for miles.

His pleasure was curbed by the sight of a child standing in the town square. He was young and scraggly; Castor would have been surprised if the boy had seen more than twelve harvests. Yet there he stood, feet braced before him as he fought to keep a dozen wraiths at bay. He would not be enough to protect the rest of the town from the horde. Already, phantoms dragged people out of their homes and into the melee.

“A new Dreamcatcher,” Castor spat. “What is his name?” he asked the shadows.

Telimon, they whispered. Telimon Amos. Grandson of Priam.

The Wraith Lord remembered Priam. He had been the town elder that had advocated Castor’s banishment. Unbidden: the memory of Priam’s bloody hands, pointing down at him in condemnation. So the man had given his own grandson the duty of Dreamcatcher? The Wraith Lord hoped that Priam had done a better job of teaching Telimon than he had of teaching Castor. “Go,” he commanded the phantoms. “Go, and bring me back his soul.”

A score of shadows abandoned their victims and thronged toward the lone child, wrapping him in their darkness.

Telimon lasted two minutes——much longer than Castor had expected——before collapsing to the ground with a wail. He continued to weep softly until a phantom plunged into his chest and emerged with a faint blue wisp. The shapeless wraith folded itself before Castor, as if kneeling, and presented the soul to him.

He took it into his hand and envied its lightness. This was as soul that had never known true despair, had never felt hate or been hated, had never been abandoned. The Wraith Lord peered into the soul. Telimon’s memories washed over him. Like Castor, he had been chosen at infancy to be the next Dreamcatcher. He had spent his youth keeping watch during the night, fighting off any wraiths that happened to pass over the town, protecting the dreams and souls of the sleeping villagers. The boy had never lost a single soul to the wraiths until tonight.

The tiniest flicker of green sparked in its core: the terror of Telimon’s death. But it was much too little, and much too late to atone for the misery of Castor’s own life.

“Bring me Priam,” he growled. “And the boy’s parents.”

The wraiths zipped off to obey and Castor closed his eyes while he waited. He expanded his consciousness to eavesdrop on the nightmares of the nearest townspeople. The wraiths twisted their thoughts into the perfect individualized torment, but Castor was disgusted by what he saw. Every mind soul he touched upon was experiencing boring nightmares. Endless variations of dying family members, vicious monsters, and tall cliffs washed over his mind.


These people were weak and common. It didn’t allow him for any type of creativity when it came to torture. Withdrawing back into his own body, the Wraith Lord watched as Priam and his wife were dragged into the night air.

They wept when they saw their grandson, falling to their knees beside Telimon’s corpse. Another couple was dumped beside them. All four reached for the boy, stroking his face and arms as if it would wake him from his eternal slumber. If only someone had shown the same concern for Castor when he had been a child. Then the boy would likely still be alive.

“What would you give for your boy’s soul?” The Wraith Lord held the flickering light carelessly between his fingers. They looked up at him in horror, as if seeing him for the first time. Castor silently commanded the phantoms to coalesce around him and savored the dread that played on the faces. “Well?” he prompted. “How much is this soul worth?”

message 6: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments The Wraith Lord: Part 2 of 2

Priam stumbled forward and reached for Castor. The old man kissed his feet as he wept. “Please, please. Take my soul instead. Telimon has done no wrong.”

“Your soul isn’t worth the dirt beneath my feet,” he spat. Enraged, he sent Priam into a spasm of sharp agony. Flickers of a weeping child and a bloody hand began to fade in and out beside them. Castor stifled the memories before they could fully materialize. When the man was nothing but a sobbing mess at his feet, the Wraith Lord turned to what remained of his audience. “Are they any other offers?”

The younger woman, likely Telimon’s mother, was staring at the emptiness to her right. Where Castor’s childhood torment had manifested. “What did you do?” she whispered, fresh tears pooling in her eyes. “Did you kill Castor too? Did you take his soul?” Her husband tried to push her behind him, but she pressed forward. “They looked for Castor for weeks, but they never found his body. What did you do to him, Wraith Lord?”

“What do you care?” he hissed. “You who stood and condoned his exile?” But Castor lost his bluster as he recognized the woman. It was Dione. He remembered her. She had not been one of his oppressors. She, too, had been a victim of Priam’s arrogance.

Light and color burst to life around them as he lost control of his memories. Flashes of his childhood manifested haphazardly. Knowing that he would be unable to reign in his powers with his turbulent emotions, Castor resolved to wait out the memories.

They threatened to drown him.

He remembered standing in the middle of the town square, keeping the wraiths at bay, alone beneath the clear night sky.

He remembered waking well into the afternoon, envious of the children who played freely through the town. Being forbidden from joining in the games. Feeling lonely as their laughter washed over him. He was too valuable, the elders told him. They couldn’t risk any injuries to the Dreamcatcher.

He remembered watching Dione. His consciousness had been drawn to hers because she had been lonely too. She had also watched the other with longing.

He remembered that quiet, wraithless night. Feeling guilty as he’d slipped into her mind and trespassed into her dreams. Feeling understood when he realized she felt the same loneliness he did. Thinking that they could help each other, that they needed each other.

He remembered thinking that it was his duty as Dreamcatcher to protect and help the people of Lyrna. Why shouldn’t he befriend this girl? He could protect her soul if it was his.

He remembered being too afraid to approach her himself. Spending endless days trying to think of a reason to talk to her. Finally giving up and plunging into Dione’s mind. Trying to mold and shape her soul so that she would love him. Trying to bind her essence to his. Her soul had resisted. Inexperienced as he was, he couldn’t overcome the strength of her will.

He remembered trying to extricate his soul from hers, but she’d clamped onto him in terror. Tearing free of her grasp, but feeling horrified as he’d felt the threads of her soul fray.

He remembered returning to his own body and looking down at Dione’s form, crumpled on the ground, blood running from her nose and mouth. Priam had rushed to her side, tried to wake her. Used his own Dreamcatcher skills to try to mend her torn soul.

He remembered the elder straightening and meeting Castor’s eyes with horrified understanding. Priam had pointed a trembling finger, still wet with Dione’s blood. He’d raised his voice and condemned Castor for doing his duty. As if it weren’t his own fault that he had not taught Castor how to enter the minds of others without hurting them. As if Castor were to blame for trying to save Dione from her loneliness. Within minutes, Priam had turned the entire town against Castor.

He remembered the looks of disgust on the villagers’ faces. The angry words that chased him from Lyrna. The stones some of them threw at his back as he’d fled.

He remembered spending the next weeks running. Hearing rumors that the people of Lyrna were searching for him. Convinced that they were going to kill him for what he had done.

He remembered the first wraith he had enslaved to do his bidding. The way the power washed over him so that he no longer felt so helpless. The sweetness of each subsequent soul he stole from his victims.

The last throws of his memory faded and Castor’s eyes cleared. Dione was watching him with a mixture of pity and loathing. No, he thought. That isn’t the way it was supposed to go. She was supposed to be the only one who understood. She was the one who was supposed to love him once she knew what he’d gone through. She was supposed to realize that it was Castor that she loved, not her husband. She was supposed to see him for who he was. She was supposed to choose to spend the rest of her life by Castor’s side, Queen of the Wraiths.

“No matter,” he muttered. He crushed Telimon’s souls in his fist and cast the ashes aside. As he had all those years ago, he plunged into Dione’s mind. This time, she was not strong enough to resist as he bound their souls together, careful not to damage her essence. When he was finished, she stared at him with a smile of soft adoration on her lips. He held out his hand and she came to stand by his side, beaming.

With a sweep of his hand, the Wraith Lord commanded every other soul in the village to be brought to him. When each one was only dust, he looked over his handiwork, listening to the silence of the now lifeless Lyrna.

He waited for the satisfaction to sweep in. For the fulfillment to finally hit.

After all, Castor had gotten his vengeance. He had destroyed those who had wronged him. He had won the love of his life. He stood with his phantom army, unopposed in all the world. Shouldn’t he be happy?

He waited and waited for the satisfaction.

He waited until the sky began to lighten and the sun began to climb over the horizon.

He waited until the corpses around them chased him away with the smell of rotting flesh.

He waited. But the Wraith Lord still felt empty.

Castor had gotten all he had ever dreamed of, and it was not enough to fill his soul. He despaired that he would never find anything that would.

message 7: by James (last edited Jul 14, 2016 06:53AM) (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Hello everyone, this topic inspired me to finally come up with an extension to the short story I wrote in week 301 entitled "The Grandmother's Pendant". I've been meaning to expand it but never quite came up with an idea I liked until I got this prompt! Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and appreciate any feedback!

Title: Stolen Dreams in a Dark Wood
Author: James J Meadows III
Words: 2154

I cannot begin to guess how long I drifted in the strange white mists before the world finally swam back into focus. When it did, I found myself in a scene very different from the large mowed lawns and wide grassy expanses of my grandmother’s estate. Though I was still standing inside a fairy ring, one identical in every detail to the one I was cajoled into entering as I ran away from home, the similarities ended there.

The beams of morning sunlight had vanished, replaced by an eerie black gloom which settled over the surrounding woods, whose thick black trees formed a canopy so impenetrable all strands of light became swallowed by the hungry leaves coating their twisted limbs. I shuttered involuntarily. Dangling by strings from almost every branch, like some sort of demented Christmas ornaments, hung hundreds, perhaps thousands, of little hoops adorned with feathers, strings and what looked like little beads carved into the shape of skulls.

The strange ornaments possessed glittering blue sapphires in the center of the loops. These gems provided the only light in the clearing, emitting an odd violet glow which enhanced my already growing unease. There was no movement, no wind, and no noise of any kind to break the stillness.

“Hello!” I called.

My frightened voice sounded strange in my ears. I stared around, hardly daring to move; making a point not to step outside the fairy ring. The round line of mushrooms glistened in the blue glow like fortress walls, making me feel safe even if I couldn’t tell you why.

“Hello,” a voice sounded.

