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Challenge of the Week #58: You are a victim of injustice, write a story about it. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $150. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Chapter 6 of Verbolution, A Prose Original Series: Season Four - "Exalted Exit Exhale"
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The Social Contract Lawsuit

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Challenge of the Week #58: You are a victim of injustice, write a story about it. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $150. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Chapter 6 of Verbolution, A Prose Original Series: Season Four - "Exalted Exit Exhale"
Written by A
The Social Contract Lawsuit
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Written by DaveBricker

Spice Up Your Writing with Verbs that Rock!

Verbs are the engines that move your writing and your readers, but many authors don’t spend enough time choosing the right ones. If your writing was an electric guitar, your verbs would be the volume, tone, and distortion controls that shape the music of your sentences.

Verbs of Being versus Verbs of Doing

One of the most common elements in boring writing is “static verbs”—verbs of being that substitute for stronger verbs of doing. The only thing these verbs do is assert existence—which is the most generic of actions. And too often, static verbs cling—like just-dried socks to a wool sweater—to prepositions like I, we, they, he, she, and it. Prepositions have their place, but use them consciously.

   He was a tall man with a white Stetson hat.

   I am a graphic designer.

   Bill’s friends were waiting for the next available table.

Constructs like those used above are fine for a rough draft, but use your word processor’s Find function to locate every static verb. Question whether to leave it or change it. There is no right way, except to make a conscious choice. It’s “autopilot” writing that will kill your prose, not the use or avoidance of a particular style. Moreover, the way you “fix” the above sentences will reveal your unique writer’s voice. Often, plugging in a better verb will only take you so far. Rewrite the sentence when needed. Convert bland factoids into powerful storytelling tools.

   Jaco’s white Stetson hat rode high above the heads of the crowd.

   Graphic design captivated me at a young age.

   Bill’s friends milled about the lobby, waiting for the next available table.

Participial Verbs vs. Flying Direct

Partipial verbs end in —ing. They tie your verbs to prepositions in an awkward three-legged race. They have an important place in your writing, but writers often misuse them.

   The team was sprinting toward the finish line.

   Ducks were paddling leisurely about the pond.

   Jack is aspiring to become a published author.

But these speedbumps are unnecessary. Simpler tenses add clarity and directness.

   The team sprinted toward the finish line.

   Ducks paddled leisurely about the pond.

   Jack aspires to become a published author.

Use participial forms when there is a change of state. Let the past tense action interrupt the participial action that came before it.

   Martha was considering law as a profession but opted for juggling.

   The fish were swimming lazy circles about the reef when the shark’s appearance startled them.

   I kept encountering the same style errors in my clients’ manuscripts so I decided to write this article.

Imperative Verbs Motivate and Inspire

Participial verbs suck power out of lists of objectives. If you’re offering a course or writing a book, explaining its benefits to students and readers is standard marketing practice. Here’s a list of benefits associated with a workshop:

   • Improving your wordcraft.

   • Avoiding clichés.

   • Revealing hidden patterns in your writing that interfere with effective storytelling.

   • Polishing your prose without losing your individual author’s voice.

   • Finding out why even professional editors work with professional editors.

But though these takeaways are clear and simple, stating them this way is a missed marketing opportunity. These benefits can be stated as calls to action—the marketers favorite tool—by using imperative verbs.

   • Improve your wordcraft.

   • Learn how to avoid clichés.

   • Reveal hidden patterns in your writing that interfere with effective storytelling.

   • Polish your prose without losing your individual author’s voice.

   • Find out why even professional editors work with professional editors.

Unless your list is very long (probably too long), consider using a different imperative verb for each item. Explore. Learn. Discover. Improve. Increase. In marketing talk, you are reframing the pitch to sell the benefits instead of the features. In storytelling parlance, you are selling the transformation instead of just tools for overcoming conflict. Implied is that the person on the receiving end of your message will end up doing something instead of just reading about it.

Come to Your Senses

Writing teachers encourage us to engage the mind and senses. Describe sights, smells, tastes, sounds, feelings, thoughts, and tactile experiences to appeal to the reader’s imagination on every possible level.

In concept, this is excellent advice. In practice, the advice often gets taken too literally. Think of “saw,” “heard,” “felt,” “tasted,” “smelled,” and “thought” as a special category of boring verb. Use them, but use them consciously and sparingly.

   After so many days of hot, endless sand, José saw green mountains rising above the horizon.

   Ben awoke in a bright room, unable to recall how he got there. “I must be dead,” he thought as he listened to distant choral music.

   Maria stared at the pile of crumpled one-dollar bills and felt ripped off.

   George smelled barbecue and rushed over to the grill.

These sentences describe characters and what they’re experiencing, but they’re weak because the narrator is relating the sensory descriptions. Remember another piece of classic writing advice: let your characters tell the story. Build direct relationships between your characters and your reader by keeping the narrator’s voice from getting between them.

This advice can be expanded. Let the settings and objects in your scenes tell the story. Inanimate objects and places can rise, wave, beckon, impose, threaten, welcome, suggest, produce, radiate, and even speak. As always, balance is key. The transference of human thoughts and feelings onto inanimate objects should honor certain intuitive boundaries. Mountains might “call to” or “look down on” José or “rise” before him, but they shouldn’t “jump for joy” or “ask for his email address.” [Prose.com doesn’t allow different type styles or sizes. I italicized previous examples but left these in Roman text because some have italic sections within them. Examples are indented.]

   So many days of hot, endless sand. At last, green mountains rose above the horizon.

Presumably, we already know José has been walking in the desert. The reader will assume that whatever you describe is what José sees.

    Ben awoke in a bright room, unable to recall how he got there. I must be dead. Choral music filtered in from some distant place.

Focus on describing the stimuli rather than on describing what Ben thinks about them. The italics reveal his reaction without having to tell the reader, “Here’s how he reacted.”

   Maria stared at the uninspiring pile of crumpled one-dollar bills.What a rip-off!

Again, the italics provide the character’s unspoken inner voice, but by adding an adjective (“uninspiring”) to describe the bills, the reader understands what provoked the reaction.

   The sweet, tangy, smoky scent of barbecue wafted through the open door. George rushed to the grill.

George’s reaction is a no-brainer. By emphasizing the stimulus (the scent) instead of the response, the reader will beat George to the hibachi.

Describe the perceived rather than the fact that it was perceived to draw readers directly into your characters’ experiences.

Conclusion

Addressing writing style patterns like static, participial, sensory, and imperative verb forms is one of the easiest and fastest ways to add music to your writing. With not much practice, you’ll learn to see style patterns as you write—which saves editing time. By searching for prepositions or instances of “ing,” with your word processor’s “Find” tool, you can quickly locate and consider whether or not to change potentially weak usages.

Learn more (did you catch my imperative verb) about writing style in my book, The Writer’s Guide to Powerful Prose.

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Written by DaveBricker
Spice Up Your Writing with Verbs that Rock!
Verbs are the engines that move your writing and your readers, but many authors don’t spend enough time choosing the right ones. If your writing was an electric guitar, your verbs would be the volume, tone, and distortion controls that shape the music of your sentences.

Verbs of Being versus Verbs of Doing

One of the most common elements in boring writing is “static verbs”—verbs of being that substitute for stronger verbs of doing. The only thing these verbs do is assert existence—which is the most generic of actions. And too often, static verbs cling—like just-dried socks to a wool sweater—to prepositions like I, we, they, he, she, and it. Prepositions have their place, but use them consciously.

   He was a tall man with a white Stetson hat.

   I am a graphic designer.

   Bill’s friends were waiting for the next available table.

Constructs like those used above are fine for a rough draft, but use your word processor’s Find function to locate every static verb. Question whether to leave it or change it. There is no right way, except to make a conscious choice. It’s “autopilot” writing that will kill your prose, not the use or avoidance of a particular style. Moreover, the way you “fix” the above sentences will reveal your unique writer’s voice. Often, plugging in a better verb will only take you so far. Rewrite the sentence when needed. Convert bland factoids into powerful storytelling tools.

   Jaco’s white Stetson hat rode high above the heads of the crowd.

   Graphic design captivated me at a young age.

   Bill’s friends milled about the lobby, waiting for the next available table.


Participial Verbs vs. Flying Direct

Partipial verbs end in —ing. They tie your verbs to prepositions in an awkward three-legged race. They have an important place in your writing, but writers often misuse them.

   The team was sprinting toward the finish line.

   Ducks were paddling leisurely about the pond.

   Jack is aspiring to become a published author.

But these speedbumps are unnecessary. Simpler tenses add clarity and directness.

   The team sprinted toward the finish line.

   Ducks paddled leisurely about the pond.

   Jack aspires to become a published author.

Use participial forms when there is a change of state. Let the past tense action interrupt the participial action that came before it.

   Martha was considering law as a profession but opted for juggling.

   The fish were swimming lazy circles about the reef when the shark’s appearance startled them.

   I kept encountering the same style errors in my clients’ manuscripts so I decided to write this article.


Imperative Verbs Motivate and Inspire

Participial verbs suck power out of lists of objectives. If you’re offering a course or writing a book, explaining its benefits to students and readers is standard marketing practice. Here’s a list of benefits associated with a workshop:

   • Improving your wordcraft.

   • Avoiding clichés.

   • Revealing hidden patterns in your writing that interfere with effective storytelling.

   • Polishing your prose without losing your individual author’s voice.

   • Finding out why even professional editors work with professional editors.

But though these takeaways are clear and simple, stating them this way is a missed marketing opportunity. These benefits can be stated as calls to action—the marketers favorite tool—by using imperative verbs.

   • Improve your wordcraft.

   • Learn how to avoid clichés.

   • Reveal hidden patterns in your writing that interfere with effective storytelling.

   • Polish your prose without losing your individual author’s voice.

   • Find out why even professional editors work with professional editors.

Unless your list is very long (probably too long), consider using a different imperative verb for each item. Explore. Learn. Discover. Improve. Increase. In marketing talk, you are reframing the pitch to sell the benefits instead of the features. In storytelling parlance, you are selling the transformation instead of just tools for overcoming conflict. Implied is that the person on the receiving end of your message will end up doing something instead of just reading about it.

Come to Your Senses

Writing teachers encourage us to engage the mind and senses. Describe sights, smells, tastes, sounds, feelings, thoughts, and tactile experiences to appeal to the reader’s imagination on every possible level.

In concept, this is excellent advice. In practice, the advice often gets taken too literally. Think of “saw,” “heard,” “felt,” “tasted,” “smelled,” and “thought” as a special category of boring verb. Use them, but use them consciously and sparingly.

   After so many days of hot, endless sand, José saw green mountains rising above the horizon.

   Ben awoke in a bright room, unable to recall how he got there. “I must be dead,” he thought as he listened to distant choral music.

   Maria stared at the pile of crumpled one-dollar bills and felt ripped off.

   George smelled barbecue and rushed over to the grill.

