“We Only Have Twenty Minutes”

Love is something that the Old Tales cannot grasp. Mere words cannot fully encompass it’s depth, color, or sound. Even the taste of love is but a mystery in days like these. It is not spoken of. It is not allowed. It is against the laws of our Leaders.

Sometimes I sneak out of the city and into the wasteland that was once our beautiful world. I recall the times before the world crumbled before those mystical creatures called ‘humans’ stood upon our ground. They came in ships from the sky, settling and spreading like a sickness. Some of them told me of their former planet, Earth and why they were forced to leave. At first, I felt pity on them. They did not make it seem like they realized that they were depleting resources, burning their air, and filling their waters with a substance they called plastic. “It killed everything,” they said. “We had no clue the severity,” they said.

Oh, how we were misled. Because these humans played the game quite well. Our planet, unlike their robust one that withstood the test of these unthinkable acts, is much more delicate. Some scholars told us that they did not realize what they were doing here either, but most of us truly believe that the humans knew exactly what they were doing.

Humans destroyed everything. Our cities are now all that is left and they have left us behind. Gone to another planet to wipe out their resources and leave it’s people to live off of what we have left. Understand, we will live for eons on this planet without issue, but our once-blooming lands are now grayed and cracked. Cities are only crumbling skeletons of a former life. But my people have endured.

Since the time of the humans, our people have turned to tyranny in fear. The High Leader Lasander has outlawed everything. What started with stringent laws to protect our resources has transformed to even more laws to – as he claims – protect our race. Marriage is one of those laws.

My mother’s generation was the first to have this law enforced upon their lives. She always spoke of how it felt so suffocating to await the Leader’s decision. Mind you, they not only get to decide who you will marry, but also if you will marry. Luckily, my mother was paired with her true love – a gift of luck that most are not granted.

I was not so lucky. Three months to this day, the Leader’s attempted to grant me what they called ‘a special honor’. I was to wed Lasander’s son, Roderick. But I could not bare the weight of that event because I had spent so much of my childhood reading books of Old. They speak of love – a word not spoken on my people’s lips for a time. Stories of the beauty from two souls as they come together. The sweet simplicity of a kiss and the taste of another. Hairs raising on your arms as the soft touch of passion trickles up your spine. To be quite frank, I fell in love with another.

Haydynn is a simple man. He runs the general store that I frequent. To think, a business man! A scholar like myself would never be paired with a man like him. But a man he was indeed. From the moment I first laid my eyes upon him, I found myself swooning. His entire figure was lean muscle. And, despite his hardened look, his voice was kind and sweet – like his eyes. The novels that the humans left behind say that you can truly see someone’s soul in their eyes and I believe that with both of my hearts. However, I knew in that same moment that we could never be together. Because he was one of the humans who stayed behind.

A small populous of Earth-borns integrated into our society, learned and adopted our traditions, and made their lives here alongside us… not despite us. Even our Leaders took care in their laws for the humans. Unfortunately for them, they were not permitted to wed. My people believed that their race would die out and that was the fate that their people deserved – the fate that those who remained reluctantly accepted. Over many years, Human Laws were loosened, but never the law forbidding them marriage.

Love endures all. I could not bare another moment without Haydynn in my life so I took the leap. We spent many a season together as time slowly crept closer to my Council Day. Only in the recesses of our mind did we worry of that day when I would stand before the Leaders and be paired. Never did we believe this day would come. But it did.

We rejected the laws and now stand before my planet and his as a true testament to what love truly is. I have tasted the sweet nectar of it, smelled it’s perfume, listened to it whisper. I have felt it’s delicacy and seen it blossom into something I could have never fathomed. Even if death is my fate, I accept it gladly.

And here we stand. Haydynn and I with a brave clergyman in the wasteland. A small cottage we use as a makeshift chapel for his people’s tradition. Jewelry – two rings as he spoke of – reaffirming the infinite that is our love. But we only have twenty minutes before they find us. Today was meant to be celebrated inside the city to my ‘betrothed’. There will be an execution today, but we are ready.

Words blur together like a poem that I lose myself in. It swirls around me and through my lips as I profess my love in this rickety shack. But the place matters not as my hands interlace with his. Our eyes meet and a seldom-seen tear rolls down his cheek. For he knows, just as well as I, what will become of us. “At least my life would mean something,” he once told me. “You make my life mean something.”

Gunshots and footsteps echo in the evening’s desolate cloak. Our hearts are already racing, now even more so. We kiss to seal the vows we made to one another for the final few moments of our lives and the clergyman slips away. They will not be looking for him, only for the lovers in the dark. Twenty minutes has already passed and they stand at the threshhold.

