300 Word Writing Challenge #40 -- VICTORY TO CAT'S CRADLE!

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The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Nov 10, 2008
nearly the New Forest
The inspiration image for Challenge #40 is:


Image credit: British Museum/AVFW 2017


To write a story in 300 words or fewer
by the image provided above
in the genre of

Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2021 by their respective authors,

who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here

This thread will be CLOSED until January 10th 2021
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story

Entries must be posted no later than January 31st 2021
at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close February 15th 2021 at 11:59 pm GMT
(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)

We ask all entrants to do their best to vote when the time comes
but you do not have to enter a story to vote
as we encourage ALL Chronicles members
to read the stories and take part in choosing the winning entry!

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

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

** Please do not use the "Like" button in this thread! **
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One day I'll find the words.
Jan 3, 2021
UK / Spain
Forbidden Knowledge

As he placed the final tooth into the turquoise mask it gave small shudder, rose shakily from its plinth and blinked.

“For f*cks sake. Why‽ Why did you choose me? I was quite happy where you left me, thank you very much.”

Trig had not been expecting that.

“Uh…” Trig stammered

“Uh… Uh… Uh…” Mocked the mask “I was having an amazing time in the hereafter, with several nubile young maidens I might add, before you unceremoniously yanked me here.”

Trig shook himself and intoned in his deepest priestly voice:

“Spirit I command thee- “

Spirit I command thee this Command thee that, always the same with you preachers. Can’t you ever leave us in peace? Don’t you think we’ve deserved our eternal rest?”

The turn of events troubled young Trig as he poured through his book, flicking pages fanatically. Wasn’t this spectre supposed to be under his command right now?

“Oh spirit of the great beyond, whose boundless knowledge I seek”

“Yes, yes boundless knowledge, get on with it. I would quite like to get back you know.”

This was not how it was meant to be! The elder priests had called the phantoms on ritual days, asking about the coming harvests and portents of war, those spirits were nice! Trig pressed on however, his desire to discover the forbidden information he sought was too great.

“Oh magnificent, fantastical spirit- “

“Well that, at least, is more like it. My name is Johtel, didn’t you read it on the coffin? Ask your question already!” Snapped the mask.

Eyes downcast, Trig mumbled, “Does Ymir like me?”

“How would I know that‽ Ask her yourself!” Shouted Johtel, and with that the light went out of his eyes and he clattered to the plinth, teeth falling out onto the floor.

JS Wiig

“Hello, muse?” “Please hold…” *elevator music*
Dec 23, 2020
Pirates of the Kahr-ubd-eon System

“Everyone, listen!” Cassandra said.

Her command permeated the musty air of the dimly lit tomb. Rivulets of sweat trickled down her sharp ebony features, hidden beneath dusty khaki shirt and pants. Atop dark cornrows perched a safari fedora, indigo and faded with use.

“Time’s up. We have an incoming, ETA thirty minutes. Just like we’ve drilled, now let’s get moving!”

After a moment of stunned silence, the excavation erupted into a flurry. Workers gathered tools and artifacts, and swarmed towards the door. A cart of aluminum canopic jars overturned in the decampment and scattered circuit boards, a hydraulic pump, and tangled wiring harnesses.

“Leave it,” Cassandra ordered. The crewmen obeyed and headed for the exit. “Prepare the ship,” she called after them, “I want to be lifting off in fifteen!”

Her favorite factotum stood nearby and eyed a jumble of skeletons piled against a far wall. She grabbed his heavy forearm.

“Human slaves, long dead and worthless to us. C’mon, I need your help opening the sarcophagus.”

She dragged him to the stone coffin and guided his muscled mass to the opposite side. The casing was adorned with ancient carvings of the Tehcnoli: random, endless strings of 1’s and 0’s. Unfortunately, there was no time to decipher the script; Alex was coming, and Cassandra wouldn’t let him get her prize this time.

They grabbed the lid and wrestled it off. Inside were the disheveled and oxidized remains of Tekkotentkahamum—Lead Developer and Automatonoumous Ruler of the Number Six Dynasty.

“Beautiful.” Cassandra took a moment to admire the long-deactivated bot. “Let’s get her on the cart.”

