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Star Trek.
Written by Harry_Situation

To Boldly Go...

I've been asked what is the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek.

To me it's quite simple. Star Wars is the scifi experience we want to happen. We want to wield a lightsaber and fly a starship. We want to use the force and save the galaxy from tyranny. Star Trek is the scifi experience that could happen. There will be a day where we cure many diseases. There will be a day where we will meet new life and explore new worlds. There will be a day where we will boldly go where no man's gone before. 

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Star Trek.
Written by Harry_Situation
To Boldly Go...
I've been asked what is the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek.

To me it's quite simple. Star Wars is the scifi experience we want to happen. We want to wield a lightsaber and fly a starship. We want to use the force and save the galaxy from tyranny. Star Trek is the scifi experience that could happen. There will be a day where we cure many diseases. There will be a day where we will meet new life and explore new worlds. There will be a day where we will boldly go where no man's gone before. 
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AURORA

          It was a normal day. I was a blonde haired, blue eyed eleven year old girl with good grades and a bright future. That morning my family ate breakfast together at the kitchen table before my sister and I caught the school bus and our parents drove to work. My father read the newspaper in between bites of his toast. My mother wore an apron while she cooked and waved to the neighbors on her way to get the mail. My little sister giggled with her missing front teeth and milk mustache. We did our homework when we got home from school. We played outside in the back yard on our wooden swing set. We were a perfect family with a perfect life. That night I held my little sisters hand as we hid under our bed and our parents were murdered.          

          We lived in a neighborhood with a cul-de-sac street. When you would look out the window, you would see kids riding their bikes on the sidewalks. Crime was unheard of, but that didn’t stop it from happening to us. I remember the sound of the gun shots. I remember feeling my pounding heart, the sticky sweat in between mine and my sister’s clenched hands, and the sick feeling in my stomach. I was terrified that we were next. I don’t remember what happened, and I don’t remember why, but the intruder didn’t get us.

           I haven’t seen my sister since that night. My Godfather, George Spencer, took me in. (I just call him Godfather though. Sounds cooler.) He is a rich, old friend of my parents. There wasn’t any family left to go to. My Grandparents had already passed away from cancer and heart disease. For the most part, I grew up without them. I was diagnosed with PTSD and heavily medicated. The absence of my sister was something I never really got an explanation for. Staying quiet and not asking questions was something I learned how to do over the years. Memories are now too foggy to make sense of anything, so I had to just move forward and try to put the past behind me.

           This year I entered my senior year of high school at The Buckley School, a private school in Sherman Oaks, California. No one knows about my past except for my best friend, Lucille. We don’t even talk about it anymore. We’re concerned with normal things that seniors are concerned with like getting our driver’s license and how many days there are until graduation.

           I so badly want things to be normal. I haven’t seen my therapist in three years. The only thing left to do… the thing that would make things one hundred percent normal again was to stop taking my medication. So I stopped. That’s when the nightmares started. Nobody knows about them. I don’t want Godfather to be worried about me. He already worries enough. He has our butler, Albert, waiting on me hand and foot, making sure I am perfectly content at all times. Plus he would just send me back to a therapist. So I can’t tell him. I just have to keep going until I am eighteen. Then nobody can make me do anything.

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

NIGHTMARES

           Aurora rubbed her eyes and looked at her alarm clock. 3:03. It was pointless to try to go back to sleep when she knew she would just wake up again in an hour. Her heart was still pounding from the nightmare. Was I going mad? She sighed. Her bedroom was completely dark. She reached over and turned on the lamp sitting on her nightstand. That’s when she remembered the full bottle of pills sitting inside her nightstand drawer. I’m not going to take them. She laid there for a moment waiting for her heart to settle. Then she reached over and opened the drawer. She grabbed the bottle, took them to her en suite bathroom, and flushed the pills down the toilet.

           With squinty eyes, she stared back at her face in the mirror. The dark circles under her eyes were now impossible to miss. She swore they were getting darker as the nights passed. Normally she had a fresh, baby face. People easily mistook her for being twelve rather than seventeen. It was something that got on her nerves, but she always just smiled back at them. She splashed cold water on her face. The water trickled down onto her oversized white t-shirt. Her mouth was dry. She really didn’t want to have to go downstairs and get a drink, because she might wake up Godfather or Albert in the process, but tap water from the sink wasn’t sounding very appetizing, no matter how many filters Godfather had hooked up to the main water line of the house.

           Aurora got her cell phone from on top of her dresser to use as a flashlight, and crept out of her bedroom into the dark hall. Albert’s bedroom was at the opposite side of the house and Godfather’s bedroom was the master suite downstairs. While in the hall, she peeked over the railing to take a look at the Great Room below to see if she could see anyone who might be awake. Godfather liked to sit in his armchair in front of the fireplace there. His chair, and what she could see in the darkened room, was empty. She slowly walked down the curved staircase and into the two story foyer. Moonlight poured into the room from the glass in the large, wooden front door. She took a look at the bright moon. It was full. When she got to the kitchen, she took a pitcher of orange juice from the stainless steel refrigerator, and poured it in her glass.

           Suddenly, a thundering noise echoed through the kitchen. Aurora jerked, knocking over her glass, shattering it to the floor. She turned around quick and saw Godfather standing there. He had accidentally knocked over the trash can. He flipped on the lights.

           “I’m sorry,” Godfather apologized, running to the pantry to grab a broom. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

           “It’s alright,” Aurora squinted from the blinding light.

           Godfather swept up the broken glass while Aurora poured a new glass of orange juice. She quickly drank it down.

           “What are you doing awake?” Godfather questioned as he put away the broom.

           “I just woke up and needed a drink. What are you doing awake?”

           “I was just finishing up some work in my office.” Godfather also got himself a glass of orange juice. “You look really tired.”

           “Well it is three o’clock in the morning.”

           “True.”

           They sat down together at the small wooden table in the kitchen drinking their juice.

           “What are the odds both of us up at the same time?”

           “Must be the full moon,” Aurora laughed.

           Godfather laughed back and got up from his chair. “Well, I’m going to go get some sleep. I have a meeting in the morning.” He sat his empty glass in the dishwasher. “Goodnight, sweetheart.”

           “Goodnight,” Aurora replied as Godfather walked out of the kitchen. She wondered why he had so many meetings lately, but she didn’t ask. He was hardly ever home. Talking to him just now was more conversation than she’d had with him in days.

           When Aurora got back up to her bedroom, she laid on her soft, fluffy bed staring up at the ceiling for a while, then finally drifted off to sleep.

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CLASSIFIED

          Aurora awoke by the bright sunlight streaming in through her curtains. She reached for her alarm clock to check the time and accidentally knocked it off the table. She let out an irritated sigh and didn’t even bother picking it up. Remembering it was the weekend perked her up a little bit. School was something she dreaded more than just about anything.

           She sat up in bed and stretched. There was a knock at her door.

           “Come in,” Aurora responded.

           Alfred walked in.

           “Good. You are already awake. I was hoping I didn’t have to wake you up myself,” he said relieved. “I knew you weren’t going to have breakfast at the regular time since it’s a Saturday, and I know how much you enjoy sleeping in, but it is now past noon… Would you like breakfast now or would you like me to fix you a lunch?”

           Aurora laughed. “I’ll have breakfast now, Alfred. Thank you.”

           “The regular or are you feeling more adventurous today?” he asked.

           “The regular.”

           Chocolate chip pancakes and a cup of coffee. Black.

           “Will do,” he responded, turned on his heel, and took off with stride out the door.

           Aurora stood up and made her bed. No matter how many times Alfred told her not to she still did. She slipped on her house slippers and walked to her bathroom. Her blonde hair was sticking up in all directions, so she brushed it. Then she brushed her teeth. She put on a long cardigan to cover her sleeveless shirt and pajama shorts and walked downstairs.

           In the kitchen Alfred was listening to Beethoven. He confidently flipped her pancakes up into the air and back down into the stainless steel skillet. Aurora sat down at the island bar. Watching him cook was always rather interesting, but today she was interested in more than that.

           “Alfred, may I ask you a question?”

           “Of course,” he answered.

           “What is going on with Godfather? Why is he staying up so late, and what’s with all of the meetings suddenly? He seems so distracted, and he’s not sleeping well.”

           “That I do not know,” Alfred replied. “Your Godfather and I have always been close, but when it comes to his work, that is where he draws the line. I cook. I clean. I do not ask him questions on the subject.”

           “Hmm,” Aurora thought wishing there was a least something Alfred could tell her. “I would really like to ask him, but I don’t think he would tell me.”