These sentences describe characters and what they’re experiencing, but they’re weak because the narrator is relating the sensory descriptions. Remember another piece of classic writing advice: let your characters tell the story. Build direct relationships between your characters and your reader by keeping the narrator’s voice from getting between them.

This advice can be expanded. Let the settings and objects in your scenes tell the story. Inanimate objects and places can rise, wave, beckon, impose, threaten, welcome, suggest, produce, radiate, and even speak. As always, balance is key. The transference of human thoughts and feelings onto inanimate objects should honor certain intuitive boundaries. Mountains might “call to” or “look down on” José or “rise” before him, but they shouldn’t “jump for joy” or “ask for his email address.” [Prose.com doesn’t allow different type styles or sizes. I italicized previous examples but left these in Roman text because some have italic sections within them. Examples are indented.]

   So many days of hot, endless sand. At last, green mountains rose above the horizon.

Presumably, we already know José has been walking in the desert. The reader will assume that whatever you describe is what José sees.

    Ben awoke in a bright room, unable to recall how he got there. I must be dead. Choral music filtered in from some distant place.

Focus on describing the stimuli rather than on describing what Ben thinks about them. The italics reveal his reaction without having to tell the reader, “Here’s how he reacted.”

   Maria stared at the uninspiring pile of crumpled one-dollar bills.What a rip-off!

Again, the italics provide the character’s unspoken inner voice, but by adding an adjective (“uninspiring”) to describe the bills, the reader understands what provoked the reaction.

   The sweet, tangy, smoky scent of barbecue wafted through the open door. George rushed to the grill.

George’s reaction is a no-brainer. By emphasizing the stimulus (the scent) instead of the response, the reader will beat George to the hibachi.

Describe the perceived rather than the fact that it was perceived to draw readers directly into your characters’ experiences.

Conclusion

Addressing writing style patterns like static, participial, sensory, and imperative verb forms is one of the easiest and fastest ways to add music to your writing. With not much practice, you’ll learn to see style patterns as you write—which saves editing time. By searching for prepositions or instances of “ing,” with your word processor’s “Find” tool, you can quickly locate and consider whether or not to change potentially weak usages.

Learn more (did you catch my imperative verb) about writing style in my book, The Writer’s Guide to Powerful Prose.
#writing  #grammar  #verbs  #wordcraft 
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by desmondwrite in portal Publishing

A Garden of Forking Palms

Dave arrives at work nervous. Today is like any other day, except when he woke this morning, he found a garden growing in his hand. Normally he has sweaty hands, and he keeps them balled up, in pockets, and far, far away from handshakes and high fives. But now there's a garden, and when he looks at it, it's an anemone of flowers: lashing purples, tubular whites, hairy yellows, hearts and scallops and bells. It many ways it's a miracle, but Dave doesn't want to acknowledge that. He's afraid of what people will think.

Dave avoids everyone, which isn't all that different from most days, except now he has a reason. He's careful not to close his hand, because part of him is impressed by this beautiful thing he has secreted. He keeps it in his jacket pocket, displayed, in secret. He pulls it out on break, just as a female coworker walks by. She sees it, grimaces, walks away. He's embarrassed as if he'd just been caught inspecting his genitals.

A grunt for attention. The boss looks at him weirdly by the cubicle entrance. The woman is there, too. The boss tells him to get rid of the garden. It's unprofessional. 

Dave goes in the restroom. He wipes his forehead with his free hand. He looks at his Eden. Finally, he squishes it, and opens his palms, revealing smeared plant puss and colored fibers. He washes his hands carefully until the clot is gone. He wonders if he's relieved, but deep down he can sense a pain festering away, eating at the roots of his careful obedience to the rules. To avoid his wet face in a mirror, he hurries out, and sits down, and continues typing, returning to hum-drum, to the long sleep between life's funny little intrusions. 

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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by desmondwrite in portal Publishing
A Garden of Forking Palms
Dave arrives at work nervous. Today is like any other day, except when he woke this morning, he found a garden growing in his hand. Normally he has sweaty hands, and he keeps them balled up, in pockets, and far, far away from handshakes and high fives. But now there's a garden, and when he looks at it, it's an anemone of flowers: lashing purples, tubular whites, hairy yellows, hearts and scallops and bells. It many ways it's a miracle, but Dave doesn't want to acknowledge that. He's afraid of what people will think.

Dave avoids everyone, which isn't all that different from most days, except now he has a reason. He's careful not to close his hand, because part of him is impressed by this beautiful thing he has secreted. He keeps it in his jacket pocket, displayed, in secret. He pulls it out on break, just as a female coworker walks by. She sees it, grimaces, walks away. He's embarrassed as if he'd just been caught inspecting his genitals.

A grunt for attention. The boss looks at him weirdly by the cubicle entrance. The woman is there, too. The boss tells him to get rid of the garden. It's unprofessional. 

Dave goes in the restroom. He wipes his forehead with his free hand. He looks at his Eden. Finally, he squishes it, and opens his palms, revealing smeared plant puss and colored fibers. He washes his hands carefully until the clot is gone. He wonders if he's relieved, but deep down he can sense a pain festering away, eating at the roots of his careful obedience to the rules. To avoid his wet face in a mirror, he hurries out, and sits down, and continues typing, returning to hum-drum, to the long sleep between life's funny little intrusions. 
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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by infiniteflame in portal Publishing

When Dusk turns Dark

With no shoes on, she was small. She had quite a willowy, delicate frame that only added to her elegance despite the fact she was perceived as weak and frail. Her skin was as pale and as smooth as porcelain, making the girl almost look like a china doll, with her short, blonde hair framing her face delicately, not a strand out of place. Her eyes seemed to resemble polished sapphires, glistening in the moonlight, and her lips were ruby red. Her dress draped around her body, fitting perfectly just like a glove to a hand.The skirt was fashioned out of smooth, milky white, frothy organza that reached her knees. A satin sash pulled in her waist, making it looking smaller than it already was. The bodice of her simple yet glamorous dress was encrusted with tiny little gems and beads that caught the soft moonlight and glowed. The girl walked with the grace of a nimble gazelle and was as bewitching as a peacock showing off her beautiful feathers.

The girl, known as Pearl, had never felt more terrified and insecure. All her life, she had spoken every word strongly and surely, each command strong. Now, for the first time in her life she found herself faced with uncertainty.

The moment she’d volunteered for the elemental games, everyone had been so certain that she would return victorious, and had completely disregarded the rest of the competition. And despite all their words of encouragement, she knew that she was incapable of winning. Which was the main reason for her sneaking out in the middle of the night for a calm walk in the woods.

She let out a sigh and leaned against a tree, the scent of petrichor infiltrating her nostrils. Terrified, she thought of the upcoming morning. There would be tears and goodbyes as she departed for the games, no doubt about it, but she couldn’t help but feel that she might never see any of her family or friends ever again.

Suddenly, an arrow nicked her ear as it flew past, thudding into a nearby tree. Pearl was immediately alert. No one from her tribe went hunting this late at night, and there could only be one possible explanation. It was an invasion.

But then, Pearl thought in a moment of confusion, Why aren't there any horses? Where is the army? The soldiers adorned in shining silver armor should have been visible under the light of the moon.

She trembled as she attempted to come up with an explanation. But before she could form a single thought, a tall figure leapt over the brush in front of her, landing with a light thud, so soft she barely heard it. She automatically reached for her knife, but realized that she was unarmed, wearing only a thin nightgown. There was only one option, she realized as the figure nocked an arrow. She turned and fled into the darkness.

She heard the whizzing sound, and she rolled on the forest floor as five arrows sailed overhead. Her thoughts raced as she ran. No archer she knew could shoot that many arrows in one shot, and there was no possible explanation nor reason some other tribe would send a single man to kill her. That's when it dawned upon her that it was none other than an assassination attempt. This one thought compelled her to move faster.

The assassin wasted no time in following after her. They took to the trees, leaping from branch to branch covering ground ten times quicker than their target. In the faint moonlight that shone through the trees, it was clear to see the girl as she fled towards her village, her nightgown a white beacon in the dark night.

Breathing hard, Pearl came to a halt. She spun around, trying to catch a glimpse of her attacker, but there was no one to be seen around. Relieved, she turned towards her village gates, which was just beyond the edge of the wilderness, no more than a few feet away.

And that's when the arrow pierced her leg. She let out a guttural cry as she collapsed on the forest floor, a pool of blood already forming around her. A hooded figure stepped out of the shadows, and Pearl scrambled up, struggling to see her attacker through the tears that formed in her eyes.

“What do you want?” She cried, as the figure advanced. “Help! Help!”

She threw a desperate look to the edge of the woods. Why was no one coming? Could no guard hear her cries?

The figure laughed, advancing, and Pearl choked back a sob.

“Who are you?” She whispered, staring up into the cold merciless eyes of her killer. She would never get her answer. She gasped as something pierced her lower abdomen. Looking down she saw a knife buried deep inside her stomach. Tears pooled in her eyes, and then she felt something deep inside her give up and turn off. She became limp and motionless, dead in a pool of her own blood.

The hooded figure smirked, before withdrawing a small pendant. She placed it atop the pool of blood and the necklace went from blue to a bright shade of scarlet. She placed it around her neck and a bright flash light illuminated the woods. In the place where the assassin stood a girl that looked exactly like Pearl, blonde hair, green eyes, everything accounted for except for clothing.

She smiled down at the dead body at her feet.

“Isn’t it obvious?” She asked. “I’m Pearl Evelyn Wavecrest of the Water tribe.”

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We are a literary agency seeking fresh talent. In 200 words or more, demonstrate your writing talent. We will be in touch with any and all promising participants throughout the rest of this quarter.
Written by infiniteflame in portal Publishing
When Dusk turns Dark
With no shoes on, she was small. She had quite a willowy, delicate frame that only added to her elegance despite the fact she was perceived as weak and frail. Her skin was as pale and as smooth as porcelain, making the girl almost look like a china doll, with her short, blonde hair framing her face delicately, not a strand out of place. Her eyes seemed to resemble polished sapphires, glistening in the moonlight, and her lips were ruby red. Her dress draped around her body, fitting perfectly just like a glove to a hand.The skirt was fashioned out of smooth, milky white, frothy organza that reached her knees. A satin sash pulled in her waist, making it looking smaller than it already was. The bodice of her simple yet glamorous dress was encrusted with tiny little gems and beads that caught the soft moonlight and glowed. The girl walked with the grace of a nimble gazelle and was as bewitching as a peacock showing off her beautiful feathers.

The girl, known as Pearl, had never felt more terrified and insecure. All her life, she had spoken every word strongly and surely, each command strong. Now, for the first time in her life she found herself faced with uncertainty.

The moment she’d volunteered for the elemental games, everyone had been so certain that she would return victorious, and had completely disregarded the rest of the competition. And despite all their words of encouragement, she knew that she was incapable of winning. Which was the main reason for her sneaking out in the middle of the night for a calm walk in the woods.

