Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 320 (July 19-25). Stories. Topic: Piece by Piece

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message 1: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (last edited Jul 19, 2016 12:17AM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4263 comments You have until the 25th of July to post a story and on the 26th to the 30th, 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: Piece by Piece

Thanks goes to C P 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 (last edited Jul 19, 2016 10:22AM) (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9527 comments This week's story will be called "Toy Trauma" and is about a subject that's near and dear to my heart since I myself am a toy collector. The story goes like this:


Kevin Hunt, Toy-Loving Child
Marty Hunt, Kevin’s Father

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Marty dismantles the action figure piece by piece.

SYNOPSIS: Ever since gaining custody of Kevin in a nasty divorce, Marty has been stressed out to where even the smallest incidents send him into a screaming rage. One morning during breakfast, Kevin brings his favorite action figure to the table with him and plays with it a little too loudly for his father’s tastes. After several unanswered warnings to his son, Marty grabs the action figure and snaps its arms and legs off. The toy abuse leaves Kevin in a fit of tears and even causes him to say that he hates his father. Is this enough for Marty to realize how far off the deep end he’s gone or will he always be a sourpuss?

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

This is a short children's story describing how things can be passed down from generation to generation -- and not just material possessions.

PATCHES OF LOVE by: Melissa Andres
Approximately 340 words
(Feedback Always Welcome!)

The little girl, lips enveloping a tiny thumb, crawled into her grandmother's soft, oversized lap.

"Whatcha doin', Gram?"

"I'm making a quilt," the woman set aside her stitching to hug her granddaughter.

"What're these?" she tugged pieces of cloth from a paper sack and held them up to the light.

Re-positioning her glasses, Grandma smiled. "This one here, Betsy, is a piece from your Daddy's first pair of overalls. He was so cute in them." A far away look glazed her watery blue eyes.

"What 'bout this one?" Betsy pushed a red piece into Grandma's shaky hand.

She let out a little chuckle. "This is from your first red dress. You were just a baby." She stretched her arms only a few feet apart.

"And this one?" Betsy chose a patch of blue flannel, rubbing it against her pink cheek. "It's soft."

Grandma took the cloth patch from Betsy and smoothed it with a crooked finger. "This came from your Pappa's pajamas. They were his favorites." She gingerly removed an antique frame from the side table and stared into the eyes of the black and white photo.

"He was such a handsome man, your Pappa. You would have adored him."

Betsy nodded in agreement. She thought the long, handlebar mustache was neat and surely must have tickled.

Grandma's hands, although snarled and rough, grasped the silver needle delicately. She swiftly guided it back and forth through the fabric, not only with thread, but with love.

Many years later, a little girl, lips enveloping a tiny thumb, crawls into her mother's lap, now heavy with an unborn child.

"Whatcha doin', Mommy?"

"I'm making a quilt," Betsy sets aside her stitching to hug her daughter. "Kind of like the one that rests on the foot of my bed now."

"That Great-Gram made?"

Betsy nods and smiles, a far away look glazing watery blue eyes ...

message 4: by Sofia (last edited Jul 19, 2016 03:27PM) (new)

Sofia | 15 comments An Assortment of Pastries
By Sofia Spencer
Feedback is always welcome!

Charlie is a compilation of interests and identities, a destination that is constantly changing. While he clings to his house like an overzealous leech, I’ve discovered-after prying him off the couch-how every night in his company dissolves into an infinite collage of moments, transfixed with spontaneity and unending faith. I am desperate to remember these cherished bursts of memory.

One particular night, we see a Pixar movie. Somehow, in less than two hours, Charlie manages to devour a cheery Slurpee, large popcorn, and a box of Mike and Ikes. Unsurprisingly, he is not interested in dinner, while I am completely famished. As usual, we are at opposite vantage points, trying to find a way to meet. But, Charlie is never full for long, and I want to choose our destination well. For, I am exhausted of my dullness, of being a wilted flower who never sees the rain. I need to take him somewhere I understood, a place where I can disregard my fragility. For once, I want to emulate my best friend. So I take him to my favorite bakery.

The thing about Charlie is that he has so much more life than me. I wait, he explores. I hesitate, he leaps. I fall, he flies. Our camaraderie allows for a tranquil balance, as I am an introvert who craves extroversion, and Charlie is an extrovert who despises the human race.

We talk about the musical, Cabaret, on the way to the bakery, concentrating on its extraordinary symbolism. Like Clifford, I worry about existing in a stupor, only awakening for the briefest of moments. In contrast, like the Emcee, Charlie is awake, though he often wishes to slumber. Yet, our reasons for conversing are rarely so complex. To put it simply, I love books and he loves musicals; our uniquely similar passions allow us to understand each other’s motivations while exploring our extremely dissimilar philosophy’s.

The most astounding aspect of Cabaret is that it mirrors Charlie himself, because nothing is as it seems. Like the songs, the moments in his presence feel like filler, but lead up to this incredible whole, full of emotion and possibility. Charlie is the show, prized and often misunderstood. He is shrouded in mystery and revealed with time. But even as I have this revelation, we reach the bakery, and it’s Charlie’s turn to change his worldview.

I love this bakery. The pastries are mediocre, but the comfort is not. Nowhere else is there such an assortment of pastries, and the sight gives me an incredible rush. I had been going there since I was a little girl because there was no place like it. It’s authentic in the best way possible, holding tables inside and out, allowing me to watch the seasons change. The air is charged with sugar, infusing the chilly air with phantom warmth. Each glass case is perfectly polished in the center, while the edges are stained with the fingerprints of overeager children and adults. A soft serve machine stands lonely in the corner, as it is too familiar for such a spectacular sight. Ultimately, Astoria Bakery is a place of dreams, where family, pastries, and friends meet in perfect harmony.

Charlie approaches the counter with evident trepidation, muttering
“I hate you, I hate you; I hate you. You love causing me problems don’t you?” under his breath.

I hear anyway and laugh-he’s right, I know he’s trying to lose weight. The guy behind the counter seems both perplexed and confused by our bizarre dynamic as the special breed of friends who are always honest with each other, the breed who will sacrifice happiness for the truth. Comfort is not an important factor in our relationship.

Charlie eventually decides on a cronut, and I on a coconut crème pie. Considering I am familiar with the stuff of dessert dreams, feeling no fear, I know that the cheesecake is bland and the pies were delectable. I know which donuts will tingle my taste buds and which ones will leave me retching. Sometimes even Charlie remains a mystery, but sugar is perfectly comprehensible in the feeble fabric of my mind.

My name is Amelia. I am a girl obsessed with the sweetest parts of the world, terrified of acknowledging the bitter. I am a girl scared of picking from an unfamiliar line of pastries, where I am unable to discern the sour choices. I am a girl who fears uncertainty and revels in the known. Charlie understands, as he tries to help me embrace the ethereal. But I fear that it is too late to change my destination. For, I am only safe in places like Astoria, a dream catcher that eliminates nightmares. Charlie is able to drive away, go anywhere at any time, while I remain stuck. Like an ancient sponge stuck in the same old destinations. So, as the night comes to a close, I ask Charlie,

“Is it too late to change?” and I hear the faintest whisper in response,

“Only if you keep choosing the same pastry.”

message 5: by Joy (new)

Joy Crain | 41 comments The Missing Will
by Joy

Part One:

They called it an accident.

I know it was murder.

That’s why I stormed into the SFPD like a wild hurricane and demanded to speak with the head detective assigned to the Waters case. After what seemed like an eternity of screaming at one of the low-level police officers, I was finally escorted into the head detective’s office. By the scowl on his face I could tell he was less than thrilled at seeing me but he pointed to the seat in front of me.

“Please have a seat.”

“I think I’ll stand.”

He extended his hand to me. “Detective Joseph North,” he introduced. I shook his hand.

“Lindsey May,” I replied dryly.

“What can I do you for, Miss May?”

I squared my shoulders trying to look as intimidating as I felt. “I wanted to talk to you about the Waters case. You ruled it an accident.”

Detective North flicked his hand at me. “Yes, yes, all the evidence pointed that way. Poor Mr. Waters fell down the stairs. Broke his neck.”

“I know it was murder.”

Detective North again flicked his hand at me. “Nonsense.”

“I’m telling you the truth and you’d better listen.” I gritted my teeth at him. If he flicked his hand toward me one more time I was going to give him a murder case.

His stern expression turned stone cold. “Listen, lady,” his tone rose with each word as he approached her. “The case is OVER!” Spit spewed from his mouth and hit me on the cheek. I stepped back. “It was an accident. The man fell down the stairs. END OF STORY!” He looked passed me at one of the officers. “Mullins! Get in here and please escort this lady out of my office.”

How dare he? I opened my mouth to say something but immediately shut it when I felt a hand on my arm. I turned and came eye to eye with the officer. He offered me an apologetic look as he squeezed my arm slightly to get me to come with him. Despite it being slightly forceful, it was gentle and soft. I followed him outside of the police station where he let go.

“Sorry about that, ma’am,” he offered. “Just doing my job.”
I glared into his crystal blue eyes. “How dare that man!” I spewed. “He wouldn’t even let me finish talking. It was murder, I tell you. Murder!”

Mullins’s eyebrows knit together in confusion. “What are you talking about? Murder?”

I took in two deep breaths to calm my nerves. Just because I was mad furious at Detective North that didn’t give me a reason to take it out on the officer.

“The Waters case,” I replied calmly. “They ruled it an accident but I know that it was murder. That man in there…” I pointed back to building. “…won’t listen to me and is crazy if he thinks that I’m going to leave this alone.”

Officer Mullins rested both hands on his waist. “I was part of the team that did the investigation. Perhaps you can tell me what you think.” I let out a breath of relief. Finally, someone that would listen to me. I opened my mouth to speak but he put his finger to his lips. “Not here,” he whispered. “Let’s go to that coffee shop a few blocks down and we can discuss it.”

I nodded and followed him to the coffee shop. He ordered us two cappuccinos and we sat together at one of the tables. My nerves calmed as I let the warm liquid flow through my bloodstream.

Officer Mullins blew on his cup. “Okay, you were saying something about murder.”

“Right.” I set my cup down. “First you must know something.” Mullins leaned in closer. “I’m Gilbert Water’s granddaughter.”

At the revelation, Mullins sat back stunned. “Wait a minute there!” he held up a hand and shook his head, trying to make sense of it all. “Gilbert Waters never had any children.”

“Not that the public knows of, at least.” I offered. “My father is Gilbert Water’s son by his wife Catherine.”

Mullins shook his head. “Mr. Waters never married a woman named Catherine. He married Trish Donavon.”

“Not until after his marriage to Grandma Christina was annulled.” Mullins was still skeptical but I continued with my story. “My father told me this before he passed a few months ago but apparently Gilbert had married Christine in private. When his parents found about it they were furious and forced them to get the marriage annulled. But what Christina failed to tell Gilbert was that she was pregnant with my father. I am the rightful heir to Gilbert’s mansion and fortune.”

Mullins took two sips of his coffee before speaking. “Okay, let’s say that I do believe you. Just for a second. What makes you think that Gilbert Waters died from murder?”

I leaned back into my seat. “A month before he died I got in contact with him. I told him my story and he told me that he would do some research on it. A week later I got this call from him telling me that everything I said had checked out and that he was thrilled that he had a granddaughter and told me that he wanted to meet me.

“Of course we met and we talked. He told me that he was getting older and had written a will. He told me that because he thought he had no children he had left everything to Hank, Trish’s greedy brother, but now that he knew that I was his granddaughter he would leave everything to me. Two weeks later he dies.”

Mullins rubbed his forehead with his hand. “So you think he was murdered to stop him from writing you into his will.”

I nodded. “It only makes sense.”

“That’s quite a theory you have there.” Mullins tapped on the table. “Say that I believe you. How are we going to prove it?”

I leaned forward to whisper. “The day he died he called me and told me that his new will was finished. He told me that he was going to get it approved the next day but…” I choked on my words. “The rest you know.”

