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300-word Writing Challenge #27 (October 2017) -- VICTORY TO VICTORIA SILVERWOLF!

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Aspiring notaphilist
Staff member
Nov 26, 2009

To write a story in 300 words or fewer
INSPIRED by the image provided below, in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2017 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here

This thread will be closed until October the 10th
-- as soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story

Entries must be posted no later than October the 31st 2017,
at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close November the 15th, 2017 at 11:59 pm GMT
(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)

You do not have to enter a story to vote -- in fact, we encourage ALL Chronicles members
to read the stories and vote for their favourites

You may cast THREE votes

NO links, commentary or extraneous material in the posts, please -- the stories must stand on their own


For a further explanation of the rules see Rules for the Writing Challenges

The inspiration image for this month is:

Image credit: Erin Presley-Froemke

This thread to be used for entries only.
Please keep all comments to the DISCUSSION THREAD

Please do not "Like" posts in this thread
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Shhh. I think they're listening
Apr 19, 2014

She often said, “That garden's my life's work.” And there I knelt in her most prized possession, staring at lips as blue as the coat of the lady who used to kiss me with them. Grandmother.

For days, I didn't tell anyone, hoping it wasn't real, waiting tables and joking with customers like nothing'd happened.

My uncle hammered on the front door, shouting, “Call an ambulance.”

When they came to remove Grandmother from her garden, I clung to her. She was like a mother and father rolled into one.“You can't take her away from me.”

At her funeral, I dived into her open grave, slapping my palms on her coffin, tears soaking my hands. “Please, Grandmother, you've got to wake up.”

It took months of counselling until I was able to return home.

I walked around her garden for the first time in half a year, the flowers blossoming bright colours, vegetables ripe, the lawn evenly trimmed. A blue coat flapped in the edge of my eye.

I got married in Grandmother's garden. I could almost see her sitting in the front row, hear her cheering as I kissed my new husband.

After I had my first child, I spent my time tending to Grandmother's garden. Not that it needed tending to; it was always perfect. Working on that garden made me feel like I was helping her, like she was still with me.

I lost my husband when I was ninety. And now, I'm about to follow him into the afterlife. I lie near the rose bed, clutching my heart as it thumps its final beats. A hand clasps mine. “Grandmother? You've been here all this time?”

She nods.

“Shouldn't you be in heaven?”

She laughs. “Heaven wouldn't be heaven if you weren't there with me, darling.”
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Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Mar 3, 2014
Lost then Found

Children’s Rhyme

Aunty Hanty lost the panties
‘Neath her wedding gown.
Sister Whiskers found her knickers –
Carried them around.
Aunty Hanty in a rant she
Chased the cat through town.
Sister Whiskers hid the knickers –
Never were they found.


Poughkeepsie Press, October 1937

Homeless widow Roselee Hanty (né Moseley) was found dead Thursday morning. Relatives said she’d gone insane decades before, and wandered aimlessly seeking lost undergarments from her never-consummated nuptials. Groom Giorgio Hanty’s wedding-night death traumatized Mrs. Hanty, who ...


Roselee Moseley (mostly ghostly) stalks her hallowed ground,
Grasping people’s underthings in her old wedding gown.


Roselee Moseley, Aunty Hanty – that’s not bad! I close Word and yawn, then look at the image. What a wonderful, creepy challenge photo. Another yawn. I’ll finish up tomorrow ... bedtime now. Oh! It’s flossing night!

The laptop sits opened but inactive, on a table in the dark apartment. The screen flickers, flashes to life, and to a photograph: a decomposing woman standing wreathed in rotting bridal lace. Around her all is frozen in distorted brushstrokes of seething, despairing life. A force escapes her – anti-space, anti-time, anti-life, anti-joy – and nothing would suffer her presence.

She sways, spasms violently – an unbinding – then walks forward within the frame. All she passes scream subatomically: ivy, hedge, fieldstone fence – rend, then rush away, though captured in place and time. She taps the inside of the laptop screen, then pushes fingers through.

A gaze around the living room fixes: clothes drying on their rack. Everything desires to bend away from her reach. Walls, couch, rug ... clothes, these distort and freeze then rush away, tearing themselves suicidally asunder, while huddling in despair.

Her hand darts – snatches hanging underwear.

From the bedroom, a troubled moan. She turns and slowly, slowly rushes through riving air toward the sound.

