Green44, The Dramatist
Daughter of EndMaster, my favourite colour is obvious.
Read my book: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rA9lP6yIxn7er5a7yhL3ksns2w-7SivrO3V5HwDVZvc
Discuss it here: https://chooseyourstory.com/forums/creative-corner/message/28741#870118
Recent PostsAgreena results on 7/2/2022 7:46:18 AM
While I agree with some of your points in retrospective, with any competition judged by one person there will be a degree of personal preference when it comes to feedback and judgement. However now that you've pointed out the flaws that slipped past me I'm sure Peng can correct them in his future work, resulting in a better written outcome for everyone to enjoy: so thank you!
Agreena results on 7/1/2022 6:06:11 PM
@Winterfern14 is second to last, next is Ebon:
Max called out, “What are you waiting for?” He asked, staring at me with a skeptical look.
“What?” I replied with a hint of annoyance.
“The tournament is today, remember?” he asked.
“Yes of course I remember dumb ass, its the tournament, why would I forget?” I said, getting up out of my chair to go with him.
The tournament is very simple, teens every year race around the universe to find 3 things (they vary each year) and have to bring them back to earth where the Masters are. You are allowed to compete when you turn 13 so many new people try each year. There are about one million people competing each year so the competition is very tough.
“LET'S GO ALREADY!” he yelled at me. I sat in my chair looking at him with a skeptical look, “Why now? We don’t have to be there for another hour.” I replied.
“But we have to get there early,” he contradicted.
“Honestly what is your problem with getting to places early, the Masters won’t be happy with you if you're there early, and you know what happened last year.” I said looking at him with a proud glance. He looked back at me thinking about last year's incident, “Fine, but only because of what happened last year.”
We sat in the room and looked up at the stars. The room was navy blue and in a pod on a tall tower in space, there were at least 300 other pods below them and many more all around earth.
The room was filled with modern furniture that was gold, white, navy, and shades of gray, the ceiling was glass and you could see the stars through it. Every kid at 12 left their parents to live in their own pod with a roommate, it was required, unless you had medical issues…
At exactly an hour Max jumped up “It's been an hour, time to go!” he said while bouncing around the room.
“Ok, ok, jeez” I replied. He started jumping up and down with excitement. I got my hoverboard outside the closet and went to the chamber, “If you want to go so bad you better hurry up” I said, glancing over at him.
“Jeez, calm down” he replied walking over with his neon green hoverboard.
“Honestly, why did you pick that ugly green?” I asked.
“Hey! I like this color” he replied, looking very offended.
“Ok- suit yourself” I said, sealing the pod door after he walked in.
Once the chamber door was shut, the door to outside opened, we flew out of the chamber and into space, going towards a big platform miles ahead.
Humans had developed a way to breathe in space, a way to genetically code your body to let you trap oxygen inside you to allow you to breathe, every kid was required to get this “treatment” done.
“Hey Elise, how far are we?” Max said as he glanced over at me
“Why are you asking me, you have a GPS on your hoverboard, just ask it.” I replied
“My god you are so annoying,” he answered
We were a good ten minutes away from the platform and could see many people flying onto it and standing in front of a big stage. A few minutes later we started to slow down to land on the platform, swiftly flipping them up into our arms while jumping onto the giant platform.
We went to put our hoverboards away before going to stand in front of the stage. Once everyone arrived The Masters got up to speak.
“Welcome everyone to the 45th annual tournament!” They said in unison.
All but one of them sat down again, the one standing was clearly the “leader” of the group and looked down at all of us and said.
“Most of you know how this works but I will explain for all the people who don’t.” She said, “Every year teens come here to compete to find three items which we hide each year.” She glanced at a piece of paper she pulled out of her pocket and then said, “This year the three items will be…” she paused glancing at the paper again. “A yellow komodo, a small glass containing a mini universe called Eurathia, and last but not least a collection of ancient gold coins.” She said, sitting back down.
Next one of the men stood up and said,
“You have seventy-two hours to get all three items, clues will appear and be messaged to you. The first one right now”
Everyone looked down at their phones waiting for a message to appear, and then over the whole crowd, the sound of one million phones going off at once, everyone looking down at the message and talking to their friends.
“Let the tournament begin” The Masters announced and then disappeared.
Everyone was running for their hoverboards and jumping off the platform. Through all the chaos I could see Max looking for me. I walked over to him and opened my phone,
“This item has been spread around the solar system, it currently lies on one of the biggest planets in the solar system, in the heart of ice, there you will find the clue to the next item and the yellow komodo” I read aloud.
“Well we know that the biggest planet is Jupiter, but it's very dangerous there and I personally am not interested,” Max said.
“What do you mean you're ''not interested”, we agreed to do this and you are just going to quit!?” I replied, staring at him.
“I'm just joking,” he said, still sounding a bit nervous. I knew he wasn't telling the truth but decided to just leave it alone.
We flew off towards Jupiter and then landed only to see many people searching the land for the komodo. It seemed like such a waste of time to look for the komodo since there was so many people there, the clue also seemed too easy.
“Hey Max!” I shouted, “wanna go to Saturn and look there? It would make sense if the komodo was somewhere in the rings,” I said.
“Sure, that sounds like a great idea.” He replied, seeming glad to get off of Jupiter.
We headed off to Saturn's rings and were not shocked to find a few people there as well.
“Ok lets start looking,” Max said.
We started flying along the rings looking for the komodo when we heard a scream up ahead. We rushed to the area where the scream came from and saw the yellow komodo sitting right atop the rings.
I immediately pulled out my phone and scanned the komodo to then receive a message containing the next clue.
“The golden coins are hiding in a secret village hidden in Japan, you have to look there for we will provide no more information.”
“Well let's head over to earth then.” I said looking over at Max.
We jumped on our hoverboards and rushed over to Japan.
We searched all over until we spotted a bamboo patch, going inside to reveal a portal.
“We should head inside,” Max said.
Rushing inside we saw a pile of gold coins, taking a picture of them to reveal the last clue.
“The last item is in the center of the Milky Way”
We rushed over to our hoverboards and flew the long journey into the center of the galaxy, “Hey,” Max said looking at me, “Why are you shaking? Are you ok?” He said, staring at my shaking body.
“Yeah I’m fine, I just am a little worried,” I replied.