           “You’re right,” Alfred assured her while expertly flipping pancakes. “Your Godfather doesn’t want anybody to worry about what he is up to.”

           Alfred’s eyes widened wishing he could take back what he said.

           Too late.

           “What he is up to…?” Aurora repeated. “What is he up to?”

           “Oh!” Alfred explained, ignoring her question. “I almost burnt your pancake. You should eat now.” He quickly put her pancakes on a plate and poured her coffee. “I have a lot of work to do today. Your Godfather wants me to organize his book collection in the library. I must get to work. Just leave your dishes there. I will clean up.”

           He quickly walked out of the kitchen.

           Aurora sat there stunned for a moment wondering what he was hiding. She had to figure out what was going on.

           In between bites of pancakes and slurps of coffee, she spoke.

           “Lucille, I need you to come over to my house. I need your help with something important,” she said into her cell phone.

           “Help with what?” Lucille questioned.

           “Are you busy?” Aurora asked.

           “No.”

           “Good,” she replied. “Oh, and park beside the stone wall where you can’t be seen. Don’t park in front of the gate and stay in your car. After that, call me.”

           “What in the hell is going- ?”

           Aurora ended the call before she could finish. She put her phone’s ringtone on vibrate and poured herself another cup of coffee. It would take Alfred hours to finish organizing Godfather’s book collection, but she was still anxious. She ignored Alfred’s request to leave her dishes and placed them in the dishwasher.

           She walked upstairs to her bedroom and opened her closet door in search of something to wear. After trying on four different outfits, she decided on a floral dress with white flats. She put on some mascara and lip gloss in her vanity mirror.

Her cell phone started buzzing. She quickly answered the call.

           “Lucille,” she said. “Leave your car where it is. I’m going to let you in the front gate. Walk to the front door. I will see you and let you in.”

           “Aurora, what is- ”

           “I’ll explain when you get here,” Aurora interrupted.

           She ended the call. Then she sneaked out of her room, wincing when the door creaked. She moved stealthily down the stairs, trying to avoid the squeaky ones, and to the front door. On the wall near the door was a hidden panel. She opened it and looked at the screen. She didn’t see Lucille’s car anywhere. She was standing at the gate.

           “Good job,” she whispered to herself.

           She pushed the button below the screen to open the gate. She watched her sneak across the circle path towards the front door. She dove behind the fountain that was in the center of the circle path halfway from the gate to the front door. Tufts of her strawberry blonde hair was sticking out. Aurora giggled. She got back up and walked to the front door. Aurora slowly opened it.

           “Shh…” she whispered as Lucille walked in.

           Lucille looked at her like she had never been more confused in her life, and then followed Aurora up the stairs. She shut her bedroom door behind them.

           “Okay, I need to know right now. What is going on?” Lucille demanded.

           “My Godfather is up to something, and I need to figure out what it is.”

           “What do you mean?”

           “He’s had so many meetings lately. He’s been staying up all night working. Alfred accidentally mentioned that he doesn’t want anyone to know what he is up to.”

           “Ooooh cool. We get to be like secret agents,” Lucille beamed. “What’s the plan?”

           “Well we need to figure out a way to get into his office. Then I guess we’ll just look around.”

           “Great plan,” Lucille said sarcastically.

           Aurora laughed and punched her arm.

           “Ow!” Lucille yelled.

           “Shh!” Aurora whispered. “He keeps his office door locked, so we’ll have to find a key to get in. I’m hoping he has one in his bedroom somewhere.”

           Aurora took a notepad and pen off of her desk and stuck it in her back pocket. She took her digital camera out of her desk drawer and hung it around her neck. She walked over and got a flashlight out of the drawer in her night stand.

           “Here take the flashlight,” she said handing it to Lucille. “Follow me.”

           Aurora slowly opened her bedroom door. She looked down the long hallway to the left and to the right. There was no one there, so she walked out. Lucille followed her. Godfather’s bedroom was on the first floor across from his office. They had to go past the library in order to get to her Godfather’s bedroom. They sneaked down the staircase and then down the long hall behind it. Aurora peered into the library. Thankfully Alfred had his back turned to them. He was humming and piling books into a stack on a desk. They sneaked by the door and down the hall to Godfather’s bedroom. The door was unlocked.

Aurora slowly pushed open the door. Even with the king sized poster bed, his bedroom was huge. The floor was made of a grey marble and fur rugs laid on the floor. A stone fireplace was across from his bed. Aurora walked over to his dresser and started rummaging through the drawers hoping to find something while Lucille stood there looking around the room in amazement.

           “Lucille, go stand by the door. Keep an eye out for Alfred,” Aurora whispered motioning at the bedroom door.

           Lucille quickly moved to the door and looked down the hallway. Aurora began searching around the room and under the bed. Nothing. She walked back to the dresser. There was a wooden box sitting on it. She opened the box and looked inside. It was empty.

           Strange. Why is there a box here if it’s empty? Just for decoration?

           She took a closer look at the box. The part that you could see when you opened the box was actually not as deep as the box itself. She pulled on the front of the box. A-ha! It opened to reveal a hidden compartment. Inside was a note and two keys. The note had a phone number written on it. She scribbled it down in her note pad. She took out the keys, closed the box, and sat it back down on the dresser.

           “Hopefully one of these opens his office door,” she whispered to Lucille.

           Aurora peered down the hallway to see if the coast was clear. It was empty. Lucille followed her across the hall to Godfather’s office. Aurora tried both keys, and the second one unlocked the door. They slowly opened it and shut it behind them.

           Aurora looked around. She had never been in Godfather’s office before. Facing them was a large wooden desk with a computer sitting on it in the center of the room. A large, floor to ceiling window with red curtains was behind it. There were bookshelves covering the majority of the walls except for a small section with two filing cabinets sitting side by side. Above the filing cabinets was a large bulletin board with a map of New York City. There were thumb tacks stuck on certain locations. She took out her digital camera and took a photo of the map.

           “Aurora, come and look at this,” Lucille said.

           Aurora walked over to Lucille who was standing behind the desk. She looked at the computer screen. On it were small screens showing different rooms in the house. Every room in the house, except for the bedrooms and bathrooms were on the screen. She could see Alfred sorting books in the library, and she could see Lucille and herself right on the screen in the office.

           “Shit,” Aurora mumbled.

           “What are we going to do?” Lucille panicked.

          Aurora took a look at the surveillance program. She clicked on the options tab, then cameras. There were names given to each camera put in the house – entry, stairs, hallway 1, hallway 2, office, kitchen, library, living room, and entertainment room. There were also choices to add and remove them. On the 'Find and Play Recordings' tab were a list of the recordings when motions were detected by the cameras. It showed the date and time, and you could play and delete them. You could also select to turn the motion detection on or off and to turn each camera on or off.

           “Okay, what we are going to do is delete the recordings from the time right before you got here till now, then we are going to turn off all of the cameras, but not delete them from the program,” Aurora decided. “Hopefully Godfather will just think that there is something wrong with the program and not suspect anything.”

           “Alright,” Lucille agreed.

           Aurora clicked on the off button for all cameras being recorded in the house and then deleted all of the video files to the time right before Lucille arrived.

           “We should see what else is on this computer,” Aurora suggested.

           She minimized the surveillance program. The background image of the computer desktop was a simple landscape photo of some mountains. What few icons there were on the desktop were nice and organized. Something Aurora wasn’t used to seeing on her own computer. She noticed the icon of his email account and opened it. There were four unread emails from website subscriptions, but none seemed out of the ordinary. She noticed a read email from someone of the name Kathleen J. It was marked as urgent. She opened the email.

Mr. Spencer,

The assignment is set to take place on April 22nd. Your plane is scheduled to depart Los Angeles for New York City on April 20th at 6:30 a.m. Your driver will be waiting for you upon arrival at the JFK International Airport to transport you to your hotel. We will meet that evening at 5 o’clock. I will call you beforehand to secure the location. I look forward to meeting with you.

Kathleen J.

           April 22nd was in two weeks.

           “What assignment?” Lucille wondered out loud.

           “I don’t know. This might be important,” Aurora stated. “Write all of it down. Then close out of the email.”

           She handed Lucille the notepad and pen. Then she walked over to the filing cabinets and began looking through the drawers. She opened the files and looked at the documents inside. There was nothing interesting until she pulled out a folder that said Classified. She flipped through the papers in the folder and noticed a photo inside of a couple and two children.

            “Oh my god,” Aurora whispered.

           Lucille heard and came over to see.

           “Who are they?” Lucille asked.

           “That is me, my parents, and my little sister,” Aurora answered.