She let out a sigh and leaned against a tree, the scent of petrichor infiltrating her nostrils. Terrified, she thought of the upcoming morning. There would be tears and goodbyes as she departed for the games, no doubt about it, but she couldn’t help but feel that she might never see any of her family or friends ever again.

Suddenly, an arrow nicked her ear as it flew past, thudding into a nearby tree. Pearl was immediately alert. No one from her tribe went hunting this late at night, and there could only be one possible explanation. It was an invasion.

But then, Pearl thought in a moment of confusion, Why aren't there any horses? Where is the army? The soldiers adorned in shining silver armor should have been visible under the light of the moon.

She trembled as she attempted to come up with an explanation. But before she could form a single thought, a tall figure leapt over the brush in front of her, landing with a light thud, so soft she barely heard it. She automatically reached for her knife, but realized that she was unarmed, wearing only a thin nightgown. There was only one option, she realized as the figure nocked an arrow. She turned and fled into the darkness.

She heard the whizzing sound, and she rolled on the forest floor as five arrows sailed overhead. Her thoughts raced as she ran. No archer she knew could shoot that many arrows in one shot, and there was no possible explanation nor reason some other tribe would send a single man to kill her. That's when it dawned upon her that it was none other than an assassination attempt. This one thought compelled her to move faster.

The assassin wasted no time in following after her. They took to the trees, leaping from branch to branch covering ground ten times quicker than their target. In the faint moonlight that shone through the trees, it was clear to see the girl as she fled towards her village, her nightgown a white beacon in the dark night.

Breathing hard, Pearl came to a halt. She spun around, trying to catch a glimpse of her attacker, but there was no one to be seen around. Relieved, she turned towards her village gates, which was just beyond the edge of the wilderness, no more than a few feet away.

And that's when the arrow pierced her leg. She let out a guttural cry as she collapsed on the forest floor, a pool of blood already forming around her. A hooded figure stepped out of the shadows, and Pearl scrambled up, struggling to see her attacker through the tears that formed in her eyes.

“What do you want?” She cried, as the figure advanced. “Help! Help!”

She threw a desperate look to the edge of the woods. Why was no one coming? Could no guard hear her cries?

The figure laughed, advancing, and Pearl choked back a sob.

“Who are you?” She whispered, staring up into the cold merciless eyes of her killer. She would never get her answer. She gasped as something pierced her lower abdomen. Looking down she saw a knife buried deep inside her stomach. Tears pooled in her eyes, and then she felt something deep inside her give up and turn off. She became limp and motionless, dead in a pool of her own blood.

The hooded figure smirked, before withdrawing a small pendant. She placed it atop the pool of blood and the necklace went from blue to a bright shade of scarlet. She placed it around her neck and a bright flash light illuminated the woods. In the place where the assassin stood a girl that looked exactly like Pearl, blonde hair, green eyes, everything accounted for except for clothing.

She smiled down at the dead body at her feet.

“Isn’t it obvious?” She asked. “I’m Pearl Evelyn Wavecrest of the Water tribe.”
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Challenge of the Week #58: You are a victim of injustice, write a story about it. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $150. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by StuartJWarren

The Jewel of Chauncey Street

In the American city, somewhere between the Rockies and the Appalachians there lives a woman named Jewel. Jewel started out like many other young girls. She was born, swaddled in a hospital bed by an attendant mother. Then she went home, and from that point forward she was unlike many other girls.

Jewel lived in the part of town filled with older buildings, decades old, with peeling paint and chipped neon signs, flickering in the damp evening air. The mainstreet, Chauncey Street, was filled with ruts and dips, exhausted after the new interstate opened up in the seventies when trucks carrying shipping containers would take it to the onramp and pummel the asphalt to paste. As Mary, a friend of Jewel’s mother, drove them to Harbor Estates, they would bump up and down on the road. Jewel was exhausted and did not wake up. Jewel’s mother didn’t notice them. She only thought about the comfort of the hospital bed, the clean sheets, the regular meals, the attendant nurses, and, most especially, the quiet.

Harbor Estates lay in waiting for them at the end of the road, Chauncey Street. The section eight housing was built in the mid-nineties, replete with a pool and onsite washer and drier. As the car pulled up next to the dim, jaundiced lights, Mary looked into the abyss of the pool’s blackness. A discarded bike was in the center of the wading section, a monument to her despair. As Jewel’s mother exited the car, she could hear the shouting, the yelling, the siren call of languishing women at the peak of orgasm, and the deafening lull of thumping music in the early morning. Mary got out of the car and gave Jewel’s mother a hug. “I’m always here,” she said. And then she left.

The rest of Jewel’s life continued, again, unlike most young girls. Even though she attended a youth club in the day, whilst her mother worked at a variety of fast food restaurants, and at a local hotel under-the-table, and even though Jewel learned how to read and write, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and finger paint along with the other children, Jewel attentively observed the lurid ecosystem of the Harbor Estates. First floor, at the end of the row, along the ground that once was lush with grass but now was a barren parapet of dirt and scattered patches of broken glass, lived Juicy. Juicy was an itinerant businessman, dealing in a rainbow selection of narcotics supplied by the Diablos. Jewel would walk by the apartment as a little girl and hear him talking with his guests. “Shit man, mutha-fuckas think I slinging cheap! You wanna live righteous like Biggie and Tupac, nigga you gats ta pay for it.” Afterwards, Mr. Steven—Jewel didn’t know his last name—walked out distraught and disappointed, shivering, clutching his arms like a stranded climber in a blizzard. “Fuu... fuck you, Juicy. Aww shit… shit! I’m soo fucked up… soo...” Mr. Steven shouted at the door meekly.

Jewel lost her virginity when she was 10, to a boy that lived upstairs, three units over. She couldn’t feel anything. She was numb, feeling the black tar move through her veins like a tingling snake. When she woke up in the hospital, Jewel’s mother was there sobbing. What a burden her mother was, Jewel thought. She was such a piece of shit. Such a helpless piece of shit.

When Jewel was younger, still at the youth club, she remembered the world map carpet. It was large, as big as the room. It was threadbare and stained with sticky, sweet-smelling residue. She liked reading all the names of all the countries. Portugal, Italy, United Kingdom, Egypt, China, Peru, U.S.S.R. She liked all their colors and shapes and sizes. Now, as she held her own baby in her weak arms, she quietly rocked Max to sleep in the early hours of the morning, humming her birthday song, celebrating her 14th year in Harbor Estates alone. Her mother, having sex in the next room with a stranger, finishes quietly. The stranger pays her and walks out of the bedroom. Jewel looked up at the man, frightened, holding Max close. The man wears a nice watch, a wrinkled button down shirt, emblazoned with designer labels. The dark glasses, gold rimmed Aviators, protected him. They covered the portals to his soul so Jewel couldn’t touch him.

When Jewel’s son turned three, her mother was murdered in her bed. Jewel saw nothing because she was out picking up groceries at the local food bank. As the police questioned her with textbook empathy, Jewel was distracted, staring at the gold-rimmed Aviators on the counter. In the best interest of Max, the child-services agent assigned to the case suggested that Jewel put him up for adoption, now that she was unable to take care of him. Looking at Max’s wide innocent eyes, tightly gripping her leg in fear, afraid of the strange men in his house, Jewel agreed. Max was given up, and with him a part of herself.

A few months later, with no money, or job, Jewel walked down the street in the middle of the day. The sun was hot on her back, covered up by a dirty jacket she found in the trash. A kind man earlier that day suggested as she was begging to go to the local half-way home. Jewel nodded absently and reflected. Some had the finesse to be homeless. She had met all of them: Sally, who sang and played a whining electric keyboard for tips. Bill, who bought some camouflage pants at a military surplus store so he could pretend to be a veteran. (But he was a barber for three months in San Diego, during Vietnam, cutting hair for the recruits on base.) Sparkles, who mumbled and shook extra hard when people walked by. Short-Shorts, who just wore shorts and masturbated in public. Jewel didn’t have the finesse. She knew there were better things than this.

The half-way home, it was not much of a home, but an old church, hollowed out. The pews were gone, with bookshelves stocked with donated volumes, discordantly organized, and covering a diverse array of topics, lining the perimeter of the building. Portable cubicles separated the cots laid out in the center of the room, constituting a meager grid of ten by four. When Jewel arrived, a portly, bespectacled woman greeted her. She had a nametag emblazoned on her t-shirt, decorated with glitter and hot glued balls of polka-dot fuzz. Her name was “Pam!” “We offer temporary boarding for three months,” said Pam in a rehearsed voice, as she handed Jewel a clipboard with some string and a pen taped to the end of it. Jewel took the clipboard and scrawled whatever she could and handed it back. Pam gave a cursory glance over the paperwork. “Looks good! Bunk fifteen is open. Enjoy your stay!”

Jewel, haggard and exhausted, trudged to her bunk. She set down her pack of things in the corner of her cubicle and lay down to sleep. She dreamt of Max, and a house to play with him in. When she awoke, it was ten o’clock in the morning the following day.

The half-way home was called, Broken Hearts, Mending Minds. It was ran by a local confederation of churches in the area, as well as some humanitarian organizations at the local university. Two weeks into her stay, Jewel was assigned a social worker volunteer named Jared. Jewel spent most of her time reading in her cubicle. She read a book a day off the shelves, passing the time with dull romance novels and paranoid conspiracy thrillers. So when Jared walked by her cubicle and saw Jewel, he asked her about what she was reading. She held up a pile, smirking, embarrassed. Jared was pretty cute, and clean cut. They were about the same age, Jared probably being a little older. “I read those,” she said, pointing to a stack of paperbacks. “I’m reading this one now.” She handed a volume to Jared. The front cover was missing, but the tattered copyright page read, “Silas Marner.” “George Eliot is a good author. I’m reading one of her other books, Middlemarch, for class,” Jared replied. Jewel shook her head and wondered why a woman would have a name like “George.” It was only later in the day that Jared clarified that George Eliot’s real name was Mary Anne Evans.

At Broken Hearts Mending Minds, Jewel’s time there quickly passed like the wind, but one of Jared’s friends offered to give Jewel a place to stay while she went to night school to get her G.E.D. Jennie, Jewel’s new roommate, was bubbly and confident. She was very religious, and did very religious things all the time, like praying and going to church. That was her thing, and Jennie didn’t talk about it unless Jewel asked a question, which was fairly often. The days at the Harbor Estates seemed now like a distant memory and Jewel gained a few new friends over the weeks. To her surprise, many of Jennie’s friends also have had hard lives. One of them, Saul, lived in his car for a few months because he lost his job taking care of his mother in Bakersfield. Another, Corrine, was date raped freshman year at the university. She saw a therapist now and took Prozac when she got anxiety attacks.

