300-word Writing Challenge #30 (July 2018) -- READ FIRST POST!

Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
Aug 7, 2007


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 2018 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here

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

Entries must be posted no later than July the 31st 2018,
at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close August the 15th, 2018 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:

Whistler's Mother.jpg

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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Well-Known Member
Jun 21, 2016
Colorado Springs
Code Whiskey

I kept my eyes closed as I listened to the periodicity of the alarm code: short, long, long - short, long, long. "Whiskey!" I shouted to myself. "There's a ship inside point five AU!"

I'd been drifting in the four crew escape pod for nearly two months. Because of the explosion on my ship, I was, sadly, its sole occupant. The dangers of asteroid mining...

The code Whisky repeated from the scanner as I started sweeping the X and Ka bands. Nothing.

Several hours passed when I noticed a shimmer of light through the pod's thick glass portal. "A ship!" Another 3 hours before I could make out a shape: concave tetrahedral - and massive. I scrolled through the pod's visual ID program until I found it: Debani, long range exploration.

I looked up Debani: Humanoid, considered neither hostile nor friendly, origin unknown, last known contact: 2926. " Incredible," I thought, "almost 800 years ago."

The Debani ship began to maneuver away from me when I felt the pod jerk hard to port. "Damn, they're towing me!"

Two days passed, and I was still in tow. I was helpless as the escape pod was designed for emergency life support only. No propulsion systems were fitted.

I was startled awake on day three by the sudden force of gravity. I knew immediately that I'd been pulled inside the Debani ship. I was on my knees trying to adjust when the pod's hatch opened. I crawled out.

As I stood up I noticed a darkly cloaked and hideously masked figure standing before me. I held up my right hand and managed a meek, "Hello." The masked Debani stood motionless. Finally he removed his mask, and I realized that he was a she. She held up her right hand and said kindly, "Eh-lo."


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

I hate ‘goblins in the lift’ calls. Agoraphobes in a lair where prey just walks in take a lot of persuading to move on.

Tonight, we’ve got drunken trolls lurching around Soho, rogue sprites spinning glamour so thick we’ve had to tranquilise the whole of Harrods, and a wyvern harassing the flamingos in St. James’ Park.

Which, I suppose, highlights the silver lining: in the fight to keep human ‘reality’ undisturbed, I get to do my bit sitting in an elevator.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are.”

Cadences came to humanity from the fey realms; bastardised versions of glamour weaving chants. The more use they get, the better they work. Which makes cliché my best friend.

There’s a blast of summer breeze and a gloriously ugly fellow appears, wearing a duster coat and sporting his cranial fur in an aureole crop to emphasise his blackened features.

“Greetings to thee, Warden of London.”

“And to thee, stranger.”

He bows: “I be Clambel of the Nether.”

A Duergar in London town! Well stuff me in a green leotard and call me a leprechaun.

“You’re a long way from home.”

His face contorts and tears spill down his ridged cheeks: “I’m trapped! This puckish conveyance whisks me up and down but refuses to take me home!”

The Unseelie took to technology so well humanity should have taken it as a warning. So, all this frustrated Seelie needs is an explanation he can understand.

“Clambel, this conveyance is bound to this place. It wants to obey, but geas prevents. By my will, step ye forth and continue your peregrinations.”

“Oh, thanking thee.”

He vanishes in a waft of lavender at evening.

Nice. Now to work out how to avoid spending a couple of hours picking up pink feathers.


The secret ingredient is crime
Jul 13, 2006
The Cloud
O. unilateralis

Of all the weird and wonderful things that happen in the natural world, one of the oddest has to be that which affects ants of the Camponotini tribe…

Extract from ‘To New Heights’: It was as if the human race turned its face to the sky and said ‘yes, we will go; we must go.’ Two mere centuries bridged the time between the first powered flight and ships that were capable of crossing the galaxy. The Space Race of the 1960s was nothing compared to the sheer urgency that seemed to possess us in the early 22nd century. We barely even paused within our own Solar System; why would we, when we could go so high, so far…

...leaving its nest behind, never to return, the ant climbs a tall leaf stem, creeps along its underside and, with abnormal force, latches its jaws into the vein…

Dictated lab report: Everything has been transported from the crash site. The ship had certainly come a long way — not one we’re familiar with. Those who opened it up got a fright — I’ve seen the body, the pilot was not in good condition — not from the crash, though, at least not all — its head had a kind of...growth? Gruesome, but it has also proved itself a glorious herald — since the discovery, the ideas my team and I have had...it all seems so simple now! It will revolutionise space travel… We’ll be able to move beyond our galaxy...

