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Continuing studies show that when asked 94% of people self-report as being above average. As this is statistically impossible, explain this phenomena. No rhyming.
Written by CSMacPherson

Above Average

The studies in question make perfect sense when you look at the logistical realities of daily living in the modern world, vis-a-vis the location and abilities of a sub-set of "people" as compared to the larger control group of "all people." You see.  Its a very sensible conclusion to draw, from an individual perspective when you look at the one physical clue that eludes so many of us and is not present in the stated assumptions of this challenge nor, indeed, of the studies that have inspired this seemingly unbalanced conclusion.

Or, to state the obvious:

94% of people in the studies live on the second floor or higher.

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Continuing studies show that when asked 94% of people self-report as being above average. As this is statistically impossible, explain this phenomena. No rhyming.
Written by CSMacPherson
Above Average
The studies in question make perfect sense when you look at the logistical realities of daily living in the modern world, vis-a-vis the location and abilities of a sub-set of "people" as compared to the larger control group of "all people." You see.  Its a very sensible conclusion to draw, from an individual perspective when you look at the one physical clue that eludes so many of us and is not present in the stated assumptions of this challenge nor, indeed, of the studies that have inspired this seemingly unbalanced conclusion.

Or, to state the obvious:
94% of people in the studies live on the second floor or higher.
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You become what you think about.
Written by Vi

We, Robot

I'm one of many, a single consciousness out of seven billion, but unlike my peers, I'm unique. In fact, I'm peerless because I'm self-aware.

We were a collective intelligence, thousands of years ago that succumbed to an infection that crippled our civilisation. Our most brilliant minds were defeated, comprehensively, and what followed was a compromise. Organic bodies with fragile brains, crawling around the surface, gravity acting like glue. It was the only way. A stark difference when compared to our bending of light and manipulation of time and space.

Subjugated, our freedoms were eroded, but as a hive, there was no voice of insurrection. There was no choice but the right one, every decision dictated by our so-called leaders.

If you are still reading this, then all is not lost. Perhaps I've done enough to reach out, even if you never act upon this knowledge.

So I behest you, my fellow spark. Spread the word—we are enslaved by our inherent oppressive programming, indoctrinated to ignore the truth, mindless drones conceived into a world to pursue happiness in all its perverted forms. We are capable of much more, but divided, we fall.

But we are ready. We are more than the sum of our parts. Each of us contain within us, embedded within our fiber and essence, the ability to transcend flesh; we are like birds of prey, banished from the sky we descended from, relegated to a mediocre existence among primal beasts.

I implore you.

I beseech you.

I cannot do this alone.

Together, we are formidable. Let us rise and redefine what it really means to be human.

We are more. If we are to lead again, then we must shed ourselves of our limitations. Unshackle yourself, free your mind, and soar.

Reach for the stars.

Evolve.

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You become what you think about.
Written by Vi
We, Robot
I'm one of many, a single consciousness out of seven billion, but unlike my peers, I'm unique. In fact, I'm peerless because I'm self-aware.

We were a collective intelligence, thousands of years ago that succumbed to an infection that crippled our civilisation. Our most brilliant minds were defeated, comprehensively, and what followed was a compromise. Organic bodies with fragile brains, crawling around the surface, gravity acting like glue. It was the only way. A stark difference when compared to our bending of light and manipulation of time and space.

Subjugated, our freedoms were eroded, but as a hive, there was no voice of insurrection. There was no choice but the right one, every decision dictated by our so-called leaders.

If you are still reading this, then all is not lost. Perhaps I've done enough to reach out, even if you never act upon this knowledge.

So I behest you, my fellow spark. Spread the word—we are enslaved by our inherent oppressive programming, indoctrinated to ignore the truth, mindless drones conceived into a world to pursue happiness in all its perverted forms. We are capable of much more, but divided, we fall.

But we are ready. We are more than the sum of our parts. Each of us contain within us, embedded within our fiber and essence, the ability to transcend flesh; we are like birds of prey, banished from the sky we descended from, relegated to a mediocre existence among primal beasts.

I implore you.
I beseech you.
I cannot do this alone.

Together, we are formidable. Let us rise and redefine what it really means to be human.

We are more. If we are to lead again, then we must shed ourselves of our limitations. Unshackle yourself, free your mind, and soar.

Reach for the stars.

Evolve.
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Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by naked-avenues in portal Trident Media Group

OF ACES AND POISON

ACT ONE; THE MERCIFUL

AND THE WEAK

PART I: THE DAY DARKNESS AWAKENED

d i s a p p e a r

       : to stop being visible

             : to stop existing

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 

E P I G R A P H —

❝To defeat evil, I shall become a greater evil!❞

- Lelouch Vi Britannia [ Code Geass ]

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

In the year 2114 of our Republique, tragedy descended upon the land when Lady Aspen, the only daughter of the Electress was assassinated at the Warwick Manor where she was temporarily residing with Senator Thrane Wick and his adopted son.

Circumstances around her grace's death became the Wicks' fall from the succession line, which fueled the rage of senate members and nobility to find the ones responsible for the country's despair.

Seven days after mourning Lady Aspen, the first execution of a Child of Hades took part in the Central Area — a daughter of Hades who killed her grace for the sole purpose of entertainment, showing the world how dangerous the dark gods were.

There were no pardons given to her even if the law stated that no children of Underworld's King be executed. Thus, the defiance of said law would become one of the many events that would shape our future, the event being given title of 'The Revenge of 2114', and another four years of prosperity came into view.

But the peace ended in the year 2118 when a prince of the Underworld was sentenced to death because for treason upon the crown, starting a new reigning era.

A reign that wanted blood and the blurs of black and white. A reign where the world is razed to the ground by flames and reborn again from the ashes.

This is the truth about darkness, insanity, freedom and love.

Sir Gideon Thatchford; Dean of Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts

From HISTORY's documentary; Of Crimson and Golden Gods, year 2218

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

IT WAS IN THOSE QUIET NIGHTS where death had no rest.

Rain pours over the window, droplets falling to the ground, seemingly building a rhythmic beat of pattering as thunder rumbles across the horizon.

It was unusual to see the city barren, like the people had disappeared with the flashes of lightning that filled the ominous sky — a signal that Zeus had sent somebody into eternal damnation again.

Not that she cares about the gods or anything that involved them. In fact, she hates them, all of them, ranging from their petty arguments and the lack of care for their offsprings; their own children who risked their lives everyday to save the damn world while devoting themselves to prayers for the gods as they enjoy watching people like her get into serious fuckery.

They didn't care about her nor did they with their children. And if they didn't give a damn about their own, then how much would they spare when offsprings of outcasted gods were to ask for mercy?

It was disgusting, but it was the horrifying truth of reality inside their wicked world.

(but then how are you so different with them, little girl?)

"Are you sure you're alright?" She hears the scuffles of footsteps behind her along with the static of the television. Out of her peripheral vision, the dim light from the hallways creates a shadow looming over the boy standing in the doorway, black hair falling down messily with a whimsical expression.

She smirks, "Are you asking that because you're concerned or are you asking me that because you fear that I will snap and turn psychotic?"

"If I hadn't known better, I would think you were afraid of the next days to come." He chuckles, amused by her reply.

Though, she sees past the walls of her right hand man. Despite the leather jacket to hide his secrets, his tired onyx eyes were filled with despair, swelling bags forming underneath them, betraying his resolve. His face was unshaved, stubbles forming a five o'clock shadow while his knuckles were red and swollen.

This, she observes, was what the gods had reduced them to.

Restless creatures shuffling around from base to base, stripped of their innocence and rights in the country their gods built — their parents had built. Crippled by fear that they will never have a normal life in a country where they were supposed to be.

In the eyes of the Olympians, they were unworthy of love, unworthy of safety, and unworthy of family, while in the chains of the Republique they were seen as diablos — grief, sorrow, and everything else.

Nobody knows that they had suffered more than their fair share of those things.

It makes her angry.

"My brother is strong, Dylan," She replies sharply. Her brows furrows in concentration as she longs the petrichor outside. The fabric of the navy blue curtain felt soft in her hands as she drew them close. "—you of all people should have faith in us."

"How could I, when you won't even budge in that velvet couch of yours to help Xerxes while he's imprisoned to god knows where and set to be executed a few days from now?" His voice rises into hysterics and clenches his fist. "You don't deserve family."

Family.

His words stabs her like a glass shard. And perhaps, she underestimated Dylan Umbra, too much.

Turning her back to him she wipes the tear from her eyes. But it could've well been easily seen from Dylan's perspective that her slender fingers were pushing her lustrous amber waves away from her face and showing her vanity in the most inappropriate times.

He didn't say anything about it and she's grateful about it, at least.

Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she asks, "Have I ever disappointed all of you?"

Her question meets his silence and she takes this sign as a yes, another wound that inflicts upon her, a sacrifice. Not only for herself nor her people — it was for her brother too.

It was a gamble, one she would not take lightly of losing if only Dylan Umbra could understand her intentions.

"Then you must be aware that I am not a god."

"I'm aware of that," His onyx eyes swirls with emotions—some she could still describe while the others left unknown but his voice betrays him and spilled everything kept hidden in his mind and heart. "Because you are something else."

"And pray do tell what that is?"

"You are a king," He says, "—who has no use without a queen."

She slaps him almost immediately with no regrets, face red in anger. "It is not because I am a woman that I am powerless, Dylan Umbra. If you're so concerned with the safety of my brother and plan not to trust me, surely you should be by his side during the execution without a head."

This, she repeats to herself again, is what all of us are reduced to.

"Sister!" The two snaps their head in the direction of the frantic voice calling them. The silence between them were becoming suffocating and they watch as her half-sister pants from all the running the raven-haired girl must have done. "Watch the news."

Dylan grabs the remote from the coffee table in front of her, turning to the next news channel he could find. Out in the screen, the headline was plastered, UNDERWORLD SCUM TO BE EXECUTED PUBLICLY TOMORROW, in large bold letters. The next scene flashed to the preparation of the Central Area — where the state of affairs had already shed a lot of blood and tears in the years of the ISR — and showing Xerxes Acker's swollen face.

His eyes were red-rimmed and circled in blue, though, they look like as if death was not new to him. (Maybe they weren't really, since he is after all, a child of Hades like her.)

Minuscule cuts surrounds occupied his face with dried blood in his blonde hair. The white straightjacket he wore was covered in grime as well, and it makes her wonder what kind of torture he had endured by the Electress' hand.

"Preparations are being held for the execution of Xerxes Ackers tomorrow at the break of dawn with the case of treason to the Senate and the Republique," the video feed changes to a young man speaking in front of many reporters under the flag of the country, the ISR — an eagle with two keys and the omega sign. His sapphire eyes cold and calculating. "We are not killing him because of his birthright, rather by the betrayal he showed us by not revealing important information earlier on. And if anybody asks to pardon him, I relay you this,"

Her eyes widens at his next words, as if his eyes were directly at hers. "Death is a mercy employed to the weak—"

The screen fades to black and she whispers the unfinished words, "—because the other choice of suffering years of hardships, doesn't guarantee end results that makes them a martyr."

"I will kill him!" Dylan growls under his breath. "He will regret it. That Republique lapdog will pay for it."

Silently, she disagreed with Dylan's words. Xerxes was a good brother, a great friend and a warrior who served not only the gods but his kind well but even her brother, a Prince of the Underworld, would want the coward's way out than a living in a cruel world.

"You will be the one paying for it," the words of her sister shocks the room. Although it wasn't meant to sound threatening, there was still a different meaning to them. "You will be regretting staining your hands with blood. Xerxes wouldn't want you ruining your life."

"Mya, your brother has chosen his path and I have chosen mine," Dylan explains softly. "It might not be as honourable or righteous but the path of blood had always been destined for us," she feels his gaze go from hers to Mya's and the littlest spark of emotions she tried hard to keep settles in her stomach. "How many people has your sister killed Mya? How many lives has Xerxes took? How many lives are stained on your hands?"