Jewel was afraid she would never see Max again, but she knew that if she went back to school she might be able to one day. With the assistance of grants, now able to get her bachelor’s degree, Jewel worked on getting her degree and helped with Jared at Broken Hearts Mending Minds. Jared graduated last year and was now working on getting his teaching credential. He knew about Max, and had met his foster parents Sami and Josh, Jewel later found out. He was happy and doing well, Jared told her. Jewel nodded absently, sat down on her bed, and cried for an hour, Jennie sitting next to her, hugging her, telling her that everything was okay.

Jewel’s life is not unlike the life of others. She knows this, and feels compelled to do something about it. Jewel knows the cost she has endured, the fortune she has inherited by chance. There is a possibility she might get “religious” too, but she is still figuring that out. For now, Jewel is okay. She feels better. Jared asked her to marry him. And as she sits in the hotel room on her wedding day, surrounded by Jennie and Corrine doing her hair, she can see out the third story window across town, where a rugged road stretches down Chauncey Street and an excavator digs up the earth where the Harbor Estates once stood. They are building a golf course there, she hears. And Jewel thinks of her mother, of Juicy, of Mr. Steven, of the man with the gold rimmed Aviators, of the shouting, the yelling, of the siren call of languishing women, of the yellow jaundiced lights in the cold morning air, of Max… She thinks of her life, stolen from her, and given back, and the opportunity to live again.

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Challenge of the Week #58: You are a victim of injustice, write a story about it. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $150. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by StuartJWarren
The Jewel of Chauncey Street
In the American city, somewhere between the Rockies and the Appalachians there lives a woman named Jewel. Jewel started out like many other young girls. She was born, swaddled in a hospital bed by an attendant mother. Then she went home, and from that point forward she was unlike many other girls.

Jewel lived in the part of town filled with older buildings, decades old, with peeling paint and chipped neon signs, flickering in the damp evening air. The mainstreet, Chauncey Street, was filled with ruts and dips, exhausted after the new interstate opened up in the seventies when trucks carrying shipping containers would take it to the onramp and pummel the asphalt to paste. As Mary, a friend of Jewel’s mother, drove them to Harbor Estates, they would bump up and down on the road. Jewel was exhausted and did not wake up. Jewel’s mother didn’t notice them. She only thought about the comfort of the hospital bed, the clean sheets, the regular meals, the attendant nurses, and, most especially, the quiet.

Harbor Estates lay in waiting for them at the end of the road, Chauncey Street. The section eight housing was built in the mid-nineties, replete with a pool and onsite washer and drier. As the car pulled up next to the dim, jaundiced lights, Mary looked into the abyss of the pool’s blackness. A discarded bike was in the center of the wading section, a monument to her despair. As Jewel’s mother exited the car, she could hear the shouting, the yelling, the siren call of languishing women at the peak of orgasm, and the deafening lull of thumping music in the early morning. Mary got out of the car and gave Jewel’s mother a hug. “I’m always here,” she said. And then she left.

The rest of Jewel’s life continued, again, unlike most young girls. Even though she attended a youth club in the day, whilst her mother worked at a variety of fast food restaurants, and at a local hotel under-the-table, and even though Jewel learned how to read and write, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and finger paint along with the other children, Jewel attentively observed the lurid ecosystem of the Harbor Estates. First floor, at the end of the row, along the ground that once was lush with grass but now was a barren parapet of dirt and scattered patches of broken glass, lived Juicy. Juicy was an itinerant businessman, dealing in a rainbow selection of narcotics supplied by the Diablos. Jewel would walk by the apartment as a little girl and hear him talking with his guests. “Shit man, mutha-fuckas think I slinging cheap! You wanna live righteous like Biggie and Tupac, nigga you gats ta pay for it.” Afterwards, Mr. Steven—Jewel didn’t know his last name—walked out distraught and disappointed, shivering, clutching his arms like a stranded climber in a blizzard. “Fuu... fuck you, Juicy. Aww shit… shit! I’m soo fucked up… soo...” Mr. Steven shouted at the door meekly.

Jewel lost her virginity when she was 10, to a boy that lived upstairs, three units over. She couldn’t feel anything. She was numb, feeling the black tar move through her veins like a tingling snake. When she woke up in the hospital, Jewel’s mother was there sobbing. What a burden her mother was, Jewel thought. She was such a piece of shit. Such a helpless piece of shit.

When Jewel was younger, still at the youth club, she remembered the world map carpet. It was large, as big as the room. It was threadbare and stained with sticky, sweet-smelling residue. She liked reading all the names of all the countries. Portugal, Italy, United Kingdom, Egypt, China, Peru, U.S.S.R. She liked all their colors and shapes and sizes. Now, as she held her own baby in her weak arms, she quietly rocked Max to sleep in the early hours of the morning, humming her birthday song, celebrating her 14th year in Harbor Estates alone. Her mother, having sex in the next room with a stranger, finishes quietly. The stranger pays her and walks out of the bedroom. Jewel looked up at the man, frightened, holding Max close. The man wears a nice watch, a wrinkled button down shirt, emblazoned with designer labels. The dark glasses, gold rimmed Aviators, protected him. They covered the portals to his soul so Jewel couldn’t touch him.

When Jewel’s son turned three, her mother was murdered in her bed. Jewel saw nothing because she was out picking up groceries at the local food bank. As the police questioned her with textbook empathy, Jewel was distracted, staring at the gold-rimmed Aviators on the counter. In the best interest of Max, the child-services agent assigned to the case suggested that Jewel put him up for adoption, now that she was unable to take care of him. Looking at Max’s wide innocent eyes, tightly gripping her leg in fear, afraid of the strange men in his house, Jewel agreed. Max was given up, and with him a part of herself.

A few months later, with no money, or job, Jewel walked down the street in the middle of the day. The sun was hot on her back, covered up by a dirty jacket she found in the trash. A kind man earlier that day suggested as she was begging to go to the local half-way home. Jewel nodded absently and reflected. Some had the finesse to be homeless. She had met all of them: Sally, who sang and played a whining electric keyboard for tips. Bill, who bought some camouflage pants at a military surplus store so he could pretend to be a veteran. (But he was a barber for three months in San Diego, during Vietnam, cutting hair for the recruits on base.) Sparkles, who mumbled and shook extra hard when people walked by. Short-Shorts, who just wore shorts and masturbated in public. Jewel didn’t have the finesse. She knew there were better things than this.

The half-way home, it was not much of a home, but an old church, hollowed out. The pews were gone, with bookshelves stocked with donated volumes, discordantly organized, and covering a diverse array of topics, lining the perimeter of the building. Portable cubicles separated the cots laid out in the center of the room, constituting a meager grid of ten by four. When Jewel arrived, a portly, bespectacled woman greeted her. She had a nametag emblazoned on her t-shirt, decorated with glitter and hot glued balls of polka-dot fuzz. Her name was “Pam!” “We offer temporary boarding for three months,” said Pam in a rehearsed voice, as she handed Jewel a clipboard with some string and a pen taped to the end of it. Jewel took the clipboard and scrawled whatever she could and handed it back. Pam gave a cursory glance over the paperwork. “Looks good! Bunk fifteen is open. Enjoy your stay!”

Jewel, haggard and exhausted, trudged to her bunk. She set down her pack of things in the corner of her cubicle and lay down to sleep. She dreamt of Max, and a house to play with him in. When she awoke, it was ten o’clock in the morning the following day.

The half-way home was called, Broken Hearts, Mending Minds. It was ran by a local confederation of churches in the area, as well as some humanitarian organizations at the local university. Two weeks into her stay, Jewel was assigned a social worker volunteer named Jared. Jewel spent most of her time reading in her cubicle. She read a book a day off the shelves, passing the time with dull romance novels and paranoid conspiracy thrillers. So when Jared walked by her cubicle and saw Jewel, he asked her about what she was reading. She held up a pile, smirking, embarrassed. Jared was pretty cute, and clean cut. They were about the same age, Jared probably being a little older. “I read those,” she said, pointing to a stack of paperbacks. “I’m reading this one now.” She handed a volume to Jared. The front cover was missing, but the tattered copyright page read, “Silas Marner.” “George Eliot is a good author. I’m reading one of her other books, Middlemarch, for class,” Jared replied. Jewel shook her head and wondered why a woman would have a name like “George.” It was only later in the day that Jared clarified that George Eliot’s real name was Mary Anne Evans.

At Broken Hearts Mending Minds, Jewel’s time there quickly passed like the wind, but one of Jared’s friends offered to give Jewel a place to stay while she went to night school to get her G.E.D. Jennie, Jewel’s new roommate, was bubbly and confident. She was very religious, and did very religious things all the time, like praying and going to church. That was her thing, and Jennie didn’t talk about it unless Jewel asked a question, which was fairly often. The days at the Harbor Estates seemed now like a distant memory and Jewel gained a few new friends over the weeks. To her surprise, many of Jennie’s friends also have had hard lives. One of them, Saul, lived in his car for a few months because he lost his job taking care of his mother in Bakersfield. Another, Corrine, was date raped freshman year at the university. She saw a therapist now and took Prozac when she got anxiety attacks.

Jewel was afraid she would never see Max again, but she knew that if she went back to school she might be able to one day. With the assistance of grants, now able to get her bachelor’s degree, Jewel worked on getting her degree and helped with Jared at Broken Hearts Mending Minds. Jared graduated last year and was now working on getting his teaching credential. He knew about Max, and had met his foster parents Sami and Josh, Jewel later found out. He was happy and doing well, Jared told her. Jewel nodded absently, sat down on her bed, and cried for an hour, Jennie sitting next to her, hugging her, telling her that everything was okay.

Jewel’s life is not unlike the life of others. She knows this, and feels compelled to do something about it. Jewel knows the cost she has endured, the fortune she has inherited by chance. There is a possibility she might get “religious” too, but she is still figuring that out. For now, Jewel is okay. She feels better. Jared asked her to marry him. And as she sits in the hotel room on her wedding day, surrounded by Jennie and Corrine doing her hair, she can see out the third story window across town, where a rugged road stretches down Chauncey Street and an excavator digs up the earth where the Harbor Estates once stood. They are building a golf course there, she hears. And Jewel thinks of her mother, of Juicy, of Mr. Steven, of the man with the gold rimmed Aviators, of the shouting, the yelling, of the siren call of languishing women, of the yellow jaundiced lights in the cold morning air, of Max… She thinks of her life, stolen from her, and given back, and the opportunity to live again.



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It's record-breaking time. Together, we are going to break the world record for longest book. 100 word minimum. When this challenge gets 15,000 entries, it will expire, and we will turn it into a book. Each entry will be its own chapter. The plot? It’s the first day of a zombie apocalypse, write a diary entry. Each contributor should share this challenge prompt with as many people as possible. If we break the world record, this will be read by people for generations to come.
Written by desmondwrite

Ren Rats

Today, we crossed a field of grass bordered by the black-and-yellow bark of Ponderosa pine, and we stopped and took it in. The sun-through-the-clouds coated us in a bluefire, and when I looked at my friends, at Jo and his plate-mail, at Lobard and his mad beard, and they at me, in my deep cloak with a celtic braid, holding a longbow, we had to laugh. It seemed exactly like we were a fellowship for some quest, maybe to steal from a gluttonous dragon, or to stop a cult from resurrecting their dead god, not a couple of Ren Rats surveying the clump of trees behind the parking lot.

