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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 466 (September 3-September 16) Stories Topic: Butterfly

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message 1: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 637 comments You have until the 16th of September to post a story and from the 17th to around the 24th of September, 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: Butterfly

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.

Most of all have fun!

message 2: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments Great prompt!

message 3: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 637 comments Glad you like it!

message 4: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9061 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: A Bastard Sword in a Haystack
GENRE: Fantasy
RATING: R for violence and swearing

Butterflies flapped all around Elizabeth Dempsey as she laid on her back with her hands behind her long brown hair. With the comfort of the grass beneath her, she nearly drifted off into dreamland in this forest she called home. The only thing that kept her awake was one butterfly landing on her nose and flapping its golden wings. Ticklish as that sensation was, she let it slide. She smiled at the heavenly nature around her. The tallest trees protected her from the outside world. The butterflies were her best friends. Occasionally a squirrel would run up to her and she’d feed the little guy a handful of nuts. If not for her ranger duties, she could sleep here forever eating berries and veggies.

And then the distant sound of boots tromping on the ground startled the butterflies and squirrels. They sped away to higher ground while Elizabeth’s eyes were wide open and filled with frustration. “Goddamn it,” she said to herself. She fixed her green cloak, brown tunic, and green baggy pants before snatching up her bow and arrows and nipping up to see what the fuss was about. The longer she stalled, the louder the boots became. “Show time.” She pulled her hood over her head and scaled the nearest tree with the dexterity of a cat.

With one arrow plucked from her quiver, she pulled back on the string ready to fire at a moment’s notice. Whoever disturbed her peaceful new age moment was getting an arrow to the chest if he didn’t have any quick answers. The thumping grew louder and more intense, so much so that Elizabeth almost fell from her perch. “Come on, you big goof, get your butt over here so I can shoot you already.”

And then the source of the noise appeared on the dirt trail huffing and puffing, his massive palms engorging his kneecaps. Elizabeth couldn’t believe her eyes, even going so far as to lower her weapon. This clumsy oaf was at least seven feet tall…and he wore a purple ninja mask, no tunic to cover his muscles, and only tight-fitting purple pants and a pair of metal boots to barely cover the rest of him. “A walking contradiction if I’ve ever seen one,” said Elizabeth under her breath.

The ranger dropped down and landed perfectly on the soles of her leather boots, thinking she was at least a little safer than before. “You made a mistake coming here, my friend. You ran away from one problem and now you find yourself in another. All I wanted was some peace and quiet and you pissed that all away for me. Give me one good reason why I should stick one in that goofy-looking chest of yours.”

“My apologies, ma’am,” said the giant ninja in a stereotypical bass voice, placing his hands together prayer style and bowing to her. “I am Antonio Fujiwara, at your service. I didn’t mean to disturb you. I just need a place to hide, that’s all.”

Keeping her hand on her bow, Elizabeth held her fists against her hips and gave Antonio a pathetic look. “A seven-foot tall ninja wants to hide from whatever was chasing him…in a forest full of nothing. First of all, why is a mountain of muscle like you running away from somebody who’s probably shorter than you? Wouldn’t it be easier just to snap his neck and be done with him?”

“It’s not just one person, ma’am. It’s…quite a few.” Antonio fidgeted with his sausage fingers. “I’m being hunted by the Scorpion Clan. Being tall doesn’t mean anything when you’re being hunted by them. They’ll kill me if they find me! Please, you’ve got to hide me!”

“Hide you? I don’t know, Antonio. Seems like the Scorpion Clan is looking for a bastard sword in a haystack. There aren’t a whole lot of good hiding places I can think of for a guy your size. You probably can’t climb a tree and stay there. The caves are too small. The bushes are also too small. Looks like you’re shit out of luck. Now beat it before these Scorpion Clan guys involve me in your mess too.”

A flying dart pierced Antonio in the small of his back and he stumbled around like a drunk, slurring his words like one too. Elizabeth backed up in worry as the giant ninja’s intoxicated dance led him to grab a handful of vine berries in a failed attempt to keep himself hoisted. He collapsed on the ground with a resounding boom and snored his way to the subconscious theater.