“Look Giorgio – underpants!”
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Forum Revolutionary
Apr 4, 2015
The Small

Tiny goblin feet shuffle on through cardboard forests despite the battalion’s losses and missing limbs. Their spears look melted; chewed off. Their captain is dead.

The ragged bunch halts at a clearing, in plain sight of the hosts of man and their flashy banners, pristine magical weapons, and armoured steeds thrice their size. Open field between them stalls the uneven match.

“Ready, little Paulie?” Kyle says, snatching one of the fallen unpainted goblins. Its sword is bent. He rips it off and the hand comes with it.

Paulie clenches his teeth. “Stop”.

“I guess this one’s no good anymore.” Kyle drops the casualty in a bin by the table, without taking his eyes off the opponent. “What were you thinking, showing up with the cheapest, most outdated crap army I’ve ever seen? This tournament is for serious players. Older players. You barely manage to keep your chin above the table. Since when can children register here?”

Someone behind him laughs.

Paulie bites his tongue. They are the same age. Kyle knows.

“Just play”.

Kyle rolls the die. The numbers hardly matter. Without looking down to check, he says, “Charge”.

With the turn finished, two goblins remain on the table. Kyle only sees one.

Paulie stops momentarily to admire the enemy knights: professionally painted, mint condition—a single unit worth an entire goblin squadron. “Too bad,” he says with a shrug, and points Kyle to a diminutive hooded figure half-hidden under plastic trees. The necromancer was the one piece Paulie had had money to paint well. He’d chosen green for this occasion—same exact shade as those trees; as the grass beneath.

Kyle stares blankly as his undead victims reassemble. That charge has blown his next turn.

“You rushed,” Paulie says, “but I’ll take my time.”


Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016

I stood in front of the Committee members as my fate at school would be decided because of something I didn’t do. They told me in no uncertain terms that they received various reports that I cheated on the final exams.

I tried to explain to them that I did not cheat because one couldn’t cheat on those tests without getting caught. That and I didn’t need to. I studied hard with Webo’s help.

I met him every day after school at the end of the trail in Hanner Forest. None of the Mmagics even go in there anymore. Anyway, I always knew it was him because he always had on a light-blue cloak and stood only three heads high.

He didn’t teach me what I got lectured on in school. They were things that helped me to understand in order to become a better magic wielder. “Always pay attention to the question. Most of the time, the answer is already there,” he said. I followed that advice and tried to remember all of the lessons he taught me and they paid off.

I aced that test after I realized the questions asked questions about the question before that one. Confusing, I know, but imagine how I felt when I read it over. I looked at the teacher and he raised his eyebrow at me.

After that meeting with the Committee, I went back to my room. I stood looking out the window for a minute before I ran out and went back to Webo. I didn’t care anymore. I grabbed him and told him everything.

He sighed and patted a space next to him on a tree trunk. “Now would be the time you learn why the normals only fantasize about us.”


Level 30 Geek Master
Dec 9, 2015
What Next?

“There!” Bryan whispered harshly.

I couldn’t believe what I saw! It was squat, yet wide; heavy. It wore a cowl and heavy cloak: Still I knew it wasn’t human! Open-jawed, I watched it walk past us, down the barely discernable cobblestone path.

That was three weeks ago. Bryan and six others are missing. Unable to follow the dwarf to its destination - he literally disappears passing through a thicket of brambles that would cut me to shreds! - I did the opposite, tracking the ancient path to its source; a ruined church!

Today, I lay in wait, hidden in the wood’s undergrowth, watching the church.

There! It comes out the cellar door. It carries a bundle on its shoulder, like a carpet. Is a body in there!?

It moves in its wobbly gait down the path. It seems unsuited for walking in our world. And its breath is rasping, deep breaths. Like it has trouble getting enough oxygen – or whatever. I follow within the cover of the woods – luckily, its hearing isn’t good.

We’ve come to the brambles. I don’t want to lose it before I know what it carries! Tonight, I wear a hoodie – pray it’s enough!

A hand! A hand has slipped out of the bundle! He’s half through the bramble, and I know I can’t let him disappear now!

I sprint, reaching him just as he would be swallowed by the bundle – grab the hand! Pulling!

The creature squeals, turns - its cowl has slipped!

Horrors, what a face!

