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2016 Spec Faith Winter Writing Challenge

For the last several years, Spec Faith has held a winter writing contest, a type of writing exercise, with rewards. There’s feedback from other Spec Faith visitors and there’s the potential for a $25 gift card from either Amazon or B&N.
| Jan 25, 2016 | 194 comments |

2016 Spec Faith Writing Challenge

It’s time!

Winter presents the writer with the perfect opportunity to snuggle inside and concentrate on stories and words and characters. For the last several years, Spec Faith has held a winter writing contest, a type of writing exercise, with rewards. There’s feedback from other Spec Faith visitors and there’s the potential for a $25 gift card from either Amazon or B&N.

Here’s the way this particular winter challenge works:

I’ll give a first line, and those who wish to accept the challenge will write what comes next (not necessarily the complete story, though it could be if you wish)—in 250 words or less, putting your entry into the comments section of this post.

In keeping with Spec Faith’s primary focus on the intersection of speculative fiction and the Christian faith, writers may wish to incorporate Christian elements or to write intentionally from a Christian worldview. Likewise, speculative elements of one kind or another should be incorporated.

Since our new comment “thumbs” are . . . well . . . new, readers should give a thumbs up AND reply to the entries you like most with YES. (It’s not a bad idea to name the person whose entry you’re liking, in order to avoid any confusion). You can give a thumbs up/YES response to an unlimited number of entries. If you wish, you may also add why you liked the entry or what particularly grabbed your attention.

I encourage such comments—that way all entrants will benefit, even if they don’t win, since they’ll receive feedback on their writing.

After the designated time, I’ll re-post the top three (based on the number of thumbs up votes—which should have a corresponding number of YES votes) and visitors will have a chance to vote for the one which they believe is the best (one vote only).

As I mentioned above, there’s a prize for the winner—a $25 gift card (from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble). In the event of a tie, a drawing will be held to determine the finalists and/or winner.

And now, the 2016 Winter Challenge first line:

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

Finally, those silly little details we all need to know:

  • Your word count does not include this first line.
  • You will have between now and midnight (Pacific time) this coming Sunday to post your challenge entries in the comments section.
  • You may reply to entries, giving your thumbs up/YES vote, this week and next. To have your thumbs up/YES counted to determine the top three entries, it must be posted before midnight, Sunday, February 7.
  • Finalists will be announced Monday, February 8, then voting for the winner will begin.
  • Past winners, published authors, other SpecFaith columnists, first time visitors—all are eligible to enter.

Please share this post with your friends, both writers and readers. The more entries and the more feedback, the better the challenge.

Editorial Add, Tuesday: If the number of thumbs up and YES votes are not the same, the YES votes will take precedent since they are the votes that can be verified.

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194 Comments on "2016 Spec Faith Winter Writing Challenge"

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Daphne Self
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.
The signs were there, had been all along. The forecasts, the news media, even social media, were claiming that there was an approaching darkness. But as with all things rumors and hints of rumors were discarded and ignored. And this time, though, they were right.
It was coming and coming fast.
Daniel seized the keys for his motorcar, hit the garage door keypad on his way out the back door, and ran, tripping over broken pavers, to the garage. He skidded to a stop. The door never opened.
With fingers that felt more like wooden props he unlocked the side door. Darkness enveloped him. A darkness different than what was coming. He groped for the light switch. Flicked it up and then down. Nothing.
Arms out in a parody of a blind man Daniel stumbled toward his vehicle. In seconds he had the door open and the key inserted. A twist in the ignition. Nothing.
He banged the steering wheel.
How could this be? He pulled the cell phone from his pocket. Dead. Daniel pried the back off, pulled the battery, and then reinserted it. Maybe this will restart the phone. It had worked before. The back snapped in place, and he depressed the side button. Nothing. He squeezed the phone. Come on! Still nothing. It was dead.
Soon would he be if he didn’t get out of here. He exited the garage. He needed his bug-out bag, but the approaching wave of darkness had arrived.
He was too late.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Your writing is so strong and tight! This is exciting to read.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, Daphne :).

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

You have a decent sense of immediacy in your writing. There is some telling instead of showing, but that sometimes comes with the territory on a tight word limit. Also, sometimes your ‘deep POV’ use of his inner thoughts is a little clumsy. In particular, “maybe this will start the phone” jarred me from the narrative. That being said, good effort! I enjoyed the phrase “arms out in a parody of a blind man.”

