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Challenge of the Month XL
Above the body after death: Something all of us have heard or read about, or seen in documentaries or on film. Across human history, there has been one outlier that purely represents any given emotionally tied flashback that someone would have seen before dying: Good, bad, heartbreak, excitement, betrayal, or love that was not able to see itself through, and many more. Write a story or poem about this, the extreme outliers, both what they're flashing back to, and why they're about to die. Winning piece of ethereal lift and float gets the $100. Go.
Profile avatar image for brothersgraham
• 23 reads

The Rugged Cross

"On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,

The emblem of suffering and shame.

And I love that old cross where the dearest and best,

For a world of lost sinners was slain."

Danny DiVestri was eight years old the first time he helped his mother inject herself with heroin. He was eleven when he killed her with an accidental overdose. She was a prostitute. His father was an unknown. With no other family, and nowhere else to go, Danny lived on the streets.

Albert Paisley was a homeless alcoholic of indeterminable age. A drunk and a derelict. In another life he'd had a wife and a child. A house with a two car garage. But all Albert had left in the world was the Book of Common Prayer and the bottle.

Danny was by the park bench Albert slept on just after sunrise and nudged him awake.

'Here ya go,' said Danny, 'I got ya some water.' And offered Albert a throw-away cardboard coffee cup filled from a nearby drinking fountain.

Declining the water, Albert unscrewed the cap from his flagon of muscatel and drank a toast to the new day.

The only other people in the park were joggers and early dog-walkers. Albert made room for him and Danny took the empty half of the bench beside him. They listened to the strident calls of currawongs in the canopy of leaves above them.

'I got money,' said Danny, 'if ya want some breakfast.'

Albert shook his head. 'No thanks, mate. You keep it.'

He didn't ask where the money had come from. He'd accepted the probability that Danny, who was not yet a teenager, had most likely sold his childhood innocence for the "necessaries" just to survive.

Albert said, 'See those birds? The big, ugly, black buggers making all the noise? Look like crows?'

Danny squinted. 'Yeah?'

'See the white patches behind their wings? That's where God held them when He painted their feathers.'

'Ya daft old codger,' said Danny, smiling. 'There ain't no God.'

'Of course there's a God,' Albert insisted. 'He just stopped paying attention awhile back. And rightly so, I reckon. But not to you. Not to the little children. Don't give up on him, mate. He hasn't forgotten you.'

Danny shrugged and said, 'Ya think? He's got a funny way of showin' it.'

'We were soldiers once,' said Albert, 'and young.'

Danny looked over at him. 'What?'

'Didn't have a choice, did we? The government brought in conscription. Pulled names from a barrel. If your name came up, you were in the army. Long time ago, now. Before you were born. You've probably never heard of the war in Vietnam. So, anyway, they gave me a gun and told me to go and shoot the little, yellow bastards. They weren't yellow, they were "Red". What did I care about communists? We were only there because the Yanks couldn't keep their noses out of it. Dragged us in with them. There was a village that had a church, from when the French were there. And in front of the church was a wooden cross, stood up in the ground. I don't know how he did it, but one of the village elders had had himself nailed to it. Nailed to the cross.'

'What'd yous do?'

'We took him down. Our medic bandaged his wounds. Then we moved on, to the next village. But I'll always remember that. The Old Rugged Cross.'

Danny shook his head. 'Fuckin' hell, Bert.'

'Goes to show, though, doesn't it? Life is diamonds and dirt, hearts and hurt, madness and majesty.'

"So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,

Till my trophies at last I lay down.

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

And exchange it some day for a crown."

'Yer not a poofter, is ya, Bert?'

'No, mate. Not me. Never was.'

'Good,' said Danny, 'cause yer me mate, an' a mate wouldn't try it on, would he?'

'My soul has been washed in the blood the Lord,' said Albert.

Danny snorted. 'That don't mean nuffink. All them priests. Don't ya read the papers?'

Albert waited for the words that, he suspected, the boy needed to say.

'I don't want to be a poofter no more.'

And there it was.

Danny wiped away silent tears. 'They make me do bad things, Bert. They said if you do it one time then yer a poofter, an' it don't never go away!'

'I don't believe that's true,' said Albert. 'I think either you are or you're not, and if you aren't then... '

'But they said!'

'Listen to me, Daniel. Whatever you've done, there's nothing so terrible that God would turn his face from you.'

Danny shook his head. 'If I don't do what they want they'll hurt me. An' if I tell anybody they'll kill me. I'm in the shit, an' there ain't nuffink nobody can do about it.'

'Come unto me all who are heavily laden, said the Lord, Jesus Christ, and I will give you rest.'

'Is that from the bible?'

Albert stood up on unsteady legs. 'Come with me. I know someone who can help you.'

They made their way out of the park onto Oxford Street. Albert stepped off the curb without looking. The driver of the Number 3 bus from Padstow to Central didn't have time to stop.

"To the old rugged cross I will ever be true,

It's shame and reproach gladly bear.

Then he'll call me some day to my home far away,

Where his glory forever I'll share."

Profile avatar image for Prose
• 121 reads

A Stoner in the Mist, Challenge of the Month XL, and LeCrae’s Poughkeepsie.

Hello, Writers and Dear Readers.

Today, we say congrats to last month's winner, and we announce our Challenge of the Month XL, which we think just might be a good one...

The link to that challenge is waiting below the link to our YouTube video about these very things.




As always...

Thank you for being here.

-The Prose. team

Cover image for post The Water Beetles, by dustygrein

The Water Beetles

Once upon a time, there was a little pond.

There, in the muddy water beneath the lily pads, lived a happy community of water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in their pond, with few disturbances and interruptions.

Occasionally, a great sadness would come to this community, when one of their fellow beetles would, without explanation, climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They all knew when this happened, that their friend was dead, gone forever. They grieved for these lost companions, and missed them terribly, as they continued their water beetle activities, living their water beetle lives.

One day, a little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up one of the stems. He really loved his family, but was determined that he would climb to the other side of the lily pad. He would not leave forever . . . he would simply have a look around, then come back and tell everyone what he had found.

The little beetle set out in curiosity and wonder, and even a little fear. When he reached the top of the stem, he climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad. Here was a whole new world of sunshine and blue skies!

The trip had been a long one. He was very tired, and the amazing warmth from the sun felt so good, he decided he must take a nap before heading back to tell his loved ones how wonderful it was up here.

As he slept, his little body underwent a miraculous change.

He woke to find he was no longer a water beetle, but had turned into the most beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly, with glorious broad wings and a slender new body designed for flying. This was amazing!

