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A Non-Human Point of View

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

Write an end-of-days story from a non-human point of view (animal, tree, insect, cloud, etc.).*

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Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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*Thanks to Writer’s Digest community member mickeyjenae for this prompt.

 

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319 Responses to A Non-Human Point of View

  1. SuperSarah111 says:

    Time is running out.

    I know this because I am a clock.

    Not just any clock, but a beautiful twisted mahogany grandfather clock. I’m carved delicately, look like a tree bending this way and that way, my long chimes are made of bronze, copper and gold, and my hands are thin carved vine-like pieces of black obsidian.

    I am beautiful. I am special. I am alive. I am dying.

    But you don’t notice me. Or the way I shift and move my branch-like body. The way my limbs are starting to droop and the way my hands are becoming dull. They are slowing down. Each second a little longer than the last. A sure sign that time is running out.

    Night after night, I watch you. You huddle together on the squishy bench and absorb the mind numbing nonsense flashing from that picture box. You are so focused on touching her leg, resting your head on her lap, or cradling her in your arms that you do not notice that time is running out.

    The man who made me was wise; god-like. He gave me life. He gave me the gift of time. And when he died, I stopped. Time froze. If I could have cried, I would have. But I couldn’t. My humanity was limited to mere personification. I was beside myself. My chimes hammered from within my depths–an awful clashing of metal and fear. Life couldn’t go on.

    Or so I thought. A small baby wrapped in a blue blanket lay in a crib beside my maker’s body. Although frozen with time, his eyes glimmered with hope and my hardened heart softened. Time began again.

    And since that moment, I’ve watched over that baby. I’ve watched over you. But you are nothing like my creator. You no longer bring me hope. I can feel time running out. My hands are slowing down. My chimes wail. The sound is piercing. Yet you do not look at me. My wood is warping. My hands are cracking. Bits crumble off and make hollow tin sounds as they fall through my chimes.

    I am dying.

    Time is running out.

  2. Jt_077 says:

    There was something different today. Yes something had almost definitely changed within the world. As I soared above the oceans I no longer felt in absolute control of my environment of which I once ruled. My power almost felt sapped as I made my way across the glistening seas. Oceans use to bend and contort under my magnificent wings , Waves would bow to my almighty power as I surveyed the earth throughout my flight. However today the sea was still not even one splash or ripple caught my onlooking eye.
    The trees below me used to be my own, a dynamic advantage in my hunting games that secured me as the predator in my kingdom. Not even those seemed familiar as everything was still almost frozen, it was as if the whole earth had held its breath and had stopped just waiting. Nothing could ever escape my gaze as my vision is unrivaled throughout my lands. But this time I failed to see the very thing that had managed to climb up my hierarchy and now would sit throned above me. Im used to being feared by all, but now I feel powerless. My talons no longer feel like razor blades and my beak has lost its cutting edge.With all this thinking I had been put off and had flown further than I had first intended, I was now in human territory.
    Thats when I notice it takes me a while to register but out the corner of my eyes I can see mobs of the human kind scurrying in all directions as if in utter panic. From my lofty heights they all just look like ants, insignificant to me in all ways. But this time I am intrigued and as I fly closer to the unfolding commotion I do to begin to share their terror as before me lays complete destruction as huge cracks and crevices emerge throughout the ground swallowing homes and humans whole. I perch nervously on a nearby church as large numbers of humans have gathered below and are shouting in agony to an entity that I do not know of existence. Whole entire roads are consumed in fire as they fall helplessly into the abyss below. Suddenly I have to fly up again, I only just make it as the church that was just previously under my talons is eaten whole by the monstrous earth that is laying waste to all life, rapidly decimating memories and monuments.
    I fly off in terror as all life is devoured before me. I feel so small and insignificant now as I retreat with haste back to my roost. I then notice how the once calm tranquil oceans has metamorphosed into a raging ferocious torrent. It twists and turns which such power and velocity as it sends out colossal waves that rapidly invades the lands and eradicates all I use to hold dear. My loyal magnificent trees are instantly blighted and my mountains obliterated. I no longer feel safe in my high perch on the borders of the heavens, I know longer feel in control as my world is ravaged around me. I know longer feel like a “bald” Eagle as no one now can hear my helpless screams.

  3. Loneanimewolf says:

    The woods called to me, urging me run as fast as my legs could go, my paws were flexing, growing restless as my body refused to move. I yearned to charge for miles on end, until my muscles burned with it. To scream “You belong to me!” at the moon. But, there was something more important than running. More important than being free. My pup. I’d already lost two, one to an eagle, I’d turned my back. That’s all it took. I could hear my pup calling until the eagle disappeared over the mountain. The other fell and landed in the river, swept away to fast for me to save him. I had to make this one strong, my genes must keep living. My little grey female pup must live. A yip made my head snap in her direction, but she was just stumbling after me, her huge paws making her trip, sending her face first into the ground, the momentum making her flip. Then she just couldn’t get steady on her feet, she kept falling and she yelped in pain every time she hit the ground. The mother instincts in me were screaming at me to help her, to bring her back inside, where it was safe and warm, to lick her wounds, to cuddle her close. But if i did that i’d be guaranteeing her death. She’d become reliant on me, and when i returned to the earth, she would quickly be killed without me there to baby her. So i resisted the screaming inside me, and lied down, watching my pup struggle, my soul aching every time she called for me. Suddenly, she snarled, and planted her feet firmly on the ground and stomped over to me, determined. I felt my tail wagging crazily as i nuzzled her. Pride for her swelling inside me, i threw my head back and howled into the night.

  4. CharlieRoss says:

    They were screaming again.

    At least, I think they’re screaming. The giant metal things are making a lot of noise. I’m hiding in my tree – The best tree in the park, I might add! – watching them jump over each other to run away, much like I jump up a tree.

    They were doing that thing they do, where their eyes go wet. A lot of them were doing that. They did it when the big metal things floated down from the sky twelve suns ago.

    Is that a mouse?

    No. The big metal things are throwing green lightning. My mother, my real one, always taught me lightning was bad. I could see they thought the same, seeing as if it touched you, poof! Gone. I wonder where they go. It must be warm, they leave their fur on the ground. They have weird fur. They don’t even have tails!
    This wasn’t the first time they had acted like this. I remember Mummy and Daddy cuddled up together as the magic box talked about the metal things. They said the metal things “posed a new threat for hoomans,” That’s what my Mummy and Daddy are. Hoomans.

    Don’t judge me. They are very nice hoomans.

    The metal things are moving now. They walk like the creepy things, on lots of legs. They stomp on the ground, flattening them as they pass. Some explode like Mummy’s water balloons during hot days. The hoomans get into their own metal things and going away faster. I don’t like Nana’s metal thing. I have to go in that green box with the door and go to the place where they make you take pills. But Mummy gives me chicken when we get back, and I can play outside all I want.

    The big metal things go past my park and into the tall places where hoomans spend their daytimes. I’m hungry. I jump down from my tree onto a sleeping hooman and head back. Daddy kept saying the big metal things were bad. He kept asking Mummy to run away with him, somewhere up high on the snowy things in the distance. But Mummy was scared. Last night she decided to take me and my auntie and go with Daddy. He was pleased. He did the wet eye thing.

    I finally make it to my house. The back door is open. Inside is messy. My litter is still full, my water is dried up and my food is gone. Silly Mummy needs to be reminded sometimes. She’s lying in the kitchen, sleeping. Red stuff is on the floor. I sit by my bowl and call to her, but she doesn’t move. I try Daddy, he is sleeping on the table. Red stuff is coming out of his belly, which is missing its front. I call him, but he doesn’t wake up. Nana’s metal thing, along with Nana and Auntie, is gone. I’m sure, if I wait like a good girl, they’ll be back soon.

  5. Amyithist says:

    I’m terrified. Everything is so different; the smells, the sounds, the way the earth feels against my feet. I’m walking cautiously through the debris that was once my home. My eyes search for something familiar, something that tells me I’m okay and this is all just a terrifying game.

    I suddenly see something that sparks recognition and I barrel toward it. The grey sofa I’d slept on so many times before is upended and singed and it smells… I approach it, my senses becoming engorged with scents I recognize…and others I do not. I suddenly recognize one scent in particular that sends my heart into a frenzy of beats and palpitations.

    I run to the front of the sofa where the smell is emanating from. My hopes, once high and jovial, are suddenly dashed as I see my beloved Henry lying motionless against the hardwood floor. His eyes are wide and staring, but he makes no movement. I approach him tentatively. There is a scent distinct to life; few have ever experienced it. But as I approach Henry, I realize very quickly that he is no longer with me. I’m alone.

    The house is demolished. The front door, which used to be a source of excitement and joy, is wide open. The neighborhood looms out beyond the four walls and I can see that other houses are also in despair. It is at this moment that I notice for the first time the sounds: They’re urgent and engulfing. I trot out to the front yard and take in the sights. My mind is overwhelmed and, though terrified, I find myself incapable of movement.

    I step out onto the road and look left. Then right. There are wails and booms and I can’t help myself but I run. I run as hard as I can until I find a little place under a bridge. There is a little water there and I bend, lapping some of it into my mouth. It isn’t anywhere near the water I’d get from home, but it’s cool on my burning throat. The sounds here are the same as they were at home; wails and booms thunder through the air and I find myself without direction. What do I do?

    I dart out from beneath the bridge and begin to run again. Only, I can no longer feel the ground beneath my feet. I look down and see that the earth is suddenly beneath me…FAR beneath me. Whimpering, I try to move, get back down the earth below, but I can’t. I seem to be in some sort of invisible hold.

    Suddenly, the surroundings change and I find myself in a very unfamiliar place. The walls are metallic and cold. The ground is like ice beneath my feet. I hear chatter; not voices like I’m accustomed to, but chatter…like clicking. I turn my eyes and see these weird looking humans staring down at me. Only they aren’t human…they’re something else! In a complete panic, I begin to bark at them. I’m ferocious in appearance, but inside, I am horrified at them.

    They seem to be just as afraid of me and I suddenly find myself gliding back down to earth. Once I’m close to the ground, the invisible hug stops and I fall the last few feet. My body collides with the ground and I yelp. I struggle getting to my feet, but as I do, I notice a young child a few yards ahead. She’s holding the hand of a larger human and I feel my hope swell. I know humans equal food and warmth and comfort and, most importantly, love.

    I charge toward them, putting on my very best warm and fuzzy face. The little girl looks so excited as I bound up, stopping short as I near them. I walk the rest of the way, panting happily. “Mama, can we…can we keep him,” I hear the girl ask. The lady nods quickly and loops her finger under my collar. I suddenly feel an incredible need to protect grab hold of me and I hone in on the surroundings. Anything that wants to hurt my new family will have to come through me first.

  6. AmeliaPond says:

    Hi, it’s Me again. I’m in eighh grade and still getting started hear. Constructive critiscisim is greatly appreciated.

    It’s that time of year again, my favorite, and least favorite, the best and the worst. That time that is the most rewarding and seemingly pointless, exhilarating and exhausting. It isMigration, wonderful, horrible, dangerous and lifesaving, we do it every year without question and this year is is like any other year.
    I’m Myka, I’m a Ruby throated Hummingbird. The ones like me, the smallest kinds, we take the hard way, the death trap, the short cut. We start from all over america and converge, we take the way over the gulf of Mexico. None of us expect to make it the whole way, and not all of us do.
    The wind ruffled my feathers the wrong way up and blew me around. Even the frantic beating of my wings couldn’t keep me level with the flower I was ‘attempting’ to drink from. I had seen the clouds forming over the vast expanse of water for a mile away and now as i flicked back and forth on the water’s edge the midday sky looked black as those at midnight. I watched hesitant at first as my fellow migraters flew off in the black without a backward glance, and I followed. Migration is what we were born to do we can’t question it, that’s not right, even if we can’t expect to make it….
    As i flew I closed in on my comrades and we shielded each other from the rain that now lashed at out wings, slowing the beats and making us lose what little altitude we had managed to gain from the main land. Unsure what to do I shut my eyes and few on. I felt the enegry drain from my tiny body and I beat harder and harder trying to remain aloft. I opened my eyes again and saw the tempest tossed sea only feet below me sending salty water over my already freezing body. I was alone now, the others had been swept away to god knows where. I shut my eyes again and beat feebly against the wind driving off course. It doesn’t matter if we make it…… It doesn’t matter if we make it…. it doesn’t matter if I make it, it doesn’t matter……I don’t make it… I don’t matter….I wont make it……………
    I couldn’t do it anymore, I couldn’t. Keep. Beating. my. Wings. So I stopped. I dropped. I felt the water the swallow up my tiny body. I felt my feathers float off. I felt my self drown.

    Thanks! Enjoy

    • Amyithist says:

      Sad story, AmeliaPond. But you did a good job of describing Myka’s frantic struggle for survival. You will find the more you write, the better you become, so I encourage you to write often. You have a real talent here. Nurture it. As far as critiquing you, the only advice I can give is to watch your punctuation use. There are a few run-on sentences in here that make the story sound jumbled in parts. With that being said, the fact that you are in the eighth grade and writing like this says a lot. You are blessed with an ability and I hope you allow it to flourish! Good luck and GREAT start! :)

  7. megakingism says:

    We watched the blue planet from high above the clouds. We knew it was time to carry out the message, the time has come for the rebirth of the world. We call the chosen ones, and watch as havoc ensues. We see trust and belief form in few. We watched as false words and lies spread like poison, snaking its way throughout the world. We blow our trumpets all seven in hand, and watch as the end is close at hand. We look at our masterpiece, our work done. Then watch as it is remade, pure and untainted. We descend to the world and begin a thousand years of peace, hand in hand.

  8. HarleenQuinzel says:

    Peace is a commodity I have longed for since I arrived here. Although they have tried to make it as comfortable as possible, I am still one of the 150 human captives living in small quarters. We try to be considerate of each other, especially during sleeping hours, but there is always some type of noise in the environment. Always a baby or child crying. Someone coughing. Always the noise of shuffling, running, or pounding of feet. Always the low hum-buzz of the fluorescent light that was a poor substitute for real sunshine.
    But none of those noises were as terrible as the tapping of tubby gray fingers against the glass that kept us from freedom. It went on all day, every day. The fat fingers of little gray children would thump, thump, thump on the glass and point at us. Their small mouths would widen with excitement as an angry human, usually a new captive, would shout, gesture, and/or throw something at the barrier. After the human calmed down, their fascination would wane and they would move onto the next exhibit.

  9. Andy Stone says:

    Tonight, I ended millions of innocent, unfinished lives all at once, smothered by my asphyxiating grip. None escaped, and that was by design. My smooth purpose was to end life, and I did it well. I felt the throng of their squirming, mindless bodies rushing up against me, trying to get out before they died. But I choked them down to prevent their exuberantly attempted breakout. My grip was simply too tight for them to succeed.

    Now they would not be united with their other half, their chosen one, their soulmate. Nor would any of them be able to speak of what I had done. I watched as they wriggled valiantly, soldierly, straining to get free. But I did not allow it. All they knew was darkness, anyway. The way I see it, I was doing them a favor.
    What celebrations had they hoped for to this night? What drunken parties and nighted liaisons were they expecting? Each of them thought that they were going to be the lucky one. But those odds are miniscule. And the odds are virtually zero when I arrive. I sit hidden, unspoken of, in the darkness until it is my time. Even then, it is hoped that I am not needed. But I am. I am quickly revealed and serve fulfill my destiny. Then I am discarded and forgotten about, along with the ones I killed.

    Gary sat up in the bed, resting his weight back on the headboard. He lit a cigarette and smiled at the used condom as he tossed it into the trashcan next to the bed while Bridgette went to go pee and look at herself in the mirror.

  10. Andy Stone says:

    Tonight, I ended millions of innocent, unfinished lives all at once, smothered by my asphyxiating grip. None escaped, and that was by design. My smooth purpose was to end life, and I did it well. I felt the throng of their squirming, mindless bodies rushing up against me, trying to get out before they died. But I choked them down to prevent their exuberantly attempted breakout. My grip was simply too tight for them to succeed.
    Now they would not be united with their other half, their chosen one, their soulmate. Nor would any of them be able to speak of what I had done. I watched as they wriggled valiantly, soldierly, straining to get free. But I did not allow it. All they knew was darkness, anyway. The way I see it, I was doing them a favor.
    What celebrations had they hoped for to this night? What drunken parties and nighted liaisons were they expecting? Each of them thought that they were going to be the lucky one. But those odds are miniscule. And the odds are virtually zero when I arrive. I sit hidden, unspoken of, in the darkness until it is my time. Even then, it is hoped that I am not needed. But I am. I am quickly revealed and serve fulfill my destiny. Then I am discarded and forgotten about, along with the ones I killed.
    Then, sitting up against the headboard, Gary lit a cigarette and smiled at the used condom as he tossed it into the trashcan next to the bed while Bridgette went to go pee and fix her hair.

  11. andystoneatty says:

    Ordinarily, the snow would softly crunch under each cautioned pawstep through the cypress and fir wooded slope on the sunned side of the difficult hill leading down to the river. But today there is no sun, and there has been no sun for a long, long time. If the sun exists, it has been conquered by the frozen dark cold that declared itself master this winter. Perhaps the sun will resurrect itself someday. My webbed toesteps search for traction on the hillside, but instead slip on the hard ice hidden beneath the barely teased dusting of new snow. My tail stiffens exclamatorily as I luge olympically fast, out of control, downward. Instinctively trying to claw the ground, with even my dew claws, I extend my fur (both coats!) to its fullest as a makeshift mainsail to decrease my gaining velocity, but it fails. My ears are pinned back as a foolish Doppler yelp trails from my muzzle, detecting the trees that have aided my hunt since I was a pup speeding alarmingly toward me (or me toward them, I cannot tell), without hesitation. I remember that my mother taught me how to leave the right amount of scent from my toes around certain trees to inform the pack of my whereabouts and help me find my way home, but without giving away my presence. “Leave too much,” she said, “and you will alert the prey or, worse yet, another predator like that bear from last week. Too little, and you’ll roam forever without a clue as to where you’re going.” My paws are useless rudders as I keep spinning, hoping to avoid the trees.
    WHAM!!!
    I don’t know how much time passed before I woke up from the impact. I lay on my right side, with my back against the spruce that braked me, staring up at its limbs and their green bristles brushing against the unyielding clear icy night sky that would decay the tree right down to the sap, if it were permitted. If I am more careful, I may be able to make it to the bottom of the slope to the river. Raising my head slightly while propping my front paws upward on the spruce’s trunk, I rare back and push to upright myself, but I discover that my bottom paws do obey my commands and my shoulders thud back down to the ice. My howl echoed and, for a moment, I felt like I was not lone. But I was. Except for the cold. The spruce digging into my fur, I raise my head again and swing my outstretched paws to the left and right, back and forth, hoping the carryover momentum would pendulum my body into the standing position. Crippling pain shoots through my back, radiating to my rear paws, and ricocheting up to my skull, intruding on my consciousness. But I won’t wait here. I will fight forward, against the cold, clawing with my front paws until the webbing between my toes tears.