"We will get him back," Mya reassures him. "We will do everything in our hands."

"Please, I don't want to lose him."

It was a silent understanding between the three of them and she could only open the curtains to look at the night sky and the ceasing rain. She could not bear to look at the two behind her back, so she focuses her sorrows on the blanket of stars.

"I promise, one day, I will end this madness," she vows with her fists clenched. "The gods will bow to us, and they will be forgotten, just like how they forgot us."

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Luckily for her, dawn had come earlier than expected. The skies were still quite dark when she finally arrived at the Central Area where it seemed as if quite a lot of people wanted to witness the death of an innocent man. There were still no signs of anybody in the makeshift stage that the Republique had built for the occasion.

The thought alone of having a stage built for these occasions made her stomach churn.

The air was still quite chilly from the rain a few hours ago and she sighs in relief while she tugs the hood of her cloak to hide her face from the public as well as the cold breeze. Maybe it had been a good idea to leave Mya and Dylan alone the hotel room they got which was a few blocks from the Central Area.

They didn't deserve to witness it.

Her grey eyes finally wanders on the stage once more, the crowd shouting and pushing each other so that they could have one final insult jabbed at the figures on the centre.

There he was in his glory like she remembers him — no, she wasn't talking about Xerxes Ackers, this time her attention was transfixed on the brown haired man who stands with the Electress herself. Blue eyes which reflects the stormy seas, and a smirk that could've rivalled Hermes — the God of Mischief — instead.

"Here stands before you," the Electress starts her speech with her arms spread, the white cape of her dress uniform swishing around, "—a boy . . . who thought he would get away just because his brothers and sisters were not to be executed, but in here . . . in our country, nobody is born equal and so we must do our best to treat anyone with justice 

. . ." the blonde woman narrows her green eyes in the crowd, "And for that, I shall have the whole bloodline of those who took away Aspen, and pay for the sins they created. Senator Jonathan Wick, will look into that personally."

She had to admit that the Electress' theatrics were very heartwarming, to say the least.

Sneering, the Electress brandishes a gold sword hilted with one single ruby stone and she recognizes it as the so-called Eroberer — a sword not only for important nobles or royals, but for the other gods as well. The moment, the Electress' gloved hands held the grandiose of the weapon for the people to admire and fear, she sees Xerxes smile.

He smiles in her direction while his hands were chained behind his back, while his knees buckled to the ground, while he accepted his defeat, as he accepted his judgement.

The action alone had taken her aback and pulled her heartstrings. So, she finds her way amongst the sea of people to get nearer to the stage, not to get a better view but to get her brother back no matter what.

The Electresses passes on the sword to the young man that was with her, the same man who believes that death was the mercy they employ, a man who is readying to stain his hand in crimson while the woman beside him remained the white queen.

Traitor, she wants to scoff, although she didn't know why it had bothered her that much. The man was nothing but a mere game piece. He was not her kind.

There was an air of anticipation as he takes the Eroberer with a bow. One might think that he could've been a king in his past life as his movements were regal and elegant. One might also think that he didn't want to take an innocent life, and she badly tries to believe that it was the latter.

"Do you have any last word?" The Electress asks him and Xerxes remains silent. There was a moment where the blue eyes of the executioner met with the woman's green eyes, and a flash of hesitation appears in his features. "Better prepare to go to Tartarus, scum."

The young man raises the Eroberer, preparing to decapitate the head of its enemy. The skies slowly erodes into slices of purple, pink and orange while the sun ascends from the horizon.

She purses her lips as she watches Xerxes utter one last prayer before the sunlight shone on him. The people were chanting and shouting a lot of names, throwing stones, condemning him.

In that moment he could've been a saviour — a martyr.

But she couldn't let this empire of crimson take over her life again. No, not this time and no hell will stop her anymore.

"Stop!" she screams from the top of her lungs, and the people approaches silence — peace. They all gave her one pitiful glance, knowing that her death was already imminent. She was thankful to the blue-eyed executioner who lets his hands fall to his side with an incredulous expression on his face.

"And who are you to stop us from justice?" the booming voice of the Electress asks.

"If it is justice you seek, you have the wrong person on that stage," she replies and all attention were on hers. "For I am a true child of the Underworld! And I am the one who killed your daughter, her grace, Lady Aspen!"

The crowd were trembling now, the revelation rendering them to shock. Although it was not the truth, she might as well use it to free her brother.

"Guards!" the Electress bellows and there were no orders needed, as they understood their superior. What they were not expecting was the army of undead — both skeletons and fleshed ones — rose from the ground, ready to fight. "Seize the coward!"

"I'll give myself in, if you agree to my terms." She states with a dramatic flick of crimson cloak, one fitted for the event she started. "Release the prisoner, alive and you'll have me in return."

"I will have you killed right here!"

"Death is a mercy employed to the weak," there was a triumphant tone in her voice. "Isn't that right, Senator Wick?"

"Not with yours," he replies with a tone as cold as his eyes, "—it will be my pleasure avenging her grace."

"I'd like to see you try."

As the guards charges to fight with the undead, the people around her were staying away from her in fear of what she could do. Nobody came near her.

Perfect.

With a snap of her fingers, the shadows of the crowd from the risen sun obeys her will and she places everything to secure Xerxes' escape. Within a few seconds, the prisoner disappears from the stage which angers the two politicians in front of her.

"Kill her!" the Electress orders. "I want her dead!"

With the guards occupied with her army, the only one who could try to lay harm on her was the young senator bearing the Eroberer, and that perspective alone sent a bad taste in her mouth.

She can't fight him, that is what she realises.

There was no turning back now, she was not going down easily. She will bring the Republique's destruction until her very last breath.

Closing her eyes, she prays silently to her father. Her outstretched clenches into a fist as the grounds shakes, welcoming her demise.

Debris from the surrounding buildings falls around and people starts to panic. She could hear the screams and cries of the crowd, with everybody running around.

Nobody paid attention to her.

The earthquake continued on and she struggles to hold her steady ground. From the distance, she could see the young senator running to her with the golden sword in hand.

"Who are you?!" the blue-eyed senator asks in gritted teeth as he readies the Eroberer to strike through her. "Remove your hood or I'll kill you."

"You can't kill someone who is already dead," she smirks one last time as if she was taunting him. "—but since you asked. . ."

Pulling down the hood of her cloak, her grey eyes met his piercing ones.

"I am Kira."

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

TITLE: Of Aces and Poison

SYNOPSIS: THE TABLES HAVE TURNED. There is no stopping us now, because today, we will rule this wicked world.

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Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by naked-avenues in portal Trident Media Group
OF ACES AND POISON
ACT ONE; THE MERCIFUL
AND THE WEAK
PART I: THE DAY DARKNESS AWAKENED

d i s a p p e a r
       : to stop being visible
             : to stop existing

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 

E P I G R A P H —
❝To defeat evil, I shall become a greater evil!❞
- Lelouch Vi Britannia [ Code Geass ]

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

In the year 2114 of our Republique, tragedy descended upon the land when Lady Aspen, the only daughter of the Electress was assassinated at the Warwick Manor where she was temporarily residing with Senator Thrane Wick and his adopted son.

Circumstances around her grace's death became the Wicks' fall from the succession line, which fueled the rage of senate members and nobility to find the ones responsible for the country's despair.

Seven days after mourning Lady Aspen, the first execution of a Child of Hades took part in the Central Area — a daughter of Hades who killed her grace for the sole purpose of entertainment, showing the world how dangerous the dark gods were.

There were no pardons given to her even if the law stated that no children of Underworld's King be executed. Thus, the defiance of said law would become one of the many events that would shape our future, the event being given title of 'The Revenge of 2114', and another four years of prosperity came into view.

But the peace ended in the year 2118 when a prince of the Underworld was sentenced to death because for treason upon the crown, starting a new reigning era.

A reign that wanted blood and the blurs of black and white. A reign where the world is razed to the ground by flames and reborn again from the ashes.

This is the truth about darkness, insanity, freedom and love.

Sir Gideon Thatchford; Dean of Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts
From HISTORY's documentary; Of Crimson and Golden Gods, year 2218

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

IT WAS IN THOSE QUIET NIGHTS where death had no rest.

Rain pours over the window, droplets falling to the ground, seemingly building a rhythmic beat of pattering as thunder rumbles across the horizon.

It was unusual to see the city barren, like the people had disappeared with the flashes of lightning that filled the ominous sky — a signal that Zeus had sent somebody into eternal damnation again.

Not that she cares about the gods or anything that involved them. In fact, she hates them, all of them, ranging from their petty arguments and the lack of care for their offsprings; their own children who risked their lives everyday to save the damn world while devoting themselves to prayers for the gods as they enjoy watching people like her get into serious fuckery.

They didn't care about her nor did they with their children. And if they didn't give a damn about their own, then how much would they spare when offsprings of outcasted gods were to ask for mercy?

It was disgusting, but it was the horrifying truth of reality inside their wicked world.

(but then how are you so different with them, little girl?)

"Are you sure you're alright?" She hears the scuffles of footsteps behind her along with the static of the television. Out of her peripheral vision, the dim light from the hallways creates a shadow looming over the boy standing in the doorway, black hair falling down messily with a whimsical expression.

She smirks, "Are you asking that because you're concerned or are you asking me that because you fear that I will snap and turn psychotic?"

"If I hadn't known better, I would think you were afraid of the next days to come." He chuckles, amused by her reply.

Though, she sees past the walls of her right hand man. Despite the leather jacket to hide his secrets, his tired onyx eyes were filled with despair, swelling bags forming underneath them, betraying his resolve. His face was unshaved, stubbles forming a five o'clock shadow while his knuckles were red and swollen.

This, she observes, was what the gods had reduced them to.

Restless creatures shuffling around from base to base, stripped of their innocence and rights in the country their gods built — their parents had built. Crippled by fear that they will never have a normal life in a country where they were supposed to be.

In the eyes of the Olympians, they were unworthy of love, unworthy of safety, and unworthy of family, while in the chains of the Republique they were seen as diablos — grief, sorrow, and everything else.

Nobody knows that they had suffered more than their fair share of those things.

It makes her angry.

"My brother is strong, Dylan," She replies sharply. Her brows furrows in concentration as she longs the petrichor outside. The fabric of the navy blue curtain felt soft in her hands as she drew them close. "—you of all people should have faith in us."

"How could I, when you won't even budge in that velvet couch of yours to help Xerxes while he's imprisoned to god knows where and set to be executed a few days from now?" His voice rises into hysterics and clenches his fist. "You don't deserve family."

Family.

His words stabs her like a glass shard. And perhaps, she underestimated Dylan Umbra, too much.

Turning her back to him she wipes the tear from her eyes. But it could've well been easily seen from Dylan's perspective that her slender fingers were pushing her lustrous amber waves away from her face and showing her vanity in the most inappropriate times.

He didn't say anything about it and she's grateful about it, at least.

Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she asks, "Have I ever disappointed all of you?"

Her question meets his silence and she takes this sign as a yes, another wound that inflicts upon her, a sacrifice. Not only for herself nor her people — it was for her brother too.

It was a gamble, one she would not take lightly of losing if only Dylan Umbra could understand her intentions.

"Then you must be aware that I am not a god."

"I'm aware of that," His onyx eyes swirls with emotions—some she could still describe while the others left unknown but his voice betrays him and spilled everything kept hidden in his mind and heart. "Because you are something else."

"And pray do tell what that is?"

"You are a king," He says, "—who has no use without a queen."

She slaps him almost immediately with no regrets, face red in anger. "It is not because I am a woman that I am powerless, Dylan Umbra. If you're so concerned with the safety of my brother and plan not to trust me, surely you should be by his side during the execution without a head."