           She flipped through the rest of the papers and found more photos. This time they were the police photos of the crime scene that occurred the night of her parent’s death. Her parents lay sprawled on the floor covered in blood.

           Aurora dropped the folder sending all of its contents flying all over the floor.

           “Aurora!” they heard Alfred yell. “Where are you? Did you leave?”

           “Oh shit."

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Quotes from Aurora:

           “Whenever you were a little girl, you could do things that other people cannot. You knew things were going to happen before they happened. When you were six years old you stopped your family from getting in a horrible car accident. You screamed and screamed in the car until they pulled over. There ended up being a ten car pileup ahead which began from an intoxicated truck driver and would have included you if your father had not pulled the car over. You knew things that people were going to say as if you could read their minds. You knew things about outer space that hadn’t even been taught to you. You never got sick, and you were very strong. We tried to teach you to keep your abilities hidden around other people, but you had to go to a doctor every year for a check-up, plus you had to go to school. Your doctor was very curious about how from your birth you had never been sick once. Most kids have ear infections and colds, but you didn’t have any of those things. Instead of being happy you were a healthy child, it’s as if they were fearful. And your teachers… they didn’t like that you were smarter than they were. They began to ask questions. When your parents tried to pull you from school and have someone tutor you at home, they called Child Protective Services. Then when your parents moved from Seattle to Portland, they got even more suspicious. The police showed up at your new home and wanted to take you in for an investigation. Then the F.B.I. and military got involved. They wanted to do experiments on you and offered millions of dollars. - Godfather

          "The night your parents died, you called me crying. I think you knew what was going to happen. You didn’t explain anything, but I came over right away. I got to your parent’s house, not in time to save them, but in time to save you and your sister. The people who killed your parents had already gotten away. I took you both from the home and you were declared missing persons. If the police would have found you, they would have gotten you and who knows what would have happened. You could be in a petri dish right now. I made a vow to your parents to always protect you. I changed both our last names, and we started over.”- Godfather

          “With you knowing the truth,” Godfather continued. “This is the first step to remembering. The first step to possibly awakening your abilities inside of you once again. And you know if you do that, it is going to turn you into the biggest lit up billboard in the world, and all of the darkness is going to find you once again. You have to either be ready for it, or you must not go any further down this road.”

           “I’m ready.”

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Title: Aurora

Classification: Fiction

Genre(s): Science Fiction, Young Adult

Word Count: 11,295 (and counting...)

Type of Work: Novel

Target Age Range: 16-18 Young Adult, 18+ Adult

Hook: As a child, Aurora Spencer was taken in and hidden by her parent’s best friend after they were mysteriously murdered. Now that she is a teenager, she, along with her best friend Lucille, is trying to uncover the secrets of her past. Some even out of this world. She finds that being aware of those secrets is unlocking abilities within her that she will need to use to stop the corruption the world is headed towards. Will she find out who she really is? Can she save the 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 BrittneySowards in portal Trident Media Group
AURORA
          It was a normal day. I was a blonde haired, blue eyed eleven year old girl with good grades and a bright future. That morning my family ate breakfast together at the kitchen table before my sister and I caught the school bus and our parents drove to work. My father read the newspaper in between bites of his toast. My mother wore an apron while she cooked and waved to the neighbors on her way to get the mail. My little sister giggled with her missing front teeth and milk mustache. We did our homework when we got home from school. We played outside in the back yard on our wooden swing set. We were a perfect family with a perfect life. That night I held my little sisters hand as we hid under our bed and our parents were murdered.          
          We lived in a neighborhood with a cul-de-sac street. When you would look out the window, you would see kids riding their bikes on the sidewalks. Crime was unheard of, but that didn’t stop it from happening to us. I remember the sound of the gun shots. I remember feeling my pounding heart, the sticky sweat in between mine and my sister’s clenched hands, and the sick feeling in my stomach. I was terrified that we were next. I don’t remember what happened, and I don’t remember why, but the intruder didn’t get us.
           I haven’t seen my sister since that night. My Godfather, George Spencer, took me in. (I just call him Godfather though. Sounds cooler.) He is a rich, old friend of my parents. There wasn’t any family left to go to. My Grandparents had already passed away from cancer and heart disease. For the most part, I grew up without them. I was diagnosed with PTSD and heavily medicated. The absence of my sister was something I never really got an explanation for. Staying quiet and not asking questions was something I learned how to do over the years. Memories are now too foggy to make sense of anything, so I had to just move forward and try to put the past behind me.
           This year I entered my senior year of high school at The Buckley School, a private school in Sherman Oaks, California. No one knows about my past except for my best friend, Lucille. We don’t even talk about it anymore. We’re concerned with normal things that seniors are concerned with like getting our driver’s license and how many days there are until graduation.
           I so badly want things to be normal. I haven’t seen my therapist in three years. The only thing left to do… the thing that would make things one hundred percent normal again was to stop taking my medication. So I stopped. That’s when the nightmares started. Nobody knows about them. I don’t want Godfather to be worried about me. He already worries enough. He has our butler, Albert, waiting on me hand and foot, making sure I am perfectly content at all times. Plus he would just send me back to a therapist. So I can’t tell him. I just have to keep going until I am eighteen. Then nobody can make me do anything.

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NIGHTMARES
           Aurora rubbed her eyes and looked at her alarm clock. 3:03. It was pointless to try to go back to sleep when she knew she would just wake up again in an hour. Her heart was still pounding from the nightmare. Was I going mad? She sighed. Her bedroom was completely dark. She reached over and turned on the lamp sitting on her nightstand. That’s when she remembered the full bottle of pills sitting inside her nightstand drawer. I’m not going to take them. She laid there for a moment waiting for her heart to settle. Then she reached over and opened the drawer. She grabbed the bottle, took them to her en suite bathroom, and flushed the pills down the toilet.
           With squinty eyes, she stared back at her face in the mirror. The dark circles under her eyes were now impossible to miss. She swore they were getting darker as the nights passed. Normally she had a fresh, baby face. People easily mistook her for being twelve rather than seventeen. It was something that got on her nerves, but she always just smiled back at them. She splashed cold water on her face. The water trickled down onto her oversized white t-shirt. Her mouth was dry. She really didn’t want to have to go downstairs and get a drink, because she might wake up Godfather or Albert in the process, but tap water from the sink wasn’t sounding very appetizing, no matter how many filters Godfather had hooked up to the main water line of the house.
           Aurora got her cell phone from on top of her dresser to use as a flashlight, and crept out of her bedroom into the dark hall. Albert’s bedroom was at the opposite side of the house and Godfather’s bedroom was the master suite downstairs. While in the hall, she peeked over the railing to take a look at the Great Room below to see if she could see anyone who might be awake. Godfather liked to sit in his armchair in front of the fireplace there. His chair, and what she could see in the darkened room, was empty. She slowly walked down the curved staircase and into the two story foyer. Moonlight poured into the room from the glass in the large, wooden front door. She took a look at the bright moon. It was full. When she got to the kitchen, she took a pitcher of orange juice from the stainless steel refrigerator, and poured it in her glass.
           Suddenly, a thundering noise echoed through the kitchen. Aurora jerked, knocking over her glass, shattering it to the floor. She turned around quick and saw Godfather standing there. He had accidentally knocked over the trash can. He flipped on the lights.
           “I’m sorry,” Godfather apologized, running to the pantry to grab a broom. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
           “It’s alright,” Aurora squinted from the blinding light.
           Godfather swept up the broken glass while Aurora poured a new glass of orange juice. She quickly drank it down.
           “What are you doing awake?” Godfather questioned as he put away the broom.
           “I just woke up and needed a drink. What are you doing awake?”
           “I was just finishing up some work in my office.” Godfather also got himself a glass of orange juice. “You look really tired.”
           “Well it is three o’clock in the morning.”
           “True.”
           They sat down together at the small wooden table in the kitchen drinking their juice.
           “What are the odds both of us up at the same time?”
           “Must be the full moon,” Aurora laughed.
           Godfather laughed back and got up from his chair. “Well, I’m going to go get some sleep. I have a meeting in the morning.” He sat his empty glass in the dishwasher. “Goodnight, sweetheart.”
           “Goodnight,” Aurora replied as Godfather walked out of the kitchen. She wondered why he had so many meetings lately, but she didn’t ask. He was hardly ever home. Talking to him just now was more conversation than she’d had with him in days.
           When Aurora got back up to her bedroom, she laid on her soft, fluffy bed staring up at the ceiling for a while, then finally drifted off to sleep.