Michael Rogers
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.
There was only one thing left to do. Daniel turned about face mid air and flew towards the cloud. He watched as the civilians in the city below ran for shelter as the darkness descended upon them. There were shrieks and flashes of light as those few who had listened to Daniel fought against the creatures hiding in the mists. The darkness targeted these individuals, shooting through alleyways until it could surround them. The flashes of light stopped.
Anger burned in Daniels chest as he flew into the heart of the darkness. Clawed hand raked across his body as he plunged deeper into its depths. He coughed as sulfur began burning his lungs, but still he charged forwards.
Then, the darkness gave way to fire. In the middle of the cloud sat the Prince of Fire. He walked along the street, as if he were bound to the earth. Buildings buckled as the heat from his body weakened their steel beams. The asphalt ran freely around him. Tree’s burst into flames as the incarnation of destruction made his way to the heart of the city where Guinevere lay.
Daniel dove at the Prince, knocking him to the ground. With a final prayer he opened the Guinevere’s locket. Light exploded around him, pushing the darkness away. He felt the pull as the locket began drawing him into it’s embrace and he held onto the Prince. Together they were drawn into the locket, locked away until another foolish mortal sought its treasure.

Katie Trent
Guest

I give Michael a yes!!

Emily Rogers
Guest

Yes! Go Michael Rogers! Best husband ever ;]

Julie Ramos
Guest

Yes for Michael Rogers!

Will Bundy
Guest

Yessssss

grace
Guest

Yes! Michael Rogers

Maggie Bundy
Guest

Yes! Very well done!

Meredith Tunez
Guest

Great job Michael! Thumbs up!

Madeline Bales
Guest

Yes yes!!!!!!! YESS

Crystal
Guest

Yes

Anna C
Guest

Yes! Great job Michael!

Cala Perkins
Guest

Yes!

Mariah F
Guest

Yes, Michael!

Lisa
Guest

“He walked along the street, as if he were bound to the earth.” Now THAT is a great line (although, small quibble, I would lose the comma).

Mike R
Guest

Thanks! It was hard to get the emphasis right without one though. It is almost a semi-thought. To be honest, this was a great prompt and I am almost ceartainly make a short story about princes of the elements (read demon generals) trapped in different objects along with the guardians who can defeat them. Then have unsuspecting people open said objects, unleashing terror upon the earth unless the guardians can reclaim the objects and trap themselves back in. Of course, the downside is that the guardians long to be free.

Lisa
Guest

And a Yes!

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, Michael! Great drive and emotion.

Andi Lynn Woods
Guest

YES!!!!

shirley stevens
Guest

n the conversation

Fran
Guest

Yes proud mom!!

Mirtika Schultz
Member

(Not a complete story. A story opener, fantasy).

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

If he, the swiftest of the Moonthrone Prince’s messengers, couldn’t make the Son’s Blood Cave in time, no one could. Surely not the slight missy who’d dogged him since he’d departed Gooly’s Inn.

She’d fallen farther behind with each hour of his journey home and distracted him from the blanking ritual. Daniel’s mind had yet to forget the message he’d delivered to the prince’s future father-in-law. And he’d slowed a bit with each mile.

The cloud roiled closer. His peril-sense burned alarms across his flesh.

“So, that’s that.”

Daniel calculated his time of death. Ten minutes at most. The caves lay forty minutes northeast at his top speed, probably twice that a hers, if she had the wind for it. No time to dig and huddle. Time only for the prayer surrendering his soul.

He regretted foregoing that third serving of Gooly’s stew. And Diandra’s tears…

“Get over here, runner!”

The voice startled Daniel. He hadn’t heard it since she’d declared at the inn’s threshold that they’d travel together. How had it carried this far?

“Come,” she shouted. “Now!”

He ran.

She was glowing when he halted before her amber gaze. Black specks of cloud scraped his face and dimmed her white braids. The air stank of devilstone.

“Promise to blank this,” she snapped and tossed her green velvet cloak over them both. Her glow captured him in golden heat.

When the cloak slid to the ground, Daniel stared, speechless, at the scarlet rock all around them. Son’s Blood Cave.

Mirtika Schultz
Member

Sorry for typo: “twice that at hers,” not “a hers.” Sigh.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES, for the beautiful language and intriguing worldbuilding. 🙂

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

I liked this for the lovely phraseology. Really grabbed my attention

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

Yes! I want there to be more 🙂 Beautiful imagery!