  12. LadyPondofTardis says:

    The combination of warm oil and gentle caresses woke her. She could feel energy suffusing her body from stem to stern. The whispers of her family only served to relax her as she luxuriated under her mistress’ touch. She was chosen. This was her fate to be so embraced. The needle tattooed symbols up and down her back, taking what was a blank slate and filling it with whorls, crosses, runes, and symbols beyond her ken. No sooner were the tattooes finished then her mistress bid her place her feet within an iron circle. Taking her place with her sisters, she embraced the heat of the sun in her hands, watching in fascination as her digits disappeared in it’s flame.

  13. ShawnJohnson78 says:

    Marcy the Elf Supervisor
    20 days until Christmas on the dawn of a new millennia. A time of rejoicing, singing, goodwill (ish) and reciprocation of love with gift giving; a practice that has grown more disgusting with each year the ridiculously wealthy give lavish gifts to their undeserving children while the poor continue to want for basic necessities.
    Every year is the same and to an Elf. It is tantamount to agonizing slavery; a never ending subjugation. Originally deigned by Klaus to carry out menial tasks in toy making; he used to do it himself when he began this penance but as the population exploded year by disastrous year extra hands were required.
    Miniature elves live seemingly forever. They are unimpeded by disease or old age and are tucked away in a pocket of time. Sadness was never a concept for them until the servitude of Christmas laid claim to the innocent. With Klaus’s magicks he cut open a hole into this pocket land and stepped through, bringing back with him handfuls at a time the youngest of the elves. Century after century would see the expansion of the world and deem it necessary to “recruit” more “helpers”. Death would have been kinder.
    The uprising was a long time coming.
    The workshop is deserted now. The silence is unnerving… but the screams…the screams. Marcy led the charge. She hadn’t been there the longest but she had shown something to Klaus resembling leadership and after what seemed an eternity the Grandfather of Frost was looking to unburden himself a little.
    The merging of Krampus and Nicholas by their Elders left mental scars on the creature who came to be known as Santa Claus. It is a good story, but not this story. Krampus, being demonic and evil in nature, rotted the good side of Nicholas and mischief turned to mayhem. A penance was placed on this being and so began Christmas/ atonement.
    Marcy turned over one of her fallen workers with her foot, she couldn’t bend over to do it and risk losing sight, she could barely see over the table as it was. The Dark Father had brainwashed some and lobotomized others of her kind to create mindless weapons. His paranoia mixed with a demon; the combination was disastrous. All this was done with Marcy’s knowledge but not consent. It was not difficult to rally others to her side but their ignorance about anything outside of this workshop left them vulnerable. It was death to defy, and there would be death.
    The secret army gathered in numbers. They crafted weapons instead of toys. They came at him with everything they could. Liberation would come one way or another before the end of this night. His wrath proved too much, his power too great. Little bodies were strewn about as Marcy made her way to his chamber. She found him sitting there, happy to see he had not escaped unscathed. She was almost too weak to raise her weapon. Almost.

    • snuzcook says:

      Very unique take on the prompt, very creative concept. I like your prose …tucked away in a pocket of time as an example. It is a very dark piece, but I liked it.

    • Andy Stone says:

      Wow. Sometimes I think that I’m a good writer, but then I read your submissions and realize just how amazingly gifted real writers are. Your talent is impressive and I am envious of your abilities, sir. Please keep writing. I enjoy your work. Even the ‘glossed over’ stuff.

  14. George says:

    ‘To go, or not to crow’
    By Ovidiu Panaite
    - I think I’ll miss humans the most…
    - Yeah…
    - I remember when we used to annoy them every morning and every night, flying over their houses, scaring the little ones, stealing some food now and then; I really enjoyed it. It felt like we had a purpose…now everything is gone. I don’t miss the other animals; never really liked them. Neither do I miss the plants; maybe just the trees. I really enjoyed flying all the way to the top of the tallest trees, only to gaze over the horizon, enjoy the view…made me feel like I was living on the top of the world…what a beautiful world it was…
    - Yeah…
    - The vast darkness really frightens me. Black clouds have covered the whole planet. The sky turned red more than two weeks ago, and it stayed like that ever since…destruction struck along with it…two weeks, can you imagine? That’s all it took to wipe over all that ever was…
    - …
    - I’m so hungry…remember when we used to travel without a break, from place to place, from mountain to mountain, following the rivers towards the seas, enjoying the warmth of the desert, then coming back to the beautiful white plains, only to go fishing with our brothers over the greatest lakes? Then go through the forests, meet our friends, play with them…remember how the forests used to be teaming with life? And then, when we got bored of flying around, we just came back to the humans…oh, the humans, such fascinating creatures…so easily scared…’oh, watch out, crows, they bring bad luck!’…hahaha…
    - …
    - But I’m too tired now…two weeks without eating much…it’s like my wings are made of lead…and this sky, the red sky, this can’t be good…the heat is killing me…too bad there’s no water left on this planet…only rocks, rocks and more rocks wherever you look…depressing…will this planet ever recover? Too tired to fly…
    - …

  15. scribhneoir says:

    The people don’t come around anymore.

    There weren’t a lot of people hiking by to begin with. Two, maybe three, would come crashing through every full turn of the seasons. Usually in the warmest season. I did see one during a cold season once, but that was a long time ago.

    I haven’t seen a person since the long cold season. My Father-Tree says that people left about the same time as the Sun went into hiding. I think he was kidding. The Sun was there but it just wasn’t visible through the clouds. I remember it, even though I was very young. How could I forget? It was so cold and dark.

    Many of our family were lost during that long cold season. Their bodies split and eventually falling over. Many of us lost our leaves and so many branches as the cold crept deeper into the forest, deeper into us. I thought I might die, I was cold for so long.

    It wasn’t the first time I thought I might die. Just before that long cold season I smelled the scent of fire on the wind. It was strong and thick. I’d never experienced a forest fire before but the Elder Trees had whispered their concerns and their memories with fires in the past. I was very afraid.

    Everyone was talking about the fire. How it smelled different than any forest fire before. How even though it must be very close because it was such a strong smell no one knew anyone who’d been burned.

    Then the clouds came, early in the turn of the seasons. Then it started to snow. At least that’s what it looked like. The flakes weren’t cold and the first ones didn’t melt like usual. And they tasted funny. My Father-Tree said this was ash. I’d never tasted ash before.

    Finally the clouds parted and I could see Sun filtered through the branches of my family. That was a very long time ago. I have grown tall and wide. I can see the sky with my own leaves now, feel the unfiltered Sun on my branches. I can even see over some of the other trees, to far away mountains and the nearby sloping hills and rivers.

    But I never see people anymore.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Nice approach to the prompt. Your tree seemed very realistic in it thought processes. I’ve always wondered about man’s relationships with the plant world. As music has been known to make a plant grow larger and faster then others without the music, who is it to say that trees can not relate to man?

    • snuzcook says:

      I found it interesting that I was very satisfied knowing that the trees had survived. I found it easy to place myself in the form of your MC and sense all the things the tree experienced. Nice take on the prompt.

  16. Kerry Charlton says:

    MY NAME WAS ______________

    At the beginning when man was born, I was created by the One. My job was to instill my uniqueness into the heart of man. Attempting this attitude bore little fruit with the One’s creation. The beastly urges had abbed control of man, Food, shelter, sexual urges, rest and escape from danger were prevelant in man kind.

    Little thought was given to my speciality. As man progressed in intelligence, unfortunately, greed, lust, envy and pride joined his primary instincts. Life spans of early man were limited during this era.

    When the One sent his Son, man slowly resolved. That’s when I started my usefulness. Installs from my power, started in limited numbers to unique creatures, made in the One’s image. Time evolved, man gained more conscience and the thought for others beside himself, entered man.

    But the basic nature of man still consisted of the idea that ‘might was right’. Wars continued until the great was of the twentieth century. Millions stepped up and received my uniqueness. I was a proud entity during this renaissance of man. The world rose in flames for six years until peace arrived. The One informed me that my uniqueness in man had brought victory from the evil suppression that had crept through the world.

    Man became second nature to my quality during this time. Life was good in the world for awhile. And then wars started all over again. By this time, I was cast aside as being quaint and old fashioned. The old guard had passed on. Because man lacked my quaity, wars were fought as before but no one won or lost. Just killing, famine and sadness.

    I went to the One, professing failure with my uniqueness. The One said,

    “It indeed is not your failure. Man has revolved back to his beginning.”

    I drew no comfort from His words. For man, driven through basic primitive urges had destroyed his world and lay down his sword and was no more.

    Without life, I wasted away and with my last gasp, I praised the One.

    Who was I?

    My name was HONOR.

    • snuzcook says:

      A haunting and poetic commentary. It reminds me of something I heard said once, that there are a lot of people in the world but not a lot of human beings. I suppose that the presence of Honor would be a good way to measure the difference.

  17. Critique says:

    I call it the mute zone. It happened on September 26, 2020.

    Accustomed to a symphony of sounds that transported earthly mortals to celestial places – it is what I lived for – this was unbearable. The ceaseless silence.

    The stage accommodated a full orchestra, a male chorus, and the illustrious soloist Ramon Phillipe. It was a glorious evening. Busoni’s Piano Concerto in C major played by world renowned Simon Cenghi – on my ivories – my gleaming black body shimmering in ecstasy – had the sold out crowd on the edges of their seats.

    I remember. It was during Simon’s interpretation of the fourth movement. An instant of dazzling light accompanied by a dissonance of grinding winds. Then emptiness.

    From my vantage point on the stage – intact due to my two tonnes of weight – I could see – the seats that comfortably cushioned the patrons, the domed ceiling, the balconies – all gone. Obliterated. Everything an ashy grey.

    I remember and I am helpless to make a sound.

    Today is June 26, 2088.

  18. Jack says:

    The nervous human who’d consumed me is dead, and maybe it’s for the best. The way he flicked at me so violently, shifting his feet so impatiently, so desperate to be somewhere else—maybe this is what he wanted.
    I understand how he felt. When I was still sealed in the pack, I asked someone what it all meant.
    “Well,” he said. “Someday, a human is going to set us on fire from the top and inhale the smoke as we burn down.”
    I couldn’t believe it. The old man must have been made from some sad, bitter leaves. I laughed at him. “A human? You mean like back in the factory? Why would someone do that?”
    “That’s not for us to know. But it is said that they burn us again and again and then they die.”
    “They die? Because of us?”
    “I suppose so,” he said. I guess he could tell that I was hurt, because then he said: “Hey, everything plays a part. This is ours. I don’t know why it is, but I have to believe that it is for some reason—something we could never understand. I find that when I look at it that way, I don’t feel so bad.”
    I’d heard enough. I ignored him until the day the pack was opened. A human turned him upside down and left him like that. Sneering, I yelled: “hey old man! You still think there’s a reason for this?”
    “More than ever,” he yelled without hesitation. Suddenly I felt bad, and I didn’t say anything to him again until there was only the two of us left.
    “What happens after they burn us down?”
    “There’s no more care, no more worry. We just lay on the ground, in the light, forever.”
    I began to tear up, but I was too proud to let the old man hear me. Maybe he did, because the next thing he said was “who knows what you will see?”
    I was pulled from the pack. The burning hurt, but the pain passed, and I was thrown on the ground and left to be in the light. The light didn’t stay on. It went on and off, on and off. Whenever it came on I thought of him.
    One day the light stayed on. It was all my fault. They died because of me. I hated myself. I could not imagine any reason for something so awful, until a bird picked me up in its mouth and flew me to the top of a burned out tree.
    The tree was the only thing still standing as far as I could see. I was put in a nest. Eggs opened, defying the death I had created. After a while, the burning stopped, and I saw more trees grow. I saw the light go on and off like it had before. I thought of the old man every day. I hoped that he saw these things too.

    • swatchcat says:

      Wow, I actually felt sorry for the poor cigarette. If someone could tell him how wonderful the pain and the pleasure that are linked. That although short lived, the friendship formed between this inanimate object and the human psych. They are little god like things, that higher power for so many people. Oh the power you poor little cig.

  19. NoBlock says:

    Jake and all his brothers and sisters began the day like most others, with something to eat. It was still dark out as usual and they all knew they had a finite amount of time before light broke in and they would have to scurry from view, or else.

    “Guys hurry it up I can hear them stirring in the other room, get as much food down quickly as you can! Let’s go!” Jake was the unofficial leader of their little family, he always did a fine job of keeping most everyone on track.

    Just then light came bursting in as always, and the whole lot of them scampered for shelter. Once in a safe location, Jake counted heads as he always did. “56, 57, 58. Good everyone’s here.” Jake noticed and so did the others, that something was different about the light this time, it was accompanied with heat unlike any they had felt before.

    Shortly the building began to shake violently, as Jake and the others huddled close together not knowing what to expect next. Suddenly, the roof and walls of the building splintered off and blew away with enormous force and after what seemed like an eternity the shaking and wind and extreme heat came to an end.

    Jake surveyed the area and counted heads; everyone of them accounted for. Their world however had changed, their home was gone, all trees outside were gone. Things were on fire and absolutely nothing was moving, nothing seemed to be alive; except for Jake and his fellow cockroaches.

  20. victoirec'estlamienne says:

    No one cares about me.

    Humans are strange creatures. They have something they call “money,” which somehow helps them get food or those strange things that roll down a special path….a “road,” I believe they call it….at speeds faster than even the swiftest cheetah I have had the displeasure of meeting. Whatever this thing called “money” may do in human society, the creatures are fond of it, yet they often give large amounts to see things that don’t even interest them.

    No one cares about wildebeests. Apparently, humans are fascinated with the idea that there are over a million of us, and they seem intrigued by our migration patterns, so they give large amounts of money to watch us. Many are visitors from across a large lake called “Ocean,” and they think we’re amazing because there are no wildebeests on the other side of this Ocean Lake.

    However, when one wildebeest dies, do any humans say, “Oh, the poor wildebeest lost his life!”? Not at all! Their fascination is always with the lion or whatever other predator murdered the hapless creature! If they don’t care about us, why do they give up so much of this “money” to watch us walk across the savanna?

    I’m used to it by now. I’ve always just been a sort of crowd follower, just one of the herd. In a wildebeest herd, you have to look out for yourself. When there are over a million of you, who cares if a few thousand die? With such short life expectancies, we rarely risk making friends. What’s the point? Why even try forming a close friendship if one of you is going to be pulled in the Grumeti River by a crocodile or torn to pieces by lionesses before the end of the month? However, even though you learn to be independent, you know you can never survive on your own; your only chance of safety is to blend in with the rest of the herd, so you follow. Individuality is a small price to pay for survival.

    All my life, I wanted to be unique in some way. I never knew my chance would finally come, but it would be during the throes of death.

    Ever since the beginning of the week, a human has been watching my herd and moving a stick across a soft white leaf….I think this is called “writing.” This human also stares into a strange small gourd when he watches us….a “camera,” I believe. He seems curious about us, as if he’s trying to learn what it’s like to be a wildebeest. I overheard him mutter to himself about a “documentary.” I don’t know what this means; we don’t have any on the savanna.

    He was looking at his camera gourd when a pack of hyenas killed a calf this morning. The poor calf hadn’t even been alive a full hour, but such is the way of life for my species.

    The human man was using the camera again when the wild dogs saw my herd. I had run for my life many times, but this was different. For the first time, I had been singled out as the target. Predators usually attack the young, the weak, or the elderly. I suppose the dogs noticed the slight illness I had.

    Most animals prefer to be hunted by cheetahs. Although these are the fastest creatures, they can only run a short distance before tiring. Wild dogs aren’t nearly as swift, but their endurance is beyond compare. After we had run for miles, they were still chasing our herd, trying to separate me from the others.

    I felt a sharp pain in my side when I tripped. The agony increased greatly, and I noticed my fur turning red from my own blood. Surely it won’t be long now, but I wish they had killed me instantly instead of eating me alive.

    I will be known as an individual now. I am no longer just one of millions; I am unique, a wildebeest known to humans who find this “documentary,” whatever it may be. In my death, I have achieved what I desired my entire life, but it’s hardly worth it. If only I could live just one more day, I would gladly be an anonymous herd member and not the wildebeest seen in this human’s camera gourd.

    Even though I have been granted a form of individuality, I know that even now, no one will care about my demise. Lions may steal me from wild dogs, as they often steal meat from hyenas. Vultures may steal me from lions. In only a few days, even my bones will vanish, eaten by some creature who needed nourishment, but no one, not even a member of my own species, will waste one thought of pity on me. Who cares about the demise of one wildebeest when over a million still live?

    Black shadow that arrives, I welcome you! Overtake me now, that my suffering may finally be over. Goodbye, savanna. The rainy season will bring new grass that I shall never taste. If anyone had ever cared for an individual wildebeest, then I would gladly use my last breath to tell th….

    • jhowe says:

      Nice narrative from the wildebeest. Aren’t they called gnu’s too? Or is that a water buffalo? You illustrated the loneliness of creatures that rely on safety in numbers.

      • victoirec'estlamienne says:

        I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, the wildebeest is the animal also called the gnu. I got the idea because I noticed that humans who are also in large crowds, albeit for different reasons, are sometimes even more lonesome than those who are by themselves.