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CLASSIFIED

          Aurora awoke by the bright sunlight streaming in through her curtains. She reached for her alarm clock to check the time and accidentally knocked it off the table. She let out an irritated sigh and didn’t even bother picking it up. Remembering it was the weekend perked her up a little bit. School was something she dreaded more than just about anything.
           She sat up in bed and stretched. There was a knock at her door.
           “Come in,” Aurora responded.
           Alfred walked in.
           “Good. You are already awake. I was hoping I didn’t have to wake you up myself,” he said relieved. “I knew you weren’t going to have breakfast at the regular time since it’s a Saturday, and I know how much you enjoy sleeping in, but it is now past noon… Would you like breakfast now or would you like me to fix you a lunch?”
           Aurora laughed. “I’ll have breakfast now, Alfred. Thank you.”
           “The regular or are you feeling more adventurous today?” he asked.
           “The regular.”
           Chocolate chip pancakes and a cup of coffee. Black.
           “Will do,” he responded, turned on his heel, and took off with stride out the door.
           Aurora stood up and made her bed. No matter how many times Alfred told her not to she still did. She slipped on her house slippers and walked to her bathroom. Her blonde hair was sticking up in all directions, so she brushed it. Then she brushed her teeth. She put on a long cardigan to cover her sleeveless shirt and pajama shorts and walked downstairs.
           In the kitchen Alfred was listening to Beethoven. He confidently flipped her pancakes up into the air and back down into the stainless steel skillet. Aurora sat down at the island bar. Watching him cook was always rather interesting, but today she was interested in more than that.
           “Alfred, may I ask you a question?”
           “Of course,” he answered.
           “What is going on with Godfather? Why is he staying up so late, and what’s with all of the meetings suddenly? He seems so distracted, and he’s not sleeping well.”
           “That I do not know,” Alfred replied. “Your Godfather and I have always been close, but when it comes to his work, that is where he draws the line. I cook. I clean. I do not ask him questions on the subject.”
           “Hmm,” Aurora thought wishing there was a least something Alfred could tell her. “I would really like to ask him, but I don’t think he would tell me.”
           “You’re right,” Alfred assured her while expertly flipping pancakes. “Your Godfather doesn’t want anybody to worry about what he is up to.”
           Alfred’s eyes widened wishing he could take back what he said.
           Too late.
           “What he is up to…?” Aurora repeated. “What is he up to?”
           “Oh!” Alfred explained, ignoring her question. “I almost burnt your pancake. You should eat now.” He quickly put her pancakes on a plate and poured her coffee. “I have a lot of work to do today. Your Godfather wants me to organize his book collection in the library. I must get to work. Just leave your dishes there. I will clean up.”
           He quickly walked out of the kitchen.
           Aurora sat there stunned for a moment wondering what he was hiding. She had to figure out what was going on.
           In between bites of pancakes and slurps of coffee, she spoke.
           “Lucille, I need you to come over to my house. I need your help with something important,” she said into her cell phone.
           “Help with what?” Lucille questioned.
           “Are you busy?” Aurora asked.
           “No.”
           “Good,” she replied. “Oh, and park beside the stone wall where you can’t be seen. Don’t park in front of the gate and stay in your car. After that, call me.”
           “What in the hell is going- ?”
           Aurora ended the call before she could finish. She put her phone’s ringtone on vibrate and poured herself another cup of coffee. It would take Alfred hours to finish organizing Godfather’s book collection, but she was still anxious. She ignored Alfred’s request to leave her dishes and placed them in the dishwasher.
           She walked upstairs to her bedroom and opened her closet door in search of something to wear. After trying on four different outfits, she decided on a floral dress with white flats. She put on some mascara and lip gloss in her vanity mirror.
Her cell phone started buzzing. She quickly answered the call.
           “Lucille,” she said. “Leave your car where it is. I’m going to let you in the front gate. Walk to the front door. I will see you and let you in.”
           “Aurora, what is- ”
           “I’ll explain when you get here,” Aurora interrupted.
           She ended the call. Then she sneaked out of her room, wincing when the door creaked. She moved stealthily down the stairs, trying to avoid the squeaky ones, and to the front door. On the wall near the door was a hidden panel. She opened it and looked at the screen. She didn’t see Lucille’s car anywhere. She was standing at the gate.
           “Good job,” she whispered to herself.
           She pushed the button below the screen to open the gate. She watched her sneak across the circle path towards the front door. She dove behind the fountain that was in the center of the circle path halfway from the gate to the front door. Tufts of her strawberry blonde hair was sticking out. Aurora giggled. She got back up and walked to the front door. Aurora slowly opened it.
           “Shh…” she whispered as Lucille walked in.
           Lucille looked at her like she had never been more confused in her life, and then followed Aurora up the stairs. She shut her bedroom door behind them.
           “Okay, I need to know right now. What is going on?” Lucille demanded.
           “My Godfather is up to something, and I need to figure out what it is.”
           “What do you mean?”
           “He’s had so many meetings lately. He’s been staying up all night working. Alfred accidentally mentioned that he doesn’t want anyone to know what he is up to.”
           “Ooooh cool. We get to be like secret agents,” Lucille beamed. “What’s the plan?”
           “Well we need to figure out a way to get into his office. Then I guess we’ll just look around.”
           “Great plan,” Lucille said sarcastically.
           Aurora laughed and punched her arm.
           “Ow!” Lucille yelled.
           “Shh!” Aurora whispered. “He keeps his office door locked, so we’ll have to find a key to get in. I’m hoping he has one in his bedroom somewhere.”
           Aurora took a notepad and pen off of her desk and stuck it in her back pocket. She took her digital camera out of her desk drawer and hung it around her neck. She walked over and got a flashlight out of the drawer in her night stand.
           “Here take the flashlight,” she said handing it to Lucille. “Follow me.”
           Aurora slowly opened her bedroom door. She looked down the long hallway to the left and to the right. There was no one there, so she walked out. Lucille followed her. Godfather’s bedroom was on the first floor across from his office. They had to go past the library in order to get to her Godfather’s bedroom. They sneaked down the staircase and then down the long hall behind it. Aurora peered into the library. Thankfully Alfred had his back turned to them. He was humming and piling books into a stack on a desk. They sneaked by the door and down the hall to Godfather’s bedroom. The door was unlocked.
Aurora slowly pushed open the door. Even with the king sized poster bed, his bedroom was huge. The floor was made of a grey marble and fur rugs laid on the floor. A stone fireplace was across from his bed. Aurora walked over to his dresser and started rummaging through the drawers hoping to find something while Lucille stood there looking around the room in amazement.
           “Lucille, go stand by the door. Keep an eye out for Alfred,” Aurora whispered motioning at the bedroom door.
           Lucille quickly moved to the door and looked down the hallway. Aurora began searching around the room and under the bed. Nothing. She walked back to the dresser. There was a wooden box sitting on it. She opened the box and looked inside. It was empty.
           Strange. Why is there a box here if it’s empty? Just for decoration?
           She took a closer look at the box. The part that you could see when you opened the box was actually not as deep as the box itself. She pulled on the front of the box. A-ha! It opened to reveal a hidden compartment. Inside was a note and two keys. The note had a phone number written on it. She scribbled it down in her note pad. She took out the keys, closed the box, and sat it back down on the dresser.
           “Hopefully one of these opens his office door,” she whispered to Lucille.
           Aurora peered down the hallway to see if the coast was clear. It was empty. Lucille followed her across the hall to Godfather’s office. Aurora tried both keys, and the second one unlocked the door. They slowly opened it and shut it behind them.
           Aurora looked around. She had never been in Godfather’s office before. Facing them was a large wooden desk with a computer sitting on it in the center of the room. A large, floor to ceiling window with red curtains was behind it. There were bookshelves covering the majority of the walls except for a small section with two filing cabinets sitting side by side. Above the filing cabinets was a large bulletin board with a map of New York City. There were thumb tacks stuck on certain locations. She took out her digital camera and took a photo of the map.
           “Aurora, come and look at this,” Lucille said.
           Aurora walked over to Lucille who was standing behind the desk. She looked at the computer screen. On it were small screens showing different rooms in the house. Every room in the house, except for the bedrooms and bathrooms were on the screen. She could see Alfred sorting books in the library, and she could see Lucille and herself right on the screen in the office.
           “Shit,” Aurora mumbled.
           “What are we going to do?” Lucille panicked.
          Aurora took a look at the surveillance program. She clicked on the options tab, then cameras. There were names given to each camera put in the house – entry, stairs, hallway 1, hallway 2, office, kitchen, library, living room, and entertainment room. There were also choices to add and remove them. On the 'Find and Play Recordings' tab were a list of the recordings when motions were detected by the cameras. It showed the date and time, and you could play and delete them. You could also select to turn the motion detection on or off and to turn each camera on or off.
           “Okay, what we are going to do is delete the recordings from the time right before you got here till now, then we are going to turn off all of the cameras, but not delete them from the program,” Aurora decided. “Hopefully Godfather will just think that there is something wrong with the program and not suspect anything.”
           “Alright,” Lucille agreed.
           Aurora clicked on the off button for all cameras being recorded in the house and then deleted all of the video files to the time right before Lucille arrived.
           “We should see what else is on this computer,” Aurora suggested.
           She minimized the surveillance program. The background image of the computer desktop was a simple landscape photo of some mountains. What few icons there were on the desktop were nice and organized. Something Aurora wasn’t used to seeing on her own computer. She noticed the icon of his email account and opened it. There were four unread emails from website subscriptions, but none seemed out of the ordinary. She noticed a read email from someone of the name Kathleen J. It was marked as urgent. She opened the email.