Katie Lohr
Guest

This is so creative!

RJ Conte
Guest

Yes to Mirtika from me!

Leanna
Guest

Yes to Mirtika. 🙂 Needs a little more word count I think to really breathe (the exposition is a little crammed) but I’m loving this as a story opener.

Ethan Van Vorst
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. It issued from the mouth of the cave like a geyser, its surface billowing like a jellyfish. Occasional sparks of light glittered from within it sporadically, as though it were a charged storm cloud.

Halfway…gotta go faster, Daniel thought as he hobbled on the sea floor. His industrial diving suit was heavy and bulky, made more for slow excursions on the deep sea floor rather than speed. Despite this Daniel worked his legs as fast as he could, and the suit’s leg actuators clicked loudly as the 200 pound limbs raised and lowered in response. Sediment, which had lain dormant on the sea bottom for untold millennia, brought up roiling clouds with Daniel’s passage.
“Robeson, Jorgensen, report status”. So intent was Daniel on the soft red blinking beacon in the distance that he’d forgotten the radio. He keyed the transmitter on the blinking display in his large helmet with his tongue.
“Robeson here…we’re headed to Atlantis, no time to talk”. Daniel looked up on the small display above his faceplate. The 360 degree camera. Behind him Jorgensen was hobbling along perhaps 30 yards distant. The cloud wasn’t far behind her and given her spastic movements she knew it.
“Beth, move it.”

Beth grunted over the comm in response.

“Sitrep Robeson, we need to know what’s happening. We’ve detected a small quake in your area”.

Daniel was attempting to control his breathing, and failing at it. “Horton activated the device. It activated a security system….some kind of cloud. Horton’s dead, and we don’t want to be next. Over”.
Twenty yards now….we can make it, Daniel thought. He looked up into the camera just in time to see Beth fall forward as the cloud hit her from behind. Her helmet mounted lights simply vanished into the surface of the cloud, and the sparkles within the cloud seemed to intensify where she had been only moments before.

“Beth! Report! Beth!” Daniel hollered into the mic.

There was only silence over the comm.
The cloud had seemed to slow noticeably as it reached Beth, and Daniel wasted no time in taking advantage of it. Five yards…four yards….he counted off in his mind. Before he knew it his hand was grasping the bathysphere handle and pulling it down, opening the airlock door.

“Beth….do you copy?”
“Robeson, status”, his commlink issued again. He climbed slowly into the airlock and the door very slowly began to close behind him.

Lisa
Guest

I like the undersea setting too!

Ethan D. Van Vorst
Guest

Thank you! My first time doing this and figured I’d try something outside of the box. 🙂

Lisa
Guest

And a Yes!

Katie Lohr
Guest

So creative, and what an awesome setting! And good and scary ;).

N. A. Cauldron
Guest

Yes!

Leanna
Guest

Yes to Ethan. This is intriguing. And I was thinking about 20000 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea recently so the atmospheric choice is particularly timely. 🙂

Cassie Stevens
Guest

Yes, Ethan

Julia Busko
Guest

Yes!

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

Fortunately, he had an elefunt

It smelled like overripe bananas and burnt socks underneath the scaly torso as tall as a one-storey house. But that was the safest place. Only a fool stayed near an elefunt’s trunk when it was steam-snorting a poison-cloud. A surefire way to get all your skin seared off and piled in ribbons on the ground.

Daniel crouched low, his threadbare scarf yanked tight against his mouth and round his head like a turban. Above him, the elefunt’s gut wobbled as it sucked in a breath. Ready to blast whatever kresh came out of that cloud.

On a post-nuke planet, nothing coming in a cloud meant good. Anyone with half a brain never broke Surface.

Just lumphead scavs like him, desperate for a bit of tech to barter Down Below. Thanks to being a gene-scramble, Daniel breathed Surface gasses as pure air. Didn’t make his skin or lungs immune to poison-clouds.

Thank God for elefunts. Not that He bothered with the scorched earth.

The cloud swallowed the sky in black. What the kresh was the elefunt waiting for? Green leaves? A tree?

Daniel rolled over and shoved his boots vertical, right into the wobbly, stinking gut. The elefunt exploded in steam with a snort like chem-thunder.

Boom. SNERK!