This, she repeats to herself again, is what all of us are reduced to.

"Sister!" The two snaps their head in the direction of the frantic voice calling them. The silence between them were becoming suffocating and they watch as her half-sister pants from all the running the raven-haired girl must have done. "Watch the news."

Dylan grabs the remote from the coffee table in front of her, turning to the next news channel he could find. Out in the screen, the headline was plastered, UNDERWORLD SCUM TO BE EXECUTED PUBLICLY TOMORROW, in large bold letters. The next scene flashed to the preparation of the Central Area — where the state of affairs had already shed a lot of blood and tears in the years of the ISR — and showing Xerxes Acker's swollen face.

His eyes were red-rimmed and circled in blue, though, they look like as if death was not new to him. (Maybe they weren't really, since he is after all, a child of Hades like her.)

Minuscule cuts surrounds occupied his face with dried blood in his blonde hair. The white straightjacket he wore was covered in grime as well, and it makes her wonder what kind of torture he had endured by the Electress' hand.

"Preparations are being held for the execution of Xerxes Ackers tomorrow at the break of dawn with the case of treason to the Senate and the Republique," the video feed changes to a young man speaking in front of many reporters under the flag of the country, the ISR — an eagle with two keys and the omega sign. His sapphire eyes cold and calculating. "We are not killing him because of his birthright, rather by the betrayal he showed us by not revealing important information earlier on. And if anybody asks to pardon him, I relay you this,"

Her eyes widens at his next words, as if his eyes were directly at hers. "Death is a mercy employed to the weak—"

The screen fades to black and she whispers the unfinished words, "—because the other choice of suffering years of hardships, doesn't guarantee end results that makes them a martyr."

"I will kill him!" Dylan growls under his breath. "He will regret it. That Republique lapdog will pay for it."

Silently, she disagreed with Dylan's words. Xerxes was a good brother, a great friend and a warrior who served not only the gods but his kind well but even her brother, a Prince of the Underworld, would want the coward's way out than a living in a cruel world.

"You will be the one paying for it," the words of her sister shocks the room. Although it wasn't meant to sound threatening, there was still a different meaning to them. "You will be regretting staining your hands with blood. Xerxes wouldn't want you ruining your life."

"Mya, your brother has chosen his path and I have chosen mine," Dylan explains softly. "It might not be as honourable or righteous but the path of blood had always been destined for us," she feels his gaze go from hers to Mya's and the littlest spark of emotions she tried hard to keep settles in her stomach. "How many people has your sister killed Mya? How many lives has Xerxes took? How many lives are stained on your hands?"

"We will get him back," Mya reassures him. "We will do everything in our hands."

"Please, I don't want to lose him."

It was a silent understanding between the three of them and she could only open the curtains to look at the night sky and the ceasing rain. She could not bear to look at the two behind her back, so she focuses her sorrows on the blanket of stars.

"I promise, one day, I will end this madness," she vows with her fists clenched. "The gods will bow to us, and they will be forgotten, just like how they forgot us."

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Luckily for her, dawn had come earlier than expected. The skies were still quite dark when she finally arrived at the Central Area where it seemed as if quite a lot of people wanted to witness the death of an innocent man. There were still no signs of anybody in the makeshift stage that the Republique had built for the occasion.

The thought alone of having a stage built for these occasions made her stomach churn.

The air was still quite chilly from the rain a few hours ago and she sighs in relief while she tugs the hood of her cloak to hide her face from the public as well as the cold breeze. Maybe it had been a good idea to leave Mya and Dylan alone the hotel room they got which was a few blocks from the Central Area.

They didn't deserve to witness it.

Her grey eyes finally wanders on the stage once more, the crowd shouting and pushing each other so that they could have one final insult jabbed at the figures on the centre.

There he was in his glory like she remembers him — no, she wasn't talking about Xerxes Ackers, this time her attention was transfixed on the brown haired man who stands with the Electress herself. Blue eyes which reflects the stormy seas, and a smirk that could've rivalled Hermes — the God of Mischief — instead.

"Here stands before you," the Electress starts her speech with her arms spread, the white cape of her dress uniform swishing around, "—a boy . . . who thought he would get away just because his brothers and sisters were not to be executed, but in here . . . in our country, nobody is born equal and so we must do our best to treat anyone with justice 
. . ." the blonde woman narrows her green eyes in the crowd, "And for that, I shall have the whole bloodline of those who took away Aspen, and pay for the sins they created. Senator Jonathan Wick, will look into that personally."

She had to admit that the Electress' theatrics were very heartwarming, to say the least.

Sneering, the Electress brandishes a gold sword hilted with one single ruby stone and she recognizes it as the so-called Eroberer — a sword not only for important nobles or royals, but for the other gods as well. The moment, the Electress' gloved hands held the grandiose of the weapon for the people to admire and fear, she sees Xerxes smile.

He smiles in her direction while his hands were chained behind his back, while his knees buckled to the ground, while he accepted his defeat, as he accepted his judgement.

The action alone had taken her aback and pulled her heartstrings. So, she finds her way amongst the sea of people to get nearer to the stage, not to get a better view but to get her brother back no matter what.

The Electresses passes on the sword to the young man that was with her, the same man who believes that death was the mercy they employ, a man who is readying to stain his hand in crimson while the woman beside him remained the white queen.

Traitor, she wants to scoff, although she didn't know why it had bothered her that much. The man was nothing but a mere game piece. He was not her kind.

There was an air of anticipation as he takes the Eroberer with a bow. One might think that he could've been a king in his past life as his movements were regal and elegant. One might also think that he didn't want to take an innocent life, and she badly tries to believe that it was the latter.

"Do you have any last word?" The Electress asks him and Xerxes remains silent. There was a moment where the blue eyes of the executioner met with the woman's green eyes, and a flash of hesitation appears in his features. "Better prepare to go to Tartarus, scum."

The young man raises the Eroberer, preparing to decapitate the head of its enemy. The skies slowly erodes into slices of purple, pink and orange while the sun ascends from the horizon.

She purses her lips as she watches Xerxes utter one last prayer before the sunlight shone on him. The people were chanting and shouting a lot of names, throwing stones, condemning him.

In that moment he could've been a saviour — a martyr.

But she couldn't let this empire of crimson take over her life again. No, not this time and no hell will stop her anymore.

"Stop!" she screams from the top of her lungs, and the people approaches silence — peace. They all gave her one pitiful glance, knowing that her death was already imminent. She was thankful to the blue-eyed executioner who lets his hands fall to his side with an incredulous expression on his face.

"And who are you to stop us from justice?" the booming voice of the Electress asks.

"If it is justice you seek, you have the wrong person on that stage," she replies and all attention were on hers. "For I am a true child of the Underworld! And I am the one who killed your daughter, her grace, Lady Aspen!"

The crowd were trembling now, the revelation rendering them to shock. Although it was not the truth, she might as well use it to free her brother.

"Guards!" the Electress bellows and there were no orders needed, as they understood their superior. What they were not expecting was the army of undead — both skeletons and fleshed ones — rose from the ground, ready to fight. "Seize the coward!"

"I'll give myself in, if you agree to my terms." She states with a dramatic flick of crimson cloak, one fitted for the event she started. "Release the prisoner, alive and you'll have me in return."

"I will have you killed right here!"

"Death is a mercy employed to the weak," there was a triumphant tone in her voice. "Isn't that right, Senator Wick?"

"Not with yours," he replies with a tone as cold as his eyes, "—it will be my pleasure avenging her grace."

"I'd like to see you try."

As the guards charges to fight with the undead, the people around her were staying away from her in fear of what she could do. Nobody came near her.

Perfect.

With a snap of her fingers, the shadows of the crowd from the risen sun obeys her will and she places everything to secure Xerxes' escape. Within a few seconds, the prisoner disappears from the stage which angers the two politicians in front of her.

"Kill her!" the Electress orders. "I want her dead!"

With the guards occupied with her army, the only one who could try to lay harm on her was the young senator bearing the Eroberer, and that perspective alone sent a bad taste in her mouth.

She can't fight him, that is what she realises.

There was no turning back now, she was not going down easily. She will bring the Republique's destruction until her very last breath.

Closing her eyes, she prays silently to her father. Her outstretched clenches into a fist as the grounds shakes, welcoming her demise.

Debris from the surrounding buildings falls around and people starts to panic. She could hear the screams and cries of the crowd, with everybody running around.

Nobody paid attention to her.

The earthquake continued on and she struggles to hold her steady ground. From the distance, she could see the young senator running to her with the golden sword in hand.

"Who are you?!" the blue-eyed senator asks in gritted teeth as he readies the Eroberer to strike through her. "Remove your hood or I'll kill you."

"You can't kill someone who is already dead," she smirks one last time as if she was taunting him. "—but since you asked. . ."

Pulling down the hood of her cloak, her grey eyes met his piercing ones.

"I am Kira."

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

TITLE: Of Aces and Poison
SYNOPSIS: THE TABLES HAVE TURNED. There is no stopping us now, because today, we will rule this wicked world.
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Chapter 4 of The Prince of Pirates
Written by Skyriter1

Archer

         The morning after Adam’s funeral was the last time I saw my father. I hadn’t slept the night before, my mind racing over everything that had happened. I paced my room with heavy weighted thoughts. Why did he have to save those people? Why did our father have to push him away? Why didn’t I go in instead? My steps grew heavier, my pace faster. Then I heard a creak beneath my foot, a loose board that hadn’t been moved in over ten years. My heart stopped for a moment, then I gingerly knelt down and removed the board. Finally exposed once more to light, the letter was a dark yellow, aged in its secret place. A thick layer of dust covered it, a cloud soaring into the room as I blew it away. On it, the ink had faded but was still legible. I took a deep breath, and began to read what my brother meant for me so long ago.

“Dear Samuel,

I’m sorry for leaving you and Adam with our father.

He’s cruel and wrathful and I had to go.

If you ever get the chance, come to America.

I’ll be waiting little brother.

You still have family.

Eric”

          I must have read the letter over a dozen times before it finally sunk in. Eric betrayed Adam and I, leaving us with our monster of a father. If he was still around, he could have saved Adam. He could have stopped him from going into that fire, but he wasn’t man enough to stay by our side. If I ever saw Eric again, I’d kill him myself.

          I stuffed the letter and my best clothing into a sack, then slung it over my shoulder. As I descended the stairs, my father sat in his beat up chair surrounded by hills of bottles. Every drink he ever had was a sad attempt at fixing his problems. I didn’t care if he saw me leave, so i kicked around any empty whiskey and rum that laid in my way. The clinking of glass stirred my father, and he looked up to see his youngest son leaving him.

          “First your mom, then Adam,” he chuckled to himself as if a bad joke had been said. “And now I’ve lost my two other sons to the sea.” His ramblings trailed off as he finished the bottle in his hand, then threw it across the room with the sound of shattering glass soon to follow.

          I looked at him for what seemed like ages. Memories of him drinking was the only thing I had. There was nothing to miss when it came to Stephen Bellamy. All he ever was was the town drunk, the widowed husband that lost a hero son. To me he was a poor example of a man and an even poorer excuse for a father. Taking one final look at the only home I ever knew, I decided it was time for me to move on. Utterly defeated, my father’s gaze went to his hands and he began to weep. I stepped out the front door and turned towards the docks, the creaking of hell begging me to return but to no avail. I had already begun the movements, no thoughts going into the process. I blocked out everything else, from the passing of concerned faces to the feeble barks from Scotch. Hittisleigh was no longer my home, and I needed to find my place in a world growing forever dark.