It came so suddenly I almost screamed. The voice was strange, possessing an unnaturally high pitch, which was difficult to describe. It cast images into my mind of a small playful little girl while simultaneously giving the sensation of speaking to a wise old man. What was more, it sounded quite close. Yet when I looked around I could see no one.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I am here,” the voice responded. “You are too. Although I must admit I don’t know why. No one ever comes into these woods, except for us when we are doing our ritual of adulthood.”

“Who are you?” I asked, still glancing around wildly, not seeing any traces of anyone.

“I am me,” the voice responded. “Who are you?”

“I am Annie,” I responded.

“Hmm, I’m not familiar with that term,” the voice responded. “What is an Annie?”

“I’m Annie,” I replied. “Annie is a name - my name.”

“So you are a name?” the voice replied, sounding almost as confused as me.

“No,” I replied. I felt slightly exasperated. I was, after all, in a strange, frightening land and this dialogue wasn’t helping me get any information.

“But you said you are Annie, and Annie is a name,” the voice replied. “Doesn’t that mean you are a name?”

“Look, can we just talk about something else?” I said.

“Sure, what do you want to talk about?” the voice replied.

Looking down, I saw the circle of mushrooms at my feet. While I felt protected inside the circle, I also knew I couldn’t stay here forever. I raised my foot to take a step, then hesitated, glancing around at the dark forest and its eerie, foreboding shadows.

“Is it safe for me to step out?” I asked.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” the voice asked. “Do you have difficulty taking steps? Does your race perhaps suffering injuries from walking and this is why you are standing still?”

“No,” I replied, annoyed. “I am perfectly capable of taking a step without injuring myself!”

“Then I would suppose it is safe for you to take a step,” the voice replied.

“That was not my…grrr,” I growled, “Nevermind!”

Driven by frustration, resigned to the inevitability of the act, and, taking some solace in the fact that I could jump back into the circle if I needed to, I stepped out from the ring. I almost instantly regretted the decision. The sensation of safety vanished; the mushrooms vanished; the ring vanished.

I found myself standing in the middle of a dark forest, where my breathe rose like smoke in the icy air. Apparently the fairy ring also protected me from the cold, providing a false sense of warmth, which I missed greatly now that I no longer had it. I took another step forward, the bottom of the low-hanging ornaments brushing the top of my hair.

“I wonder what these are,” I marveled aloud, staring at their unique and masterful, if frightening, designs.

“They are dream catchers,” the now familiar voice replied. “They are there to catch your dreams. Better be careful, though.”

I looked around for the source of the voice again, wondering if I might be able to see it now that I was no longer inside the ring. I couldn’t; but my eyes did catch sight of a piece of moonlight streaming through some nearby bushes. They were tall, though thankfully not thick, and I was able to push my way through them rather easily.

On the other side, I beheld a beautiful lake, its clear waters and smooth glassy surface sparkling in the moonlight. It stood out like a beacon of peace within the otherwise dark forest. Nearby, a series of rocks formed a sort of pier, extending into the middle of the lake. Alongside it, standing up to his waist in the smooth water, his clothes piled neatly on the rocks beside him, was a young man of about my own age.

My jaw dropped as I stared at him. He had long smooth hair, clear clean skin, a six pack that most men would die for, and muscles sculpting his body in just the perfect balance of firm and strong without being bulky. As I stood marveling at him, he turned and looked at me.

At first, he took a quick step back, as though startled by my appearance, then I saw his face relax.

“You scared me,” he said. “I was just taking a bath. I’m not used to meeting too many other people out here, especially young ladies as pretty as yourself.”

I blushed slightly, my gaze transfixed on his blue eyes, which stared up at me with a fascination and wonder almost as great as the wonder I felt looking at him. I brushed my hair behind my ear with an almost instinctual gesture and took a step forward.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you,” I said. “It’s just, I’m kind of lost right now and I don’t know where I am.”

“You didn’t frighten me,” the young man replied. “I’m actually happy for the company. It gets pretty lonely out here sometimes. Why don’t you come and sit down? If you’re lost, maybe I can help you.”

He gestured toward the stone pier stretching out beside him, where his clothes rested. I started toward it when the now familiar voice from earlier broke the serenity.

“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you,” it called quietly.

It seemed to be coming from behind me.

“Why not?” I demanded, turning around to face the speaker, only to discover I was staring at open air.

I gave an irritated huff and turned back around. A scream burst from my lips. The beautiful lake had vanished, replaced by a swirling black quagmire of dead plants and slime. In the middle of it, where the man stood just a moment ago, hovered a creature composed of transparent silky robes wrapped around a luminous turquoise skeleton. Glowing green orbs shone from inside the sockets of the skeletal face while clawed arms, drifting in their bizarre robes stretched toward me.

Still screaming, I stumbled backward, falling onto my butt before turning and dashing back through the bushes, where I tripped over a tree root. With a nasty thud, I crashed to the earth, sprawling across the ground.

“Are you alright?” asked the mysterious voice.

“What was that thing?” I asked in a terrified whisper.

“That was a dream spirit,” the voice replied. “They use the dreams and fantasies captured by their dream catchers to lure victims into their grasp, where they can feast upon their life force.”

“What?” I replied, still trying to catch my breath. “Feast upon their life force? You told me it was safe out here?”

“No I didn’t,” the voice replied. “I told you it was safe to take a step out. And it was. Taking a step out didn’t hurt you at all.”

“That isn’t what I meant and you know it!” I fumed.

“Actually, he doesn’t,” came a soft voice to my right.

message 8: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments (Stolen Dreams in a Dark Wood cont.)

I recognized the voice at once. Turning, I found myself, to my breathless amazement, staring up into the face of the one woman who meant the most to me in the world.

“Grandma?” I said, staring at her with disbelief. “How? I mean, you’re dead.”

“Time works differently here in this world than in our world,” she said. “There are many things which will be a mystery to you, like your friend.”

“What is he?” I asked.

“He is a pseudodragon.”

“A dragon?” I asked looking around. “Why can’t I see him?”

“No, not a dragon, a pseudodragon,” she replied. “They are very similar in appearance but very different in nature. You can’t see him because he is naturally invisible. He has to make an effort to be seen, just as you would have to make an effort to walk on one leg.”

“What did you mean when you said, ‘he doesn’t know what I meant’?” I asked.

She gave a small laugh.

“Psuedodragons are very complex and wondrous creatures,” she replied. “Yet, they are also very simple minded. They understand everything from a very literal perspective. They aren’t like us.”

I stared at her for a moment, pondering this. As I watched, she gave me a small smile.

“I always knew you would find this place, just like I did,” she said. “You always had the right spirit and sense of adventure. How I wish your mother was the same way but I could never get her to straighten her life. You, you were the one I knew had the spirit to follow in my footsteps.”

A smile spread across my face as I stared into her loving eyes.

“Grandma,” I said. “What am I supposed to do here? I’m confused.”

“Come with me,” she said. “I’ll show you.”

She extended a hand to help me up. I reached for it. Just as my fingers came within inches of her own, a burst of bright light shot between us. Streams of crackling lightning split the air, causing me to fall back down, shielding my eyes. My grandmother retreated backward.

With a bound, I saw a creature leap into the space between us. It was small, only about two feet tall, with a pair of tiny wings, no bigger than a butterfly’s, resting atop its back. The skin was a strange hue of multiple colors, all sparkling, as though the body was composed of tiny gems. In every other way, it looked like a dragon, with a long neck, black eyes, and fierce claws, except all of these features were shrunk into the size of a puppy dog.

At the same moment, the image of my grandmother disappeared, replaced by another glowing skeleton, floating off the ground in its transparent white robes. I gasped as it let out a horrifying shriek, reaching forward as though attempting to grab me. The dragon opened its mouth, shooting another fierce bolt of electricity at the creature. The monster dodged the attack easily, yet made no effort to continue its attack. Instead, with an angry shriek, it retreated, fading into the darkness.

The tiny creature turned toward me, seemingly studying me with its deep black eyes.

“The image you saw?” it asked. “Was that your grandmother?”

The voice was the same as the one I spoke with earlier, there was no doubt about that.

“Yes,” I answered.

“You are the granddaughter of The Great Light?” it asked.

“The what?” I replied.

“Nevermind,” it said. “If that is your grandmother, then we must get you out of these woods fast. The creatures in here will not take kindly to you. Follow me.”

It spun around and headed away from me, hurrying through the woods. I climbed onto my feet, chasing after it.

“Wait,” I called. “How do I know you’re not another dream or illusion from the dream catchers?”

It turned around, staring at me with a quizzical expression.

“Have you ever dreamed or fantasized of having a pint-sized dragon to save you from the heart of an evil forest?”

“No,” I replied.

“Well, you are probably safe then” it said, in a matter-of-fact manner. Without another word, it spun around and hurried away. I hurried after it. My other questions could wait. For now, I just wanted out.

message 9: by Edward (last edited Jul 14, 2016 03:30PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : Is This The Real Life?
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1963
Rating : PG

Darian’s ability to sleep anywhere at any time was practically world famous. He was known at his old school for sleeping through most of his classes, including when there were fire drills, and he’d lost a few jobs since leaving school because he’d fallen asleep when he was supposed to be working. And it wasn’t necessarily because he was always sleepy that he fell asleep...

...it was because he had the most awesome dreams.

No matter when or where Darian fell asleep, he found himself in a fantasy world that even the greatest film maker would fail to imagine. Every kind of mythical creature was there, all of them friendly – even the usually bad ones – and every time he dreamt of this world he was met with all sorts of adventure. In almost every way Darian’s fantasy world was far more interesting and appealing than the real one in which he lived.

Despite the fact that he loved the world of his dreams, he knew that it wasn’t real and that over the years it had badly affected his personal life, especially with the ladies. No woman he ever met could match the beauty of the women in his fantasy realm, and as a result he found relationships something of a drag. This was something he wanted to change, and today was the day he found a possible solution to his problems.

Darian was watching television in his small apartment (between snoozes, of course) when an advertisement came on. It was a local channel he’d been watching, and the advertisement was for a local company.

“Are you haunted by your dreams?” a voice spoke over the image of a woman looking like she was in pain, gripping her hands to her forehead, “Do you wake up feeling like you’ve just experienced something horrific?” the image faded to a man crying, “Do you find the events during your sleep times stay with you all through the day?” A little boy sits in a darkened room, rocking back and forth, “Then perhaps I can help.”