Mullins nodded. “So there’s a will out there that says that you’re the rightful heir.”

I nodded. “Yes.”

Mullins bit his lip. “Well, if we can find it then maybe we can get you what you rightfully deserve but we still can’t prove the murder theory.”

“I understand.”

He stood. “I’ll see what I can do.”

I stared at him incredulously. “May I ask you a question?”


“Why did you listen to me?”

He chuckled. “Because I had a suspicion that Gilbert Waters's death wasn’t by accident. I just couldn’t prove it.” He smiled. “Meet me tonight around 8 at the Waters’s Manor. If there really is a will, it’s in that house.”

message 6: by Joy (new)

Joy Crain | 41 comments Part Two:

An old abandoned mansion at night. “Sounds like a creepy old novel,” I muttered under my breath as I wrapped my arms around my chest. He had said 8, hadn’t he? It was 8:30 and I was starting to second guess coming here. At exactly 8:45 I saw headlights. The police car pulled up right next to me and Officer Mullins stepped out a minute later.

“You’re late,” I muttered.

“Sorry, I ran into a little trouble smuggling the keys out of the head detective’s office.”

My mouth gaped. “YOU SMUGGLED THE KEYS?”

He nodded and grinned. “Let’s just say what I’m doing isn’t exactly legal. If we get caught I can be charged for breaking and entering.”

“Even if you have the keys?”

“Maybe a theft charge as well.”

I laughed even despite myself as I followed him to the front door. He unlocked it and swung the door open. “After you.”

I nodded and stepped into the entry. I suddenly felt a wave of nausea hit me. I’d seen movies that had started out this way and none of them ever had good lasting results. Mullins shoved the keys into his pocket and took my hand.

“Stay close,” he ordered as he led me out of the entryway to a staircase. “Up on the second floor is where his study is.”

“Hold on.” I pulled my hand from his grasp. “Is this is the stairwell he fell on?”

Officer Mullins’s face went ashen as he nodded. I could feel my hand begin to tremble. Mullins led me up to the second floor and found the office. I turned the knob and let the door swing open. A lavishly decorated office welcomed the two of us. I gulped as I made my way to my grandfather’s desk. Papers were spewed everywhere on the desk and on the floor.

“Either my grandfather was really messy or someone’s already been in here before.”

Mullins looked around and stared at the mess. “Our forensics were in here but everything was in place when they left.” He ran his hand along one of the bookshelves. “Someone has definitely been in here since then.”

I trembled. “They were looking for the will,” I stuttered. “But how did they know? Only me and my grandfather knew about it.”

Mullins shrugged. “Did your grandfather say where it was?”

I shook my head. “No, only that it was finished.” I moved some of the papers out of the way. “I don’t even know where to start.”

Mullins moved to stand beside me and glanced at the papers. “These aren’t them,” he mused. “I’m open for suggestions.

I closed my eyes and reviewed every conversation I had with my grandfather where the will would be. I could hear Mullins ruffling though the different drawers and searching through papers. I blinked, my eyes cast heaven-bound.

Okay, Grandpa, a little help please.

My eyes caught the ceiling and I studied the wooden panels that decorated the top. Each one was the same except….I squinted. The one right above the desk was slightly moved. “Mullins.”

He looked at me. “What?”

I pointed to the ceiling. “The wooden panel on the ceiling. Right there. Can you see it? Doesn’t it seem a little out of place?”

Mullins squinted and strained to see it but nodded. “Hold on.” He moved the office chair. “Hold this steady.” I did and he took a step on it before stepping onto the desk. His hands reached the ceiling and he carefully moved the panel to one side, sticking his hand around in the whole.

A smile crept on his face. “I think I got something,” he whispered. He pulled his hand out and my heart flipped when he handed me a brown envelope. I instantly opened it and as delighted at what I found.

“This is it!” I squealed. “We found it.”

Mullins got down. “Okay, now let’s get out of here before something bad happens.”

Just as we were about to leave, two voices were heard in hushed but heated tones. I found myself pressed against Mullins. “Someone’s here,” I whispered. “And they’re coming up the stairs.”

“We have to hide.”

Quietly, we closed the door behind us. My eyes scanned for a place to hide. “Here, quickly!” Mullins pushed me to a closet at one end of the room. He opened the door and pushed me inside. I leaned against the back, my heart racing.

The knob to the office was turning. Instead of quickly climbing in, Mullins shut me in the dark. I couldn’t see what happened but I could hear it. “No, Mullins,” I whispered.

“Mullins,” a harsh voice growled.

“Detective North.” Mullins voice was calm even in this situation.

“What are you doing here? How did you get in here?”

“I was just about to ask you the same thing.”

“You’ve been talking to that woman, haven’t you? Is she here?”

“No,” Mullins lied. “I told her I would handle the investigation myself.”

“So you know about the will?”

“Yes, Sir.”

I couldn’t breathe. Detective North chuckled lowly. “You should have stayed away.”

“Tell me,” Mullins pried. “How are you involved in this?”

“I’m friends with Trish’s brother. He told me that if I got rid of that will that I would get a good cut of the old man’s money. I interrogated the man but when he didn’t tell me, well, let’s just say…”

“You pushed him down the stairs,” Mullins finished. “The pieces are all starting to fall into place.”

“Yeah, I killed him. To tie up all loose ends.”

I couldn’t see anything but I heard a gasp. Then a gunshot. A yelp of pain and a menacing laugh. I clutched my hands around my mouth to stop my own gasp. The laugh was Detective North’s.

With his deed done, Detective North left. After a minute, I cracked the door open to see Mullins on the floor, clutching his arm, blood coating his hand.

“Oh my!” I raced to his side. “You okay?”

“What do you think? I just got shot.”


Mullins groaned in pain. “Go.”

Panic rose in my chest. “I can’t just leave you here.”

“You got a phone?”

A phone would be useful in this situation. “I left my purse in my car.”

“Get it. Call the police. Talk to Officer Quincy.” He heaved a breath. “Get him to call an ambulance.”

“I can’t leave you like this.”

“I’ll be fine. Go!”

I reluctantly raced out door and downstairs. Detective North had already left which I was glad about. Clutching the brown envelope in my arms, I raced out the door and to the car. I dialed 911 as fast as I could and waited for the response team.

“How you feeling?”

Mullins looked up from his hospital bed cradling his left arm in its sling. “Hey, there.”

“Feeling better?”

“Much. You?”

I shrugged. “A little shaken but all’s well.”

I grinned at me as I moved closer. “You’re a survivor.”

“It was just a flesh wound. Detective North just got me in the shoulder.”

“I’ve got great news about that too. Detective North and Trish’s brother are both in prison for murder and since we found the will, everything goes to me.”

Mullins grinned. “That’s great.”

“And it’s all thanks to you,” I patted him on his good
shoulder. “Thank you. I never could have done this without you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Tell you what.” I smiled at him. “How about to show my gratitude, I take you to dinner.”

He wagged his eyebrows. “Is this a date?”

“Do you want it to be?”

“Do you?”

I smiled teasingly. “My Dad told me I could always trust a man who would take a bullet for me. You’re one brave cop, Mullins.”

Mullins ginned and took my hand with his good one. “I guess since we’re going on this date you should know my name is Ray. Ray Mullins.”

Wow, that was a lot to write in only a short about of words. Hope you all like it. Comments are always welcome.

message 7: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments I feel like I'm in a constant state of amazement at how fast you guys get your stories up while I'm still trying to come up with an idea.

message 8: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4263 comments To answer what you were wondering last week's contest Edward, I plan on making my story only a part 2 and not a trilogy (hopefully!).

It's also funny I wasn't planning to have my last story end on a To Be Continued as it was only because I was getting past 3,000 words and not getting even close to the end!

While putting up the suggestion of CP's prompt, I was hoping to post a story that I ended up not posting back in 2012 for the thread "Cheese." But then as it was I have to push it for a future contest and not for this "Piece by Piece" contest. But on a positive note this one (Dreams Can Die Part 2) fits better than the planned story anyway I think.

message 9: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : Eaten (Feedback Welcome)
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1058
Rating : PG13 For Garrison-Level Goriness

Kyle McNeal lay on the bitter, damp ground. He could hear them coming and, lying there in the cold, dark leaves of the forest floor, he felt that even his own breathing was like a claxon call to those who were out to get him.

He tried controlling his breathing as he heard their footsteps approaching, crunching on the leaves that surrounded him. He was using the leaves themselves as camouflage to hide his location and he desperately hoped that they couldn’t see him.

Or smell him.

Lying perfectly still, his entire body somehow covered in the blackened leaves of the forest floor, Kyle listened in terror as the footsteps drew closer, the crunching leaves sounding like shrieks of agony as they crumpled and died underfoot. He could almost hear his own heart beating in his ears over the sound of heavy breathing from the creatures that were after him. And they were creatures. They didn’t look like anyone he’d ever seen before in the brief moment he’d seen them before he’d run for his life. The sound of snorts and churning saliva was interrupted by what almost sounded like voices, if not for the fact that the language they were speaking was completely undecipherable to Kyle.

He’d been running through the forest for coming up on three hours, and the... things pursuing him hadn’t given up yet. All he’d done was stumble upon their house and seen what they were doing, and now they wouldn’t let up. He’d been completely lost almost as soon as he’d begun to run from them, but the main road had to be around here somewhere, and once he found that he’d be able to follow it back to his campsite.

He’d tried using his boy scout training from years ago to locate his position, but the forest was too dense, and the sun was too low in the sky for him to even hazard a guess as to which way was east or west. If he could have seen the sun, he’d have known in which direction to go, but as it was he was forced to lie in the leaves, holding his breath, squeezing his eyes tightly shut,, trying to control his heart beat until he could actually figure out where he was.

The humanoid beasts or whatever they were that had been tracking him sounded as if they’d come to a stop. Kyle bit into his lip hard, tasting his own blood as his teeth punctured his skin, but he dared not look to see if they were anywhere close by.

Then he heard the foreign voices again. He didn’t recognise the dialect, but it wasn’t any language he’d ever heard before. He could only describe it in his head as tinny, almost metallic in nature. He tried not to shudder as he heard their grating voices, but it was difficult to control himself. He was cold, and he was scared.

Just when he thought the voices were going to get closer, they abruptly came to a stop. He took the opportunity to open his eyes, but it was too dark to see, and there were too many leaves on top of him. After a couple of minutes of silence, he decided to risk moving. He couldn’t lie there all night, they’d eventually find him regardless of how well he hid.

Climbing out from beneath the leaves, Kyle looked around, his eyes slowly adjusting to the gloom. He couldn’t see anyone close by, but he could hear a faint noise, almost like breathing.

Then something struck him in the chest.

Kyle flew backwards, unable to see what had lashed out at him. As he landed in another leafy pile, he blinked away the darkness to try and focus on what was out there.

But there was nothing.

Picking himself up from the ground, Kyle could hear the sounds of heavy breathing, but there was nothing in front of him. Realising that something was drastically wrong, he began to run.

Kyle hurtled through the darkened forest, pushing past low hanging branches and tearing through the undergrowth. He panted as he tried to escape whatever was behind him, but he could hear it chasing him, gaining on him.

Turning to glance over his shoulder, Kyle didn’t see where he was running and tripped on something; a stray tree root, his own feet, it didn’t matter. The result was the same. He face-planted into the leaves and dirt of the forest floor, his body limply collapsing into a heap.

He managed to roll onto his back, trying to see if the creature or whatever it was had finally caught up to him, but there was nothing there. His eyes had adjusted to the dark, so much so that he could make out shapes in the shadows, but there was nothing there. There was nothing to see.

But he could still hear the breathing...

Suddenly something clamped onto his left thigh. It felt like a set of large, heavy hands, but Kyle couldn’t see anything there. Kyle’s eyes widened as he tried to make out what it was but, try as he might, he still couldn’t see anything past his feet.

He could hear a smacking sound now, like large lips puckering together, salivating at the thought of a decent meal.

And that’s when it happened.