He immediately dropped the conversation and instead started speeding up.
We approached the black hole in the middle of the galaxy and started slowing down.
“Well, we are here,” he said looking at the absence of light inside the hole.
We started looking around the area and found nothing, until I thought it was a great idea to go look inside the black hole for the galaxy. I told Max my idea and he seemed skeptical but I didn't listen when he told me to stop. I was already getting pulled into the darkness and I then saw my whole life flash behind my eyes. I realized how I was never an important asset to the world or the universe, and so I was crushed into oblivions, never to be seen again. And as for the tournament and Max, I haven't heard a thing in the dark prison that now conceals me.
The weeb masters decree teenagers should search for a bunch of random items, will our heroes find them?
Things I enjoyed:
-The idea of an intergalactic space scavenger hunt is a cool one, and could make a nice story game given time.
Things to improve:
-The motives of the characters are non existent. Why should we care about the competition? What do they get for completing it? Is there some sort of personal stake in doing so? Because this isn’t established it’s pretty hard to relate to the characters and their cause, so the audience is less invested.
-Moving onto the plot, this is very focused on collecting mcguffins. This can work (such as in ready player one), but because we as the audience have little time to digest the clues (which, in themselves, make no sense as far as I can tell) it feels like we are in a slideshow with each scene directly focused on going to the next.
Also the narrative flow is all over the place, the time in the pod is pointless and a waste of words. It establishes one character as excited and the other as patient but this never comes up later. I would much further have the fun stuff (like the masters) be the opening to hook me. Also this plot isn’t horror, more sci-fi adventure.
-The dialogue isn’t Shakespeare, but that’s okay. If you look online you can find a ton of tips to make the sentences less stunted and add emotion. There’s probably a terrible writing advice video about it somewhere.
-There are a few weird word choices (eg: ‘oblivioned’) and times where you repeat the same piece of information twice.
Agreena results on 7/1/2022 8:55:56 AM
Reflecting back on all the entries, Mirror Images by @Mizal is one of my favourites:
I never believed in the supernatural. But I dare you to tell me if there’s any other explanation for this thing that’s happened to me.
Inheriting my grandfather’s home, I took the week off and drove the 300 miles in a straight shot overnight, the restless fingers of fog drifting across the road in vain attempt to impede my progress.
The house needed cleaning to prepare for sale, and for anything that couldn’t be sold to be hauled off. I had barely known my grandfather due to some prior rift in family relations, and was sentimental for none of these things; my mind was solely on the tidy check I’d see.
I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful old mahogany furniture either way, even if it was plain to see none of it would fit in my apartment. There was one item I settled on however, a large mirror in an elaborately carved wooden stand, pushed to the very back of the closet. In the yellow dress shirt tossed over it, I found a faded receipt for an antique store I remembered as having burned down while I was still in high school.
Upon returning home I set the mirror up in my bedroom, and in the evening gloom I studied it a long time. It’s eerie and enticing sometimes, how mirror images can be; the shadows are darker, depths are deeper, doorways beckon, and everything is just a little more mysterious and askew. It gave me an enjoyably creepy feeling, and I shivered and flashed a nervous smile that didn’t quite reach my reflection’s eyes.
Then I slept. And when I woke up, everything had changed.
Surely everyone has had the experience of being lost in a dream, with strange and terrible dream knowledge thrust upon them unawares. It was a bit like this, yet it was morning and I was fully awake. I looked about me and I knew I was not in the same place where I had fallen asleep, although on the surface, everything looked the same. But it was all just a little...off.
And it was there in that damnable mirror that I saw my own comforting room, my own native world, now inhabited the sinister doppelganger who in the night had worked some sorcery to make this switch. They looked at me with frightened eyes when their deception was uncovered, and when I tried to push my way back through they raised resisting hands. Their expression growing absolutely mad and furiously angry then as my efforts to return home and strangle the life out of this foul impostor didn’t cease, they met me blow for blow, fighting wildly.
Then the unthinkable happened. The mirror cracked, and shattered. Dozens of their eyes met mine in a kind of disbelief that I should be so foolish. And now I’m trapped here, forever. I rarely leave my apartment, as I fear the citizens of this foreign world, and the places the slightly askew doorways beckon to, and the deepness of the shadows. I keep the shards of the mirror, and sometimes try to piece them together. But my work is imperfect and so the world beyond never looks quite right either, the angles are all wrong, and my reflections are more fearful than ever.
Grandfather deceased, new house to lease, sanity seized then ceased.
Things I liked:
-The ending is excellent. The implied imagery of the MC staring into shattered shards of mirror ‘reflections more fearful than ever’ is a great idea.
-The ambiguity if the narrator has truly been transported to an alternate reality is very well written: is it their reflection that traps them, or their mind? Combine this with how the story never slacks in its narrative flow and you have an excellent entry.
-Unlike with some other entries, the author knows exactly how much information to present us with. It’s just enough for our imaginations to wander, but it never falls into the pit of becoming a lore dump. I think the best example of this is the mirror realm itself: it is described, and is thus terrifying, but we aren’t given its history or rules, making it unknowable.
Things to improve:
-Overall the narrative in this story is tightly written, there are no SPAG errors and it fits with the theme. This story shows that even with barely any time, you can still produce something spectacular with a little proofreading. The one issue I have is that the plot is very cliche: I’ve seen it in everything from goosebumps to doctor who. This isn’t really an issue, but I feel with the competence displayed here Mizal could’ve written something original and exciting that would’ve likely placed in the top three.
Agreena results on 7/1/2022 5:34:23 AM
@Pearlcatcher is the next entrant, if they’re still around:
Shog'Lithura's name meant "the Shade" in one of the older tongues used by those who had worshipped it in ages past. The Shade was a creature of legend, the sort of mythic beast that had come to be feared more than worshiped. It was said to have vast wings that spread across the entire firmament and a body made entirely of darkness. It could pass through solid objects without leaving any trace of its passage. And if anyone fell within its shadow, and looked up too long, they would go mad or die. That was what happened when you saw the stars the Shade showed the mortals of old, before the coming of man.
In other words, it was the dragon from which legends came, and now it had returned. The last time it had been seen, the last time men were able to record its passing, it was said that it crossed the sky above the frozen wastes of northern Siberia, blotting out the sun and revealing the stars of another sky. For centuries, those who remembered had looked up at the night sky and wondered about those strange constellations.