The image changed to that of a middle-aged man standing outside a sterile looking building, his arms folded across his pigeon chest as he looked defiantly into the camera, “My name is Professor Rudyard Northrop, and this is R.I.S.E. - the Royal Institute of Sleep Experimentation. For anyone who has ever found themselves concerned or overly focussed on something that happened in a dream, we’re here to help you get passed those events and move on with your life. If you think you have a problem with dreams interfering during your waking moments, then we can make it so that your sleep time is no longer a time of worry. Call us now for a risk free appointment.”

Darian made a note of the telephone number that flashed up on the screen, then picked up his cell phone, dialling the number.

It would be a shame to lose his dream world, but there came a time when he had to move on with his real life and try to make something of himself. If he kept living in his fantasy world, he’d never amount to anything in reality.

The next day he arrived at the R.I.S.E. institute for his appointment with Professor Northrop. He gave his name to the receptionist, then took a seat on a comfy sofa. He could feel his eyes drooping when his name was eventually called, and he got up and followed the receptionist to a small room where Professor Northrop sat waiting for him.

“Ah, you must be Mr Layton,” the Professor smiled at Darian, “Please, do take a seat.”

Darian sat down on a long coach, trying not to think about lying down on it. He placed his hands on his knees, looking around the office before his thoughts were interrupted by the Professor.

“Now, Darian,” Professor Northrop began, “you said you’re having problems with your dreams. Tell me about them.”

“Well,” Darian mumbled, then cleared his throat, “well, basically whenever I go to sleep I find myself in the same, perfect dream world.”

“Interesting,” Northrop took notes, “please, continue.”

“Well, that’s it really,” Darian shrugged, “the fantasy world is so appealing, at times I hate returning to the real world, but I think I’m starting to realise that I have to make a choice. I don’t want to have the dreams anymore. Can you help me?”

“Of course,” Northrop told him, “that’s what I’m here for. We have a new technique that can prevent you from ever having these dreams again. It’s a process that combines a simple meditation technique with a daily medication dose.”

Darian sat forward in his seat, “What do I have to do to get this?” he asked, “How much does it cost.”

Northrop smiled, “Currently it’s completely free,” he told him, “for any patients in our opening month, we are giving the process away free of charge.” The Professor reached into a drawer and took out a pamphlet, handing to Darian. It featured a number of diagrams showing what looked to him like yoga poses, which he was expected to practice three times a day.

“And how long do I take the medication for?” Darian asked after he’d finished perusing the pamphlet.

“Just three days,” Northrop revealed, “after which you won’t need to take the medication again. You will be free of your dreams, and you will have control of your life again.”

Darian smiled, “Thank you doctor,” he said, “I admit, I will miss the dreams, but if I’m to get on with my life I have to be rid of them.”

“Of course,” Northrop nodded with understanding, “I hope that you don’t mind me asking you to return for a follow up appointment in three days time.”

“Of course not,” Darian agreed as Professor Northrop filled out a prescription for him.

Darian went to the reception area where he handed over the prescription and in return was given a bottle contain three large dark-blue pills. He placed the bottle in his jacket pocket and headed home, where he poured himself a tall glass of water and swallowed down the first of his blue pills. Finishing off the water, he sat down in his living room to watch TV.

That evening, after he’d done his meditations for the day, he was pleased to find that the pills seemed to be working already. He hadn’t slept at all during the day, but now came the moment of truth.

It was time for bed.

Darian climbed into his bed, pulling the covers up to his chin after turning out the light. He stared blankly into the gloom of his bedroom, wondering how long it would take him to drop off. Just as his eyes were beginning to close, he heard a voice, or what sounded like a collection of voices saying the same thing:-.

“Why are you doing this?”

His eyes snapped back open, his arms throwing back the bed covers, his hands reaching for the lamp light. Flicking on the light, he looked around the room, but there was no-one there.

“That’s odd.” Darian mumbled to himself, “I must have been dreaming.”

He climbed back into the bed, pulling the covers back over himself, then switched out the light.

The next morning he felt weird. He picked himself out of bed after a dreamless night and stretched his arms over his head. Other than the moment where he thought he’d heard a voice, the night had been uneventful, but the weirdness remained. It was as if something was... missing. But Darian couldn’t worry about that now. He poured himself a glass of water and took the second of his dark-blue pills.

While he did his morning meditation exercises, Darian thought back to the voice he’d heard. What had it said? Why are you doing this? He wondered where he’d got such an idea from, that someone was talking to him. It’s probably a side effect of the medication, he told himself, and thought no more about it.

That evening, as Darian tucked himself into bed, he felt 100% better. Even though he hadn’t fallen asleep during the day, he actually felt more refreshed and was looking forward to a dreamless night. As his eyes began to drift, he suddenly heard a voice again.

“You’ll miss us when we’re gone.”

Darian sprang to life again, this time feeling a definite presence in the room. Snapping on the light switch, he could make out a jumble of shapes in the corner of his room, slowly forming in front of him. Rubbing his eyes, Darian looked again, seeing what appeared to be a number of his dream friends from his fantasy realm.

“What’s happening?” he shouted at the shades, “What’s going on?”

But before he could get a response, they were gone.

Darian lay in his bed, wondering what was happening to him. Perhaps it was a side effect of the medication after all, he decided, and the next morning he went to visit Professor Northrop at the R.I.S.E. institute.

When he arrived at the building that housed the R.I.S.E. institute, he was stunned by what he saw.

There before him stood a vacant lot, and no sign that the institute had ever been there.

Darian’s confusion reached fever point as he stared at the vacant lot. If that was gone, then had he imagined it? Had Professor Northrop been real? Darian was starting to doubt everything he had ever experienced, and realising he might be experiencing some sort of psychotic break, he headed home.

Darian sat on his living room couch, the pill bottle in his hands. He stared at the last remaining pill, wondering what he should do. Were the pills responsible for his strange experiences, or were the experiences a side effect of the drugs taking effect? And if the institute had never been there, then where did he even get the pills from?

He sighed a heavy sigh, twisting the childproof cap on the bottle and tipping the pill into the palm of his hand. If this was what the real world was like, did he want to be a part of it? Or were the things he were seeing a sign that his lucid dreams were fading away. Finally making a decision, Darian popped the pill into his mouth and swallowed it dry.

As he went to sleep that night, the voices he was hearing became fainter and fainter, yet the shades that had appeared in his room became clearer and clearer. They were indeed his friends from the fantasy realm, but it hadn’t been their voices he’d been hearing.

“We’re so glad you’re back,” a leprechaun said to Darian, “we thought you’d be trapped in that strange world forever.”

Darian stared at the leprechaun, “What do you mean, strange world.”

A beautiful woman stepped forward, her ears pointed and small horns growing through her luscious blonde hair, “The human world,” she told him, “you’ve been having the most vivid lucid dreams about the human world, and we thought you were going to become trapped in your dreams.”

“That’s why I infiltrated them,” a voice spoke from the back of the room, and towards him stepped Dr Northrop. At least it looked like him, except he had cloven hooves for feet, “I sent myself into your dreams to rescue you. Now you are back with us.”

Darian looked at the crowd of people, all of them familiar from his dreams. But had they been dreams? Was this his real life, he thought to himself, and was the human world the fantasy? Darian didn’t seem to care, because for the first time in a long time he felt like he belonged.

He felt like he was home.

message 10: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9620 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Cold and Scared
GENRE: Psychological Drama
RATING: PG-13 for blood and swearing

One month was all it took. One month of missed paychecks, lost sleep, hyper-vigilance, and moodiness was all Officer Casey Rasmussen needed to find what she needed to find…at least she was sure she did. This forest had to be the place. If not, then the baggy eyelids, messy hair, and hunched over tiredness would continue for another month. The trail might have been colder than the nighttime air by the time Casey checked out this lead.

The officer pulled her puffy coat over herself even tighter while shining a flashlight on the dirt trail. The foot prints were deep and fresh, which meant someone had been here recently. Another good sign was the distinct print pattern of someone wearing size thirteen sneakers. A tiny smile formed on Casey’s face as her teeth chattered and her breath became steamy. If these footprints went on forever, she would walk forever. This was too good of a lead to throw away those sleepless nights.

Just a powerful yawn and a few more steps later and Officer Rasmussen’s flashlight shone brightly in the face of a shivering twenty-something sitting against the tree with little to protect him from the cold other than tattered blue jeans and a ripped hooded sweatshirt. Size thirteen sneakers as well; it was definitely him. But what the hell was this young man doing with a dream-catcher in his shaking hands?

“Eric Bradley? My name is Officer Casey Rasmussen. I’m here to bring you back home to your mother. You’ve been gone for a whole month. She’s worried sick about you. Come on, let’s get you warmed up in the car.”

But as Casey approached the shaky and erratic manchild, he crawled backwards while holding the dream-catcher in her face like a priest with a crucifix. “Stay back! I don’t want to go back home! She’s evil! She poisons my food! She wants to make me into one of her zombies!”

The cop laid her weapons belt on the ground, a belt which contained a pistol, pepper spray, and a stun gun. While holding her hands up in surrender, she kicked the belt off to the side, but not too far out of sight. “I’m not here to hurt you, Eric. Your mother doesn’t want to hurt you either. You don’t mean those things. How long has it been since you’ve taken your schizophrenia medication?”

“Not long enough!” shouted Eric. A tense silence hung in the frigid night air, making chatters and shivers even more audible between the nervous cop and civilian. Even in pants-wetting fear, Eric held that dream-catcher like it was his own version of a pistol, ready to fire at a moment’s notice.

Casey tiptoed over to Eric, who crawled backwards just as slowly until the cop caught up with him and sat next to him against one of the trees. Mr. Bradley’s hostility soothed into calmness as he threw his dream-catcher to the side and gently rested his hooded head against the rough bark.

“That dream-catcher is special to you, isn’t it, Eric? Your mother told me that it’s your favorite thing to play with,” said Casey with a warm smile.