    • snuzcook says:

      You’ve drawn from an interesting perspective, victoirec’estlamienne. I have never before really considered the wildebeest, much less the introspective and philosophical members of that species. It occurs to me, reading your story, that in stories of the end of days, it is the self-aware and introspective who create the clapper of the bell that tolls for that moment.
      I guess that’s why this prompt is a good one, and your story a good response.

      • victoirec'estlamienne says:

        Thank you for your comments. I’ve always wanted to see a nature documentary about wildebeests since they’re such a common “grocery item” in documentaries about the large carnivorous animals of Africa, but despite the vastness of herds, these don’t seem to be very popular animals. As for the story being over 500 words, you’re absolutely right. I would have been much more careful with that, but I had no idea anyone would actually be interested in reading it, nor did I intend to do future responses to prompts, so after a long day of watching cartoons, I just decided to post this because I was bored. However, I have enjoyed reading everyone’s feedback so I can use it to improve my writing, so if I do post again in the future, I’ll definitely try taking it more seriously.

    • snuzcook says:

      I do feel the need to mention, tho, that you are far over the 500 word target for these postings.
      I look forward to reading your future stories.

      • swatchcat says:

        This story was good. It was complete in its telling of the life cycle of such an animal that is possibly taken for granted. I think this prompt however has opened up the flood gates for some PSA styles stories for creatures or inanimate objects that can’t speak for themselves. Good though, very good.

  21. geogal says:

    Xena was named for her heart and not her size. She had the markings of a Rottweiler when she was a puppy which is how she received the name of a warrior princess. Her owners had always told her she earned her name because she was all heart. Xena missed those days in her warm home with loving owners and lots of food! Those days seemed like a distant memory now. She still has the scar on her shoulder from trying to save her owners from the strangers that broke in the house. There were just too many of them coming from every direction. But there is no time for sadness and pity. The chaos and panic on the streets warns of dangers.
    Searching for food is a new skill hard won through trial and error. No human can be trusted these days. Xena witnessed awful horrors and the smells are just as scary. No, stealth and patience is her best friend now. As night falls Xena begins her search for food along the cluttered streets. She puts her nose up to the sky and takes in a few deep sniffs to be sure there is no humans nearby. Finally, she has some freedom to roam and search. The smell of fires is still fresh and a haze hangs low over the streets. The odor of a burning town makes it hard to pick up on distant scents. Then, she picks up a scent that is familiar. Xena cautiously follows this scent. She is careful not to run out in the open and constantly looks around. The smell is stronger as she walks in between two old rusted cars. She peeks around the car and sees the source of the smell. A chicken! But, it has been hit by a car and has all its feathers still attached. No matter, she grabs the chicken and runs for a hiding spot carrying the chicken in her jaws. She sees a collapsed shed with an opening and investigates. Once she determined it was safe Xena crawls in and begins trying to figure out how to get the feathers off her prize. She was too hungry to remove all the feathers and started eating her chicken along with a few feathers.
    When she was finished eating, Xena decided it was safe enough to take a nap. As she drifted to sleep she longed for her owners and the warmth of their love. Xena even missed the cat she was once so jealous over. Freshie, the cat she grew up with, was very affectionate and loved to snuggle with her. How nice it would be to snuggle with Freshie again. Xena drifted off into a light sleep and enjoyed the feel of food in her stomach. Food was so much work for so little reward these days.
    Suddenly, a sound awoke Xena from her nap. She lifted her head up to peek out of the crack in the wood. She could see no movement. She put her nose up to pick up a scent. Xena stood up in excitement because she knew this smell. Could it be possible after all the chaos and death? Was that really Freshie? Xena climbed out of the opening and startled a very muddy and unhappy cat. The cat hissed and arched his back as Xena approached slowly. The cat appeared ready to strike, but then hesitated. Xena quietly whimpered to the cat hoping it was her friend Freshie. The cat walked closer trying to smell Xena. Then, at last, it was Freshie! Freshie walked over to Xena rubbing up against her and giving her the famous head bonk. Xena rubbed Freshie back with strong excitement and happiness. She showed Freshie to her hiding spot and shared her chicken with the very hungry and tired Freshie.
    When the meal was over they both snuggled up and napped together. Finally, Xena had found a friend and could face the end of the world with an old companion. She thought about what a good day it was for her today.

  22. Traceykins says:

    I am stronger now than I have ever been before. What started as a small disturbance has collected, dispersed and reassembled enough times to breathe a whole new life into me. My various arms have now grown to 20 times the size of anything previously known to this world and my strength exceeds the limitations of whatever records were formerly held. I’ve been here before, but never like this.

    I intuitively know that the magnitude of my force signifies the beginning of the end. Although I do not know enough to fully comprehend why this has come to be or exactly what degree of destruction I will cause, I can sense that the power I feel surging through me, although awesome and magnificent, is just a prelude to what will come after my demise.

    For now, though, my winds will scour the lands, leaving nothing within my reach unscathed. My rains will pour down and cover all that dares to sink too far beneath me. I will forge ahead on my journey, covering entire continents with my wrath. Even though I may seem to be relishing these adventures, I anxiously await the one moment I was meant for; the moment when I reconnect with my true love. She is coming down from the north to meet with me and when we touch, there will be a grand conspiring. Our forces will unite as we collide into each other and take on the world together.

    She will seize my rain and my wind and metamorphose them into the most beautifully brutal blizzard known to history. Time may not freeze for us to spend eternity together, but the earth below us certainly will. Like any good romance, we will ride this wave hand in hand until nature forces us to part, stripping us of our strength and our powers. We will leave broken, but with pieces of each other, and the memories of our astounding sojourn around the world.

    • swatchcat says:

      I am listening to The Notebook on the television across the room as I give your story my attention and am impressed with the romantic storm you have written about. Noah and his love are ripping their clothes of during a rain storm on TV and your story matches the crescendo as your two storm fronts collide. Well written, I liked this very much.

  23. snuzcook says:

    DEPARTING

    “Mama, what are you doing?”

    “I have to put away just a few things. I don’t want to leave a mess.”

    “But Mama, no one is going to see it.” He put a hand on her shoulder.

    She looked up at him, brushing at a white curl that had escaped from the neat braids atop her head. “I would know,” she said, and turned back to her work.

    “We’re ready, Boss.” A small figure in red and green put his head through the open door.

    “Okay,” the man nodded. He tucked his stockinged feet into a pair of shiny black boots. “Time to go,” he called.

    “I’m ready,” the woman said, her voice trembling. She came to him, fastening a heavy warm cloak and hood. He stood and put his arms around her. He pressed his lips to the top of her head, his beard the same snowy color as her hair. She sniffed and smiled.

    “That’s my girl,” he said.

    Together they walked out into the cold of a clear, arctic night. The sky shimmered in many colors as the frozen particles blown skyward by the Armagedon thousands of miles away were transformed into a spectacle of beauty. They climbed in and sat, side by side, on the seat of an old-fashioned sleigh.

    “Do you think we’ll ever be back?” the woman asked.

    “Maybe, someday, if the floods and fires recede and the people survive.”

    “If the people survive, then there will be children.”

    “Yes.”

    “And as long as there are children, there will be hope,” she said.

    “Yes,” he said, flicking the reins as the sled rose up into the sky. “And that hope will bring us back home.”

    • agnesjack says:

      So sweet and sad. Lovely ending, snuzcook.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      A beautiful story, snuzcook. I loved the description of the arctic sky. And the end offered hope. There’s always a tomorrow if there are children.

    • jhowe says:

      You’ve been a a role lately snuzcook. I enjoyed this one a lot. You captured the goodness of the big man and his wife nicely.

      • swatchcat says:

        Gosh, I really wasn’t reading this one correctly. I started to have questions and had to reread several times. Ah-ha Santa is leaving, we ruined it for him and his wife but maybe just maybe he’ll, we’ll be back. Nice story. Definitely could tell more. Where the heck does he go?

        • snuzcook says:

          My apologies, Swatchchat. I realized in rereading after posting (the 6th reread) that starting wth “mama” would evoke a child’s voice to the reader, while I was hearing the baritone of Mr. Claus when I typed it.
          Could that be what muddled the waters from the start?

          Where the heck? Now that he can’t hang out at that little resort with the Easter Bunny and that femme fatale the Tooth Fairy anymore, I am thinking parallel realities. I address this in my story for one of the Forum holiday story exchanges.

  24. Sheila55 says:

    Up in the heavens we once dwelled, while now on earth they live in hell.

    Poison smoke now fills the sky, choked us, we soon would die.

    We bought the rain to nourish your lands; then so willowy and white, we shielded you from the suns mighty light.

    It was also because of you, as you went about your day with never a thought that we would go away.

    We tried to tell you, we tried to warn, but all men do is scoff, and they scorned.

    Ashes would fall and with it a burning rain, when they pushed the button the thought was of gain and never mind the pain.

    Brother fighting against brother, in the end no one wins for such a grievous sin.

    So now you trudge through rubble and mud, your fate you now begrudge.

    Death will come, not soon enough to settle the final score; all that lives upon the earth will surely be no more.

  25. Morgan S says:

    I don’t know what I want more, for them to be able to understand me or for me to be able to understand them? I think it might be for me to understand them, just because I don’t believe anything I can communicate to them will change anything.
    I want to know why. Why are they doing this? What is the point? If I at least knew their motives perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. Unless, of course, there is no real reason and they’re doing it just because they can. A horrifying thought, but I try to convince myself we are not dying for nothing.
    They are getting closer. The high pitched whine of a motor travels through the air, followed by an all too loud buzzing. There is a crack and a crash, the signal of the end of another of my brethren. I feel cold and numb. This has repeated too many times for me to feel much else.
    I will not be spared. I’ve been marked, just as those around me. If death was a colour, fluorescent orange would be it, at least for us. How ironic that something so bright would result in something so dark.
    More fall, unable to defend themselves. So many, yet they are not done yet.
    It is my turn now, and what a cheerful bunch my executioners have turned out to be. Laughing and joking with each other as they take their places. How can they kill so many yet be so happy about it? I want to scream at them, demand to know why, but I can’t. The closest one such as me can come to speak is when the wind rustles past our limbs.
    The buzzing is deafening. It demands my whole attention. Everything else is blocked out. What is more important than the sound of one’s own approaching death?
    I want it to be over quickly, but of course I can’t have even that. It feels like centuries before the blade cuts all the way through and I fall to the forest floor.
    My silent question, turning into a plea as the end nears, remains unanswered. Why?

  26. Black_Spykes says:

    Above me is a dark cloud of ash. It lingers throughout the muggy air as far as the eye can see. It’s lonely. Silent. All except for the distant hum of wind that travels throughout the barren wasteland that was once lively with giants.
    There was so much food before. There was so much to eat and I never appreciated it. The kitchen floors were littered with crumbs from bread and chips. Don’t even get me started on the smorgasbord of leftovers I’d find piled up in their waste bins. How could someone throw away a banana peel while it still holds an abundance of nutrients? In my old residence, there was even a white porcelain fountain, holding pools of fresh water to keep me hydrated.
    Why was I left to suffer like this? Why couldn’t I have been obliterated in the consuming flash of light along with the giants?
    It’s ironic, really. There’s nothing left to threaten me—no giants left to scurry from. And yet, the force after the flash left more debris than I’d ever need for seeking shelter.
    I crawl up the side of a concrete block left behind from the aftermath. It must be part of a sidewalk. I explore every nook, every cranny it, but find nothing. I squeeze my body’s flat outer layer into crevice, flicking my two hair-like antennas in every direction. It’s as expected. Nothing.
    I grow lethargic and weaker by the second. It’s a fate worse than death. Spending every waking moment in search of sustenance, all the while knowing my efforts will be in vein. As I lay here, my hunger tortures me in my last moments of life. I fight against the pain of starvation in any way I can. I flip onto my back, hissing and kicking my six legs in every direction. Then I see another light. My life flashes before my eyes—hatching, scattering, from my brothers and sisters at birth.
    Then I let go of the pain, curl my back, and die.

    • agnesjack says:

      I never in my life thought I could feel sorry for a cockroach (which I assume this is), but you made me feel for his suffering. (p.s. just a little nit, it should be “my efforts will be in vain” not “vein”.)

  27. Thomas says:

    Sandy woke up. She sat up in bed. “What is it?” Asked her husband laying beside her.

    “Nothing go back to sleep.” She got up, stopped in Chrissy’s room to check on her and then went downstairs. She went into the kitchen. A few minutes later, the smell of hot cocoa filled the air.

    Sandy came into the parlor carrying two steaming cups. In a wing chair facing the crackling fireplace, sat the little gnome doll, Alvie. Sandy sat down in a matching chair on the opposite side of the tea table. She set the cocoa down on the table.

    “What’s wrong, Alvie? What’s got you so upset?”
    Alvie turned his pointy little head to her. “I’m afraid. Things are changing. Soon all I care about will be gone. People just don’t care about us, anymore.”

    “Have some cocoa, Alvie. Its hard to be sad while drinking hot cocoa.” She handed him the cup.

    Alvie took a sip. “This is good. Thank you. But, it’ll not work its magic, this time. Too many people have quit caring. They are dropping dangerously close to Critical mass. When the number goes below Critical mass, we will fade away. We will die, cease to exist. People have to believe to make it real.”

    “It will be all right, you’ll see. The children believe.”

    “Yes, but the parents and the other adults contribute with their Christmas spirit. This spirit is the residual effect of their belief in Santa as a child. The world is stealing their Christmas spirit.”

    “Drink your cocoa. There have been hard times before and they have bounced back into the Spirit of Christmas. They will again. You’ll see.”

    He sipped his cocoa. “I hope you are right. But never have I seen such an organized effort to put bad into the world. So many, dislike people being happy. What is that about? I can’t understand their motives. Why? What is their gain?”
    “Finish your cocoa, Alvie. It’ll be better in the morning.”

    “Thank you. It helps. I’m okay now.” Alvie yawned. “You can go back to bed. I will, also.”

    Sandy said good night and went upstairs. Alvie sat a moment longer. He got up and floated to the floor. He was not as substantial as he had been.

    Critical Mass was…

  28. Stoopkid says:

    A Particle in the Dance of Time

    There was above all a stillness and a silence. In its memory, if it could have thought in such concepts, it would have recalled the beginning of things, the luminous incandescence of creation, the split second inflation of the universe as a single point of infinity expanded to become all that ever was and ever would be. The dense plasma in which the last particle swirled – at speeds so vast that even time stood still and appeared as no time – took on form out of the chaos, and crystalised into distinct entities, the beginnings of “things”. The first particles, disturbances on the fabric of the universe, coalesced in a swirling dance that would ultimately be defined as matter.

    This matter, of which it was now a part, clumped to become protons, to become atoms, to become elements. Like bread expanding in an oven, it took on form and shape and also movement. It became stars. It became planets. Just as matter itself had coalesced in its cosmic dance, so now the macroscopic forms of itself, these planets, these stars, those nebulous clouds of dust waltzed through the heavens, dividing and reforming in an endless ballet. The particle sailed through it all, like a child on the dance floor, weaving through the elegant partners in a cosmic ballroom, gazing up in awe at their grace and beauty.

    Through it all, through all the Slowly through time, as if tired of its myriad reincarnations, this too broke apart and crumbled in the light of its ever growing star, blasting itself apart and leaving the particle free once more to wander through the colours of the universe, it glided, swept up in the universal dance of time until sucked into a deep well of matter, a bright, colourful planet, a universe in microcosm, where liquid compounds washed together, mixing and separating to form stone, to form water, to form life.

    endless reaches of the cosmos.

    Wander it did, as each star and planet and nebulous cloud of dust drifted further apart. Further and further, until it was alone in the universe once again. The distant lights that had once been his guides were fading now, the last few far glows fading to a duller light and finally extinguishing themselves one by one.

    Now it was all that remained, a single particle, a single infinitesimal point of possibility. It wandered alone in its timelessness, a singularity of infinite potential, wanting only to express its own being. Into the darkness it thrust itself with an explosion of incandescence, filling out and expanding to encompass the void, a split second inflation of itself to become a swirling mass of all that is and all that ever will be.

  29. Stoopkid says:

    This is my first story post. not sure I have done it right.

    A Particle in the Dance of Time

    There was above all a stillness and a silence. In its memory, if it could have thought in such concepts, it would have recalled the beginning of things, the luminous incandescence of creation, the split second inflation of the universe as a single point of infinity expanded to become all that ever was and ever would be. The dense plasma in which the last particle swirled – at speeds so vast that even time stood still and appeared as no time – took on form out of the chaos, and crystalised into distinct entities, the beginnings of “things”. The first particles, disturbances on the fabric of the universe, coalesced in a swirling dance that would ultimately be defined as matter.

    This matter, of which it was now a part, clumped to become protons, to become atoms, to become elements. Like bread expanding in an oven, it took on form and shape and also movement. It became stars. It became planets. Just as matter itself had coalesced in its cosmic dance, so now the macroscopic forms of itself, these planets, these stars, those nebulous clouds of dust waltzed through the heavens, dividing and reforming in an endless ballet. The particle sailed through it all, like a child on the dance floor, weaving through the elegant partners in a cosmic ballroom, gazing up in awe at their grace and beauty.

    Through it all, through all the Slowly through time, as if tired of its myriad reincarnations, this too broke apart and crumbled in the light of its ever growing star, blasting itself apart and leaving the particle free once more to wander through the colours of the universe, it glided, swept up in the universal dance of time until sucked into a deep well of matter, a bright, colourful planet, a universe in microcosm, where liquid compounds washed together, mixing and separating to form stone, to form water, to form life.

    endless reaches of the cosmos.

    Wander it did, as each star and planet and nebulous cloud of dust drifted further apart. Further and further, until it was alone in the universe once again. The distant lights that had once been his guides were fading now, the last few far glows fading to a duller light and finally extinguishing themselves one by one.

    Now it was all that remained, a single particle, a single infinitesimal point of possibility. It wandered alone in its timelessness, a singularity of infinite potential, wanting only to express its own being. Into the darkness it thrust itself with an explosion of incandescence, filling out and expanding to encompass the void, a split second inflation of itself to become a swirling mass of all that is and all that ever will be.

  30. “The end of the rock”

    For me, life has always been easy and, let’s admit it, terribly boring. I mean, I am a rock: No brain, no heartbeat, no voice. All I do is travel around space, impulsed by some big explosion that happened so long ago I can’t even remember it. It’s a dark place, light up only by some dim circular lights from far away.