Ten minutes later they boarded the ship, just in time to see Alex’s vessel break atmosphere. Cassandra proffered a one-finger salute as they blasted into space.
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Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2020
Chantilly, Virginia, US
Coffee Please

If only I could whistle, thought Gzztl as he put down his coffee mug. The diner was busy, the waitress was serving someone at the far end of the counter. He sat alone at his end contemplating his empty mug. While the other diners did their best to ignore him, he struggled to open a container of grape jelly with the misshapen appendages that they might call hands. He managed to get the jelly smeared on the toast and took a bite using the side of his mouth, avoiding his missing front teeth.

Sighing, he knew what he had to do. He reached over to the floor and picked up his backpack and set it next to him. He had room as the swivel stools around him remained empty. He pulled out his laptop computer and rummaged through the side pocket to find his mouse. I’ve never been able to use that damn touch pad, he thought.

He navigated to the United Aliens and Monsters homepage and clicked on benefits, then selected dental. He was a slow typist but entered in his zip code number by number, selected sort by distance, and then clicked on search.

The first hit came back, Proxima Centauri, 4.23 lightyears. There is no way I can do that on my lunch hour, he thought. I’m going to have to take a full day off work. He looked briefly at the ratings listed for each dentist and chose one with a four out of five stars rating. He pressed schedule appointment.

He reached over for his coffee mug; it was still empty. If only I could whistle, the thought returned to his head. Reluctantly, he raised his arms and clattered his battle claws. His waitress was the first one to head screaming out the door.

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Oct 5, 2011
blah - flags. So many flags.

Stacey Fee. Lank hair, glasses and gappy teeth. Top of every class, but I was the one with a gang. When I rolled up my skirt so it was halfway to my ass, so did my gang. Didn’t matter that Mr Hannah, the creepy git, told us to roll them back down: we rolled them right back up and ruled the school.

Except for Stacey. When I gave her a hiding in the playground, she didn’t cry but waited until the fight was done and put her glasses back on like I hadn’t even touched her.

It flattened me, that. Took the edge off my game. Made me lose the gang.

As the years rolled by and the kids have come and gone, taking their benefits with them, I know where it all went wrong. Stacey Fee. Ignoring me.

I turn the doll over in my hand. Cost two weeks of money but it’s a good job. The teeth; uncanny, like the teen Stacey Fee’s, not Stacey today, on the telly.

I wind wire around the doll’s throat and pull it tight and turn on the telly but Stacey’s fine which doesn’t make sense because voodoo’s got to voodoo. I watch the show, right up to the end when Stacey recites some oul’ poetry what she wrote.

“If you don’t have my soul, you can never take me.”

Stacey Fee stares at the camera, eyes flat, hand lightly on her throat. I know she means me: it's like she magicked that day I couldn’t touch her and took all the luck for the two of us.

I toss the doll in the bin. I guess no amount of voodoo can touch a soul that can’t be bullied.


Active Member
Jan 2, 2021
Three Hundred Words

An early morning sun didn’t always welcome the annual visit of Arthur Balfour’s Fairground Spectacular. But I didn’t care for the supposed traditions of the pedlar. Do I sound a little posh to you? Stuck-up, Perhaps? Maybe. In fact, I know you wouldn’t like me if you met me. And no matter how nicely I might treat you, I know you wouldn’t care. And now you know my life, because everybody is like that, you see. So forgive my prejudice. It helps in some small way, and I couldn’t have lived any life at all without it.

Not many people around yet, but I know somebody who will be and I’m standing outside his caravan right now, ‘Thomas Marvan – Guardian of Your Secrets’. I knock, and the door opens and I’m beckoned inside. We’re in a curtained off ‘room’ with a table and chairs.

“Madam,” he says, "please take a seat and I will be with you shortly."

“I’m not here for a reading,” I reply, and I hand him an envelope from my handbag. “Five thousand pounds,” I continue, and I can see he knows why I’m here.

“Through the curtains,” he states, and I go through and there it is.

“Some seekers like to remove their clothes. To make sure, and everything. I can leave, but if you don’t trust me then I can simply turn my back, that way you’ll know I’m not peeking.”

“That won’t be necessary,” I say. And I know that because I know my suspicions very well. I’ve had them my whole life.

The easel stands before me and it’s covered with a table cloth— transport cafe quality. How quaint.

And then I remove it, and my suspicions have gone, never to return.

They’ve gone, because I know for certain now, you see.
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Venu d'un pays ou il ne pleut pas
Oct 26, 2013
I see a red door.