“Play with? Shit, this thing was supposed to do something for those goddamn voices. It’s supposed to heal me. Turns out it’s just a bunch of urban voodoo bullshit,” said Eric. He banged his head against the tree and breathed deeply and rapidly during his rant. “I just want them to shut up. Is it too much to ask? Why won’t they let me live in peace? High school is over. They’re all gone! Those stupid jocks are never coming back! Why do they keep talking to me?! Why do they keep calling me every fucking insult in the book?! Why are they laughing at me?!” Eric began pounding the dirt ground like a child having a fit.

The only reason he stopped was because Casey grabbing his hands snapped him out of that nightmarish trance. She looked sternly into his eyes and said, “Listen to me, Eric. That dream-catcher is not going to heal you, you’re right. Then again, neither will forgetting to take your pills or skipping your therapy sessions. You were doing great after you got out of high school. And then somewhere along the way, you…”

With tears in his eyes and snot in his nose, Eric interrupted, “I what? I blew it? Is that what you’re going to tell me? That I fucking blew it?!” He stood up and towered over the seated Casey, who had her hands raised defensively. He pointed harshly at her and ranted, “What do you know about me and what I’ve been through?! Are you some kind of shrink now?! Do you want to pick my brain?! Nobody’s picking my brain tonight! Keep your poisonous food and pills, because I see the world for what it really is: a shit-hole! A putrid…vile…evil…shit-hole! It’s fucking dystopia all over again!”

Casey decided this conversation was going nowhere fast and performed a double-leg takedown on Eric, who thrashed his arms and wailed like a baby. The cop advanced her position to his chest and held his arms straight in a bear hug. No matter how many times Eric yelled, “Let me go!” Casey continued to restrain her target with a firm grasp. Eric’s yells got more frantic and less intelligible, but he eventually gave up and broke down crying.

“It’s too late for me, Officer!” he sobbed. “I’ll never be the same again! I’ll never write poetry like I used to! I’ll never make money on my own! No woman will want to be with me after this! I’m useless! Damn it, I’m useless!” Casey shushed him a few times and the rabid crying defused to a gentle weep.

“You need help, Eric. This is not the way people are supposed to live. You can’t live out here in this forest on your own. How long has it been since you’ve eaten anything other than berries and nuts?” asked Officer Rasmussen in a gentle whisper.

“It’s better than choking down that poison my mom cooks,” said Eric.

Casey got off her target’s chest and sat on her knees in front of him. “You’re right about one thing: I don’t know what you’ve been through. I only know what your mother told me about you. I keep trying to talk to you, but you’re going off on different tangents and not making any sense. This needs to stop, Eric. Please, come with me. Not just for your mother’s sake, but for yours. Is this really how you want to live?”

A monstrous growl echoed across the scene and glowing animal eyes lingered in the background. Casey and Eric watched on in horror as the creature’s fangs came into the light. A thick coat of brown fur encased this savage forest warrior as the drooling wolf descended upon its victims. Casey and Eric slowly made it to their feet and tiptoed backwards to avoid aggravating the beast any further.

The wolf lunged at the pair with the intent to rip flesh and shatter bones. Casey pushed Eric out of the way and felt the wrath of this beast’s teeth sinking into her leg. She bled profusely as she stumbled over in an attempt to reach her weapons belt. The more she struggled, the tighter the wolf’s fangs latched onto her leg. But struggle she did. She clawed into the dirt and dragged her tired body across the ground. She was fingertips away from her belt, but the massive bleeding in her leg caused her to feel lightheaded. The weapons she needed were a blur to her and everything was fading to black.

And then the razor-sharp teeth in her leg released their grip as Eric let out a primal scream and palm struck the wolf in the nose, the most sensitive part of a dog’s body. The wolf ran away whining and moaning, but the bleeding in Casey’s leg created a flood around her body. Eric was pacing back and forth nervously biting his fingernails wondering what to do next. When the answers didn’t come to him, he dropped to his knees and let out yet another primal scream while pounding his forehead with his fists.

Despite the brutal wound, Casey found enough strength to sit up on her butt and contain Eric with another bear hug. With one arm wrapped around her target, she pressed the buttons on her walky-talky and said, “I need an ambulance to come down to Redwood Forest stat! Officer down and suspect Eric Bradley is having a breakdown! Over!”

The cop and the suspect breathed sighs of relief and plopped on their backs when there was a “Roger that!” on the other end of that transmission.

Eric sobbed softly and asked, “What’s going to happen to me now, Officer? Am I going to be locked up in a nut house? Wherever I’m going, I don’t want to be out here anymore. I hate this place! I hate it!”

Casey held Eric’s hand and said, “I’m not going to lie to you, Eric. You’ve endangered a lot of people with your behavior prior to coming to the forest. That’s why your mom called us. But after you saved my ass tonight, I’m going to make sure you get the best treatment you can possibly get. With any luck, you’ll go straight to the psychiatric hospital and you won’t have to do jail time.” She chuckled in a petrified manner and said, “Shit, man, I should have known punching the wolf in the nose would have gotten him off me. That’s the oldest trick in the book.”

Eric turned to Casey, smiled, and said, “Now who’s fucked up in the head?”

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Grace wrote: "Melissa, that is beautiful!! I love it :)"

Thank you so much, Grace! I really appreciate your kind comment. I kind of liked this one myself. It's my first real attempt at a "dystopian-type" of story.

message 12: by Gashbeen (new)

Gashbeen | 167 comments Grief

By Gashbeen Saeed

Militsa gazed out at the surprisingly calm sea, enchanted by the glittering water. The setting sun cast its warm colors over the young girl as she leaned precariously over the cliff. A cool breeze swept past her and through the forest that loomed over the small figure.

As night fell over the isolated island, Militsa gazed intently into the dark water. It was beautiful, but in a terrifying way. In the dark, there was no way of knowing what lurked within the ocean's treacherous depths.

She would have to be brave, for she sought something very dear to her that had been hidden within the frightening darkness that was the sea. Militsa closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She then stepped off the cliff and plunged into the freezing water.

She slammed into the ocean, and the pain knocked the breath out of her. Militsa swam desperately for the surface. Her frantic gasps for air filled the strangely empty night. Alone in the great ocean, Militsa realized exactly how young she was. How could a girl not yet twelve moons conquer the terrors that lurked beneath her? Still, she had to try. If she didn't, she was better off dead.

Taking another deep breath, Militsa once more dove beneath the black water, her eyes burning as she strained to see what lay below. The burning sensation had not yet subsided, which relieved Militsa. If she wasn't numb, then she wasn't going to succumb to the cold anytime soon.

Good, she thought. I need all the time I can get. Still, the time she had wasn't much. Militsa would have to move quickly.

As the girl dove deeper into the darkness, she began to feel the sensation of being crushed. It was as though the water was a large boulder, slowly crushing her small body. In a way, it was.

HE was trying to stop her. Militsa knew it. This meant she was getting closer. As her lungs began to burn, Militsa ventured deeper into the abyss determinedly. She would not fail this time. She couldn't afford to fail.

As the world around her grew darker and silent, Militsa saw a flash of color. She narrowed her stinging eyes and caught sight of a gentle light. The girl swam towards the light, reaching to grab it with her blue hands.

"Why bother," the rabbit inquired. "What's the point of searching?" Militsa glared at the adorable creature.

"You know why. They've been stolen from me. Without them, I might as well be dead." The rabbit sighed. Militsa's scowl deepened as she continued. "Why should I listen to you, anyways? Rabbits are bad luck. Listening to you will only make things worse."

The rabbit sighed again, infuriating Militsa with its casual attitude. "You're right. Why should I even try giving you more advice? You won't remember any of this. HE will make sure of it. Still, I should warn you. I'd never get over the guilt if I didn't. Searching for them is exactly what HE wants you to do. Trust me when I say that you'll die if you continue your search. Too many have lost their lives while searching for them. Turn back before it's too late."

Militsa's eyes widened painfully. She was getting closer! The young girl smiled as she neared the light. Things were finally going her way!

Then things started to go wrong the moment she grasped the light.

Militsa's body began to spasm in the water. Her breath was spat out into the ocean, and the sea flowed in. Militsa tried swimming up, but she found that she was too weak and numb.

"You thought you could outsmart me," the silhouette stated. Militsa gaped.

"YOU'RE the Dreamcatcher!" Militsa's delicate features twisted furiously. "YOU STOLE MY DREAMS! GIVE THEM BACK!"

Militsa tried to grasp the Dreamcatcher, but HE collapsed into water as her hands passed through. She watched in horror as her skin slowly grew blue. "What's happening," the little girl cried.

"You're drowning. You should have listened to the rabbit, you know. The poor thing did its best to warn you, but it was futile. Did you know that it was the representation of the world outside of your isolated island? Dreams have a way of hiding their wisdom. Even though the rabbit knew what it was talking about, you would have never listened to it because it was something you didn't understand. It's quite ironic, really." The Dreamcatcher chuckled.

"What's so funny?" Militsa demanded. "Tell me, Dreamcatcher!"

"Well, you listened to me, despite the fact that I, too, am something that you don't understand. I whispered to you at night. I told you to come find your lost dreams. And you listened! You chose the wrong being to listen to, child." The Dreamcatcher's laughs grew louder, and soon the silhouette was doubled over.

Militsa felt the burning tears welling up in her eyes. For a second, she saw the dark ocean. Then she was back with the Dreamcatcher.

"Why did you take my dreams? Why didn't you take someone else's?" It was so unfair! Out of all the people the Dreamcatcher could shatter, HE chose her!

"Your dreams were too big for you, my dear. You hoped too much. It's better to spare you the pain of disappointment. Without your dreams, you lose your humanity. Humanity is what allows you to feel. If you can't feel, you can't experience pain. It's an act of mercy. At least for you. There's another child in your tribe that's caught my attention, you know. His dreams are all he has left. By taking his dreams, he'll shatter and become something more. Without his humanity to hold him down, he will have power. He'll be the Destroyer of Worlds."

Militsa had never heard of the Destroyer of Worlds, but the name sent fear's icy fingers crawling up her spine. She shivered. "Who is the Destroyer of Worlds?"