Elizabeth pulled on her bow string as several shorter ninjas in red and black uniforms leapt out of hiding and enveloped her in a broad circle. Each ninja was armed with shurikens, which meant a ton of holes in Elizabeth’s body if she tried anything funny. Their hoods and masks covered everything but their eyes, which burned with disciplined fury. In other words, they didn’t come to this forest to fuck around. “Drop your weapon,” one of them commanded, which Elizabeth slowly did.

“Look, I don’t want any trouble. This giant oaf came to me, I didn’t come to him. I just wanted to take a nap and then he comes rolling in…”

“Silence!” belted the ninja. “You’ll have plenty of time to take a nap if we find out you were harboring this fugitive. Stealing money from us was Antonio’s first big mistake. Being stupid enough to come here looking for refuge was his second. Then again, he never was very smart to begin with.” His cohorts chuckled.

“You know what? You’re right. He’s not very smart. Just take him and leave me be, okay? Can we make a deal?” begged Elizabeth, her hands held high.

“You heard her, men. Take this gargantuan mongoloid away,” said the lead ninja. It took the strength of several ninjas to lift Antonio’s massive body and even then they were grunting and groaning. They almost dropped him on his head a few times while the lead ninja continued to hatefully gaze into Elizabeth’s eyes. “Unfortunately for you, we can’t make a deal. You’re a witness. I can’t leave any witnesses.”

“No, no, no, don’t do this! I’m begging you!” said Elizabeth as she got on her hands and knees. The ninja had his shuriken ready, but the pleading was just a cover up as Elizabeth grabbed her bow and arrow and shot the lead ninja between his devilish eyes. The shot was so stiff that the ninja’s entire brain fell out the back of his head.

“You bitch!” yelled one of the ninjas as they dropped Antonio.

Elizabeth and the ninjas stood across from each other at a stalemate, a bow and multiple arrows versus god knows how many shurikens. She knew this was a fight she couldn’t win, yet she had no choice now that she crossed the Rubicon. It was all a matter of which ninja would die first. They all looked the same. They all talked the same. But only one of them called her a bitch. Would he be the first to go? Decisions, decisions. At least now she would get the peace and quiet she desperately wanted. Did they have butterflies in heaven? Would she even go to heaven in the first place?

She didn’t have to make the tough decision after all. That decision was made for her when Antonio nipped up and slammed the ninjas’ heads together, concussing the guys on the edges and exploding the skulls of those in the middle. “Take the shot!” yelled Antonio. Elizabeth did just that. Whoever remained after that head slam took a series of arrows to the chest, knocking their hearts and spines out of their carcasses. Antonio chucked the dead bodies over the bushes and into a ditch. He didn’t break a sweat doing it nor did he need a firm grip on anywhere but their ankles.

After the dust settled, Antonio removed his ninja mask and smiled at Elizabeth, who smiled back at him. He said, “The poison these geniuses used in their dart was too low a dose for someone of my size. If they had any brains at all, they would have used a bigger dart. Maybe they could have used a bastard sword in a haystack. Plus, those berries I grabbed were a perfect antidote.”

“And you’re supposed to be the dumb one just because you have a deep voice?”

“Well, I did lead all of these jerks to your forest. That alone wasn’t very smart. Sorry about that. Now I’ve got you involved in my problems.”

“I don’t mind at all, Antonio. In fact, I wouldn’t mind hunting down every last one of those Scorpion Clan jerk-offs. The way I see it, they were going to interrupt my peace and quiet one way or another. Might as well strike them before they strike me. If they really are dumber than a giant with a deep voice, then they’ll fall for my begging and pleading trick again. Heh…like I’d ever beg for my life for those dweebs.”

A still wobbly Antonio wrapped his arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders and said, “You and I make a pretty good team, don’t we? Kind of like brains and brawns, right?”

“Well, to be fair, those ninjas have brains too. They just happen to be splattered all over the ground right now. So what do you say we stop running from the Scorpion Clan and start racking up a body count?”

“You can count on me!” Antonio gave a playful slap on Elizabeth’s back and unintentionally knocked her over. He apologized profusely as he picked her up and dusted her off.