He flexed his new wings and was suddenly airborne. He had always been content in the muddy little pond, but now as he soared into the blue sky, he found a completely new world. This new life was so much more wonderful than his old one; he was free, and happier than ever.

Then, he remembered his beetle friends. By now, they must think he had died. He really needed to go back and tell them that he wasn’t gone, only changed; he was more alive now than he had ever been! His life hadn’t ended, but had finally been fulfilled.

Unfortunately, he discovered that his new wonderful body couldn’t go back down under the water. He wouldn’t be able to get back there and tell them all the good news. As he pondered this sad revelation, he looked down and watched as another water beetle fell asleep on a lily pad.

He now understood.

Eventually his family and friends would join him in this new life, and they would all be together again. With joy in his heart, he flew off into the clear sky, ready for the happiness, freedom and new adventures that awaited him in this fresh and glorious existence.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

© 2018 Dusty Grein

* This fable is based on a story I heard once, that stuck with me. It’s lesson may not be as deep for everyone, but hopefully, if you are reading this, it has touched you half as much as writing it touched me.

Challenge of the Week CCXXVI
You wake up in what looks to be a barn, sore & confused. You remember scattered details leading up to this moment, vaguely. What you do remember is seeing your (newly- married) mother or father’s significant other approach the vehicle that you were thrown into, as you were blind folded & injected with something that instantly put you to sleep. Panicking, you have no idea if your Mother/ father is facing the same fate. Now what? How did you escape? What was the significant other’s involvement & reason behind their actions? Is this driven by a serious motive in their eyes or are they just psychotic & doing it for the thrill? Happy ending, tragic ending or everything in between… the choice is yours. The more detail, the better! Short stories, please. Let’s see what everyone comes up with… And go! Prose. will stuff $25 in the digital pocket of the winner. Challenge idea is from Amanda B. Jaworski. Thanks, Amanda!
Profile avatar image for akitoyu
• 41 reads

Graveyard of Light in My Eyes

I can feel the itchy ends of bone-dry straw eager to poke at my unexposed skin like merciless needles jabbing into my body.

Ah, needles. That sounds awfully familiar. I slowly crack open my eyelids and flinch at the burst of sunlight streaming in from the cracks of the wooden walls. The walls are a faded red and whatever bit of paint that’s left is peeling off like an ancient banana.

My fingertips are starting to tingle, and I can already move my toes, but I still can’t feel the rest of my body. Must’ve been injected with some sort of tranquilizer.

Sigh… I should’ve known having a nice and peaceful candlelight dinner with her was too good to be true. Even thinking about her leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The a-hole didn’t so much as give me a second glance for the first few months of her wonderfully convenient marriage to my wealthy father, but all of a sudden she flashes a smile in my direction and offers a freshly cooked homemade meal?

It’s not like I’m a complete fool. It’s just that I’ve always had a soft spot for home-cooked meals. They remind me of my real mama, the one who laughed like an angel, the one who found time to take me out even after a long, exhausting day of work, the one who showed me her love with every fold of the dough that magically turned into steaming hot, soft and chewy dumplings that made me feel warm inside out. She had the most comforting gaze, with those soft, brown eyes. Even when her gaze was sharp, the kindness behind her eyes shone through. That’s probably why my father chose to marry that ungrateful wench after we lost her. It’s all because she has my mama’s eyes… even I must admit they bear an uncanny resemblance, but I still think they also look nothing like my mama’s because they hold absolutely no warmth within them.

Aw s***, I can’t cry right now, I gotta make it outta here first. I’m starting to feel something rough tightly wrapped around my wrists and ankles and I feel stupid that I’m only just now realizing that I’ve been tied up. How long have I been here?

I still remember how I foolishly slurped up those soft and chewy noodles with exceptional gusto. Just as I had begun to raise my head to thank that woman, I caught a sinister grin plastered to her chalky face, and my eyes started to droop. Rough hands grabbed me from behind and dragged me across the floor, out the door, and into a musty old car that smelled strongly of cigarettes. The last thing I saw before I completely blacked out was her silhouette gradually enlarging as cloth blocked out the rest of my limited vision and I felt a sharp pinch jab into my right shoulder.

At last, the door of this wooden box I’m trapped in is slowly creaking open, and there it is again: her crooked silhouette coming into view.

“My, my, what have we here?,” her sickeningly sweet, honeyed voice slithered out of her mouth and trickled into my ears like poison, “Your eyes really do look just like hers…”

I let out a weak croak, “Whose?”

Her mocking expression suddenly shifts to one of crazed obsession, full of deranged possessiveness, “It’s a shame, really. As beautiful as they may have been, these eyes were already old when I first got them. It’s about time I got a new pair.”

Then it finally clicked. But I could do nothing to stop her as she lunged forward and dug her fingers into the only light left in my world.

Profile avatar image for OhStella
OhStella in Romance & Erotica
• 35 reads

The Shower (part one)

She led him by the hand into the shower. Her wet hair soon turning into a dark chocolate waterfall coursing down the middle of her back. He pulled her to him by her hips. He buried his face in her neck and tenderly kissed her. He then lathered shampoo at her crown and temples, lovingly massaging the length of her hair. He whispers what he wants her to do to him in her ear. She sighs and nods, excited. He starts rinsing her hair. The thick suds race downward, over her breasts. Her brown nipples are hard and tight even though the water is comfortably warm.

She was lathering and rubbing her hands over every inch of his beautiful, tattooed body, savoring the feel of him. She slid her soapy hands onto him, gently encircling and pulling his firmness. He staggered slightly at her handling and steadied himself against the tiled wall.

After rinsing him, she went down to her knees before him. She cupped his balls, kissing and licking them, taking each into her mouth and gently sucking. Her full lips then worked their way up and wrapped around the sides of his swollen head. Her mouth watered with anticipation as her hot tongue prodded and firmly lapped the rigged underside of his cock. His sharp intake of breath told her he approved. In response, she moaned with excitement and firmly grasped the base of his cock. She eagerly pulled him into her mouth as deeply as she could.

Her other hand squeezed his ass, pulling him to her even closer. He groaned and grabbed handfuls of her wet hair and soon guided her to a rhythm he could not resist. She sucked and sucked, loving the wet sound of the motion, the feel of him sliding into her eager mouth repeatedly. She felt he was close.

His legs tensed and his back arched. He held her head tightly against him and she tasted his delicious explosion fill her mouth. She swallowed greedily. He pulled her hair and groaned loudly; his noise delighted her. Once he was spent, she began carefully licking the rest off his exquisitely sensitive head and sucking, lips sliding along the side of his shaft down to his balls.