The Dreamcatcher cocked HIS head as HE seemed to regard her. "Oh, the Destroyer of Worlds doesn't exist yet. You know who will become the Destroyer of Worlds. You've known him your entire life. It's Kyrilu."

Militsa pounced at the dark creature and passed through the silhouette, shaking as cold overtook her. "Why can't I hit you?"

The Dreamcatcher grinned, and Militsa could see the darkness cracking as HE did so. "I don't have a real form. You see, I am you. I am Kyrilu. I am all, and I am one. One might call me God. Another might call me the Devil. The only correct name for me would be grief."

Militsa was all alone in the dark ocean. There was no one but grief.

message 13: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Melissa: Beautifully written as always. It reminded me a bit of 1984, with the constant monitoring and foundation on political unrest, except that you based yours more on contemporary issues. You seem to have put quite a bit of thought into your setting and premise, which is wonderful. However, much of your background information is telling instead of showing, especially when Caysha is relating the Day of Chaos. While Caysha was very young when it happened, she sounds very emotionally detached from an event that has basically determined the state of her life. My last comment is that I didn't like Drestin. He's very integral to what you're trying to achieve with your plot and how the ending comes to be, but to me he comes off as slightly manipulative and demeaning. From their first conversation (which you imply is the first time they've ever spoken), Drestin is arrogant and he speaks down to Caysha, even man-handling her a bit, but he plays it brushes it aside by flirting with her. He's the kind of boy who would set off all of my red flags and who I wouldn't want to go on a date with, let alone spontaneously run off into the unknown with.

So while I love your premise and think your storytelling is beautiful, I feel like Drestin undermines what I think you're trying to achieve with this story. Caysha's concluding thoughts imply that she's about to reach her happily ever after, but her interactions with Drestin didn't give me the feeling of a healthy relationship.

message 14: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments James: Your dialogue was fabulous. It felt so natural. Annie's thoughts also felt very genuine, rather than forced. I also loved your imagery, from the illusions to the ghouls. You gave just enough details to provide a vivid picture, but not so much that it felt overdone or pretentious.

Without having read your story for Week 301, I followed this one fairly easily. I might be missing parts of the greater picture, but it's developed enough that it could almost stand on its own. But because it seems that Annie's grandma is and will continue to be significant to your plot, I think this story could be strengthened by some background information about her (which would be especially helpful to late-comers like me). What happened to Annie's grandma? And why would she be in this alternate world?

message 15: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Melissa wrote: "Hidden Dreams by: Melissa Andres
Approximately: 2,015 words
(Feedback Always Welcome!)

The wall was a drab, grayish-green. I often wondered what lie beyond the wall of Jagas. Beyond the rusted met..."

Great story! It is a nice thought to think of two people managing to find love and escape the evil even in such a dark world! Thanks for sharing with us!

message 16: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Angie wrote: "
The Wraith Lord: Part 2 of 2

Priam stumbled forward and reached for Castor. The old man kissed his feet as he wept. “Please, please. Take my soul instead. Telimon has done no wrong.”

“Your s..."

I enjoyed the story. It was very well written and held my attention to the very end. I like the world that you created: the unique powers of the phantasms, the portrayal of the main characters emptiness at the end, and how vengeance never truly provides satisfaction. Thanks for sharing with us!

message 17: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Edward wrote: "Title : Is This The Real Life?
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1963
Rating : PG

Darian’s ability to sleep anywhere at any time was practically world famous. He was known at his old school for ..."

Great story. I had wondered at first if there was going to be a switch and the fantasy world would be the real one. But as the story went on, I started to doubt that conclusion. Then, you pulled me back at the end! It was very well done.
Thanks for sharing!

message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Angie wrote: "
The Wraith Lord: Part 2 of 2

Priam stumbled forward and reached for Castor. The old man kissed his feet as he wept. “Please, please. Take my soul instead. Telimon has done no wrong.”

“Your s..."

Nice read, Angie.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

James wrote: "Melissa wrote: "Hidden Dreams by: Melissa Andres
Approximately: 2,015 words
(Feedback Always Welcome!)

The wall was a drab, grayish-green. I often wondered what lie beyond the wall of Jagas. Beyon..."

Thank you, James. I really appreciate your kind words. I do think we need a little (okay, a lot) more sweetness in the world.

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

James wrote: "(Stolen Dreams in a Dark Wood cont.)

I recognized the voice at once. Turning, I found myself, to my breathless amazement, staring up into the face of the one woman who meant the most to me in the ..."

Very nice! I loved your descriptions and your characters seem flawless as they are speaking to each other. You have woven another great tale!

message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Angie wrote: "Melissa: Beautifully written as always. It reminded me a bit of 1984, with the constant monitoring and foundation on political unrest, except that you based yours more on contemporary issues. You s..."

Angie, Thank you for your detailed critique on my story. I do appreciate your comments as I only want to try to get better. But I am sorry that my character Drestin came across as manipulative to you and that you didn't like him. I did not intend to present him that way. I wanted to present this week's story as one that would give this world, with all that has happened in the past few weeks, as one of hope and love with two sweet teenagers running off, leaving horrible circumstances behind and beginning anew. I guess ten different people can read a story and take away ten different things. Thank you for your honesty. I need more of that.

message 22: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Melissa wrote: "Hidden Dreams by: Melissa Andres
Approximately: 2,015 words
(Feedback Always Welcome!)

The wall was a drab, grayish-green. I often wondered what lie beyond the wall of Jagas. Beyond the rusted met..."

Great introduction to a terrible future that at least has some hope for Caysha and Drestin (loved your odd choice of names - interesting fact : I used to work with a girl called Abena. I always pronounced it wrong as A-bee-na, but apparently it's pronounced like Abner).

message 23: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Angie wrote: "
The Wraith Lord: Part 2 of 2

Priam stumbled forward and reached for Castor. The old man kissed his feet as he wept. “Please, please. Take my soul instead. Telimon has done no wrong.”

“Your s..."

Quite a profound tale. You've really grasped the idea of someone getting everything they want and still being left feeling like something is missing. Nicely done.

message 24: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments James wrote: "(Stolen Dreams in a Dark Wood cont.)

I recognized the voice at once. Turning, I found myself, to my breathless amazement, staring up into the face of the one woman who meant the most to me in the ..."

To Be Continued...? I hope so. This was great fun. The pseudodragon felt like the Cheshire Cat in your own unique version of Wonderland. I hope there's more in the weeks to come.

message 25: by Edward (last edited Jul 17, 2016 06:35PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Cold and Scared
GENRE: Psychological Drama
RATING: PG-13 for blood and swearing

One month was all it took. One month of missed paychecks, lost sle..."

This was in interesting insight into the mind off a schizophrenic, though part of me worries that, given how things have been in the States lately, that the cops arriving to help Casey will just gun Eric down and ask questions later...

message 26: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9620 comments Unfortunately, that's how a lot of mentally ill people are treated by American police as of late. :(

message 27: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Gashbeen wrote: "Grief

By Gashbeen Saeed

Militsa gazed out at the surprisingly calm sea, enchanted by the glittering water. The setting sun cast its warm colors over the young girl as she leaned precariously over..."

This was well written and I enjoyed the conversation between Militza and The Dreamcatcher, One point - you changed tense mid-sentence with 'grew darker and silent'. It should probably be 'grew dark and silent'.

message 28: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Edward: I really liked this. I feel like everyone has known a Darian at some point in their life. By the end of the year in my government class, our teacher had used six different Nerf guns/air cannons in his attempts to wake up one of the boys in the second row. I also liked how you contrasted the elements of having to choose what's important along with the subjectivity of reality. Well done this week!

message 29: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Garrison: You did great with your characterizations this week. Both Casey and Eric felt a lot more developed than your usual characters, with more nuance to their personalities. The transition from Casey wrestling Eric to the wolf attack was a bit abrupt, but a touching story nonetheless.

message 30: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Gashbeen: You always have such a way with words! I'm glad to see you trying out some new plot elements and incorporating them into your story. I think this is the most dialogue I've seen in your writing, and you pull it off wonderfully as always.

message 31: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Thank you, James, Melissa, and Edward!

message 32: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Having a terrible time writing past few weeks. Really thought I'd get something in this week since this is such a great topic with lots of opportunities. Started and stopped a few stories, but nothing gels. oh woe! Just feeling sorry for myself. I look forward to reading all the great stories that I know are posted!

message 33: by Gashbeen (new)

Gashbeen | 167 comments Thanks, Angie! I'll admit, I wasn't feeling very confident in my story. I don't usually incorporate a lot of dialogue into my stories, and this story had plenty of it. I'm glad I took the risk, though. If you don't take risks, then how can you improve your writing? Anyways, thanks so much! Your words have really helped boost my confidence.

message 34: by Gashbeen (new)

Gashbeen | 167 comments It's alright, Anne. All writers experience it at some point. It seriously sucks, though, when you don't know what to write. Still, I'm sure you'll climb your way out of this writing slump soon enough!

message 35: by Reid (last edited Jul 20, 2016 10:30AM) (new)

Reid (ReidT) Geronimo Part 1 of 2

This is a short story I wrote up last night after finding out about this contest. Living in a rural area where there are Native American reservations and high poverty, this story means a lot to me.
TITLE: Geronimo
GENRE: Magical Realism
RATING: PG-13 Drug reference