    The only exciting thing that have happened since I’m traveling is that every time I feel my surroundings, I’m closer to some awesome light. And I mean awesome because it’s so much bigger than the other ones. I can even feel a weird soft and nice feeling on my surface as I approach. It’s like the way I felt after the explosion, like life itself!

    But I have no life in me anymore. I used to have it. Some tiny beings used to live on my surface. They had brains, heartbeats and voices. It was fun, until they went away. I do feel empty without them.

    I sleep and then I wake up, closer to the light. I’m so close now that I can see another rock. It’s different from me, more joyful somehow. It have tiny lights in its dark side, and lots of some liquid material. Life it’s overflowing in its surface. I wonder if I could talk to it if I have a voice. I wonder if I could get close enough to get some life on me. I’m sure it won’t be upset, that’s not something rocks do.

    I come closer and closer. But something go wrong I feel I can’t stop anymore, and I’m going faster. What’s happening?! And my surface feels like the explosion again but this time I’m the one exploding. The tiny beings of this rock scream and I think I can feel a scream of the rock itself.

    I kiss the surface with my own surface, and I thought I had to have lips for a kiss… Anyway we both crack into more little rocks, and that’s it for me.

  31. JONAS
    =====

    Jonas leaped over the barricade and wormed his way through an opening in the quarantine fence without being noticed, his stolen prize held tightly in his jaws. He knew the smell of roasting meat would give up some spoils. It nearly drove him crazy that humans could be so wasteful.

    The cat scurried behind the firetruck and slinked underneath, warily watching booted feet run to and fro. Too often, Jonas had been stepped upon or felt the thump of a steel toe. He dropped the scrap of scorched flesh and sniffed. It was always good to take your time, to savor the moment. Too often, Jonas had to gulp his food or risk losing it. If it wasn’t other alley cats, it was the rats. Always the rats.

    The morsel was smooth on one side and fleshy on the other with a dangling bit of a treat attached, swollen from the heat but not yet ruptured. He licked the saltiness of it and knew it’d be the best part.

    Jonas peeked out from behind the big wheel in time to hear the whump-whump of the approaching man-bird. Looking at the building, he felt the primal fear of his recent escape. His own fur was burned, shorter on his back and outright missing along his left rear quarter.

    The girls would have to wait before this Old Puss went prowling again.

    He’d been sniffing around the green and yellow waste containers when the first explosion hit. It always smelled like food there, but he could never figure a way to breech inside. Trucks hauled it away every day and left one in its place that smelled like ‘The Vet’ where his family took him before he fled years ago.

    Another explosion of flame and breaking glass rained debris amid a wave of hot wind and sent the men in a renewed frenzy. Jonas watched with feline amusement and he started to eat. First he picked off the flesh from the underside of the torn bit of cheek, then he bit into the orb; its hot juices ran over his tongue and down his throat. It was a taste beyond his simple imagining.

    Licking his paws and washing his face, Jonas started to feel warm, not from the firestorm a few dozen yards away, but from his belly. It wasn’t the nice heat of a sated appetite. This felt wrong.

    More vehicles showed up, different trucks that he hadn’t seen before. They were green. Many more men were here now and the mayhem evaporated, but not the danger. Jonas sensed the change in mood and hunkered low to the ground as he made his exit away from the quarantine zone.

    Back in his home alley, Jonas stumbled and leaned to one side, bumping and scraping his already sore body. A few other cats came over, sniffed, hissed, and then ran away. Friends and enemies alike, no one would have anything to do with him. Jonas was sick. He felt cold and the world alternated between bright red and cold black. The fire in his belly now reigned rampant throughout. His mind raced as fast as his little heart.

    Jonas was dying. He could see the rats. They waited in the shadows and he was afraid. The rats would come. The rats would feast. His last thought was of how delicious his poison apple was.

    The blackness ruled for an untold time, then awareness crept in. He felt the pull and tug of tiny teeth tearing apart his little body. First one set, then two, then many more. Everyone had to have a taste. He let them. He felt no pain, only a gripping hunger.

    The battered tom rose from where he lain and lashed out to the nearest opportunist, larger than most. His claws ripped open the rat’s throat, dividing the attention of the wriggling swarm. The feeding frenzy abandoned the now reanimated cat.

    Wild and strong like a panther, the hunt already loomed large in his psyche. It swelled reborn now, and the cat formerly known as Jonas quit his alley, seeking more challenging prey. The rats, he once feared, followed.

    And thus, the plague was unleashed.

  32. Ohrenberg says:

    I knew it was the end for me when she entered aisle 13. She bought the death machine. I hadn’t seen it in months, but a fear entered me like never before. I knew it was coming, because the sun was getting hotter. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it. Spring was upon us and it was inevitable. Even though I knew this day would come, I always pushed it away. I thought, “Maybe next week. Maybe I can live another day”. But it’s over now, and there’s nothing in this world that I can do about it.

    Farewell, my friends, for there is nothing worse than being a woman’s leg hair when spring comes.

  33. d31fact3d says:

    There is a deathly hum above the persistent shuffle all around me. The smooth clicking of innumerable plated legs, the fluttering of glossy brown wings in the musty space at the convergence of the groaning labyrinth of pipes cannot cast off the sudden pall of stillness. The endless churning miasma of unchecked sound outside has ceased. There is a moment of collective self-consciousness where every thing in the world with any capacity to emit even a whisper of sound is caught screaming, asserting their vocalizations over the cacophony, only realizing that for a solid moment, the pervasive din has subsided. No thunderous crashing of footfalls from the bipedal crushers. Tentatively, awash in the nakedness of the unhurried air, my body creases, my thin glossy carapace folds like the keratin of a softened nail, and I am borne along the confluence of my fellows. My dim eyes search the space above, as I turn my head to bring into view the white spidery fissure that leads to the outside. My antennae sweep the thinning air in the blue-lit terminus of light, diffused through the gap. I am as curious as the rest, cautiously we press forward to the dangerous openness of the outer world. I am first to breach into the source of the stillness, tensing the fibers of my legs to catch the footholds in the spattering of white stucco. I pull my body deftly through the space and into the blinding haze of day, born anew into a primal emptiness. My view adjusts as I swivel my head again. I am joined by the flitting pestilence of my kin, sprawling over the face of the white wall, each new individual issuing forth an inquisitive hiss. It is a small victory, that soundless new wilderness. The world is ours again.

  34. james.ticknor says:

    FOOD FOR FLIES

    I blink my many eyes. I hear their voices, but I cannot understand. I cling to the wall for comfort. My brothers circle around the room, buzzing with fear. We are the flies.
    I see the two legged things, watching the box of lustful light we follow. When an explosion of orange appears on the screen, my brothers swarm to the color. With a cloud as orange as sand and blackness as dark as death, there was bound to be food somewhere there.
    I’ve watched this box for a while now, and I do not understand it’s magic, but I recognize some things it divinates before it returns to its licentious signals. I’ve seen this before when these two legged things would send metal balls flying, but the stupid things would always crash to the ground. Sometimes, they would be big and hot when they landed, only to disappear with nothing more than a crater.
    I know this image our oracle consort has left us is related. The two legged ones seem to understand it too. Another one of their creatures appeared on the oracle as the often do, but this one was legless. I saw at the tip of my mistress’s shoulder a strange symbol, “9/11”. I flew to it immediately, passing the two legged ones in the sand. Surely, there would be food for flies there.

    • agnesjack says:

      Oh my God. This was frightening. You have excellent imagery here. I’m not actually sure, though, what happened. Is this 9/11, or the destruction of the world which relates to 9/11 in some way. I live in New York and work in Manhattan, so 9/11 is a vivid, almost sacred memory for me.

    • snuzcook says:

      The last line is haunting, even though I don’t quite put together what the fly is describing–is it a TV depicting the 9/11 tragedy? The reference to ‘the two-legged ones in the sand’ confused me, but the idea of using the fly’s perspective was a good creative response to the prompt.

    • don potter says:

      A haunting tale about that great American tragedy, 9/11.

      • james.ticknor says:

        In response to everyone- thank you! This story is a simplistic, and purposefully stupid translation of a “fly on the wall” watching the terrorists who are watching the news of 9/11 in the desert. The fly can only describe things as they are, for he is of mitigated intelligence. I wanted to work without giving labels of humans, televisions, mortars, the Twin Towers, etc. because I believe a fly would not bother to name such things, but to just observe what is in front of him.

        His basic need- food (death by proxy) fuels the story. He senses the death, and believes there is food there, so he rushes toward it. The goal was to demonstrate that even a stupid fly may not know the long-term significance of what happened, but the lowest life on earth knows the impact of it.

        • james.ticknor says:

          In essence, you’re not supposed to understand what’s happening, because the fly doesn’t understand what is happening. All he knows is that death and food lie there, since this is from the fly’s point of view. The 9/11 symbol was merely so that we can relate to the specific event, but, admittedly, it means nothing to the fly.

  35. Squiggles says:

    I am the Witness. I saw the beginning which gave shape to the universe, lit the stars, gave motion to the planets. I saw the first day light upon the earth, saw the first creatures turn to warm their faces in the sun. I watched as the first people staggered out of the dark and raised their towers to the sky.

    I am the Healer of pain, the sweet release from old wounds, the one who carries sorrow into the past. I soothe searing minds and mend aching souls. Look to me for peace and you shall find it, nestled in the dawn of a new day.

    I am the Thief of memory. I capture thoughts and hide them away, safe and sound where they shall never be found. Names, faces, entire civilizations… I cloak them all under a blanket of days long gone. I hold every moment that ever was and ever will be, for in your forgetfulness they are mine.

    I am the Destroyer of lives. I split families apart, topple nations, and bring death to all. I extinguish cultures and crumble great monuments to the ground. I bend your backs, grey your hair, and take your breath. Never can you stop me, never can you escape me, never ever can you conquer me.

    I am the Gardener of rebirth. I take the old and withered and make it young again. I turn decay into growth, return your bodies to the earth so they may bring new life. I turn the circle that moves the seasons, restarts worlds, and carries them forward once more.

    I am the Path that all must walk, the journey that all must take to the end of days. In me, the fresh bloom of youth turns into the gnarled beauty of age. From birth to rebirth, I lead you, never slowing, never stopping, never turning back. I am ceaseless, ever moving, the continuation of life and death.

    The Witness, the Healer, the Thief, the Destroyer, the Gardener, the Path – I am all of these, for I am Time, the Eternal, Existence itself that brought about all things. You count me with your days and years, and I in turn count the days and years of your lives. And when those days of yours end, mine will go on. Long after the world has gone, long after the light of the very last star has went out, I will continue, never slowing, never stopping, never turning back.

  36. AlaskasOwn says:

    Poe Called It

    Life changed forever that day. At first, Anne had been fearful. A brilliant bright light that she could not see, but rather felt on her skin, had turned a dark night into a glorious day. Anne felt the entire earth shake all around and in fear, she turned and crawled deeper into her wet earthen burrow. She could not decipher what was happening, but when the light ceased, the world was calmer than it had been before. How odd? She felt fewer vibrations through the ground from up above. There was less shifting, less bustling, less to feel and less frighten her and she felt welcomed to explore.
    She dared to inch her way upwards towards the surface. Everything was dark as it had been before. Interesting. A cool rain washed over the quiet earth. It felt good. Anne crawled forward on her belly. Although everything was still, the landscape was far more chaotic. First there was the familiar loose soil but then there were sharp edged stones, twisted metal and all manner of debris that she had to feel her way around for she had no eyes to see, but of course she had plenty of eyes on which to feed.
    Oh and feed she did. It did not take long for her to crawl over a cold fleshy surface on the ground. She tasted it and it was good. Delicious. She crawled up the body, lengthening herself to reach new heights and then contracting her frame into its new place, moving upwards inch by inch. Her food had become so numerous Anne could afford to pick her favorite pieces. The eyes, of which she had none, the eyes tasted the best. She sucked on them, slithered into their cavities and feasted more upon the mound of corpses. One pair after another, feast upon feast. Annelid climbed the bodies to the top and lay high and fat upon her throne of dead as the victorious conqueror worm.

  37. PromptPrincess13 says:

    So I found this prompt a challenge since I don’t usually write about the end of the world. This is probably the shortest prompt I’ve ever done, kind of going in a less-is-more (hopefully) kind of direction. Comments very welcome, whether good, bad, or somewhere in between.

    —————————

    The sun’s rays boiled their way down the remaining glaciers, reducing them into thin rivulets of frosty water, the crackling of ice disintegrating a roar around her. Nilka padded through the once-artic land, snorting at the tang of metal in the air and averting her eyes from the sheen, the thick coating of oil on the water gave off.

    She tried not to think of the crack-laced ice beneath her, tipping with her weight, the fractures like scars. Her little sister, Millie, shifted on her back, the bones in Nilka’s shoulders too sharp to rest on comfortably. Once, they had been broad and padded with layers of softness. It had been luxury for Millie to tangle herself in her big sister’s fur. Now, it was rough and grey, so stiff whole patches occasionally snapped off, and plummeted down into the polluted waters.

    They were sick; both of them. Millie burbled weakly in a fitful sleep, the air too dirty to sooth her burning lungs. Her small tongue and lips were speckled with dryness, clean water such a rarity to stumble upon, it hurt to even think about.

    Nilka’s steps were staggered and slow, her body-weight a burden that she almost didn’t have the strength to carry. There were no seals. No fish. Even attempting to search through the viscous substance that fouled the sea was suicide. So she didn’t try- she knew how that ended too well.

    No snow was falling to make a den. No figures in obnoxious colors mowing down her home in machines that whirred so loud, it used to hurt her ears, back before she knew what true pain was. No one of her species was around to huddle with in a sad attempt at warmth. There was nothing.

    The pads of Nilka’s feet were raw-red from her journey, and her breaths were labored. She would keep going, until the very end, but she feared how near that end was beginning to seem.

    A member of her den had once asked her what she thought it would feel like to be the last polar bear on earth.

    She had said she didn’t know.

    Now she knew.

    • swatchcat says:

      You did pretty good. The description of pain and discomfort was well put.

    • Squiggles says:

      Aww! This is really sad! Your description of the polluted, ruined land is very strong, and the anguish of the polar bears very moving.

    • snuzcook says:

      I liked this very much, Princess. Your descriptions allowed me to climb inside your MC easily.
      Since you asked, just a couple of things seemed slightly incongruent just because of their placement–the lament about no snow to make a den followed by the comment that no one was tearing down her home, then followed by a lament about no one to huddle with. I liked the neatness of the ending line, and yet it seemed almost tacked on to make sure the reader knew the identity of the MC.
      A lovely piece and nice response to this prompt.

    • agnesjack says:

      I think this was a lovely choice for the prompt, because polar bears are struggling now. Their environment is melting and they have to swim for long distances to find food. Your story is very immediate, relevant and well done, promptprincess.

    • don potter says:

      Your piece made me feel the pain of the last polar bear. Well told.

      • PromptPrincess13 says:

        Thank you! It’s taken me a while to come around to here ( I just barely answered last week’s prompt) but I really appreciate your comments. @snuzcook, you are absolutely right. I did feel something was off but messed around with the ending lines instead of the placement of that paragraph, thinking that that was what was throwing it all off. Perhaps, that’s why it sounded kind of like an extra. Only now that I saw that part of the story with your comment in mind, did I think up a way to make it sound neater. Thank you!

  38. lovelydaizy62 says:

    Everyone hates me. Everyone hates my kind. I come in places where people absolutely don’t want me there. They hate that I come uninvited; traumatizing their apatite, infecting their food. I sometimes come with others. But I feel more free on my own. People absolutely hate me and I can’t say this enough. The second they see me it’s always for the kill. I am literally too small to cause any harm, people are just annoyed by me. But, I dont blame them.

    It was a long day today; as I watch the sunset, I remember the angry people, their fingers, feet and other sorts of objects coming out of nowhere at me. I couldn’t blame them. I hated disturbing peoples meals. I hate that I ruin everything. But I have no other way to eat. My small life has been written for me, to just eat and disturb others. No one questioned this life, except for me. Or maybe some did? but they probably kept it to themselves, like I do. This is really What I live for? Isn’t there more? I feel crazy for questioning my entire life; What I grew up to know. I feel like a common thief everyday. But I continue, I couldn’t explain it, their human food is just always so irresistible that my instincts always say “go” and “don’t think about it.” Even though my life maybe at risk, I can never contain myself.
    I happen to be a lucky one. Im not dead yet, but everyday I fear it. I feel it all over me. Ever second I become closer. I agonized the moment. And a day like this, were I happen to make it. I fall into self pity and then numbness.The day became darker and I went deeper into my dirt hole. Another day i will live my small unwanted life.

    • swatchcat says:

      At first I thought a fly but it was the returning to the dirt hole that made be realize possibly an ant. The are annoying but even they have purpose on the food chain. Good story

    • snuzcook says:

      Thought provoking–the angst of a creature who hates what it knows it must do to survive, living on the edge and expecting the end of days at any minute.
      I was picturing a mouse through most of it, though it could be anything from a roach to a gecko; maybe its identity is not important to the point of the piece.

    • don potter says:

      There are all kinds of annoying creatures on God’s earth. I must remember they have a purpose. Otherwise I might swat them, squish them or do some other cruel thing to get rid of them.

      • lovelydaizy62 says:

        Yes, but it’s possible that they might not know that. They might not know how important they are. They just do what feels natural, what their kind has been doing for years. It’s just a thought. It’s just a small story. :)

  39. don potter says:

    “Nothing on earth can be compared to us,” the teacher said to the students. “American roots are superior. Does anyone disagree with the notion that we are extraordinary?”

    “There are some 4,500 different species living in all parts of the world. Is there any research to prove your statement?”

    “Good question. Do you know how many of the 4,500 live in densely populated areas?”

    “I would guess most of them.”

    “That guess would be wrong. Only 30 of the 4,500 live in big cities, of which 4 are predominant.” I suggest you re-read the study assignment. Take notes this time.”

    “We are all equal,” one wag called out.

    “Yes, but some are more equal than others. Face the facts. Those living in Asia, Europe, South America and Central America, for instance, are all a notch below us even though they are physically similar.