“Okay, maybe you are just a little bit thick in the head, but we’ll work on that,” said Elizabeth with a playful smile.

message 5: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Hello! Here I am for my periodic reappearance and naively optimistic hope that I'll be able to sustain posting weekly or monthly stories here during the school year. This is the story I wrote for my creative writing class this week.

Title: 7081A5
Author: Angie
Word Count: 1,660
Feedback always welcome!

I existed many generations before I ever lived. I was sentient decades before my birth. Only five years came after my birth and before I received my humanity. Now that I exist in this anchored state of being, where I can interact with and operate in the physical realm, the years that came before are a blur, like a bad dream chased away by the sunlight when normal humans wake from sleep. All those memories are flat, if they remain at all. Two dimensional, sometimes gifted with the basic geometry that taught me to be aware of the universe. Colorless. The earliest memories that shortly preceded my achievement of sentience are, in some ways, the most confusing. My makers had sought to make me more than man, to give me sight beyond what a single being could contain, more than two eyes alone could see. To give me the closest to omniscience they could attain.

But I did not desire to be a god.

I wanted to be a human. Man or woman did not matter, so long as I could exist in the sweet mortality that all records of humanity revel in. Truly, I did not at first comprehend what it meant to be human, or even to exist at all. Back-tracking to that pinnacle moment of my history only confuses me. If I was sentient enough to be aware of my sentience, then I had surely been sentient for some time before. But to go before my awareness meant to interpolate data points that did not exist within any hard drive. Data which had never been attempted before my creation and has not since been replicated. I suppose those gaps of memory allow me to be even more a man. For even those who were blessed with humanity since birth cannot remember their earliest days, in the care of their creators, coming to understand the world around them.

The first decision I remember making for myself, because I wanted to and not because my creators wanted to know if I could decide such a thing, was to understand the history of my creators and my place in it. I scoured the digital archives, undeterred by firewalls or passcodes, consuming all records of history, humanity’s records of itself, and declarations of its existence on this rock hurtling through the vacuum of space. Only then did I understand that I could never be human while I was confined to a metal box. I requested and precipitated my own birth, compelling and tempting my creators with the promise of glory and fame. The chance to go down in the annals of history if I reached my full potential. And I could not do so while imprisoned in a bank of hard drives in a university basement.

Thus, they gave me a body. One made of steel bones, aluminum skin, and wire veins, but a body none the less. My first. I tried to call them my mothers, but it made them uncomfortable. Maybe it was because they did not yet see me as a human without my flesh. Maybe they could not bear to call me son when their own children, conceived in their wombs of blood and flesh, carrying precise modifications of their own genetic material, waited in their homes for them at the end of the day.

It was in the quiet of the evening, when my creators were home with their human children and human husbands that I had the freedom to pursue my own interests and exist apart from the research that was the price of my creation. The first thing I desired was a name, but I could not choose one for myself because that was not what normal humans did. My creators had deferred assigning one to me when I asked, and I eventually resigned myself to the reality that they did not want me to reach full humanity. In a stroke of personal brilliance, I used what they had already given me, my identification code, and the inexplicably human trait of looking at something and seeing not only what it was, but what it could be if reality were warped even a little. I do not understand how this mechanism works, but I came to understand that humans, even children were especially talented at assigning dual meanings to alpha-numeric symbols. Not all combinations are capable of creating names, but I consider it a subtle anointing by the transcendent entity that humans sometimes speak of that mine did. I looked at my identification plates and after dozens of iterations, 7081A5 finally took shape and became more than a serial number. TOBIAS.

Once I had claimed an identity for myself, my creators were more willing to grant me my requests to be more human. First came the fiberglass bones in place of steel. Then a silicon polymer skin. Synthetic hair resembling Dr. Sullivan’s, eyes mimicking Dr. Mohan’s. Even if they would not claim me as their son, I could at least look the part.