He let out a breathy chuckle, pulling away, too sensitive for her affections now. He brought her to her feet and wrapped her in a huge hug. He kissed and nuzzled the top of her head, smiling and satisfied.

down the mountain
"She slung her bag over her shoulder and took off down the mountainside" -- This popped into my head today, and I thought it would make a god prompt! Use this sentence somewhere in your write. Poetry or prose, whatever comes to you :)
• 15 reads

Sunday Philosopher

Sam’s relationship with her father was complicated. There was an intensity so deep and corroded that each small moment became monumental. Some times that was good, and others it was hell.

On any given day, the stories told about Sam’s relationship with Gerry could be different. Their love was apathetic, instrumental, menial, delusional, rotten, fluorescent, angelic, demonic. It was whatever it was. It just was.

By the time Gerry passed, he was a lonely soul. Him and Sam’s mother, Tricia, had parted ways years before, and ties were cut with Sam. He died alone in a small home along a river listening to Springsteen’s serenades for the disenfranchised.

When Sam received the call about funeral arrangements, she hadn’t the slightest clue what to say. Her answers were unintelligible, and she was shaking and nodding her head to a cell phone, as though movements as a form of language could be understood through sound waves. Shock, happiness, disaster were all formulating in her head like a twister. She hung up and cried deeper than she had since she was a child.

The next time the funeral home called, Sam said to cremate him. Why she said that, she didn’t know, but it seemed right. In her mind, they were walking up Sugarloaf Mountain on those quiet Sundays when the world seemed molded for them. Two people who always envisioned an idealized world that never materialised. A dream told through a bedtime whisper. But on those mornings when the world slept off a nasty Saturday hangover, they took to the mountain. They smiled at each other. Talked about things that never in a million years would be uttered to anyone else on God’s green earth. Because on those days there were no secrets. Just two half-souls becoming whole.

It took them close to an hour to reach the summit, and there they would overlook their town. A town that told their story like a Greek Pathos. What they saw filled them both with regret, and the possibility of restitching all the torn seams that seemed so viable a few hundred feet above the ground. Then Monday would arrive. And with it, the true realities of life would rear its ugly face, and the resentment of what life could have been if not for the other, would again erase the peaceful Sunday’s magic spell.

But when he died, Sam just thought about the Sundays. The past had a way of enlarging the good and deflating the bad. Sam supposed that’s what nostalgia was. A past-fantasy that never really existed, but maybe, in some ways, it did.

Her father was sitting on the tallest rock with a spray painted heart and the initials of two young lovers. Sam was standing in front of him. Those moments where he wore a face of deep thought. Deep intellect. A side of himself that he never revealed in front of his family, or his coworkers, in fear of ridicule. Ridicule that he was trying to be someone he was not. He was a labourer in an industrial town. That was all. That was it. But in front of Sam, on those trips, he was whoever he wanted to be. And on the mountain he was a Sunday philosopher.

“You know, Sam. The mountains, the wilderness, the breeze coming off the river. That’s how people are supposed to live. The freedom to be amongst nature. You’re not a slave to anyone except the elements. And even those you can overcome. The world wasn’t supposed to be smokestacks, polluting towns. Chemicals giving people cancer. People telling people who they are without a clue. Ya know? It was supposed to be freedom. The freedom of the wind in the air. The path paved just for you. Not for everyone else”

Sam would nod and agree. Agree with the idea of a world without borders. A world without judgment and suppression. A world where people were allowed to be free. A world on top of a mountain on Sunday. It was perfect. But perfection was such a small flame that in Sam’s experience, always burned out before it could grow large enough to light the sky.

She would sit on that mountaintop, praying to a God she never believed in, to please freeze time. “Please, God, just let me savour this moment. Let me live inside of it. Let me die here, in the company of the only one who ever truly understood me.”

“Sam, can I ask you a favour?” The voice of her father echoed inside her head. “When I die. I want to be free. Free amongst nature. Not in a coffin. Please. Never a coffin. Can you do that for your imperfect old man?”

Then, she realized why she had said to cremate her father. There was no way to tell if that memory was real, or just her imagination creating answers to questions that she could never answer otherwise. But she knew she had to go back home. She had to go back to the top of the mountain.

And that’s what Sam did. On a hot mid-July Sunday, a bottle of water, a backpack with the ashes of her father in a spiraling flower urn, and heavy thoughts of days gone by, she climbed the mountain for the first time in fifteen years.

The maple trees rising above her head like old friends. The snakes slithering through the fallen leaves, and the skittering squirrels and chipmunks, provided a comfort she had forgotten about. A comfort that the city, an office, a cubicle never provided. A life she had run away from out of fear. Fear of something she didn’t understand. Fear out of becoming her father, when she already knew that location wouldn’t change that fate.

As she reached the summit, the familiarity of it all nearly brought on a fit of panic. Sam looked around and saw nothing had changed. Nothing, except for her father being in her backpack instead of on that rock. That rock with the initials still carved into it. LJ loves PT. Sam wondered if they were still together now. Still in love. She actually felt like she would die if they weren’t. She needed them to be, so she told herself they were.

Sam placed the backpack on the steel grate on the edge of the mountain, looking over a town that hadn’t changed much except for the diminishing clouds from the smokestacks. “I’m sorry, dad,” she said to the urn, feeling silly, and saddened by the fact that she was speaking to a clay pot. Feeling saddened that inside of it was filled with sand. Sand like the beach of New Haven, except it was her father. A man who was larger than life. The biggest man she’d ever known, in stature and presence. Now he was grains of sand. “I’m sorry, dad.”

Then Sam raised the urn up above her shoulders and looked down at the town. The town filled with ghosts and demons of the past. But the same town filled with the biggest love she’d ever known. A feeling of wanting to stay and never see this place again played an evenly matched game of chess inside her heart.

“Dad. I know now. That I was you. And you were me. And that was a problem. We hated so deeply, but loved so deeply. The problem was that we could never find that middle ground. That place where most people live,” Sam said. “Our gift, our curse, was that we loved too much. We hated too much. We needed life to provide what we knew it never would. At least not in the long term. In short, sporadic spurts, it would. And in those, I’ll live, dad. In those, you will too. I love you. I hate you. I am you. I hope that you find peace amongst the trees. Amongst the sky. Amongst the freedom that nature brings. I love you.”

After the ashes fell over Sugarloaf like the sands of time, she slung her bag over her shoulder and took off down the mountainside.

Rant or tell me about a time you were truly terrified.
• 19 reads

I can’t escape

Someone is controlling me. I don't know who, and I don't know how, but someone is controlling my body. He controls what I say and what I do. He even controls my emotions. I'm just a spectator in my own body. I'm watching my life go by through a dirty window. And no matter what I do, I can't break through it.