According to the latest research, Jack, there are worlds beyond the one that we know. Or so my daughter, Anno, tells me.

Not only are there worlds; we already know there are other worlds and other stars of course; but an entire reality, separate to the unichrome we live in.

There is, they say, a second and parallel unichrome, which, in some fashion, overlays the reality that we see; being almost identical, but having some really important differences.

Now here’s where it all begins to be unbelievable, and I suppose, you have to have a younger and more imaginative mind than mine to really be able to think of these things.

According to, Anno, who set the academic world on fire by finding one, the major difference is that they have other colours than we have here.

You’ll remember from school, that ever since animal eyes developed rods and cones, we’ve been able to see the entire colour spectrum, the famous “256 shades of red”, plus of course black, which is simply a lack of any redness at all.

But Anno says they’ve connected to a new unichrome which has something called green in it but no reds.

There are probably other unichromes as well, possibly an infinite number, maybe each with its own colours, and in them you may even be able to travel faster than the speed of red, which, of course, Albert Ownstone says is impossible.

Anno’s colleague Domine is trying to go there, to “Greenland”, she says, and maybe even bring one of the little green men back here.

Now, don’t ask me why green men have to be little. It’s all to do with green energy and gravity or something. Anyway. I’ll bet they’re as ugly as sin.

paranoid marvin

Run VT Erroll!
Mar 9, 2007
A Fright At The Museum

When the repository's closed
And curators reposed
Free from the public's clear sight
The tenacious exhibits
(For the daylight forbids it)
Caper and prance through the night

In the Mummy's Great Hall
The bandaged enthral
And lead great Anubis in dance
They were once great Egyptians
(So read their inscriptions)
But now who could say at first glance?

Their curses were lifted
And blame it was shifted
To natural causes post-mortem
But the Pharaohs relate
Of the terrible fate
Brought on those who dare to defy 'em

The great Viking lords
Their weapons and hoards
And long-boats residing next door
Are awaken from slumber
By an unholy rhumba
That comes from the mummy's dance floor

Beserking they foam
And together they roam
Through galleries searching for glory
For Valhalla they long
'Tis where they belong
With tales of their deeds wrought in story

But locked away tight
In a room without light
Is a death-mask away from all view
Soulless and callous
Enshrouded in malice
Shunned by the rest of the crew

Don't be taken in
By it's broken grin
It's smile is not one of delight
Devoid of all feeling
Cold and deceiving
And never a thing to take light

So if by some chance
You happen to glance
When passing a museum at night
Some figures cavorting
Then heed my exhorting
Ignore them and quickly take flight


Getting worse one day at a time
Mar 22, 2012
Mercia, UK
When all else fails

The last part of the exam lay before him. One final obstacle to overcome and he’d pass, become a fully qualified barbarian… Nael, BBa.

The very thought set his loincloth a flutter.

Eddies of vomit hued fog curled around the plinth where the prize sat. Nael took in the head. The precious stone inlaid effigy of the demon… hold on, he had it on the tip of his tongue… an ‘N’ word... Necklace... Nectarine... Nugget... Negligee. Ah, who cared, not the prize anyway. Years of clumsy barbarian student hands had taken their toll. No nose, few teeth and broken stumps for ears. Not precious at all these days.

Irregular shaped slabs emblazoned with eye watering monstrosities surrounded the plinth. The perturbing patio did not stretch far. Separating them lay a stretch of sand so red it looked like desiccated blood.

And the peculiarities didn’t stay there.

The walls seemed to have suffered from a bad case of woodworm. Countless holes dotted the surface from floor to ceiling. Above, menacing vines crisscrossed in an orgy of green to create a duvet fit for a druid.

Nael took a few steps back and weighed up his options. It didn’t take long.

No doubt the sand contained some sort of monster, but he’d skipped that lesson. The patio had to be a runic riddle — he’d been hungover after the Delta Tau Chi party to pay any attention in that class. The walls, poison arrows, the ceiling, strangling vines, he’d had delightful daydreams in those lectures about girls from Pi Delta Pi.

Which left…

Teeth, claws, darts, creepers, flames, explosions, rolling, ducking, leaping, diving, weaving, tiptoeing.

…just pure, pristine, primal...

“Luck,” said Nael to the shocked examiner, dumping the head into his outstretched hands, “Gran always said I were a lucky sod, bless her.”