A loud chomping noise echoed through the forest, and Kyle stared in disbelief as the tip of his shoe disappeared in a shower of blood. There was still nothing there that he could see, but the blood spatter seemed to rest almost in mid air, like raindrops on glass. Horrified at the sight of his shoe disintegrating into nothingness, Kyle watched in terror as the rest of his shoe followed suit, along with his foot.

This couldn’t be happening, he told himself as he tried to break free of whatever had clamped down on his thigh, but whatever it was was simply too strong for him to fight off. Shock set in as Kyle watched the bottom of his leg disappear in a shower of blood, as if it was being devoured by some unseen beast, and there was nothing he could do. He continued to watch as the rest of his body followed suit, vanishing into the maw of some invisible fiend.

Piece by bloody piece.

message 10: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9527 comments Hehehehehehe! "Garrison level goriness"! Good one, Edward! :)

message 11: by James (last edited Jul 21, 2016 04:09PM) (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Well, I'm not sure how well this story came out. I think my muse has kind of abandoned me this week. But, I'd enjoy feedback to let me know if the story is any good!

Title: The Draw
Author: James J Meadows III
Words: 2,026

The first thing I noticed, as I entered the room, was the large chess board stationed under the far window. I smiled. Somehow I should have known it would be this way.

“Commander Lukin. I thought you had retired. Please, take a seat. Can I get you a drink?”

I turned toward the speaker, a man whom I had fought more battles with than I could even count; a man whose dark schemes marked him as perhaps the greatest villain to ever live upon our world; a man whose wicked deeds had brought me here today to confront him one last time.

“Just a small one,” I replied, taking a seat in one of the plush arm chairs behind the chess board. I glanced outside the window at the thick dark forest surrounding his hideout. It was amazing that anyone, even I, could find their way through this thicket to reach the fortress.

As I sat, I could feel the photon bomb in my pocket press against my skin. It was a device capable of creating an atomic explosion, one big enough to wipe out everything for miles around. I had requested it as a last resort in case I failed. Yet, a part of me had considered a different plan, a plan my adversary could not possibly foresee.

He walked across the room to pour the drinks. I marveled at him. He was always so calm, so imperturbable, and ever cordial in defeat as well as victory. That was why I respect him.

“So they called you out of retirement to battle me one last time?” he asked, filling the drinks and crossing back toward us.


“Not really,” he responded, handing me the drink. “Still, what are your people going to do once you are no longer there to save them?”

“I don’t know,” I responded. “Perhaps travel to another parallel universe where I have trained a protégé and bring them back. You know all about traveling to the various worlds and dimensions. That is where you got this game from, after all.”

He sat down in the chair and smiled. Picking up the pawn in front of his king, he pushed it forward two squares. He stared at me expectantly. I knew, from our past confrontations, that I wasn’t going to get anything else out of him until I made a move, so I leaned forward and pushed my opposite pawn up in response. He moved a knight out to attack my pawn.

I had anticipated this move and prepared a special response for it. I picked the pawn on the left side of my king, pushing it forward one square to protect my pawn from his attack. The move obviously caught him off-guard because he sat up, studying the position intently.

“I never understand your fascination with this game, an ancient relic from a race long extinct in a world well past its prime,” I said.

“There is a story in the world this game came from,” he responded, not taking his eyes off the board. “It concerns a Sultan, a type of king, whose brother usurped his overthrown. As his brother’s army entered the palace, a guard entered the throne room, where the Sultan was playing a game of chess. The guard told the Sultan they must flee. The Sultan, knowing he had nowhere to go and no one to run to, even if he was able to escape, told the guard to go away because he was making a move. In the end, the soldiers burst in, killing the Sultan over his chessboard. He chose to die playing chess rather than wasting away in exile. Only a game with that kind of power is worthy of my interest.”

I thought about this for a moment. As I watched, he startled me by capturing the pawn with his knight. I picked up my pawn and captured his knight in response.

“I know you stole the Dimensional Inverter,” I said. “What are you doing with it?”

“I see,” he replied, looking at me with a sidewise grin. “Waiting for me to give the traditional villainous dialogue about my grand evil scheme?”

“Hey, I might as well know what plot I’m supposed to be thwarting before I try it,” I said.

He smiled. “Well, the Inverter is a useful thing, no doubt: able to summon objects from other dimensions and parallel universes. Your kingdom and its corrupt leaders spent decades designing and building it. I’m sure it crushed them when they found it and all their notes stolen.”

I shook my head. He had always hated the kingdom and its leaders.

“Of course, they didn’t know I had spied on their progress for years, learning about it,” he said. “Figuring out how I could give it a little tweak. Check!”

He moved his queen across the board to attack my king. I moved a pawn forward to block his attack and leaned back into my chair.

“Tweaked it to do what?” I asked.

At these words, he let out a loud laugh.

“Seriously,” he said. “Have you not even looked out the window once since we sat down?”

At that moment, for the first time, I realized sunlight was streaming onto the chess board. I looked out the window and beheld, to my shock, a bright green field full of flowers, bushes, and wide expanses of animals grazing beneath the noonday sky.

“Those flowers, those animals, they are from the world of Lyndios,” I gasped. “How?”

I looked at him. He just smiled and said, “Check”.

Looking down at the board, I realized he had captured a pawn with his queen and was now attacking my king. I wasn’t that worried about it. I had captured one of his knights already. I just moved my king to the only free space and waited for him to continue.

As I finished my move, the light on the board disappeared. The landscape outside had changed again. A large cratered surface filled with pools of bubbling silver ooze, which emitted a foul toxic odor, replaced the previously beautiful exterior.

“Check,” he said again.

I heard him place his piece down upon the board. When he did, the scene outside changed again, replaced by a deep dark sea of black liquid with bizarre purple fumes rising from it.

“The chess board,” I exclaimed. “You’ve connected the Dimensional Inverter with the chess board.”

“Did you know?” he asked. “That there are over ten billion possible combinations of chess lines after only the first ten moves? There are so many possible combinations of chess moves and sequences that they outnumber all the atoms in the entire universe! I have manipulated the inverter so that it has connected each of those possible combinations with a different world. Even I don’t know what will arise from each position!”

“But why?” I asked.

He sat back and gazed at me.

“It’s your move.” He said.

I looked down to see that my king was under attack from a bishop. I moved a pawn forward two spaces, blocking the attack.

“It is the ultimate weapon,” he continued. “With the right changes, the device now has the ability to tear out a piece of this universe or world and switch it with a piece from another world. You can have an enemy army blocking your way sent it to another world and replace it with an empty plain or make opposing towns, factories and fortifications vanish with a blink. You can render entire arsenals irrelevant by just shooting them into another universe. Check.”

He captured the pawn with the bishop.

“Think about it,” he said. “Any country would pay infinite wealth for such a weapon. I have already created a dozen of them. Soon there will be hundreds. Everyone will want one, especially when the war break outs.”

“What war?”

“Oh, come on,” he replied. “How many countries are already on the verge of war? With this kind of technology, I only need to give a small push – a town disappearing, replaced by a crater, a weapons factory replaced by a burned down ruin. Once an opponent is accused, war in inevitable.”

“That’s why you’re doing this?” I said with some incredulity, “to start a war? You’re talking about all of time and space fracturing. Objects will be displaced throughout not just our universe but all universes. The entire multiverse will fall apart!”

“Exactly,” he said. “I’m not just after a war. I’m after a war that will transform all war forever – a war to end all things! Check!”

He captured my bishop with his own bishop. In response, I heard the loud roars of wild creatures outside. Without even looking to see what new world he had summoned, I moved my king to a new square. The sound died out.

“What is in this for you?” I asked.

“Do you know what happened to the race that created this game?”

message 12: by James (last edited Jul 21, 2016 04:09PM) (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments ***Part 2***

“No,” I answered.

“They had a powerful regent leading a country equipped with hundreds of nuclear weapons,” he said. “Unbeknownst to the other kingdoms, he had a program, called ‘Dead Hand’ which, upon his death, would launch all of his nuclear weapons at once. On his death bed, he triggered it, just so he could take the whole world out with him.”

He looked up at me, his face serious.

“I’m dying,” he said. “Years of traveling from universe to universe, world-to-world have damaged my body and brain. I am already starting to wither away. I don’t want to die quietly; I want to go out with a bang. But you already know that, don’t you? Because you’re dying too, from years of chasing me, aren’t you? That is why you have the photon bomb in your pocket, isn’t it?”

Despite the seriousness of the moment, I couldn’t help but smile. Somehow, he always seemed to know. Even when he couldn’t stop me, he still seemed to be one step ahead. And now, the plan I thought he couldn’t possibly foresee turned out to be expected all along.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the device.

“Check” he said, moving his bishop to capture a knight.

I placed the bomb on the table beside the chess board. He watched me, studying me with his intense gaze. The eyes made me uncomfortable. So I turned to look out the window. I wasn’t worried about him taking the bomb or stopping me from using it. I suspected he wanted to see if I would do it, maybe even give me the chance.

“It’s your move,” he said.

I watched the bizarre tentacles flapping from a strange bog outside the window for several moments before looking at the board. Then, I moved my king of out the line of the attack before looking back out the window. My gaze now fell upon a bright full moon shimmering over a peaceful meadow.

“It almost seems poetic doesn’t it,” he said. “For the last century, we have battled together. Now, in the end, we die together, one final resolution to a long game. We can call it a draw.”

Again, I didn’t say anything. There was nothing more to say. A part of me suspected this was his plan all along. I would destroy him, both of us going out in a blaze of glory. Meanwhile he would get the satisfaction of taking out the Inverter and all its records with him, one last spiteful strike against my kingdom. Even better, I, the hero of my kingdom, would be the one to destroy them, and myself.

All of the rest of the schemes were just a threat to force my hand. Yet I knew only too well, he would not hesitate to carry out his threat if I didn’t carry out mine.

“I have mate-in-one,” he said. “It’s your move.”

He pushed the explosive toward me.

“Make it.” He said.

I studied him for a moment. Then I picked up the bomb, my fingers coming to rest upon the trigger.

“Good game,” I told him, giving him a nod.

“Good game,” he said. And I squeezed.

message 13: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "Hehehehehehe! "Garrison level goriness"! Good one, Edward! :)"

Thought you'd like that, bud.

message 14: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Melissa wrote: "This is a short children's story describing how things can be passed down from generation to generation -- and not just material possessions.

PATCHES OF LOVE by: Melissa Andres
Approximately 340 ..."

Cute story. Was Betsy by any chance America's most famous stitcher Betsy Ross, or was that just coincidence?

message 15: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Sofia wrote: "An Assortment of Pastries
By Sofia Spencer
Feedback is always welcome!

Charlie is a compilation of interests and identities, a destination that is constantly changing. While he clings to his house..."

This is very well observed. I do like the way you write conflicting characters and how they relate to each other. Ever thought about writing a YA novel to expand on these kinds of characters?

message 16: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Joy wrote: "Part Two:

An old abandoned mansion at night. “Sounds like a creepy old novel,” I muttered under my breath as I wrapped my arms around my chest. He had said 8, hadn’t he? It was 8:30 and I was star..."

That was an engrossing detective story, though I'm not sure how accurate some of the points were (I think in most countries a will has to have witnesses and by signed by a lawyer, so there would have been much more of a conspiracy going on here). North was a bit of a moron, not checking that Mullins was dead before he ran off, but hey, crooks are dumb. Maybe if you ever do a second draft you can tidy up some of those things. Perhaps the lawyer had been killed too to make things even more suspicious...

message 17: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments James wrote: "***Part 2***

“No,” I answered.

“They had a powerful regent leading a country equipped with hundreds of nuclear weapons,” he said. “Unbeknownst to the other kingdoms, he had a program, called ‘Dea..."

Fascinating concept! A chess set that controls dimensional shifts? Awesome idea and well played out.

message 18: by Joy (new)

Joy Crain | 41 comments @Edward

Thanks for the review.