They knew that somewhere beyond the horizon, the Shade waited for them with all its terrible knowledge and power in a dark, cold place where no light ever shone. But they never thought that it might be closer to home than they'd imagined.
A great crack appeared in the ice of the north, a fissure that could be seen from space. The opening widened and deepened as it split the ice and then the earth beneath it. In the end, the great rift became so wide that it reached the sea, and the water rushed into the gaping wound in the earth.
For the next few days, the water boiled.
Then there was a terrible eruption of molten fire, and a screech that could be heard all over the world. Everyone had bleeding ears.
And then the darkness came.
It began as a faint gloom on the northern horizon, rising from the sea like a fog bank. Within minutes, it had grown to a towering pillar of blackness, blotting out the sun and revealing the stars of another sky. Those who stared into its depths too long claimed that beyond their strange solar fires was nothing but endless night. It was the very edge of the universe.
But soon enough, the darkness thinned and broke apart. A moment later, the stars reappeared, filling the sky with familiar constellations once more. The strange, distant stars still blazed brightly, but the familiar ones were back. The night with its double set of stars was bright enough to read by. But after that the sun never rose.
The Earth was born in its old place in the cosmos, and hanging by a thread at the edge of the universe, both at the same time.
By the time people realized what this meant, it was too late to stop it. All over the world, the dead walked the living, and the living did whatever they could to escape the creeping madness. They found themselves staring into the night sky and wondering how they'd missed it all these years, but they never explained what "it" was.
"You'll find out when the dragon arrives," was all they'd say.
So far, the world's astronomers had not been able to explain the changes in the heavens with what had been previously known as science, but the day would surely come when the dragon itself would reveal its presence. When that happened, it was hoped that the fragile mind's of mankind would be prepared. Perhaps, the scientists reasoned, the dragon would prove to be just a legend.
That hope died when the first crack appeared in the egg, splitting the planet to its core. The new dragon emerged, draining the sun until she was clad snout to tailtip a garment of yellow light.
She would battle the Shade for eons and emerge victorious, for darkness could not exist in the presence of such light. That was the last prophecy spoken by human tongue as the atmosphere burned away and the Earth crumbled in her wake.
When a dark dragon wakes, the mortal world mingles with madness.
Things I enjoyed:
-This story hits the main tropes of lovecraft precisely. Strange stars? Check! Evil ancient deity? Check! You’re missing the racial undertones but beside that it complies to the genre completely.
-If nothing else, the story does do a good job of showing humanities status in the universe as lesser beings. Some extisential dread can be taken from the idea we could be snuffed out by a huge dragon dude whenever it feels like it.
Things to improve:
-Unfortunately this story is more of an exposition dump rather than a narrative, the problem being that there isn’t isn’t anything for it to exposit. I like this dark world you’ve created, but I feel this piece didn’t understand the prompt. It’s an exercise in worldbuilding, not storytelling.
-Expanding on the previous point, because everything is explicitly stated there is very little tension built. Thus the story isn’t as scary as it perhaps could’ve been.
-This story has similar issues to Peng’s in that it was written quickly and probably could’ve done with another read through. Phrases like ‘the dead walked the living’ are odd and are definitely missing a word, unless the dead are literally taking the living on walks: which doesn’t seem lovecraftian at all.
Agreena results on 7/1/2022 5:09:16 AM
@PerforatedPenguin is our next stellar story:
The food packets came in separable pairs of two, which meant that it irritated Sergei slightly every other day. Nothing gave him as great of a satisfaction as taking the last single packet from the dispenser on the last day of his journey to Cicero.
Of course, the greater task at hand was to check up on the scientists studying elder magic in the observatory of Cicero. Sergei wasn’t particularly worried about their situation, the observatory was one of the safer ones, tucked away underneath nearly a mile of ice. The recent loss of signal should just be a temporary power outage, or some failure with the connection devices. As for the scientists, Sergei cared less about them than his food packets.
The observatory’s entrance was nearly buried underneath a mound of fresh snow, he brushed it aside into great white plumes that hung in the low gravity atmosphere. The mechanical doors to the stairs grated open after some effort, and revealed a dark passageway down, steel stairs covered by a thin layer of dust. The lights dimmed and flickered as he gingerly stepped down, eventually shutting off altogether. After what seemed like an eternity of groping in the dark, Sergei’s foot found the stone floor of the observatory. He peered around, and entered through the unhinged doors, scraped and battered.
This slightly unnerved Sergei, but he steeled his nerves and found himself in the main lab. At this point, the only light was from the few glowing deformities suspended in green fluid, and an occasional flicker from the panels. As he slowly made his way to the telescope, his foot hit something soft, and he flinched. Taking a match from his coat pocket and lighting it, he found himself standing before a corpse. It wore a white wrinkled lab suit, and laid unmoving, facing the massive scope lens. Sergei leapt over the body before the light from the dying flames scattered, and took one last glance back. The scientist’s face was distorted into an inhuman grimace, and the eyes were white with madness.
With the light gone and Sergei not so keen on seeing much more, he stumbled his way over fallen chairs and lab equipment to the main telescope. The massive lens was dim, but surprisingly unharmed in contrast to the other fragile equipment. The chief operator’s chair sat slightly apart, with a clipboard laying over the handrest.
The papers clipped to the board were handwritten notes, perhaps, of their daily routine and accomplishments. Most of it was regular checks, but in the recent month or so, the telescope had detected an explosion in one of the ancient stars. Following the bright supernovae, the various instruments began to break through. Problems previously thought unsolvable were easily worked out one by one, such as the shifting curse, or obscure mathematical calculations of the dark energy flows within some elder spells. The handwriting became shaky, though, perhaps out of excitement or urgency.
The scientists within were kept up by this string of discoveries with extreme fervor, they worked sleeplessly, often days on end to create the next success, to break the next unsolvable myth. This did not last. Eventually, answers derived from after the supernovae displayed uncertainty, gaps in the numbers grew larger and larger, growing from small errors casually rounded off in excitement to massive disparities several orders of magnitude apart. Many aspiring scientists saw their hard work and dreams that they worked tirelessly on crushed, growing restless and temperamental. Those who tried to contact the main base found the connection device bashed to pieces out of anger.