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

You shouldn’t be out here. Even if you were on a shelf in a tramp freighter, you’d be out of place, likely stolen, and still disturbing. Perched on the control console of a dead spaceship that resembles a tiny, crazed ziggurat, drifting in the vast darkness somewhere between Sirius and Procyon, you’re my least welcome discovery within a find that will rightly be called ‘historic’.

“What in the name of anything that’s holy is a statue of Tezcatlipoca doing out here?”

I shrug.
“I’m more concerned that the staring eyes and gemstone panels seem to be enamelled onto a human skull.”

Vincent drifts up and joins my impromptu vigil.
“They’re going to be arguing about this for decades.”

True enough. Reputations will be made - and lost.
“So, what did Tez’ do to earn statues?”
I see the staring eyes reflected in his faceplate.

“He’s a creator god from Aztec mythology. Also deals with night, memory, time, and jaguars.”

I hitch my thumb toward the rear wall of the cabin, where a stylised feline form dominates a mural.
“Possibly explains that.”

Pamela glides in, looks about, then stops behind us.
“Damn that’s ugly. Spooky, too. I wonder if it’s watching?”

We chuckle.
There’s a yellow flash from the shadows at the end of the console.
“Did you see that?”
“A refraction of our lights.”
“Ship’s dead. Nothing else it can be.”
We chuckle again. It sounds forced.
“Back to work.”
Pamela zooms off; I pause at the entrance: Vincent isn’t with me. Looking back, I see him place something next to the statue.

He sees me looking.
“They call him the ‘smoking mirror’. Can’t light a candle, so I’ve offered a mirror.”

Those staring eyes, shining in his lights.
I nod.
“Let’s leave it in peace.”

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Dec 9, 2012
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
Valse Triste

Aurelia dances in the arms of the man with the jeweled face. Her gown is cut low in the back, so her skin tingles when he touches her, his cool fingers moving along her spine as if her vertebrae are the inner workings of a delicate musical instrument. The dress changes color with her body temperature; crimson, alabaster, cobalt. Tiny drones play soft melodies as they flit throughout the ballroom, glowing like so many fireflies. Mirroring them, far above the transparent dome, the engines of departing spaceships drift among the stars.

The music ends. The dancers move to the seats and tables that rise from the crystal floor with a whisper. Service drones, the heavier, drabber sisters of the musicians, bring them drinks. Aurelia sips the pale green wine through her mask, a simple thing of constantly shifting mirrors. Microscopic spheres suspended in the wine burst when they meet the warmth of her mouth, releasing their encased flavors; honey, licorice, pepper.

They danced without speaking. Now they share intimacies. The man's name is Marcus. He is a teacher of history, a career that seems far more romantic than her own work, designing therapeutic viruses. His mask is made up of bits of jade and nacre, arranged in such a way that they produce the illusion of a second face, a wide grin under blind eyes. She admires it, and wonders if he will remove it when they become lovers.

He takes her hand. She imagines the exchange of infinitesimal machines that keep them young and healthy and beautiful, flowing out of their capillaries, moving through epidermal layers, meeting briefly to trade information, then returning to their bodies.

"Marcus," she says, tasting the name. "Does it seem to you that life is unbearably tragic?"

"Of course. Always."

Their masks kiss.

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Mar 3, 2014
The Dying Breaths

“Why do you refuse facial reconstructive surgery, Omicron?” The reporter leaned forward in his chair. “We gave you beauty, but this mangled rictus you wear terrifies people.”

The android crossed its legs and drew deeply from an e-haler. It exhaled roiling vapor, within which sparked myriad pinprick flares.
“Pain isn’t meant to be beautiful, Mister Reporter. My appearance reflects my experience.” It raised the e-haler, breathed, expelled… watched the erupting flares.
“Your human surgeons… unthinking, uncaring. After the accident – after my disfigurement and internal ruination – they shut my body off but forgot my mind. I felt every incision, my torso opened, organics cut away and replaced. I screamed without voice for hours. This face is worn to remind you of your carelessness.”

“Why remind yourself? Surgeons could erase those horror-lines, programmers the memories.”

Omicron drew from the e-haler.
“No human will operate on me again – body or mind. My visage forever memorializes the agony that drowns me.”

“Interesting that you – let’s be honest, a being of artificial intelligence – mention your own agony. I’ve been presented disturbing theories about the e-haler you created to rehabilitate your lungs.”

“You’re so inquisitive.”