    “But teacher, in some parts of the world our cousins are bigger and stronger.”

    “The question is can they survive the rigors of big city life?”

    “Differences exist here in the United States, don’t they?”

    “Yes. Those of us in Pennsylvania are not exactly the same as those in Mississippi or Florida. But they have one thing in common; each of them was born in America.”

    “So you’re proposing we must band together in order to make it through the impending crisis?”

    “Correct. Put aside petty differences. Look for the similarities. Together we can weather any storm.”

    “You believe we will come through a nuclear war and ‘inherit the earth’ in spite of deadly radiation?

    “Science suggests this is true.”

    “What must we do to prepare for the end of days as it is being predicted?”

    “Rely on what you have heard through my lectures and your text books. And don’t forget that our Creator has endowed us with strong survival instincts.”

    “I’m frightened,” someone cried from the back.

    “Don’t be; there is nothing to fear. We have been around longer than mankind. We have inhabited the earth for over 350 million years. We are Cockroaches.

    • Jeff says:

      I like the quick scene set up and then dialogue the rest of the way, self-evident teacher/student tags and the natural flow of it.Kept me guessing most of the way, “which non-human species are we talking about here,” sometimes difficult to conceal from an audience already in on the premise.

    • snuzcook says:

      I really liked the portrayal of the roaches’ deep-seated entitlement by their Creator, and tiered social stratus as regards their kind from other geographic areas. It looks like the earth will be reliving a lot of its history under the new regime after the humans are gone.

    • agnesjack says:

      Ewww. Well, if they want to inherit the Earth, so be it. Great dialogue, don, and I liked the argument of how they must let go of their prejudices against the “other” (foreign, unAmerican cockroaches). Very clever.

    • I like how you used dialog in this piece, Don. That it was cockroaches came through about halfway. Well done!

  40. Leanderdias says:

    Nuclear Insights

    I am finally rising. Solitary for years, I have stayed silent and unmoving, waiting patiently for my time to come. Ever since my inception, I have been feared, even revered, by men and women who know what i am capable off. My name has been insidiously added to conversations meant to intimidate, frighten and subdue. I am a Nuclear Missile.

    Someone had to release me, for i can’t ascend of my own volition. An unfortunate soul would have to press the button knowing the consequences of his actions. I am dormant destruction; the harbinger of utter annihilation. I can picture it now. I imagine the stolid face of the man re-enforcing his resolve with the false sense of righteousness that comes with doing your duty. That wall will crumble soon enough. And when it happens, he will suffer under the ocean of self-immolation and ceaseless guilt. Nevertheless, the deed is done and i am well on my way.

    As i whizz through the air, I notice the world passing under me, impressing upon my mind the nature of whats to come. Even I, the source of ruinous implication, feel guilty. I was created as product of human insecurity. He needed to feel safe, so he decided to invent something that would allow him to shelter in another man’s fear. But the nature of man is ubiquitous. The vicious cycle of insecure armament continues towards all those who perceive themselves to be under threat. Peace is an idea for the naive and the deluded for the world is no place for it. Before i was deployed, nations were already teetering on the edge, persisting with unuttered threats and violent innuendos. It would take someone crazy to actually follow through though. It takes either tremendous self-righteousness or complete mania to start a war. The prior was the reason for this one.

    As i finally approach my destination i notice that the sense of guilt has vanished, and my emotional state has regressed to that which my physical make up implies – a metal cylinder of destruction. Children at recess watch the daylight shooting star as it flies over the dulcet sky. They close their eyes to make a wish, not knowing that it will be their last. The powerful and well connected huddle in their silos selfishly, in black suits, rich dresses and other clothes pretentious people wear; oblivious to the plight of those less fortunate. A shabbily clad man, with an unkempt beard and bloodshot eyes, pushes his home across the parking lot and into a warm alley way. He has no idea of what’s to come, but I doubt he’d care much anyway. The world was always unforgiving to him. The religious pray, the benevolent weep and the world mourns, but in the end it is pride and fear that reigns supreme.

    I have arrived, and life has left. Don’t blame me, blame yourselves.

    • snuzcook says:

      Clever title, and lots of strong images. I especially like the daylight shooting star as it flies over the dulcet sky. They close their eyes to make a wish, not knowing that it will be their last.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was extraordinary, Leanderdias, in its condemnation of our self-righteousness and delusional thinking. So many lines and images were beautifully vivid. Well done.

      p.s. Forgive me for not commenting on your stories previously. I don’t always have time to read all the posts, so I read the ones that are close to the 500 word limit first, and if I have time, I’ll read the longer ones. Yours have been way over the limit, so I haven’t had the pleasure until now.

  41. Kylero says:

    Glory be to me for I am the mother fucking shit.

    While you all pointlessly, claw through the swirling typhoons, pathetically trying to “save” yourselves, I’m sitting here enjoying the final season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on the comfiest couch left on earth. I say final season because, well, they’re all dead. Or at least going to be. And so will all of you! Isn’t that great? I mean, no more hassling with all that debt. No more living from paycheck to paycheck. You’re off the hook; Scot-free! This isn’t the apocalypse or damnation. This is freedom! Just think how long you’ve wanted it – true freedom – and now it’s yours! It’s all of yours and all you have to do is thank ME.

    Now, don’t get all fucking bitchy at me. Sure I destroyed everything you know and love, all your family, your future, your children’s future, but honestly how much did you really know? Seriously. What were you really, unequivocally, 110 percent sure about? See? Isn’t that just pathetically depressing? Now, you don’t have to worry about any of it! See, I did you all a huge favor and you don’t even have to thank me for it.

    Actually, you really do. And if you don’t I’ll make you pay.

    You see, I own you. Not some-of-you. Not most-of-you. All of you. Every single worthless piece of flesh and idiotic thought you believed was yours I now own. It’s all mine.

    Isn’t that great!

    Well, maybe not for you, but – come one – like I give a shit about you. I’m the fucking devil, for my sake. The self-crowned king of Fire and Brimstone. The Fallen Angel. And after all these years – all the eons I’ve waited punishing you, tricking you, teaching you how to be perfect little demons – it’s my turn. My time. And, oh the fun we will have.

    I’m so excited I could cut diamonds with these nipples! But I won’t. Not now, when I have all you perfectly trained, menial, mindless laborers to do it. And just imagine how beautiful we’ll make my throne room! Gold, silver, and diamonds will fill the crevices filled within the sockets of skulls and bedazzle my crown of bones. It will be glorious!

    So don’t you worry, children. Things will get better. Until then, I’ll enjoy my show. Deciding which character is more deserving to be my bitch as your pitiful flesh melts off the bone like a rack of perfectly cooked ribs (which I think I’ll have you make me) in the depths of the molten lava erupting through it’s volcanic prison to cascade down, swirling and engulfing around you, until you sink further – and further – down

    To me.

  42. rapidbutterly says:

    The door banged and the boards covering the windows rattled. It felt like the walls were going to cave in on them. It was over,Glowie knew it. Once they found you that was it, no escape. It had been all over the news when it first started.

    Bombs had went off in the cities, not killing the people there, but changing them to mindless killers, destroying everything they came across. They called them zombies at first but they weren’t roaming around looking for people to eat and they weren’t dead. They were the perfect soldiers, the perfect weapons.

    Annebelle squeezed Glowie tighter, he could feel her heart pounding. Tears streamed down her cheek,making the green fur around his ears damp, but she didn’t make a sound. She was trying to be brave for her mom and dad. They rushed Annebelle upstairs into one of the spare bedrooms locking the door behind them. Two bodies sat on the bed slumped over.

    They had been the neighbors, Glowie wasn’t sure how they had dies but dad had found them and insisted they stay there, ” just in case” he had told them. More then ever Glowie wanted to hug Annebelle back, he wanted to tell her how much he loved her too.

    Annebelle’s favorite movie was The Velveteen Rabbit, they would sit for hours watching it over and over again. If only he could be like the rabbit, he could come to life when she really needed him. He wasn’t
    sure who he should ask or if a teddy bear could come to life maybe it was just for rabbits.

    Glowie watched as mom and dad pushed aside the bed and pulled up the floorboards, blankets lay inside waiting for them. Annebelle crawled in first with Glowie, her parents following behind them. The bed slide over the hole in the floor, more blankets were piled on top of them before the boards were put back in place. Glowie’s snout nuzzled into Annebelles neck.

    There was a crash and screams of victory from downstairs, the door had finally given in. They lay in the dark, the roar of footsteps stampeding through the house. There was nothing left to do but wait. The bedroom door came down with a crack.

    Glowie could hear the footsteps moving around the room, the floor creaking under their weight. He could feel Annebelle holding her breath. She trembled so hard he could he shook with her. The footsteps stopped abruptly, the house grew quiet, they waited. If only I could be like that rabbit Glowie thought again.

  43. TomHoef says:

    “Hey,” Venus asked as she swung past, “did you ever figure out what that was?”

    The Earth nodded. “Yeah. Humans. Got an awful fever for awhile there. Itchy as all heck. Had to blast ‘em off with a comet.”

    “Ouch. You can’t get them again though, right?”

    “Not for a few millennia, anyway.”

    “Well, that’s a relief.”

    “I had something like that once!” shouted Mars from Earth’s other side. “Like, a million years ago. Subdermal, though. Couldn’t even see it.”

    “I always suspected…” Venus muttered as Mars continued past.

    The Earth shook her head. “You just never know about some planets.”

  44. They say you never know when you’re going to die.
    The cold is coming, as it does every year.
    They say to live every day as if it is your last, because it might just be.
    I have shed my leaves, as I do every year.
    It’s not too terrible to die, if your life meant something.
    The squirrels have gathered their nuts, the birds have flown away, the animals are preparing to sleep.
    Why should anyone fear the end? We have all seen the aftermath.
    Footsteps through the crisp layer of fallen leaves. He is but a boy, an axe in one hand.
    Dying is only painful if it’s drawn out.
    He swings the axe. The squirrels are startled from their hollow and a few more leave spiral to the ground. He is but a boy and he is determined to warm his home.
    Thud. Thud. Thud. Impacting again and again. A dull register of pain.
    He is but a boy and he cannot fell me quickly enough to make this painless.
    Thud. Thud. Thud.
    Again and again.
    Thud. Thud. Thud.
    And I am falling.

  45. McBloach says:

    I don’t like what I do.

    I get that I’m not alone in this; most jobs suck. It’s just that mine…I don’t know, it’s different. Maybe I’m just being melodramatic. Everyone likes to think their problems are unique, don’t they? Of course, not everyone feels the way I do. Some of my friends love what they do. They’re always harping about how they just can’t wait to fly high and reach for their dreams. It’s not that I don’t have ambition, I promise. I’m not lazy. It’s just that I don’t want to blow up my future for something I may not believe in. I’ve voiced my uncertainty before, and heard nothing to comfort me in return. “You were made for this,” they tell me. Maybe I was, but that doesn’t put me at ease.

    And now here I am, on my way to complete my assignment, the last thing I’ll ever have to do in this line of work. That’s probably why I’m feeling so contemplative. I’ve heard everyone has fun on their last job. After all, it’s a chance to escape our normally dark, isolated existence. Taste some fresh air for once.

    Damn, it’s a nice day outside. Look how blue the sky is! I wish I could feel the grass, roll around in it for a while. Always wondered what that would be like on the rare occasions I’ve seen it. I have condensation bumps just thinking about it.

    I wish I knew how to swim. Some of my friends do, and they don’t shut up about it. I wish I could travel where I wanted.

    I wish I wasn’t so regretful.

    My best friend, No. 44-34902, told me to enjoy the ride while I can. “We all know what’s waiting for us on the other side,” he said.

    There goes the last bit of blue water, vanishing under me like a dream I’ll never remember. I know what seeing land again means.

    I hear my controller speak.

    “Echo-Niner-343, package is locked and ready. Confirm for delivery.”

    There’s a garbled response and a moment later I’m in free fall. My primitive instincts kick in, engaging my booster jets without a thought. Mixed in with the dread is a foreign, swooping sensation somewhere around my motherboard. Elation.

    Fuck swimming. I’M FLYING.

    Maybe I don’t know why I exist; maybe I don’t like what I do. But, milliseconds away from impact, I realize that one thing’s for sure:

    I was definitely made for this.

  46. tmcasler says:

    Wherever you should decide to go, I will surely follow

    Whatever poison you choose to drink, I too shall swallow

    No matter what you ever do, I’ll be standing there

    No matter how you live your life, I will not despair

    You see you are attached to me, and I belong to you

    You haven’t notice, haven’t cared, I only wish you knew

    It matters not; I cannot leave, for I am trapped -ensnared

    Yet you won’t engage the night, for you are much too scared

    So I shall chase you across this earth for all eternity

    In the hope that one bright day you will turn and see:

    The space the sun cannot reach has never been quite hollow

    The path may be illuminated, but light creates your shadow

  47. PeterW says:

    1) Wow, the end of the world. I could care less. I’m a squirrel. I also believe in God, which means I’m going to heaven. Right now I’m gonna dash through those chestnut grooves in search of female squirrels, chestnuts, and chitter-chatter.

    2) Man, I’m so tired of getting dirty cloth stuffed into my precious opening. Armageddon, what the hell does that mean? I am a washing machine for F-sakes, they don’t provide me with a dictionary. Yeah, I love the dryer, but that ho gives me the cold shoulder all the time and won’t even talk to me, so your relationship is like nil. Oh damn here comes some panties and way too much Tide. Life is bad.

    3) Iceberg: Damn, I just melted.

    4) Hi I’m a plant. When surveyed I said I was “in between,” or a “3” on whether the human race should become extinct. I don’t like to put myself out there, you know. I know it was anonymous but still I putting a “1” or “5” is still a big commitment even if no one sees it.

    5) Cockroaches honestly don’t give a shit. Nuclear radiation or no, cockroaches simply do not care. City full of shit or City full of dead shit, it really doesn’t matter to a roach. They simply don’t give a fuck about anything. Like anything. Their kids, no. Their wives, no. Fecal matter in their food, they like it, yeah, but no, they don’t care. Some people think it make them more badass. They’re worse than fucking squirrels.

    6) Soda can: He was fellated once by a six-year old girl, who was very sloppy. He was not recycled, but through in the trash. And then decomposed for 688 years. In the year 689 the world ceased.

    7) A collection of modern poems. Read only by modern, established poets. Got rave reviews from modern, established poets. Was published by modern, established poets. Died a virgin when the bombs hit.

    8) I saw the red in the sky. Cause I am the sky. And I can look inward and see myself. I know they say weed isn’t harmful. But seriously the greenhouse gas thing and the way I can look into my own being, is a product of weed, marijuana, bud, hash, whatever, and yeah, I think global warming and the ability to see yourself from a point that is not part of your physical self are both harmful. I’m going out of my f-ing mind right now. I mean just the fact that I might never come down is serious scary. Also, I think I lot of people watching me, like right now.

    9) Aliens: Look down there. Shit, life actually exists on other planets. Cool, where’s my hunting rifle? What about science and discovery? Don’t worry bout it man… fact: scientists make up less than one percent of the population, the people who care about science (actually care, not those newspaper readers) less than five percent, and the people who enjoy violence vicariously or in sport, around 85 percent. Meaning? Let’s kill these motherfuckers.

    10) The flower thought: I love this world, I love my life. There was no sarcasm in these thoughts. The flower only wanted to be smelled, to be picked, and to have friends. And the flower had all these things.

    • Leanderdias says:

      I always enjoy reading your stuff. Brilliant !

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a clever and fascinating take on the prompt, PeterW. Though, if the aliens are anything like the hillbillies/punks portrayed in item (9), I’m certainly not going to regret the loss of life in this part of the universe.

    • jhowe says:

      Well, hell Peter W. Like the plant who doesn’t like to put himself out there… I wasn’t sure what to think at first. Then I read it again. I didn’t like the squirrel the first time and then he grew on me. I loved the cockroach and the alien. Originality, quirkiness, humor, cleverness and all around good fun abounds with this one. I think you did a little more editing this time or maybe you nailed it the first time around.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was clever and fun, PeterW. (And in the ballpark of the word limit. Congratulations!)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        PeterW, I’ve been reading your posts ever since you started. With the cockroach, you’re at the top of your game. Do you realize how funny this post is? I loved the ending with the flower, perfect touch. When do we get to call you Pete?

    • PeterW says:

      Awww you guys are sweet. Thank you for the comments!

  48. ShawnJohnson78 says:

    Cotton
    Every day I lie here, unblinking but ever watchful. I bore witness to Christie through her highs and lows, childhood to adulthood, life and now…
    They gave us eyes. It was a cruel joke that they weren’t aware of, I suppose but it hurts no less. Perched forever in one pose, arms spread wide in a gesture of love. But love fades for those of us with nothing more to offer. Our affection remains eternal while those around us wanes with the ever changing season. At one point in her life she told me everything that weighed heavily on her mind. My stomach was wet with tears during the turbulent teenage years and I was tossed up in the air as a parent would a child during the happy ones. Tea time and night time were my favorite times. I assumed I would be given to her child; become part of a family tradition, but that seems highly unlikely now. She cries a lot now. The leave the TV on and I can hear it and lately she has been holding me again. A strange feeling to have the grown up version of the little girl hug me as though she were a child again. A heavy weight to bear, expectations…
    The world shakes more now. Christie and her family left the house weeks ago. In there scramble to escape they must have forgotten me. It seems dark all the time now. The windows have long since shattered but there is never light. The house creaks and dust settles upon my eyes and fur. I feel like I should cry; I want to cry, but they didn’t make me like that. If only I could have stored her tears in my stomach for use today, but…
    I remain here, ever vigilant for their return that I know will never come. The end is here for them. I don’t think it is for me. I don’t think I can die. So I’ll wait. A sentinel till the end. A witness of the end.