The lab devolved into anarchy, killings and suicides were common cases by the day, and-
The notes stopped there. Sergei set the papers down and took a deep breath, glancing around at the maddened corpses. He peered into the scope by his side, out of curiosity, and found that it was set to play the supernova again and again. The ancient star, celerbos, exploded into colorful fragments of elder magic that enveloped millions of miles, coloring the then sky brilliantly. He sighed and stepped down from the platform with the papers.
As he made his way over to the entrance, his attention was attracted by a flickering panel of numbers. It started to make sense, the annoying constants that kept the equation from being perfect started to melt away before his eyes. He sat, and stared.
It wasn’t long before the next crew of investigators arrived, and they found a similar scene. After counting the bodies and noting one extra, they discovered the notes from the main operator. It took much effort to pry it from his bloodied hands - intrigued, they stumbled over to the telescope pad…
A cynical cyclical story by someone who’s clearly had enough of their parents forcing education down their throat .
Things I enjoyed:
-The horror here is very original and, while fitting with the lovecraft ethos, is one of the fresher takes. Usually it’s writings or journal entries that turn people mad in this genre, but the idea of numbers doing a similiar thing is definitely entertaining and works well.
-Some of the imagery is very well done, especially the idea of the snow floating in the planet’s atmosphere, which I’m considering stealing. Also, staying on the theme of language, the fact that the word for the planet had a similar suffix to that of the star is a nice touch.
-Finally, the cyclical structure of the narrative is probably this story’s best feature. Very cosmic horror.
Things to improve:
-Primarily I feel the issues with this story stem from the short amount of time it was written in. There are a few strange wording choices. Particularly ‘the then sky’. Is the sky not always the sky? I feel an adjective was cut here in the heat of the moment and you didn’t look at the surrounding sentence. There are a few other small issues like this, but overall the text has a nice flow. Other than this I see very few issues with this short story and, if it was set in a less space like setting, I could imagine it in the pages of the Cthulhu mythos itself.
-One thing I thought was odd was the food packets at the start, I feel this section was a waste of words as the character traits established dont rear their heads again.
Agreena results on 6/30/2022 6:30:23 PM
@Soy_No_More delivers us some ‘cosnic horror’.
I remember how it all started, only two years ago. I was so innocent then.
I took Stewart with me on my hike out of town, and he saw a rabbit and twisted out of his leash. A dog escaping his leash, what a small thing to lead to all this!
That big drainpipe, emerging from the hills that were always in shadow even on the sunniest day. So many abandoned constructions projects out there, and the ground was always slightly spongy, and stank.
I never saw where the rabbit went, but Stewart was distracted by something else, and ran into the drainpipe, tail wagging happily. I could hear buzzing flies and smell something indescribably rotten, I didn’t want to go in myself.
I never saw him again.
But he was there, just the same. He did come out again. I could sense his presence, and sometimes I’d wake up and find muddy pawprints across the floor, or the ceiling. It sounds silly I know, but after that incident I always felt like he could understand me when I spoke to him.
I’d always been sort of withdrawn, I never cared for sports or hanging out with lots of people or anything like that. But one day following Stewart’s pawprints and the sound of him panting, he led me to an old man in the park. An odd sort of foreigner, he wore a yellow robe and meditated surrounded by stones with strange markings. He opened his dark eyes and stared at me when I approached, then smiled. He reached out and petted the place where I knew Stewart was. I smiled too, knowing I had found a kindred spirit.
He taught me lots of things, that old man. Ancient knowledge greater than anything I ever learned in school. My grades started slipping, and between spending all my time with Stewart and the old pagan, my parents started to worry.
I was quite distressed when they started sending me to a psychologist. They told her the problems began when I lost my dog, and that wasn’t right at all. They told her I drew crazy scrawls and monsters, not able to recognize the ancient sleeping gods. It all made me a little angry. They never would understand or believe me about anything.
Stewart showed me what to do though, and afterwards the state sent me to a boarding school for orphans. A dreary place, and I missed my old friend terribly, but I did to one of the bullies there what I had done with my parents, and this time I made the markings I had been taught by the old man onto the brick walls, here and there in shadowed hidden places all over the school.
I haven’t had problems with parents, or bullies, or anyone else for a year now. The other kids in the school, they all stand up straight when I walk by, they admire and respect me, I can see the adoration in their eyes and I’ve only needed to refresh the markings once. And one of my classmates was quite willing and grateful to volunteer, this time. Even the teachers love me.
We wrote an essay today on what we’d like to do when we grew up. I said that I think I’d like to go into politics. Stewart was pleased.
A sacrilegious sect can spawn from a single seed.
Things I enjoyed:
-This story treats it’s audience as if they are clever. It doesn’t need to explicitly state that the character kills/does something horrible to their parents, we can assume so due to the results and the tone shift afterwards. This works well as, while the author could’ve described any number of horrible things happening to the character’s guardians, our minds will always come up with something more terrifying.
-I think this might be one of my favourite examples of a detached first person perspective being used as a metaphor for physcopathy/mental illness/cosmic awareness. The nonchalant way the author describes presumably despicable deeds is unnerving, though there are a few flaws with this.
-Finally, the ending is somewhat humorous. While this is a drastic tone shift it is pretty funny so I’ll let it slide.
Things to improve:
-You’ll notice that this story is significantly shorter than all the others, I’d assume this is because it was written quickly before the end of the competition. The full word count isn’t used and this is to its detriment.
-While I explain the benefits of the detached viewpoint, there are some detriments. Due to the audience being doubly detached from the narrative it is difficult to care about anything that occurs, so while I’d class this as a horror story it isn’t exactly scary.
Agreena results on 6/30/2022 6:08:14 PM
Return to Innsmouth by @Axxius is next!
The world is full of addicts. We are slaves to our own indulgences. We try to numb the pain and bury the truth behind our own base desires. What truth? That we are an insignificant speck in an infinitely larger universe and that in the grand scheme of the cosmos our existence is irrelevant. We willfully live in whatever comfortable prison we encage ourselves in because to free our minds and to even acknowledge the truth for the briefest of moments would shatter the illusion of the carefully crafted lies we live. To acknowledge that would be to live our lives in constant limbo teetering on the edge of madness and enlightenment. But hell what do I know? I’m just a part-time IT consultant finishing up on a Master’s in Divinity.