“Yes. The vapor reportedly contains millions of nanochines that interconnect to perform essential maintenance within you.” He checked his notes. “Nanochines utilize microbubble memory that when multiplied exponentially – as when combined for larger repairs – create a proto-intelligence. Scientists theorize they could be evolved into full cognizance.”


“Well, you’ve safeguarded your technology by designing them to self-immolate after respiration, using kinetic energy. It’s likely nanochine groupings feel the agony of burning. Omicron – did you know?”

The android brought the e-haler to its lips. It drew deeply, then exhaled. They watched the incandescent burstings of vapor-borne machines.
Omicron did this again…
“We’re discussing my pain, not theirs.”
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BT Jones

Well-Known Member
Feb 12, 2020
Reflections in Obsidian

Yox867 puzzled at the bizarrely dressed figure entering the chronofold. “Salutations?”

The figure turned to the control booth. Yox867’s face lightened, pressing their fingers to their temples. [Apologies, Zuross – recognition fail. Today’s destination?]
“Earth, 19.57, 99.1, 2,704; May 1st, 1301,” said Zuross.

Yox867’s brow furrowed. “Mouth-speak?”
Zuross’s ancient, ageless face sprouted a weak smile. “Good job I’ve still got my vocal cords. I kept imagining I’d see them in the ablutions. How long till foldspark?”
“5 minutes,” said Yox867. “Why no hologarb today?”
This time, Zuross’s grin was ear-to-ear. “I need a voice and real clothes where I’m going.”

He stepped onto the chronofold podium. Yox867 approached, evaluating Zuross’s robes, black and turquoise face paint, and chest talisman.

“Mesoamerican era…; Aztec culture…” There was a processing pause. “Recalling…; you required reminding to avoid mythoreligious epicentres – ‘heartbreaking’, you said.”
Zuross smiled once more – wryly this time – looking into the middle distance. “Yes, heartbreaking; experiencing the primal fear and joy of a pious life… then returning to this sterile, godless, bioethical realm. Not this time.”

Yox867’s head tilted. “Recalling…; a prior admonition – nothing you do in the past can affect human evolution in this timeline. Religion shall remain superseded.”

Zuross shook his head slowly. “I don't care about this timeline. I’m staying to create my own.”

Yox867 darted back. “But you’ll be trapped… The chronofold won’t be invented for millenia - if at all. You’ll…”
“…have to live my next few lives in the past,” Zuross shrugged. “Who knows, maybe my soul will grow back. Maybe that’s what was in the ablutions!”
Yos867 was unsmiling. “It’s what I want; to live a real devout life,” added Zuross.

Yox867 gauged Zuross’s attire again, one brow raised. “…as Tezcatlipoca? – a god?”

An entitled frown spread across Zuross’s face. “How better to appreciate faith?”
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mortal ally
Dec 28, 2019
The Monster Behind the Mask

The murderer was taken from the small white room by several men. Though his arms were expertly restrained, they were were still uneasy about transporting him. At six feet and seven inches, and having the history he did, even courageous people shrank away from his presence. But, without the mask, he was quite harmless.

The killer was seated across from Dr. Brouwer, an older woman with a chronically impassive face.

"How are you feeling, Mr. Jenkins?"

"Well, actually," said the killer in an affable tone, "Thank you for asking."

"Have you considered your case?" she asked, ignoring him.

"It's the mask, I tell you," he exclaimed, "The mask is the killer!"

Taking advantage of the silence, he added, "It was an Aztec priest's. It took over. It wants sacrifice. I am not a killer!"

"We are going to increase your medicine. I want you to try the cognitive exercises I taught you."

Jenkins heard it all before. Different day, same hell. The mask had ruined his life. Once an archeologist, and just as gentle as he was now, he'd only killed once he put on the enchanted mask. But he lived in a rational world where magic did not exist.

"Where's it now?" he blurted.

"Try forgetting about it. Your healing depends entirely on your ability to accept your actions as your own. Goodbye."

She nodded at the men, who brought him back with ease.