          I reached the water around midday, the time when the docks were bustling the most with sailors. I spoke with the usual people, most of them giving their condolences about Adam. My responses always came out rigid and cold. I was intent on leaving this life behind. After a few conversations with some merchants on the dock, I learned what I was looking for. A Royal Navy ship was anchored at the end of the pier, its sails a pearlescent white in the rays of sunlight. The rigging climbed its masts like a web made from hemp and cotton, the rope taunt in the breeze. I approached cautiously, looking for the man in charge. Through the thrall of sailors and merchants, one figure stood out amongst all the rest.

          Even as the man stood with his back towards me, his dominance could be seen in the respectful gazes his crew aimed towards him. His coat was a blood red, heat resonating off of him with a passion. The light reflected from his black boots, a glare so strong it almost rivaled the sun. However, what stood out most was the length of silver hair on his head tied back into a ponytail with a red ribbon, dark crimson like his coat. By some divine intervention he must have realized someone behind him was staring. He turned briskly and looked directly into my eyes.

          “They call me Captain Charles Archer,” his voice emerged similar to the sound of waves breaking upon the shore. “May I be of service?” The intelligence in his eyes caused me to hesitate briefly, but then I regained some sense of composure.

          “I’m looking to join the Royal Navy,” my words were scrappy and weak in comparison to the Captain’s, their ferocity quickly lost. He eyed me up and down, taking slow paces around where I stood. He muttered incoherently to himself, then a jettison of orders were launched to one of his crew.

          “Mr. Turner!” His beckoning blasted through the the crowd, then a moment of silence rushed through everyone. After a second, a lean young man appeared aboard the ship. “Mop and bucket, if you’d be so kind!” In an instant, Mr. Turner was gone to fetch a mop and bucket. The chorus of merchant sales began once again with Captain Archer and I facing one another. “Come with me,” the captain told me, his commands compelling my body to follow him. The ship loomed above us, its power evident to anyone that laid their eyes upon it. We ascended the plan bridge that lead to the ship’s deck. “This is The Britannia.

          The name fit. It was a strong representation of English leadership, the dark stained oak planks under our feet glistening in the sunlight. Bodies flew past us, their jobs ingrained into every action they did. Some men worked on the rigging, others checked the sailed for any tears or breaks. Other men were bringing crates onto the ship, most likely rations or stocks of weapons.

          “What name have you been given boy?” Captain Archer’s question snapped me out of the trance I was in. It was directed in a way that showed a mixture of curiosity and impatience as if he wanted an immediate response.

          “Bellamy, sir,” I spoke quickly, a sense of excitement finally washing over me from talking to a Royal Navy captain. “Samuel Bellamy.”

          He gave a single nod and turned towards his crew. A moment passed, then Mr. Turner appeared once more. This time he held a mop with a brittle handle, and a bucket filled with murky water. He stood at attention, waiting for Captain Archer’s next orders. “Bellamy, you will swab the deck. If the wood doesn’t shine, swab harder.” The captain spoke with intent, making sure he could be understood and seen as the one in charge. It certainly worked, for the second the mop entered my grip I was using it.

          Mr. Turner had taken my pack to place it in the crew quarters. “The name is James Edward Turner, but I go by James,” he said nonchalantly, as if he didn’t quite belong in the Royal Navy. It turned out he was the youngest son of a rich farming family a few towns away. They sent him to serve because he was always given his every whim. I guess having slaves made you lazy.

          About an hour after I was brought onto the Britannia, she began to sail away from the docks. The wind was stronger in the open water, my long black hair obscuring my vision. Captain Archer must have seen this because within seconds of it happening he was standing next to me with a thin strip of black satin in his hand.

          “Here,” he said while outstretching the fabric towards me. “Black seems like your colour.” His stern demeanour was loosely veiling a different emotion. It almost sounded like humour in his voice. I thanked him and took the satin strip, then tied my hair back the same way he did. With the tight bow in my hair, I could clearly watch the land shrink in the distance.

          The sails unfurled as the ship adjusted course until we aimed directly towards the endless ocean. I placed my one hand over my heart and closed my eyes. I was fulfilling my dream. I was fulfilling Adam’s. A small grin crept crept up my lips and I knew Adam wasn’t completely gone. He was still with me in spirit, watching my voyage across the sea.

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Chapter 4 of The Prince of Pirates
Written by Skyriter1
Archer
         The morning after Adam’s funeral was the last time I saw my father. I hadn’t slept the night before, my mind racing over everything that had happened. I paced my room with heavy weighted thoughts. Why did he have to save those people? Why did our father have to push him away? Why didn’t I go in instead? My steps grew heavier, my pace faster. Then I heard a creak beneath my foot, a loose board that hadn’t been moved in over ten years. My heart stopped for a moment, then I gingerly knelt down and removed the board. Finally exposed once more to light, the letter was a dark yellow, aged in its secret place. A thick layer of dust covered it, a cloud soaring into the room as I blew it away. On it, the ink had faded but was still legible. I took a deep breath, and began to read what my brother meant for me so long ago.
“Dear Samuel,
I’m sorry for leaving you and Adam with our father.
He’s cruel and wrathful and I had to go.
If you ever get the chance, come to America.
I’ll be waiting little brother.
You still have family.
Eric”
          I must have read the letter over a dozen times before it finally sunk in. Eric betrayed Adam and I, leaving us with our monster of a father. If he was still around, he could have saved Adam. He could have stopped him from going into that fire, but he wasn’t man enough to stay by our side. If I ever saw Eric again, I’d kill him myself.
          I stuffed the letter and my best clothing into a sack, then slung it over my shoulder. As I descended the stairs, my father sat in his beat up chair surrounded by hills of bottles. Every drink he ever had was a sad attempt at fixing his problems. I didn’t care if he saw me leave, so i kicked around any empty whiskey and rum that laid in my way. The clinking of glass stirred my father, and he looked up to see his youngest son leaving him.
          “First your mom, then Adam,” he chuckled to himself as if a bad joke had been said. “And now I’ve lost my two other sons to the sea.” His ramblings trailed off as he finished the bottle in his hand, then threw it across the room with the sound of shattering glass soon to follow.
          I looked at him for what seemed like ages. Memories of him drinking was the only thing I had. There was nothing to miss when it came to Stephen Bellamy. All he ever was was the town drunk, the widowed husband that lost a hero son. To me he was a poor example of a man and an even poorer excuse for a father. Taking one final look at the only home I ever knew, I decided it was time for me to move on. Utterly defeated, my father’s gaze went to his hands and he began to weep. I stepped out the front door and turned towards the docks, the creaking of hell begging me to return but to no avail. I had already begun the movements, no thoughts going into the process. I blocked out everything else, from the passing of concerned faces to the feeble barks from Scotch. Hittisleigh was no longer my home, and I needed to find my place in a world growing forever dark.
          I reached the water around midday, the time when the docks were bustling the most with sailors. I spoke with the usual people, most of them giving their condolences about Adam. My responses always came out rigid and cold. I was intent on leaving this life behind. After a few conversations with some merchants on the dock, I learned what I was looking for. A Royal Navy ship was anchored at the end of the pier, its sails a pearlescent white in the rays of sunlight. The rigging climbed its masts like a web made from hemp and cotton, the rope taunt in the breeze. I approached cautiously, looking for the man in charge. Through the thrall of sailors and merchants, one figure stood out amongst all the rest.
          Even as the man stood with his back towards me, his dominance could be seen in the respectful gazes his crew aimed towards him. His coat was a blood red, heat resonating off of him with a passion. The light reflected from his black boots, a glare so strong it almost rivaled the sun. However, what stood out most was the length of silver hair on his head tied back into a ponytail with a red ribbon, dark crimson like his coat. By some divine intervention he must have realized someone behind him was staring. He turned briskly and looked directly into my eyes.
          “They call me Captain Charles Archer,” his voice emerged similar to the sound of waves breaking upon the shore. “May I be of service?” The intelligence in his eyes caused me to hesitate briefly, but then I regained some sense of composure.
          “I’m looking to join the Royal Navy,” my words were scrappy and weak in comparison to the Captain’s, their ferocity quickly lost. He eyed me up and down, taking slow paces around where I stood. He muttered incoherently to himself, then a jettison of orders were launched to one of his crew.
          “Mr. Turner!” His beckoning blasted through the the crowd, then a moment of silence rushed through everyone. After a second, a lean young man appeared aboard the ship. “Mop and bucket, if you’d be so kind!” In an instant, Mr. Turner was gone to fetch a mop and bucket. The chorus of merchant sales began once again with Captain Archer and I facing one another. “Come with me,” the captain told me, his commands compelling my body to follow him. The ship loomed above us, its power evident to anyone that laid their eyes upon it. We ascended the plan bridge that lead to the ship’s deck. “This is The Britannia.
          The name fit. It was a strong representation of English leadership, the dark stained oak planks under our feet glistening in the sunlight. Bodies flew past us, their jobs ingrained into every action they did. Some men worked on the rigging, others checked the sailed for any tears or breaks. Other men were bringing crates onto the ship, most likely rations or stocks of weapons.
          “What name have you been given boy?” Captain Archer’s question snapped me out of the trance I was in. It was directed in a way that showed a mixture of curiosity and impatience as if he wanted an immediate response.
          “Bellamy, sir,” I spoke quickly, a sense of excitement finally washing over me from talking to a Royal Navy captain. “Samuel Bellamy.”
          He gave a single nod and turned towards his crew. A moment passed, then Mr. Turner appeared once more. This time he held a mop with a brittle handle, and a bucket filled with murky water. He stood at attention, waiting for Captain Archer’s next orders. “Bellamy, you will swab the deck. If the wood doesn’t shine, swab harder.” The captain spoke with intent, making sure he could be understood and seen as the one in charge. It certainly worked, for the second the mop entered my grip I was using it.
          Mr. Turner had taken my pack to place it in the crew quarters. “The name is James Edward Turner, but I go by James,” he said nonchalantly, as if he didn’t quite belong in the Royal Navy. It turned out he was the youngest son of a rich farming family a few towns away. They sent him to serve because he was always given his every whim. I guess having slaves made you lazy.
          About an hour after I was brought onto the Britannia, she began to sail away from the docks. The wind was stronger in the open water, my long black hair obscuring my vision. Captain Archer must have seen this because within seconds of it happening he was standing next to me with a thin strip of black satin in his hand.
          “Here,” he said while outstretching the fabric towards me. “Black seems like your colour.” His stern demeanour was loosely veiling a different emotion. It almost sounded like humour in his voice. I thanked him and took the satin strip, then tied my hair back the same way he did. With the tight bow in my hair, I could clearly watch the land shrink in the distance.
          The sails unfurled as the ship adjusted course until we aimed directly towards the endless ocean. I placed my one hand over my heart and closed my eyes. I was fulfilling my dream. I was fulfilling Adam’s. A small grin crept crept up my lips and I knew Adam wasn’t completely gone. He was still with me in spirit, watching my voyage across the sea.
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Written by CuppaTea

Ashes

She picked at the frayed ends of her hair, loose sandy tendrils twining around her fingers in the breeze. The cigarette was mashed into a knot in the tree stump beside her, in the company of several others she couldn't remember smoking. She shut her eyes as she thrust her hands into the cool, damp grass under her knees. Took a slow, deliberate breath and exhaled. The sharp smell of smoke still burned her from the inside, familiar and foreign at once. This smoke was different, heavier.

She'd always enjoyed the smell of burning wood and cigarettes. But she loved the smell of extinguished flames the most.

She opened her eyes and blinked against the sting. She wanted to look at the smoldering ruins, burn the image into her mind. With one hand she wiped at her face, smudging ash across her cheek. With the other she reached for her jacket pocket and rubbed her thumb over the smooth metal of the lighter.

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Written by CuppaTea
Ashes
She picked at the frayed ends of her hair, loose sandy tendrils twining around her fingers in the breeze. The cigarette was mashed into a knot in the tree stump beside her, in the company of several others she couldn't remember smoking. She shut her eyes as she thrust her hands into the cool, damp grass under her knees. Took a slow, deliberate breath and exhaled. The sharp smell of smoke still burned her from the inside, familiar and foreign at once. This smoke was different, heavier.