I’m special.
Not in a good way either.
I guess even by now you must be considering ignoring this passage entirely, but you might not want to do that. I don’t know, you don’t have to listen to me.
No one ever does.
I guess I should tell you a bit about myself, though it would be pretty boring for someone with a fast paced life like your own. You don’t have to.
I’m sorry, I’m not making much sense, I’ve never been good at making sense. Then again, much of what you’re about to read might not make sense either.
My father and mother both lived lives of struggle. Both of their lives ended in struggle as well. My father was abused a lot as a kid by his stepdad, something I found out a lot later in life that makes a lot of sense now. My mother was always working, knowing that her struggle would pay off someday.
I don’t know where I got that from.
All I know is that she worked a lot and didn’t live all that pretty of a life either. She died in childbirth, so I really have no idea what she was like. But my dad, that’s a different story.
He had two sides:
About to get drunk.
I can only remember a handful of times where he wasn’t drunk, but those were very beautiful moments that I hold on to. I can remember him getting home from the minimart where he worked and taking me to go shoot ground squirrels. I remember sitting in the front of his beat up rusted pickup, the seat belt hanging loosely across my front. There were crumpled beer cans at my feet and a box of cigarettes on the dashboard. He asked me how school was going. I wasn’t sure how to answer so I said it was going good.
He loved me.
At the time I was scared to death of him, but now that I look back at all the little things he did, I know that he really cared for me. Even though he dropped out of high school to go work in his sophomore year, he always made sure I got to school every morning and did my work. Sometimes when he was sober enough he would come to my parent-teacher conferences.
My dad pulled to the side of the road, flat fields of wheat and grass stretching all around us. He pulled a .22 out from the back of the truck and pointed out to a spot in the grass. A small animal was sticking its head out of a hole. He loaded the gun and gave it to me. It was heavier than I’d imagined. He then bent over and positioned the stock of the gun so it rested against my shoulder. “Just look down the sights and match ‘em up.” I did so, my arms shaking under the weight. He put his hands over mine and kneeled down. His breath smelled bitter.
I aimed. We aimed.
There was a resounding crack after I pulled the trigger, and a cloud of dust flew up several feet behind the animal, who shot back into its hole. We spent several hours there, on the side of that dirt country road, shooting and missing. I don’t think we hit one that day, but it was one of the best of my life.
The other side of my father was the side I remember more vividly, which frightens me. He only ever physically beat me twice, but that was enough for me to fear for my life whenever he came home drunk. Most of time he would swear and yell his head off before disappearing out the door, leaving me scared and confused, lying on my mattress until I heard the slamming of the door past midnight when he came home.
He got paid minimum wage working as a cashier, and usually didn’t come home till late. I got the reduced lunch program at school and ate whatever I could find at home, usually greasy, microwaveable foods that my dad brought home from work, as he was too proud to show his face at the food bank. We would get welfare checks, which helped a little, but not enough to make a difference. Sometimes he would do farm work and help a friend sell fireworks, which brought in some income as well. Our problem wasn’t because we were poor, but because he spent most of our money drinking and buying cigarettes, which were cheaper there on the reservation.
We lived on the Coeur d’Alene Native American reservation in Plummer, a small town of around a thousand people in north Idaho. I grew up there and rarely left town, as we had little reason to. When I grew old enough, I did farm work, bucking bales and doing odd jobs for the farmers in the areas.
That was where I was introduced to tobacco.
It was a blistering hot day in early July, making the work miserable. I was on a crew of four guys, mostly in their late teens, all of them white. We had to get five hundred hay bales into the farmer’s barn that day before it rained, each bale around sixty to seventy pounds. We had just finished unloading yet another trailer-load of hay in the barn and were taking a break. One of the boys had one of those little tins of chew in his hand and was shaking it. I realized that he couldn’t have been older than seventeen as he took a pinch of it and stuffed his lip. He passed the tin to another boy, who took a lip before passing it to me. I set down the gallon jug of water I was drinking and stupidly grabbed a pinch. The stuff tasted filthy, but I acted like I was experienced with this sort of stuff, which I would be in years to come. I passed the tin on. Several hours later, I had another pinch, this time not tasting so bad. It all went downhill from there.
I woke up at seven on the morning my life was turned upside down. I sat on my mattress and stared at the cracks in the ceiling and where the plaster was peeling off on the walls. I went to school was usual and returned home to find my dad, which was unusual, sitting with two other white guys. My dad looked massive compared to them, dressed in a stained sleeveless shirt with his dark hair pulled back in a braid. The men were talking in soft voices and were dressed really well. My dad told me to wait outside while he ‘sorted this out’. After another half hour of waiting outside our crumbling rented house the men scurried out to their car. I went in and my dad was smoking and watching Alaska State Troopers on TV. “What was that about?” I had asked. “Sit.” He growled. I sat by him on our sagging couch. “You know why your mom named you Geronimo?” I had shrugged, perplexed. “’cause of Chief Geronimo?” I suggested, already knowing the answer. He nodded. “When the whites came and tried to take our land he fought ‘em.” He said, not taking his eyes off the screen. I had no idea where this was going. “Geronimo, those guys just came telling me that I can’t keep…” He paused. I nodded, waiting for him to keep going as I watched two troopers handcuff a guy. After a while I turned and found him with his head bowed and his hand over his eyes.
He was crying.
I felt helpless, as I had never seen a man cry in my life. Eventually he coughed and said, “I can’t keep you anymore.”
In that dark room lit up only by the flickering TV screen my world fell apart, everything that I had ever come to know ended. I sat, dazed, for minutes, unaware that my father had left. He returned with a dream catcher, something I recognized from the time we went to the Couer d’Alene Casino and I had waited in the gift shop as my father played at the gambling machines.
“This was your mother’s. I’m giving it to you, because…” He stopped and looked down. “…because Geronimo can’t fight the white men this time.”
After that, I went through the adoption system for the remaining two years before I was eighteen, bumping around from one home to another, some good, some bad. I was given a steady job at a fast food place off the reservation and worked there, holding the memories of my childhood close so no one could see them.
It hurt, it really did.
Every day I hurt inside, thinking of my father. Some days I would go to my car on my lunch break and cry out in the parking lot. I was torn apart.
One evening five years after seeing my dad, I got off work, I drove my car, a used Volkswagen with far too many miles, to the storage shed I had rented for all of the excess stuff I couldn’t fit in my cramped apartment. I was planning on finding anything I could sell for money that I had no use for anymore. I looked through several boxes of old photographs and clothes and came across something I hadn’t seen in years; the dream catcher. I drove home, the dream catcher nestled among papers in the glove box.
That evening I hung the dream catcher near my bed before going to sleep, my feelings mixed.
A dome of polar-white stars splashed across the dark sky stretched all around me as far as I could see. I smelled smoke and the musty scent of leather. I found myself among a cluster of tents-tipis. I could hear the sound of a coyote howling not far off. I felt oddly at peace as I observed my surroundings. Before me was a fire, casting an orange glow across the camp. I was startled to see that I was not alone. Across from me was a very old man, his face darkened and creased, his body clothed in a traditional buckskin. His grey hair pulled back in a braid beneath a flowing feathered headdress.
The corners of the chief’s mouth turn up, as if slightly amused, “Friend, you have come a long way, let me tell you a story.” I realized that I was nodding. “Coyote is a terrible hunter, so after watching noble Eagle hunt and kill many rabbits, sly Coyote decided that he would team with Eagle. The two joined forces and Eagle caught many more rabbits, while coyote could only dig in the dirt for bugs.
At this time the world was dark; the sun and the moon had not yet been put in the sky. ‘I need light!’ cried Coyote. “I can’t catch anything in this darkness, do you know where we can find light?” he asked. Eagle stopped his hunting and thought for a long time.
‘Yes, friend, we will find light. I think there might be some to the west, we will go find it.’ he proclaimed finally.
The two went to search for the sun and the moon, and after a long walk they came to a pueblo where the Kachinas were dancing. The kind people invited the two to take a seat and watch the dancing. Eagle, seeing the great powers the Kachinas had, said to coyote, ‘these people have the light we seek.’”
The chief paused and shook his head.
“Deceitful coyote, always cunning, replied ‘friend, do you see this? They have all the light we need in the big box. We must steal it.’
‘You always want to steal,’ replied Eagle, ‘Why not just borrow it?’
Coyote scowled, ‘They would never lend it to us.’
‘You may be right,’ said Eagle, ‘let’s wait for the dancing to finish and then steal the box.’
After some time the Kachinas fell asleep and Eagle scooped up the large box with his great talons and flew off. Coyote, though clever, wasn’t the fastest animal, so he struggled to keep up. Soon he called up to Eagle, ‘Friend! Let me carry the box!’
‘No,no,’ said Eagle, ‘you never do anything right.’
He flew on, and Coyote, panting, ran after him. Coyote cackled once more, ‘Chief! It’s not right for you to carry the box; people will call me lazy. Let me have it.’
‘No, no, you’re always mess everything up.’ called Eagle from up high.
So they went on, flying and running, before Coyote howled “It isn’t right for you to do this friend. What will the people think of you and me?’
‘I don’t care what people think, I will carry the box.’
Again Eagle flew, and Coyote flew after him. Finally devious Coyote begged for the fourth time: ‘Let me carry it. You’re the chief, and I’m just Coyote. Let me carry your load.’
Eagle couldn’t stand any more pestering. Also, Coyote had asked four times, and when someone asks you four times, you had better give them what they want.

message 36: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9620 comments Angie wrote: "Garrison: You did great with your characterizations this week. Both Casey and Eric felt a lot more developed than your usual characters, with more nuance to their personalities. The transition from..."

The characters in my modern day drama stories are usually more developed than my sci-fi/fantasy ones, probably because the former doesn't have a good vs. evil dynamic. Thanks for the wonderful feedback, Angie-Pie! ^_^

message 37: by Reid (new)

Reid (ReidT) Geronimo Part 2 of 2

Eagle said, ‘Young Coyote, since you won’t stop your pestering, I will give you the box for a short time, but you must promise me that you won’t open it.’
“Oh sure, oh yes, I promise.’ Coyote crowed, and they went on as before, but now Coyote had the box. Soon Eagle was far ahead, and Coyote lagged behind a hill where Eagle couldn’t see him. ‘I wonder what the light looks like inside there.’ He said to himself. ‘Why shouldn’t I look? It’ll only be a peek.’
And Coyote opened the lid. Now, not only was the sun inside, but the moon also. Eagle had put them together, thinking it would be easier to carry one box than two.
As soon as Coyote opened the lid, the moon escaped, flying high into the sky. At once all of the plants shriveled and died, and it was winter.
Trying to catch the moon and put it back in its box, Coyote ran in pursuit as it skipped away from him. Meanwhile, the sun flew out and rose into the sky as well.
Eagle turned back to see what delayed Coyote. ‘You fool! Look what you’ve done!’ he said. ‘You let the sun and the moon escape, and now it’s cold.’ It began to snow, and Coyote shivered. ‘It’s your fault that the cold has come into the world.’”
Geronimo looked me in the eyes, his smile replaced by a solemn stare.
“It’s true. If it weren’t for Coyote, we wouldn’t have winter; we could enjoy summer all the time, but after so many years, I think we need to give Coyote a second chance. He must be sorry for his actions.”
My vision blurred, as if I were seeing through water, making everything fuzzy before it all faded to darkness. “Give him a second chance.” repeated Geronimo one last time before I woke up with a start.
I lay awake in bed, like the morning I was taken away from my father, staring up at the ceiling. “Give Coyote a chance.” I said to myself, my voice hoarse.
I knew what I had to do, even after holding all of my harsh feelings inside of me for so long.
I woke up the woman who lived in the apartment across the hall to borrow her phone at five in the morning, my mind racing. I didn’t get an answer, so I left a voicemail saying the only words I could think of. “Dad, I’m coming home.”