He curled up, cloth-wrapped hands blocking the backwash spray. Acrid mist coated his clothes. Elefunts ate messy, especially their favorite cloud-snack.

Sneeeerk.

One blink. Two. No cloud.

He tensed.

Now to move before the beast farted.

Lisa
Guest

Ha ha. Good one!

Lisa
Guest

And Yes!

Katie Lohr
Guest

This is creative and fun :).

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES, because the writing is lively and full of imagination. I love your voice. 😀

Sarah White
Guest

Yes! Love this!

Heather
Guest

Nice use of engaging the reader with the senses.

Heather P.
Guest

Very creative. 🙂 Love your use of engaging the senses.

N. A. Cauldron
Guest

Yes 🙂

Katherine
Guest

Yes, Janeen! Very funny and creative.

Leanna
Guest

Yes to Janeen. I’m a sucker for unique slang in a carefree voice. 🙂

Amy
Guest

Yea

Julia Busko
Guest

Yes!

Lauren
Guest

Yes. This is amusing 🙂

Jen
Guest

Yes!!

Michael Carney
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. At least, not without demonstrating capabilities that he did not wish humans to see.

Instead, he waited for the cloud of nandroids. He hovered silently in space as the micro-creatures surrounded and scanned him and then instantaneously transmitted their findings to their human masters several million miles away.

Daniel waited patiently for First Contact.

Eventually, it happened. The nandroid cloud moved a respectful distance away and then projected a holographic image of a clearly nervous human. She addressed Daniel in Standard English. “Greetings. Can – can you understand me?”

Daniel smiled to himself. Of course everyone out here speaks English and can hear despite the vacuum of space. Why wouldn’t we?

Openly, he simply nodded. “Yes, I can,” he replied, converting his voice into ansible transmission frequencies so that the humans could hear his response.

The woman looked desperately relieved. “My name is Admiral J …”

Daniel interrupted. “I know who you are, Admiral Jason.”

“How … ?”

Daniel interrupted again. “Admiral, I need to warn you that your ship is about to come to a sudden halt. You are nearly at the edge of your planetary system but may not proceed any further. Not now, not ever.”

“But why,” asked the shocked Admiral, “why would you deny us the stars?”

“You were warned a long time ago,” said Daniel as he casually summoned his wings, “that only the righteous may enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And here, outside your solar system, is where the Kingdom begins.”

Alex Mellen
Member

YES — very cool premise! And nice twist.

Katie Lohr
Guest

What a cool idea! It’s very interesting and the surprise is amazing!

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, Michael!

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES. I really enjoyed this one. The writing is clean, and the scenario intriguing. 🙂

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

YES for the twist ending. 🙂

Heather
Guest

very good Micheal carney!

Heather
Guest

I apologize for the typo. 🙂

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

YES! Love the premise.

Leah Burchfiel
Member

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to outrun it.

“That’s what you get for trying to bottle an angel of death,” the leopard said casually. “Your uncle’s luck now depends on whether it was him or her.”
“What?”
“There’s more than one angel of death, human. She’s probably the kinder.”
“Wh-why’s that?”
“Hers is the madness of grief. His is the madness of betrayal. Then again, which is the more miserable might be entirely up to personal preference.”
Daniel tried to brace against the rushing cloud, but he flinched against nothing as it engulfed him. What brought him to his knees was the wet edge of sorrow that cut to the bone.
“You’ve known little grief in your life, then?” the leopard said.
He gasped, mewling for air past the ice in his lungs, and collapsed.
The leopard walked around in front of him to study his face better.
“Poor kitten, too untested for an easy passing. I think I shall take pity on you.” It licked his forehead with a rough cat tongue. “You know my touch better than hers.”
It unfurled six golden birds’ wings from its shoulders and back. “Mine is the madness of fear.”

Leah Burchfiel
Member

….I think I’ve been rewatching too much Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Lisa
Guest

Ah. Which probably explains why I found this a bit obscure. I’ve never heard of that! Also the POV switch from Daniel to the leopard was a bit confusing too.

Leah Burchfiel
Member

For the curious, Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of most famous giant-robot anime from Japan. It’s WEIRD, but weird in a mostly philosophical-psychological-symbological way, and most of the animation and cinematography is amazing.
Here’s a link to one of the, IMO, best fight scenes of Eva Unit 01 and its pilot Shinji against an alien “angel” (warning: boatloads of cartoon blood, alien cannibalism): https://youtu.be/_l2Qo2Vkxog?t=10m21s

Lisa
Guest

Ahh! Ok kinda cool in a huge-robot-bashing-crashing-crushing-cannabilistic (???) sorta way….. 😀

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

YES — The writing is clean and tight. And it makes me think.