You close your journal reflecting on the bitter taste the last few days have left on you. Your wife Debra took off on you. Just up and left you to take care of your two daughters Cassandra and Josephine who you affectionately nicknamed Cassie and Josie much to your wife’s dismay. “Well screw you, Debra, have fun banging a crusty old man named Jean whose only occupation is riding a Harley and breaking up bar fights. Not enough excitement living a normal responsible life with the guy who does computers and guides lost souls, go join the rest of the rabble as this world implodes on itself,” you think to yourself with a wry grin and a hint of satisfaction. “Come on daddy! Let’s go to the lighthouse let’s go to the lighthouse!” Josie and Cassie both slam into your legs nearly toppling you as you bend down to kiss your daughters’ warm faces and give them a big hug. It’s been just as hard to watch your daughters deal with moving away from Albany, but you managed to somewhat veil the truth to them about why mommy wasn’t coming. They’re both eight and nine for god’s sake they don’t need to know.
As you walk outside your cabin with Josie and Cassie in tow you notice several things. First, the town smells distinctly of rotting and dead fish which isn’t uncommon given that Innsmouth used to be a fishing town before it declined around the war of 1812. Secondly, there are few individuals wandering the streets this time of morning but those who do have a strange shambling walk perhaps from a long career as fishermen in the tempest seas you rationalize. Their faces are rather bizarrely misshapen though as you walk by and wave to several of them who give you a brief nod before you continue on your way. A lot of curious things have happened in Innsmouth since you did your research before coming here but most of the history seems to connect to various diseases or wartime tragedies like the bombing of Devil Reef by sub where some fishermen were killed. You and your daughters make your way to the lighthouse as promised and spend a few hours playing on the beach before making your way up to the tower.
The kids run around and play on the top of the lighthouse while you examine the old-looking computer nearby. As they pass by you notice a strange symbol on the kite frame that matches one of the encrypted symbols on the computer. “Josie!” you say excitedly. “Yes daddy?” she turns around from Cassie tilting her head curiously. “Let me see that kite for a minute please.” They hand you the kite and you push down on the symbol and it opens a thin strip of paper with the name Zadok on it. “This must be the master key,” you think to yourself. Thinking quickly you scroll back to the input in settings and type Zadok and the entire computer begins deciphering dozens of bytes of data. You decide to download it all on your flash drive. “Josie, Cassie, we’re leaving,” you say. No response. “Josie? Cassie! Where are you?!” you run down the stairs frantically searching for them when you slip on something banging your head on the railing as you fall on your back. You look up and see you slipped on the kite they were playing with earlier.
As you begin to get back up an invasive voice pierces your mind magnifying the pain in your head tenfold causing you to scream and hold your head in your hands. “If you wish to see your daughters alive again, join us at the church of the deep in twenty minutes.” The voice’s presence leaves your mind before you get a chance to respond. You curse yourself for not being more aware of your surroundings. Whoever these people are they aren’t giving you much time to act since it’ll take all of twenty minutes to get to the church and your head is throbbing so you doubt you’d be much in a fight right now. You can’t call the police out here. Your ransomers picked a remote enough location alright. You’re starting to doubt if this was even a job offer at all and just a way to get more money out of you.
As you arrive at the doors of the church the shambling people one with a sawed-off shotgun and the other a large fishhook roughly escort you inside. As they force you towards the altar you notice a few shocking things. First, Your wife Debra is tied down on the altar in front of Jean whose carrying a rusted machete and upon further examination has the same shambling walk as the other denizens of Innsmouth but that’s not all. His eyes are a deep shade of yellow and you notice his hands and feet have grown webbing on them as he’s got yellow gills and the entire sickly yellowish-green shade of his body gives off an unearthly glow. You also notice your daughters sitting in the front left pew blindfolded and bound. “Welcome enlightened one. The deep ones will be honored by your sacrifice,” Jean says. “What the hell is going on here? Why are you doing this to us?” you ask. Jean kind of shakes his head and chuckles quietly.
“No, you did this to yourself enlightened one. You have a gift which we mean to extract but first let us indulge ourselves,” Jean gestures to the yellow, robed figures at the altar that you initially thought were statues as they seize Josie and Cassie hauling them up beside Debra. Debra begins to scream as Jean completely disembowels her throwing her entrails in a circle around your family before he silences her screams by decapitating her licking some of her blood off his fingers. The two men with the shotgun and fishhook start beating you unconscious and haul you inside the bloodstained circle while your daughters scream “Daddy! Daddy help us! Save us!”
The screams, the pain, the ritual, it was all a setup and you feel so helpless. Something inside you begs to be let out what emotions are they hate, wrath, retribution, yes let them feel my hate. An unearthly howl escapes your lips as the whole room begins to darken. “No, you idiots! The circle isn’t complete yet! Kill him now,” Jean yells. The man with the shotgun goes to do so before a shadowy tendril erupts from your body piercing the fish man’s eye before a second one deftly plucks the shotgun and discharges the rounds directly into Jean’s crotch. Jean howls in pain while the second goon goes for you with the fishhook which causes more shadowy tendrils to lash out of your body and eviscerate him. The two priests grab your daughters to use as shields trying to pierce your mind with their voices again but your mind is a cacophony of maddening whispers and they drop your girls and writhe on the ground in intense pain clawing out their eyes as blood leaks from their noses.
You ignore them and head straight for Jean who at this point is calling out desperately to the deep ones in prayer. “Please, please, you don’t know what you’re doing, this gift will destroy you it cannot be controlled,” he begs. “I think I’m doing just fine Jean,” you say casually sitting next to him. You can’t even see what happens to Jean next the shadow is just everywhere and then it slowly dissipates and a cloud of red mist evaporates with it. You start to stand up when you notice your shadow steps out from the ground and coalesces into the form of another man with piercing white eyes surrounded by shadow. “I know you… your face is familiar to me, I’ve seen it in dreams before,” you say. “Yes, I am known by many names: The Crawling Chaos, The God of a Thousand Forms, but you may call me Nyarlathotep brother, and our work is only beginning.” As you look back you quietly murmur with a contented smile “Yes, yes the work has just begun.”
Cucked and burdened by a couple of kids, the character must interrupt a ritual in order to get back their daughters.