Mr. Spencer,
The assignment is set to take place on April 22nd. Your plane is scheduled to depart Los Angeles for New York City on April 20th at 6:30 a.m. Your driver will be waiting for you upon arrival at the JFK International Airport to transport you to your hotel. We will meet that evening at 5 o’clock. I will call you beforehand to secure the location. I look forward to meeting with you.
Kathleen J.

           April 22nd was in two weeks.
           “What assignment?” Lucille wondered out loud.
           “I don’t know. This might be important,” Aurora stated. “Write all of it down. Then close out of the email.”
           She handed Lucille the notepad and pen. Then she walked over to the filing cabinets and began looking through the drawers. She opened the files and looked at the documents inside. There was nothing interesting until she pulled out a folder that said Classified. She flipped through the papers in the folder and noticed a photo inside of a couple and two children.
            “Oh my god,” Aurora whispered.
           Lucille heard and came over to see.
           “Who are they?” Lucille asked.
           “That is me, my parents, and my little sister,” Aurora answered.
           She flipped through the rest of the papers and found more photos. This time they were the police photos of the crime scene that occurred the night of her parent’s death. Her parents lay sprawled on the floor covered in blood.
           Aurora dropped the folder sending all of its contents flying all over the floor.
           “Aurora!” they heard Alfred yell. “Where are you? Did you leave?”
           “Oh shit."

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

Quotes from Aurora:

           “Whenever you were a little girl, you could do things that other people cannot. You knew things were going to happen before they happened. When you were six years old you stopped your family from getting in a horrible car accident. You screamed and screamed in the car until they pulled over. There ended up being a ten car pileup ahead which began from an intoxicated truck driver and would have included you if your father had not pulled the car over. You knew things that people were going to say as if you could read their minds. You knew things about outer space that hadn’t even been taught to you. You never got sick, and you were very strong. We tried to teach you to keep your abilities hidden around other people, but you had to go to a doctor every year for a check-up, plus you had to go to school. Your doctor was very curious about how from your birth you had never been sick once. Most kids have ear infections and colds, but you didn’t have any of those things. Instead of being happy you were a healthy child, it’s as if they were fearful. And your teachers… they didn’t like that you were smarter than they were. They began to ask questions. When your parents tried to pull you from school and have someone tutor you at home, they called Child Protective Services. Then when your parents moved from Seattle to Portland, they got even more suspicious. The police showed up at your new home and wanted to take you in for an investigation. Then the F.B.I. and military got involved. They wanted to do experiments on you and offered millions of dollars. - Godfather

          "The night your parents died, you called me crying. I think you knew what was going to happen. You didn’t explain anything, but I came over right away. I got to your parent’s house, not in time to save them, but in time to save you and your sister. The people who killed your parents had already gotten away. I took you both from the home and you were declared missing persons. If the police would have found you, they would have gotten you and who knows what would have happened. You could be in a petri dish right now. I made a vow to your parents to always protect you. I changed both our last names, and we started over.”- Godfather

          “With you knowing the truth,” Godfather continued. “This is the first step to remembering. The first step to possibly awakening your abilities inside of you once again. And you know if you do that, it is going to turn you into the biggest lit up billboard in the world, and all of the darkness is going to find you once again. You have to either be ready for it, or you must not go any further down this road.”
           “I’m ready.”

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

Title: Aurora
Classification: Fiction
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Young Adult
Word Count: 11,295 (and counting...)
Type of Work: Novel
Target Age Range: 16-18 Young Adult, 18+ Adult
Hook: As a child, Aurora Spencer was taken in and hidden by her parent’s best friend after they were mysteriously murdered. Now that she is a teenager, she, along with her best friend Lucille, is trying to uncover the secrets of her past. Some even out of this world. She finds that being aware of those secrets is unlocking abilities within her that she will need to use to stop the corruption the world is headed towards. Will she find out who she really is? Can she save the world?
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Written by MichaelBenjamin

Future Ghosts [0.1 - A Prelude]

The city that loomed over an incline in the freeway came into full, startling view and a roadsign introduced it, glinting harshly in the cycle's single white eye of a headlight as it flew by.

OLDPORT - EXITS 505-590

He took the third exit, the light on the front of the hypercycle dimming and eventually winking out as glowing neon turned night as bright as day, even in the nearly deserted back-alleys. A mile or so in and the vehicle hissed to a stop, cylindrical wheels hardly making a noise. The Rider stepped off, black attire making him a silhouette against the glowing neon that littered almost every surface. 

It was worse in the center of the city, but even here various AR-boards and adverts had been set up. Across the street, over an nearly abandoned corner store, an advertisement was playing for a coffee company; the giant flickering arm of the actor reaching out from the sign and shoving a steaming paper cup at the viewer. The Rider huffed his displeasure, the sound muffled and distorted, crackling like a broken speaker. 

Every city he'd been in since he set out was looking like more and more of the same. Carbon copies with different names and different ads and different colors. Had it not been for the mask, he might have spat. Instead, he reached over to the cycle and pressed a gloved palm onto its front. A few spots on it blinked red and he walked away from it, knowing anyone who tried to loot it would get a nasty surprise. 

The edges of Oldport held on to a bit of their familiar charm, he noticed as he walked. A few of the AR-boards were laying on their sides, vandalized and broken, advertisements still trying to flicker on them in dying spurts.

A thin smile, unseen, drew up the edges of his mouth slightly as he stepped across an empty street toward an abandoned church, making quick work of the CONDEMNED stickers blocking the doors with only a swipe down of his hand. The material on either side hissed and bubbled, melted away and stretched as he pushed the left door open and stepped through. 

The door slid shut behind him and for a moment, everything was black. A sigh hissed from his helmet a moment before lights began to wink on, one at a time, from the back of the church where he stood toward the front, toward the alter. There was a click behind him, bars slipping from the walls beside them and across both doors. 

"Great," the Rider, grumbled, taking a small shooter from an inside pocket and settling a gloved hand on the trigger. "No one ever says hello anymore."

A voice hissed to life from the alter and a robed figure rose from behind it, white orbs winking to life under its hood and staring holes directly into The Rider's helmet. 

"Wel-welcome t-t-to Sanctuary, Rider Geist. Pla-place down your weapons an-and re-emove your armor-or, or we will-ill be forced to take def-deeefensive action."

The voice was robotic, old tech. It didn't sound real, more like a recording. "Explain defensive action," the cyclist responded, voice monotone. 

"Al-larms will be-ee raised and sentr---"

The voice was cut off as a red bolt tore through the air and ripped through the automaton's synthetic flesh and endoskeleton, right between those two glowing spheres. Alarms sounded piercing cries and the white lamps began to alternate crimson.

The Rider bent down and loosed another shooter, this one from his belt, ducking behind a pew to wait for the cavalry. He waited, and idly wondered if the files here would be any different from the three other compounds he'd hit the last few weeks. It was becoming almost automatic by this point. Same song and dance in different locations. 

The thought was still fresh in his mind when the church around him went blinding white and his whole world exploded. 

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Written by MichaelBenjamin
Future Ghosts [0.1 - A Prelude]
The city that loomed over an incline in the freeway came into full, startling view and a roadsign introduced it, glinting harshly in the cycle's single white eye of a headlight as it flew by.

OLDPORT - EXITS 505-590

He took the third exit, the light on the front of the hypercycle dimming and eventually winking out as glowing neon turned night as bright as day, even in the nearly deserted back-alleys. A mile or so in and the vehicle hissed to a stop, cylindrical wheels hardly making a noise. The Rider stepped off, black attire making him a silhouette against the glowing neon that littered almost every surface. 