I remember very little about my death. Two bursting sounds, a sharp pain, and warmth throughout my body. And then, I heard the thud but did not feel my body fall upon the wooden floor. My eyes were wide open as Haydynn too dropped alongside me. We looked into each other’s eyes for the last breaths of this world and a smile crept across his mouth. He slowly reached for my hand, and I, his. That was the moment I truly understood what love was – it was sacrifice.

Use the same prompt as above and write your own story! I’m interested in hearing them!

Getting Back Into It

“You know what? I didn’t think it would end this way.” I told the young boy with his dirt-matted hair. His eyes were large with fear as we watched the world collapse before us. Like a large mouth, it opened before us and split in two. A tear wet my cheek, but I felt nothing. Just numbness. I just watched the end of the world with the nameless child. All I could think was how it crumbled a lot softer than I thought it would.

We looked back at those who had received the message and realized that there was nothing left. Nothing to go back to. And there were so few of us. Maybe they believed that more people would have been listening to that song that day. Come to think of it, none of us even knew who sent the message in the first place. We were safe for now. That much was certain.

“So…” I figured I’d speak up again. The rest of the blood-drained faces just continued to watch as we drifted away from the pulsating sun. Just as we exited the solar system, it absorbed the planet we once called home. Although we could not hear, we all felt the screams of billions silence in that same second.

“Why were we chosen?” a young woman asked, desperate for an answer. We must have been chosen, right? There was no way that this happened by chance alone. But that must’ve been the answer. No one of us could stomach that…

Suddenly, a voice spoke over the crowd. My head was on a swivel, but I could not pinpoint the source. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere and no where at the same time. But, then again, this was a space ship. A space ship.

“If I may speak freely,” it rang through all of our ears. It was a calm, soothing, male voice. “Please understand, I do not mean to be heartless with the response to your question… but you were not chosen specifically. That is not to say that you weren’t chosen as a group. We needed younger individuals to repopulate the human race.”

We all looked around in disbelief. In that moment, I realized that there was no one in that great room over twenty-five or younger than six. An indistinguishable murmur spread through the group, but myself and the young boy remained silent. We observed. We listened for further clues to our host’s intent.

I knew he was talking about me the moment the voice started again. “Near the window. Yes, young lady. Stand and state your name.”

With the other hundred people watching, I slowly stood and looked up to try and, once again, pinpoint who was speaking. “Hannah Ingram.”

“Tell me Hannah, how did you hear the song? The message that my people sent.”

“Through my headphones.”

“Recount the entire event please. It is for logging purposes. You know, you can tell a lot about someone in how they speak.”

For a moment, I closed my eyes and recounted the event that happened no more than twenty-four hours prior. A vivid, monotone, and yet unrecognizable voice bursting through my earbuds with a call to drop everything: You are in grave danger human. The end of your race is evident and inevitable. It is you who is the future of this planet, but the rock upon which you stand is aging. Those around you have not respected it and resources are dwindling. Please believe us when we say that there is a way out. There is a new world awaiting you. If you wish to embark on this journey and heed our warning, find your nearest center for further instructions. The Center? Go to the place near your residence where all other life avoids.

“Well,” I lifted my head as I was becoming particularly interested in my shoes. “I was sitting in my campus courtyard. I’m a professor, not a student although my age may be deceiving… but I digress. I was listening to my playlist when the song came on. It was not even on the radio. So my question is how you managed to intercept…”

But I was cut off before I could finish my sentence. This man or this otherworldly being refused to answer anything he or it did not wish to. Truthfully, I believed it was because the others could not stomach the answers he possessed.

“No inquiries please. My people and will reveal your answers in time… Now… What made you believe my message?”

“A gut instinct.” The annoyance in my voice could clearly be heard by anyone within earshot at this point. I refused to go into detail. If they aren’t going to answer any of my questions, I’m not giving them an entire psychological evaluation by my words. By this point, the ship was well outside of the Milky Way Galaxy, something I never thought I would see in my years. The further we traveled, the amount of questions increased exponentially.

For a moment, silence fell over the entire room, choking off any ease of this place and killing it. Had I annoyed our host?

“Deepest apologies for offending you Hannah of Earth. You must understand, there are some within your group of humans who are extensively distressed. My reasoning of having you speak above all others was that your stress response is minimal, comparatively. I wish to use you as… what you call… a liaison between worlds.”

The lump already in my throat grew. Where was this ship headed? What was our final destination? No matter what I said, the voice would not answer any of these questions in front of the group. So, my thoughts turned to inquiring about a personal meeting.