Things I enjoyed:
-Innsmuth! Excellent reference. This is clearly inspired by ‘shadows over Innsmuth’ from the lovecraft mythos, and the title is pretty clever.
-The stakes are high in this story. The character’s motive of getting their children back is relatable and believable. The simple structure of the story lends itself well to the narrative it tells.
Things to improve:
-Show, don’t tell. While it’s important to establish important information about the characters early on due to the short word count, you could’ve done this far more effectively. I don’t need a whole description of the divorce, I don’t need to be told about my wife’s boyfriend to try and build sympathy. Show me instead (maybe the character looks at a locket of his family, before looking up to show that the wife isn’t present). In a mystery or horror story the audience needs to be able to make assumptions to slowly build up tension, we can’t do that if we’re immediately told everything (as we are with the fish-like inhabitants of Innsmuth).
-Some leaps of logic are present here for plot convenience. How does the character know the location of the church? I doubt there’s signs to the human ritualistic sacrifice building, the one in my town isn’t exactly on Google maps (though it can be found, just go to the homeless shelter where the meat tastes weird).
-The ending is sort of a deus ex machina. It also leaves a lot of threads open, such as the fate of the daughters. There’s only one lovecraftian entity I know who’s kind enough to have a few children pottering about.
Agreena results on 6/30/2022 5:40:44 PM
@WizzyCat gives us our next patiently awaited entry
Doctor Jimbo awoke when his clock released its screeching cry. He scrambled into his clothes, grabbed his lantern and cloak, and shuddered out into the frigid morning. The winds howled at a volume that would make hurricanes jealous, and Jimbo could do nothing against the shredding ice being rocketed into his face by said winds. Nonetheless, he persevered and made the hour-long journey into town. Today was undoubtedly the predicted Winter Eclipse Mega Solstice, and the Dogs will certainly be the hungriest they’d ever been.
In fact, the creeping, jet black night shuddered, revealing the hideous plan, the intent of the Dogs for this night of infinity. Soft whimpering could be heard, coming from beyond Jimbo’s small hemisphere of lantern-light. This was the defeated sound of all the nearby Spirits, having broken down after being touched by a Dog’s aura.
As Jimbo moved, he began to notice the tortured whispers of the trees, each fiber crying out quietly for someone to save them from the suffering. They sounded almost like the faintest screaming of a child. Jimbo chanced upon a tree within the radius of his light, and was able to nurse it back to some health with the kerosene glow. The screaming turned to a soft giggling, and finally to a quiet content. The light allowed for a burst of photosynthetic strength. Unfortunately, Jimbo had to hurry.
As he approached the town, he began to hear raspy, sobbing breaths. He arrived at the bonfire which marked the entrance, and saw Scruffy, the town cat, lying at the crackling border of its light. His breathing was labored. Jimbo walked up, slowly and carefully, suspicions fully formed. Hisses and growls danced about the edge of his hearing. Not Scruffy’s. The night seemed awfully close, and the Dogs along with it. The lantern’s glow had indeed diminished: Jimbo was running out of time. He touched Scruffy’s soft flank, felt the slow, thudding, uneven pulse, and acknowledged the worst. His own dog had been the first victim of the Dogs. His son, playing with George, that delightful pug, had been the next victim. Jimbo remembered the first sight of them, lying there, eye sockets exposed and bleeding, crying at the lack of their previous occupants. When the Last Deal had been made, the creators had been hasty, and as a result, dozens of years later, Jimbo had to see his son’s ears leak the first ectoplasm, a greyish-white, viscous goo. Ghost honey…
Scruffy let out the weakest caterwaul possible, sad and defeated. He was already in the final stages, with nothing left to do but beg.
Jimbo hadn’t been able to give his son the sweet release. At least he could give it to someone, or something, now. Scruffy had been a good cat, the sweetest boy. This was well deserved.
Jimbo withdrew a Soulblade, and slit the little tortoiseshell sweetheart’s throat. The raspy sobs cut off with the slightest sigh.
Tears crawled up to the corners of Jimbo’s eyes, recalling how similarly his son had been lying on the ground, moaning and sobbing at the bone-shattering, brain-frying pain. He remembered how he had tried to heal his son with every remedy and medicine he had available, and how it only seemed to make the pain worse, until he finally succumbed, after months of suffering.
Jimbo became aware of a Dog approaching, its grim, nearly invisible silhouette lurking in the corner of his right eye. Its horrific jaw was the only visible feature, any chance of a head and neck replaced with that monumental maw, full of at least 10 rows of tiny teeth that resembled the closest thing biology could get to a chainsaw, but far more frightful than any tool man could devise. Every other element of its body was the perfect shade of darkness—burying it within the night, hiding things that could only be worse than the mouth. Indeed, it had a presence that could be felt, a sizable presence, one that intruded upon the very threshold of Jimbo’s mind and soul.
Jimbo repressed a scream. He’d never seen a Dog that looked like it was smiling. It seemed to be smiling, or as close to smiling that a vertical mouth could reach. This tiny gesture was more expressive than any words could be, betraying thoughts of destruction and an abyssal fate worse than death.
Then it disappeared.
The presence, however, closed in. It crawled onto the lantern-light, an invisible net of negativity that Jimbo could feel with every cell. It wrapped around, trapping him in the light; the light continued to decay inwards, the presence forcing itself ever closer to Jimbo’s shrinking form.
This overwhelming evil kept toying with Jimbo, inching closer, ever and ever nearer, slinking along the outskirts of the lantern’s influence like some cruel hyena.
“Jimbo, is that you?” a concerned voice echoed from somewhere to Jimbo’s back right. His mind churned furiously as it tried to identify the voice.
As another tentacle of evil closed in, so close it nearly snatched onto Jimbo’s outstretched foot, he stirred, scooting backwards across the snow—which was so cold it burned—towards Henry’s voice.
Henry must’ve heard the shuffling, as his tone shifted, becoming more firm and confident. He yelled, “Come to my voice, keep your lantern held tight!”
Jimbo hurried, standing up and retreating towards his ally. The presence seemed to give pursuit, and every nerve in Jimbo’s body turned to flight, his leg muscles firing, sending him across the sub zero blizzard with unexpected speed.
He finally reached the source of the voice, Henry, who stood in the doorway of his castle, known as Malbork Manor. Jimbo flew inside and shut the door with as much haste as he could muster.