Note: Please excuse any writing errors and the lack of paragraphs, which is my fault entirely.

message 38: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments So excited to have seen some new story posters recently. I can't wait to read the ones for this week too!

message 39: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (last edited Jul 18, 2016 09:24PM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments Title: Dreams Can Die
Author: CJ
Word Count: 3,298

They arrived at the deceased’s front porch. It was a roomy and nicely floored space with a roof. They could have stayed had it not been an unsavory situation so they headed to the front door.

Mallard’s eyes became drawn to a blue and green decoration hanging in front of it. Touching it, his friend and partner chimed in.

“It’s a dream-catcher. Looks like she was clear from getting bad ones.”

“A lot of people must have known her. Do you think the murderer was a close friend. A jealous relative, maybe?”

“We have only one way to find out…” He then stepped in and let Mallard inside.

Wisker then continued. “I have yet to check out what happened after officer Brighton cleared the crime scene.”
“He what?” It was unheard of.

But Mallard’s partner handed him his coffee and he snatched it from him almost involuntarily.

“I thought you knew.”
“He is not one to do that. We were called here to check up on it first.”
“He told me he was only making sure we would be fine. Plus he appears to be the sensitive type. Probably cried over the dead body, knowing him. Such a non-professional at times...”

The partner chuckled, a little forced. Then he glanced over to him and saw he wasn’t even close to amused.

“Come on. We have to try our best while we’re here. A little joke or snide might help lighten the tension.”
“I don’t need anything before an important investigation.”
“Well I brought your coffee. That’s like a ritual of yours.”
Without responding Mallard picked up the cup and drank from the plastic lid, his eyes closed like the liquid inside contained a nectar from the gods.

After they observed finding little around the base level they headed up to the second floor where the victim was waiting for them.

Finally Mallard spoke up. “She was on the radio, I heard. When was this?”
“Do you listen to anything in your spare time, Mallard?”
“No. It’s all noise to me.”
“Well if you want to know it was around March or April I think when her single dropped onto the airwaves. People thought the song was pretty great, it went on to get a lot of attention.”
“Well anyone can sing.”
“Can you?”
Mallard looked at him and stared like he didn’t want to answer the question.

“Well you’ve got to have dreams, aspirations.”

“Dreams can die…”
“So you’re admitting right now you had hopes and were let down? That’s kind of interesting, Mallard!”

Mallard for some reason was thinking of the dreamcatcher again. He thought (in his opinion it was futile wonder) that the woman had been hoping to catch dreams but to no avail with that superstitious piece of silliness.

Mallard ignored him for a moment and stooped down at the body that had fallen and propped against the bed, in an upright position.

“So Wisker, do you see that her hand here took a cinge? It meant that she was shielding herself when the gun-shot happened. She was awake, fully aware it was coming.
"Did any neighbors call the cops?”
“No it was a neighbor that came in the house about six hours later. She swore she never heard a noise. Then again as you’ve seen neighbors live fairly far away, maybe that’s it.”
“How is her pillow? Maybe it was used to keep the sound from being too loud.”

They both looked around the room. Mallard’s partner looked through the drawers and found nothing significant. “No holes in the pillow. And it's strange that it wasn’t a robbery. There’s jewelry, heck there’s about two hundred dollars in here, nothing looks touched!”

“Not all murders as you will learn are about stealing. I thought you got that, Wisker.”

“Yes but that just makes things… a little complicated.”
“True, this reveals itself now as a case that’s a little tougher to crack, I admit.”

“Just because you think I’m a rookie doesn’t make me naive.”

Mallard turned away. Whether he felt sorry or not was yet untold to his partner, his pal of less than a year.

“Do we have any suspects, Wisker?”
“Well first we are canvassing the area. Brighton is on it!”

The woman was young, looked to Mallard to be not even twenty in age. Everything about her in her place of dreams made a tender plucking at his heartstrings.

She was in so many hopes and aspirations. From seeing she owned three acoustic guitars, the last signed by someone he made a mental note about, he sipped feeling he was taking his thinking juice to help him further with the curious place of rest.

She had won an open mic contest as announced by a certificate containing her name: Teresa Harp. She had quipped onto the paper, “At least I got something out of this!” Curiously he saw the paper seemed to be tampered with. A corner near the message had been taken out.

“Look at this…”
“Do you see this?”
“It’s probably just old. Look, she probably had that framed a year after she got the money to be able to afford it. Probably laid in her room and could have wrinkled, fallen apart.”
“I still think this is important. Why is this message here like she was being responsive to someone. I disagree. It looks too strange of a tear like it was deliberate.”
“A close bestie she no longer cares about?”
“That is possible.”
“Look, i know we have just gotten on this crime scene, but in a few hours when they rassle up the suspect info you want to get something to eat?”

“Like what?”
“Get something good. I know a place…”
“A restaurant?”
“No a diner.”
“That’s good. I wasn’t hoping for anything big anyway.”
“Hey easy with the comments, copper. I want to impress you with their food, as ‘cheap’ as you might think it all is…”
“Now I think you are ribbing me.”
“Hey just you saying that I see a hint of humor in your armor for once…” then Wisker laughed.

Mallard was just his usual, grey eyed, stern self. A strange genius he was, though in his exterior he was unbecoming he was at heart a silent artist.

After they found a seat it seemed it wasn’t until they got there the night came onto them in an instant. It was bad enough the run-down eatery didn’t have much lighting so it made their temporary escape from the job shrouded around their squishy seats by the window.

Mallard saw that Wisker was staring out the window.

“Something wrong?”
“No Mallard, just thinking why they would do such a thing?”
“I could lay it all our right here for you now… but I thought you wanted to relax while we ate some ‘grub’ as you call it?”

“Okay, right you are. You know this place has the best cornbeef hash?”
“That stuff unsettles my stomach. Do they have good coffee?”
“Seriously Mallard? Do you ever eat any form of food?”

“I don’t like stuff that is … overly fancy. These items on the menu sound a little too over the top.”
“I could just order you roots and water…”

The waitress came over, giving a winking and smile to the apparently best customer.
“So you’re here again I see. You like our slop so much you just gotta humor us with your presence again and again.”
Wisker laughed almost embarrassed. “Couldn’t have found the worst person to say that around… this is Mallard.”

“Ah, I see you cops like to eat in pairs. I could think of a joke… let’s see one to eat and the other to keep a look out?”
Wisker gave a genuine smile ear to ear. “Good one, Casie.”

“I get you the usual… and how about my new friend, here.”
He looked at the menu like it was a huge decision for his life. “Can I have tomato soup and the grilled cheese… but… can I just have a cheese sandwich? I figure I won’t like it grilled.”
She nodded, keeping her reaction hidden as Wisker appreciated the graciousness. “Okay, bud. Got it.”

She scribbled onto her notepad then disappeared after she headed through the front.

Later Mallard was picking at his food, regretful of his choice, the sandwich turned into a matted mess and in pieces on parts of his bowl of red soup. Wisker was only halfway through his food when the diner was startled by the forceful bang of the front door.

It was another member of the Media Police Station, Bastion. His dark complexion had a slightly wary look making them feel a little worried.
“Hey Bastion, you okay?”
“The suspects have been called. They are due to come in tomorrow around 6 o’clock. Sorry but you guys have to do the interrogation. Hope I was not too late in telling you guys.

Wisker stared into his fellow cop’s face. “Wow, that’s really early but I think I and Mallard can manage that. There is no reason why we shouldn’t… but this time I want to be the bad cop, eh, Mallard...?”

After looking back to his friend across the table he was surprised to then notice his sandwich had a big section missing. Mallard’s face was stuffed with a large helping of corn-beef as he merely nodded, unable to look innocent.
“Really Mallard? You serious?”

message 40: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (last edited Jul 18, 2016 09:34PM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments Story- Dreams Can Die

Mallard with two coffees for himself and a plain bagel headed into the station at 5:30. When he spotted Wisker he nodded then they went in and asked the first suspect to come into their room.

Mallard sat in the chair and Wisker sat atop a desk that was near him as a young woman stepped in, looking full of trepidation.

They checked their newly written file. “So your name is… Jackie Steinman?”

“Uhh… yes.”
“Do you know why you are here?”
“I heard that someone close to me died. I hope it wasn’t Joe. He gets into too much drugs and I worry about him. IS that what happened? Please tell me I’m wrong.”

“Well good news is you are wrong.”
She looked relieved, her back seeming to fall from its tense arch just a moment ago.

Wisker continued. “So… do you remember Teresa Harp?”
Her eyes bulged as soon as she said it. “What? She died? Oh wow… umm, yes I did. You don’t think I killed her do you?”
“Well we didn’t ask you that question.”
Mallard spoke up. “It’s interesting you would say that right off the bat though. There was word going around after high school that you two had some kind of falling out.”

“Well, yeah we didn’t get along but it wasn’t serious…”
It reminded Mallard of something. He snapped his fingers. “Did you go with her to an open mic? Some kind of contest? What was the date Wisker….about June last year? Yeah that’s it.”
“No we were broken up as best friends then.”