"I don't see any signs," said Lobard, plucking some fern. "Don't smell them, either."

I remember taking a sweet breath, feeling the wetness in the air and the aged-wood and butterscotch of pine. Relishing in the thought: the dead aren't here yet.

Luckily, they avoid the mountains, or maybe the crevices and roots tear off their feet, slow their advance. In any case, we barely encounter them, only hear the reports on the radio (neither WIFI or TV work anymore) or from the dirty, scared families that claw at our gates, screaming, "let us in, let us in," despite the fields behind them devoid of monsters. We do, too, after a few jests. It's the cruelest thing we do. I often participate.

I know I'm supposed to be depressed, or scrounging for survival, or finding life's little moments denied by overwhelming misery and chaos. But the plague has been a blessing in disguise for the Renaissance Faire. Without the glazed donuts of American capitalism, without weekends selling ourselves to abused parents and abusive children high on kennel popcorn and soda, without weeks spent in workshops painting wooden shields and hammering metal roses, without eye-rolls and mean laughs at monks pushing cheesecake carts and knights reciting poetry, without the most common, most stupid questions, like "Do people really buy this shit?" and "Why is this shit so expensive?"

Without the normal, we are free to be weird. And it is free to be weird. All our concerns have taken on the technical difficulties once held by a fifteenth-century European village. Food production, justice, border security, tradition. The exact concerns most of my people dreamed about in the first place, and had put aside to sell dragon-egg earrings to Game of Thrones fans.

Naturally, we don't toss our poop in the streets. But we don't use the restrooms, either. Things have become economical in a tightened, smart kind of way, and beyond economy, we are an extended version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's lovely.

We came back through the gates, and after Roderick (not his birth name) checked us for bites and wrote down our report, Jo gave Lombard a kiss on the cheek, they're cute like that, and we went our separate ways. Would it be bad if I told you that as I headed for the shop I started to have depressing thoughts? I know how unoriginal this sounds but: Winter is Coming. In what, less than half a year? What will we do then? Jo seems to think the dead will follow the fur-scent of coyotes and deer, and find it easier to climb the deep, compact snow. And I keep having this pitiful image of a bear who was sleeping peacefully in her cave waking up to a rotten human feeding on her leg. Maybe happening a few times, until the bear rolls her eyes and dies.

Until then, we will salt our meat and play pretend and laugh at the small-mindedness of the dead. We won't let them in until they come crawling over the walls.

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It's record-breaking time. Together, we are going to break the world record for longest book. 100 word minimum. When this challenge gets 15,000 entries, it will expire, and we will turn it into a book. Each entry will be its own chapter. The plot? It’s the first day of a zombie apocalypse, write a diary entry. Each contributor should share this challenge prompt with as many people as possible. If we break the world record, this will be read by people for generations to come.
Written by desmondwrite
Ren Rats
Today, we crossed a field of grass bordered by the black-and-yellow bark of Ponderosa pine, and we stopped and took it in. The sun-through-the-clouds coated us in a bluefire, and when I looked at my friends, at Jo and his plate-mail, at Lobard and his mad beard, and they at me, in my deep cloak with a celtic braid, holding a longbow, we had to laugh. It seemed exactly like we were a fellowship for some quest, maybe to steal from a gluttonous dragon, or to stop a cult from resurrecting their dead god, not a couple of Ren Rats surveying the clump of trees behind the parking lot.

"I don't see any signs," said Lobard, plucking some fern. "Don't smell them, either."

I remember taking a sweet breath, feeling the wetness in the air and the aged-wood and butterscotch of pine. Relishing in the thought: the dead aren't here yet.

Luckily, they avoid the mountains, or maybe the crevices and roots tear off their feet, slow their advance. In any case, we barely encounter them, only hear the reports on the radio (neither WIFI or TV work anymore) or from the dirty, scared families that claw at our gates, screaming, "let us in, let us in," despite the fields behind them devoid of monsters. We do, too, after a few jests. It's the cruelest thing we do. I often participate.

I know I'm supposed to be depressed, or scrounging for survival, or finding life's little moments denied by overwhelming misery and chaos. But the plague has been a blessing in disguise for the Renaissance Faire. Without the glazed donuts of American capitalism, without weekends selling ourselves to abused parents and abusive children high on kennel popcorn and soda, without weeks spent in workshops painting wooden shields and hammering metal roses, without eye-rolls and mean laughs at monks pushing cheesecake carts and knights reciting poetry, without the most common, most stupid questions, like "Do people really buy this shit?" and "Why is this shit so expensive?"

Without the normal, we are free to be weird. And it is free to be weird. All our concerns have taken on the technical difficulties once held by a fifteenth-century European village. Food production, justice, border security, tradition. The exact concerns most of my people dreamed about in the first place, and had put aside to sell dragon-egg earrings to Game of Thrones fans.

Naturally, we don't toss our poop in the streets. But we don't use the restrooms, either. Things have become economical in a tightened, smart kind of way, and beyond economy, we are an extended version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's lovely.

We came back through the gates, and after Roderick (not his birth name) checked us for bites and wrote down our report, Jo gave Lombard a kiss on the cheek, they're cute like that, and we went our separate ways. Would it be bad if I told you that as I headed for the shop I started to have depressing thoughts? I know how unoriginal this sounds but: Winter is Coming. In what, less than half a year? What will we do then? Jo seems to think the dead will follow the fur-scent of coyotes and deer, and find it easier to climb the deep, compact snow. And I keep having this pitiful image of a bear who was sleeping peacefully in her cave waking up to a rotten human feeding on her leg. Maybe happening a few times, until the bear rolls her eyes and dies.

Until then, we will salt our meat and play pretend and laugh at the small-mindedness of the dead. We won't let them in until they come crawling over the walls.
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In celebration of the March 28 release of my latest book, FROM ICE TO ASHES (about the birth of a rebellion on Saturn's moon Titan), I'm putting this challenge forth. Tell a story of a rebellion against Earth by an offworld colony. The person whose story moves me most gets digital copies of every scifi book I've ever published. I'll also do a thorough critique of a short story for the winner. Two runners-up get digital copies of FROM ICE TO ASHES. Visit www.rhettbruno.com for more info.
Written by Broken-Toe in portal Sci-Fi

The Golden City

"...and each with his

weapon for smashing."

                                                Ezekiel 9:...

Chapter Eight

Abandonment

 Key·ol·te·ton and his men overlooked the desolate plateau below with caution. Deep in the territory of the Nephraceetan, high on a rocky crag, the Mammoth-men studied the pulsating glow in the middle of the third terrace. Mesmerized by the scene, the mystic dance of radiance twirled and weaved in its colorful, pattern-less array. Seductively it called out to the men’s senses of wonder and yet at the same time they feared the unknown of its magic. This was the most sacred of places. Only the gods were welcomed here. The Sanctuary, — The Light emanating from the very heart of the Forbidden Terraces, guarded by the monstrous ghouls, The Nephraceetan.

Brother, we have traveled too far north since we left the soft-skins,” whispered Zee·ya. The panic in the medicine man’s voice was unusual. “We should of turned south weeks ago. Surely no one would have been foolish enough to bring the Beloved this deep into the dark world of the cannibals?”

Our own spies confirmed the tavern owner’s story that the kidnappers were bringing her to the devils as an offering.”

No one strikes a bargain with the devils. They are beyond reason.”

“Shhh!” Key·ol·te·ton answered as he cautiously lessened his exposure behind the large outcropping of granite while keeping his full focus on the changing scene below.

Zee·ya froze in horror.

*      *      *

The small contingent of transparent forms moved as phantoms in the twilight hours through the primeval woodland. Only a rare sign marked their passing. A few prints with razor sharp talons pushed into the rotting debris of the forest floor. Here-and-there, a singular dewclaw scarred the earth as it gripped the unstable terrain like an opposable thumb.

The occasional roar of a big cat and the squeal of prey, or the thunderous trumpeting of an angry pachyderm hinted of the dangers of this foreboding world; but the ghostly forms seemed indifferent to the unnerving sounds of the fierce denizens.

Apparitions on a quest, the aliens stalked through the matted vegetation. They were Marshals,— Guardians on a mission. Soldiers of the Empire sent to reclaim a critical outpost on the fringes of the realm.

Ahead, somewhere in the heavy growth, their destination lay hidden,— abandoned long ago on this forgotten world after the galactic upheaval that lost this sector of space to insurgents. Hopefully, after the onslaught of some of the heaviest fighting of the insurrection; the treasure-trove of scientific research was still intact, — and with it, an antidote.

The alien Prince stepped into the clearing and solidified as silent as a disembodied spirit taking form. The cloak, — a mere tool in his arsenal against a resourceful enemy, had served its purpose. The locator signal on the giant’s visual array marked arrival at the coordinates as he inspected the passage of dancing light far ahead on the mountain plateau.  Numerous trees broke up the features of the flat landscape ahead; a haphazard smattering of dead and barren shapes that prevented a clear view of the energy source.

Subordinates materialized in defensive positions around their commander.—— Ignoring the science, it was a haunting display of magic as the mystic warriors stood; the stone hewn features of the Guardians' imprinting images of ancient centaurs in the soft hue of the single moon’s glow.

The contoured horns of each war-helmet gracefully shadowed the large bulging eyes of the masks that were as black as the surrounding night. Deep within the dark glossy orbs, radiated small pupils locked on their destination; the burning embers peeking out through the doors of hell. Gnarled cords of hair, a tangled mass of disjointed, twitching, spider-like legs, veiled the back of the neck and draped over the heavily sinewed shoulders. Light chain-mail, girded at the waist by a thick belt served the duel purpose of protection in battle and field generation for the cloak.

For hand-to-hand combat, heavy gauntlets shielded forearms and each warrior carried a unique weapon of choice besides knives of varying lengths: single and double edged swords; saber, trident, spear, battle-ax, and war-hammer.

The Prince alone, standing a full head taller then his subordinates, carried a quarter-staff. Fingers with daggered talons held the stout metallic shaft as corded sinews rippled under the giant’s adjusting grip. Strength was a characteristic bequeathed to all the warriors; but the long tusks protruding from under each mask appeared the most formidable of their natural weapons.

A fearsome contingent of soldiers, these were the pride of the royal house and sworn sentinels to their leader;— the giant, Cal·mic·kay, — “The Destroyer,” foremost prince of the Guardian Empire.