He squeaked out his typical line, “Who’s hurt?”
Henry de Maleiv replied, “Well, interestingly enough, no one’s even gotten touched. The Dogs haven’t bothered us at all.”
“Well, have we gathered the Royals?”
“Yes, and the Moor as well. I know you don’t like him, but you also said that we need our most able fighters, and he is, unfortunately, just that. Anyway, now is no time for petty squabbles, the Father Lamp is dying.”
“The Father Lamp is dying?” Jimbo repeated, terror continuing to creep in. Without light…
“Yes, follow me.”
Henry led the way into a large dining-hall chamber. The majestic mahogany table, fit for 30, was covered with a hefty layer of dust, accumulated over generations of neglect. Behind the plush, velvety chair at the head of the table stood the Father Lamp. This imposing construct, akin to a coffin of riveted metal plates, was home to one of the very few Enchanted Flames remaining.
“Mind if I take a closer look?” Jimbo asked.
Henry simply nodded, and stepped out of the room. Not many had the stomach for a “closer look”.
Henry opened the chamber where the flame licked away at the walls with an unnatural hunger; it screeched at him.
Sound reverberated through every corner of Jimbo’s mind, like a violin mating with a guitar while being strangled.
this plane can no longer feed me
With this justification given, its voice the mental equivalent of nails aggressively meeting a chalkboard, the flame disappeared. A sizzle, and a miniscule column of smoke billowed.
“Just come to the table already, we’re all waiting.”
The voice snapped Jimbo out of a trance; he rushed out of the rapidly cooling chamber. Without the demonic flame, it somehow felt less safe. Jimbo couldn’t shake the presence, still wrapped tight around him. He’d barely processed Henry’s words before experience carried him into the Resistance Room. To call it War would be foolish…
The Royals were all gathered, in their shining armor, with their various weapons of ruthless steel. The Moor was there as well, armor similar, but lacking all forms of color.
Each member but Jimbo had already donned his disturbing but necessary garment. The Mask of Sun, with thick lenses to shield the eyes, and a beak added on as camouflage. The leather was a bright yellow, the color of the Sun, repulsive to even the strongest of foes: it was the opposite of camouflage.
Suddenly, the earth rumbled. Quills and inkwells alike flew off the table, and most of the Royals flew off their feet, Jimbo included. When he got up, he saw a flaming circle under the ceiling: a portal.
All the Spirits remaining in the house cried out, a unified squeak, and were silenced.
A pitch-black orb floated down out of the portal.
hello my friends
“It’s a monster, kill it!” Henry cried out. The Royals lifted their weapons, then dropped them again. Jimbo stared at Henry’s eye sockets, emptied in a millisecond. The bodies slumped, each one with a grim thud. Blood pooled.
“What do you want?” Jimbo gulped.
It was given.
After the last deal is signed, the dawn of humanity comes at the snouts of the dangerous dogs. As the father lantern flickers, those that bask in its light learn that dealings with the unknown often end in death.
Things I enjoyed:
-Excellent racism with the use of the word ‘Moor’, classic lovecraftian stuff there. Iago, I feel, would be proud.
-The development of the dogs throughout the story was very well done. We are teased information about them slowly, so that the noun we are familiar with has almost a completely opposite meaning by the end of the extract. This juxtaposition between the familiar and unfamiliar is a classic horror trope in games (think of literally any indie game for kids in that last ten years), and is used here to great effect.
-Personally this story was a winner for me because it gives some information but not enough, of them all this is the one that has stuck with me the longest due to how plain weird it is.
Things to improve:
-The narrative of this story is a little all over the place, it has what I believe Atwood describes as a ‘feminine coital rhythm’ in that it slowly builds up in speed before ending abruptly. Thankfully this story isn’t The Handmaid’s tale, but both have the same abrupt climax which I believe could be improved with more action occurring earlier.
-There are some minor tense things which are weird, and you use the word wind twice in one sentence. Beside this SPAG is excellent in the story.
Agreena results on 2/17/2022 6:35:22 AM
Don't know how I missed that, maybe I'm going blind in my old age.
Agreena results on 2/17/2022 6:34:22 AM
@elad771 brings us our second winning entry:
The Magnificent Donut
The sun radiated, and it was a very hot day for Mishel. Her auburn hair glimmered as if it was a smaller, second source of light. She didn’t mind it though. She began to even like it, after all the trips she had to take the last few months. She would never travel for the sake of traveling though. She enjoyed it of course, but that’s just pleasure mixed with her work, which always comes first in her book. She was sure that her job was important to some people regardless of the value it brought her specifically. But the truth was she just really liked to discover crucial information about the past. Just trying to imagine how life was back then, brought her some sort of de ja vu and meaning. Enough to endure Cairo’s summer sun of death, at least.
Mishel was here in Egypt all because of the breaking news, the grand discovery a few months back. The intriguing news reached her group of archeology, and she excitedly took the job. However her excitement was small compared to Ralph and Eddy’s. Her co-workers/colleagues were understandably fervent, so she let them take care of the extra bureaucratic work, leaving her with the more hands-on site supervision for the time being. They seem enthusiastic enough about it, and she still was assigned on partial field duty, so it was a win with no casualties by her book.
Her stern eyes took a long look at the digging site. The ruins did have their beauty, she admitted. Even her cold, unforgiving, morning gaze was somewhat warmed by dunes after a while. It was more than that though. The scenery attained its mysterious beauty because of the secrets it could potentially unlock, she figured.
Lost in thoughts, she didn’t notice a shadow getting close until a familiar voice followed. She unorthodoxly jumped in surprise. The voice turned into a laugh and her already heat-flushed chicks became a bit redder. Patiently waiting until the laugh died out, Mishel took a cup of coffee from the couple Eddy held. “Well devoted to the shift, I see.” He remarked.
“Nope, just lost in thought. I ordered to search more the south-east region, we found there a few things out of place last night.”
“Enough to make you jump like that, must be serious business.”
“Darn right, we found fucking different soil in there. With some metal remains, maybe remnants of tools. At the very least human influence.”
“The age is known?”
“Not yet, currently the carbon levels are being checked. But I estimate more than 10 k.”
Eddy looked excited. “seems promising. The predictions seem likely so far?”
“Yes, but we will find out soon enough.”