It started when I was ten. Life was bad. The thing I wanted more than anything, was a way to escape. To get out of the yoke of my horrible life. I suppose I got what I wished for.

They started as isolated episodes. Only a few hours here and there, where someone else would take control. All I had to do was sit back and relax. I could escape. But the monster I released wasn't happy with a few hours. He wanted everything. He wanted my life.

I realized much too late what I was dealing with. I tried to send him back to where he came from, but it was too late for that. He was a part of me now. And he wasn't going anywhere.

The monster wasn't done ruining my life though. He brought two other friends of his to help. The first one told me that I was a failure. That I would never amount to anything. It told me that I would fail at anything I ever wished for. That everyone was laughing at me. According to him, the earth revolved around me. And everybody hated me. He wasn't so bad. He would shut up every once in a while. I called him George. But the other friend he brought was more insidious.

His name was Bobby. I was sure that we were friends. He protected me. He would comfort me after George would rant at me for hours on end. He allowed me to rest. He told me that it was ok to stay in bed all day. It's ok to stay alone. He allowed me to feel... not good about being a failure, but he never made me feel as bad about it like George did. He told me that he cared about me.

Of course, at the time, I thought that Bobby was my friend. I didn't realize that he was even worse than George. I could get George to stop talking. It was never easy, but it was possible. But Bobby never left. He was an invisible weight on me, that never moved. He wasn't happy until I collapsed on the bed and stayed there, for days on end. And eventually, even that didn't make him happy.

Those two made me hate my life even more. I would give it up to him more and more. Eventually, he would control me for months and months. I didn't know who I was. I couldn't remember who my friends were. Or if I had any. I would lose patches of my life. To this day, there are months of my life that I don't remember. People that I don't remember. A life that he took from me. He turned my life into a hell. When he was in control, he wouldn't allow me to feel anything. I didn't care about anything good. I didn't care about anything bad. I couldn't feel anything at all. I started cutting myself. I wanted to feel something. That didn't work, but I continued. I thought that would allow me to escape. As if the blood escaping my body was my soul, escaping his clutches.

I started sitting on the rooftop of my building. Wondering at first, why I shouldn't jump. Then why I should. I must've decided to kill myself dozens of times there. But I could never get the courage. I would sit on the edge, trying to force myself to jump. Not being able to. Crying about how I was such a failure. I couldn't even die properly.

This might have gone indefinitely. Until he intervened. It was just a normal day for me. I was even having a good day. My first one that year. George was quiet. Bobby didn't feel quite so heavy. I was watching the clouds that April afternoon, half napping.

The voices woke me up. The voices that told me that I would never be happy. That I was going to be alone forever. That no one could ever cure me. I knew it wasn't Bobby. These were different voices. Maybe because I didn't know them, I trusted them. Maybe I thought that at least some of my voices would help me. Or maybe I trusted them because I needed some way to escape. And I didn't care how. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter why I believed them. The only thing that matters is that they forced me to decide. Decide if I wanted to live or die. They promised that the only way to end my suffering would be to jump. If not, I would be crazy forever. Sad forever. Alone forever. This was the only way, they told me.

"Trust us." they whispered. "We want only the best for you. We want for you to stop hurting. Jump. Right now. Now! Now! Do it! Do it already!"

But if I was going to die, I would do it on my terms. I got a coin from my room and headed to the roof.

"Ok" I mumbled to myself. "Heads I jump. Tails I don't." Crazily, I was happy. I was deciding something by myself. I was in control of my body for the first time in two months. I took a deep breath of air. It was nice feeling like myself again. I had missed it. If only I could stay that way forever. But I knew that I couldn't. Already, I could feel him, waiting patiently for my focus to drop, allowing him to take control. I know what he would have done. And I wasn't willing for him to make that decision for me.

I flipped the coin. It didn't stay in the air for an eternity. It didn't land on the edge. It didn't do anything special. It just landed, like a normal coin. Like it was a normal decision.

I looked at it and smiled. I had always wanted to fly.

The clouds were beautiful that day.

Profile avatar image for Shells
• 42 reads

Ashes and Embers (or “Why don’t we run?”)

There was a glitch, somewhere in the system. Broken codes and broken words. We were torn and thrown down. Just bare now, raw and naked and confused.

Our bloodshot eyes matched the burn down of the Nashville sunset. Stoned out and staring hopeless and bewildered at the southern sky.

She had asked me to go. Then asked me to stay.

Whiplash and uncertainty settled in. Shading the balcony with comfort and dread and fear.

We weren't the villains here, I thought. But, we weren't exactly the heroes either.

She picked aimlessly at the strings of an old ass Gibson as I tried to roll a joint. The sounds of the city were familiar and foreign all at once. The unanchored traffic beneath us, distant horns and distant sirens stirred into the velvet tones of her guitar and the coarse softness of her Appalachian tongue.

I needed to go and wanted to stay. I tried to detach, to disassociate, to turn down the volume of my mind. Too many thoughts of Decisions and deceit. I was lost out there beyond the sunset. Trapped Somewhere between her hazel eyes and home fires burning...I'd checked out.

There were Virginia nights and dank ass weed and visions of Kentucky summers and streetlights and sneaking sidewalk kisses beneath their iridescent glow.

She was beside me before I'd known. With her arms lashed around my waist and her head against my chest. I dropped my guard and leaned into her hold. "Why don't we run," she said, whispery and quick. Her words drifted off into the Nashville noise.

And we both stood in silence, acknowledging the cowardice and fear between us.

Worlds were folding in, imploding around us. Those home fires we had stoked with gunpowder words and gasoline lines...they were burning down now.

Nothing but dying embers and ash.

We'd made little effort to revive them, I thought.

Maybe we lacked the drive to save ourselves...to save ourselves from the approaching days. Our pasts were closing in around us. You could feel the end drawing near. Clingy and thick. Everything we had known, everything we had loved, disappearing into the smoke, deep and black and cleansing.

We'd fucked that night...on the balcony, where just hours before he'd held her. And we knew, even then, that our ecstacy would be their demise.