Pulling hard on the bundle. The creature squeals angrily – but he’s fading – no, falling – as though the cobblestone weren’t there!

He disappears into darkness; I fall back onto the path.

The girl is drugged – but alive!

What have I discovered!?

And what do I do next?


"It places the lotion in the basket"
Sep 9, 2016
Cumbria UK
Mary's Boy Child

Nobody had ever believed Mary, not the police back in 1960 on the fateful evening little Joey was taken; “You say it was one of those flying saucer things ?” with a smirk to his colleagues.

The jury hadn’t believed Mary, even without any trace of a body; “We find the defendant guilty

The other inmates hadn’t believed Mary, with their trips and sly punches; “You killed your own little boy, evil bitch!”

Years had passed since her parole and now few noticed her. A little old lady in a shapeless dress and faded cloak shuffling along, always the same route.
She reached the familiar spot in the small park. The spot she had ran screaming from in 1960.

“Ma, I gotta pee-pee!”
“Can’t you wait? We’ll be home in five minutes”
“No Ma, wait there, and NO peeking

Mary had smiled and turned her back, then had came the humming, she'd glanced around and saw the strange light and the sinister shapes. Terrified out of her wits she had ran blindly away.

She’d stopped when she was out the park gates and realised little Joey was still in there. Heart hammering she'd retraced her panicked steps, only to see the lights ascending into the dusk.

Her voice choked tonight as she called hopelessly, like countless times before; “I’m here Joey, I’m still waiting for you!”

Mary gazed up at the uncaring stars through tear filled eyes and sobbed, “Fetch him back, fetch my little boy back to me, please
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by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
Mar 22, 2012
Mercia, UK
I'll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come

I first saw the old lady at the end of a fine summer's day. I'd awoken from a snooze just as the sun was setting, it's last light sending beams of gold through the trees at the end of the garden.

She was standing on the path humming some unintelligible tune and hunched over as if time was weighing heavy on her shoulders. He face was hidden as she looked at the beds of plants to either side, interrupting her song with the occasional tut or hmmm.

I should have been scared but for some reason she seemed to fit in the garden, as if she and it were one and the same.

I'd raised a tentative, ‘Hello?’

She'd responded with a kindly wave and a ‘Don't mind me, Dear, you enjoy your rest.’

By then, she'd reached my deckchair. Bemused, I'd asked, ‘Are you lost?’

A laugh brimming with warmth, she'd replied, ‘No, I'm not lost, gardening is my hobby.’ She'd reached out then, patted my arm with her own wrinkled hand. Except, instead of the dry touch of her skin, her hand passed straight through. It's passage had felt like someone had blown a kiss there. ‘You settle back,’ she'd said.

I should have freaked out, but I did as she asked. There was no fear, just a deep tranquility.

I've seen her many times since then within my garden. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes the evening. Always serenely humming that same tune that I cannot place. Forever with a kind word, that pat of reassurance which feels like a blown kiss.

It's strange, I've always dreamed of taking a rest in a garden like this. Away from the worries of the world, just sitting back in the dappled sun, listening to the birds.

It's better than heaven.


A penguin undercover
Sep 21, 2017
I came for you

Janice was walking alone through the park in a pale sunshine, she breathed the perfumes of the late autumn, trying to avoid old disturbing memories, she always loved to walk in that park and nothing bad could stop her from enjoying her favorite season after years of fearing to come in that place again.

She approached the same bench she used to sit with her father, a few moments after she sat, a cold thrill climbed her back, she paralyzed instantly, she knew that feeling very well, she started to remember the day her father passed away, a mysterious hooded “man” without a face, named her father, he paralyzed, then calmly told her to wait there, that he had a thing to do and that he would have been back soon.

She shook her head trying to get out from her mind all those disturbing memories, then she closed her eyes and breathed deeply. She opened her eyes, let the light enter her eyes and she hoped even in her darkened mind. She looked around, then she saw him, the mysterious man, just standing there, even if he didn’t had eyes she knew he was looking straight to her, into her soul, leading to light all her greed, hate, fear and despair, in that moment she knew what her father felt and knew why the man was there.

The man started to speak, “You know why I’m here”, she wanted to leave that cursed place, but when she was about get up and leave, he told “You know you can’t escape away, let’s make it easy.”