“If that is the request,” I cleared my throat and spoke so quickly that it almost ran together like I was in a drunken stupor. “Then I wish to meet with you in person to have my questions answered. That way I can answer my people when they are ready for the information.”

Suddenly, a doorway opened beneath my feet and slid on a slide away from the rest of the group. Some looked on in horror as the door closed behind me. Would this be the last time I ever spoke or even locked eyes with another human?

After steeping in my thoughts for a few moments, I found myself face-to-face with the most beautiful creature I ever laid my eyes upon. The face was human-esque. It was so beautiful, it looked like a mask. Flawless skin, large, golden eyes. This creature bore long, pointed ears that pushed back strands of hair akin to sunlight. Unlike the others standing on the stairs to either side, the creature that stood above them seemed female. However, I did not know how to address it.

“Does knowing what we look like release any tension about our intent?” A woman’s voice spoke, but her lips did not move. “We are, rather were you in another place in time. Other races across the universe call us Watchers. Because our race had been gifted with telepathy, we could tap into other humanic races and aid them if need be. You may call me Magdalia.”

I paused and considered the question that was burning in my throat like a white-hot iron. “Magdalia… How do we compare to other races like us?”

A few of her male guards looked up at their leader while others shook their heads. What was once a smile upon the woman’s face had now dropped sternly. “Unfortunately, your people do not fair well among others like us. But that is what we wish to rectify. We did not destroy your world, your people did. But we intend to take advantage of this opportunity to show you how to properly be.”

“Be?” I repeated.

“Exist. Your kind do not understand how to exist. Humans did not know their bigger purpose. We will teach you.”

“And the message?” I asked. “How did you-?”

“Ah yes… To be honest, it really did not come through your headphones at all. Rather, your head. Telepathy is a great gift, but we did not wish to frighten many of you. If you were hearing voices, your kin would have you institutionalized. And here you are.”

I swore I was having an out-of-body experience. “Yes,” I heard myself say. “Here we are.”

“We are going to your new home. For the others, and for you too perhaps. My people searched and found a planet close to your Earth, but nothing in the universe is exactly the same. What is most important is that it is safe and it is habitable.”

“Water? Oxygen? Food?”

“Plentiful.”

“And you will just leave us?”

“You must learn to survive. We will aid your transition for a time, but not for long. Once you learn to exist properly, we will watch from afar as we had for multiple millennia before. Now… go back to them and await further instruction. You and I will become very close.”

I hope you all enjoyed this short story! I’m sorry I’ve been on such a sporadic posting period as I am battling with motivational issues so I’m working through to hopefully get this first draft of Book 2 (Preservation) done!

** Enjoy this writing prompt I came up with **

Those Who Stayed Behind

History books do not always tell the tales of old. Only stories from the victors of war, boastful half-truths and the like, manage to be passed for centuries. Ancient civilizations crumbling underneath the sword and the shield and the iron fists of tyranny. Those stories may be lost among the commonfolk but small tribes still pass them down from wrinkled lips to eager child smiles.

Fantasy has absorbed the truths into myth, deceiving those who would deny our existence. No longer do we bear the pointed-ears of our ancestors and yet our grace and connection to all that lives has not wavered, never changing, just shifting. Long, flowing robes of silk exchanged for modern-day attire. And although our weapons may have changed from sharpened steel to sharpened tongues, our message of peace and unity remain steadfast.

Denying the enemies of old is folly. Today they do not bear wings like a hurricane or claws like spears, but the fire of the dragons clad in human flesh burn brighter and hotter than ever before. Just as the times change, physical warfare wages far from rich lands, but the Elven harbingers remain scattered across the globe, witnessing the tragedies of our day. Bombs explode across the land, tarnishing it with death and destruction. Guns extinguishing lives in the blink of an eye. Our fate is to heal as we have always healed. We may be few, but our power is infinite when we bond together through the energy of the unseen.

History books do not always tell the tales of old. White cities glittering against forest like starlight and songs sung only seem like a lifetime ago. Troubadours and minstrels traveling by foot, brandishing lute or harp or pan flute. Peaceful waterfalls and babbling brooks through bridges and white stone paths, dusted with colored leaves of Autumn. Hues of pink and purple flowers flow through the air, carrying scents of Spring. Summer and Winter stay mild in the land of the Elves, a light snow or warm summer rays. Animals of all sizes and ages walk alongside my kin. All of this. All peace.

Races that have been all but forgotten wandered the lands winding dirt paths. The short but strong and stubborn Dwarves. The small but stealthy and loyal Hobbits. Our kind entered this world to usher it into peace, but Men’s greed and sheer numbers have proven a challenge. Persuasion over generations have only softened hearts of the few, and many of my kind have grown weary. Elders say that this world no longer belongs to the Elves. The time of Men is among us.