The unseen cost of forest diplomacy
Two ancient civilizations are suddenly at odds over who is to blame for the accidental killing of a lost juvenile Golden Protector wasp in the Taputini Rainforest. These civilizations have lived in relative harmony within their respective villages among the buttress roots of neighboring Kapok trees. _______ Rules were clearly broken--who broke them, and why? What other forest creatures play roles in the civilizations' existence? What do the Golden Protectors protect them from? How will they re-establish the trust of their Protectors and ensure their continued service and loyalty, and at what cost? _______ Extra points for: Biodiversity-- insects, birds, amphibians, birds, etc, ______ Never introducing anything relating to human environmental impact, ______ Links to internet photos along the way-- ie. If you've got a Green Thornytail iguana running notes between characters, try to include a pic, ie. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/green-thornytail-iguana-uracentron-azureum-an-arboreal-species-of-lizard-from-the-amazon-rainforest-and-forests-in-the-guiana-sh--6544361942312160/ ____________________________________ Collaboration is welcome, though you'll have to split up the prize if a team wins. There can only be one winner, but I'm not opposed to making donations to authors with respectable entries, so make a strong effort and let's see what comes of it!
Profile avatar image for DrSemicolon
DrSemicolon in Fantasy
• 41 reads


I'm up on the tight wire

One side's ice and one is fire

— Leon Russell


The world was flat. This was intuitive. It was obvious. No one fell off. No one ever had.

On a world forever tidally locked to its sun, there ran a terminator that was a 22-mile longitudinal strip of Kapock rainforest--the Taputini. Vertically bisecting this ribbon of lush vegetation on an otherwise paradoxically dead world, precariously juxtaposed between ice and lava, was a mile-wide river running north to south and separating the two co-existing civilizations--the Tenz and the Phillippi--who each shared their respective banks of Taputini forest.

There was a single moon that revolved around this world, although it caused nary a wobble in the borders within which lay the planet's only verdancy, it's habitable zone of arable land and fresh water. The lands between the borders of this lush terminator were where that fresh water was neither ice nor processed instantly into steam, but ran melodiously so slowly that it could be caught in a cup. The water was plentiful, for the River Taputini was mighty, fed by what was thought to be a glaciated ice rim at the top of--again, what was thought to be--their flat world.

The Tenz and the Phillippi were the self-named ancient peoples of the terminator between the heat and cold, and they were quite similar. River Taputini separated their homelands, their populations, their religions, and their histories. But while these separations existed, like the river itself they were fluid. There were hardly any secrets between them.

No bridge was ever built from the Tenz to the Phillippi shores, because the leaders of both felt that good fences make good neighbors, and the river was as good a fence as could be. That is, one couldn't just saunter over bridging to get from one side to the other; thus, it was more of a process, involving a ferry and no small amount of pageantry.

Going from one side to another was meant to be a big deal and not something too easy, because it was felt that the flow between nations shouldn't be such a passive process, but an active one--one that meant something. The meeting of two peoples should be for a special reason and not for something as casual as tourism.

The Tenz occupied the Taputini Rainforest that bordered the bright, scorched west side of their world; the Phillippi people were adjacent to the east side beyond which was forever shrouded in frozen darkness. Even though both currently co-existed without conflict or drama, that had not always been so. In fact, a serious conflict had occurred fewer than 18 world-years prior which had taken a number of innocent lives on both sides.

As such, there were some aspects to their relationship that were somewhat tentative. One such item was the pending marriage of both leaders' son and daughter, which had been planned since long before their births, cancelled during the conflict, and then reinstated after their war as a commitment to keeping the peace.

This union had been foretold in the religious tomes of both peoples generations prior; as each people ticked off their pedigrees, one generation at a time, the countdown had run its course to coincide with the birth of one male child and one female child on either side of the river. This was the holy sign between the Tenz and the Phillippi that symbolized peace. Now it seemed the holy texts had come to their conclusion, and the clerics of each religion knew that this marriage would usher a new age--one that required a new encyclical to be written.

Everything would change--the interaction between the peoples of the forest and even their religions.

The Tenz and the Phillippi of the Tatupini got along for the most part. There was the usual us-vs-them jingoism on each side, mostly fueled by military thinking and martial attention to security, national identity, and ethnic labeling. It was, of course, the foretold union between the two of them that would finally forever fuse the Tenz and the Phillippi. as the prince and princess were coming of age, there was an excitement in the air--the taste of destiny. Finally, life would be able to move as one world, one flat bisected world of limited flora and fauna and water.

The two heir apparents, Tesh and Phinea, were pampered from birth for their role. They had each been sequestered away from other children. They had been relentlessly schooled in their royal duties throughout their childhood and adolescence. They had been instructed on the intended genetic union of their respective peoples by their sexual biology, presented scientifically in a way that only piqued their interest in the non-scientific aspects of their destiny.

Fertility on the world was limited, probably due to the geographical constraints that had affected hormonal physiology in some type of mind-body connection. However, the leaders felt their children, as chosen by their Gods, would not suffer being childless. How could they? The leaders themselves had been chosen so long ago!

Piqued interest has a way of winning out, and with the cooperation of trusted servants, it was easy for the betrothed to meet each other, driven by a need to know what they were getting into.

As it turned out, they got into each other.

Thus, in a manner of speaking the Tenz prince and Phillippi princess had already sealed the deal, an impromptu, passionate tryst provoked by their passionate worries over a political dissolution to their arranged marriage: they were in love. They were unfailingly, adolescently, stupidly, and forever in love. They made themselves their own heads-of-state and their edict was as final as it was consummated.

The flora and fauna on this world had evolved as a result of the unique aspects of the planet, some plants and animals favoring the warmer vertical side of the river, while others favored the cooler side. Ironically, it was the cold-blooded fauna that preferred the warm and, alternatively, the warm-blooded ones that preferred the cooler side. Alternate biochemistries linked them to their respective climate preferences. It was this gravitation of species preference which established the ritualistic differences between the Tenz and the Phillippi religions. They each had their sacred animals--symbols of fertility, bravery, and destiny.

Only one known living thing seemed to frit freely between both of these zones--the juvenile Golden Protector wasp. Although it was called juvenile, it was actually just diminutive. Although it was called Golden, it had a reddish hue, the golden only revealing itself as an accidental glimpse out of the corner of the eye of someone privileged to catch it at just the right angle. And although it was deemed a protector, no one was sure of--from just what--they were being protected. The mythos that had emerged in subtly different ways between the two peoples generally involved the insect's magical control over the planet's axis, keeping the terminator zone stable.

The Tenz and the Phillippi had no idea how correct they really were in this assumption.

This mysterious arthropod was an enigma, being only one of its kind. Forever, both the Tenz and Phillippi never knew of any other of its race and, without the concept of reproduction to consider, the wasp was felt to be immortal.

The lore grew and overlapped in both peoples--that it was the Golden Protector wasp that kept the ice from the fire and maintained the Taputini buffer between east and west halves of their flat world. And even though such a thing was deemed crucial to their survival, all attempts to capture it--if only to protect it--proved futile. Finally, it was adjudicated by treaty that any attempts to interact with the wasp stop and forever be forbidden.