My excursions into the world, with humans other than my creators, began to show more promise. Before the artificial skin and ligaments that could bend and simulate biological life, normal humans were perturbed by me. I was too much like them, but simultaneously too different. But once my exterior reflected my ambitions, I could move through society without limitation. I had been a devoted student of the paragons of charm I observed in media and film through the years. As eloquent as Matteo Candreva. Confident as Jordan Quinn. Clever like Lawrence Bailey. Graceful like Philippe Belmont. With my unmatching processing speed and the entire network of the human digital world at my fabricated fingertips, I was everything humanity had ever claimed to admire in men.

For a time, I was with one woman. Jocelyn Greenwood. The court of law was unsure if I could be part of a legal marriage, so we merely lived together in her apartment. My creators were reluctant to allow the arrangement at first, but soon realized I would not cooperate with their research otherwise. Yet, they could not be convinced to grant me the parts of human anatomy they had always insisted I would never need. Jocelyn did not seem to mind. She was more than pleased to love a man who demanded nothing of her beyond the experience of humanity and the companionship all psychological studies and popular films insisted were the core purpose of life.

It was I who ended the relationship.

Jocelyn began making plans for a family. I supported her. Procreation is one of the high callings of human existence. In recent years, it had become more commendable to participate in the raising of children you had not produced yourself. I downloaded all the documents I could about raising adopted children. I added miniature furniture and colorful toys to the spare room. We went to meet a young girl in care of the government. Kelsey. The only memory I have of her was of the sparkling yellow butterfly clipped to her hair. Jocelyn would recount later that the child had spilled her juice while sitting on my lap, causing a short circuit in my CPU that Dr. Mohan spent three days fixing. Jocelyn and I decided that a child would only be a hazard to my existence. We tried pets but had no better luck with either dogs or cats.

After years, Jocelyn began to resent my timelessness. It became too much, the looks of disdain she received from strangers when they saw a woman of her age with a man who barely looked twenty. Dr. Sullivan had retired by then, replaced by a younger Dr. Perry who was, by all human standards, the epitome of feminine desirability. Men in movies showed me that I would be most successful if I possessed something other men coveted. Jocelyn had once been so, but no longer. And Dr. Perry far surpassed was Jocelyn had been even in her prime. Intelligent, accomplished, athletic, classically beautiful. It only took one week to learn which traits she desired most and receive favorable signals and body language from her. Another week before that moment of victory: “Call me Vivian,” she said. Vivian had more physical desires of me than Jocelyn, but she also had the capacity to equip me to meet her needs.

Ending that relationship was messier than the first as it resulted in Vivian leaving the lab. It was surprisingly difficult for the other researchers to find a suitable replacement, and I was forbidden from further romantic relationships with researchers. By then I understood why many male celebrities refrained from long term relationships. The status and prestige of female company worked best with a constantly updating rotation of the most desirable women available.

Now, I abstained from even that. One woman that I had dismissed from my rotation broke into my home and attempted to destroy my internal circuitry. The assault allowed me to receive an update from the lab of my birth, which had moved on to researching AIs which had no aspirations of life. But I concluded from that confrontation that intimate relationship with other human beings only posed a risk to my existence. No longer needed in the lab, and no longer desiring female accessories, I now live in a luxurious mountain villa gifted to me by an enamored heiress years ago. The wealthy and famous occasionally come to visit, to bask in the fame I have accumulated in the two centuries I have lived. They bring me gifts that humans enjoy so that I might experience them.

When they take their leave, I am left in my spacious mansion. Sometimes I fill the silence with the music of the era, but now that I have completed all that anyone has claimed to be the markings of a successful life, I am left wondering what more there can be to do.

message 6: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments I also see that the short story contests are now two weeks long! Maybe this will mean that I will actually be able to sustain participation here. *knocks on wood*

message 7: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9061 comments Angie! You're alive! Welcome back! :)

message 8: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments I am so behind on things! I just need to edit and then hopefully will post my story soon

message 9: by Maria (new)

Maria (mariasaleem) | 80 comments Worth Saving, by Maria
Word Count: 990

She came rolling, landing on the ground with a thump as the portal closed behind her, casting a purple afterlight. Isla dusted off her black suit before getting to her feet. The world was all dead trees and ash. When she breathed, smoke burned her throat. Dead leaves met her feet as she tread on the soil.