Katie Lohr
Guest

You captured the fear leopard’s creepiness really well. I sense some interesting backstory, too. I hope Daniel emerges victorious!

Audie Thacker
Member

Yes.

Forrest Schultz
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

AND, he immediately knew it was a supernatural killer cloud and that he only had a few seconds before it hit, not even enough time to pray.

BUT he did NOT need to pray because he immediately saw right in front of him a Lions Den — yes, one just like the one his namesake in the Bible had been thrown into.

So, he jumped in and was saved from the cloud; and he and the lions had a lot of fun.

Sounds incredible, but I can’t help it — that is what happened.

Katie Lohr
Guest

I love Daniel from the Bible, and I think it’s cool that you incorporated that into your piece :). I am so glad he was offered a doorway of escape! Maybe he didn’t pray beforehand, but I hope he offered a prayer of thanksgiving afterwards ;)!

Lynvia
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.
“Shields.” His lips formed the word, but the fear choking him kept sound from escaping.
“Done.” Dyna was no mind reader, but the computerized suit could certainly read lips.
The cloud swirled around his suit, kept at bay by a faint blue glow. It quickly obscured the ochre tint of the desert landscape, and the pearl sky above.
“Analysis, Dyna. What is this entity?”
“Scans are inconclusive. It is not energy. Mass is not registering.”
Daniel frowned, glancing back toward the ship completely obscured by the darkness. “Retreat?”
“Inadvised.” A hum informed Daniel that Dyna’s remote uplink had kicked in, indicating she was talking with the ship computer. He swallowed. Dynas never did talkback unless there was need for RFR. Meaning the ship was going to have to rescue them, Dyna couldn’t handle it.
He felt the ground shudder. The ship was taking off, he knew.
Words seared across his thoughts. “Open your mind.”
Daniel blinked. He glanced out at the swirling darkness. “Who are you?”
“We are Legion.” The force of the message nearly crushed his consciousness.
“Dyna, get me on that ship!” The blue shield sparked and flashed.
“Trans. Now.” Dyna’s crisp order snapped across the darkness washing over Daniel. He sat up and blinked. He was on the ship.
“Lieutenant Starnes. Status.” It was the captain.
Daniel groaned. His head felt packed in cotton.
“Status, Daniel. Are you ok?”
An evil grin spread across Daniel’s face. “We are fine.”

Ethan D. Van Vorst
Guest

YES. Star Trek meets the Exorcist

Lisa
Guest

Ooo. Creepy.

Lisa
Guest

And Yes.

Katie Lohr
Guest

The tension and conflict is great. I’m not a big fan of reading about demonic activity, but good job :).

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

Katie, if you’re voting for entries your vote needs to say “YES” in it. I’ve just noticed that you’ve left approving comments on a few but they might not be counted as votes. (If that’s what you meant them to be!) Sorry to intrude. I just wanted to let you know. 🙂

And YES, Lynvia. I agree with Katie…not my favorite topic, but oh so creepy – well done!

Katie Lohr
Guest

Thanks, Bethany :)!

Lisa
Guest

Whoops guilty of this too. I will add my “yeses” …..

N. A. Cauldron
Guest

yes

Katherine
Guest

Yes, Lynvia! Very creepy.

Alex Mellen
Member

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to outrun it.

Someone had awakened the stormbringer’s armor. And that meant someone had gotten past Papa.

Daniel turned and sprinted for the solitary tower jutting from the desert. His father and uncle protected the tower until someone with unparalleled force of will was found to subdue the armor’s magic.

He reached the tower and ascended its staircase. Papa and Uncle Miles lay sprawled on a landing near the great door at the top, unconscious. Daniel and his brother would be guardians one day, but not yet. Not now!

The black key sat in the door’s lock. Through the open crack, Daniel saw shimmering yellow-green light.

Daniel pushed the door open. The light inside swirled around an enormous, mirrorlike suit of armor. Its head swiveled to Daniel.

“A boy shall not stop me,” said a disembodied, echoing voice. But beyond the echo, another voice, high-pitched, faint, and terrified, shrieked inside the armor.