One day I may join the countless others who have taken the ships to the West. One day I may walk those marble steps to the docks, the scent of salt water and sound of lapping waves to greet me. In a place not known to those who do not know the way, I may go when the sea calls me. For now, I must continue the work of so many before me.

History books do not always tell the tales of old.

Sorry for the long delay in posts! Unfortunately, I have deleted my Facebook account so I no longer have my page active. The past few months have been very emotionally consuming and I’m taking my writing day-by-day. I’m hoping to get back into working on Book 2 of The Wanderer Trilogy soon!

Coming of Age

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Every child in our tribe dreams of the day when they take their test. The Old Ones; our parents, siblings, and family all speak about their test with pride and fearlessness in their eyes. But their words shake from time to time and I am not sure if the other Younglings notice, but I have.

Every child in our tribe dreams of the day when they take their test. But not me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid. Five moons in the jungle while our markings heal will show us our true spirit. The animal who chooses to be our guide will be permanently marked on our chest, over our heart, our spirit center.

Some of them don’t come back, though. The tribe just assumes that they were not strong enough to protect us. To hunt. To battle. But no one goes to look for the bodies and the families just move on without their family. It makes me uneasy to think that… one of those missing… could be me. They would never allow me to skip this. I’m just standing on the edge of something I cannot escape. My family would disown me. Banishment would be my fate… and I would have to face the jungle alone anyway.

Tomorrow. I will rise with the birds and travel to the stream tent. Elders will be there to scar me with markings all over my back and arms with the story of our people. Throughout time, all of our kin have worn the countless tales of battle, harvest, and failings of the tribe. We all wear it proudly. It reminds us to have hope when we hang our heads in shame and to be humble when we stand above others in mastery. Hours will pass before I am ready for the blessing. Chanting through a line of my friends and family as they bless me with tree sap and I stand on the opening into the thicket.

I guess I’m lucky. My friend will be taking the test with me. Rules are, though, we must split up or the gods will frown upon our weakness and send a large animal to devour us both. And I do not wish to test the gods.

My mother is afraid. She tells me of her test and how close she came to death. Sickness from a simple wound and screams of others in the night. Out of a group of twelve, she and one other made it back alive. The others, lost in memory. And that night, she told me that I had an older brother who never made it back to the tribe after his test. It is taboo to speak of the lost but the fear in her eyes told me all I needed to know. I’m her only child now.

And then, the sun rises. Another sleepless night floats through my grasp like smoke. Ravens caw with the purple sky as I open my eyes to what could be my final days. I pay homage to the god of luck, an offering of flowers and bread. With a short bow, I meet my friend and we walk to the stream tent where a dozen Elders meet us. There are two woven chairs for us to remove our tunics and sit.

What started out as a bee-sting feeling soon subsided to numbness for a while. My heart stopped racing so quickly and I began to relax. The methodical tapping of the bamboo into my skin nearly put me to sleep. Pain no longer existed in my body. My eyes turn to my friend, who winces with each needle prick, clenching his hands. I place my palm on his fist and he relaxes.

“Everything will be okay.” I promise. “I will get through this and you will too.”

He smiles and relaxes a little, but I can sense the pain. I wish to a god to take some from him and she grants my kind gesture. A prickling feeling starts in my back, but I see my friend relaxing evermore. I nod in thanks to help him.

Perhaps I am different than the others in my tribe. The Old Ones have told ancient tales of people who connect with gods on a different level, called the Anointed. But the connection with the gods meant that they have weird abilities and can see the world through the gods eyes and feel things through nature. As I begin to wonder, I drift into a dream state and the markings are complete.

My friend and I stand between the stream and the dark trees. We make our way through the line of Old Ones who cover us with protection spells. The hum of chanting is hypnotizing. I don’t even remember falling to my knees, but here I am, crawling through the last few people in line. My mother is standing there with worry on her face, but she allows me to pass and stand at the edge of the thicket. My friend stands in a different direction and we bid each other farewell.

If I turn to look at the tribe, the gods will surely fail me. I must be strong and hold my head high but my knees are shaking as I stand and face the unknown. That was the moment I noticed something in the distance. A light? A figure? It’s moving but I don’t think the others can see it because they say nothing. Are my eyes playing tricks on me? No, because it’s getting brighter. I can feel its energy, pulling me deeper into the jungle as my tribe disappears out of view. Whatever it is, it feels welcoming and maybe a bit familiar.