She'd always enjoyed the smell of burning wood and cigarettes. But she loved the smell of extinguished flames the most.

She opened her eyes and blinked against the sting. She wanted to look at the smoldering ruins, burn the image into her mind. With one hand she wiped at her face, smudging ash across her cheek. With the other she reached for her jacket pocket and rubbed her thumb over the smooth metal of the lighter.
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Written by Cimarron in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Party Tricks

My smoke and mirror gentleman,

it takes a curious magic

to make me feel like Alice 

through the looking glass

every time you charm the room

with your oddities

My cloak and shadow thespian,

it takes a comical tragic

to make me feel like Juliet

after fool-heart death

every time you stun the stage

with your sorcery

My masked and nimble maestro,

it takes a celestial magic

to make me feel like dancing

at the world's edge

every time you inspire my heart 

with your strangeness.

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Written by Cimarron in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Party Tricks
My smoke and mirror gentleman,
it takes a curious magic
to make me feel like Alice 
through the looking glass
every time you charm the room
with your oddities

My cloak and shadow thespian,
it takes a comical tragic
to make me feel like Juliet
after fool-heart death
every time you stun the stage
with your sorcery

My masked and nimble maestro,
it takes a celestial magic
to make me feel like dancing
at the world's edge
every time you inspire my heart 
with your strangeness.
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Written by SamanthaFowler

6701

The seductive allure of morning coffee beckons a new day

Its wafting aroma magically compels my legs forward

I avail myself to the rising Sun besieging my eyes

I squander this gift by squinting

It is one of my guilty pleasures

So I soldier on, knowing the treasure awaiting my presence is worth any price

For it is the dawn of the first day of the rest of my life

An awakening of all possibilities that still exist

And a grim reminder of the meager time allotted to enjoy them

25000 such incidents an average human is rationed

6700 pass by before I even cared

The tempo of a quickened life rarely equals the heightened anxiety of its impending end

Ignore the terminus

Carpe Diem every nanosecond

Force each moment to prove its worth

Demand more than the pedestrian rate of exchange

Learn where Infinity dwells

Travel there, first class, and add one

And care not, not one iota, should anyone follow you

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Written by SamanthaFowler
6701
The seductive allure of morning coffee beckons a new day
Its wafting aroma magically compels my legs forward
I avail myself to the rising Sun besieging my eyes
I squander this gift by squinting
It is one of my guilty pleasures
So I soldier on, knowing the treasure awaiting my presence is worth any price

For it is the dawn of the first day of the rest of my life
An awakening of all possibilities that still exist
And a grim reminder of the meager time allotted to enjoy them

25000 such incidents an average human is rationed
6700 pass by before I even cared
The tempo of a quickened life rarely equals the heightened anxiety of its impending end

Ignore the terminus
Carpe Diem every nanosecond
Force each moment to prove its worth
Demand more than the pedestrian rate of exchange

Learn where Infinity dwells
Travel there, first class, and add one
And care not, not one iota, should anyone follow you


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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by Ferryman in portal Fiction

Homeward

He stumbled. He knew the way, or at least he was reasonably sure he did, but he had a hard time staying on track.

He fell. He decided to just stay there for a minute, and catch his breath. When he got up, a moan escaped his lips; he didn’t hurt, exactly, but was frustrated. He looked up at the afternoon sun, and didn’t remember it getting so late. Where did the time go?

He just shrugged and walked it off. Home. That was his thought process; I have to get home.

He’d been drunk before, of course. There were times where he couldn’t remember events from a night of revelry, but never had a substantial blackout before. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember what had happened between doing shots at the bar and stumbling around now, at least sixteen hours later. Was he asleep? Where were his friends?

Why did he have only one shoe?

He thought about asking the woman sitting in the park bench. Asking her what? He forgot.

He was so confused, but he felt that he couldn’t possibly still be drunk.

“My god,” he thought, “am I sick?”

The lady on the park bench was pretty. He moved in her direction. She looked past him.

He loomed over her, and she continued to ignore him.

“Hey,” he tried to say, but his words came out a gasp. Tongue tied, he stood there, trying to ask a simple question without appearing to be a fool or simpleton. He just needed to use her phone, if she had one. He grew nervous and agitated; it was like he was stuck in a dream, and he couldn’t get the words out.

All she did was dismissively grunt in his general direction.

He knew when to take a hint, so he kept walking towards home.

He wasn’t tired, but terribly annoyed and hungry. There was a shadowy spot underneath an old oak; he liked how the moss hung to give shade. He sat down, leaning against the trunk. He looked back towards the hotel, but couldn’t see it. Where were his friends? What had happened to the bachelor party? He didn’t remember walking so far, but things had been a mess since waking up.

His eyes wandered the streets around him, and he thought it odd how there was absolutely no vehicle traffic. Cars had stopped in some places, and the roads were completely clear in others. Vaguely, he registered the sounds of alarms and horns blaring in the distance. He saw a lot of folks walking, not seemingly in a hurry, and completely unconcerned about the heat of the day.

He drifted off, tired of thinking, tired of trying to remember and piece it all together.

Awareness floated back to him on the beams of a half moon. He was walking again. Just as confused as earlier, at least he was no longer hungry. He found it odd that he was now barefoot, but he didn’t dwell on it.

He had to get home.

He smiled a little as he remembered being this drunk once before. He was being led back to the hotel from a night on River Street by his less-inebriated friends. He became obsessed with the fact that his wife was missing. “Where did she go? IS SHE OKAY?” he yelled, and he lit out to find her at a full-trot. A keystone cops moment followed, wherein he ran circles around the old weathered brick building that housed a nightclub, chased by four of his closest and dearest. When he finally stopped running (he found her safe and sound hugging a lamp post) the almost-sober of the group ushered the concerned parties to the suite before police could be involved.

Lost in thought, he tripped over something on the shoulder of the interstate.

Wait. The interstate?

Headlights in the distance illuminated his path. He looked down at what nearly made him fall. He couldn’t tell for sure what it was, but it was slippery and smelled delicious.

“A food truck crashed?” he thought.

He shambled on towards the headlights, intending to wave them down for a ride. He reached out to them, waving his hands.

The car swerved towards him, and didn’t slow down.

Confusion turned to anger when a side-mirror grazed his arm. He spun around, and landed in the ditch. The car kept going, red taillights in the distance weaving around other vehicles in the dark.

Anger added itself to the perpetual confusion and frustration. He tried to get up, but found his left arm uncooperative. He roared in fury, and slowly got back to his feet.

He looked down, and in the starlight, his arm hung limply. It was twisted and obviously broken.

“Wow. I must really be blitzed,” he hazily thought.

There was no pain.

He walked on.

Slowly, the miles melted away as surely as his thoughts. Blackouts became more common. Words became disjointed images in his mind, and soon the only two things that he knew were hunger and the need to go home.

Time became a blur, discomfort became a constant companion, and anger colored everything with a hazy white film. Days became nights, and strangers shambled beside him. He didn’t speak. After it became obvious that they would ignore him, he began to return the favor.

He finally recognized the exit ramp for home.

He left the pack of weary travelers that had both welcomed and spurned him, and he refused to rest until he could do so in his own bed.

His wife and children would be worried sick, and the Missus would probably be angry that he hadn’t called. She never really wanted him to go off to Savannah with the boys for the bachelor party, anyway.

These thoughts seeped in and leaked out just as quickly, and it was hard to concentrate. He vaguely remembered being upset that she hadn’t come looking for him, but these complex ideas, too, just became images.

Home. Hunger. Eat when I get there. Rest when I get home. One foot in front of the other, fall down. Get up. Keep going. Home.

Hunger.

Her.

Love?

Longing for her.

Longing for home.

Blackout.

He couldn’t get inside. The front door wouldn’t open. He knocked with his good arm. He beat at the door with both arms in a slow-motion frenzy as frustration mounted and became anger.

Ever present, under his roiling emotions, that hunger kept gnawing at him.

“I’m home, let me in,” he thought he said, but the reality was that only a growl escaped his dried, cracked lips.

He heard crying from inside. Something was wrong! The need to feed flared white-hot, and his fury peaked. He knocked louder, and he yelled for her to let him inside. His arms flailed against the door, and his growls became a constant moan.

Finally, the door opened, and there she was.

He saw a flash of light, but he never realized it was the flash of a muzzle. The sound of thunder that echoed into the pines and elms surrounding their secluded country house never reached his ears; he finally stopped walking, moaning, and longing.

“There will be others. Close the door and let’s get the barricade back in place before they get here.”

“We need to bury him, mama! He’s been missing since this thing started, but now he’s home, and we need to take care of Dad!”

“That’s not your daddy any more, baby. He died weeks ago.”

Under the cover of darkness, as quietly as they could, they laid him to rest next to other family members. Each of them in that shallow makeshift cemetery had been driven by longing and hunger; each of them had been looking for a missing piece of themselves that could only be found back home.

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by Ferryman in portal Fiction
Homeward
He stumbled. He knew the way, or at least he was reasonably sure he did, but he had a hard time staying on track.

He fell. He decided to just stay there for a minute, and catch his breath. When he got up, a moan escaped his lips; he didn’t hurt, exactly, but was frustrated. He looked up at the afternoon sun, and didn’t remember it getting so late. Where did the time go?

He just shrugged and walked it off. Home. That was his thought process; I have to get home.

He’d been drunk before, of course. There were times where he couldn’t remember events from a night of revelry, but never had a substantial blackout before. For the life of him, he couldn’t remember what had happened between doing shots at the bar and stumbling around now, at least sixteen hours later. Was he asleep? Where were his friends?

Why did he have only one shoe?

He thought about asking the woman sitting in the park bench. Asking her what? He forgot.

He was so confused, but he felt that he couldn’t possibly still be drunk.

“My god,” he thought, “am I sick?”

The lady on the park bench was pretty. He moved in her direction. She looked past him.

He loomed over her, and she continued to ignore him.

“Hey,” he tried to say, but his words came out a gasp. Tongue tied, he stood there, trying to ask a simple question without appearing to be a fool or simpleton. He just needed to use her phone, if she had one. He grew nervous and agitated; it was like he was stuck in a dream, and he couldn’t get the words out.

All she did was dismissively grunt in his general direction.

He knew when to take a hint, so he kept walking towards home.

He wasn’t tired, but terribly annoyed and hungry. There was a shadowy spot underneath an old oak; he liked how the moss hung to give shade. He sat down, leaning against the trunk. He looked back towards the hotel, but couldn’t see it. Where were his friends? What had happened to the bachelor party? He didn’t remember walking so far, but things had been a mess since waking up.

His eyes wandered the streets around him, and he thought it odd how there was absolutely no vehicle traffic. Cars had stopped in some places, and the roads were completely clear in others. Vaguely, he registered the sounds of alarms and horns blaring in the distance. He saw a lot of folks walking, not seemingly in a hurry, and completely unconcerned about the heat of the day.

He drifted off, tired of thinking, tired of trying to remember and piece it all together.

Awareness floated back to him on the beams of a half moon. He was walking again. Just as confused as earlier, at least he was no longer hungry. He found it odd that he was now barefoot, but he didn’t dwell on it.

He had to get home.

He smiled a little as he remembered being this drunk once before. He was being led back to the hotel from a night on River Street by his less-inebriated friends. He became obsessed with the fact that his wife was missing. “Where did she go? IS SHE OKAY?” he yelled, and he lit out to find her at a full-trot. A keystone cops moment followed, wherein he ran circles around the old weathered brick building that housed a nightclub, chased by four of his closest and dearest. When he finally stopped running (he found her safe and sound hugging a lamp post) the almost-sober of the group ushered the concerned parties to the suite before police could be involved.