“But I hear you didn’t lose contact with each other. According to a few people around here you were at her house some time after and people say you threatened Teresa.”
She stared at Mallard alarmed.

“They say you said something like ‘I will kill you.’ The neighbors heard those words clearly that night.”

It dawned on her what the info they gathered. She looked at both of them about to say something but then she burst into tears.
“Oh…. no, no, no. I wouldn’t kill her. I didn’t say--”
“Be careful of that Miss Steinman. You don’t want anything you say here to go against you in court.”

She continued to sob and then turned to Wisker with pleading eyes. “Okay I did say that but that was just a saying! People say that when they get mad at other people all the time. They don’t really mean it.” She continued to cry.

“But it doesn’t usually happen either.”

Jackie cried louder. Wisker put a hand on Mallard’s shoulder. He put a hand up, signaling he would no longer badger her any longer.

“You can go, Miss Steinman. Please stay if we need to further keep in contact.”
She held out her hands as Wisker spoke and he grasped them. It was obvious she trusted him over the other officer.

Mallard sighed and looked forward, wondering who was next.

It was 2:00 and the two were disappointed the next suspect was so late in coming in. He carried in a satchel and with busy frenzy plopped them loudly on the desk nearly missing Wisker.

“Whoa. Sorry…”
They stared at him. He didn’t look like a musician to either cop though Mallard figured they probably weren’t supposed to look like anything. One or both wondered at this man if the two, he and the victim were ever more than just friends while they played, as that would make him possibly more than just a suspicious figure.

“David Jenners.”
“Uhh.. yes, that’s me.”
“Were you and Teresa Harp friends and band mates?”
“Uhh… yes but I didn’t see her that often after a while. We weren’t even in contact with each other. She then had a new set of band members, then a couple of months later she was out playing music elsewhere. I’ll admit I was a little mad about that.”
“Mad?” Mallard spoke up in tune to his role “Were you mad to the point wanted to take her life?”
“What? No. I was jealous sure that she sky-rocketed to early fame without me but… I think in it all I was happy for her. She was talented. I didn’t even know she had it in her to write so well too. I’ve read her songs she wrote on her own. This song… was a little different. Made me wonder if she wasn’t the only writer on that one.”
“‘What Kind of One you Are’... is that the name of the track?” asked Wisker.

“Yes. It’s fantastic! I thought Teresa wrote slightly simplistic lyrics, a style that was distinctive. They were great on their own… but this song was a little different. I’m not trying to be repetitive but--”

“We understand. Did you have any reunions, meet anywhere else where she played?”
“Uhh…. no.”
“You didn’t sound too genuine with the way you said that.”
“I noticed that too.” Wisker said leaning forward, almost out of character.
“Okay, I went to some musical performance she did early in the summer. I admit it. But I didn’t stay. I saw she won the contest… what open mic makes it like a battle of the bands anyway? I guess it was to get attention for the big bar. Plus a lot of performances there are small bands or people with their guitars anyway, I guess that was it. She and a guy played. I can’t remember who that was…”
“If you do remember who it is can you give us a call? We’d like to find out who else was around that knew her and could give us information to help us find out what happened.”
“Sure. If I do, give me the station’s number. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.”

“So we don’t know this other man? Who else is on the list? This is ridiculous!” Mallard said, he put his hands on the sides of his temple and rubbed them.

“Well we were a little too gracious to David but he came by which was good for him. The third person’s not at home right now. But we heard he will be tomorrow. He’s pretty much our numero uno right now.”
“Yeah? Why’s that?”
“Word has it he went to Teresa’s school like Jackie.”
Mallard looked impatient waving his hands waiting for the catch.
“And sometime before the victim was found he had learned to use a gun…”

They stood in the hallway, Mallard munching on a sandwich, clearly stressed.

“So if she was shot in her room wouldn’t the neighbors have heard it?”
Mallard looked into space then locked eyes with Wisker. “I guess it just wasn’t loud enough. The place is fairly isolated.”
“I don’t know though. They still have neighbors. Surely they are stretched out a little, proximity wise but a gun-shot is distinct. It’s loud!”

“True. But maybe someone thought it was a dumpster slamming closed.
Wisker looked surprised. “Are you serious?”
“Hey, people might ignore sounds all the time... they just have to find excuses because people don’t just call 911 after they hear a noise.”
“I can’t believe we have to wait another day. We should ask Brighton if he has anything for us.”
Mallard nearly grunted. “He still shouldn’t have done what he did. I am a little disappointed in him.”

They looked to the side and noticed Jackie had stayed close by. They felt caught off-guard.

“I heard you were at my school. Did you get another suspect?”
“He’s not here yet.”
“I just got a call on my phone that the person who didn’t show up yet was Yatrik. He didn’t do it, I’m sure.”
“Well we’ll keep investigations to the truth and evidence. Don’t worry yourself at all about him.”
“He did shoot something. I know it.”
They looked at her a little interested. She continued.
“But he has no nerves. He couldn’t have done something like that. It’s not him!”
Mallard calmly walked toward her and she started to back away. “Okay, your care for this man has been noted. Please let us do our job.”

Brighton had been standing a distance away interested at their speak.

“Please. I swear to you, he wouldn’t!”

After she left Brighton walked up to them. He pointed with his mug. “Isn’t she one of our suspects?”
“Yes she seems to care a lot about others. That’s a good sign. She might not need a call from one of us unless we need information.”
“In my opinion...” began Wisker. “she is probably one suspect less in our list.”

“But still…” added Brighton. He walked away before they could speak to him further.

The next day wrought new tension and worries amongst the investigation. The two ended up going to a location near Media. They were shocked at what they had heard was true.

Through the spinning red and blue lights they managed to find at Yatrik’s empty house Officer Bastion walking up to them holding a bag looking forlorned.

When they got closer they realized what it was.

“I think he didn’t see us because he wanted to find a way to hide this.”
“Is that what I think…?” began Wisker.

“Yes. It’s our murder weapon. The round that was found in Teresa matches the same kind of ammo that this gun uses. While this is sad news for Yatrik, I think we might be going home with clear consciences tonight.”
“Why is that?” asked Wisker.

“Because we have Yatrik now. We got his fingerprints and they match the little marks that are on the gun. It was tough finding them. Kind of strange, the expert said.”
“Why is that?”
“I am not sure. If you want to fax the lab I could call them.”
“No we believe you.”

Bastion walked off to head to the other officers.
“It’s strange that our evidence goes against everything Jackie said.”
“Yes, I noticed.” Mallard quipped.
“So it’s all over.”
“Not yet.”
“What? Mallard, you serious?”
“This is just too easy. It’s never this easy and we don’t even have a motive.”
“We can ask Yatrik. He will tell us!”

“No. I don’t know what to say but I have a gut feeling Yatrik didn’t murder her.”
“Then who did…?”


message 41: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Reid wrote: "Geronimo Part 2 of 2

Eagle said, ‘Young Coyote, since you won’t stop your pestering, I will give you the box for a short time, but you must promise me that you won’t open it.’
“Oh sure, oh yes, I..."

This was a nice story, with some good pacing and development of character, but I couldn't help thinking that some of the references to drug use, etc. were underutilised. I guess there's only so much we can fit into a short story. Was this your first one for the group? If so, welcome aboard.

message 42: by Reid (new)

Reid (ReidT) Edward wrote: "Reid wrote: "Geronimo Part 2 of 2

Eagle said, ‘Young Coyote, since you won’t stop your pestering, I will give you the box for a short time, but you must promise me that you won’t open it.’
“Oh su..."

Thank you for reading. I was planning on elaborating and going further, tying in some of my previous statements such as the one about tobacco, but I was juggling stories and didn't have enough time to make a proper ending. This is my first post, so thank you for the warm welcome.

message 43: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments Welcome to the WSS Reid. I will look forward to reading your story and hope you will like this neat group! There is endless games and things here to interest all and anyone so I hope you will feel comfortable enough to hang out as a new member. Enjoy!

message 44: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments Thanks Edward! Reading the title of your story got Queen stuck in my head. Thanks a lot... hehe! ;) :P

message 45: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments CJ wrote: "Story- Dreams Can Die

Mallard with two coffees for himself and a plain bagel headed into the station at 5:30. When he spotted Wisker he nodded then they went in and asked the first suspect to come..."

So, will we find out next week whodunit? Or is this going to be trilogy? ;D I look forward to the gripping conclusion of your murder mystery (Ms Christie is clearly stuck in your head along with Mr Mercury).

message 46: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Reid: That was really touching. Your characters had such depth and dimension to them. Somehow, you managed to balance the elements of their relationship very well. You showed that parents can love us dearly despite their imperfections, and you did this without excusing Geronimo's suffering. I also really loved the voice of your narrator. I'm not sure if I've read anything by you before, but well done.

message 47: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments CJ: Your dialogue felt a lot more natural and genuine this week. It was much easier to follow. I think this particular story would work well if it was adapted to a play or script because a good majority of it is dialogue. I look forward to learning who the real killer was.

message 48: by Reid (new)

Reid (ReidT) Angie wrote: "Reid: That was really touching. Your characters had such depth and dimension to them. Somehow, you managed to balance the elements of their relationship very well. You showed that parents can love ..."

CJ wrote: "Welcome to the WSS Reid. I will look forward to reading your story and hope you will like this neat group! There is endless games and things here to interest all and anyone so I hope you will feel ..."

Thank you very much, I really appreciate the support.

message 49: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Angie wrote: "
The Wraith Lord: Part 2 of 2

Priam stumbled forward and reached for Castor. The old man kissed his feet as he wept. “Please, please. Take my soul instead. Telimon has done no wrong.”

“Your s..."

Awesome story, Angie!

message 50: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (last edited Apr 12, 2018 11:43AM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4309 comments I know this was late in doing so but if you've been waiting this long you deserve to know. Better late than never! Here are the poll results for week 319! The details:

In first place we have Cold and Scared a short-story by Garrison!
And in second place there was a five-person tie with Hidden Dreams by Melissa, Stolen Dreams in a Dark Wood by James, Is This The Real Life? by Edward, The Wraith Lord by Angie, and Geronimo by Reid.

Huge thanks to all who participated!

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