Eddy was starting to reply, when a series of shouts echoed from the distance. The two glanced at each other shortly, as if validating with themselves that the screams indeed came from inside the site. The shouts grew louder, now sounding more confused than before. The two rushed a few hundred meters, entering the lower region of the site, just in time to witness the unbelievable happen.
First, the light. Shaming both her hair and the sun, the purple dazzling aura was bewildering, almost whacky. It was emitted radially from a small central point, that was hard to discern due to all the ruckus. Mishel felt the adrenaline rush in her veins, she didn’t know how to respond, and to exactly what.
She was about to shout -“stay back!”, but when she did the screeches already began. First slow and deep, and then in paced, beautiful high frequencies. The cries joined harmoniously with each other, constantly tangling and untangling in strange unconventional ways. The cries were undoubtedly not owned by the diggers, they were unhuman and comedically semimusical. They had elements of a Bach fugue, but also of modern day rock, as well as containing many elements Mishel had never heard.
People began to collapse all around her. She felt it too, she felt sick to the stomach and had an urge to vomit straight on Eddy’s face. But Eddy was no longer beside her. He tapped her shoulder, motioning her to run away before doing so himself- disappearing from her view. Mishel knew she needed to act immediately. Without thinking she ran directly to the source.
It was her responsibility after all. Being the supervisor meant that it’s her duty to help deal with potential dangers, and harms to everyone in the site. Because if she wouldn’t who will? No workers are gonna get screwed because of a mysterious source of purple light, not on her watch. She ran directly to the light, searching blindly for the reason she was there. It was a small object, she quickly picked it up. From the touch of it, she could tell it was shaped like a donut.
She covered it with her soft yellow shirt, partially blocking the light it emitted. It felt like cold metal, and it vibrated, trying to escape her grasp. Each second holding the donutlike thing felt like a lifetime, making her feel more and more lightheaded. Everything spun, including a group of workers that managed to get closer to her by now, now that they could see. She managed to watch them taking and covering the object, just before everything became dark.
Mishel dreamed she was in a big city. At first she thought it was Cairo, because of the dessert, but her senses quickly rejected that idea. Although she saw many things close to it, the fine details just didn’t fit to her intuition. The markets and architecture were lively, she smelled an aroma of cinnamon, anise and nutmeg along with many unknown spices. Many small flat-roofed buildings were seen, which became bigger as she advanced through the narrow mystic paths. But the people, the people made her hair erect. Their clothes were full of color and shape, and their eyes squinted, staring at her collectively. After minutes of this nonsense, she had enough. She advanced towards one artisan with a particularly colorful hat and asked him for direction. He didn’t even blink. He answered something in a rough convictive voice, but it wasn’t English, or Arabic, or any of the five ancient languages Mishel knew. She woke up.
On the hospital bed, the surprised nurse hurried immediately to bring the doctor- “She woke up!” She said like she was about to pass out herself. A very relived doctor in his fifties came from the door. After some treatment, and threats to take it easy he agreed to treat her for some questions, finally. To her classic “what happened” he answered that she was in a coma for three weeks, with ringlike third degree burns on her belly and hands. “On the rest, you know more than me, Madam” he added. The main theory the doctors had was that the metallic torus emitted ionizing radiation and it’s a miracle she woke up feeling well.
On the very same day, Ralph and Eddy visited, and explained a richer more dramatized version of events. “You don’t know?” Ralph asked surprised. “Darn doctors tried to not stress you out, but two people died, and the five remaining are still in a coma. You were the only one to wake up.”
“Yet.” She added.
“Mishel is just inherently badass, she jumped on an alien donut to save many cowards like me, and then woke from a three-week nap like it was nothing.” Eddy tried to brighten the mood a bit.
Mishel didn’t really know how to respond, her memory was still hazy after her apparently very lengthy dream, but she knew it was bad to just wait and do nothing.
“Top notch men are working on the torus thing…” Ralph calmed her, and Eddy added that they’re continuing digging around trying to find similar objects of significance. This reminded her.
“So it’s likely, our theory… you know based on the discovery of the scrolls a few months ago…”
“Yes. A different ancient city, a metropolis. Before the pyramids and pharaohs.”
“We continued digging south, and we found the edge of a ruin. It was once a wall and a row of small flat roofed houses.” Ralph showed a picture of the discovery.
“We also found a person!” Eddy interrupted.
“He seems to be a craftsman of the sort, from the analysis. Their cloths must be made from a special material because it’s surprising that they survived at all.”
“The same can be said about you!” Ralph jested.
The picture showed a skeletal figure wearing scrambled torn cloth. It clearly once been a magnificent robe and a hat, covered with stripes as the surprisingly still-visible sewing indicated. But there was no color, it was completely drained away with time.
For the first time in her life Mishel didn’t want to know anything about the past, any detail at all. The hollow, skeletal gaze was stern and grudgeful. The past was staring at her, unblinking, and it did not like what he saw.
Me and a few other members thought that this would be a rip off of that one Simpson episode based on the twilight zone. I was pleasantly surprised when it was not.
Sometimes: it’s better if discoveries are not made, as an archaeologist in Egypt is about to realise.
Things I liked:
-The motif of staring eyes and blank expressions building up to the disdainful look of the pharaoh-lich at the end is interesting and rewards rereading.
-The POV character here might have the most realistic arc of any of the characters in the competition. Going from wanting to explore the desert sands to slowly starting to be scared of them is definitely something I can see happening after such a terrifying experience. Side note: this reminds me of a lovecraft-esque story I read once, about a marine biologist becoming scared of the sea.
-Ralph and the POV’s relationship is pretty funny and seems like a friendship that might actually exist, well don’t for making me care about a character in 1.5k words.
Things to improve:
-In the first paragraph, you write ‘The sun radiated, and it was a very hot day for Mishel. Her auburn hair glimmered as if it was a smaller, second source of light. She didn’t mind it though.’ Because of the subject of the previous sentence about her hair glowing, it makes it seem like the last sentence is her not caring about the sun in her hair, which makes little sense. If I were to write this I’d have changed the last sentence to ‘She didn’t mind the heat though’.
-Eddy looked excited. “seems promising. The predictions seem likely so far?” Should have a capital S, since Eddie speaking is a new sentence.
-I wish we had some more description of the strange city the POV is transported to when she touches the donut. I felt this was the most interesting part of the story.