She dropped on her knees trying to cry and praising for mercy, but the only thing that came out from her mouth was her soul, leaving behind a cold lifeless body.


Peter V

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2016
Up the Garden Path

In some places there is not much space between worlds. Rarely, worlds may even touch and ‘bleed’ into each other a little.

And sometimes they overlap and that’s where the problems start. Some bleeding is one thing but it’s against all laws (those of nature, and in worlds where they are aware of these things, even judicial) for anyone, or anything to cross over.

Masie had lived in the cottage at the end of Mill Lane for a very long time. So long that some of the older residents thought she was her own daughter. She looked about sixty and had done so for well over sixty years, so she couldn’t possibly be the same Masie they had known as children could she? Not that anyone thought much on it and that was how Masie, who was actually over two thousand years old, liked it.

Most of the time Masie was a gardener and proud that her half acre was the envy of the town. But she was also a guardian. So on that rainy spring evening, when she saw a dark monstrosity clomping its way up her perfectly bordered path, she did not hesitate to don her blue raincoat and step out to meet it. Four times her height and thrice as wide, drool dripping from eight inch fangs, the demon swung a clawed hand which she deftly ducked. Pulling a staff from thin air she struck hard at its knee and twice rattled its ugly head. It stepped back.

“Kneel woman.” It roared, assailing her with fetid breath.

“Oh really Astaroth. You know full well that I am not a woman, so your power holds no sway over me. And just look at the mess you've made of my garden.” Scowling, Masie raised her staff.

The demon fled.

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Dec 9, 2012
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
The Veil

Angelo came to Serenissima, fleeing those who hated him, on a lonely road, hidden under trees that had witnessed Caesar's legions. He wore a hood the color of cinnabar and a veil of black lace.

He spent many days seeking work. Although he was broad of shoulder and had mighty arms, few deigned to listen to him, as he never revealed his face. Whether he was deformed, or disguised for another reason, none could say.

Don Teodoro, a practical and unimaginative man, hired him as gardener. Angelo's hands were skilled, and the estate's flowers prospered.

Angelo's new patron had a grown daughter, Margherita, who was sharp of mind, voice, and countenance. She disliked the new gardener for his secrecy, although he always spoke to her with courtesy.

One fine summer day, Donna Margherita watched Angelo trimming bushes. She left the shaded portico where she had been studying a book of prayers.

"Remove your hood and veil," she said.

"Madonna, I will not." Angelo's voice would have graced a tutor of rhetoric.

Donna Margherita detested insolence. "I command you to unveil."

Angelo made no answer. He turned his back on her.

Enraged, Donna Margherita tore at his hood like an animal with its prey. She gripped his shoulders and forced him to face her. With bony fingers she ripped the veil away.

As she stood frozen in shock, Angelo restored his veil and hood. He returned to his work.

In a while, Donna Margherita was able to move again. She walked slowly, past roses that seemed like weeds. The music of songbirds was only noise. The azure sky of Serenissima, fabled throughout Christendom, appeared dull and gray. She retreated to her room, never to emerge. How could she face the world again, now that she had beheld perfect beauty?


resident pedantissimo
Staff member
Aug 10, 2005
West Sussex
Twilight bravery.​

That's not scary - I'm big now, can walk home from school alone. Mummy trusts me not to talk to any strange men, though she does. I know how to look before crossing the road, not to pet any dogs I don't know well, not to stop and watch arguments and fights develop. I know the three different ways home, who can be trusted to ask if I get lost, or there's a flood or a fire.

'Course, you've gotta be careful, walking home, 'specially when it's a bit dark - like not walking on the cracks. Not everybody in the world is nice, not even all policeman, no matter what they tell you in school. 'Sides, biggies can hurt you never meaning to, by not seeing,

So mummy's inflexible grip on your hand drags you past everything interesting in life, just as teacher hides all that's worthwhile in books, insisting on the bright colours and simple lines that were drawn for the very littles. Even the Wild things smile cheerfully at you. The only terror I'm permitted is under the covers, when I'm read a bedtime story that comes from a pictureless book. And even that's because mummy puts on a gratey voice for nasty characters.

But this isn't as scary as lots of the things you see on TeeVee, on the news often, and they're real. Chlidren littler than my little sister with bandages so you can see the bits broke off. Hospitals like the one mummy went with no 'lectricity, and no drugs, doctors cutting people up while they scream, animals torn, or starved, or beaten - and that's not magination, it's realio trulio.