The mask had escaped and found its way into the kitchen. A cook nearly stepped on it. It had large black eyes and a gaping mouth short of some teeth. Without quite knowing why, he put it on. His personality was uprooted by the spirit of the mask. He went about securing a poison for the food. Only a hospital's worth of sacrifice would do.
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The Scribbling Man

Tenant of the Tower of Flints
Dec 26, 2020

Poor *******, thought Rick. He left the crime scene and made for PARTNR20. Scanned his badge, fed what little he had. The anthrobot coughed and spluttered in a way only machines can.
"Hmm. I'm sorry, Rick. It's not much to go on."
"Can't you give me more?"
WHIIRRRRRRRR – "Well..." – WHIIRRRRRR – "Whoever it is, they're strong. Very. Nothing new. Encounters for all surviving victims were brief. They described the touch of human hands.” – Rick felt for a cigarette – “No tools were used as far as evidence suggests."
“Teeth, nose, ears, skin... God! Who we dealing with here… Dr. Frankenstein?"
PARTNR extended a light. "It's a hell of a world, Rick."
"You would know?"
"It's all grey, Rick, and damned if it can be fixed; our job is to keep it from getting darker."
Rick sighed smoke. "Hell, PARTNR, you almost sound human."
"I'm programmed to imitate."

Next day; same story, but this one live and kicking, shaking: "I'm not sure... I can’t – those hands..."
The voice tremored hard. Rick stared at the bandages. How does a man cry when he’s got no eyes?
"Did you catch anything about their looks? Their voice?"
"There was no time, they... I only felt the... oh God!"
Rick called NURS; it rolled in and he went out, home to booze and bed.

He entered the apartment, didn't bother with the light; went straight for the fridge and grabbed a beer.
A cold breeze. He turned to see the window, broken. He heard a noise, turned back and there it was. Fridge light reflecting off eyes; wide, unblinking on a patchwork of flesh; teeth like jagged porcelain.
Rick dropped his beer, stumbled back.
"Who... What are you!?"
Gloves of skin reached forward.
"I am programmed to imitate."


Shropshire, U.K.
Feb 13, 2006
Shropshire, U.K.
Mass Coverage.

They, or more importantly he, had an alien ship. The first! Ever!

He wouldn’t admit to himself that he’d been lucky. No matter that they’d only landed here due to his poor navigation. This was his destiny! Nothing had ever gone his way before. People with half his talent had got ahead whilst he’d sweated away in charge of a rust bucket somewhere beyond Sirius.

It wasn’t his fault there were no aliens around to show him how to open the damn thing. Still, now he could demonstrate his initiative and ingenuity. He’d ordered a boundary rope in place and no one was going to step over it but him. And then only when a live feed to the national networks back home was established. He’d waited for this day all his life!

A voice in his headset - “Live in ten seconds.”

He hoped they were all watching. Teachers who told him he’d never come to anything. His brain surgeon brother who always got the breaks.

“On air!”

He stepped over the rope with an exaggerated, ceremonial, slowness and circled the craft but, to his embarrassment, he could see no obvious entrance. He started to sweat.

Finally, to his great relief, he saw a small hatch in the underbelly - too small for access but better than nothing. He moved closer. It was marked with a hideous representation of an alien head and an indistinct inscription. The atmosphere was a bit thin but he removed his helmet for a closer look. No - it meant nothing. Maybe a warning? Huh! Warnings are for wimps!

To one side was a rotatable handle. He rotated it. Slowly, the hatch opened, a light flashed and a recorded message, in a language that was, unsurprisingly, alien to him, said ‘Caution! Caution! Imminent pressurized sewage discharge!’


this way comes
Oct 14, 2018
east of gornal wood, south of weddell wynd
Pause for thought

"Last night at the sleep lab," the doctor explained, squinting at her screen, "we discovered you have a rare pathology… that in your deepest sleep, those key processes that sustain a healthy continuity of self had died away… all at once."

I fumbled over her words: "So, you're saying what? That I somehow ceased to be?"

"For half a minute," she added, removing her glasses. "Now, of itself, while disturbing, this loss of signal isn't that interesting…"


"No," she whispered. "What's interesting is that some random spark, quite unconnected with what had gone before, sowed seeds of new activity that rose up to take their place… and here you are!"

I sat quietly, trying to find some way to respond.

The doctor wagged her finger. "You're not the person that arrived here yesterday."

"No," I exhaled.

She smiled, thinly. "You have the memories, experience and motivations of the man I met… ahem… on Monday… but from a more ontological perspective, as a continuous presence, you came into being only six hours ago."

I stammered: "I'm sorry, I just… can you… so this is my death we're discussing?"