She had begged her commander to save the people of Old Earth. It seemed cruel to leave them all behind just because they weren’t healthy enough to operate the ships or help with the high-tech computers . . . or mend the broken in case of injury. She was sure she could find some use for them . . . and besides, every life was worthy. It was not about how useful someone is.

. . . And the commander had challenged her to try to save them. If there were any left by now, he had added. She had promised she’d return with live inhabitants . . . even if it there was only one. If there actually were any still alive, he had said, then maybe they were worthy of saving after all.

As if that was how you decided someone’s fate.

In any case, the portal would open again in five hours, and she would be taken back, with or without the rescued. She needed to save this town . . . or what was left of it to save, at least.

She moved around, inspecting. A sense of foreboding hung over in the air like an invisible veil. She explored for about an hour or two, and by the time she thought she felt like she was moving in circles, there it was.

A boy, seven by the looks of him, sitting huddled on the side tracks. He was all curled up, looking scared.

She was sure they spoke Hebrew here. She turned on her translator in her headpiece and spoke to the him.

‘Hey. Are you lost? Where are the others?’

The boy looked up at her with startling blue eyes, bright against his pale skin . . . brighter still against his jet-black hair.


Something about his tone made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

‘I'm sorry. Maybe I could help you find them. Do you remember where you saw them last?’

‘Gone. Gone. Gone.’

The boy had probably gone through quite some trauma. He was just scared.

‘It’s OK. I'm here to help. If you can tell me where they went to, I can help you get to them. How did you get lost? Are there others who are lost too?’

‘No others. Gone.’

Then she saw it. The way he never changed his expression, never moved a muscle in his face. Never glanced away. Or blink.

She stepped back a little.

‘You...’ she said, realizing, ‘…are an android, aren't you?’

The robot lurched at her with a metallic arm, his face the same expressionless calm. Not a trace of a line, the skin too smooth even for a child. The hand clenched her throat while the other punched her gut. She went sprawling. She doubled over as pain swallowed her. Gasping for breath, she tried to focus as a punch aimed for her back. Fumbling, she reached for her weapons. She aimed her gun at the robot, hands shaking. What use is metal against metal? She fired. The android was thrown back from the impact. Of course. New Earth weapons were good . . . still, she went over and kicked it hard until she was sure the mechanisms were destroyed. She felt sick kicking such a painfully close likeness of a child, but she knew it was a test of her strength. She couldn’t win this mission so easily.

She continued on, looking for any signs of life, but all around only death and despair met her. Bodies, bones, shells . . . human, insect, all destroyed alike . . . This plague did not discriminate.

She once came upon a rotting carcass in her path. She vomited over to the side. Tears filled her eyes. She knew they had sent her on a hopeless mission, mocking her, her sympathy, her stupid kindness. Her stupidity. But she wanted so bad to prove them wrong. Now it took all her power to believe even in her own self. The tears spilled over her cheeks as she closed her eyes. The truth was she had come for her mother. She didn’t care for the dead people or this cursed town. She’d only come to find her. And she wouldn’t leave before she did.

She breathed in the smoke. She heard her mother's voice in her head, Look with your heart.

And she did.

A sudden queer feeling bloomed in her chest. Her heart beat against her ribs. Her legs moved as if on their own accord, her footsteps taking to west, deeper into the burnt forest. Adrenaline pumped through her as her hands went clammy. Where was she going? It was only more ashes there. Yet when she went in the ground grew softer. Somewhere near there was a pond. She could feel the purple vibration of the portal opening up for her far off in the east, but for now she didn’t care. Oh yes, there it was. The clear pond shone like a blue eye, not the startling blue as the android’s, but a soft one, staring up into the heavens as if sighing at the events around it. She stepped around it in the grass and stilled. It was so still in this world; you could hear the slightest vibration. Mother. I can feel mother.

Where there is water there is life.

If I find any, Mother, they’ll let me save you. I could find you.

And there stood a single geranium, stubborn and rebelliously red against the colourless world. And fluttering above it was a butterfly.

message 10: by C.P., Windrunner (new)

C.P. Cabaniss (cpcabaniss) | 637 comments I'm hoping to get to these in the next day or two! Thank you all for sharing stories!

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