The giant triggered his targeting sensors, and scanned the doorway ahead. The waves of light emanating from the entrance seemed to twirl and spin like rays from a sun reflecting off the rippling surface of a stream. Go from this place, they warned hypnotically. The rhythmic power source from within hummed and vibrated,— cautioning — Leave or Die, to any life-form.

Pulling a small black box from his belt, the Prince transmitted the appropriate frequencies to unlock the safeguards, and motioned his sentinels forward.

They walked into the sparse, almost barren grove. A haunting mystique of evil shrouded the ancient courtyard, —most of the scattered trees, dead and withered. Repugnant, shriveled fruit clung to a few gnarled branches, hanging abandoned, — the mummified remains of lost prosperity.

They neared the gateway and static filled the air. The presence of ozone readings scrolled down on the officers’ visual arrays doubling as mask visors.

Why is the shield still on?” Cal·mic·kay raised a hand stopping the advance. 

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In celebration of the March 28 release of my latest book, FROM ICE TO ASHES (about the birth of a rebellion on Saturn's moon Titan), I'm putting this challenge forth. Tell a story of a rebellion against Earth by an offworld colony. The person whose story moves me most gets digital copies of every scifi book I've ever published. I'll also do a thorough critique of a short story for the winner. Two runners-up get digital copies of FROM ICE TO ASHES. Visit www.rhettbruno.com for more info.
Written by Broken-Toe in portal Sci-Fi
The Golden City
"...and each with his
weapon for smashing."
                                                Ezekiel 9:...
Chapter Eight
Abandonment

 Key·ol·te·ton and his men overlooked the desolate plateau below with caution. Deep in the territory of the Nephraceetan, high on a rocky crag, the Mammoth-men studied the pulsating glow in the middle of the third terrace. Mesmerized by the scene, the mystic dance of radiance twirled and weaved in its colorful, pattern-less array. Seductively it called out to the men’s senses of wonder and yet at the same time they feared the unknown of its magic. This was the most sacred of places. Only the gods were welcomed here. The Sanctuary, — The Light emanating from the very heart of the Forbidden Terraces, guarded by the monstrous ghouls, The Nephraceetan.

Brother, we have traveled too far north since we left the soft-skins,” whispered Zee·ya. The panic in the medicine man’s voice was unusual. “We should of turned south weeks ago. Surely no one would have been foolish enough to bring the Beloved this deep into the dark world of the cannibals?”

Our own spies confirmed the tavern owner’s story that the kidnappers were bringing her to the devils as an offering.”

No one strikes a bargain with the devils. They are beyond reason.”

“Shhh!” Key·ol·te·ton answered as he cautiously lessened his exposure behind the large outcropping of granite while keeping his full focus on the changing scene below.

Zee·ya froze in horror.


*      *      *

The small contingent of transparent forms moved as phantoms in the twilight hours through the primeval woodland. Only a rare sign marked their passing. A few prints with razor sharp talons pushed into the rotting debris of the forest floor. Here-and-there, a singular dewclaw scarred the earth as it gripped the unstable terrain like an opposable thumb.

The occasional roar of a big cat and the squeal of prey, or the thunderous trumpeting of an angry pachyderm hinted of the dangers of this foreboding world; but the ghostly forms seemed indifferent to the unnerving sounds of the fierce denizens.

Apparitions on a quest, the aliens stalked through the matted vegetation. They were Marshals,— Guardians on a mission. Soldiers of the Empire sent to reclaim a critical outpost on the fringes of the realm.

Ahead, somewhere in the heavy growth, their destination lay hidden,— abandoned long ago on this forgotten world after the galactic upheaval that lost this sector of space to insurgents. Hopefully, after the onslaught of some of the heaviest fighting of the insurrection; the treasure-trove of scientific research was still intact, — and with it, an antidote.

The alien Prince stepped into the clearing and solidified as silent as a disembodied spirit taking form. The cloak, — a mere tool in his arsenal against a resourceful enemy, had served its purpose. The locator signal on the giant’s visual array marked arrival at the coordinates as he inspected the passage of dancing light far ahead on the mountain plateau.  Numerous trees broke up the features of the flat landscape ahead; a haphazard smattering of dead and barren shapes that prevented a clear view of the energy source.

Subordinates materialized in defensive positions around their commander.—— Ignoring the science, it was a haunting display of magic as the mystic warriors stood; the stone hewn features of the Guardians' imprinting images of ancient centaurs in the soft hue of the single moon’s glow.

The contoured horns of each war-helmet gracefully shadowed the large bulging eyes of the masks that were as black as the surrounding night. Deep within the dark glossy orbs, radiated small pupils locked on their destination; the burning embers peeking out through the doors of hell. Gnarled cords of hair, a tangled mass of disjointed, twitching, spider-like legs, veiled the back of the neck and draped over the heavily sinewed shoulders. Light chain-mail, girded at the waist by a thick belt served the duel purpose of protection in battle and field generation for the cloak.

For hand-to-hand combat, heavy gauntlets shielded forearms and each warrior carried a unique weapon of choice besides knives of varying lengths: single and double edged swords; saber, trident, spear, battle-ax, and war-hammer.

The Prince alone, standing a full head taller then his subordinates, carried a quarter-staff. Fingers with daggered talons held the stout metallic shaft as corded sinews rippled under the giant’s adjusting grip. Strength was a characteristic bequeathed to all the warriors; but the long tusks protruding from under each mask appeared the most formidable of their natural weapons.

A fearsome contingent of soldiers, these were the pride of the royal house and sworn sentinels to their leader;— the giant, Cal·mic·kay, — “The Destroyer,” foremost prince of the Guardian Empire.

The giant triggered his targeting sensors, and scanned the doorway ahead. The waves of light emanating from the entrance seemed to twirl and spin like rays from a sun reflecting off the rippling surface of a stream. Go from this place, they warned hypnotically. The rhythmic power source from within hummed and vibrated,— cautioning — Leave or Die, to any life-form.

Pulling a small black box from his belt, the Prince transmitted the appropriate frequencies to unlock the safeguards, and motioned his sentinels forward.

They walked into the sparse, almost barren grove. A haunting mystique of evil shrouded the ancient courtyard, —most of the scattered trees, dead and withered. Repugnant, shriveled fruit clung to a few gnarled branches, hanging abandoned, — the mummified remains of lost prosperity.

They neared the gateway and static filled the air. The presence of ozone readings scrolled down on the officers’ visual arrays doubling as mask visors.

Why is the shield still on?” Cal·mic·kay raised a hand stopping the advance. 


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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by LukeNathan in portal Fiction

The Hope of Humanity

A horrendous beeping sound went from zero to sixty on the decibel scale in my ear drums and sent me reeling from a presumably peaceful sleep. The flesh around my eyes pounded and constricted as the popcorn-textured ceiling of my bedroom came into focus, and I swung my arm to where I knew the alarm clock sat on my bedside table. My hand slammed against the table, a near miss; so I slid it frantically about in search of the source of that repulsive noise that wouldn’t quit harping. With a stroke of poor luck, I felt the clock against the side of my hand as it tipped over the edge of the table and hit the hard floor below; unfortunately, the beeping didn’t stop.

“Fine, I’m up!” I shouted as I threw off the covers and reached down to shut off that contraption of torture. I let the cold, wooden floor shock me with each step while I made my way to the bathroom a few paces away. The tiles in there weren’t any warmer, but I resolved to keep my composure as I stood over the toilet and let the previous night’s libations empty into the bowl with a roar.

“Agenda for today . . .” I thought aloud, and vocally went through my schedule while staring into the mirror at my graying morning shadow and my receding hairline. The shine off of my larger-than-yesterday forehead was enough to make my eyes squint, so I turned away in disgust, resigned to the fact that I would never have a full head of hair again.

After dressing and brushing my teeth, I pulled on my sneakers and grabbed an apple from the bowl on the counter as I walked out the door of my apartment. Dave, the strange, Chihuahua-loving neighbor across the hall had left his small, malnourished dog tied up outside of his door. It looked up at me with sad, dark eyes that screamed at me to cut that leash and save it from a pet’s life of ridicule; but I just gave a weird nod in return and headed down the stairs, unsatisfied with my ability to act on my virtuous convictions.

The sun seemed brighter than normal when I exited my cave-like apartment complex. I walked to my car and dug around in every crevice and compartment for a pair of sunglasses, but none were found.

“Blind it is,” I grumbled, turning the ignition and wincing at the screech that preceded the roar. My car had seen better days. In fact, it was so old it had seen more better days than I’d been alive. But it was paid off and it still ran like a champ (a stubborn, aging champ who should have retired years ago but can’t let go of the glory-day montage that constantly plays in its head) so I tried not to be too hard on it. I flipped on the radio and sputtered down the road toward my favorite breakfast spot, a cheap little diner that my friend Ronnie owned. It had that down-home feel: greasy enough to make you vomit as soon as you walked in and then again after you finished your meal, but delicious enough to make you want to come back and do it all again.

As I made my way through town, a left, a right, another left, I began to notice something strangely eerie: there were no cars anywhere. There were no people either. None of the shops or restaurants or businesses were lit up or bustling. It felt like I was the only thing on earth that was moving; not even the air moved.

I pulled into a parking spot in front of Ronnie’s; I was the only car in the lot. I rolled down my window and listened for anything: distant car noise, honking, birds chirping, wind blowing. Nothing.

Now I was really starting to freak out. I knew deep down that it was probably just an overreaction spawned by all of the sci-fi and dystopian movies I watched, but it was just unreal. I got out of the car, slower than I meant to, and walked up to the front door of the diner. But as my fingers felt the cold metal of the handle, I noticed something. The sign on the door said, “CLOSED SUNDAYS.”

My heart lifted. My breath returned. I felt a chuckle roll up into my throat and out of my mouth. I checked my watch. It was 5:30 AM on a Sunday.

I felt just short of brain dead, and turned around to get in my car, a smile glued on my flushed face. And that’s when it hit.

A flash of light.

A jolt.

I wake up with my face in a puddle of my own drool, plastered to a concrete floor. My hands find their place and I slowly lift myself up. Immediately my head is cracking down the center like dried-up earth, and I reach for it with one hand as I flip into a sitting position. Was I dreaming? Or am I dreaming now?

There is only one light in this room but it’s glaring at me with an unrelenting burn. I peer through my spread fingers toward the source of the light, and see that it’s just a small light bulb screwed into a fixture on the ceiling, a long chain dangling beneath it, still swaying like it was just pulled.

It takes all of my strength to stumble to my feet, and I reach out for something, anything, to support me. And there it is, a wall, just to my right. I scowl and scan the space that I’m in. It’s a smaller room than I first thought; maybe six feet by eight feet. The chain from the light fixture tickles my forehead as I stand to full height.

“Where am I?”