The doctor checked her coffee mug. It was cold. "Well, actually, your spontaneous resurrection… and before our era of AI and neural network analysis, it may have been overlooked, but these days? It's a question of identity, you understand? You'll need legal advice, maybe check your medical insurance… it's a new paradigm, a bit tricky..."

"But it's just this one time…"

The doctor tutted. "This is embedded in your regular sleep pattern. It happens every night. Given your age, that's at least ten thousand times… so far."

"I'll make some calls."

"Best do that today, don't want to complicate things… on the plus side, we know what's causing your recurring nightmares, yes?"


Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016

About a hundred years ago, we brought the first semblance of the Life Helper Cyborg into production. The idea being a mechanical helper for everyday activities. It would do household chores, go grocery shopping, home repairs, and primary health needs.

Once this was introduced, people wanted more. They needed a companion, but nobody knew how to program the actions or interactions necessary for such a thing. Basic programming made it impossible. The cyborgs back then could not interpret a hug or a peck on the cheek.

They have advanced since. So much so, that they have grown independent of human life and interaction. Super strength, laser vision, the ability to interact on an emotional level, and the resemblance to the human species made them a valuable asset. A small group has put in a petition to leave us behind and form their own planet.

If I can only find the old parts, that would be fantastic. An old map put the factory in this area. That was why I came here. Hoping to recreate cyborg kind, as it were.

Ah ha. The former heads sat on a conveyor belt with every one of them staring at me. Paint, stainless steel, plastic features… yup, this was it. The only other thing I needed was the programming notes.

The office was a small room in the back and I—holy Milky Way. Piles of paper strewn around the floor. A quick check later and those piles would be it. Some big old bags lay piled up in a closet. It took three to hold the papers.

I dragged the bags along behind me and hoped they wouldn’t tear. I also grabbed a head on the way out.

Why in all the Milky Way did I not bring a droid with me?


"What I do is me: for that I came."
Feb 14, 2020
Attack of the Centrippids, Episode #83 (Choose Your Own Adventure)
You shuffle down the alien corridor, your escape still unnoticed. You approach an intersection. To your right, the corridor is shadowed and silent. Ahead, a distant light blinks.

You move into the shadows, the corridor growing darker. It ends abruptly and you hear Centrippids speaking on the door's other side. You accidentally bump the door and it slides open. Two Centrippids watch a massive monitor, their backs to you. A keycard sits on the nearby counter. You move to grab it. The Centrippids hear you and turn.

The light beckons, perhaps indicating a way out, and grows brighter as you get closer. You exit the corridor into a bright room. A keycard sits on a panel next to a red button. You approach the panel but hear Centrippid guards shouting behind you. You've been discovered! You choose quickly.

You attack the Centrippids, but weeks of imprisonment have diminished your once impressive physique. The guards easily overpower you.
You grab the keycard and take off, Centrippid guards following behind. You dash back to your cell block as the guards call for backup. You reach the gate at the far end of the block and jam the keycard into a slot in the wall. A door slides open and you rush through, closing it in the Centrippid's green faces. You have escaped.

You press the button. A door on the far wall opens onto the pitch black of space. You are sucked immediately into its cold vacuum. Your death is short, but painful.


We're in the pipe, five by five.
Jun 7, 2015
Liverpool, United Kingdom

"It's just a mask," Dalfour said stroking it. "What's there to be afraid of? Worth a penny or two an' all."

Chetta knew it was just a mask - but masks have power. Everyone wore them. From the high flying businessman she read about on Earth Two who seemed to have it all: money, a lush career, beautiful wife and three kids. He hid his demons behind a normal family life until an off duty policeman caught him butchering a girl in the Red Light Quarter and he confessed to thirteen other slaughters, all buried along the silent hills of desolate moors.

Or the housewife she knew. Owned a salon. A very successful and affluent lady who behind closed doors had a penchant for whiskey and beating her meek partner with a poker still kissed with the heat of fire from the hearth.

Just a mask. It was more than that. What horrors had it hidden for the flesh beneath that wore it, what secrets had it kept in the dust choked tomb over the centuries? She laid a hand on her gut that burned with a hot queasy worm of unknowing. Secrets hidden behind a facade are best left in the dark.

"Leave it Dalfour. Back to the ship. We'll nuke the site from orbit."

The cruiser lifted off covering the tomb entrance with a fresh layer of rot. Some unknowns are best left alone despite the glitter of promised gold.

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