I know little to nothing about wills and how they are approved since I'm a teenager in high school but I did the best I could with what little knowledge I had from the movies and TV shows I watch. I would have loved to have more conspiracy going on but that really hard to do when you have a word count limit of only 3500 words.

message 19: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments Is it okay if mine goes a bit over the limit this week? Once I sat down to write it, my muse just wouldn't stop until the story was out.

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Edward wrote: "Melissa wrote: "This is a short children's story describing how things can be passed down from generation to generation -- and not just material possessions.

PATCHES OF LOVE by: Melissa Andres

Haha! Wow! Nice catch there, Edward. I did NOT even think of the name Betsy as in Betsy Ross. Mere coincidence. You are on the ball!

message 21: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments Melissa wrote: "This is a short children's story describing how things can be passed down from generation to generation -- and not just material possessions.

PATCHES OF LOVE by: Melissa Andres
Approximately 340 ..."

Short but so sweet!

message 22: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments Joy wrote: "Part Two:

An old abandoned mansion at night. “Sounds like a creepy old novel,” I muttered under my breath as I wrapped my arms around my chest. He had said 8, hadn’t he? It was 8:30 and I was star..."

A murder mystery! How fun!

message 23: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments Edward wrote: "Title : Eaten (Feedback Welcome)
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1058
Rating : PG13 For Garrison-Level Goriness

Kyle McNeal lay on the bitter, damp ground. He could hear them coming and, lying..."

Ooooh! Nice one! Terrifying and bloody.

message 24: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments James wrote: "***Part 2***

“No,” I answered.

“They had a powerful regent leading a country equipped with hundreds of nuclear weapons,” he said. “Unbeknownst to the other kingdoms, he had a program, called ‘Dea..."

Wow, great story!

message 25: by Mark (new)

Mark Burns (TheFailedPhilosopher) | 27 comments I'm back and I have an idea for this but I am currently writing 6 essays, (I just gave myself another idea for this, lol). If i get two of them done in terms of the text I might do something for this.

message 26: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments I'll go ahead and post it, guys. Feedback is welcome, as always.

Title: Four Items
Part 1

The quest was a simple one. Any other human or A.I. in the land would have had no issues with something so simple. But for Margery, this task to help bring the four kingdoms back together was a daunting one. The mages claimed they could have no part in it, and she could have no other assistance of any kind.

“Of course,” she muttered unhappily as she hobbled past the finery of the castle’s inner chambers. The expensive rugs and handwoven tapestries that had awed her when she first arrived now made her sneer in disgust. Why would beings so rich and powerful need someone like her to go on this quest? It made no sense, no matter how many times she turned it over in her mind.
“Perhaps it is because you know the prince,” her C.F.M.S., Cal, said. His electronic voice was really grating on her brain today.
“Knew. Past tense. Dude probably doesn’t even remember I exist anymore. Wherever he is.” Margery frowned at the gawkers that surrounded them once they stepped outside the mage’s royal quarters. Eyebrows went up and people covered their mouths in disgust, as usual. Of course people would wonder what a malfunctioning brat like herself was doing there. If the people of this crummy city couldn’t stand her, how was she expected to step up and be some hero?
“Prince Ronald is likely in the confines of the lord of Summer’s Valley’s keep. He is the most likely candidate for the kidnapping. The odds of any other country having the resources to pull off that sort of kidnapping is less than forty percent. You need not concern yourself for the prince’s safety. Though it has been two years since he was taken, BOOKS claims that Summer’s Valley prison has quarters set up for royalty. He is well taken care of.”
“Shut up, Cal.” Was he messing with her? Was that last bit some kind of a joke? Cal often made little comments like that and she had to wonder if that was just his general programming or if the computer actually had some kind of sick sense of humor. Margery didn’t concern herself about anyone. She couldn’t.

Dragging one leg behind her, her faulty hip making a slight squeak, the cyborg retrieved the list of items that she had hastily shoved in her pocket after hearing what those old bats wanted with her. Imagine, her, bringing the kingdoms back together! Only Prince Ronald’s return would do that and that wasn’t happening anytime soon. Even if he was in the Summer’s Valley, what proof did they have? Drones had uncovered no trace of his highness in any of the surrounding countries. And they couldn’t just send in troops without provocation. The crown had sent spies everywhere and they had all come back empty handed within eight months of Ronald’s disappearance. It was like he had just vanished.

Now the four kingdoms, who were once close allies, were in constant turmoil. King Lenard had become a drunk after the disappearance of his son. The lord in the surrounding lands took that opportunity to start small wars amongst themselves while the king did nothing, wallowing in self-pity and mourning.
This land had gone to shit and those mages thought four random items from the four lands would fix this mess? What kind of power did the items hold that they could snap the king out of it, bring the prince back, and do something about the serious cold spell in the city?

“Okay, first item is, uh, Stone of Joshua. It’s supposed to be here in Samarin, just outside the city. Guess I head there first since it’s closest.”
“That is a good decision,” Cal said. “But we must retrieve needed items of our own from home first. The necessities we will need for the long journey ahead. Not to mention, oil for the squeak.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m on it.”

Margery wasn’t allowed a driver’s license because of her malfunction so she walked to the small village outside the walls of Crown City. Speeders passed her by in the streets and, once they were on dirt roads, sometimes threw mud up on her pants in their wake. She cursed their drivers, wishing she wasn’t cursed to walk everywhere with this busted hip joint for the rest of her life.
If only I could afford repairs, she thought.
“Maybe the mages will reward you for finding the items and you can replace parts,” Cal said. “The repairs required would cost…”
“Shut it, we’re here.”

The museum was a sad looking place, in disrepair and dull in color. While the surrounding buildings were decorated with bright colors and lights to draw the eye, this shack looked like the place business went to die.
“How is it even still open?” Margery mumbled to herself as she pushed open the door. Though small, the interior was well lit with old fashioned lamps hanging from the ceiling. All sorts of mysterious items adorned the shelves lining the walls, each with small tags describing their history, but everything was covered in a thin layer of dust. Behind the counter in the back sat a sleepy older gentleman, clearly human, who was reading something on his BOOKS device. At the sound of the door he raised his head and stood.
“I’m not buying anything at this time,” he growled.
“I’m not selling anything at this time,” Margery said, readjusting the pack hanging from her shoulder. The strap kept pulling on her auburn hair, ripping a few pieces out as she walked. It was getting on her nerves so much, she wondered if the guy would spare her a string to tie it back. Or a knife to be rid of the hair altogether.
“I’m looking to borrow an item from you. I was sent by the mages of the royal keep.”
“Oh really?” The man raised an eyebrow in disbelief but when Margery pulled out the list, flattened it on his grimy counter, and pointed to the royal seal as it popped up and began to rotate in all its red and gold glory, he nodded his head in affirmation. The royal seal’s hologram was impossible to fake. “What item are you looking for?”
“A Stone of Joshua?” Margery’s tone indicated that she had no idea what it was supposed to be, much less look like. She realized her mistake too late. The man could have handed her anything and said it was this stone and she would never know the difference. But before she could think of a decent threat to throw at him, he reached behind the counter and retrieved a wooden box.

“That old relic? I keep it here with the items people like to handle from time to time. No use in displaying it when people still show up wanting to touch it.” He opened the box and began riffling through.
“Just what is it?”
“You’ve never heard the tales?”
Margery shook her head and here the man pulled out a small blue stone and held it up between them with a flourish. “The story goes that long ago a sorcerer named Joshua created this stone using magics previously unknown to the world. It has the power to give the holder the strength of a thousand men.”
“Yeah, right. I see how that’s been working out for it as it sits in a box.”
“Like most mystical items, it doesn’t give the power to just anyone. It waits for those truly worthy of it to handle it. It worked for the king’s father, long ago but hasn’t since. Though many have tried over the decades, none have been able to draw on its power.”
“Waiting for one truly worthy, huh?” Margery eyed the little stone with twisted lips. “Let me hold it, then so it tell us what we both already know.”
The gentleman dropped it into her open palm and Margery closed her fingers around it, closing her eyes at the same time. And she felt… nothing. She felt no surge of power or sudden strength in her arms or busted parts.
“Nope, still not working,” she said. She moved to pocket it but she found she liked the feel of it in her hand. It was smooth and cool and continued to stay cool even as she rubbed it between her fingers.
“Ah well, it is what it is.” The man shrugged. “What do the mages want it for?”
“I have no idea. I’m just the one sent to get the crap they need.”
“Hmm.” He rubbed his chin as he eyed her foot, laying on his floor at the wrong angle. “Is your Cybernetic Functions Monitoring System working okay?”
“Yeah. The computer is fine; I just have a lot of jacked up parts. Not to mention a malfunction up here.” Margery rapped her knuckles on the metal plate that took up half her head. “Please do not do that. You may cause permanent brain damage,” Cal droned.
Yeah, working just fine, all right. Annoying ass computer.
“Well, perhaps I can help you out. My cleaning bot broke last week and it’s an older model so they really don’t repair them anymore. I was just going to suck it up and get a new one. I might have a hip joint you can use.”
Margery’s ears perked up at that. “What’s the model?”
“A.I. Mop-bot 573.”
“Serial number?”
“Um, I think it’s over here.” The man slipped into a back room and puttered around for a minute before bringing her the foot of an A.I. unit. After glancing at it for a moment, Margery heard the words that she was waiting for.
“It is compatible with our system. The hip joint, if in good condition, would be an adequate replacement for our broken one,” Cal said.
“How much do you want for it?” Margery blurted but the man threw his hands up and waved them at her.
“Oh no, child, just take it. I have no more use for it and if you have more things to retrieve for the mages, you are gonna need it. Here, swipe your finger.” He pushed a credit monitor towards her and she obediently swiped her pointer finger across the screen, her information popping up. “Here, I’m putting ten credits on your account. There is a guy a few doors down who will do the repair for you for half price if you mention my name. Tell him Tim sent you.”
“Sir, I can’t accept that!”
“Sure you can. If it will help the mages and the crown, I will do whatever I can to help.”
Margery could only stare at the man, open mouthed. He had already given her the part she so desperately needed to walk correctly and here he was paying to get it installed? “I will make sure that the mages know of your help, sir.”
“You’re welcome.”
She stared at him another minute, wondering why he was saying that to her when she had never actually thanked him. Was she grateful for the part? Well, she was glad to have it. She needed it to complete this stupid quest all the quicker. But was she actually thankful towards this man? She knew she was supposed to be. But her brain didn’t recognize that emotion. Her malfunction didn’t let it.

message 27: by Marie (last edited Jul 23, 2016 07:33AM) (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments Four Items
Part 2

Two days later and she entered the southern kingdom of Rimmend. “According to the list, the next item, The Finger, is in a huge city near here.”
“It is another day’s walk,” Cal spoke into her mind. “Do you think it is an actual finger or that The Finger is a code name for the item?”
Glancing down at her left hand with two missing fingers, Margery had to wonder. “If it is the one I saw on BOOKS, then it is a cybernetic finger but it isn’t compatible with any unit around today. Supposedly, it’s an old relic that contains the knowledge of every electronic system and symbolizes the days before A.I. units were common. Another useless, ancient part.”

But when Margery found the gypsy woman who was displaying it in her stall in the city, showed her the royal seal, and asked to see it, the woman insisted she try to connect it to one of the stubs of her missing fingers. The cyborg didn’t like the idea but the woman talked her into it, claiming that it was a tradition to try such a thing with newcomers to the city. So Margery sat still while the dark-haired woman retrieved a metal digit that was obviously old but well-oiled and perfectly maintained. Upon touching it to Margery’s ring finger, or where one should have been, the cyborg cried out in shock and pain. Tiny tendrils snaked out from the finger and shot inside her stub, the appendage attaching itself to her. At the same time, the Stone of Joshua, which she had retrieved from her pocket to once again roll around between her fingers, began to thrum against her flesh. Margery was speechless as she flexed her hand and the metal finger moved too. It had chosen her. What the hell?