 

I may come back to this writing prompt and finish it off with another picture. It was fun to write! I hope you enjoy, as always. I apologize for the extended absence but I’m working on some great things upcoming! Stay tuned!!!

 

Here’s one for you!

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(DWI) Driving While Inspired

Years have passed and they are becoming bolder. Doubtful that they’ve realized it yet, but I’ve noticed them. A passing glance. A long stare. They’ve underestimated me… well, all of us. Why they have chosen to follow me? I have some educated guesses, but I do not want to make any conclusion without evidence.

My story does not matter. How I grew up is irrelevant. What matters is the present, the now. At least, that’s what I believe. I flew threw the ranks of my brethren because of my mentality. Hundreds, no… thousands of contracts completed by my hands. Dozens of new bloods, trained by my sweat. My initiates are the elite, nothing less. But through my skill, I have alarmed the enemy. Not just the victims of contracts, you see… but the ultimate enemy. The Reformers.

I shudder at the name. Fear? No, it isn’t fear. It’s the chill of excitement. The very same spine-tingling feeling that scatters up my back before the plunge. They have attempted to end us for a century, at least. But we have persevered and become stronger. Secret wars are fought behind the everyday humdrum that the general public seems so intoxicated by. Monotony is not in our nature as assassins, and they are definitely not in the nature of the Reformers.

Understand, we are the silent justice that keeps the tethers of society from fraying. Mysterious circumstances surrounding a death? Us. A famous criminal goes missing? Us. We are like a shadow, existing in the space between reality and fantasy.

But unlike a hundred or so years ago, when my ancestors created this force, there was little stopping them from achieving their tasks. DNA testing was non-existent. Social Media was not even a concept. The only thing that went ‘viral’ was actual viruses. They could kill with discretion and ease. Now, we must be more calculated, more careful, and more intelligent about our contracts. To me, those who are a part of the revolution now are much more skilled than those who came before us.

It was only natural for The Reformers to target us. Only because I am such a high-ranking member of my kin that I am their first prey. I have been underestimated all of my life, why stop now? I laugh at the thought of their plans, continuously foiled by my skill. Bodies discovered months after they dare to delve too close to me. Some, I let be. But when they risk contact with me, I must finish the job. Each one is the same, dumb and slow. It is not even fun anymore.

I admire the one who has been following me for the last seven days, three hours, and twenty seven minutes. Much bolder than the others, but louder than most. I’m toying with him, you see. I’m interested to see what he does. How does he go about killing his target? Perhaps I could learn a thing or two about their secret society.

This man is my age, but half the skill. And that is being generous. It was on my drive to work today that I finally met the boy. His hands shook, as he tried to conceal it. I notice everything. I always have and always will.

He sat up from the back seat, no telling how long he had been laying there. I could hear him breathing – mouth breather. Noted.

“If you want my opinion.” Pretty sure the poor boy jumped out of his skin when I spoke. “You should not enter my car until right before I close the door. That way you aren’t waiting all night.”

“I-I-I’m here to-” he stammered.

“Kill me,” I laughed. “Good luck with that. I doubt you’d be more successful than the ones before you. I’m sure you know about them?”

“No…”

“Oh boy,” I sighed. “They’re withholding information from you. What a shame… You were dead before you stepped in here. I see you don’t even have a weapon. Must’ve forgotten it, have you?”

He stopped, patted his pockets frantically, and then his face drained of all color. I tisked him.

“Not a very good Reformer, are you? Not that it matters. No one knows your name.”

We were at our destination by that point. The boy believed that I was going somewhere else, but I wanted to show him something. Bumpy, gravel roads were waiting us. The pasture smelled of death. I pulled out my handgun and pointed to the door and instructed him to get out. Know that my gun is only for show – I like to be much more… personal, but he didn’t know that.

“Where are we?” he gasped as the fog cleared somewhat and the bodies came into view.

“A recent site of our war,” I explained. “The war that has been for nothing. Only death pervades the years. Still, we fight.”

“I don’t understand -”

“Look kid,” I said. “I don’t want to kill you. You have done nothing wrong except choose the wrong side. History never remembers the losers.”

“How do you know we won’t win?”

“Because I know the skill of the Reformers, and the skill of my own people. They feed you lies about us and then expect you to be able to take one of us down. How do you hunt without knowing your prey?”

Again, he could not find an answer. I just nodded. My thoughts of murder started to arise. Adding him to the pile of bodies was one option, but turning him against The Reformers seemed more provocative.

“I’m going to do something that I have never before done.” I could see the lump in his throat when he swallowed. “I’m going to give you a choice.”