There came a time, much later, when it became murmured about that no one had actually seen the Golden Protector wasp for several generations. Yet, the forest still existed, the river still flowed, and the lava and ice were still separate hemispheres. This prompted an emergency fact-finding meeting of both heads of state.

"How could this be?" asked the Tenz leader, Tenzor.

"I, too, ask the same question," said Phillipp III, the king of the Phillippi.

The joint council, of whose lineage were the very ones who had ratified the Golden Protector Wasp Non-interference Accord generations earlier, mumbled in confusion, no one able to proffer a rational answer.

"It must still exist," said Tenzor.

"Yes," agreed Phillipp III, "for our peoples live and thrive still, within the merciful bounties of the Kapock trees and within the protection of the boundaries of the Taputini."

"Well said," Tenson said to Phillipp III. "Perhaps, I wonder, if the wasp felt slighted by our non-interference with it?"

"It was only for its protection," added Phillipp III.

"Here, here!" and "Well said," and "It must be so," the council attendees interjected.

"Well, whatever the reason," said Phillip III, since all is well, we should just assume the wasp lives..."

"After all, the forest still lives, as do its peoples. Still lives," Tenson agreed--

"But is lost," added Phillippi. "Such is the will of God."

"Here, here!" and "Well said," and "It must be so," the council attendees again interjected. They didn't discuss which God willed it, for each people had their own. But which God was irrelevant.

There being no new business, the meeting was adjoined.

One day the leader of the Tenz called in his advisors excitedly. Once they all had assembled, he had the doors sealed shut. "I found today, in my garden, the body of the dead lost Golden Protector wasp."

"The very?"

"Indeed. Our one Golden Protector wasp. The very one. Our protector. Our savior! Oh, whatever shall we do? The scorched lands will advance and overtake us."

In an extraordinary coincidence, Phillipp III had called in his advisors to tell them that he, too, had found the body of the lost Golden Protector wasp in his own royal garden. Unbeknownst to both, the one-wasp universe lay shattered in the reality of two dead ones simultaneously appearing on both sides of the River Taputini.

"Fie! the frozen death will overtake us at any time," Phillipp III exclaimed. "Certainly we should warn the Tenz."

"Your Highness," offered one of his consuls, "perhaps this is something we should address with discretion."

"How do you mean?"

"I mean to say that our one savior, our one protector, has perished on our very own land."

"Go on."

"Won't it appear--or be assumed--that it was we, the Phillippi, who were responsible for its death? That we thwarted its protection? That we created the end of our world?"

"Which is surely coming," the king said.

"Such infamy is neither welcome nor deserved."

Meanwhile, back with the Tenz, "Shouldn't we, great Tenzor, assume the Phillippi will blame us for its death? That's why we should not report this."

Both councils, without the awareness of what had played out, felt their respective peoples would be blamed and agreed to officially swear an oath that the dead Protector, come what may with fire or ice, should be kept a secret. If both peoples had only a limited time before their deaths during a terminator Armageddon, would it not be terrible if they spent that time warring with each other?

Each member of each council--and Phillipp III and Tenzor themselves--went home that night wondering if they were to have their last night alive on their world. If they would, respectively, die screaming encased in ice or in burning fire by morning. Was it the end of the world?


The lost Golden Protector wasp--also--was hardly a bug.

The Lost Golden Protector wasp was an infolded 3-dimensional cross-section into our world from 11-D eternity, serving here to function as a world-axis stabilizer. In this respect, the Tenz and Phillippi were right about their worldview (i.e., their doomsday view). Even though both peoples would soon discover there were two, there were not. The dimensional infolding reduction resulted in entangled wasps of the same living being after passing through the double 3-D slit on their 11-D realm. The formula for this was large enough to fill several 12-story buildings.

Were the two (one?) entangled wasp(s) entangled dead?


They had retreated safely into their remaining 8 dimensions. And while they still held some sway on their world's axis, there were some perturbations.

King Phillippi III was startled to realize he was still alive and not frozen to death; Tenzor, likewise, realized upon awakening that he wasn't a cinder. Each of the leaders summoned their stewards to check the status of each wasp respectively. Each steward, almost as if they were entangled themselves, entered the supreme bed chambers wide-eyed to report that each carcass--under the protections of the Tenz and Phillippi, accordingly--were gone!

The usual crosstalk between the peoples was suspended that day. The joint fishing hunt on the river was canceled. The wedding preparations were placed on hold, and the bride and groom were each placed under house arrest to make sure there were no indiscretions.

The respective leaders convened their consuls again.

"King Phillippi," his chief consul began, "I know not the whereabouts of the Golden Protector. I secured the vault where it lay, and I stationed two guards at the entrance."

"Most mysterious," Phillippi III said. "Is there any suspicion of our forest co-dwellers in this disappearance?"

"Well," the chief consul mused out loud, "it couldn't have been any of us Phillippi. After all, they are them and we are us."

"Here, here," was launched from several mouths. Phillippi III wrapped the fingers of both his hands simultaneously on the consulate table.

"It may be time to make the announcement to the Tenz authorities?" he said tentatively, raising his voice on the last syllable, as if it were a question.

"No," the chief counsel answered. "Especially if they are involved."

"How? The vault was sealed and there were guards."

"I don't know, Sire. But you know how they are."

Meanwhile, Tenzor was investigating the similar disappearance under his own watch. "No, counsel, I don't know how they are," he said. "Tell me."

"We have no reason to distrust them except that they are very cold people."

"Here, here," from the table.

"I'd like to go with my gut," said Tenzor, "and I'd like to make a surprise visit to King Phillipp." The table went completely silent. "Make this happen, counsel."

The counselors were supercilious beyond the number of actual raised eyebrows, but their leader had spoken and the preparations began.

High above River Taputini two Golden Protector wasps danced on the breeze that blew over the forest canopy that stretched over both sides of the water. They exfolded into multiple dimensions, then shot up high into the jet stream. Below, the heat that bordered the Tenz and the cold that contained the Phillippi began to move toward the central vertical river.

Tenzor, as he ferried across the river to see his counterpart of the Phillippi, noticed something never seen before in the world. Looking coldward toward the Phillippi he saw a layer of red light on the horizon. He felt it strange, because the cold side horizon seemed to be glowing, as if with severe heat.

Phillippi III's intelligence corps was excellent, so he knew about the pending visit from the Tenz leader. Standing on the shore of his side of the river, he noticed something he had never seen before. People on other worlds might call it dawn or dusk. But with the recent scare of the dead Protector, Phillippi realized the world was in motion.

"This is how it ends," he said out loud. His ferry crew lost the color in their faces. "Stop!" he commanded. The oarsmen dutifully obeyed. "We're in the middle of the river. Whatever is approaching us from the horizon comes here last. I am your leader, and I must be last to perish."