The gypsy woman nearly had a stroke and wanted to proclaim the miracle at the top of her lungs, but Margery grabbed her by the collar and told her to keep it on the low. She couldn’t become some celebrity or something right now, not in this strange city and not when she had this quest to finish. By now she had come to realize that they hadn’t picked the wrong girl for the job. There was a reason why these old pieces of useless junk were finally showing some life. Maybe this was her destiny. Or something.

Before she could bolt out the door and leave the city in the dust, the gypsy insisted on paying for another cybernetic finger to replace the last one she was missing. Margery didn’t want to stay any longer than she had to, but she let the woman fix her up. If only her brain would let her give a crap that people were doing nice things for her and asking nothing in return.

Waving goodbye to the woman, Margery hurried away, escaping the foreign city to continue her journey. “Two more kingdoms left. This is weird. It’s like this quest is two-fold or something. For every relic I find, I get another working part of my body back. It’s like, I’m becoming whole again, piece by piece.”
“If only there were a way to repair the malfunction in your brain,” Cal noted.

The attainment of the third item went much the same way. The cyborg, with her chatty C.F.M.S. entered a thriving village searching for the Every Key, a copper key that supposedly fit in any lock and opened any door in the world. Margery knew better by now than to doubt its worth, even if the old pawn shop owner who had it said it was a worthless piece of crap that he could hardly give away, much less sell. When she picked it up, The Finger and Stone of Joshua began to thrum and she knew it would work for her. She tested it by opening a few of the shop owner’s lock boxes. After his initial shock, (And after trying to use it himself and failing) the man offered to pay for some skin grafs for her. The cyborg merely shrugged in response and the man closed his shop and led her to a human Health Unit nearby. There she had skin grown over her two new fingers, the burn scars on her neck, and her hips. When Margery left a few hours later, she looked human and for the first time in a long time, she almost felt human.
“Look at me,” she whispered as she waved goodbye to the pawn shop owner. “It’s as if that accident two years ago never happened.”
Cal couldn’t help but to chime in. “You will be able to function normally around humans now. At least you would be able to if not for…”
“Yeah, I know.” Margery hated thinking about the accident that had befallen her on the day of Prince Ronald’s disappearance. For one thing, she wasn’t exactly sure what had happened. The day only brought memories of fire and severe pain. All she knew was that she woke up with parts missing, robotic parts replacing them, and the inability to feel real emotions. She knew irritation just fine but she no longer knew compassion. She couldn’t empathize with the humans around her. She no longer knew what love or sadness were. Margery hadn’t experienced crying or laughing in so long, she had honestly forgotten why she would ever do such things. Taking care of herself was all that mattered anymore.

“Okay, last item is some Cloak of Remembrance. It’s in the southern kingdom, Summer’s Valley.”
“Where Prince Ronald is being held captive.”
“Supposedly,” Margery said with a shrug. It felt good to be able to shrug without it pulling the scar tissue on her neck. To be able to walk without dragging one foot behind her. To be able to grab her pack with both hands to pick it up. She may still be dirty and poor, but at least she wasn’t stared at in the streets. No one shook their heads in pity or threw things at her like she was some animal.

She managed to hitch a few rides down to the vast city of Merlock in the southern kingdom. It was easier now that she didn’t look like some freak. One young guy actually tried to hit on her a few times but she ignored him. He was handsome but for once, she was glad that she couldn’t feel anything towards him. She had too much to do.
As she entered the city and stared at all the stalls set up with various wares for sale, Margery started to wonder if maybe the mages were going to use her as some kind of weapon. When she gathered this cloak, when all four items were together, would she become some kind of super being? Were they going to use her to keep the peace between the kingdoms?

The last item was not so easy to obtain. The owner was a wealthy man who kept the “old heirloom” as he called it to pass down his family line. “I don’t really care what the mages in your land say, I will not part with it. I certainly won’t be handing it over to some raggedy girl. For all I know, you stole that list and seal.”
Margery didn’t bother to argue with him. She just bowed and left, hanging out at a bar in the center of the city for a few hours. But once it grew dark, she snuck back onto his property. Snatching a security bot stationed near the back entrance, the cyborg had the sudden urge to place her left hand on it, near its motherboard. When she did, The Finger clamping around the neck with a tight grip, Cal said “Oh my!”
What is it? she thought.
“I have full access to this unit’s hard drive. I can immediately learn anything it knows. This is quite extraordinary.”
Does it know where the cloak is?
So Margery used her key to enter the house and retrieve the cloak from a locked room. Wadding it up under an arm, she didn’t tarry but locked all doors behind her and took off, leaving the city as quickly as she could. There was no reason to stay there now and she didn’t want to hang around long enough for that rich snob to send soldiers after her.

She ran and ran until her human parts were too tired to function. Then she made camp in a clearing near some wandering sheep. A farm must be nearby but she wasn’t worried about being discovered this late at night. Settling down for sleep, Margery made plans in her mind to rise early and head back to her own land and to Crown City to see those mages. They had some explaining to do.

When she woke, she took a quick breakfast of dried food from her pack, then eyed the cloak as it lay beside her jacket.
“Put it on,” Cal said.
“I don’t know. What do you think will happen?”
“Things that even I will be surprised about, I’m sure. There is much magic in this quest of yours that I cannot compute. I have no explanations. But I think you should put it on. I think it is meant for you.”
“Hmm.” Margery rose, took the Stone of Joshua in her right hand, the Every Key in her left hand, and threw the cloak around her shoulders, pulling the hood down over her head. This time, her entire body thrummed and the memories washed over her.

She saw her and Prince Ronald as children, playing in the flower garden his mother had loved so much. He hid and she found him, chasing him around the azalea bushes and sparkling fountains. His orange hair was like fire in the sunlight.

She saw him crying outside his mother’s door one afternoon. She approached and took Ronald’s hand in hers, letting him cry on her shoulder about his mother’s death. She remembered counting the freckles on his cheeks and promising him that she would never leave him, that they would be friends forever.

She saw them as teenagers, playing pranks on the royal staff. They reprogrammed a serving bot to throw spaghetti at the nobles as they entered the great hall for dinner. They had laughed and fallen against each other in the kitchen, grinning and then flushing in turn as their faces came close to each other, noses almost touching.

She saw Ronald three years ago when he confessed his feelings for her. His blue eyes held such adoration, such hope for a future with her. She had told him that she wasn’t sure, that she didn’t know how she really felt about him when in truth she had loved him deeply but knew his father would not approve of her.

She saw herself running through the halls of the palace screaming his name. No one knew where he was. She searched every room, even the secret places they had hidden as children but to no avail. Then she was jumping in her speeder, sure that the man she loved had been kidnapped by the lord of the southern territory. The snake had been for a visit just last week and Margery hadn’t liked him. He felt all wrong. His eyes held too many secrets.

She saw the speeder malfunctioning and hitting a tree. An explosion of sound and sparks, her body on fire as she tried to drag herself out of the twisted metal. But the roof collapsed, crushing half her skull.

Margery sucked in a deep breath and patted her face. Tears were pouring down her cheeks. She was crying. Her head was hurting. Power was coursing through her body, her nerves on fire with energy. And her heart felt like it would burst from her chest.

She loved Ronald. She was in love with him. These strange items had somehow mended the broken part of her brain and the memories of her life were now accompanied with the feelings she had forgotten. The last piece was in place. She was whole again. More importantly, her prince was taken from her and was a prisoner. And that just would not do.
“To hell with that. He’s mine and I’m taking him back. I feel powerful enough to rip an air unit apart with my bare hands.” For the first time in years, Margery smiled. “Hey, Cal.”
“Yes, Margery?”
“You and The Finger better do some research on the southern lord’s palace. Hit the BOOKS, and get some blueprints. I’ve got a prince to save.”

message 28: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4263 comments Mark wrote: "I'm back and I have an idea for this but I am currently writing 6 essays, (I just gave myself another idea for this, lol). If i get two of them done in terms of the text I might do something for this."

It's okay, Mark. If you don't end up doing this week's, you could hold onto it into next week's contest (providing adding to it for that prompt). Hope you haven't been working too hard, that's a lot of essays!

message 29: by Mark (new)

Mark Burns (TheFailedPhilosopher) | 27 comments CJ wrote: "Mark wrote: "I'm back and I have an idea for this but I am currently writing 6 essays, (I just gave myself another idea for this, lol). If i get two of them done in terms of the text I might do som..."

They are shorter than they were in the old College...It's one on the status of practical reason in Fichte, Pluralism in Isaiah Berlin, Human rights and the Individual (different essay from theology), The Structure of Job from 3 different Biblical scholars and pick one I think is the best of the 3 and How the Combatibilist position on Free Will is a solution to the so-called problem or not...not too difficult apart from the scripture one...(How does one offer and assess three entire interpretations as to the structure of a biblical text and accept one or none in only 2000 words?)

message 30: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9527 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Toy Trauma
GENRE: Modern Day Drama
RATING: PG for brief swearing

Every careful step downstairs to the kitchen sent a thunderstorm of pain across Marty Hunt’s head. He held his temples and whined “Ouch!” the entire way down. It was a slow and laborious process, but reach the bottom floor he did. Wearing only plaid pajama pants and white socks, the pain-wracked father dragged himself over to the kitchen table and sat down with a quickness.

He leaned his head all the way back and breathed a sigh of relief. No more ouches, just a nice self-head massage with sinewy fingers. The coffee pot could wait a few more minutes. Marty wanted to milk this small moment of relaxation for all it was worth. He might have even fallen asleep at the table with his head in his arms if he wanted to.

“Morning, Dad!” yelled little five-year-old Kevin. The high pitch jolted Marty awake and the thunder and lightning in his brain was going batshit crazy. The single father rubbed his temples even harder while Kevin ran around the kitchen with his favorite action figure, the beefcake barbarian Deus Shadowheart.

“I’m going to eat your soul like a bowl of cereal!” yelled Kevin in his version of a manly barbarian growl. “I shall chew your flesh like bubblegum! And I shall drink your insides like Coca-Cola!” The little son shook the Deus Shadowheart action figure in front of his father’s face and roared some more.

“Please don’t do that to me this early in the morning, Kevin. It’s been a shitty couple of months with this divorce hearing. Cut Daddy some slack today,” said Marty as he continued to massage his temples.

“I shall enslave your people and force them to make bowls of Quaker Oatmeal for the rest of their lives!” said Kevin in his warrior growl.

“Is that what this is about? You want Quaker Oatmeal? Alright, I’ll get you a bowl…”

“Silence, peasant! You shall bring me a bowl of oatmeal and put extra brown sugar in it! Raaaaaaaaaaargh!” Kevin shook the action figure in his father’s face some more, causing him to clench his eyelids as tightly as he could. No matter how many times Marty rubbed his own temples, his head would always feel like it was under Deus’ mighty fur boots. The thought of his own brain popping out sent a shiver through his body.

“What’s the matter?! Do you not like that I am king of this wasteland? Too bad! I rule with an iron fist and a big bloody battleaxe!” yelled Kevin a la Deus. In between words, Marty kept pleading with him to shut up, but the overly energetic child said, “Bow to me and my big bloody battleaxe! You cannot win, mere mortal!”

“That’s it! I’ve had it with this shit! Give me that goddamn thing!” screamed Marty as he stood up and knocked his chair over. He and his son played tug of war over the mighty toy with the little guy screaming, “No!” repeatedly at the top of his lungs. The screeching voice to Marty was like having Deus’ meat cleaver go through his skull. He felt like his brain was a hand grenade ready to go off. His heart was pumping and thumping like a barbaric war drum.

In one harsh pull, Marty yanked the toy out of his son’s hands and yelled, “I don’t like this thing! And here’s what I’m going to do with this piece of shit!” Despite Kevin’s foot stomping and repeated “No!” screams, Marty ripped Deus Shadowheart’s arms and legs off before throwing the dismantled mess across the kitchen floor.