...none of which are its own actions — for the ant is driven, zombie-like, by a fungus burrowing into its body, compelled to its own demise; wherein the fungus erupts from the carcass and spreads anew.


Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016

The old Willowbrook Furniture Company building. It hadn’t been touched since it closed not long after WW II. It needed to be condemned but no one took the bid to do it. Chunks of paint missing, holes in the walkway that lead up to the front entrance, and broken windows all around the building.

Sandy walked passed the spirit at the front desk. He walked further as the air grew colder. Children’s laughter came from above.

At the end of the hall, a metal door showed itself. An elevator, maybe, but such a thing didn’t seem to fit. A bell hung on the right. The door opened after Sandy rang it.

“Name,” a stranger said. Its red face with big eyes and no nose drew attention. A straight slit that stretched across the face had to be the mouth.

“Uh... I’m... I’m Sandy.” He needed to get it together. Investigators needed to be professional.

“Sandy. Alive. Not spirit born.” The door closed.

What was that thing and what did not spirit born mean? Sandy shook his head. He took a deep breath and tried again.

“You are not spirit born. Why are you here?” It had a deep rough voice.

“I could ask you the same thing.” First time since puberty he had voice fluctuations.

“Stupid. You are a living soul. You do not belong here.”

Sandy didn't want to believe he was having a conversation with this, for the lack of a better word, thing. “I only came to find out what was going on. Could you at least tell me that?”

It laughed in a mousy voice before it disappeared. The elevator vanished as if nothing had been there, to begin with. Faded and torn wallpaper took its place. He turned around and raced out of there.
May 19, 2016
Gruv in an Elevator

Yes, I is Dr. Gruv and I will thank you kindly to stop staring. I know, I is not what you have expecting, and I sense you is uncomfortable being within conveyance with me.

Here, what floor is you wishing for? No, you is trusting me, sweetest, I is not infectious. I is doctor, I would know.

Ah, third floor. Surgery. Cancer of the kidney I is assuming? How is I knowing? The smell, sweetest. I is hoping you forgive but smell is among your clothing.

Is I salivating? Sweetest, is of my kind to salivate. Tumorses is like candied apples to us Gruvs. Is why we is working here.

Yes, here is my identification, sweetest. Is true I work here. Radiology. I is paid to sniff out tumorses, sweetest. Is unusual, yes, for Gruv to be working in such places. I is such good at what I do, though. The best, perhaps.

What you say? Yes, conveyance is taking very long for three floors. Very long indeed. Is not for worry, sweetest. Mechanics is work hard I is certain. We have pressed emergency button, yes. We is only stuck short time, you is best to relax.

Yes, we is probably to be late for appointments. What is to be done, sweetest?

I is agreed. I is certainly hungry as well. Truth be telling, the hairs on my neck is very raised by smell of your tumorses.

Agreed again, I is sitting rather close, sweetest. Helping myself I cannot. Why you is fearful?

I promise I is skilled. Tumor is to be removed anyway. Why deny the Gruv? Gruv is hungry. Tumorses smells so sweet. Your kidney no need tumorses, I promise to be fast, I promise no pain.

Why is you tremble?
Dec 9, 2012
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
The Masquerade

Because the party was only a short distance away, Janos and Marya activated their masks as soon as they left their home. The city blossomed into a fairy tale garden of pastel towers, lit by gossamer lanterns.

"Do I look all right?" Marya stepped back so Janos could study her costume. Her mask projected the image of a butterfly. Her rainbow wings glittered in the moonlight.

"Fine." Janos knew his disguise, the ghost of a death's-head moth, was dull compared to hers. He never minded standing in the shadow of his lovely wife.

They were the last to arrive. The masks of the other guests created all manner of illusions. A pine tree chatted with an eagle. An emerald serpent danced with a sailing ship. A golden-eyed Martian laughed at a vampire's joke.

Time passed too quickly, as it always did. Midnight chimed.

Unmask! Unmask!

The guests turned off their masks, one by one. The crystal hall melted into crumbling brick. The beautiful costumes vanished, leaving only rags.

Janos pulled Marya's mask off. She was always reluctant to reveal herself, although her face bore fewer scars and weeping sores than most.

The synthetic voice of their inhuman host echoed in the ruined building.

Go now, and remember.

The guests left silently. None of them looked back at the site of their celebration.