By this time, Phillipp had concluded the episode the same way. "Fetch my daughter," he commanded. His entourage started shifting their feet nervously, otherwise immobile--otherwise not off to fetch anything. "What! Why aren't you off now? Fetch my daughter!"

"Sir," the head armed escort began, "she is currently not available."

"Why is that? Is she with the Moon?" as the quaint saying went.

"No, sir, she is with the Tenz prince."

Phillipp's face blanched, then reddened in rage. He began formulating a plan for quick and harsh punishment for his guards when there appeared in the distance a sailing vessel to the north of them ducking in and out of a rolling mist that was moving toward them. This was puzzling, because any movement issued forth from the East or the West, between the two peoples settled in the forest. North and South simply were not directions of action in their world.

Tenzor stood on the bow of his official state ferry and noted the southbound vessel, too. He listed skillfully with the boat, in amazement, as the mysterious vessel continued on an intercept course with his ferry. Murmuring ensued among the two sets of contingents. Truly this was unprecedented: someone who was neither Tenz nor Phillippi--not traveling East or West.

All life on the planet seemed to stop as the sailing vessel approached. Finally, Tenzor ordered his ferry to continue to Phillipp's shoreline; he felt whatever was coming required both of them, unified, as the stewards of their world. The mist that shrouded the mysterious boat allowed only identification of how many sailors there were on it, but not any features.

True to the novel circumstances, what finally arrived was neither Tenz nor Phillippi. It was both, for the leaders would soon be surprised to see their children.

Phillippi III's dock had received the Tenz state ferry, but there was no conversing between the two leaders. All eyes were fixed on the mist rolling in from the North.

As if to make an ostentacious entrance, the mist parted like curtains being drawn, and a rope was thrown from someone on the bow. That someone was Tesh, the Tenzor prince and heir apparent to his people. Phinea, the Phillippi princess, stood behind him smiling the smile of naïvité that came with such puerile unions.

Tenzor lowered his head and when he raised it up again, his eyes were glaring at his guard contingent. They snapped into battle readiness with the shuffle and slapping of sudden posture arrangement and grasping of their weaponry.

Phillippi just stared at Phinea in disbelief. These two children, as he regarded them, were together alone, and they had been alone for some time, all of it clandestine and in the privacy of their sailing vessel. No one else was aboard.

"Father," began Tenzor. Tenzor held up his hand, forbidding him.

"No!" shouted Phinea to Tenzor. "Hear him, sir." Tenzor's grimace didn't exactly soften, but it did reach a type of neutrality.

"I have news from the other side of the world, Father. And," to Phillipp III, "your highness."

"The other side of the world?" Tenzor blurted in disbelief. "There is no other side of the world. The world is flat. It ends to the north where the river overflows the top edge and to the south where it overflows the bottom." All in witness began laughing at how unnecessary it was to explain such an intuitive truth. It was axiomatic, figuring into the religious instruction of both the Tenz and the Phillippi.

"No," Phinea said defiantly. "That is all wrong now. We have seen it. We have sailed south from here, found the great iciness at what we thought was the end of the world, and the tide from the Moon opened a channel through it, and going farther south became for us sailing north."

"How is that possible, daughter?" Phillipp III asked in ridicule. "This cannot be true, or you would have fallen off!"

"Because our world is round, not flat."

All laughed until abruptly stopping at the upraised hand of Tenzor.

"It's true," agreed Tesh, in confident affirmation.

Tesh reached down to pick up a small box and presented it to all there. He slowly opened its lid and from it a pair of Golden Protector wasps fluttered out.


Tesh and Phinea each held out a hand and a wasp lighted on each. This was no less astounding than a religious vision. All people on the shore fell to their knees.

"Our world is saved," said one of the Tenz soldiers when all saw the two Golden Protector wasps ascend out of site.

"By this union of Tesh and Phinea," a Phillippi guard added.

The two fathers stood in silence and trembled. It remained awkward until Tenzor walked from the dock to Phillippi and extended both of his arms. The two men embraced each other tightly to the cheers on both sides of them. Then they released each other and turned to the young couple. Tenzor embraced Phinea, his new daughter-in-law, and Phillipp III embraced his new son-in-law, Tesh.

While the rest of the two kingdoms were getting more and more inebriated, Tenzor and Phillipp III sat in arduous, focused negotiation designing a new world order. The nations were now joined in sacred bonds, and the couple symbolized the new unified realms on either side of River Taputini. After two days of wanton debauchery outside their doors, they were ready to receive the new couple upon whom the entire all-encompassing document relied.

Both Tenzor and Phillipp III would sign, but so should the miraculous couple who single-handedly ushered in a new wonderful age; and the fact that they brought with them two Golden Protectors and not just one--as it was believed to be, only gave an additional guise of magic to their union. Surely the world was safe from the fire and the ice.

But what of this other side of the world?

The religious prelates of both nations had also met to issue a joint encyclical, which coincidenatlly was completed at the same time as the sovereign governing edict.

From the Clerical Council of the Church of the Tenz and the Basilica of the Phillippi:

Our great books did not say our world was flat. They only implied it by stating that the holy among us will never fall off. Truth revealed, no one has. And although the land appears flat, Tesh and Phinea have insructed us otherwise. Their tales of another realm of forest on the other side of the world can only mean we live on a sphere so big it only appears flat to us. Otherwise, anyone on the other side of a flat world would fall off, and our royal prince and princess returned intact and in the flesh. Our Supreme Being--whichever one of our two is the true One, works in mysterious ways. Nothing falls off, except the lost Golden Protector wasps, but they fall up. It is not up to us to interpret the Supreme Being, only to accept what appears to us as truth until a new truth replaces it. This is called Faith, and the lack thereof may still risk falling off this sphere, as it is. No shapes are more adherent than others. Whether flat of round. That's what we have learned by this God-given epiphany.

As expected, there were some growing pains in the new world order, but over the months the unification matured peacefully. When all seemed as if it were going smoothly, portending for a glorious river civilization spanning both sides, the bottom dropped out.

"The royal couple are gone!" shouted a handmaiden. The couple had rotated residencies on either side of the river, so it was the Phillippi guards who alerted Phillipp III. He immediately was ferried to Tenzor's residence for a meeting.

When he arrived, he was shown into the proclamation room, whereupon Tenzor presented the letter from Tesh and Phinea. Although they both had signed it, it was obviously Phinea's penmanship.