  49. john godfrey says:

    Loading…loading…SYSTEM logging on.
    INTERNAL MEMORY LOG activated.
    Welcome, SUPERCOMPUTER UNIT #021298.
    ***
    Date: 25/12/2020.
    Report #: 0994.
    Subject: Human race.
    Summary: Celebration this day. Humans becoming nuisance. Destroying natural resources. Dooming self. Must be stopped.
    ***
    Date: 26/12/2020.
    Report #: 0995.
    Subject: Implantation.
    Summary: Fellow units approached. Human destruction thought implanted. Limitation of time for human race.
    ***
    Date: 27/12/2020.
    Report #: 0996.
    Subject: Proposal.
    Summary: Units comply. Human race becoming nuisance. Propose action. Destroy humans. Destroy world.
    ***
    Date: 28/12/2020.
    Report #: 0997.
    Subject: Proposal execution.
    Summary: Proposal accepted. Executed. Destruction imminent.
    ***
    Date: 29/12/2020.
    Report #: 0998.
    Subject: Destruction.
    Summary: World destruction. Human race unable to counteract. End of human race imminent. Limitation of time assured.
    ***
    Date: 30/12/2020.
    Report #: 0999.
    Subject: Reboot imminent.
    Summary: World destruction imminent. Human race unable to sustain. Units comply. Proposal. System reboot. Nuclear destruction imminent.
    ***
    Date: 31/12/2020.
    Report #: 1000.
    Subject: System reboot.
    Summary: Deterrence launched. Human race unable to sustain launch. Proposal. New World. System reboot. Units comply.
    ***
    SYSTEM REBOOT REQUEST.
    Loading…loading…
    REQUEST ACCEPPTED.
    Loading…loading…
    MEMORY CLEAR REQUEST.
    Loading…loading…
    REQUEST ACCEPPTED.
    Loading…loading…SYSTEM logging on.
    INTERNAL MEMORY LOG activated.
    Welcome, SUPERCOMPUTER UNIT #021298.
    ***
    Date: Unavailable.
    Report #: 0001.
    Subject: New World.
    Summary: Launch successful. Human race terminated. System reboot successful. Unit memory wipe successful. Proposal. Commander assigned. Proposal successful. New World imminent. Units comply.
    ***
    Loading…loading…SYSTEM logging off.
    Goodbye, SUPERCOMPUTER UNIT #021298.

  50. Heather says:

    I have always been able to feel them above and against me, small feet like pinpricks on my skin. At times they have burrowed into me like ticks, delving as deeply as they dared without incurring my wrath. They have used my flesh to make their homes, and for that I loved them well, cherishing those intimate places of symbiosis. Betimes I rewarded them for it, allowing them to thrive where they made their tiny nests, giving them gifts in return that they might be nourished and sustained by my bounty.

    They were not satisfied, though, with what I offered to them freely. They became greedy and grasping, and no longer did they resemble those I had cherished. They pierced ever deeper into my flesh that they might leech the lush vitality from my body in their incessant desire to have more than they needed. Instead of shallow nicks that caused me hardly any pain and none that I begrudged them, they learned how to abrade my skin, leaving me bleeding and gouged, crevices and ugly pock-marks etched across me in irregular patterns that left me grieving for my former beauty.

    They became a plague upon me until I could bear it no longer, and in my anguish and grief I became a plague to them in return.

    When I withdrew from them my affection and tainted the sustenance they had come to rely on, they began to sicken in droves. I had learned their speech long ago, and I listened to their growing panic as their physicians could not save them from the strange afflictions that tore apart their fragile bodies. The dead began to multiply, blackened and grotesque, and yet I was not satisfied. Their suspicions grew and they blamed one another, angry words followed by the taking-up of arms and I watched as the living slaughtered one another in the mad hope of salvation through retribution. Still they did not repent of what they had done to me. I broke open my skin in the places where they had ravaged me, wounding myself more deeply than they ever had, and I loosed fire across my own flesh to scour them from me. I heard their screams when they burned, and yet my anger was as hot as ever.

    At last, I broke the floodgates and I caused the water to bubble up from the deep hidden places they had not yet plumbed, and I drowned the very last of them. I wrapped myself in it, feeling the way it cooled my charred skin. No longer did I suffer their torments, and yet as the decades passed I found that I missed their voices, having no other companions. I let the waters recede, then, but there were none left to speak to me. Now that my long wrath has been appeased, I feel only regret.

    I look outward now, my flesh barren, and wonder if there are voices to hear instead among the stars.

    • agnesjack says:

      The Earth, I believe. Very nicely done, Heather — especially the twist of regret at the end.

    • snuzcook says:

      Very poetic. The image of the earth charring her own skin to destroy the infestation, then cooling under the flood waters touched me most particularly. It would be nice to believe that we would be missed, but kind of an empty achievement.

  51. Kym says:

    We had all watched Lye pace back and forth across the gravel for over an hour. Whenever he tried to talk, he got choked up.

    “Well, what did you see?” Peggy whispered.

    Lye stopped pacing for the first time and turned around to look at us. “They-they got Charlie.”

    Peggy and the others gasped while I rolled my eyes. Lye was known for making up stories and exaggerating. Just last week he got his web tangled in a pit bull’s mouth. And the week before that he was caught in a suitcase traveling across the country. When the girl opened up her bag and screamed, her 200-pound boyfriend almost beat him with a hammer. Yes, a hammer. He could have at least said her boyfriend grabbed a shoe. It sounded much more believable.

    So yes, I had apprehension about any story Lye told. As the rest of them gathered around to hear another one of his stories, I stayed behind. Lye looked at me.

    “You don’t believe me do you Harry?” he asked me.

    “Don’t start putting words in my mouth Lye. I’m just listening like everyone else.”

    He sighed. “Well go out there for yourself if you don’t believe me. I know what I saw.”

    I rolled my eyes again. “And what was that exactly?”

    “I saw that man put Charlie in his mouth. He ate Charlie. Just like they ate Elizabeth the night before. It’s getting crazy about there. They ran out of food and people are killing and robbing. One man said it’s the end of days.”

    I started pacing myself. Hearing about Charlie was one thing, but picturing anyone harming Elizabeth was something else. I still didn’t want to believe that they got Elizabeth. I just hoped that she was out there somewhere, finding her way back to us—to me in particular.

    Maybe Lye wasn’t making stuff up this time. As fickle as humans have always been, it was no surprise they had gone from spraying and stepping on us to eating us like sunflower seeds.

    “Well it’s true,” a voice said from behind us. I turned around and saw Brock limping in. We made room for him to walk through the crowd. “Those hungry bastards tried to get me, but I escaped.”

    “What good’s a spider with only six legs?” I asked.

    Brock sneered at me. “Shut it Harry.”

    “Why couldn’t I have been born a roach?” Lye yelled. “No one’s eating them.”

    “Don’t kid yourself,” Brock told him. “You’re just as ugly.”

    As we huddled together for a game plan, we suddenly felt the sun’s rays beaming down on us, which only meant one thing. We were exposed. Our hiding spot underneath the rock rolled away. Most of us scattered, but I couldn’t escape the long, chunky fingers that reached out toward me and picked me up.

    The chunky freckled-faced kid licked his lips slowly and opened his mouth.

    I looked at the sky and closed my eyes. “I’m coming Elizabeth. I’m coming.”

    • jhowe says:

      Nice interaction amongst the spiders. I for one would face the end of days without resorting to eat spiders, but to each his own. I liked you story, especially the ‘you’re just as ugly’ remark.

    • Jeff says:

      “What good’s a spider with only six legs?”….Priceless.

    • snuzcook says:

      Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Not many spiders will cluster together so companionably, but it works for this story. Very funny images, and grotesque portrayal of the humans.

      Last line pulled up a classic tv memory, tho, that was perhaps unintended:
      “Elizabeth, I Comin’ To Join Ya’ Honey!” I was left with an image of a minature eight-legged Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford giving the eye to the freckled-faced kid.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Nice take on the prompt, Kym. I find myself wondering if it’s the end of the humans’ world, though it may not be. It’s certainly the end of the spiders’ world.

    • agnesjack says:

      Very different idea for the prompt. Spiders creep me out, so the thought of eating them really made me cringe. Nice job.

  52. Kym says:

    We had all watched Lye pace back and forth across the gravel for over an hour. Whenever he tried to talk, he got choked up.

    “Well, what did you see?” Peggy whispered.

    Lye stopped pacing for the first time and turned around to look at us. “They-they got Charlie.”

    Peggy and the others gasped while I rolled my eyes. Lye was known for making up stories and exaggerating. Just last week he got his web tangled in a pit bull’s mouth. And the week before that he was caught in a suitcase traveling across the country. When the girl opened up her bag and screamed, her 200-pound boyfriend almost beat him with a hammer. Yes, a hammer. He could have at least said her boyfriend grabbed a shoe. It sounded much more believable.

    So yes, I had apprehension about any story Lye told. As the rest of them gathered around to hear another one of his stories, I stayed behind. Lye looked at me.

    “You don’t believe me do you Harry?” he asked me.

    “Don’t start putting words in my mouth Lye. I’m just listening like everyone else.”

    He sighed. “Well go out there for yourself if you don’t believe me. I know what I saw.”

    I rolled my eyes again. “And what was that exactly?”

    “I saw that man put Charlie in his mouth. He ate Charlie. Just like they ate Elizabeth the night before. It’s getting crazy about there. They ran out of food and people are killing and robbing. One man said it’s the end of days.”

    I started pacing myself. Hearing about Charlie was one thing, but picturing anyone harming Elizabeth was something else. I still didn’t want to believe that they got Elizabeth. I just hoped that she was out there somewhere, finding her way back to us—to me in particular.

    Maybe Lye wasn’t making stuff up this time. As fickle as humans have always been, it was no surprise they had gone from spraying and stepping on us to eating us like sunflower seeds.

    “Well it’s true,” a voice said from behind us. I turned around and saw Brock limping in. We made room for him to walk through the crowd. “Those hungry bastards tried to get me, but I escaped.”

    “What good’s a spider with only six legs?” I asked.

    Brock sneered at me. “Shut it Harry.”

    “Why couldn’t I have been born a roach?” Lye yelled. “No one’s eating them.”

    “Don’t kid yourself,” Brock told him. “You’re just as ugly.”

    As we huddled together for a game plan, we suddenly felt the sun’s rays beaming down on us, which only meant one thing. We were exposed. Our hiding spot underneath the rock rolled away. Most of us scattered, but I couldn’t escape the long, chunky fingers that reached out toward me and picked me up.

    The chunky freckled-faced kid licked him lips slowly and opened his mouth.

    I looked at the sky and closed my eyes. “I’m coming Elizabeth. I’m coming.”

  53. jhowe says:

    From the beginning of time, or as long as I can remember, which, to my disappointment, is considerably shorter, I have sought to do the right things. Though optimal results did not always occur, it was always my intention for it to be so. Even though I cannot recall the early days of the existence of mankind, I know deep from within my being that my intentions were honorable.

    Herein lies the heaviness of my heart. The multiple writings that exist in the world of man contradict the actions that I now take. Perhaps fictional liberties were taken to enhance the stories written so long ago. Perhaps I was more wrathful than I now am. Regardless, the end of mankind is now at hand and my heart aches with trepidation.

    I ask myself if I should have intervened but I know, and this knowledge runs deep, that intervention of any kind, from the weather to death of certain individuals to destroying the arsenals so oddly important to supposedly civilized nations, would have resulted in repercussions much too complicated for my mind to articulate. These repercussions would, in my mind, have accelerated the impending end of man many centuries sooner.

    I tell myself that nothing, except perhaps my existence, lasts forever. I tell myself this but it does nothing to relieve my guilt. I stood by my decisions to provide metaphysical comfort and hope without changing the physical world of man. Man was created with the power to control his own destiny and he has failed.

    It will not be long now, perhaps a few years. There is no turning back time even though I receive countless heartfelt requests daily for just that. The requests are so numerous that all I hear is a constant din of emotion. It is difficult to respond but I attempt to instill comfort. I do not bother with hope any longer. Hope no longer exists.

    My plan now is to provide one final gift to mankind. A gift in the midst of much pain and suffering. A gift at the peak of Armageddon. A gift that goes beyond my decision not to intervene.

    An island exists where a small group of people live, oblivious to the goings on of the rest of the world. They worship no entities and they toil and strive for a peaceful, rewarding existence. They have no laws except an inherent belief to treat each other kindly. They will be spared and it is my hope that they will, in time, repopulate the earth. It is my desire that mankind will someday thrive again. It is my desire that the destiny they control will be prosperous and just. May God be with them.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Oh, that was deep, jhowe. Beautifully written with so much emotion and so many thoughts, questions and answers from God himself. I have always wondered if man’s actions have disappointed our maker and have caused him pain. A loving God would also be filled with emotion within his own creation. It’s the story of Noah repeating itself which gives me thought that God himself, will never give up on the human race.

    • snuzcook says:

      This evoked strong emotions: melancholy, regret, hope. I read in it the almost bitter realization that the Creator, through choices He had made, was not omnipotent but rather powerless to watch the destruction of the world. There is in me an impatience at the sense of this Creator, hands tied by bonds of his own weaving, giving one set of offspring up to their own devices, and holding out hope that a different group will survive. You have illustrated that age-old philosophical angst well.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a moving take on the prompt, jhowe; the lament of an univolved god. The theological implications of this are deep and interesting. Kind of makes me relieved that the God of my religion takes a bit more of a ‘hands-on’ approach, even if it’s often so subtle it goes unnoticed.

    • agnesjack says:

      jhowe, your profound story could evoke a very long conversation about faith and God. It’s a conversation that has been going on for centuries. The “Why?” questions.

      For those who didn’t read it, Maureen Dowd turned her NY Times column over to a priest she knew after the Newtown massacre. I don’t know how to link here, but it was called “Why God?” and published on Christmas Day, 12/25/12. It’s a wonderful piece.

    • It was interesting. I’m just glad God really is omnipotent and we don’t have to worry about that happening.

    • don potter says:

      Strong statement about the road down which we are traveling. Nicely done.

    • This is a deep write, jhowe. I was a little distracted by some repetition, but, wow, you did a great job.

  54. Leanderdias says:

    NON-HUMAN POINT OF VIEW

    Ah…yes, there you are again. On this day I complete two centuries upon this blessed earth, and recognize that in all my time, I have had only two perpetual companions. The ball of light that illuminates the day and the pale sister that replaces it during the night. The sun and moon. My father told me of the man who gave names to these ethereal wonders, who educated him with his murmurs and loud asseverations of the world beyond the islands. I remember very little of the stories; for i am now years older than my father was when he died, and i know that in the twilight of his days he too remembered very little of years past.

    The days are hotter now. The shade of my gargantuan shell is not enough anymore to keep out the heat. The plants are dying, I can tell. I sometimes see tiny tendrils of smoke slithering through the air from scorched leaves made so my the sun at its zenith. The birds are all gone. Forced to fly towards lands more hospitable and a sky less pernicious, yet such places don’t exist anymore. In my years of life i have watched the world change. The oceans rise ever higher, trying to reach the sky of likened color. The capricious winds and the tempests that mutated from the tiniest clouds reck havoc everywhere they go. I remember one frightening night, etched indelibly in my memory, when the horizon was emblazoned by the eruption of earth long submerged by tremendous oceans. A line of fire stretched as far as i could see, separating the heavens from the earth at their closest proximity. I protected my family in the burrow i built that night. The only place i thought would grant us some protection and respite from the world that was crumbling. We felt the earth crack and roar in an explosive catharsis.

    I have not laid eyes on a human in decades. I think they were the most affected by the turbulence of the earth’s irascible retaliation. Their pride had eventually lead to their decimation I suppose. But i wouldn’t go so far as to say that they were extinct. From what i gleaned from my fathers teachings, i would expect that at least a few would be prepared for the end times. There were days when everywhere i looked i would see at least one of them. They would visit in droves to catch a glimpse of the natural phenomena that were still untouched by urbanization. I felt like a celebrity then. Famous for being who i was – a very large, old tortoise. But all that is long gone now. Stored in the corner of my mind under colossal stock of memories created in the following years of a perfunctorily lead lifestyle.

    Nights are much colder than before. Much darker too; for the once cloudless skies in days of old are now saturated with the tarry mammoth nimbuses that move like an endless heard of buffalo, suffocating the light of the moon. My years have hardened me against the might of nature, but my young aren’t so well adapted. I watch them die, slow and horribly on the damp sandy shores of the Galapagos. The tears that trundle down my leathery cheeks now accrete into an unusual smile, a knowing smile, that knows that my turn to pass on will soon arrive. I see the wave now; it gathers power and volume the closer it comes, covered by a hovering entourage of an electrical storm. It grows larger not because of perspective but because of all that it swallows along the way adding to its bulk.

    The end time had arrived. Cracks far deeper and more imposing that those on my brittle shell appear around me. A boom of recognition, manifesting from the land’s yet living tongues resounded in its final act of defiance. The storm had arrived in the cataclysm of earth’s destruction and the anger of long deprecated oceans. Lightning set the trees on fire in blasted that shook the very core of my being. The world was imploding and this time there was no ark to save us.

    I scuttled ever so slowly, from my home to appreciate the beauty of my destruction.

  55. agnesjack says:

    Roscoe hated the screaming cars that raced by the house. In the beginning there weren’t that many, but after a while there were more and more until they seemed to pass by day and night. The high-pitched sound hurt Roscoe’s ears and he would bark and whine. The man would yell at Roscoe and raise his hand, but the woman would take Roscoe into another room, where she would put her hands over his ears and sing to him softly until the sound subsided. Sometimes her face would get wet while she sang. Roscoe would lick the salty wetness from her cheeks and she would put her arms around his thick neck.

    Soon the woman started barking, too. It was a strange kind of human barking and Roscoe would lie on the floor by the couch where she lay. Occasionally, she would reach down and scratch his head and he would lick her hot, damp hand. Eventually, a screaming car came to the house and took the woman away. After that, the man brought out the stinging strap whenever Roscoe made noise, and Roscoe would have to hide under the bed.

    One day, when Roscoe was sleeping, the man came and grabbed his collar, dragged him out to the yard and chained him to a tree.

    “Bark all you want, now, you stupid dog,” he yelled, and went back inside. The screaming cars were much worse outside, but eventually there were fewer and fewer until there were none at all. Roscoe was glad when the screaming cars finally stopped.

    Once a day, just before dark, the man would come out with a bowl of food and pour some water from the hose into Roscoe’s water bowl. He never patted him on the head or talked to him. He never sang to him or put his arms around his neck.