The sound of my own voice frightens me. It doesn’t sound like me, certainly not the confident, articulate, speech-giving me. It’s a more reserved, uneasy, prepubescent me. And the acoustics are in a vacuum, like one of those hearing-test booths. I reach out around the box, feeling the soft, cushioned walls. They begin to close in on me, slowly, and the light flickers, as if to confirm my deepest fear, that I’m going to die in here, that I should have been dead already. And then my hand finds it, and the box goes back to normal. A door handle sits low on one side, and I squeeze it with what little strength that I have, the hope pouring back into me.

When I open the door, the daylight blinds me. My arms cover my face but it does no good, and I stand there spinning for a good three minutes. When my eyes finally adjust, they move deliberately, inhumanly, taking in the sight around me. And then the stench, that stench of soured milk and rotting flesh, that sweet, sacred scent of death, fills my nose and I try not to breath, try not to be. Bodies lie all around me, but they’re not bodies like mine; they are decomposed and dismembered, with bits and pieces torn away like tufts of hair on a mangy dog so that their skulls and ribs and femurs show. Their faces are frozen in shock and horror, pleading with me to save them from their hellish ends. I look beyond the bodies and see piles of rubble and twisted iron and door frames missing walls and cars missing tires. There is no pattern to anything, only remnants of structure and order. The sky is sagging with dark clouds that swirl and rumble, and the air is stagnant and heavy, and the horizon blurs into a black mass that grows larger each second that I stare.

My knees suddenly give, and I find myself back on the ground, clawing the dirt, gasping for breath, fighting away sobs and shouts that come anyway.

“What the hell is happening!” I scream until my throat cracks and my voice sputters out. I fall against the hard, dry ground and cover my face, hoping for it to end, waiting for myself to wake up in my bed to that horrible, merciful beeping.

But I don’t wake up, and I don’t fall asleep. I find a metallic band in front of my face, wrapped tightly around my wrist. Its presence doesn’t shock me, as if I knew it was there all along. I focus on the lettering: “PUSH.”

The wristband snaps open, revealing a crisp, white, lined piece of notebook paper folded up inside. My hands shake uncontrollably as I pry it open and hold it into my face.

'Dr. Stole,

If you are reading this, you have successfully made it to an unspecified date in the distant future. Back in the time you came from, humanity is on the brink of something indescribable, something more threatening than ever before. You must collect all data that you can in hopes of discovering a solution. You must return via the time capsule that you awoke in. The instructions for operation are on the other side of this letter. Good luck, people are counting on you. See you soon.

-Dr. Stole.'

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by LukeNathan in portal Fiction
The Hope of Humanity
A horrendous beeping sound went from zero to sixty on the decibel scale in my ear drums and sent me reeling from a presumably peaceful sleep. The flesh around my eyes pounded and constricted as the popcorn-textured ceiling of my bedroom came into focus, and I swung my arm to where I knew the alarm clock sat on my bedside table. My hand slammed against the table, a near miss; so I slid it frantically about in search of the source of that repulsive noise that wouldn’t quit harping. With a stroke of poor luck, I felt the clock against the side of my hand as it tipped over the edge of the table and hit the hard floor below; unfortunately, the beeping didn’t stop.

“Fine, I’m up!” I shouted as I threw off the covers and reached down to shut off that contraption of torture. I let the cold, wooden floor shock me with each step while I made my way to the bathroom a few paces away. The tiles in there weren’t any warmer, but I resolved to keep my composure as I stood over the toilet and let the previous night’s libations empty into the bowl with a roar.

“Agenda for today . . .” I thought aloud, and vocally went through my schedule while staring into the mirror at my graying morning shadow and my receding hairline. The shine off of my larger-than-yesterday forehead was enough to make my eyes squint, so I turned away in disgust, resigned to the fact that I would never have a full head of hair again.

After dressing and brushing my teeth, I pulled on my sneakers and grabbed an apple from the bowl on the counter as I walked out the door of my apartment. Dave, the strange, Chihuahua-loving neighbor across the hall had left his small, malnourished dog tied up outside of his door. It looked up at me with sad, dark eyes that screamed at me to cut that leash and save it from a pet’s life of ridicule; but I just gave a weird nod in return and headed down the stairs, unsatisfied with my ability to act on my virtuous convictions.

The sun seemed brighter than normal when I exited my cave-like apartment complex. I walked to my car and dug around in every crevice and compartment for a pair of sunglasses, but none were found.

“Blind it is,” I grumbled, turning the ignition and wincing at the screech that preceded the roar. My car had seen better days. In fact, it was so old it had seen more better days than I’d been alive. But it was paid off and it still ran like a champ (a stubborn, aging champ who should have retired years ago but can’t let go of the glory-day montage that constantly plays in its head) so I tried not to be too hard on it. I flipped on the radio and sputtered down the road toward my favorite breakfast spot, a cheap little diner that my friend Ronnie owned. It had that down-home feel: greasy enough to make you vomit as soon as you walked in and then again after you finished your meal, but delicious enough to make you want to come back and do it all again.

As I made my way through town, a left, a right, another left, I began to notice something strangely eerie: there were no cars anywhere. There were no people either. None of the shops or restaurants or businesses were lit up or bustling. It felt like I was the only thing on earth that was moving; not even the air moved.

I pulled into a parking spot in front of Ronnie’s; I was the only car in the lot. I rolled down my window and listened for anything: distant car noise, honking, birds chirping, wind blowing. Nothing.

Now I was really starting to freak out. I knew deep down that it was probably just an overreaction spawned by all of the sci-fi and dystopian movies I watched, but it was just unreal. I got out of the car, slower than I meant to, and walked up to the front door of the diner. But as my fingers felt the cold metal of the handle, I noticed something. The sign on the door said, “CLOSED SUNDAYS.”

My heart lifted. My breath returned. I felt a chuckle roll up into my throat and out of my mouth. I checked my watch. It was 5:30 AM on a Sunday.

I felt just short of brain dead, and turned around to get in my car, a smile glued on my flushed face. And that’s when it hit.

A flash of light.

A jolt.

I wake up with my face in a puddle of my own drool, plastered to a concrete floor. My hands find their place and I slowly lift myself up. Immediately my head is cracking down the center like dried-up earth, and I reach for it with one hand as I flip into a sitting position. Was I dreaming? Or am I dreaming now?

There is only one light in this room but it’s glaring at me with an unrelenting burn. I peer through my spread fingers toward the source of the light, and see that it’s just a small light bulb screwed into a fixture on the ceiling, a long chain dangling beneath it, still swaying like it was just pulled.

It takes all of my strength to stumble to my feet, and I reach out for something, anything, to support me. And there it is, a wall, just to my right. I scowl and scan the space that I’m in. It’s a smaller room than I first thought; maybe six feet by eight feet. The chain from the light fixture tickles my forehead as I stand to full height.

“Where am I?”

The sound of my own voice frightens me. It doesn’t sound like me, certainly not the confident, articulate, speech-giving me. It’s a more reserved, uneasy, prepubescent me. And the acoustics are in a vacuum, like one of those hearing-test booths. I reach out around the box, feeling the soft, cushioned walls. They begin to close in on me, slowly, and the light flickers, as if to confirm my deepest fear, that I’m going to die in here, that I should have been dead already. And then my hand finds it, and the box goes back to normal. A door handle sits low on one side, and I squeeze it with what little strength that I have, the hope pouring back into me.

When I open the door, the daylight blinds me. My arms cover my face but it does no good, and I stand there spinning for a good three minutes. When my eyes finally adjust, they move deliberately, inhumanly, taking in the sight around me. And then the stench, that stench of soured milk and rotting flesh, that sweet, sacred scent of death, fills my nose and I try not to breath, try not to be. Bodies lie all around me, but they’re not bodies like mine; they are decomposed and dismembered, with bits and pieces torn away like tufts of hair on a mangy dog so that their skulls and ribs and femurs show. Their faces are frozen in shock and horror, pleading with me to save them from their hellish ends. I look beyond the bodies and see piles of rubble and twisted iron and door frames missing walls and cars missing tires. There is no pattern to anything, only remnants of structure and order. The sky is sagging with dark clouds that swirl and rumble, and the air is stagnant and heavy, and the horizon blurs into a black mass that grows larger each second that I stare.

My knees suddenly give, and I find myself back on the ground, clawing the dirt, gasping for breath, fighting away sobs and shouts that come anyway.

“What the hell is happening!” I scream until my throat cracks and my voice sputters out. I fall against the hard, dry ground and cover my face, hoping for it to end, waiting for myself to wake up in my bed to that horrible, merciful beeping.

But I don’t wake up, and I don’t fall asleep. I find a metallic band in front of my face, wrapped tightly around my wrist. Its presence doesn’t shock me, as if I knew it was there all along. I focus on the lettering: “PUSH.”

The wristband snaps open, revealing a crisp, white, lined piece of notebook paper folded up inside. My hands shake uncontrollably as I pry it open and hold it into my face.

'Dr. Stole,

If you are reading this, you have successfully made it to an unspecified date in the distant future. Back in the time you came from, humanity is on the brink of something indescribable, something more threatening than ever before. You must collect all data that you can in hopes of discovering a solution. You must return via the time capsule that you awoke in. The instructions for operation are on the other side of this letter. Good luck, people are counting on you. See you soon.

-Dr. Stole.'

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Written by Prose in portal Prose

Friday Feature: @starryEyes

So, we’ve been briefed about it and have read some articles on it and can now say it is Friday. It's not fake news, people. It’s Friday. And we’d be doing Prose a very, very big disservice if we didn’t bring you the very, very good thing that is Friday Feature. People love it. Everybody says so. They like to read about the very, very nice people of Prose...

OK, enough of that crazy talk, let’s dive in to meet the entirely lovely @starryEyes

P: What is your given name and your Proser username?

S: My name is Kim, but you can find me as starryEyes on Prose.

P: Where do you live?

S: I live in the northeast United States, out in the country on top of a hill with a fantastic view. My grandfather built the house in the 1970s and I absolutely love living here with my husband. Watching the birds, animals, wild weather, and changing seasons makes me happy.

We get our Internet by antenna from a local provider who beams it over from a tower that’s 4 miles away (no cable service out here). It’s better than satellite, except when wind, rain, and foliage conspire to eat data packets!

P: What is your occupation?

S: Hmmm… I’m probably most occupied with taking care of myself. So maybe my occupation is being alive? Or surviving. But I’d prefer “thriving.” That can be my occupation: thriving.

I went to school for electrical engineering and worked for five years designing and testing radar electronics. I absolutely loved it. But chronic Lyme disease made that impossible. I’m principally afflicted by profound fatigue and brain fog, but generally have a few good hours a day.

Right now I am content. There is so much more I’d like to do in life, but I’m pleased that I’m not getting any worse right now and have a sort of rhythm of productivity, fulfillment, and rest.

P: What is your relationship with writing and how has it evolved?

S: Growing up, I wrote for school. I enjoyed all my writing assignments but rarely wrote of my own initiative. Late in high school and college, I kept a “prayer” journal that helped me untangle my thoughts and feelings while writing to God.