Kevin knelt down beside his toy and cried a tearful storm over the broken remains. Marty watched on with a sorrowful guilt over what he’d done, but remained strong in the face of having to discipline his son for his ballistic behavior. The father’s defenses were knocked down a few pegs when Kevin turned his tear and snot-covered face to him and said, “I want to go live with mommy! I hate you, Dad! I hate you!”

Headache and heartache were one in the same for Marty Hunt. Every pump of blood throughout his body made him groggy with depression, yet his face maintained its angry expression as a sign of strength against such powerful words. “You can’t go back to your mother, Kevin! We had a divorce and it’s been finalized! She cheated on me with another man! She cheated on us! She’s the one who’s tearing this family apart, not me!”

Kevin stood up and rushed over to his father to pound his tiny fists into his hairy stomach. “Stop it, Kevin, you’re hurting me! Knock it off, kid!” yelled Marty. The little spitfire wouldn’t listen. He pounded harder and harder until his father’s breath was completely drained from his system.

The old man collapsed to the ground and clutched his chest in pain. His breathing was raspy and shallow as he said, “Call 9-1-1, Kevin! Hurry!” When Kevin folded his arms and refused to move, Marty let down his authoritative guard in an act of desperation. “I’m sorry!” He wheezed. “I’ll buy you a new toy! You can have any one you want!”

As Marty’s vision was fading to black, he could hear his son’s voice shout “Daddy!” as well as little footsteps scurrying across the linoleum kitchen floor. Hopefully, those footsteps were on their way to the house phone to call an ambulance. Marty didn’t even know if Kevin was physically capable of making such a call. He lost hope as his breaths grew shorter and the peace he wanted at breakfast was finally obtained. Nothing but a dull gray screen clouded his vision. No tears, no angry words, no sorrowful thoughts, just the kind of grayness one could expect from an Emergency Alert System screen.

And then the father could feel his heart beating again. Little by little, the thumping and pumping was dominating his overly sensitive ears. His heart raced a little faster with each passing second. The gray screen before him became a field of blurry shapes and lights. He had a strange plastic mask over his face and the air pressure felt overwhelming to him. Soon the blurs and lights concentrated themselves into a clear picture. He was riding in the back of an ambulance with EMT’s by his side. Even more important to him was little Kevin staring down at him with a worried look on his chubby-cheeked face.

“Kevin…Kevin, dear god. I’m so sorry about this morning. I meant what I said about the toy. Come on, little guy, just give me another chance,” said Marty, his voice weak through the plastic mask.

Little Kevin Hunt held his father’s index finger in his tiny hands and said, “I don’t care about the toy. I just want my daddy back.”

Marty’s eyes began to well up with tears and his heart rate sped up. He cursed himself mentally for being “stupid” enough to not realize it was never about toys. He made enough money at work that he could buy the entire Hasbro catalogue if he wanted to, maybe even a few collector’s items. It was love that he failed to show at breakfast time, not finances. The whole divorce proceedings with his wife were all about who loved Kevin more and in the end, Marty ended up pounding the sides of his gurney in frustration that he became the world’s biggest hypocrite.

The EMT’s tried to pin Marty’s tight arms down in an attempt to slow his skyrocketing heart rate. It was Kevin’s voice yelling, “Daddy, don’t!” that finally subdued the hypocritical father. He collapsed into the gurney bed sobbing hysterically while his son hugged him around the waist. Hugging around the chest would have been ill-advised due to Marty’s heart condition.

“Hey, Kev…” said Marty with a little more conviction. “Have I told you lately that I loved you and that you’re the best son a father could ever have?”

“Do you mean it?” asked Kevin with dewy puppy dog eyes.

“Absolutely, little guy,” said Marty. “Me? I’m just a monster…” He took a while to catch his breath before he said, “I’m the monster who’s going to have the biggest battle with Deus Shadowheart this universe has ever seen!” His throat got more hoarse and villain-like, much to Kevin’s beaming delight. “I shall unleash hordes of minions upon the barbaric wasteland and I will burn everything to ashes! Nobody is safe, not even the big badass Deus Shadowheart!”

Father and son laughed together while hugging around the waist. In all of this legal mumbo-jumbo, the one thing all three members of the Hunt family forgot to do was laugh. How such a simple gesture could change a man’s heart rate and give his burning headaches a heavenly cure. Isn’t laughing and playing what action figures and families were all about?

message 31: by Sofia (new)

Sofia | 15 comments Edward wrote: "Sofia wrote: "An Assortment of Pastries
By Sofia Spencer
Feedback is always welcome!

Charlie is a compilation of interests and identities, a destination that is constantly changing. While he cling..."

I actually haven't, but that's a cool idea, I'll think about doing that for sure! Thanks!

message 32: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Melissa wrote: "This is a short children's story describing how things can be passed down from generation to generation -- and not just material possessions.

PATCHES OF LOVE by: Melissa Andres
Approximately 340 ..."

What a great story! My mother actually made me a quilt like this when I graduated from high school as her graduation present to me. She took all of my old souvenir t-shirts, favorite t-shirts, and various other pieces of clothing which held significance and made a quilt for me. I is one of my most prized possessions!

Thanks so much for sharing the story!

message 33: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Sofia wrote: "An Assortment of Pastries
By Sofia Spencer
Feedback is always welcome!

Charlie is a compilation of interests and identities, a destination that is constantly changing. While he clings to his house..."

What a fascinating story. I found it particularly enjoyable, and the dynamic very amusing, because it bares some similarities to me and my wife. I am more the "extrovert who doesn't like people", the one who explores and leaps. While she is more the introvert, who hesitates, and is reluctant to try new things if I'm not the one leading the way. Ironically, we're also both big fans of the movie Cabaret, too.

Thanks for sharing the story with us!

message 34: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments My week has been a bit crazy and hectic with my preparations for college, so I won't be posting a story this week, but I'll definitely try to read through all of the stories that are up! Hopefully I'll be able to write something for next week :)

message 35: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Joy wrote: "Part Two:

An old abandoned mansion at night. “Sounds like a creepy old novel,” I muttered under my breath as I wrapped my arms around my chest. He had said 8, hadn’t he? It was 8:30 and I was star..."

That was a fun story! You managed to squeeze a lot of story into the short span and a few fun twists too. Plus, I always enjoy a good happy ending! Thanks for sharing with us!

message 36: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Edward wrote: "Title : Eaten (Feedback Welcome)
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1058
Rating : PG13 For Garrison-Level Goriness

Kyle McNeal lay on the bitter, damp ground. He could hear them coming and, lying..."

A good suspenseful story with a nice blend of horror and gore. There are a lot of good descriptions and the thoughts of the character were well written. Thanks for sharing!

message 37: by Gashbeen (new)

Gashbeen | 167 comments Writer's block sucks. I have an idea for what I want to do. I just don't know how to put it into words. It's really annoying me.

I'll probably have a story next week, though. I really liked my idea. I'm just really upset because I really wanted to make this idea work.

Thanks for letting me express my frustration.

message 38: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (last edited Jul 24, 2016 03:01PM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4263 comments Title: Dreams Can Die- Part 2
Author: CJ
Word Count: 2,909

The night became filled with frustrations as the killer seemed caught yet Mallard had disagreed.

Wisker chastised his once respected friend. “Come on, Mallard... you are being hypocritical! We have the killer who is being moved to custody and you say in a few words he didn’t do it.”

Mallard looking slightly hurt said nothing, sheepishly glancing at his partner. He looked like he was sticking to his statement.

“If anyone you’ve worked with on the field had a ‘gut feeling’ you’d throw the rule book at them and say they had to have physical evidence to present before making any early assumptions!”

Mallard looking like he was avoiding him and they started heading toward the house.

“Come on, Mallard. We have him... so are you saying you want him released?”

“No, but I’ve got to ask Bastion. I hope we didn’t officially arrest the suspect. Because if we did do that a lawyer could easily pull him out, leaving us stuck from investigating him either way.”

Now Wisker was silent. He had a good point, which must have been what he thought.

Mallard then headed over to Bastion. The scene started to die down as cops at the house near a wooded spot was no longer being bathed in cop lights. Before Mallard said a word he spoke up immediately, taking words from his mouth. “We don’t have Yatrik at the station. We’re taking it easy. You know, not to be disrespectful Mallard, but we also know how to handle a case.”

“I heard we aren’t yet allowed an autopsy.”

“We didn’t get permission. They want to see her but they’re too far away. They plan to travel and meet the directors at the morgue. The only thing invasive we did, obviously, was identify the round in the young lady that was shot.”

Mallard looked over to the side seeing the gun getting sealed away in a box. It somehow reminded him of the first time they arrived at the victim’s house.

“Was the gun fired?”

“There was evidence on it, powder. Yes.”

“Anything else found on it?”

“Besides the strange fingerprints, there was nothing else…”

“Where were the prints?”

“Strangely we found thumb and forefinger on strange points on the handle.”

“What do you mean ‘strange?’”

“Well it looked like based on the prints the gun was not handled professionally, it almost looks as if the shooter held it backwards.”

“Hmm. I’ll make a note of that.”

Mallard was then taken aback by Bastion’s further remarks like he was still in attack mode. “You know, Wisker is a close friend of mine. I don’t like you two acting like twerps so you better get along and handle this right!”

“Wait… you think I am not doing this in a mature light?”

“I mean whatever you are doing, just because you were on the force for some time doesn’t mean you can keep overriding anyone’s statements. Lay off of that... we’re cops too.”

He was a little confused. “Umm… alright?”

Bastion then immediately brought out his hand. He shook it.

“Hey Mallard, let’s grab some grub for dinner after you chat with Yatrik tonight.”

Mallard nodded. But then he added:

“Do you know where I can get some good coffee...?”

The night questioning Yatrik was both frustrating and full of complicated feelings with the ones involved in the investigation.

He stared with eyes bulging out of his sockets. A couple of times he was in the room at the station he kept trying to push past them and out the door. The second time he was warned he would get forced to the ground and arrested if he dared try it for a third.

“I don’t know why I’m here… I didn’t shoot anybody!”

“But you know how to handle a gun…” started Mallard.

“I…. what? How do you know if I can handle a gun?!”

“We have heard. It has become special news around your school. It’s not everyday a student hears their fellow chum has fired a deadly weapon before. You’re seventeen right?”

He nodded but still looked frightened, sweat appearing on his brow. “You have got to let me go… I don’t understand.”

“Have you shot someone within the last week?”

His eyes become even bigger. “Shot someone?”

“Yes. Have you ever shot anyone, say, an old school pal that graduated last year?”

“Why no! I don’t even know how to handle a gun!”

“Careful now… you don’t want to say anything that could turn against you in court if we decide to take things any further than this…”

“But I don’t know how to shoot! I shot at a firing range once. I couldn’t even keep my hands steady. That is it, I swear.”

“Wait you only fired at a firing range? Is that the weapon which was used?”

“No. I never saw that gun before. This was different. I used a friend’s, he let me borrow his. He lives in New Jersey and thought it would be fun if when he came by he would show me the ropes to defend myself. I didn’t want to stay there.”

“Okay. Is this friend still here?”

“Listen this was something that happened a couple of months ago. He’s gone now. Is this why you guys came and searched my house? You think I…. shot someone?”

“Yes, we admit it. We apologize if we made a mistake…”

Wisker fell out of character and almost shouted at him. “Mallard! Wha…?”

He continued unabated, holding a hand up to his partner. “But before we let you go today we must verify you were where you said you were.”

He told them the address of the firing range. Then they called and checked the records of that day, saw that he and the friend both had signed up, their info clearing him as the suspect for now.

“Okay pal. You are free to go.”

“But tell me, cop. Just why did that gun show up at my house?”

“We’re looking into that to find out…”

They knew they could get the results of the owner of the gun the next morning. They felt frustrated, wishing they could forget so late in the night to relax but they could barely focus. Bastion had taken the three to a convenience store in the late night.

“So Yatrik may not have done it ....just where are we getting in the investigation?” Bastion said sipping a hot chocolate.

“Not deep enough, I’ll tell ya that.”