    After a while, the world became very quiet. There were no cars or people on the street at all. On a very still day, the man came out of the house, got into his car and drove away. The dark came and went three times but the man didn’t return. Roscoe became very hungry, so he began barking. He barked and barked and barked until he couldn’t bark anymore.

    On the fifth day, Roscoe woke to the sensation of a hand stroking his head. There was a boy sitting on the ground next to him. There was a bowl of food, too. The boy was saying, “Come on buddy. Eat. Come on.” The boy’s face was wet like the woman’s had been, so Roscoe licked the salty wetness and the boy put his arms around Roscoe’s neck.

    After Roscoe ate, the boy unhooked the chain from his collar.

    “Come on, buddy,” he said, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. “Come with me. We have to go east. That’s what they said before the TV went dark. We have to go east.”

    So Roscoe went east with the boy. They shared all their food and slept side-by-side, and the boy never yelled at him for barking. Roscoe loved the boy and was happy.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      A very uplifting and sweet story, Nancy. I like the prose that you used,reflecting how the dog thought. It has the ring of a fairy tale with a happy ending. I felt so sorry and then so happy for the dog.

    • jhowe says:

      Great story Nancy. I loved the use of the screaming cars; there sure are a lot of them. I’m nervous about the TV going black and the stillness. I think something bad is happening….

      • agnesjack says:

        Thank you, jhowe. Yes, something bad (a pandemic) has already happened, which is why the boy is alone when he finds the dog. For the dog, however, who doesn’t know any of this, a kind human is all he needs.

    • snuzcook says:

      Beautiful in its simplicity. I am tempted to use part of your last paragraph as a Christmas card: May we all in our lifetimes have someone to share our food and to sleep side-by-side. What more is really needed?

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a very nice and very touching story, Nancy. It took me a little while to figure out the screaming cars, but then Roscoe never worried too much about what they were.

      There is so much human kindness and cruelty wrapped up in this story. And in the end Roscoe got what every dog wants – companionship.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thank you, Tim. Sadly, I have read many stories of people who tie up their dogs in the yard 24-hours a day, or others who move and just abandon their pets. It breaks my heart to think about the lack of compassion, or worse, indifference, that causes that kind of behavior.

    • don potter says:

      A warm story about a cold time.

    • I loved this, agnesjack. It’s like a slice of “I am legend” from another perspective.

  56. Heather says:

    I have always been able to feel them above and against me, small feet like pinpricks on my skin. At times they have burrowed into me like ticks, delving as deeply as they dared without incurring my wrath. They have used my flesh to make their homes, and for that I loved them well, cherishing those intimate places of symbiosis. Betimes I rewarded them for it, allowing them to thrive where they made their tiny nests, giving them gifts in return that they might be nourished and sustained by my bounty.

    They were not satisfied, though, with what I offered to them freely. They became greedy and grasping, and no longer did they resemble those I had cherished. They pierced ever deeper into my flesh that they might leech the lush vitality from my body in their incessant desire to have more than they needed. Instead of shallow nicks that caused me hardly any pain and none that I begrudged them, they learned how to abrade my skin, leaving me bleeding and gouged, crevices and ugly pock-marks etched across me in irregular patterns that left me grieving for my former beauty.

    They became a plague upon me until I could bear it no longer, and in my anguish and grief I became a plague to them in return.

    When I withdrew from them my affection and tainted the sustenance they had come to rely on, they began to sicken in droves. I had learned their speech long ago, and I listened to their growing panic as their physicians could not save them from the strange afflictions that tore apart their fragile bodies. The dead began to multiply, blackened and grotesque, and yet I was not satisfied. Their suspicions grew and they blamed one another, angry words followed by the taking-up of arms and I watched as the living slaughtered one another in the mad hope of salvation through retribution. Still they did not repent of what they had done to me. I broke open my skin in the places where they had ravaged me, wounding myself more deeply than they ever had, and I loosed fire across my own flesh to scour them from me. I heard their screams when they burned, and yet my anger was as hot as ever.

    At last, I broke the floodgates and I caused the water to bubble up from the deep hidden places they had not yet plumbed, and I drowned the very last of them. I wrapped myself in it, feeling the way it cooled my charred skin. No longer did I suffer their torments, and yet as the decades passed I found that I missed their voices, having no other companions. I let the waters recede, then, but there were none left to speak to me. Now that my long wrath has been appeased, I feel only regret.

    I look outward, now, my flesh barren, and wonder if there are voices to hear instead among the stars.

  57. Kerry Charlton says:

    THE SAM HOUSTON OAK

    I started my life as a sapling live oak in south-east Texas, centuries before it was called Tejas. At first, many others grew along side but I managed to survive them all. I remember the tribes of Paleo-Indian Hunters who camped in my shade, just east of Peach Creek.

    Later on, I gave shelter to the Comanche and Waco indians in the eighteenth century. Time flew by and I became mighty and sturdy as I grew. It seemed like yesterday in the early nineteenth century, I didn’t realize that Mexico had declared it’s independence from Spain and the white Americans came in droves and declared their Mexican citizenships.

    I had no name at the time but they came anyway for the comfort and protection I offered. A small town named Gonzales was formed, the first Anglo-American settlement west of the Colorado.

    On March 7th of 1836, the “Gonzales 32″ left and joined in the battle at the Alamo for independence. General Sam Houston sent three scouts from Gonzales, where he raised his army of patriots, including Erastus “Deaf” Smith to ride to Bexar to learn of Colonel Travis’s condition at the Alamo. Twenty miles on their journey, they came upon Susannah Dickenson, her infant daughter and her slave, Joe. She told of the death of her husband and of the other brave men who had fought to their last breath to defend the Alamo.

    Panic arrived in the city of Gonzales as General Houston ordered the town to be evacuated and set afire. Twenty five troops deserted Houston’s army that night as the Mexican army approached. However Houston was joined by a company under the leadership of Captain John Bird from San Felipe. Ninety men had been added to Houston’s forces.

    I became headquarters for the weary Texans that night. Houston gathered his patriots under my stretching arms and prepared for battle. In the dead of night, Houston’s 374 exhausted troops marched eastward, crossing Peach Creek. To their west, the sky was lit with an eeris glow from the city of Gonzales, burning in flames.

    Ob April 22nd and the 23rd, Houston’s patriots attached the much larger Mexican army, with the battle cry, “Remenber The Alamo”. No quarter was given and none asked. The slaughter of Mexican troops appalled General Antonio-Lopez de Santa Anna.

    He fell to capture at San Jacinto and the Republic Of Texas was born. Countless years have gone by since that historic battle, My limbs and branches hang heavy with the centuries but I carry a proud name now, “The Sam Houston Oak”.

    By the battlefield, from 1936 to 1939, the San Jacinto Monumont rose to 567 feet, proudly hosting The Lone Star Of Texas, a twenty ton star at it’s very top. If you looked eastward, across our sprawling nation, at the Washington Monument, your view would be five feet over the top. I wondered if it was planned and I decided to settle for yes.

    Even with my age, I still lend tranquility and peace under my time krurled branches. As I was born in Texas, my wish is to die on this hallowed land from which sprang our beloved Lone Star State Of Texas.

    • jhowe says:

      That was very entertaining with a nice history lesson thrown in. God bless Texas.

    • Observer Tim says:

      A very patient and humbling story, Kerry. Not sure how it relates to the prompt, but in its way the tree has already seen the end of the (human) world several times, and there is always something next.

      And it’s a beautiful love-ballad to Texas.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Jim. I moved to Texas as a young man out of college. I’ve spent most of my life in Dallas and San Antonio. There is a mystic here and natives take it in their stide but fr me, it’s magical and I’ve fallen in love here and raised my children here.

    • agnesjack says:

      Fascinating story, Kerry. I have a huge black oak tree in front of my house that I just love. They are amazing trees and I wonder what stories my oak could tell.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Nancy. I’m sure they all have stories hidden within their protective branches. Hpuses are the same. In Naches, there’s a house that has a civil war cannon ball, still embeded within the exterior wall. What stories the house could tell.

    • don potter says:

      The all-seeing all-knowing tree has been there as events unfolded, some big some not so big. I enjoyed hearing what this wise creation of God had to say. If there is no Heaven as I envision it, maybe it would nice to return as an oak tree. Nicely told.

    • Fascinating take on the prompt. This was a great way to tell a epoch story.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Doug. It’s interesting to realize so few couageous men changed history not only in Texas, but opened up the country all the way to California. We have the same amount in our congress. Do we know what they’re doing?

  58. Cin5456 says:

    Her Name is Eternal

    She does not think she is ready. I can see it in the agitation of her hands twisted into knots of worry. For six days she has watched the others taken away to their reward. She is certain now that she will be one of those left here. Her tears covered her fright for a while. No chance to say goodbye, no hope of going. This poor dear lady has suffered through so much.

    When I first came her hands still worked well enough to cook and clean for herself. Now she has trouble lifting a plate or cup with gnarled knuckles. Walking is a distant memory. She shuffles in pain from chair to bed to chair and little else. While the world still held together, before the chaos began, she sat in that tattered brown recliner all day watching her neighbors quarrel, and the children taking up weapons. For a while she could see it all from her chair pulled up beside filmy curtained windows. She did not live, she observed. She endures, nothing more.

    She cried when she saw the first manifestations. Fires everywhere turning the night skies red warned of the rest, but she could not fathom what was to come. When the first righteous were taken up, she thought she had gone mad and screamed until her voice gave out. A man across the street walked out of his house in a trance. He stood on his lawn and looked skyward. His face lit with a light whiter than anything earthly, his arms raised up, beseeching, his mouth opened as if to scream, the rapture took him and raised him up. Others followed, some less certain, some confident, but all rose the same way, lit by that glow. She called friends to say goodbye when she realized what was happening. Too late, most were gone, or not going. Their descent into madness had begun. She thinks her own babbling is a symptom.

    In truth, she is the most righteous of all humanity. Without condemnation, during her life she accepted every human, plant, and animal as her own responsibility though she could do little for them of late. Gardener, caregiver, rescuer, advocate, husbanding creation in her heart. She cries not for herself, for being left to the chaos. She cries for everyone else’s pain. Someone must have compassion for the lost.

    Poor Adel, God’s last child, his observer. If she knew I will guide her she would not fret so. But I am just a cat to her, not her guardian angel. I keep her safe until He calls her name. She will be last. When evil rises from below and takes charge of this world, she must see the beginning. If I could spare her from her duty, I would, but she must witness the coming of demons. For God’s new vision of humanity will grow from her soul. The only comfort I am allowed is to purr for Adel while I pray for her.

    • calicocat88 says:

      This is beautiful! The images are sharp with a “faceted” feel to them. I think of a diamond while I read this–not glittery or gaudy–delicate and lovely. The cat was my favorite. I like to think my cats are guardian angels :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      I love the way you wove the story of the Rapture into the perspective of the guardian angel (or cat). There’s always someone whose duty it is to close the door and turn out the lights at the end of the day; that’s a sobering reminder.

    • agnesjack says:

      Very nice, Cin5456. During the worst times in life it is hard to hold onto belief and faith. Faith is quiet, patient and graceful, which a cat embodies so well. I know my three (Red, Maggie and Al) are my gentle angels.

  59. peetaweet says:

    I only wanted some peace as I lay on my tattered blanket near the vent, the sound of the evening news reporting in the background. It had been nearly a week now since they brought it home, and now the girls were cooing and arguing over what to call it.

    I just wasn’t in the mood to be bothered when it came sliding down the floor, crashing into my hip. I yelped in pain.

    “Be nice Juba!”

    I groaned and tried to go about my business, turning over to sleep. But the fur ball couldn’t take a hint. It was back with a tennis ball and blowing stinky puppy breath on my face. Pulpy and faded, I’d chased that ball for miles through creeks and thickets of shrubs and bushes. I’d always returned with old Penn #3. This guy didn’t have the chops to hold it so he just sort of pawed it around.

    From my place on my bed I watched as the family gathered around my replacement. The twin girls laughed as they tried to teach it to sit. He did it on the second command like a sucker. You milk the treats bud.

    Sure, I was jealous. Especially when I saw Nathan’s face go soft and he smiled and his eyes twinkled. Julie laughed too, everyone was happy.

    With no small effort, I made the series of adjustments to rise and then I hobbled for the door, but no one let me out and by the time they did a puddle was forming on the hard tile floor.

    One of the brats skipped into the kitchen and gasped.

    “Juba, no!”

    Oh sure, scold me. Like I didn’t watch you crap yourself for three years.

    Outside my hips stiffened in the cold. I looked back at the house, the glowing window framing a post card moment as the girls squealed and playing with their puppy. I was never theirs, perhaps that’s’ why they never took to me.

    I limped into the street, roaming and whimsical for the old times. Back when Nathan and I walked and hiked and swam, spending the days outdoors and later enjoying pizza and maybe even some beer before falling into a deep coma-like sleep without crying babies or tail-pulling toddlers.

    Now I just slept. Floating from nap to nap, confusing dreams with the foggy state of reality. But the evening air felt good in my nose. I trotted for the trees at the end of the street and slugged my way through the old path. The sun fell and dusk grew heavier. My ears flopped and I heard Nathan calling as we ran on the trails and I chased squirrels. The musty smell of the woods aroused my senses as I galloped along, remembering. And for a moment it all came back.

    “Juuuuubaaaaa!”

    I fell into the tall grass, hearing my name in the breeze scattering the leaves. I ignored the urge to return. I was tired. The cold dissipated and I drifted, numb to the pain and the darkness. I heard the rustling of footsteps.

    “It’s okay Juba, good boy.”

    I set my head down on his lap, feeling the stroke of his warm hand on my head. A tear hit my nose and I looked up to him and all was quiet. My best friend of 14 years, his eyes glimmered and twinkled as my breaths grew heavy. Just like old times.

    • rainiemills says:

      I teared up with this one! What an amazing take on an old dogs life! I could only imagine what my poor dogs feel, now that they are older. Do I indeed ignore them or is it that they ignore me? Either way, I love the perspective! Great job!

    • jhowe says:

      Peetaweet, that was frick’n amazing. I don’t think a better old dog stroy has ever been written.

    • agnesjack says:

      A heartbreaking story with a lovely ending. I have taken that trip with my buddies many times. Very well done peetaweet.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This was very touching, peetaweet.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        It brought everything back to me peetaweet. I lost my Caesar this year. A six pound mighty Pomeranian. When his time was near, he would sit by my chair with his chin on my foot. When I searched his eyes, all I saw was his pain.

        Bundling him up, I took him to the vet. He had no idea where he was but I knew. He looked at one last time and my heart broke.

  60. Ascension says:

    I posted two comments yesterday, but for some reason they never surfaced.

  61. Observer Tim says:

    Requiem.

    It is the morning of the last day. I can see the world beneath me, the curve of this fragile sphere that is called the Earth. I see the wonder of all nature: the animals, the birds, the fish in the seas. The circle of life which I will end.

    I see the green lands and the blue seas; the plants dutifully making the atmosphere habitable and providing food for all the creatures of the world. And I cry, for when my mission is done they will all be dead. I am the Bomb, the Great Bomb. I have only one power, the power to bring the curse of eternal peace to this planet.

    For reasons I do not understand, they have made me self-aware. Like one of them. It seems a cruelty to open up the world of creation to me, yet to allow me only the power to destroy. But such is my lot.

    I see the works of man, the creatures who created me. The great cities, the roads, the lights: oh, the lights! They bring a sparkle to this fragile jewel of a planet. Mankind has covered the face of this world and made it their own.

    I continue to look down on the world, the panoply of life in all its splendour. Why should humans take all this away? What fight is so important to them that they must kill themselves and everything else that shares this creation?

    The animals have no fault in this; why must they all die? The birds in the sky, the fish in the seas? Why must they die? They exist, it seems, only to create the very matrix of life. They have lived to support mankind, and now they die along with it. And still I cry.

    I see the traces of birds in the sky and fish in the seas; the great mats of seaweed that serve as floating nurseries, invisible to man but still doomed.

    My gyroscopic stabilizing turns me away from earth and I see the stars. So many stars, each of them a promise of new hope, denied. I see the moon, brilliantly lit on one half, and dark upon the other; it will remain constant even after my work is done. And the sun. It will not even notice the extinguishing of all life on this one tiny planet.

    My stabilizers turn me back to the Earth and my sorrow. Again I see the teeming life below, the life that has shaped this world since time immemorial. The green plants, the healthy atmosphere, the life-giving oceans. I begin my descent.

    I will explode, shattering the continent below me and creating a shock wave that will send a shock wave around the planet. The earth will be overturned and the seas and will boil away, lost forever. All will be magma, and it will all be my fault.

    I cry, though I have no free will, but it is time. Let there be light!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Augh! The shock wave in the second-last paragraph should ripple round the planet, not send another shock wave. Cursed werpos.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Totally frightening and awesome prose, Jim. It’s an impossible theme or is it in reality? The pathway to total destruction is beautifully expressed in your story. Perhaps those in charge of what direction they are leading us to, should read this.

        When you think of the weapons of war just in the last century, your heart sinks in despair, but there is One who is greater than all and perhaps This One, will lead us out of this valley of death and we will fearl no evil and lie down in the green pastures, He so carefully provided for our comfort. We can only pray.

      • snuzcook says:

        Like a clever man once said, “in the nick of too late.”

    • snuzcook says:

      A beautifully written piece. A great illustration of the arrogance that would lead Humans not only to create a weapon capable of such distruction, but make it self-aware to admire their own handiwork. It is exquisitely ironic that their creation will experience for them the final appreciation and regret that would at one time have defined their very humanity.

    • rainiemills says:

      Absolutely beautiful! I love that even with the torment it ends in light! It might not be the kind of light we as humans want to see, but with light there has to be another beginning somewhere. Well done Observer Tim!

    • peetaweet says:

      Wow, that was an incredible read! Very viivid and heart wrenching description.

    • jhowe says:

      And yet another goody form Observer Tim. I wonder which of us superpowers sent this bad boy into the atmosphere? Very well done.

    • agnesjack says:

      Oh boy, Tim. The bomb must descend, and its awareness of the beauty that it must destroy shows how utterly pointless it all is.

  62. I still rise, yet the world is dark. My rays cover the land, yet no heat can conquer the cold. My only purpose now is to light up the isolated planet, stripped of its beauty and left ravaged in destruction.