It was worse in the center of the city, but even here various AR-boards and adverts had been set up. Across the street, over an nearly abandoned corner store, an advertisement was playing for a coffee company; the giant flickering arm of the actor reaching out from the sign and shoving a steaming paper cup at the viewer. The Rider huffed his displeasure, the sound muffled and distorted, crackling like a broken speaker. 

Every city he'd been in since he set out was looking like more and more of the same. Carbon copies with different names and different ads and different colors. Had it not been for the mask, he might have spat. Instead, he reached over to the cycle and pressed a gloved palm onto its front. A few spots on it blinked red and he walked away from it, knowing anyone who tried to loot it would get a nasty surprise. 

The edges of Oldport held on to a bit of their familiar charm, he noticed as he walked. A few of the AR-boards were laying on their sides, vandalized and broken, advertisements still trying to flicker on them in dying spurts.

A thin smile, unseen, drew up the edges of his mouth slightly as he stepped across an empty street toward an abandoned church, making quick work of the CONDEMNED stickers blocking the doors with only a swipe down of his hand. The material on either side hissed and bubbled, melted away and stretched as he pushed the left door open and stepped through. 

The door slid shut behind him and for a moment, everything was black. A sigh hissed from his helmet a moment before lights began to wink on, one at a time, from the back of the church where he stood toward the front, toward the alter. There was a click behind him, bars slipping from the walls beside them and across both doors. 

"Great," the Rider, grumbled, taking a small shooter from an inside pocket and settling a gloved hand on the trigger. "No one ever says hello anymore."

A voice hissed to life from the alter and a robed figure rose from behind it, white orbs winking to life under its hood and staring holes directly into The Rider's helmet. 

"Wel-welcome t-t-to Sanctuary, Rider Geist. Pla-place down your weapons an-and re-emove your armor-or, or we will-ill be forced to take def-deeefensive action."

The voice was robotic, old tech. It didn't sound real, more like a recording. "Explain defensive action," the cyclist responded, voice monotone. 

"Al-larms will be-ee raised and sentr---"

The voice was cut off as a red bolt tore through the air and ripped through the automaton's synthetic flesh and endoskeleton, right between those two glowing spheres. Alarms sounded piercing cries and the white lamps began to alternate crimson.

The Rider bent down and loosed another shooter, this one from his belt, ducking behind a pew to wait for the cavalry. He waited, and idly wondered if the files here would be any different from the three other compounds he'd hit the last few weeks. It was becoming almost automatic by this point. Same song and dance in different locations. 

The thought was still fresh in his mind when the church around him went blinding white and his whole world exploded. 
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Written by desmondwrite

Time Tour

Arisa sighed so intensely she almost dry heaved as she collected a bucket and mop and tried to soap up the green stain on the floor of Paul Revere's house. She looked to Paul and said, "Sorry about that," and he waved his hands dismissively—he was one of the few historical celebrities who enjoyed the attention (and groping stares of tourists). Arisa put the cleaning supplies back in the Vault and wondered if the Agency covering Ancient Persia had to deal with this much puke, but she knew they had it worse—mounds of McDom wrappers, discarded bottles of sugar cola, the occasional beheading, and tourists sneaking aspirin to Alexander the Great. She didn't even want to imagine all the fanny-packed Americans bumping into each other at the barricades of Revolutionary France, disappointed when the Bastille raised the white flag after an underwhelming battle, and keeping on the lookout for Valjean or Javert (some forty years off—not to mention they were fiction).

As Arisa came out of the Vault, she suppressed a second sigh that threatened to blow the back of her brains out. There were two fresh pools of goo on the floor where she'd just mopped. She nodded thankfully as one of her past selves went to the Vault to grab the mop. Or future self. She couldn't quite tell as she always wore that crisp black tee-shirt with the text "VASS STAFF" in poison green on the front and kept her hair in a permanent collarbone-length chop. Of course, these were only the selves from this week. Time Tourism was only possible for short durations to the same spot, same time, lest the area become overpacked with panicking, puking people stepping on the Dead Sea Scrolls and interrupting Hitler's speeches.

"All right, folks," said Arisa, motioning to her group. They mostly consisted of old people and women of all ages and a fat goateed man with his hair in a pony tail. All of them looked queasy and not quite ready to go back to the Vault but she had a schedule to keep. Otherwise, they'd be trapped in 1775 as a cube ported directly on their's (inside which would be a whole new slew of stinkers led by a whole new Arisa). If that didn't generate an explosion about three planets wide. So, disinterestedly saving the human race (something she did fifteen times a day, Mondays to Fridays), Arisa herded the group back in the Vault and punched the coordinates for April 19th—Concord. The doors shut and the Vault rumbled like those simulator rides in Los Angeles theme parks and the doors opened again to a haze flickering with red lights like an array of fireflies. Gas masks on, the group spilled onto a hillside of gravestones and looked out over old colonial mansions (not old at the moment) and regiments of red-and-white infantrymen in shag hats firing at a horde of green, browns, and blues—the Americans. This was the highlight of the day before she took the timesick to the Second Continental Congress for cocktails and a hearty dose of patriotism.

Down in the creek, she watched with almost dull apathy as a Vault appeared and two figures in orange slipsuits creeped out. One took a bullet to the chest and the other rushed back inside. The Vault disappeared. It was an event some ten years ago on Arisa's side of time. These were first scouts to investigate the Battle of Concord for a scenic view. Now, preserved in time, there was nothing to do but watch as Butter Khowaja died and Keely Varga narrowly escaped. Scouting was a dangerous, exciting occupation. Guiding, on the other hand, was like waiting for a broken clock to fix itself.

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Written by desmondwrite
Time Tour
Arisa sighed so intensely she almost dry heaved as she collected a bucket and mop and tried to soap up the green stain on the floor of Paul Revere's house. She looked to Paul and said, "Sorry about that," and he waved his hands dismissively—he was one of the few historical celebrities who enjoyed the attention (and groping stares of tourists). Arisa put the cleaning supplies back in the Vault and wondered if the Agency covering Ancient Persia had to deal with this much puke, but she knew they had it worse—mounds of McDom wrappers, discarded bottles of sugar cola, the occasional beheading, and tourists sneaking aspirin to Alexander the Great. She didn't even want to imagine all the fanny-packed Americans bumping into each other at the barricades of Revolutionary France, disappointed when the Bastille raised the white flag after an underwhelming battle, and keeping on the lookout for Valjean or Javert (some forty years off—not to mention they were fiction).

As Arisa came out of the Vault, she suppressed a second sigh that threatened to blow the back of her brains out. There were two fresh pools of goo on the floor where she'd just mopped. She nodded thankfully as one of her past selves went to the Vault to grab the mop. Or future self. She couldn't quite tell as she always wore that crisp black tee-shirt with the text "VASS STAFF" in poison green on the front and kept her hair in a permanent collarbone-length chop. Of course, these were only the selves from this week. Time Tourism was only possible for short durations to the same spot, same time, lest the area become overpacked with panicking, puking people stepping on the Dead Sea Scrolls and interrupting Hitler's speeches.

"All right, folks," said Arisa, motioning to her group. They mostly consisted of old people and women of all ages and a fat goateed man with his hair in a pony tail. All of them looked queasy and not quite ready to go back to the Vault but she had a schedule to keep. Otherwise, they'd be trapped in 1775 as a cube ported directly on their's (inside which would be a whole new slew of stinkers led by a whole new Arisa). If that didn't generate an explosion about three planets wide. So, disinterestedly saving the human race (something she did fifteen times a day, Mondays to Fridays), Arisa herded the group back in the Vault and punched the coordinates for April 19th—Concord. The doors shut and the Vault rumbled like those simulator rides in Los Angeles theme parks and the doors opened again to a haze flickering with red lights like an array of fireflies. Gas masks on, the group spilled onto a hillside of gravestones and looked out over old colonial mansions (not old at the moment) and regiments of red-and-white infantrymen in shag hats firing at a horde of green, browns, and blues—the Americans. This was the highlight of the day before she took the timesick to the Second Continental Congress for cocktails and a hearty dose of patriotism.

Down in the creek, she watched with almost dull apathy as a Vault appeared and two figures in orange slipsuits creeped out. One took a bullet to the chest and the other rushed back inside. The Vault disappeared. It was an event some ten years ago on Arisa's side of time. These were first scouts to investigate the Battle of Concord for a scenic view. Now, preserved in time, there was nothing to do but watch as Butter Khowaja died and Keely Varga narrowly escaped. Scouting was a dangerous, exciting occupation. Guiding, on the other hand, was like waiting for a broken clock to fix itself.
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Write a story with the phrase "There's got to be more to life than this" in it somewhere. Don't forget to tag me @chainedinshadow
Written by InkCursed in portal Fiction

Project Eclipse

What a fool he was, wishing there was something only he could do. This dream turned nightmare had outfit him with handlers, bullet resistant equipment, and “Oversight.” They had preyed upon his infantile belief, “there’s got to be more to life than this.” At first, he was excited by answers.