Lost in thought, he tripped over something on the shoulder of the interstate.

Wait. The interstate?

Headlights in the distance illuminated his path. He looked down at what nearly made him fall. He couldn’t tell for sure what it was, but it was slippery and smelled delicious.

“A food truck crashed?” he thought.

He shambled on towards the headlights, intending to wave them down for a ride. He reached out to them, waving his hands.

The car swerved towards him, and didn’t slow down.

Confusion turned to anger when a side-mirror grazed his arm. He spun around, and landed in the ditch. The car kept going, red taillights in the distance weaving around other vehicles in the dark.

Anger added itself to the perpetual confusion and frustration. He tried to get up, but found his left arm uncooperative. He roared in fury, and slowly got back to his feet.

He looked down, and in the starlight, his arm hung limply. It was twisted and obviously broken.

“Wow. I must really be blitzed,” he hazily thought.

There was no pain.

He walked on.

Slowly, the miles melted away as surely as his thoughts. Blackouts became more common. Words became disjointed images in his mind, and soon the only two things that he knew were hunger and the need to go home.

Time became a blur, discomfort became a constant companion, and anger colored everything with a hazy white film. Days became nights, and strangers shambled beside him. He didn’t speak. After it became obvious that they would ignore him, he began to return the favor.

He finally recognized the exit ramp for home.

He left the pack of weary travelers that had both welcomed and spurned him, and he refused to rest until he could do so in his own bed.

His wife and children would be worried sick, and the Missus would probably be angry that he hadn’t called. She never really wanted him to go off to Savannah with the boys for the bachelor party, anyway.

These thoughts seeped in and leaked out just as quickly, and it was hard to concentrate. He vaguely remembered being upset that she hadn’t come looking for him, but these complex ideas, too, just became images.

Home. Hunger. Eat when I get there. Rest when I get home. One foot in front of the other, fall down. Get up. Keep going. Home.

Hunger.

Her.

Love?

Longing for her.

Longing for home.

Blackout.

He couldn’t get inside. The front door wouldn’t open. He knocked with his good arm. He beat at the door with both arms in a slow-motion frenzy as frustration mounted and became anger.

Ever present, under his roiling emotions, that hunger kept gnawing at him.

“I’m home, let me in,” he thought he said, but the reality was that only a growl escaped his dried, cracked lips.

He heard crying from inside. Something was wrong! The need to feed flared white-hot, and his fury peaked. He knocked louder, and he yelled for her to let him inside. His arms flailed against the door, and his growls became a constant moan.

Finally, the door opened, and there she was.

He saw a flash of light, but he never realized it was the flash of a muzzle. The sound of thunder that echoed into the pines and elms surrounding their secluded country house never reached his ears; he finally stopped walking, moaning, and longing.

“There will be others. Close the door and let’s get the barricade back in place before they get here.”

“We need to bury him, mama! He’s been missing since this thing started, but now he’s home, and we need to take care of Dad!”

“That’s not your daddy any more, baby. He died weeks ago.”

Under the cover of darkness, as quietly as they could, they laid him to rest next to other family members. Each of them in that shallow makeshift cemetery had been driven by longing and hunger; each of them had been looking for a missing piece of themselves that could only be found back home.
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by HermitThrush in portal Fiction

In the Blood

Harry sighed as he drove the car into the garage. Home, finally. No more long hours of asking people if they'd tried rebooting their computer, or watching their confusion when the problem disappeared as soon as he walked in the room. Though Ms. Newton's computer actually was on the fritz; it had been an engaging two hours of getting the firewall to behave. But now he could spend time with his daughter Elizabeth. Since Patty was visiting her parents, the two of them planned a night of pizza, video games, and absolutely atrocious horror movies.

Harry's parental instincts went to Defcon 1 as soon as he saw Elizabeth. She was sitting at the table, pale, wrapped in a blanket, staring straight at the wall. She didn't even turn as he came in the room.

"Sweetie, what's wrong? Are you OK?" Harry set his bag on the floor and pulled up a chair next to her. 

Elizabeth kept staring, but held out her arm. Harry gasped; there was an enormous cut across her skin. He decided she must be in shock. "What happened? Wait here, I'll grab the gauze." He glanced around the table and grabbed an unused napkin left over from breakfast. "Here, hold this on it until I get back. Put pressure on it to stop the bleeding."

"It's not bleeding." Her voice broke, and Elizabeth finally turned toward him. Tears hung perilously at the corners of her eyes. "I was going to do all that, but it's not bleeding."

Harry looked closer. The cut was pretty bad; he could see where the skin was forced apart. It wasn't especially deep, but it was long, more than enough to be dripping blood. He couldn't see a single drop.

He gagged, but quickly pushed down his feelings. If that was his reaction, Elizabeth needed him to be strong. "I'll get the gauze anyway. We don't want it to get infected." He squeezed her hand. "I'll just be a second." Harry ran to the closet and grabbed the first aid kit. Soon Elizabeth's arm was wrapped in white cloth.

Harry put his arm around his daughter's shoulders. "Can you tell me what happened yet?"

Elizabeth broke down in sobs, then used the napkin to dry her tears. Her body jerked up and down as she suppressed her crying, and then she swallowed. Finally she met her father's eyes and nodded.

"I was walking back from the bus stop when I heard shouting. I went to see what was going on, and--" Elizabeth paused, swallowed, and took a deep breath. "There were two guys. They had knives and they were shouting at a third guy that he must have more money. I screamed, but that just got their attention--"

Harry swore and stood up. "Where are they? They did this? When I find them I am going to feed them their own--"

"Dad, wait!" More tears ran down her cheeks. "Let me finish."

Harry clenched his hands into fists, but sat back down. He would hear the rest of the story, then go take care of those punks.

"I got scared and tried to run but one of them grazed my arm. Then... then..." Elizabeth started sobbing again.

Harry's fingers gripped the edge of his seat so hard he half expected it to break. It took more willpower than he knew he had not to hunt them down right then and there.

Elizabeth started breathing loudly, fast at first but then slow. Her voice was tense, a side effect of the control she forced herself to have. "Then I started bleeding, but it didn't stay. The blood just kind of dissolved, and then the bleeding stopped."

Harry felt his face contort in confusion. The conversation made less sense the longer it went on. "Your blood... it... what?"

Elizabeth hesitated. "It kind of... disappeared into a little orange cloud?" She dissolved into simultaneous laughter and tears as she rested her head on the table. "I didn't think it could get any crazier until I said that out loud."

Harry's anger was quickly changing into worry. What in the blazes was happening here?

"I saw it and the guys saw it, and it was so weird we kind of just stared for a second. Next thing I knew this... it kind of looked like orange light... came out of nowhere. It threw them against the wall, hard. One of them ran, but the other one didn't look too good. He was bleeding, and..." Elizabeth hid her face in her hands and squeezed her eyes shut. "I was too scared to see if he was alive. I ran home and that's when I realized I wasn't bleeding anymore."

Harry pulled in Elizabeth for a hug. Maybe she was crazy, he didn't know. All he knew was his daughter needed him. "It's going to be OK. I'll take care of whatever it is. And I can make sure you never see those guys again."

Elizabeth squeezed him and cried. "What's going on? Am I some kind of monster now? Am I even alive? What happens if I ever get cut again? What if everyone around me gets hurt if I get hurt?"

Harry kept holding her. "You're not a monster. You're my daughter. I don't know about the other questions but we'll get through this. OK? You're safe now."

Elizabeth nodded and straightened. They both stared as the white cloth on her arm began to stain red.

Elizabeth broke down laughing again. "Well, that's one question."

Later they found out that the guy in the alley got picked up and taken to the hospital, then arrested after his accomplice ratted him out. Though the police were a bit dubious at first, what with the raving about how he had to go straight because of a sign from God. The initial victim coming forward clinched it. Elizabeth was relieved that he had the tact not to mention her.

A week later, she cut her finger on a can in the recycling. She held her breath and waited. Blood oozed out of the cut and began to drip on the floor. Elizabeth exhaled, then went to get a bandage.

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by HermitThrush in portal Fiction
In the Blood
Harry sighed as he drove the car into the garage. Home, finally. No more long hours of asking people if they'd tried rebooting their computer, or watching their confusion when the problem disappeared as soon as he walked in the room. Though Ms. Newton's computer actually was on the fritz; it had been an engaging two hours of getting the firewall to behave. But now he could spend time with his daughter Elizabeth. Since Patty was visiting her parents, the two of them planned a night of pizza, video games, and absolutely atrocious horror movies.

Harry's parental instincts went to Defcon 1 as soon as he saw Elizabeth. She was sitting at the table, pale, wrapped in a blanket, staring straight at the wall. She didn't even turn as he came in the room.

"Sweetie, what's wrong? Are you OK?" Harry set his bag on the floor and pulled up a chair next to her. 

Elizabeth kept staring, but held out her arm. Harry gasped; there was an enormous cut across her skin. He decided she must be in shock. "What happened? Wait here, I'll grab the gauze." He glanced around the table and grabbed an unused napkin left over from breakfast. "Here, hold this on it until I get back. Put pressure on it to stop the bleeding."

"It's not bleeding." Her voice broke, and Elizabeth finally turned toward him. Tears hung perilously at the corners of her eyes. "I was going to do all that, but it's not bleeding."

Harry looked closer. The cut was pretty bad; he could see where the skin was forced apart. It wasn't especially deep, but it was long, more than enough to be dripping blood. He couldn't see a single drop.

He gagged, but quickly pushed down his feelings. If that was his reaction, Elizabeth needed him to be strong. "I'll get the gauze anyway. We don't want it to get infected." He squeezed her hand. "I'll just be a second." Harry ran to the closet and grabbed the first aid kit. Soon Elizabeth's arm was wrapped in white cloth.

Harry put his arm around his daughter's shoulders. "Can you tell me what happened yet?"

Elizabeth broke down in sobs, then used the napkin to dry her tears. Her body jerked up and down as she suppressed her crying, and then she swallowed. Finally she met her father's eyes and nodded.

"I was walking back from the bus stop when I heard shouting. I went to see what was going on, and--" Elizabeth paused, swallowed, and took a deep breath. "There were two guys. They had knives and they were shouting at a third guy that he must have more money. I screamed, but that just got their attention--"

Harry swore and stood up. "Where are they? They did this? When I find them I am going to feed them their own--"

"Dad, wait!" More tears ran down her cheeks. "Let me finish."

Harry clenched his hands into fists, but sat back down. He would hear the rest of the story, then go take care of those punks.

"I got scared and tried to run but one of them grazed my arm. Then... then..." Elizabeth started sobbing again.

Harry's fingers gripped the edge of his seat so hard he half expected it to break. It took more willpower than he knew he had not to hunt them down right then and there.

Elizabeth started breathing loudly, fast at first but then slow. Her voice was tense, a side effect of the control she forced herself to have. "Then I started bleeding, but it didn't stay. The blood just kind of dissolved, and then the bleeding stopped."

Harry felt his face contort in confusion. The conversation made less sense the longer it went on. "Your blood... it... what?"

Elizabeth hesitated. "It kind of... disappeared into a little orange cloud?" She dissolved into simultaneous laughter and tears as she rested her head on the table. "I didn't think it could get any crazier until I said that out loud."

Harry's anger was quickly changing into worry. What in the blazes was happening here?

"I saw it and the guys saw it, and it was so weird we kind of just stared for a second. Next thing I knew this... it kind of looked like orange light... came out of nowhere. It threw them against the wall, hard. One of them ran, but the other one didn't look too good. He was bleeding, and..." Elizabeth hid her face in her hands and squeezed her eyes shut. "I was too scared to see if he was alive. I ran home and that's when I realized I wasn't bleeding anymore."