Bogiemen? Fooey.


Well-Known Member
Nov 2, 2015
Pas Ce Soir

During those despondent first few months of his exile on the island of Elba, in between playing solitaire and writing long letters to Josephine and trying to kill himself, Napoleon Bonaparte took daily constitutional strolls in the garden of his house-prison. It was there, one afternoon among the new-flowering shrubs and hedges, that happened an extraordinary thing. To wit, he heard strange disembodied voices speaking suddenly out of nowhere, like invisible ghosts in the air. And this is what the voices said.

"Now then, class, settle down please. The chronoscope has given us a living quantum view back into the year 1814. And here we see Napoleon himself. This is a few months after his defeat at the Battle of Leipzig and the capture of Paris by the Allies."

"I was expecting him to be shorter, Miss."

"Ah, but the famous short stature was actually a myth encouraged by the British in order to mock him. Napoleon was in reality of average height. Now, not long after we see him here he would escape from Elba, build a new navy, regain the leadership of France and go on to the Battle of Waterloo where--"

"Miss, look, he's listening."

"I ... you're right. Quick, shut down the chronoscope before any more leakage happens..."

And there the voices ceased.

Napoleon stood for several minutes in puzzled contemplation. Then he turned and strode back to the house with renewed vigor. He had given up all hope, he had wanted to die but now he knew that the future held much possibility. Now he had a new navy to build, fresh plans to make and a no-doubt victorious date with destiny awaiting him at Waterloo.

Josephine would be pleased.


Well-Known Member
Sep 23, 2017
Legend Unveiled

I’d been taught what to believe about BB Wolfe. Last night, something happened. It changed my beliefs.

I was late, again. Brookville’s children had been taken from porches; doors were bolted. I could see chary grown-up eyes balefully peering through blinds. I hastened my step, then knew it was too late.

Believing that BB Wolfe was at my heels, I crouched into a nearby hedgerow.

My attacker was tall, thin; I can remember. I’d been taught BB was short, stocky. He began pounding me with knobby fists. I covered my face, but not before noticing something.

“Where is your hood? your blue hood?” I yelled.

“Silence,” a man’s voice said. It sounded familiar: scratchy and high-pitched.

Resigned, I allowed Wolfe to continue murdering me.

Then I realized; the voice.

“Mayor Manners?” I yelled between my teeth.

Then, I began to fight back. I fought with all I had. I could hear a metallic click, then I caught the reflection of garden lights; they shimmered off and on from a malicious blade. I thought I’d never live to see my eleventh birthday.

Suddenly, an adjacent bush lit orange, then burned hot. It was like I'd been pushed into an oven. I looked up. There were sparks and tongues of fire shooting in every direction.

My attacker absconded, dismayed.

I rushed from the flames, and saw him; it was BB Wolfe, blue hood bowed. He was fidgeting with a zippo lighter.

“Run home, Jax,” he’d said.

BB dematerialized, so I wasn’t sure what to believe.

I heard shouting, which drew my attention the other way. It was Wolfe. He was face to face with my attacker.

Notorious BB Wolfe saved my life. This was a fact that changed my beliefs overnight.

Lex E. Darion

Formerly Alex Darion
Jan 12, 2016
Near the Bog of Eternal Stench
The Red Cloaks

A huddle of young women in blood-red cloaks headed towards her. She pulled the hood of her blue cloak tighter round her ears but their giggles refused to be blocked as they crossed the road.
“Look at you! You’re pathetic!” shouted Roenna. “I hope he was worth it!”
Glicinda hid her wrinkled hands in her blue sleeves, her gnarled fingers gripped the lining, making her wince. “If I’m so pathetic, why avoid me? Scared?”
“You’ve heard the sagas about The Hunger, just as we have.” Kayla winced and took a step back.
Roenna pushed her forward and snarled. “Don’t be ridiculous. They’re just stories our parents told to scare us. She’s not got The Hunger, she’s just been turned old and blue. No more than she deserved. Fancy saving one of them. I mean - a human - seriously? You know his assimilation is at tonight’s moon rise?”