“But Mallard, can we contact the parents directly? Maybe they will help give us proof of who else they know of that can help us?”

“Not a bad idea Wisker. I don’t know what we will find but it only helps to try them for another chance.”

The next day brought a storm of troubles and things to deal with. At the station they had to meet with Teresa Harp’s parents, get permission for the autopsy after they identified the body, and then ask them for any help with their problem.

Only the father showed up. He looked forlorned, upset like he was crying in the car. “Hello.”

“Hi Mr. Harp. Sorry that we had to meet under such a situation as this. Can we ask you a few questions?”

“I gave you guys permission to do the autopsy, isn’t that enough? Can’t believe I saw my girl there… just laying there. My only child.” He looked like tears were beginning at his eyes which began to shine under the hall lights.

“Look, we’re sorry but can we have a chat for a moment? I’ll buy you something to eat or drink. What do you want, sir?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll buy you something nice at the vending machine. You like chocolate?”

“Not so much. Neither did Teresa. She was also a lot like me; she had a never give up attitude.”

“Can I ask why she went off to live on her own so early in life?”

“Yes. It was hard for her to live here at the folks’ house because she had to grow up so early. My wife, her mother had a disability making things tough for her to get a job and I just retired about half a year back so she knew she had to fight for her own future. But I had confidence in her…” he caught himself. Before he could continue he started blubbering.

Mallard put a hand on his shoulder. He nodded then continued.

“But she was also not very social. She was artsy, creative. But she didn’t find that many people in her ‘adult’ life. There’s not that many people for you to finger turns out. Chances are, I hope, you will find the dirtbag that killed her, officer.”

“That is my deep hope as well.” Mallard said trying to give a comforting smile.

“Did you ever listen to her song? It’s such a wonderful piece. I have never heard something with such heartfelt passion before. You should hear it.”

“I am sure it is a great song.”

“The track was on its way to being a number one single. She received a lot of attention and she was finally able to live off of her great talents. Just why then did this happen? Why did she get her life cut off so short, so suddenly?”

“I am wondering why too… did you know if she had any enemies?”

“I don’t think so… plus I loved supporting her whenever I could. By the way, I even came down to this area once for a big performance. An open mic.”

“Really? You did?”

“Yes and I took a picture of her on the stage. It was just her… and some guy she was probably with at the time.”

“Could you provide this picture for us soon? We would love to see if this could help you on your way to finding your daughter’s killer.”

“Yes. I have never seen him before. I heard a rumor circulate the last time I got here though that he co-wrote the song… and he didn’t like that she took the credit.”

message 39: by C. J., Cool yet firm like ice (last edited Jul 24, 2016 03:04PM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4263 comments Dreams Can Die- Part 2 (Final Section)

“Well that’s more than enough info. Please fax the picture to us when you get to, Mr. Harp. I appreciate you coming down here.”

He gave him a hearty handshake.

They got info from the autopsy. The one who lead it spoke to Mallard over the phone.

“It appears that she was pierced by the bullet slower than it normally would.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, normally a bullet that would hit someone in the amount of space you say would create a lot of damage on the person. This hit the victim at a slow speed determining the measurements on the entry wound versus the exit wound. The bullet barely left her body.”

“Thank you.”

Wisker and Mallard chatted about that later that day. It was 4:00 and was a strangely hot day. Every moment they both wanted to leave as soon as possible but instead sweat away at the info and mulled over it.

“So the bullet wasn’t fast? How does that happen?”

Mallard snapped his fingers. “It was that! The neighbors didn’t excuse away the sound, it was a silencer. The killer used a silencer on Teresa Harp. That explains how the round killed her at a slower speed.”

“But Yatrik didn’t have a silencer.”

“I could guess the killer got rid of it. Plus it was a bonus to dump the gun at his house to frame him and get away from the blame.”

“But how could someone make such a dramatic move like that? Also how come Yatrik’s prints are on it? Just how?”

Later on, they received the fax. It was around the same time the owner of the gun was found out. It was all info no one on the floor was expecting. As soon as Mr. Harp’s picture came into view they saw Teresa smiling in mid-sing standing at a mic next to her beau.

Piece by piece it was finally coming together. They couldn’t believe it but the fact was right there, who it was next to her.

Wisker and Mallard finally piped up.

“Samuel Brighton.”

Mallard quipped. “The officer’s son…”

That day left cops feeling almost reluctant to do their duty. They were theorizing just why the officer kept this important info from them. His son knew the deceased.

Officer Brighton was then brought into an office. He appeared mad.

“No. Why are you pulling my son into this? He didn’t do it!”

“We see why you would want to shield him but you should never keep critical information from reaching us from coming to us.”

Mallard spoke up. “Is this why you scoped out the crime scene?”

He looked down at the desk slumped over. He was mulling something over in his mind.

“He didn’t do it.”

“I know you are trying to protect your son but it is illegal to tamper with evidence. I hope that is not what you did that day. What was it you did before Mallard and I showed up at the house?”

He was silent. Wisker tried to coax it out of him.

“Look, I could see that you didn’t want him to get in trouble. I wouldn’t want to lose any of my family to prison. Now I am not trying to be cruel here but I am also not one with sympathy. If someone did something like taking another’s life they deserve prison time or to be handled with by the law.”

Brighton stared to the side. It seemed like he was thinking about his family. Maybe the future of them. Then he bawled.

A hand went over to coax him. He suddenly shoved it away with his shoulder.

“He didn’t kill her, okay?!
I did. Knowing the girl broke it off with him after he tried to get money from helping make the song, who does that? That is greedy. Not just greedy but what kind of relationship is that? No one should throw people away like that. She might seem like some innocent girl but they were together for a while. That song won that contest! It got her famous. Then after he kept trying to talk to her and get credit for at least half of it she breaks it off? People don’t know what they can do when they get a big chance. She took it. He couldn’t prove himself so he couldn’t even get a lawyer. I wanted to take out that b---”

He paused catching himself. “So I did. I went to that scene just to see if there was anything to cut myself clean of it. And I tore out that paper because I didn’t want Sam to get accused either. It was all me. I have the silencer at my house. The gun is not the property of the police, I bought it myself.”

“‘People don’t know what they can do when they get a big chance,’ eh?” quipped Wisker.

“Well… this is something we didn’t think we’d have to do but… Mallard, you going to do the honors?”

Mallard read him his rights after announcing he was going to be arrested for the murder of Teresa Harp.

It was a week later. The trial wasn’t for about a month from then. Wisker and Mallard were still feeling the uneasiness of the entire matter but tried their best. Though their stomachs felt in knots that someone had been under their nose the entire time messing with evidence, even planting a gun on an innocent person, they had hopes for the parents. They chatted as they drove in the cop car, heading to the station for the next situation.

“Also, just how did Brighton pin the prints on Yatrik?”

“Apparently Mallard he was friends with Teresa and visited their house a few times. He probably saw them recently and Brighton found his prints on a cup or just something Yatrik used that day. That could explain why the labs thought the prints were kind of ‘strange.’ He probably used a piece of tape and put that onto the gun he wiped clean. A sloppy job but it had almost worked!”

“Well.. I am impressed Wisker.”

“Wow, Mallard, you are really thinking me as a cop this time?”

“I apologize. You haven’t been on the force that long but it’s true and Bastion got me thinking it too. I am fellow cops with all of you. Each one has skills the other ones might not even have.”

“Yes. Thank you.”

Wisker turned on the radio. The song ‘What Kind of One you Are’ came on. It had the lilting feel of Jewel, the brand new artist it was obviously inspired by.

“I really love this song. It’s better than that crap some of the kids are liking nowadays. What is it called?”

He turned to Mallard realizing he asked the wrong person then laughed.

“Oh yeah. Called grunge.”

“You know… dreams can die but hers will live on.”

“Well that was deep, Mallard. What got you thinking that?”

Mallard just stared forward, seemingly not wanting to open up so Wisker let it slide.

“It’s true though. Her dream to be a singer you mean? Yes. It will live on in radio for as long as songs can be.”

They rode on a little peppier as they headed to their job in newfound kinship.

message 40: by Joy (new)

Joy Crain | 41 comments James wrote: "Joy wrote: "Part Two:

An old abandoned mansion at night. “Sounds like a creepy old novel,” I muttered under my breath as I wrapped my arms around my chest. He had said 8, hadn’t he? It was 8:30 an..."

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

message 41: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Toy Trauma
GENRE: Modern Day Drama
RATING: PG for brief swearing

Every careful step downstairs to the kitchen sent a thunderstorm of pain across M..."

Aw, a sweet story this week! Nice one!

message 42: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9527 comments Thanks, Marie-Pie! It feels good to get away from the gore every now and then. :)

message 43: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "Thanks, Marie-Pie! It feels good to get away from the gore every now and then. :)"

Don't worry, I covered for you this week. :D

message 44: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9527 comments I'll make some time tomorrow to read these stories. For tonight, I just want to relax and enjoy the evening. Plus, I'm just now getting used to my new CPAP machine. Apparently, using one of these things is a trained skill.

I'm most looking forward to yours, Edward! I'm still giddy about you referring to it as "Garrison Level Gore". :)

message 45: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Melissa: A very heartwarming story from you this week! Such tenderness in so few words.

message 46: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Sofia: Whenever I read your stories, I imagine them being told over tea by an elderly British man with a monocle and cane. Or told by that warm voiced narrator in "A Christmas Carol" while the camera sweeps in from above and zooms in on a cozy-looking building in the night. I'm really coming to like your stories.

message 47: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Marie wrote: "Four Items
Part 2

Two days later and she entered the southern kingdom of Rimmend. “According to the list, the next item, The Finger, is in a huge city near here.”
“It is another day’s walk,” Cal s..."

Great story, I loved how it progressed in a sort of epic journey way on a much smaller scale.

message 48: by Jami (new)

Jami | 6 comments Title: In Pieces
Author: Jami
Word Count: 835
Feedback is welcome & appreciated.

"Kipper, just sit down!"

It wasn't the fierce whisper that convinced her. It was the slight tremble in her mother's voice as she tripped over the name. Kipper. No one had called her that in years. Only Pop called her that.

Swallowing back her emotions, she looked over her shoulder to the older man sitting out on the porch. Tall and proud engulfed in an oversized sweater. Not peeking inside, not trying to eavesdrop on their hushed whispers through the open window. He kept playing as if she'd never strolled past him.

Looking back to her mother's glittering eyes she nodded.

"Good. I will bring you something to drink."

The walk back to the porch was drawn out as long as possible. Not surprisingly, Pop did not glance up as she hovered next to his setup. His shaky hands continued with the border, as if nobody had joined him. She could handle that. She could handle being ignored. It had been going on for 4 years and 7 months now. Another five minutes wouldn't hurt.

"Aw drats."

Pop leaned over the side of the chair to pick up a piece that had fallen to the ground. Once recaptured he looked back at the gaping hole staring back at him. He had just completed finding all the borders, and now came the hard part. Filling it in. His least favorite part.

Hearing her mother shuffle through the house, she hurried to do as she promised.

She sat.
He paused.
She cleared her throat.
He swallowed.

Strained silence reigned as he started his playing back up. The littlest reprieve granted when her mother left the fruit punch on the railing and a car honked as it avoided a cyclist.

She drank.
He pulled on his collar.
She looked to the street.
He picked up a piece. "I think this is the top of the tree."

Her head whirled back to him. He fitted the piece gently.
She stared.
He pulled on his collar again and whispered, "Your move." Then he settled back into his chair, staring at all the scattered pieces.

Eyeing him, she hesitated. She felt the familiar heat rise in her face, but on it's tail, she finally felt the way he looked. Tired.

Picking up a piece, she'd noticed when she had first whisked by the table. "Where's the box?" She placed it.
Still not making eye contact, he searched and found his target. "Where it always is." He fitted it next to her piece.

She leaned over, and looked underneath his chair. Upside down and empty it was settled out of sight. She found another piece that looked like a part of a ripple. Placing it, "What's it supposed to be?"