Harry pulled in Elizabeth for a hug. Maybe she was crazy, he didn't know. All he knew was his daughter needed him. "It's going to be OK. I'll take care of whatever it is. And I can make sure you never see those guys again."

Elizabeth squeezed him and cried. "What's going on? Am I some kind of monster now? Am I even alive? What happens if I ever get cut again? What if everyone around me gets hurt if I get hurt?"

Harry kept holding her. "You're not a monster. You're my daughter. I don't know about the other questions but we'll get through this. OK? You're safe now."

Elizabeth nodded and straightened. They both stared as the white cloth on her arm began to stain red.

Elizabeth broke down laughing again. "Well, that's one question."

Later they found out that the guy in the alley got picked up and taken to the hospital, then arrested after his accomplice ratted him out. Though the police were a bit dubious at first, what with the raving about how he had to go straight because of a sign from God. The initial victim coming forward clinched it. Elizabeth was relieved that he had the tact not to mention her.

A week later, she cut her finger on a can in the recycling. She held her breath and waited. Blood oozed out of the cut and began to drip on the floor. Elizabeth exhaled, then went to get a bandage.

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Written by chimericalmark in portal Trident Media Group

KILL THE MESSENGER

Two men stood in the middle of a sandlot.

One of them, an old man, was forced down on his knees, his eyes were filled with fear and tears. The man standing next to him in a blinding, all-white uniform and helmet, kept a cold, straight face. He was a Soldier, no doubt, only they have had any ounce of humanity stripped from their DNA. The Soldier pulled out a gun specially made for execution, it was colored as black as the blood that ran through him. As he wrapped his thin, pale, long fingers around the handle and trigger, the old man heard the soft sounds of fingers on metal and jumped.

Anyone could have heard his sobs, they were enough to shatter your heart and break your soul. The old man was caught spreading Rebellion “propaganda”, and everyone knows the consequences of what happens when you’re caught. The Soldier firmly pressed the opening of the gun on the victim's head, and he only began to cry harder. The Soldier waited for the order of the General as the old man mumbled his final prayer. The General called the order and the crowd made sure to close their eyes. The gun went off, splattering blood on the Soldier’s uniform and the tan sand he stood on. I had had enough, I turned off my TV and threw my remote at it. Tears welled up in my eyes, I was sick of seeing executions filmed and having to be forced to watch it.

The entire world was sick of it, but it’s not like we had much of a choice. Unless, we wanted to be taken and tortured to the brink of death. I stared into the tiny camera of my TV, hoping the scumbags could see me. I cursed in that direction, but I knew that when they’d hear me they’d only give me a chuckle and dismiss me. I wiped the tears from my eyes using the sleeve of my brown hooded leather jacket. I stared down at the metallic floor of my room, strands of my massive, curly, dark brown hair falling in front of my vision.

I gagged at the sight of the dull grey floorboards and walls I gawked at my whole life. I felt like the inside of my mind was turning that color. I clawed at my blue sheets on my bed, I tried to resist the urge to create a tear in them. After calming down, I decided that sulking in my room would get nothing done, and decided to head out. Finishing my work was the most important thing to throw all of my energy into. I kneeled down next to my bed and stretched my arm under it. I felt the top of my box and quickly pulled it out. Inside were personal documents, my dad’s research journal, and papers with decrypted writing from my dad’s journal. His journal was my work, uncovering all of his secrets was important to me. After a couple of months of reading, absorbing, and writing out all of his plans and research, I came to the conclusion that the journal was the key to the Government’s weaknesses.

I smiled to myself at that thought and shoved my notes into the book and walked to my door. I pressed the touchpad beside it and watched as the same metallic coloring of the hallway revealed itself. The other doors across from me and next to me stayed shut, also colored that infuriating silver. I stepped outside and quickly made my way towards the elevator at the end of the hallway. I stopped by my mom’s room, and pressed the keypad next to the door to see if she was still there. No response. I checked my Transmission Watch and found no missed calls from my mom either. I shrugged it off and assumed she probably went down for lunch.

I set my feet on the pad in front of the elevator door and watched as a bright blue light shone beneath me. It opened, and once inside I pressed the button that would take me to the first floor, where the library, cafeteria, and other recreations for us civilians were. As the elevator went down, I could heard the tortured screams or whispers of the maniacs who stayed on those floor. Sometimes I’d allow myself to listen, just to see what was going on through their minds. Half the time it was gibberish and the other half of the time they were throwing around insults as to how stupid the rest of us were. There’d be days where I’d hear something in between the madness, it was unintelligible, but sounded like someone was trying to tell me about something important.

I shook my head and let their voices spill out, I wasn't in any mood to analyze what they had to say. The elevator came to an abrupt stop and the doors slid open. I lazily walked out and almost immediately my eyes caught the attention of everyone’s shoes. The girl’s wore grey flats whereas the boys wore grey boots. I looked down at my long, dark brown combat boots already accepting my fate of being stared at. In fact, as I strided towards the library one woman stopped me.

“Where are your new shoes?”

I gritted my teeth together and politely answered, “I don’t have a pair.”

“You have to get them, it’s apart of the new uniform!” The woman urged.

“I don’t want a new pair of shoes, but thank you for telling me anyways.” I quickly made my way into the library, leaving the stunned and offended woman outside. I am not one to be so choppy when I speak to someone, but the level of brainwashing with the majority of these people is too much to deal with at time. I sucked in a deep breath and headed towards the Educational Section. Of course, every book was about all of the Government leaders and people who helped them. It was outlawed to have any piece of literature from before 2140.

During that time, World War III took place and lasted a painful fifteen years. Millions of lives were lost, smuggling took place, governments fell, and people were split up. It was now 2182, in the second “Golden Era”, where we rebuild and make the world a better place. Better place my ass, the people who came to power managed to make it worse than ever before. I chuckled at the thought, despite the fact it really wasn’t a laughing matter.

I skimmed through a whole two rows of books, all colored white or grey, better known as bland and more bland. Looking at the row behind me, I finally found the previous book on codes and ciphers I used for my dad’s journal. I smiled to myself, a bit dumbfounded at my own eagerness. That smile quickly faded when I realized I forgot a pen and had to go ask the librarian, Mrs. Iracundior, for one. The stuck up old croon hated people and also hated whenever anyone disturbed her. Her hair was an unnatural grey and white, I assumed it had gone that way early due to the stress and hatred the witch harbored. Mrs. Iracundior followed every rule and wore the exact same clothes everyday, a grey sweater and long skirt. She was never changing, and I for one found that a bad thing. I braced myself for her scolding as I strided up to the middle desk.

“Excuse me?” I politely whispered. I saw her perk up, but instead of answering, she returned to reading her book.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to disturb-"

"If you didn't mean to, you wouldn't have" she snapped.

"I'd like to borrow a pen, do you have one?" I asked, ignoring her little outburst.

Mrs. Iracundior grimaced and rolled her eyes at me. She snatched a pen from the desk next to her and shoved it into my chest.

"There, now go away" she hissed, dismissing me.

"Thanks..." I mumbled and sped walk the other direction. A couple feet in front of me I noticed a table that was empty and decided to sit there. I took out all of my decrypted notes as well as the other one's I was still working on. I opened my dad's journal to where I had left my bookmark and skimmed the page I had read more than one hundred times before.

"July 12th, 2154

The cameras around New York make life here difficult. Because of my work, I always feel paranoid a Soldier will come up to me, knowing what I do and who I work with, and execute me without warning. I've put my full trust in-"

The name seemed to be blotted out, it was illegible. I knew there were three main Rebel leaders, but I wasn’t sure which one worked with my dad.

"He has been good to me, he has promised to protect me and everyone else working with us as well as the citizens. Today, I work on encrypting the rest of the coordinates of attack and riddles he has given for the Government to work out. His way of doing things is strange, his puzzles and plans seemed childish and stupid. But I suppose that's the whole point, he wants the Government to feel mocked and be made a fool. While working on this, I am also doing experiments with the deadly viruses that seem to have stricken the population. Some are weapons of war, others are age old sickness, and others are new and uncharted territory. I believe I am close to a breakthrough with Red plague, a terrifying virus that if left incubating in a host for long, will make them bleed out of every orifice."

I cringed at the thought of witnessing someone with that. I stopped there and decided to turn the page where he wrote the encrypted material. I pulled out the paper I was working on previously, opened the code and cipher book, and began. I observed my dad was rather fond of the Caesar cipher, Baconian cipher, Straddle cipher, alchemist numbers, and a code I presumed he came up with. To me, it seems like he left the unimportant information in easy to crack ciphers, and the important information the hardest to crack. As frustrating as it was, I still wrote down everything, even if it was trivial. I had finished decoding a set of coordinates, 41.8781° N, 87.6298° W.

I stood up and grabbed my paper with me as I ran towards the giant atlas the library kept in the middle of the room. As I flipped through the pages, I stopped at a map of America and traced the coordinates as accurately as I could. It landed me in Chicago, Illinois. I pressed my lips together and scratched my head, why on earth there? Were there Rebels my dad and his boss wanted to get into contact with? Was that their next place of attack?

I went back at my table and jotted down the location above the coordinates in my messy cursive. I only then noticed how similar my writing was to my dad's, his cursive was a tad bit neater, but still close to mine. I organized all of my notes into a neat pile, by the page that corresponded with the journal. I began to decipher what the next set of symbols. I’ve had my dad’s journal for years, but never really gathered up the courage to read it until a couple months ago. I had stolen from my mom’s room as a child, and of course she noticed, but let me keep it. Ever since the incident happened with my dad, I didn’t dare look into the direction of where I had placed the book. I hated it so much, I took an small, old box, shoved it in there, and left it under my bed.

After digging it up years later, I discovered my dad’s life before her developed Mania. For some strange reason, reading made me feel closer to him, not the sicko behind bars, but him. I finished translating another set of codes, and it was another set of coordinates. I continued my routine of keeping up to go to the atlas, writing down the city, and translating the codes. After two hours, I had two pages decoded. The first page only had coordinates to big cities in America, and the second page had a written plan of attack.

Hit Chicago’s most important Government Facilities at 1800 hours

Hit New Orleans’ most important Government Facilities at 1900 hours

Both will be out for training exercises at specified times, TNT will go off as planned.

Protests should be in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Portland

Another name was blotted out.

Someone and I will go straight to D.C. and take on Congress at 2000 hours.

My dad and his boss executed an attack with dynamite? I asked myself. I sat back and thought about how many people they must have killed in order to go through with these plans. And for what? My dad’s boss was long dead and my dad now suffers from the Mania virus. Was losing all of those lives really worth it? Everytime I decoded something new in his journal, it started to make more and more sense. I was scared that upon deciphering more, the violence would only get worse. As much as I resented my dad, it was almost impossible for me to look at him as a monster no matter what he did. Perhaps I was faulted at that, I was always weak whenever it came to those close to me.

I checked my watch again and still found no Transmissions or calls from my mom. I frowned and sat up in my chair. My mom always calls to check in on me, and the fact she wasn’t was strange. I collected my things, making sure to safely tuck my notes and journal into my jacket. I looked around the library and didn’t find her there. I checked both the cafeteria and the gym and still found no sign of her. After exiting the gym, I saw a average sized figure with dark skin, dark brown, wild curly hair, wearing a body tight, grey jumpsuit.

“Mom?” I called out.

The person slightly turned my way, but ignored my call and headed towards the elevator. A crowd already walked between me and her, and I began shoving people out of the way. By the time I reached the elevator, it had already closed taking the person up. I looked at the screen at the top, and saw that she was going to my floor. I didn’t want to wait, so I found the stairs next to the gym and scrambled up them. With heaving breaths by the time I got up, I ran after the person. She entered my mom’s room, and I quickly followed her in.

“Mom, why are you-”

I stopped myself when I looked around my mom’s room and didn’t find her in there. I tore off the bed sheets, looked in the closet, I looked everywhere.