As I progressed in my engineering studies and career, I wrote a lot of technical documents. It turns out I really enjoy writing lab reports, test procedures, and documenting my designs. And who doesn’t love a good table or expressive graph? *happy sigh*

The first poem I ever wrote of my own free will flowed from my illness. My choppy, foggy, scattered, and desperate thoughts needed adequate expression. I now write poetry like it’s a puzzle to be solved - conveying meaning and depth by sound & structure & few words – an artistic efficiency. It must be the engineer in me.

I started writing short stories a year ago for fun. I really haven’t written many because I’m a slow writer and I don’t often feel well. But it makes me feel human and “normal” to compose something that I’m proud of. I attend a writing group at the library and find it immensely helpful and encouraging.

P: What value does reading add to both your personal and professional life?

S: I’ve always been a voracious reader of fiction. It makes me happy, stirs my imagination, fills me with stories, and teaches me about life. I love gleaning bits of wisdom from book characters and pondering their thoughts and actions. It’s an easy, gentle way to learn.

P: Can you describe your current literary ventures and what can we look forward to in future posts?

I don’t have specific posting plans, but I often respond to writing challenges. Apparently I like to write from the perspective of non-humans such as an animal, plant, or park bench, so you may see more of that. I might sometimes write about my illness or my faith in Jesus, because both deeply define who I am. My loftiest dream is to write a historical choose-your-own-adventure book for kids.

P: What do you love about Prose?

S: Challenges, challenges, challenges! I’m way more motivated when someone challenges me than when I make up my own goals. That’s probably a character flaw. But I’m getting lots of practice and inspiration from the Prose community challenges and having fun! I also like the opportunity to share what I write and interact with other writers.

P: Is there one book that you would recommend everybody should read before they die?

S: There are oodles of good books, so how could I choose? But limited to one, I’d have to say the Bible. I believe that how we respond to Jesus is the single most important decision in this life. To make an informed choice, we have to read his words.

P: Do you have an unsung hero who got you into reading and/or writing?

S: If so, they are extremely unsung because I can’t think of who they might be! My parents and teachers were obvious influences, but no one person or event stands out in my mind.

P: Describe yourself in three words!

S: Contemplative. Sincere. Empathetic.

P: Is there one quote, from a writer or otherwise, that sums you up?

S: “In Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song… And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me! For I am His, and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

And the entire rest of the lyrics to “In Christ Alone” written by Stuart Townsend & Keith Getty

P: What is your favourite music, and do you write or read to it?

S: I like pop / rock / metal. My favorite artists are Britt Nicole, Fireflight (similar to Evanescence), and Tourniquet (similar to Metallica). I also really like a cappella and folk music. I can do anything to music except read and write. For those, silence is more conducive to concentration.

P: You climb out of a time machine into a dystopian future with no books. What do you tell them?

S: “You know, books. B-O-O-K-S. Like writing. On paper. That you read. There must be some. This isn’t possible. Where did you go to school? Where’s the library?” After asking the same questions twenty times but getting the same answer, I think I’d become unresponsive and curl up, rocking back and forth.

P: Do you have a favourite place to read and write?

S: Curled up in a recliner with a blanket and a cat. Preferably my own recliner and my own cat. Any blanket will do.

P: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you/your work/social media accounts?

S: Nothing left to tell!

Thanks so much to Kim, it was marvellous to meet her, I'm sure you'll all agree. You know what to do now. Read her! Interact with her! Follow her! 

And again, we want more Prosers for this feature, so if you like it, then suggest people, even volunteer yourselves. Prose wants you to feature in future Friday Features. Get busy.

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Written by Prose in portal Prose
Friday Feature: @starryEyes
So, we’ve been briefed about it and have read some articles on it and can now say it is Friday. It's not fake news, people. It’s Friday. And we’d be doing Prose a very, very big disservice if we didn’t bring you the very, very good thing that is Friday Feature. People love it. Everybody says so. They like to read about the very, very nice people of Prose...

OK, enough of that crazy talk, let’s dive in to meet the entirely lovely @starryEyes

P: What is your given name and your Proser username?
S: My name is Kim, but you can find me as starryEyes on Prose.

P: Where do you live?
S: I live in the northeast United States, out in the country on top of a hill with a fantastic view. My grandfather built the house in the 1970s and I absolutely love living here with my husband. Watching the birds, animals, wild weather, and changing seasons makes me happy.

We get our Internet by antenna from a local provider who beams it over from a tower that’s 4 miles away (no cable service out here). It’s better than satellite, except when wind, rain, and foliage conspire to eat data packets!

P: What is your occupation?
S: Hmmm… I’m probably most occupied with taking care of myself. So maybe my occupation is being alive? Or surviving. But I’d prefer “thriving.” That can be my occupation: thriving.

I went to school for electrical engineering and worked for five years designing and testing radar electronics. I absolutely loved it. But chronic Lyme disease made that impossible. I’m principally afflicted by profound fatigue and brain fog, but generally have a few good hours a day.

Right now I am content. There is so much more I’d like to do in life, but I’m pleased that I’m not getting any worse right now and have a sort of rhythm of productivity, fulfillment, and rest.

P: What is your relationship with writing and how has it evolved?
S: Growing up, I wrote for school. I enjoyed all my writing assignments but rarely wrote of my own initiative. Late in high school and college, I kept a “prayer” journal that helped me untangle my thoughts and feelings while writing to God.

As I progressed in my engineering studies and career, I wrote a lot of technical documents. It turns out I really enjoy writing lab reports, test procedures, and documenting my designs. And who doesn’t love a good table or expressive graph? *happy sigh*

The first poem I ever wrote of my own free will flowed from my illness. My choppy, foggy, scattered, and desperate thoughts needed adequate expression. I now write poetry like it’s a puzzle to be solved - conveying meaning and depth by sound & structure & few words – an artistic efficiency. It must be the engineer in me.

I started writing short stories a year ago for fun. I really haven’t written many because I’m a slow writer and I don’t often feel well. But it makes me feel human and “normal” to compose something that I’m proud of. I attend a writing group at the library and find it immensely helpful and encouraging.

P: What value does reading add to both your personal and professional life?
S: I’ve always been a voracious reader of fiction. It makes me happy, stirs my imagination, fills me with stories, and teaches me about life. I love gleaning bits of wisdom from book characters and pondering their thoughts and actions. It’s an easy, gentle way to learn.

P: Can you describe your current literary ventures and what can we look forward to in future posts?

I don’t have specific posting plans, but I often respond to writing challenges. Apparently I like to write from the perspective of non-humans such as an animal, plant, or park bench, so you may see more of that. I might sometimes write about my illness or my faith in Jesus, because both deeply define who I am. My loftiest dream is to write a historical choose-your-own-adventure book for kids.

P: What do you love about Prose?
S: Challenges, challenges, challenges! I’m way more motivated when someone challenges me than when I make up my own goals. That’s probably a character flaw. But I’m getting lots of practice and inspiration from the Prose community challenges and having fun! I also like the opportunity to share what I write and interact with other writers.

P: Is there one book that you would recommend everybody should read before they die?
S: There are oodles of good books, so how could I choose? But limited to one, I’d have to say the Bible. I believe that how we respond to Jesus is the single most important decision in this life. To make an informed choice, we have to read his words.

P: Do you have an unsung hero who got you into reading and/or writing?
S: If so, they are extremely unsung because I can’t think of who they might be! My parents and teachers were obvious influences, but no one person or event stands out in my mind.

P: Describe yourself in three words!
S: Contemplative. Sincere. Empathetic.

P: Is there one quote, from a writer or otherwise, that sums you up?
S: “In Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song… And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me! For I am His, and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

And the entire rest of the lyrics to “In Christ Alone” written by Stuart Townsend & Keith Getty

P: What is your favourite music, and do you write or read to it?
S: I like pop / rock / metal. My favorite artists are Britt Nicole, Fireflight (similar to Evanescence), and Tourniquet (similar to Metallica). I also really like a cappella and folk music. I can do anything to music except read and write. For those, silence is more conducive to concentration.

P: You climb out of a time machine into a dystopian future with no books. What do you tell them?
S: “You know, books. B-O-O-K-S. Like writing. On paper. That you read. There must be some. This isn’t possible. Where did you go to school? Where’s the library?” After asking the same questions twenty times but getting the same answer, I think I’d become unresponsive and curl up, rocking back and forth.

P: Do you have a favourite place to read and write?
S: Curled up in a recliner with a blanket and a cat. Preferably my own recliner and my own cat. Any blanket will do.

P: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you/your work/social media accounts?
S: Nothing left to tell!

Thanks so much to Kim, it was marvellous to meet her, I'm sure you'll all agree. You know what to do now. Read her! Interact with her! Follow her! 

And again, we want more Prosers for this feature, so if you like it, then suggest people, even volunteer yourselves. Prose wants you to feature in future Friday Features. Get busy.
#nonfiction  #news  #opinion  #FF  #FridayFeature 
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Challenge of the Week #57: you’re god; rewrite the creation story. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $100. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by madbeyond

Out of the Blue

Floating in the void was the wretched Fair Isle sweater, its lumpy blue nimbus circling vanilla wool. It emitted the stench of sweatsoaked humiliation and had a certain Je ne sais quoi (literally, She did not know what). The mirror, when She’d stood before it in the distant future, reflected her hot face, rosacea taking the place of acne, menopausal memory loss reducing Her to once again muttering Je ne suis pas. To laughter. (Class, Emily is not. Poor Mademoiselle Emily, she does not exist!) The sweater balled and pilled, pilled and balled. She painted the sky yellow, the birds octagonal, Her long nails aubergine. She blew the wind to the seventeen corners. She stood for a minute in a whiteout of green. The sweater unfurled, yarn by yarn by yarn. She dove into the ring of mirrors the handmirror drilled, down and out, down and out. Je ne suis pas, Je ne suis pas.

Ms. Emily, to you.

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Challenge of the Week #57: you’re god; rewrite the creation story. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $100. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by madbeyond
Out of the Blue
Floating in the void was the wretched Fair Isle sweater, its lumpy blue nimbus circling vanilla wool. It emitted the stench of sweatsoaked humiliation and had a certain Je ne sais quoi (literally, She did not know what). The mirror, when She’d stood before it in the distant future, reflected her hot face, rosacea taking the place of acne, menopausal memory loss reducing Her to once again muttering Je ne suis pas. To laughter. (Class, Emily is not. Poor Mademoiselle Emily, she does not exist!) The sweater balled and pilled, pilled and balled. She painted the sky yellow, the birds octagonal, Her long nails aubergine. She blew the wind to the seventeen corners. She stood for a minute in a whiteout of green. The sweater unfurled, yarn by yarn by yarn. She dove into the ring of mirrors the handmirror drilled, down and out, down and out. Je ne suis pas, Je ne suis pas.

Ms. Emily, to you.

32
6
12
Juice
480 reads
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