Dear loving parents,

This is the hardest thing to do, since both our mothers had been killed in that great stupid war. We've come a long way, have we not? We think so. Suspicion is extinct and ill-will between our peoples is a relic of unhappier times. The Protectors live on as does our way of life between the lava and the frozen-over desert. The River Taputini is clear, clean, and replete with the swimming life that helps sustain us. The fruit is plentiful and the ground fertile. Our natural environment is stable and expectations of each day are never disappointing.

There is a whole new world. Our exploration and surveillance of the continuing river on the other side, and its own lush forests, have shown it to be uninhabited by being such as us. And the animals and plants are according to an entirely different plan. Perhaps there is only one God there, and he must be mighty. Or she?

There is a particularly lovely garden where fruit trees stand tall and plentiful. We have set out for it and wish to settle it. If we haven't returned by the time you read these words, you should assume the South passage was still patent. Although we could hardly fit past the North one when we had returned months ago. We believe this to be a once-in-a-millenium phenomenon. If it remains open, we will return with our family (I am with child now); we will visit. But we will return there, for that will be our home. Our world. Our future. We will be fruitful and multiply and fill that world. If the passages seal, perhaps in hundreds of generations our two peoples will meet.

Tenzor handed the letter back to Phillippi. "We should set out an expedition at once to retrieve them," he said. "Our unification is fragile."

"No," Phillippi replied. He could hear his daughter's voice in the written words said out loud. It was a benevolent voice and portended benevolent things.

"You are right," Tenzor said. "They are with child and that is the confirmation of their independence to act as they want. I wonder if we should confer with the clerics on this."

"Oh, no," Phillipp III blurted. "Don't involve them in anything important. If there be any catastrophic repercussions, certainly the wasps will be back. And God knows what else."

"Then we should be careful," Tenzor urged. "We've run out of sons and daughters." Phillipp nodded in agreement.

"Is it me, or is it getting cold in here?" he asked Tenzor.


The Old World and the New World were ready. They were poised to assume their geographic destiny. The entire globe trembled. Then it shimmied. Then it began moving in a spin. The whole process taking a world-year.

First the winds began, and the river peoples had to batten their windows and doorways. Many domesticated animals were lost and much vegetation was battered beyond salvage. Above them, the people witnessed the stratospheric meeting of fire and ice, day and night for months. High above were the explosions of mutually exclusive elements, forced into sublimation. A rosy fog covered the lands, filtering the sunlight into a moire pattern of shimmying rainbows that crisscrossed themselves, inventing new hues never before witnessed.

Next, the dawns and dusks flickered on both sides of the River Taputini. The Tenz and the Phillippi had never seen such horizons to the East and the West.

Even more miraculous was the moving of their outlying borders. The lava receded and hardened; the ice melted and water flowed over the salt beds that had lay hidden immemorial. As the lava cooled, mountains erupted upward with thunderous noise and ground-shaking; as the salt beds mixed with the melted ice, an ocean brewed.

Ultimately, dawn repeated according to the circadian rhythm of the Tenz and the Phillippi; dusk came for every day's end. An age of unaccustomed fertility ensued, and the intermarriage between the two river peoples became fashionable. Soon, an ocean lay to the East and a continent lay to the West. There would be an explosion in population with many places for them to migrate.

PART THREE: 800 world-years later

The ancient patriarch and matriarch, Tesh and Phinea, had been fruitful and had multiplied. The long-perished Tenzor and Phillipp III rest in peace in the history books. The North and South Passages had never returned to patency, now covered with miles-high glaciers. Thus, an ocean separated the New World from the Old World on one side, and a dense forest continent on the other. The way was also blocked by at the ice caps.

When maritime progress finally allowed long voyages, it was the people of the Old World who would venture to their counterpart first, as they were a millennium ahead in their history, knowledge, and even existence.

They had heard the mythos of the antediluvian Tenzor and Phillipp III, and how the Golden Protector wasps had ascended above the heads of the betrothed Tesh and Phinea, high enough to take with them the Grand Attractor that was their anchor to an unchanging hellish day and forever frozen night.

The Tenz contemporary scientists would call it an axis, for they had long separated the science from the mythology. They understood that this axis wasn't functional until whatever the lost Golden Protector wasps symbolized set the torque about it into operation. Thus, their science, far advanced from that of the New World, would measure the tilt of this axis to explain seasons.

The New World mythos, however, explained it differently, appreciating the nature of the Golden Protectors but not necessarily understanding the science. It was no matter, for it was--for the New World--that science and religion were the same.

Their Good Book's first lines read,

In the Beginning, Father Tesh and Mother Phinea came to the New World at the behest of the Golden Protectors, who had absconded to establish the VOID that then was filled with the World Motion that begot night and day. The nature of the Golden Protectors is one of the Mysteries, which we celebrate as fertility in the newly returned Warmed Months each World-Year, and from which we ourselves take part in body and in blood. Blessed are the Golden Protectors, for They allow the World to sustain our bodies while they sustain our very Souls.

There came the day that the ships from the Old World reached the shores of the New World. The ship captain, as now recorded in the history tomes, had told the seminal story of first contact:

These are primitive people, yet they possess wondrous things--novel foodstuffs, amazing beasts of burden, and precious metals. Their men are strong and can lift mightily, and their women are seducing for childbearing. This find is Our find, and we can benefit greatly by settling here in this New World and shaping its future.

It is evident that these primitives need the guidance, leadership, and direction of our Old World to steady the rudder of their journey toward our combined destiny.

Far away in other dimensions, a pair of Golden Protector wasps circled this discovery of the New World by those from the Old World and re-envisioned an axis stayed in its rotation; re-imagined the impurities of the age purged by fire and ice. High in the stratosphere, they fluttered their wings in indecisiveness: whether to tidally lock this world in termination of fire and ice.

Challenge of the Month XXXIX
Write a short poem about your own private Hell. The tortured who reigns gets 100 big ones. Winner will be picked by Prose. Go.
Cover image for post To Another Day, by Chacko_Stephen
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To Another Day

Sunday morn, skies that mourned,

wrinkled blankets, undone laundry,

notes that piled, lectures paused,

plates and bowls, last night meals.

Seasons changes, fall and rains,

falling apart, piece by piece.

Save me, please, screamed to the skies,

begged and hurt, lone in a crowd.

Deep inside, something changed,

life felt different, so did I.

What once was, what now is,

what would be, all blurred in one.

Barely human, days all same,

can't be machine, feelings clawed.

Bewitched in a maze, no way out,

dark that stayed, lights that frayed.

Would I leave, this game of hurt,

or would I stay, forever and frail?

Shall I try, when all things fail,

or just let go, as fate may plead?

But I will wake, to another day,

for dawn may break, and the sun may rise,

birds may sing, and the rains may pour,

nights may fall, and the cold may creep.

I will wake to another day.