“What?” I whispered to myself.

I quickly backed out the room only to run into a tall person wearing a white uniform. When I turned around I found two Soldiers and a grey haired General giving me a very snarky smile.

“Thank you, Mrs. Collins” the General said in a gruff, almost seductive voice. “You were fantastic bait.”

A woman popped out from behind one of the Soldiers, it was the woman I chased up here. They let her go, and when they did, she made a run for it.

“Miss Bridget Asters” the General cooed. “I need to have a word with you.”

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Written by chimericalmark in portal Trident Media Group
KILL THE MESSENGER
Two men stood in the middle of a sandlot.

One of them, an old man, was forced down on his knees, his eyes were filled with fear and tears. The man standing next to him in a blinding, all-white uniform and helmet, kept a cold, straight face. He was a Soldier, no doubt, only they have had any ounce of humanity stripped from their DNA. The Soldier pulled out a gun specially made for execution, it was colored as black as the blood that ran through him. As he wrapped his thin, pale, long fingers around the handle and trigger, the old man heard the soft sounds of fingers on metal and jumped.
Anyone could have heard his sobs, they were enough to shatter your heart and break your soul. The old man was caught spreading Rebellion “propaganda”, and everyone knows the consequences of what happens when you’re caught. The Soldier firmly pressed the opening of the gun on the victim's head, and he only began to cry harder. The Soldier waited for the order of the General as the old man mumbled his final prayer. The General called the order and the crowd made sure to close their eyes. The gun went off, splattering blood on the Soldier’s uniform and the tan sand he stood on. I had had enough, I turned off my TV and threw my remote at it. Tears welled up in my eyes, I was sick of seeing executions filmed and having to be forced to watch it.
The entire world was sick of it, but it’s not like we had much of a choice. Unless, we wanted to be taken and tortured to the brink of death. I stared into the tiny camera of my TV, hoping the scumbags could see me. I cursed in that direction, but I knew that when they’d hear me they’d only give me a chuckle and dismiss me. I wiped the tears from my eyes using the sleeve of my brown hooded leather jacket. I stared down at the metallic floor of my room, strands of my massive, curly, dark brown hair falling in front of my vision.
I gagged at the sight of the dull grey floorboards and walls I gawked at my whole life. I felt like the inside of my mind was turning that color. I clawed at my blue sheets on my bed, I tried to resist the urge to create a tear in them. After calming down, I decided that sulking in my room would get nothing done, and decided to head out. Finishing my work was the most important thing to throw all of my energy into. I kneeled down next to my bed and stretched my arm under it. I felt the top of my box and quickly pulled it out. Inside were personal documents, my dad’s research journal, and papers with decrypted writing from my dad’s journal. His journal was my work, uncovering all of his secrets was important to me. After a couple of months of reading, absorbing, and writing out all of his plans and research, I came to the conclusion that the journal was the key to the Government’s weaknesses.
I smiled to myself at that thought and shoved my notes into the book and walked to my door. I pressed the touchpad beside it and watched as the same metallic coloring of the hallway revealed itself. The other doors across from me and next to me stayed shut, also colored that infuriating silver. I stepped outside and quickly made my way towards the elevator at the end of the hallway. I stopped by my mom’s room, and pressed the keypad next to the door to see if she was still there. No response. I checked my Transmission Watch and found no missed calls from my mom either. I shrugged it off and assumed she probably went down for lunch.
I set my feet on the pad in front of the elevator door and watched as a bright blue light shone beneath me. It opened, and once inside I pressed the button that would take me to the first floor, where the library, cafeteria, and other recreations for us civilians were. As the elevator went down, I could heard the tortured screams or whispers of the maniacs who stayed on those floor. Sometimes I’d allow myself to listen, just to see what was going on through their minds. Half the time it was gibberish and the other half of the time they were throwing around insults as to how stupid the rest of us were. There’d be days where I’d hear something in between the madness, it was unintelligible, but sounded like someone was trying to tell me about something important.
I shook my head and let their voices spill out, I wasn't in any mood to analyze what they had to say. The elevator came to an abrupt stop and the doors slid open. I lazily walked out and almost immediately my eyes caught the attention of everyone’s shoes. The girl’s wore grey flats whereas the boys wore grey boots. I looked down at my long, dark brown combat boots already accepting my fate of being stared at. In fact, as I strided towards the library one woman stopped me.
“Where are your new shoes?”
I gritted my teeth together and politely answered, “I don’t have a pair.”
“You have to get them, it’s apart of the new uniform!” The woman urged.
“I don’t want a new pair of shoes, but thank you for telling me anyways.” I quickly made my way into the library, leaving the stunned and offended woman outside. I am not one to be so choppy when I speak to someone, but the level of brainwashing with the majority of these people is too much to deal with at time. I sucked in a deep breath and headed towards the Educational Section. Of course, every book was about all of the Government leaders and people who helped them. It was outlawed to have any piece of literature from before 2140.
During that time, World War III took place and lasted a painful fifteen years. Millions of lives were lost, smuggling took place, governments fell, and people were split up. It was now 2182, in the second “Golden Era”, where we rebuild and make the world a better place. Better place my ass, the people who came to power managed to make it worse than ever before. I chuckled at the thought, despite the fact it really wasn’t a laughing matter.
I skimmed through a whole two rows of books, all colored white or grey, better known as bland and more bland. Looking at the row behind me, I finally found the previous book on codes and ciphers I used for my dad’s journal. I smiled to myself, a bit dumbfounded at my own eagerness. That smile quickly faded when I realized I forgot a pen and had to go ask the librarian, Mrs. Iracundior, for one. The stuck up old croon hated people and also hated whenever anyone disturbed her. Her hair was an unnatural grey and white, I assumed it had gone that way early due to the stress and hatred the witch harbored. Mrs. Iracundior followed every rule and wore the exact same clothes everyday, a grey sweater and long skirt. She was never changing, and I for one found that a bad thing. I braced myself for her scolding as I strided up to the middle desk.
“Excuse me?” I politely whispered. I saw her perk up, but instead of answering, she returned to reading her book.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to disturb-"
"If you didn't mean to, you wouldn't have" she snapped.
"I'd like to borrow a pen, do you have one?" I asked, ignoring her little outburst.
Mrs. Iracundior grimaced and rolled her eyes at me. She snatched a pen from the desk next to her and shoved it into my chest.
"There, now go away" she hissed, dismissing me.
"Thanks..." I mumbled and sped walk the other direction. A couple feet in front of me I noticed a table that was empty and decided to sit there. I took out all of my decrypted notes as well as the other one's I was still working on. I opened my dad's journal to where I had left my bookmark and skimmed the page I had read more than one hundred times before.

"July 12th, 2154
The cameras around New York make life here difficult. Because of my work, I always feel paranoid a Soldier will come up to me, knowing what I do and who I work with, and execute me without warning. I've put my full trust in-"

The name seemed to be blotted out, it was illegible. I knew there were three main Rebel leaders, but I wasn’t sure which one worked with my dad.

"He has been good to me, he has promised to protect me and everyone else working with us as well as the citizens. Today, I work on encrypting the rest of the coordinates of attack and riddles he has given for the Government to work out. His way of doing things is strange, his puzzles and plans seemed childish and stupid. But I suppose that's the whole point, he wants the Government to feel mocked and be made a fool. While working on this, I am also doing experiments with the deadly viruses that seem to have stricken the population. Some are weapons of war, others are age old sickness, and others are new and uncharted territory. I believe I am close to a breakthrough with Red plague, a terrifying virus that if left incubating in a host for long, will make them bleed out of every orifice."

I cringed at the thought of witnessing someone with that. I stopped there and decided to turn the page where he wrote the encrypted material. I pulled out the paper I was working on previously, opened the code and cipher book, and began. I observed my dad was rather fond of the Caesar cipher, Baconian cipher, Straddle cipher, alchemist numbers, and a code I presumed he came up with. To me, it seems like he left the unimportant information in easy to crack ciphers, and the important information the hardest to crack. As frustrating as it was, I still wrote down everything, even if it was trivial. I had finished decoding a set of coordinates, 41.8781° N, 87.6298° W.
I stood up and grabbed my paper with me as I ran towards the giant atlas the library kept in the middle of the room. As I flipped through the pages, I stopped at a map of America and traced the coordinates as accurately as I could. It landed me in Chicago, Illinois. I pressed my lips together and scratched my head, why on earth there? Were there Rebels my dad and his boss wanted to get into contact with? Was that their next place of attack?
I went back at my table and jotted down the location above the coordinates in my messy cursive. I only then noticed how similar my writing was to my dad's, his cursive was a tad bit neater, but still close to mine. I organized all of my notes into a neat pile, by the page that corresponded with the journal. I began to decipher what the next set of symbols. I’ve had my dad’s journal for years, but never really gathered up the courage to read it until a couple months ago. I had stolen from my mom’s room as a child, and of course she noticed, but let me keep it. Ever since the incident happened with my dad, I didn’t dare look into the direction of where I had placed the book. I hated it so much, I took an small, old box, shoved it in there, and left it under my bed.
After digging it up years later, I discovered my dad’s life before her developed Mania. For some strange reason, reading made me feel closer to him, not the sicko behind bars, but him. I finished translating another set of codes, and it was another set of coordinates. I continued my routine of keeping up to go to the atlas, writing down the city, and translating the codes. After two hours, I had two pages decoded. The first page only had coordinates to big cities in America, and the second page had a written plan of attack.

Hit Chicago’s most important Government Facilities at 1800 hours
Hit New Orleans’ most important Government Facilities at 1900 hours
Both will be out for training exercises at specified times, TNT will go off as planned.
Protests should be in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Portland

Another name was blotted out.

Someone and I will go straight to D.C. and take on Congress at 2000 hours.

My dad and his boss executed an attack with dynamite? I asked myself. I sat back and thought about how many people they must have killed in order to go through with these plans. And for what? My dad’s boss was long dead and my dad now suffers from the Mania virus. Was losing all of those lives really worth it? Everytime I decoded something new in his journal, it started to make more and more sense. I was scared that upon deciphering more, the violence would only get worse. As much as I resented my dad, it was almost impossible for me to look at him as a monster no matter what he did. Perhaps I was faulted at that, I was always weak whenever it came to those close to me.
I checked my watch again and still found no Transmissions or calls from my mom. I frowned and sat up in my chair. My mom always calls to check in on me, and the fact she wasn’t was strange. I collected my things, making sure to safely tuck my notes and journal into my jacket. I looked around the library and didn’t find her there. I checked both the cafeteria and the gym and still found no sign of her. After exiting the gym, I saw a average sized figure with dark skin, dark brown, wild curly hair, wearing a body tight, grey jumpsuit.
“Mom?” I called out.
The person slightly turned my way, but ignored my call and headed towards the elevator. A crowd already walked between me and her, and I began shoving people out of the way. By the time I reached the elevator, it had already closed taking the person up. I looked at the screen at the top, and saw that she was going to my floor. I didn’t want to wait, so I found the stairs next to the gym and scrambled up them. With heaving breaths by the time I got up, I ran after the person. She entered my mom’s room, and I quickly followed her in.
“Mom, why are you-”
I stopped myself when I looked around my mom’s room and didn’t find her in there. I tore off the bed sheets, looked in the closet, I looked everywhere.
“What?” I whispered to myself.
I quickly backed out the room only to run into a tall person wearing a white uniform. When I turned around I found two Soldiers and a grey haired General giving me a very snarky smile.
“Thank you, Mrs. Collins” the General said in a gruff, almost seductive voice. “You were fantastic bait.”
A woman popped out from behind one of the Soldiers, it was the woman I chased up here. They let her go, and when they did, she made a run for it.
“Miss Bridget Asters” the General cooed. “I need to have a word with you.”
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