Placing his, "Fishing pond and apple tree."

Taking her turn, "Sounds idyllic."

His, "Aren't they always."

Silence. She couldn't find a piece she liked. He lightly pressed portions of the fitted jigsaw down, sparking her memory. She pulled a piece from the pile. "The punch is good." She placed it.

"No sugar. She's becoming a bit obsessed." He fitted it next to her piece.

Picking up another she said, "She's just looking out for you."

Huffing, as he found a companion to her's again "It's not the sugar that's going to kill me."

Startled, her next piece paused in mid air. He took a sip of his punch. Recovering, but not one to pull punches, "You look thinner."

Not one to draw out the inevitable, his piece on the board, "How's Lewis?"

Taking in a breath, she let it out. "Happy." This time the cardboard resisted the fit. She forced it in.

He picked hers up and moved it to the other side of the tree. "Of course. He married you."

She glanced up. No eyes met hers. It was just as well. Hers were tearing up anyway. Good thing she'd already picked up another piece. She let it play in her fingers for a moment. He started shifting the puzzle to the left a bit. To center it more on the table.

"Yes he did. Four years ago." She didn't force it this time.

"And seven months." He did.

"It was a beautiful wedding." Softly, the piece went into place. "If a bit lonely."

"You were a beautiful bride." He didn't set down his piece. She looked up.

"You were there?"

"I couldn't miss it."

"You didn't approve."

Dropping his eyes, he placed his piece. "Will you allow me to meet him?"

Dropping her eyes, she placed her piece in silence.

So did he.

On and on. Piece after piece. Each step a little faster. It wasn't until the pieces landed faster than her tears, that she heard the small whisper. "I'm sorry."

She stopped.
He cleared his throat.
She swallowed.
He sat.

Then picked up the last piece, and handed it to her. Love laced his voice, "Kipper."

She placed it in the jigsaw with finality and purpose. Looking him in the eye, "Yeah, Pop. Of course."

message 49: by C.P., Windrunner (last edited Jul 25, 2016 07:04AM) (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 658 comments Comments and feedback welcome. This is a character exploration for the main character in the equestrian novel that I'm working on. Trying to get her story straight in my head. :)

Title: First Ride
Author: C P Cabaniss
Genre: YA Equestrian
Length: 2,066 words

The trees blurred past as the car sped down the road, never fully coming into focus as Kat stared out absently. She could hear the hum of the radio filling the car, some upbeat, happy tune exactly opposite how she felt. Occasionally her mom would try to pull her into conversation, asking about school, her friends, what she thought about her surprise today, but her responses were always noncommittal monosyllables. There was just nothing to say.

Kat watched the trees blur past, never able to keep one in focus for long. It was just like her life, she decided, resting her forehead against the cool glass of the window. It was all a blur of tiny moments, each harder to hold onto than the one before. And each more painful the more she tried. Even her memories were tarnished now, dragged through the mud and hung up to dry without a washing. Stains, everywhere she looked.

The car slowed down as they exited the interstate, things suddenly coming into sharp focus along the roadside. A turn onto a busy highway, another onto a lonely country road, and finally onto a seemingly endless dirt drive, each turn slowing them down until it almost felt like they weren’t moving at all, bringing things into sharper and sharper focus. The radio continued to blare its happy tunes, oblivious to the atmosphere it was throwing itself into. Kat squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block it all out.

Six or seven months before, Kat probably would have said her life was nearly perfect. She loved her parents, had amazing friends, made good grades in school. For an eleven year old, things were looking pretty bright. But there, sitting in that passenger seat, head pressed to the window, eyes shut, Kat felt lost. Her life was coming undone, like a puzzle in reverse. Instead of each piece being gently placed in its perfect niche, they were being pried out forcefully at random, leaving gaping holes where once there had been perfection.

It started when her parents sat her down and formally announced their divorce. It was the Christmas present that no eleven year old dreamed of, being told that the life they thought was paradise was a nightmare for someone else. And things only spiraled from there. Her parents tried to make it a good transition, Kat knew they did, but no amount of explaining could heal the hole she felt in her heart. Her dad moved out and his things disappeared. She was traded off in a parking lot on weekends like a game console. The house she had always known, which no longer felt like home, was put up for sale. Her dad’s apartment was sterile, like a doctor’s office, leaving her uncomfortable every time she stepped through the door. It had been five months since that first talk and Kat was only feeling worse. That old saying she kept hearing whispered when people thought she was out of earshot, about time healing all wounds, was utter nonsense. Time might be a damper on feelings, covering them up, making the memories less clear, but the pain was always there.

“Here we are.” The car rolled to a stop and Kat forced her eyes open, still staring out the window. A large barn stood a few hundred feet away, people leading horses in and out. She could see a riding arena off to one side, jumps spread all around. Her heart gave a lurch.

After being surprised with a new pair of riding boots and helmet, which she tried to be excited about, Kat followed her mom into the barn. This had always been her dream, one of the only things missing in her old, near perfect life.

“Debra!” A tall woman called from the other end of the barn, trotting down to meet them in the aisle. “This must be Kathryn.”

“Kat,” Kat corrected automatically and flushed when the woman smiled at her.

Laughter drifted all around the barn as horses were led through, some fully tacked, some wet with sweat or water, and people darted past them, boots varying degrees of dirty. Kat breathed in the earthy scent of horse flesh and spring air, feeling her shoulders lose a fraction of their tension. She tried to pay attention to the conversations around her, people discussing their rides, giving each other advice or sharing what riding instructors had said, but there were so many unrecognizable terms that she had a hard time keeping up.

A hand waved in front of her eyes. “Kat, ya still with us?” The tall woman said, causing Kat to realize she had no idea what the woman and her mother had been discussing while she listened to the people around them. The woman just laughed.

“I asked if you were ready to ride,” the woman continued, waving for them to follow her as she headed back down the aisle.

“Um,” Kat said glancing at her mom, who nodded. “I guess so. I’ve only ever been on a pony though.”

The woman laughed again, a loud throaty laugh that Kat would have found contagious a year before. “Don’t worry. Dynamite is friendly as a kitten.”

Half an hour later Kat found herself astride Dynamite, a large chestnut horse with big brown eyes and a white stripe down his nose. Sue, the tall woman her mother knew, insisted that he was gentle. And small. To Kat he was a giant, though she had to admit he was much smaller than the other horses she saw crowding around the riding areas. But that was not saying much.

“Relax,” Sue called, miming a deep breath. “Good. Now settle down and just feel the way he walks. You don’t have to worry about him leaving; I’ve got him on the line for a reason.”

Dynamite’s stride was long and confident. He might be old, as Sue had said, and small compared to the other horses, but he had swagger that many of them lacked. With each step Kat let herself sink more deeply into the dip of the English saddle she was riding in, legs wrapping more firmly—but not too firmly!—around her horse’s belly. The four beat gait might have been slow, but it was far from plodding. Kat rested her hands on her knees, away from the reins, and let her shoulders relax. After a few more minutes she could feel her hips moving with Dynamite’s steps, propelled from his powerful hindquarters.

“Excellent. Now let’s try something new…”

Kat slid to the ground after another twenty minutes, legs feeling like jelly when they hit the solid surface. Sue did not let her get off easy, even in her first ride. After that first ten minutes of walking she had her doing various exercises to limber up. She touched her toes, raised arms over her head, rose onto the balls of her feet in the stirrups, rode without stirrups, closed her eyes, anything that Sue could think to have her do, she did. And Dynamite continued with his same proud step, never faltering for a second, feeding her confidence as they moved together. In the end she was able to pick up the reins and feel the contact between her fingers and Dynamite’s mouth, learning to hold the reins just so—nestled between pinkies and ring fingers, tucked into a light fist, elbows bent.

“Now let’s clean this boy up so he can go back to his pasture.” Sue scratched the horse between the ears, laughing when he shook his head. Kat laughed too.

After another half hour Dynamite was finally declared acceptable and Kat walked with Sue to lead him back to the pasture. He ran into the pasture, kicking and neighing at the horses already there. Then he rolled in a bare patch of dirt, coating his recently shiny coat with dust. Sue laughed again, shaking her head as they headed back to the barn.

“Kat, run the saddle into the tack room. Ask one of the girls to show you where it goes.” Kat nodded as Sue turned back to her mom, already starting up a conversation.

A group of girls sat in the connected lounge, discussing some horse related event they had playing on TV. It reminded Kat of the recap during the Olympics, when they toss up 30 seconds of horses soaring over jumps and dashing through water, only this was more focused and the segments longer. Occasionally a reporter would pop up, interviewing a sweaty rider. The reporters were all British, but the riders were a mix of nationalities.

“Um, Sue said one of you could show me where this goes?” She shook the saddle a little for emphasis. All eyes turned to her, blinking as though coming out of a trance.

“Sure, I’ve got ya,” a tall, older girl said, smiling at Kat as she left her perch on the couch. “It’s this way.” The girl thumbed into the tack room. “I’m Gina, by the way.”

“Kat,” Kat responded.

“This your first day?” Gina asked, helping her lift the saddle onto its rack and hang the bridle on the peg just below.

“Um. Yeah. I’ve always wanted to ride and my mom gave me a lesson as a surprise.” She fidgeted with the hem of her shirt, suddenly realizing that her feet were sore in the new boots.

The other girl grinned. “Had you on Dyno, huh? He’s a great horse. Make sure you learn what you can from him. Some of the most valuable lessons I learned were from that old guy.” Gina’s laugh was boisterous.

“Ohmygosh!” The high squeal caused Kat to jump, spinning toward the lounge where one of the other girls had her head poked through. “It’s Henry! Gina, get in here. Henry’s on the TV!”

Gina grinned, grabbing Kat’s hand and pulling her along as she dashed back into the lounge. All of the other girls were now crowded around the TV, elbowing each other and giggling. Gina dragged Kat closer so they could see.

“I didn’t think he would get any screen time,” one of the girls was saying.

“But he is the youngest this year,” another piped in. “And he did really well.”

“There he is!”

Kat watched as the camera zoomed in on the reporter, who had her microphone thrust into the face of a young guy with a freckled nose and sparkly blue eyes. The strap on his riding helmet was hanging undone below his chin, his face sweaty. But he was grinning like a maniac.

“What do you make of your first Badminton?” The reporter asked, smiling broadly. “Has it been everything you expected?”

The guy—Henry, Kat assumed—shook his head, that crazy grin never leaving. “It was absolutely brilliant. I never expected to perform half so well as we did. It’s honestly the best event I could have asked for. I’ve got a fantastic horse and he really pulled through on that Cross Country course today. It was grueling, but absolutely amazing.”

Kat didn’t catch much of the other questions and answers as the girls around her began to giggle and chatter excitedly. “He’s so dreamy,” one of them said. And another, poking her in the ribs, added “I heard he’s dating a model.” This caused mass hysteria as all of them began exclaiming that they wanted him to date them.

“Henry’s the youngest competitor at Badminton this year,” Gina explained to Kat in a whisper. “We’ve all been following his events this year. For varying reasons, but his looks don’t hurt.” She grinned. “It’s one of the biggest events in the world and we’ve all got dreams to make it there someday.”

Kat nodded, turning her attention back to the TV where Henry was now biting his lower lip as he was surrounded by other competitors and spectators who started congratulating him on his ride. Before the camera zoomed away to other riders and other news, Kat caught one last look of Henry. His eyes were alight with excitement, that grin stretched across his face.

It was in that moment that Kat knew this was the life she wanted. She wanted to feel what Henry felt after his ride, like she was connected to something greater. For the first time since her parents announced their divorce, she finally felt that her life could be put back together.

message 50: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) | 660 comments Edward wrote: "Marie wrote: "Four Items
Part 2

Two days later and she entered the southern kingdom of Rimmend. “According to the list, the next item, The Finger, is in a huge city near here.”
“It is another day’..."

Thanks. I'll admit, it was inspired by the song "I Am Machine" and by the book Cinder.

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