He had no idea how painful those “answers” would be.

Ears ringing, he dragged himself to hands and knees. Cement dust spilled from him like water from falls. Chunks of the same landed about him like hail. Alone for the first time in months, he witnessed it all without consciously appreciating his momentary solitude.

He was so heavy.

Pattering in staccato echoed through the ringing in his ears. Vague relief bled through before he recognized the sound. The fight continued. Some survived. That was enough.

Was he enough?

Shuddering breath sucked in soot, dust, and death. He was only used to one of those scents. The other two choked him. Stubbornly, he let himself cough only once before releasing a controlled groan. Bleary eyes lifted from his debris covered, concrete “bed.” His gaze swept through this building’s craterous holes.

Naptime was over.

Shapes darted to and fro in the sky above him. Light from the setting sun lit the concrete dust still hanging in the air. Barely registered shadows whirled about the shapes as they spat sparks and fire. Three came into view, floating in formation. Pristine orchestration dropped blurs from shapes, blurs that erupted light behind them. The ringing in his ears could not subdue the faint roar after roar after roar.

Briefly, his concrete “Bed” shook.

Trembling hands met unsteady knees. Distant, painful protests lifted up in a biological choir of anger. But, he ignored his body’s complaints. He had a job to do. There was something only he could do! Uncle Sam had given him purpose. It had only cost him…

“...-port, damnit!” crackled a voice in his ear, screaming over the ringing.

Dragging his hateful, dusty grey body to stand, he closed his eyes and tensed up. Years of intensive, micro-muscular training hit surgically implanted sensors. Internal systems rebooted. Protocols appeared across ocular “anchors,” and transformed into a HUD. Carefully trained micro-movements of his eyes took in the last laser scan of the terrain. There was a twelve second delay, but he could see the office building he’d wrecked on the minimap.

“Brave 7, checking in,” he groaned.

“Sweet Jesus,” his handler sighed in relief over the radio, “Seven, what the--”

“EMP,” he groaned, reaching up.

His hand went through a hole in his helmet, and touched the side of his reinforced skull. Pulling bloodied fingers into view, he appraised the green goo on his fingertips as it quickly evaporated in tiny green flames. Of course, the ocular nano-camera implants had caught the image, as well.

“Seven?” his handler asked in a warning tone of concern.

“A really close EMP,” he said as he removed his useless helmet.

It was only camouflage that let him fit in with other grunts, anyway. Boots on the ground needed protective gear. At this point, it would be silly to simply say he had a “hard head.” Then again, there was a lot about him that was pretty silly in comparison to things. For example, when asked “how are you?” his answer could be pretty specific.

“How--?”

“Your fifty-billion dollar man is fine,” he interrupted, reading over his internal diagnostics, “Besides, this is a live fire test, right? It wouldn’t be a real operation in the field if everything didn’t go wrong.”

“Soldier,” his handler growled.

Suddenly, the bionic warrior nearly tore his body armor from his chest. With blinding speed, yet infinite care, he retrieved a photo from his pockets. It was the only thing on him with any real value to him. A bullet hole had replaced the smiling face he’d memorized. The proof he had that he was still human was warped and twisted by that hole. The familiar scene of a summer at Lake Hefner was indistinguishable from the hell he had woken up in.

His handler said nothing.

With his hearing clearing up, there were voices deep in the background of the radio. He made out the word “Contraband.” Slowly, he crumpled the ruins of the old photograph. His eyes closed. But, he couldn’t shut out the battle. He had live data broadcast into his eyes.

“You fat cats want to see the difference between me and drones?” he snapped.

Data was summoned by dozens of microscopic eye motions and tugging of specially trained muscles. Trajectories, weapon locks, projections, and more flooded his HUD. Chemically enhanced muscles had limiters removed. A binary broadcast was sent through an encrypted channel, giving the flight of drones an order to pull back.  Stubbornly, he held onto a belief.  There is more to life, so very much more. 

He was protecting it.

“Don’t blink,” he growled, twelve seconds before he abruptly, monstrously ended the battle.

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Write a story with the phrase "There's got to be more to life than this" in it somewhere. Don't forget to tag me @chainedinshadow
Written by InkCursed in portal Fiction
Project Eclipse
What a fool he was, wishing there was something only he could do. This dream turned nightmare had outfit him with handlers, bullet resistant equipment, and “Oversight.” They had preyed upon his infantile belief, “there’s got to be more to life than this.” At first, he was excited by answers.

He had no idea how painful those “answers” would be.

Ears ringing, he dragged himself to hands and knees. Cement dust spilled from him like water from falls. Chunks of the same landed about him like hail. Alone for the first time in months, he witnessed it all without consciously appreciating his momentary solitude.

He was so heavy.

Pattering in staccato echoed through the ringing in his ears. Vague relief bled through before he recognized the sound. The fight continued. Some survived. That was enough.

Was he enough?

Shuddering breath sucked in soot, dust, and death. He was only used to one of those scents. The other two choked him. Stubbornly, he let himself cough only once before releasing a controlled groan. Bleary eyes lifted from his debris covered, concrete “bed.” His gaze swept through this building’s craterous holes.

Naptime was over.

Shapes darted to and fro in the sky above him. Light from the setting sun lit the concrete dust still hanging in the air. Barely registered shadows whirled about the shapes as they spat sparks and fire. Three came into view, floating in formation. Pristine orchestration dropped blurs from shapes, blurs that erupted light behind them. The ringing in his ears could not subdue the faint roar after roar after roar.

Briefly, his concrete “Bed” shook.

Trembling hands met unsteady knees. Distant, painful protests lifted up in a biological choir of anger. But, he ignored his body’s complaints. He had a job to do. There was something only he could do! Uncle Sam had given him purpose. It had only cost him…

“...-port, damnit!” crackled a voice in his ear, screaming over the ringing.

Dragging his hateful, dusty grey body to stand, he closed his eyes and tensed up. Years of intensive, micro-muscular training hit surgically implanted sensors. Internal systems rebooted. Protocols appeared across ocular “anchors,” and transformed into a HUD. Carefully trained micro-movements of his eyes took in the last laser scan of the terrain. There was a twelve second delay, but he could see the office building he’d wrecked on the minimap.

“Brave 7, checking in,” he groaned.

“Sweet Jesus,” his handler sighed in relief over the radio, “Seven, what the--”

“EMP,” he groaned, reaching up.

His hand went through a hole in his helmet, and touched the side of his reinforced skull. Pulling bloodied fingers into view, he appraised the green goo on his fingertips as it quickly evaporated in tiny green flames. Of course, the ocular nano-camera implants had caught the image, as well.

“Seven?” his handler asked in a warning tone of concern.

“A really close EMP,” he said as he removed his useless helmet.

It was only camouflage that let him fit in with other grunts, anyway. Boots on the ground needed protective gear. At this point, it would be silly to simply say he had a “hard head.” Then again, there was a lot about him that was pretty silly in comparison to things. For example, when asked “how are you?” his answer could be pretty specific.

“How--?”

“Your fifty-billion dollar man is fine,” he interrupted, reading over his internal diagnostics, “Besides, this is a live fire test, right? It wouldn’t be a real operation in the field if everything didn’t go wrong.”

“Soldier,” his handler growled.

Suddenly, the bionic warrior nearly tore his body armor from his chest. With blinding speed, yet infinite care, he retrieved a photo from his pockets. It was the only thing on him with any real value to him. A bullet hole had replaced the smiling face he’d memorized. The proof he had that he was still human was warped and twisted by that hole. The familiar scene of a summer at Lake Hefner was indistinguishable from the hell he had woken up in.

His handler said nothing.

With his hearing clearing up, there were voices deep in the background of the radio. He made out the word “Contraband.” Slowly, he crumpled the ruins of the old photograph. His eyes closed. But, he couldn’t shut out the battle. He had live data broadcast into his eyes.

“You fat cats want to see the difference between me and drones?” he snapped.

Data was summoned by dozens of microscopic eye motions and tugging of specially trained muscles. Trajectories, weapon locks, projections, and more flooded his HUD. Chemically enhanced muscles had limiters removed. A binary broadcast was sent through an encrypted channel, giving the flight of drones an order to pull back.  Stubbornly, he held onto a belief.  There is more to life, so very much more. 