Glicinda gulped. Tears welled. She stumbled as she hurried away. The group’s guffaws rang in her ears all the way home. Something had to be done. If only she did have the powers of The Hunger she might be able to save him. She grabbed books from her parents’ bookcase and studied the texts about those who had been Blued.

At dusk she approached the temple. The elders gathered around the altar, chanting. Leaning against a front column, Roenna looked on. Glicinda sneaked behind her and dragged her into the bushes. As she gorged on Roenna’s blood, youthfulness and power coursed through her, returning her blue cloak to red.

The assimilated blood provided the tribe’s ancient essence and she rapidly slaughtered any resistance.

Beautiful brown eyes - the reason for her blueness - stared up at her from the dais. She picked up the baby and headed into the woods.


Delusions of Grammar
Aug 3, 2014
Ballynahinch, County Down

Granny hadn't yet faded to the shades of grey and black preferred by her son. Hints of green and brown persisted in her tidy cottage garden, and her cloak remained a determined sea green. Her feet trod the familiar path, her hands stuffed deep in pockets that might contain cookies, balls of string, or even a dying mouse, saved from the kittens.

A shadow loomed before her, sparks of bright blue blinking from deep inside the hood of a long, black cloak. "OH, BUGGER."

"Language!" Granny rebuked him.

"YOUR ROSES SEEM TO HAVE SNAGGED MY CLOAK, GRANNY," Death complained in sepulchral tones.

"How convenient."


"I've been meaning to ask you–" Granny began.

"ABOUT THE SCYTHE–" Death said at the same time.

They stared at each other over the offending roses. Electric blue orbs, for want of a better noun, tried to meet warm brown eyes wreathed in wrinkles. They failed. Death let his gaze fall to the pavement.

"I LOST IT," he mumbled. "SORRY."

Granny was taken aback. Two whole steps back, so she could look up into the shadows inside the hood. "Have you been gambling again?" She peered a little more closely. "And have you been eating your greens? You're looking awfully peaky."

"WASN'T GAMBLING." Death traced a pattern on the mossy ground with one bony toe. "GAVE IT AWAY."

Granny Death raised an eyebrow, a gesture guaranteed to bring the most recalcitrant offspring to heel. "I hope there was good reason for such profligate action?"


"Whatever for?" Granny asked.





Independent Author & Publisher
Oct 29, 2013
West Sussex, UK

She’s waiting on the path when I come home; thankfully she remembered to don the voluminous hoodie I bought her.

“Ia! M’lgwth ni-a thu ranna miqur.”

“Old mother, for Tide’s sake, you can’t speak like that outside!”

“I shall speak as I have done since before there were towns upon these shores, and neither you nor the elders shall gainsay me.”

There’s a ‘caw’ from my left. I look round to see nine crows lined up on the lowest branch of the yew.

I look back at old mother: “Calling for a murder? You know, there’s this drylander invention called the darknet. You can arrange things, even forbidden things.”

“Miqur. Miqur no ranna. Hiuth!”

The crows take flight in an explosion of leaves, feathers and cries of corvid glee.

“Old mother, what have you done?”

She shrugs.

“I liked M’rhignn. She knew loyalty.”


“You mean ‘The Morrigan’? Liked wearing red, poor anger management, revolutionised our tactical use of crows?”

“Yestereve, in Eastbourne, a sister lied to her circle before invoking the Tide for petty cause, and in half-truth.”

“Overlooking the tidal streams last night, you’d not miss that.”

Her grin flashes sharp teeth.

“So, what’s going to happen to her?”

“Every wire she owns twitched from its mooring. Sadly, in these times, a simple killing would attract the wrong kind of attention.”

“We are the Tide, old mother. Feared for harsh retaliation. A lack of connectivity hardly qualifies.”

“Oh, my spawn. We are feared because we take toll, regardless. I said every wire. She is reliant upon a pacemaker.”

“That’s going to be bloody.”

“Very. Something they will conceal due to its disturbing nature. I have found that warnings are best heeded when they are gruesome.”

D.A. Xiaolin Spires

SFF writer & reader
Jul 11, 2017
Taipei, Taiwan

Anaya felt tremors travel up her legs. Her eyes, hidden in shadows, quivered with fear. The gutter of the house beside her groaned and broke free. She threw her hands up; cookies she had baked flew up and tumbled like locusts. In a ponderous creak, hinges gave way. She could see the sharp edges glinting as they came towards her. Her body stiffened. She smelled death. A dull ache traveled through her body and reeked from her pores like mold.