The moon was down. The stars hid behind thick clouds. The only light came from softly glowing craters filled with poison rain.

"I'll need to find more food and water tomorrow," Janos said. "I better take the rifle."

"There aren't many bullets left."

"I'll be careful. Most of the dogs are dead by now anyway."

They entered the underground shelter and sealed the door. They whispered in the darkness, already planning next month's costumes.


Shropshire, U.K.
Feb 13, 2006
Shropshire, U.K.
FAKE Story!!

“First, Mr President, let me congratulate you on your victory and your inauguration speech.”

“I was pretty good wasn’t I? Anyway, I'm a busy man, what can I do for you?”

“I’m from NASA. I have a confidential meeting with all new Presidents to inform them of some high level state secrets known only to a very few.”

“The Moon landings! They were a hoax? I knew it!”

“No, Mr President – we really did land on the Moon…”

“You sure? Pity.”

“…however, you remember the Roswell incident? 1947?”


“Well, there really was a crashed UFO. We have it under wraps at Area 51 – and its alien pilot.”

“Male or female? No! Forget I asked.”

“We have absolutely no idea, Mr President. It's learnt rudimentary English but it refuses to co-operate with us in any way.”

“I want to meet it!”

“What!? With respect, Mr President, that’s out of the question. We keep it heavily quarantined to avoid any possible risks. We have absolutely no idea what its powers may be.”

“Its powers? What about mine? Have you read my book? I could do a deal. We could be trading, or even playing golf, with these guys before you know it. Arrange it, or you’re fired!”


“Wow! That’s pretty grotesque. Anyway, let me in there. And I don’t want any interruptions!”


“I may not look like it but I’m the President of The United States of America! Let me out of here!”

“Yeah and I’m Michael Jackson. So now you want to talk to us.”


“I want the Senate and Congressional leaders, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the heads of NASA, the CIA, and the FBI, here, in this room, in the next twenty four hours. Oh yeah – and maybe a barber. There’s gonna be some changes around here.”


Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2017
Describing a Nightmare

“Good evening,” said the Quiet Man.

I said nothing. I tried, but I couldn’t. No words escaped my mask.

“Please, do not distress yourself,” said the Quiet Man. He walked around me and I could feel his fingers drift across my arms, tracing the bones that jutted out against my skin. “There is nothing to fear in dreams.”

The Quiet Man held up a glittering implement. It shone like a star in that dark place and I felt my skin slicken with sweat.

He touched it to me, a sharp pin-prick of pain I couldn’t escape. “Don’t worry,” said the Quiet Man, “tonight’s work will be swift.” And he let the scalpel glide gracefully across my body, skin and muscle parting with its passage.

I tried to scream, but I was trapped inside my mask. The screams piled up inside my chest as the scalpel cut.

I woke up sweating and screaming. I think I wet the bed. It took me three showers to wash the clinging fear from my skin. Even then, it lingered in my mind. I made my way through work in a haze, didn’t look up, didn’t make eye contact in case they could see my fear in my eyes. When I got home, I felt drained and lifeless. I went to the basement to check the bonds still held, then returned to my bed to sleep.

The Quiet Man was waiting for me, as was my mask.

“Good evening,” he said, fastening it in place.

“Why?” I managed.

“You have heard that dreams make sense of our day?”

I nodded.

“Consider me the dream of your deeds.” The Quiet Man held up his scalpel and I saw my mask reflected there. The face I wore to work each day.


Not so well known member
Sep 9, 2016
Cumbria UK
Interspecies breeding

Jim swayed slightly as he walked home, Mike beside him flicking angrily at his lighter, the breeze kept blowing it out and his cigarette was getting soggy in his mouth.

Jim belched and then grimaced at the sour beer taste.
“See, what it was right?” He opined loudly. “That bird in the club was gagging for it, you could tell just by looking at her. Dunno why she yelled so loud the bouncers put us out. I hardly touched her”

“Tell you what mate” slurred Mike. “Sheesh prob’ly one of them leshbians, thash why the bitch screamed”

“What the-?” yelled Jim as a blinding light shone and they found themselves inside a white sphere.
As they blinked drunkenly around a door irised open and a strange being clad in black entered, it's face hidden by a mask.

It approached the two trembling men and peered carefully from one to the other.
Turning back to the door where a similar being was appearing, it spoke in a weirdly accented and creaky voice.
“Too late, I get first choice, and mate, I don't fancy yours much”

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