He was protecting it.

“Don’t blink,” he growled, twelve seconds before he abruptly, monstrously ended the battle.
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Write a 10 sentence fantasy story.
Written by desmondwrite in portal Fantasy

Garden War

Between two trees exploded into boulder stumps, Elemmírë raised a fist. Behind him, ten figures, barely visible above the gloom and bloom, dropped to their knees and scanned the street. They relied solely on the ghostly green readouts from their face masks, as their actual sights would have been distracted by the feral tapestry of flowers, the result not only of civilization gone wild but the biodegradable ammunition being used in the War. Inside each bullet was a gene seed which, when struck by fire, would sprout by day’s end into a single flower. It'd been the only agreed-upon convention between the elf factions—a way of turning war zones into gardens, of reducing the carbon imprint from endless shelling.

For a heartbeat, Elemmírë's Sight picked up a cracked skull, lilac seeping out like purple brain. Then he was Focused on the lights of armored cars bouncing across perforated rock-wake. A set of hand signals and the Ten disappeared, their gaudy red-and-gold camouflage blending with laceleaf and marigold. What Elemmírë's scouts were about to do was an ugly thing; an undignified ambush of a supply convoy. But in another way, a way beyond the soulless tactical hell of battle, they'd be returning motorized death-cannons and plated mercs wearing the ears of enemies around their necks to the serenity of nature.

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Write a 10 sentence fantasy story.
Written by desmondwrite in portal Fantasy
Garden War
Between two trees exploded into boulder stumps, Elemmírë raised a fist. Behind him, ten figures, barely visible above the gloom and bloom, dropped to their knees and scanned the street. They relied solely on the ghostly green readouts from their face masks, as their actual sights would have been distracted by the feral tapestry of flowers, the result not only of civilization gone wild but the biodegradable ammunition being used in the War. Inside each bullet was a gene seed which, when struck by fire, would sprout by day’s end into a single flower. It'd been the only agreed-upon convention between the elf factions—a way of turning war zones into gardens, of reducing the carbon imprint from endless shelling.

For a heartbeat, Elemmírë's Sight picked up a cracked skull, lilac seeping out like purple brain. Then he was Focused on the lights of armored cars bouncing across perforated rock-wake. A set of hand signals and the Ten disappeared, their gaudy red-and-gold camouflage blending with laceleaf and marigold. What Elemmírë's scouts were about to do was an ugly thing; an undignified ambush of a supply convoy. But in another way, a way beyond the soulless tactical hell of battle, they'd be returning motorized death-cannons and plated mercs wearing the ears of enemies around their necks to the serenity of nature.
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Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.) If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain. If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels. I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.) Thanks for reading this and good luck.
Written by WistfulThinker

Challenge

Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you, which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.)

If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain.

If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels.

I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.)

Thanks for reading this and good luck.

And plz tag me in the comments so I may see :)

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Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.) If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain. If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels. I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.) Thanks for reading this and good luck.
Written by WistfulThinker
Challenge
Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you, which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.)

If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain.

If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels.

I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.)

Thanks for reading this and good luck.


And plz tag me in the comments so I may see :)
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Everybody has a dark side
Written by desmondwrite

A Zelzer Stiff

The android was making them all uncomfortable with its Zelzer Stiff eyeing them from its hip. It’d only been forty point three seconds since the landmark decision to include artificial humans in the Second Amendment and this son of a manufacturing plant had just walked into the Rig & Rattle with a laspistol holstered, twinkling. Kghoshi—a real bastard on a good day—splashed his drink on silver chestmetal and said, "You packing, tin can?" The bartender—a saint on a bad day—put an arm on the droid: "C'mon, now, let's not do this." The move was registered as an offensive action and the android shot the bartender between his eyebrows. Kghoshi's finger moved a centimeter toward his gun when a second shot put a red dot on his forehead as uniform as urna. The men in the bar leaped to their feet. Offensive actions. The men in the bar toppled over chairs and tables. By the time the android reached the counter, empty now of breathing souls, a feed of reaction times, facial registers, psycho-prints—all pointing to self-defense—had been submitted to local authorities.

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Everybody has a dark side
Written by desmondwrite
A Zelzer Stiff
The android was making them all uncomfortable with its Zelzer Stiff eyeing them from its hip. It’d only been forty point three seconds since the landmark decision to include artificial humans in the Second Amendment and this son of a manufacturing plant had just walked into the Rig & Rattle with a laspistol holstered, twinkling. Kghoshi—a real bastard on a good day—splashed his drink on silver chestmetal and said, "You packing, tin can?" The bartender—a saint on a bad day—put an arm on the droid: "C'mon, now, let's not do this." The move was registered as an offensive action and the android shot the bartender between his eyebrows. Kghoshi's finger moved a centimeter toward his gun when a second shot put a red dot on his forehead as uniform as urna. The men in the bar leaped to their feet. Offensive actions. The men in the bar toppled over chairs and tables. By the time the android reached the counter, empty now of breathing souls, a feed of reaction times, facial registers, psycho-prints—all pointing to self-defense—had been submitted to local authorities.
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Written by EyesofArt

Winter's Tick Tock

Winter has come early this year; some welcome it as others wish they have more time to prepare. 

Time.

Time lingers for those who wish it did not.

Time stops for those who beg for the sound of ticking.

Unfortunately, time ceases for a few moments when the first snowfall touches the earth. The power of time intermingles with the coldest season. The pleasure of her touch is ripped from her lover's grasp.

For a moment, there was darkness as her eyes closed for the final time in the body she inhabited for thirty-two years. Everything seems lost after that last moment except love and passion.

Time was different now.

Time seems out of sync, so she thought as she stands in cemetery unaffected by the chill in the air. It was oddly warm to her.

However, the ticks of time for those around her kept moving forward. She watches as each family, friend and foe listen to the eulogy only her mother has put together. She knew her mother’s words even though someone else was reading it.

Snow cascades down upon her wood cherry casket. Why the cherry wood, she thought to herself.

“Because the cherry tree symbolizes strong expression, rebirth, new awakenings and compassion. It is time.” The voice startles her.

“Who goes there? I am not afraid!” She yells into nothing. A few minutes of silence before she realizes as days slowly pass, she could not leave the cemetery, something was holding her back. Over time she watches other ethereal beings go through an unknown tunnel of darkness. Maybe staying here was best for her.

                                                                                                        To be continued…

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Written by EyesofArt
Winter's Tick Tock
Winter has come early this year; some welcome it as others wish they have more time to prepare. 
Time.
Time lingers for those who wish it did not.
Time stops for those who beg for the sound of ticking.
Unfortunately, time ceases for a few moments when the first snowfall touches the earth. The power of time intermingles with the coldest season. The pleasure of her touch is ripped from her lover's grasp.
For a moment, there was darkness as her eyes closed for the final time in the body she inhabited for thirty-two years. Everything seems lost after that last moment except love and passion.

Time was different now.

Time seems out of sync, so she thought as she stands in cemetery unaffected by the chill in the air. It was oddly warm to her.
However, the ticks of time for those around her kept moving forward. She watches as each family, friend and foe listen to the eulogy only her mother has put together. She knew her mother’s words even though someone else was reading it.

Snow cascades down upon her wood cherry casket. Why the cherry wood, she thought to herself.
“Because the cherry tree symbolizes strong expression, rebirth, new awakenings and compassion. It is time.” The voice startles her.
“Who goes there? I am not afraid!” She yells into nothing. A few minutes of silence before she realizes as days slowly pass, she could not leave the cemetery, something was holding her back. Over time she watches other ethereal beings go through an unknown tunnel of darkness. Maybe staying here was best for her.

                                                                                                        To be continued…

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Written by Rubenkells in portal Poetry & Free Verse

It Once Snowed

If shola is a boy then Chiwendu should be too, when they have loved the life created for them by family, how sweet could this be?

In the tender of their love, they kissed, and had the best romance any lady could have asked for. Chiwendu could be my only bride as Bisi would promise.

Everything has its peck of purging out that which was most precious, yes that which was most precious. Is it possible to love a stranded stranger with no history? Quite a few would debate on this but yet it may just be the best kind of love.

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Written by Rubenkells in portal Poetry & Free Verse
It Once Snowed
If shola is a boy then Chiwendu should be too, when they have loved the life created for them by family, how sweet could this be?
In the tender of their love, they kissed, and had the best romance any lady could have asked for. Chiwendu could be my only bride as Bisi would promise.
Everything has its peck of purging out that which was most precious, yes that which was most precious. Is it possible to love a stranded stranger with no history? Quite a few would debate on this but yet it may just be the best kind of love.
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