Her skin, however, had neither been programmed for fear nor cowardice, but smooth, pliable action. In a course of self-preservation, it spritzed off the offending smell. It released from sinews that attached to Anaya’s muscles and wedged itself between the falling gutter and Anaya’s more than naked body. Anaya was embarrassed, her biceps and abs bare for all to see; she never felt more exposed. She managed to move aside as her plastic skin, 3-D printed only last week, slowly shrunk, letting the damaged gutter come down to the ground, swifter and more tender than maternal hands releasing a babe into a blanketed crib.

A few birds flew passed. Anaya’s face blushed as she felt them chatter about her. “Look, how bare!” she thought she heard them say, though it was only her own paranoia, she suspected. “How flat her pecs, how thin her quads!” Anaya ran off, leaving her skin to trail behind her, inching forward like goop, a jilted lover.

It never occurred to Anaya once that she hadn’t saved her skin; her skin saved her. That blue color swatch she had chosen at Home Depot had given up its vitality for her. As it laid dried up, she printed one anew. How could she go about with an old brittle selfless piece like that? Fashion demanded better.


Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2013
NSW, Australia
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

Terry’s jaw ached from holding back his opinions. Nobody argued with Professor Ellen Marples, but this was stupid. Send the Prof a week into the future? Sure. Three months? Okay. They’d prepared for both experiments by sending lab rats forward in time, waiting for them to turn up, then running every test imaginable on the rodents.

One hundred years was not so simple. No trial runs. But it was too late to protest; she was gone. She’d stepped into the capsule and closed the door. A shimmer, then the launch pad was empty.

Ellen’s stomach twisted as she reached for the switch. This was the most important day - the most important century - of her life. Was a team of scientists waiting to welcome her?

“Gardening,” the clerk said, looking past her. “Next.”

Soldiers had greeted Ellen, not scientists. She’d been patient with their tests, their injections. But this was too much. “Wait,” she protested. “Don’t you know who I am?”

“Don’t know. Don’t care. The screen says you're assigned to gardening.”

“I’m not going anywhere until I see your commanding officer.”

“Yes?” The commandant looked up.

The sergeant rolled her eyes. “Another twenty-first century refugee. Thinks she’s special.”

“I’m not a refugee,” Ellen said. “Or a gardener. I’m the scientist who invented time travel and I need to see my capsule. To run some measurements. I have a hypothesis to test.”

The commandant sighed. “That’s not possible. And don’t brag about inventing time travel. You’ll end up dead. Everyone blames the damn timeys for ruining the economy.”

Rest time. Ellen laid down the secateurs, then pulled out her precious scrap of paper to peer at the equations. One day, she’d solve the problem of retrospective time travel.


Feb 13, 2011
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Bag Lady

My life’s a testament to bad choices.

School was nothing more than survival of the fittest; a grind-house of juvenile traffic - kids fed in, drones puked out. The worst time of my life, and I was the bloody teacher! Then came the Metropolitan Police.

That’s when I met Dinah. I hated moving her on; she’d not done any harm apart from offend people’s noses (and I bet hipster photographers made a fortune from her), always squatting in the same place under the railway bridge in Arsenal; inert, drooping and stinking like a pile of human laundry.

I also hated moving her because she reminded me of childhood; I was an unhappy kid so I created an imaginary friend I’d forgotten till now.

It sort of got out of hand; ‘It was Kittie,’ I'd say (she was always kicking over the trash).
‘I suppose Kittie wet your bed too, did she?’ Dad would reply.

Course, my superiors had no interest in Dinah, and the Met got tarnished beyond repair in the nineties after all the racist stuff, so I quit.

Actually, I was sacked. Because of Dinah, but that’s another story.

Nowadays I empty bins for a living and, today, obsess about Dinah. Because today I walked through Gyre Woods and saw her lurching along the track.

‘Need help, love?’ I said, smelling as ripe as her, but she just slumped when I touched her. I looked into her hood and saw she was covered in old newspaper and plastic bags, so I pulled her hood back.

A confetti of condoms, receipts, butts and God knows what else slowly tumbled out from Dinah’s coat. She shrivelled as if someone let the air out of her till there was nothing left but a mound of litter.

That’s when I remembered Kittie.
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