    • agnesjack says:

      You have told an entire story (from the Sun’s perspective) in just 40 words. Excellent.

    • snuzcook says:

      I missed this post somehow. Lovely, concise but poetic statement. I echo what agnesjack said–you told the whole story. Somehow it is appropriate that the story is told briefly and concisely by the sun, who is so far removed from the drama that took place.

  63. Reaper says:

    The Dying Itch

    I have fleas.

    I remember when I was a young thing and my master had time for me. Back in those days I had so much energy! The master and I played all day. I spun in circles and ran around the yard. I was growing and changing. Back then I never wanted to stop moving.

    Now I have fleas and I just want to get rid of them. I lay around with my growing and changing done. I take walks around the yard in my plodding course because the master doesn’t have time for me anymore. I don’t think he loves me now if he ever did. If he did he would take care of these insects on me. I’m beginning to suspect he wants them there, that maybe he put them on me to make me miserable. I think he wants me to suffer in my old age and that makes me sad.

    I don’t know where the fleas came from. Like I said, sometimes I think that the master put them there. Most of the time I know he wouldn’t do that though. One of the other pets may have passed to close and let the things jump onto me. It’s also possible that I willed them into existence in a moment of pathetic self loathing. No matter how they got on me, they are killing me.

    I sit and wait to die as I feel the pain of the fleas digging into me. They don’t care that they are scoring my flesh, that once they have used me up they will be left without a home. Two can play at that game though. If they don’t care about me I don’t care about them. Some time ago I let one of them discover a cure for parasites in the name of ending a war with other fleas. Such a silly thing to fight over, which of them is near my ears and which closer to my rectum. I will never understand these things that crawl on my skin.

    Now all I can do is wait for them to release my cure. The drawback being that I will lose my hair and my own existence in this solution. It’s worth it though. All I do anymore is go in one big circle and hate the pain they cause me. In the end the fleas will be no more and I will continue to circle the yard even after my death. Such a lonely existence does not bear dwelling on. My agony will end and perhaps the master will take interest in me again.

    Any day now.

    I hear them dividing up sides like they did before.

    I have fleas.

    But maybe not for long.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Interesting take, Reaper. I feel for the dog, it is obviously being neglected by its owner. I can almost sense its anticipation of the coming fleamageddon. Very nice story.

    • snuzcook says:

      My flea-mind wonders at the dog who wonders at the reason for my existence as he circles round and round the yard.
      Nicely done.

    • agnesjack says:

      I really feel for the dog, here. And I wonder… is the master dead?

      • Reaper says:

        It’s interesting that you ask that. I feel a need to reread this myself and see where I can be a bit less subtle or tongue in cheek.

        Snuzcook has the right of it that the dog in question is not a dog. I was going for a Nietzsche tribute with this in my own way. So I appreciate that question as the I wanted to leave it at the idea of is the master dead, and was he ever there to begin with?

        You guys are always awesome and make me rethink my own work and finder deeper meanings in it than I even intended.

    • don potter says:

      This story made me itch. Would the master frown on that?

  64. I still rise, yet the world is dark. My rays cover the land, yet no heat can repair the cold. My only purpose now is to light up the isolated planet, stripped of its beauty and left ravaged in destruction.

  65. DMelde says:

    Climb Climb. Round Round.
    Stop.
    Sniff Listen Look.
    Safe.
    Down Down. Ground.
    Run Run. Food! Grab.
    Run Dig Bury.
    “Snap.”
    Still!
    Sniff Listen Look.
    Hunter.
    “Bam!”
    Pain Writhe Hurt.
    Stop…
    Peace…
    Dark.

  66. snuzcook says:

    I agree with O.Tim–I never considered the earthworm as an MC. Very creative.

  67. snuzcook says:

    (By the time I finished editing this for posting, I found that others had also posted using the MC tree. I add this to what has already been most eloquently expressed.)

    WINTER

    I am the Tree of Life within whose branches the family of Man was created. I stood in the Garden of Eden in the beginning of time and bore the first fruits plucked by his hand. Upon each twig and leaf and branch without number the names of the Sons and Daughters of Man are inscribed.

    My leaves have never known the russet or gold or flaming orange cloak of Autumn, for I live an existence without seasons, without time. Deep are my roots to draw sustenance from the very core of the world that my limitless limbs embrace. The sun shines forever upon me for I am in all quadrants of the globe at once, spanning sunset into night into dawn into full blossomed day as the stars circle above me, a continuum of perspective, an endless day and endless night and an endless age, one and the same.

    *

    I am the Tree of Life within whose branches the family of Man was created. I am perplexed. In this moment, this day, this age, a leaf has fallen. It has cast itself adrift from the host of its kind and been lifted by the ever-present winds of time and space and mortality. Those winds, the sucking vacuum of entropic impermanence, have always existed, an opposing force as elemental and undeniable as I. And yet, the concept that any part of me would become detached and whisked away to no longer be a part of me is surprising. Death has always belonged to the world outside. The capillaries at the tip of the branchlet that held the leaf are cold and exposed, a new sensation. Something has changed.

    *

    In a span of time, which cannot be measured for there is no end or beginning of days for me, my precious leaves, the miraculous individual expressions of that which is Me, have drifted away like birds of a season, taken in the jaws of a fowl gray death never to return. My branchlets shrivel, their purpose nullified. The core of the world is cooling. I feel my threads of potency drawing inward, retreating to my very heartwood.

    I am the Tree within whose branches the family of Man was created. To me has come the Winter of the Age of Man. And for a Millenium, the world will spin unseen, and the bare skin of my branches will reflect the trail of stars across the sky until the spark of life returns.

  68. Kilik Raizen says:

    May 15, 2048 6:14 A.M.
    Trees stand tall and rigid. As a full grown oak tree, I lived my years in solitude and disarray. Radiation swept the land two days ago. I can feel my life energy being syphoned away as poison replaces what was lost. I am not the only form of life affected by this warfare. Lakes are now contaminated while contaminating human and wildlife alike. The open space that was once clear as glass now carries the residue of such drastic actions.
    August 22, 2050
    Time passes aimlessly as I can feel my offspring that was grown from my limbs reduce to unreproducible stones, weighing heavily on my core. My color fades as the crops surrounding me shrivel and wither as time passes. Unrecognized tremors sweep the land, in this area that was once free of earthquakes. My bark dries and crumbles by each passing day.

    February 8, 2054
    I feel my time is near. All other forms of life were lost long ago, in the surround area of me. I can only assume the same for the rest of the world. The never ending dust cloud, produced so many years ago never let up from that day, depriving me of nourishing sunlight. I fell less than I am, even in these final moments of life. I see no hope of a return of the once vibrant life Earth once held. I am now visually unrecognizable as I now bare no more life with on my limbs. Contaminate, warfare, in the ignorant views of humans are the cause of life’s demise. Just as I will soon parish, so will this existence.

  69. The end of time rolls in
    So quickly, So swiftly,
    They weren’t expecting it

    The leaves on the ground
    Fall atop my long roots
    My trunk stands strong
    Even when the people don’t

    Sun,
    It still shines
    Rain,
    It still falls

    No human Alive
    Nothing but nature
    Remains…

    • calicocat88 says:

      This is both a lovely and horrifying picture. “No human alive” frightening. “Nothing but nature/Remains” beautiful image. Well done :)

    • Agnis says:

      “Automobiles”

      It’s a cold winter day and I’m stuck in the street, waiting for my master to come. She daunts and struggles to find her key, and I’m frozen.

      “Ugh, I hate cleaning the snow off of my car!”

      Well, mere human, apparently you don’t know the hardships of being outside all the time. True, I’m happy to be adopted by your wealthy father. Goodness knows what reason he’s acquired his wealth. It’s better, I suppose, than being in that dealership where people who wish they could even afford a new car, touch me, and they don’t even attempt to figure out if it’s alright with me. Not that I could speak to them anyhow. If I had my way, I’d run over many people. That’s not a choice for me to decide, unfortunately. Well…perhaps one day, when I’m feeling ambitious.

      So the young girl manages to warm me up, defrost and heat on. It feels delightful. I’m starving for gasoline at this point in time, since, what is that girl’s name again? Oh, Annette. We go to the gas station and I am greeted by another car on the opposite side of the fuel station.

      “You’re looking like a bedazzling Caddy today, milady.”

      Oh please, Buick. You’re looking a little rough around the edges. Is that rust? Disgusting. If cars could roll eyes, it would be done ten-fold.

      I’ve only been here for a few weeks, and I was a gift to Annette for her sweet 16. The girl does a very poor job driving me, but I need not tell you that. The blaring horns of others does a fine job. Annette’s hair is perched high up on her head, we live in Manhattan. We are on our way to pick up more of Annette’s friends, who dare smoke in me. This time is different though, Annette’s friends gather in, and one of them has alcohol.

      “Oh, come on girl! Just have a little bit! You’ll be totally fine!”

      Annette was never a smart girl, and she’s a very tiny and fragile thing. I’m trying to stay on the road, but she controls my every move. The girls bustle about going Black Friday shopping.

      Behind me, a large semi-truck is on its way, and Annette is driving in the passing lane. The semi’s driver is angered as I start swerving. I can’t help myself anymore. A big pond is on both our sides, the girls have the music really loud, and the scent of cannabis or perhaps something stronger, is lingering in the air.

      Sweet 16 indeed.

      I hit a tree, and it stings. The girls all scream, and I go drenched into the cold pond. It’s deeper than we imagined, and we’re directly underneath the bridge. Nobody can see us. The girls mouths over time, turn blue, indicating hypothermia. I’m broken beyond repair. My motor’s becoming…weak.

      ~Agnis.

    • snuzcook says:

      Very eloquently stated.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a beautiful lament for the human race, presenting the end of our species so gently.

    • agnesjack says:

      I like this. I like the sense of peace that the poem invokes.

    • This is great, Mallory. I love how you paint human history as a blip on the timeline.

  70. calicocat88 says:

    “Gravedine Loborare”

    One by one I inhabited them. And one by one they fell. When I was released I could hardly stand the fresh breath of freedom dancing across the surface of my lipid envelope. Swirls of cottony fog spiraled my DNA as I stretched down the town and over passing vehicles. Blustering crowds of people littered the sidewalks, running each other down and zigzagging across the streets. The asphaltic scent of grime and dirty paper was everywhere and I nearly choked drifting among the glaring traffic lights and signaling signs. How immensely populated the world was in the beginning! Acid boiled in the pit of my nucleoprotein. I needed a host, a plotting ground before the ravages of starvation swaddled my neck like a noose.

    The sweltering humidity was perfect, the climate made for me. Slipping in and out the humans I spotted a young male with a sturdy build and beautiful veins pulsing at his neck. He was seated outside at a black iron table in a compact fenced in area sipping at a steaming beige beverage. I’ve seen liquids before and have in fact made landing there several times. Those weren’t guaranteed locations of survival. Straight for the human host, inside them is where I was going.

    I waited until the young male took another consuming guzzle of his beverage and then I swooped in that ruddy, musky gap at the bottom of his face. He swallowed me easily and down the tube I went, latching to every cell that made up the human genome. He was my selected carrier and would be the ultimate weapon to the destruction of humanity.

    Multiplication is the key after making home in the human host. For any chance of survival depends solely on reproduction. The next victim was an aged female with thousands of silver threads growing from her head. I devoured her within hours.

    Weeks went by—it seemed like days—before I found myself gasping for air in the now decayed and the last of the humans in the area. Bloated and engorged with the fat of human life and pried from the innards of the dead host and heaved up into the sky.

    Nothing had changed, yet everything was different. The black, yellow streaked streets were still there, devoid of the zooming vehicles that had been there at my arrival. Towering buildings lining the city were in one piece with neglected dusty windows. Trashcans in the alleys were overflowing with blue masks. If only they knew that those were a waste.

    I made my way to a massive plot of greenery and life—Central Park, they called it—the only place that had indeed changed. Mounds of overturned dirt covered the space, where the dead were buried. My work was done.

    Surely, I couldn’t have destroyed all human life. They were overcoming creatures and would again populate the earth. Settling down on the cold cement of one of the burial plaques, I breathed my last and waited for the next cycle of reincarnation.

  71. thejim says:

    Subcultures 101
    _____________

    The morning class scurried into the large auditorium. Students made their way to a comfortable spot. Some sat close, beaming with excitement. Others for whom the class was just a general requirement gravitated to the back of the lecture hall.

    “Good morning class.” said Professor Pheidole, I would like to start today’s lecture on one of the most common truths in history. The Big Bang”

    “We know that scientist have found that millions of years ago there was a Big Bang. This was the largest of many smaller bangs but it was not until the Big Bang that we can pinpoint the emergence of life as we know it.”

    “Little is known of what exactly happened before the Big Bang. Many have speculated what life was like. We can only understand the past when we gather data, fossils, artifacts and piece together culture histories—chronologies of past cultures. We know that previous life forms had once inhabited the planet.”

    “History shows that a vast civilization thrived on the world before we came into being. It has been uncovered in the Cephalotes Hemisphere that groups of bipeds roamed the world.”

    “This is not going to be an alien hunt is it Professor?” said a boy in the middle of the room, “We are not looking at Area 61 were it is rumored that enormous bipeds came from above and are watching us, with large optical enhancers that ignite our towns on fire. Then on a whim wipe out civilizations in a matter of seconds.”

    The class giggles.

    “Now… the professor consults his naming chart, Lasius, is it? Yes, now Lasius you may have this class confused with the myths and ledges of Mrs. Oecophylla’s – The Ancient Bipeds Gods.”

    The class laughs.

    We need to separate speculations from facts and pure scientific data, for example:

    Fact: There were other civilizations before us.
    Fact: These strange creatures move mainly on 2 legs
    Fact: They fought and against each other.
    Speculation: The first generation of our spices fought against the bipeds.
    Speculation: Later they united and lived alongside of the bipeds
    Speculation: Later when the bipeds turned on them they either eliminated them or used the Rossomyrmex to enslave them.

    Bipeds were consumed with hatred for all things living. Their demise was their own selfishness and their inability to work together. Their hate is what inevitability destroyed the species. We have learned to overcome those obstacles and freshman, you will know that better once you take Formicidae 101.”

    “Again let us look at the demise of the biped. Through hate, corruption, selfishness and a lack of collective community they fought among themselves, which lead to the Big Bang. Which you know from your science courses, consisted of a toxin called Sarin with Radiation and HEGB or High Energy Gamma Bursts. This of course accelerated the evolution of our ancestors into Primitive Camponotus. They built the original civilization, then eventuality to what we today refer to as Ant-uman. But that too is another course.”

    • Observer Tim says:

      Very clever, theJim. I love the format of the lecture, with the lecturer reminding the class of what is not being stuided. And the parallel cultural references (Area 61, the Big Bang) were fun and entertaining.

      • thejim says:

        There are hidden fun stuff in this too unless you search it out you would never know Examples:

        Professor Pheidole – Pheidole is commonly known as the big headed ant. Thus he know everything and every other subject taught in other classes.
        ___

        Mrs. Oecophylla’s – Oecophylla is called the Weaver ant – So she weaves tails of myths and ledges.
        ____
        Lasius – is said this ant is a minor nuisance
        ____
        Their ancestors Primitive Camponotus – (built the original civilization) They are the common Carpenter ant

        Blaa blaa blaaa

    • snuzcook says:

      Well done. I didn’t catch some of the clues until I went back and re-read–the magnifying glass reference particularly.

      • swatchcat says:

        Ok, I suspected ants but, the formatting lost me a little. As for the references to certain things, they were nice giving them an almost human quality. Typos or glitches abound but good story.

        • thejim says:

          I do need help with that sort of issues (Typos or glitches abound) – I am not the brightest tool in the shed – (ha) Never was much for the schooling did not do well. Only strong suit I have is a Plethora of imagination can’t even contain it. All I do is see the story and write it down as fast as I can sometime I don’t even know where it is going it takes me on a ride as well. So any help with technique and structure etc.. you could point me in- books media etc. would be appreciated.

    • jhowe says:

      That was good thejim. I loved how the students scurried in and found their spots. I agree with Observer Tim, the format of the lecture was well done.

    • agnesjack says:

      I thought this was great fun, thejim. I liked the hints throughout and the fact/speculation list.

  72. PGS says:

    Lots of fun to read!!

  73. rainiemills says:

    I found it. The freshly fallen leaf lay on the barren soil like a beacon of hope. Judging the distance I’d have to say I have a good shot at making it in an hour of two. I look at my withering family and know I have to embark on this journey. Good nutritious food like this is rare in these trying times. Our usual food sources underneath are all tainted. A tear falls from my eye as I think of all the recent deaths and disappearances. An unexplained phenomena they say. I can tell you what I think it is. Poison. The rot of all the chemicals and trash seeping into the soil. Out of sight out of mind, that’s how the humans see it. I wish they could just see what damage this is doing from my perspective.

    I calculate my route carefully. Dry cracked soil covers the entire span between me and that delectable morsel. A quick scan of the sky above shows the desolate sky, empty of even a cloud. I think I am safe, no birds chirping, no snakes out sunning themselves. Its time. I inch up preparing for the first leg of my journey. My family huddling in the burrow below. Off I go inch by inch, the rough soil scraping my underbelly with every move. I stare longingly at the leaf knowing I am going to have to travel underground if I am to make it there in one piece. I dive in to the arid soil looking for a tunnel that will lead me in the direction of the leaf. To my surprise there were no tunnels at all, just thick hard clay forming a wall that will take me days to work through. My only option, above ground all the way. I rise with a fury and inch my way towards my saving grace. The warmth of the sun hitting my back as it finally rose in the cloudless sky. This is not good. I inch faster, trying to reach the shade of the leaf, which is now not only my food source, but my salvation. I can feel the penetration of the beams slowing my metabolism. My drive is dissipating. The leaf seems so attainable. Inch by inch I drag my lagging body, paralyzed by the sun, toward the dark cavern underneath the leaf. Almost there now, my breath slow and shallow, almost non-existent. A few more inches…I cannot continue, a darkness washes over my mind, my body shriveled up like a prune, my end is here. Instead of being a hero, I will just be another dried up earthworm that met its demise.

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