Daniel threw himself at it, grabbing a shoulder plate and pulling. The metal grew hot and burned his hands. Smoke poured from its visor, blinding, choking him. Slowly, the metal bent outward until a small hand squeezed out and grabbed Daniel’s finger.

The suit fell apart, pieces clattering to the floor. The light vanished. Daniel landed hard, and a smaller body landed on him.

“Dannee,” Daniel’s little brother sobbed as Daniel held him. Someone never expected had raided the tower and awakened the armor.

Did this mean Daniel was the stormquencher? He didn’t care. Liam was safe, and that was plenty.

April Nichole
Guest

Yes for Alex

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

Yes, I especially like the sibling/family relationships.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, Alex :). I love the relationship between Daniel and Liam. Daniel seems like a really cool character.

Leanna
Guest

Yes to Alex. This doesn’t feel well connected to the approaching cloud prompt but I still like it (and I’m definitely guilty of pushing the logic of the prompt in the past). A solitary tower and close sibling relationships are both favourite things of mine. The conflict is too easily resolved but that’s hard to avoid with the word count constraint.

Lisa
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to outrun it.

Fool. He was caught in the open with the Dread bearing down on him. Quick angular forms winked in and out of sight in the dust cloud as they approached, coming faster and faster. His heart pounded in his chest as he gripped his sword hilt, lifting his weapon even though he knew it was useless.

Swords couldn’t penetrate their scaly hides, nor arrows, nor spears. These two months past since they boiled out of the wastelands they had proved to be a devastating scourge that mowed down all that lived.

Daniel set his feet, noting the sweat that dripped from his forehead and the way his muscles moved under his tunic as he lifted his sword. Glory be but I’ve no wish to die, he thought with fierce despair. Not yet, with Emma a’-waitin’ and—

A high keening shriek pierced the silence, freezing his blood and his thoughts, almost stopping his heart. A defiant scream ripped from his own throat as the Dread leapt closer, teeth and claws clattering, green eyes glowing amidst the dust of their passing.

Not yet, by all that’s holy, not yet, good God, not yet—

They were on him. Bright pain flashed down his arm as he spun and slashed wildly and they were gone. Daniel stood panting, blood dripping down his arm and onto the ground, watching the cloud boil away into the trees.

Not yet. Trembling, he bent over and retched, and then straightened, wiping his mouth. Glory be. Glory be.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES. I really liked the writing in this one, and Daniel’s character. Well done!

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, Lisa :). Daniel feels real, and I love how you developed the Dread.

BrynS
Guest

Yes, lovely action!

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

Yes! I love how Daniel has a distinct voice.

Katie Lohr
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to outrun it.

He pressed the niranium orb against his shivering chest, and stumbled backwards into deepening snow. The orb hummed with Daniel’s terror. Guarding his redeemed birthright in it’s armored embrace.

Swirling claws of shadow grasped and tightened across the winter sky. Sorcery. His brother Benjamin had ambushed him in this frozen valley.

Father of Lights, victory. Please.

Daniel called his gradonyl. The sleek, cerulean creature appeared and knelt for her lifetime master. Daniel secured himself into the saddle and harness. His gradonyl’s blade wings pounded icy air. Daniel pointed past the beast’s arched neck toward the storm.

Benjamin’s handiwork knit into a strangling labyrinth. The turquoise wings lifting and falling at Daniel’s sides stirred misty devilry. Distortions. Nightmares. His name, sins, death, and failure shrieked inside his mind. Daniel shut his eyes and roared.

His gradonyl warbled and dropped. Daniel gasped, then opened his eyes to a blinding sliver of light. The Red Mountains, enclosing his captive people, rose beyond the tempest.

Daniel stared at the orb. “Victoriana,” he whispered. The king’s birthright, the key to his people’s freedom, would now unlock to his unborn daughter’s voice.

Daniel tied the orb around the gradonyl’s neck, and pointed toward the disappearing finger of light. She shot forward, muscles straining with exhausted energy. Daniel fell into the jaws of the storm. Furious laughter deafened him, and then everything exploded. He was still, bathed in wonderful, endless light, and saw a cerulean creature streak over the mountains.

The Faithful would be free.

Hannah Williams
Member

Yes! This is….pretty awesome. 😀

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

Yes! Awesome world building in so few words!

BrynS
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural – it was too dark, too dense, and too fast – Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

Good.

The tight set of his lips curved into a cold smile. He kept running. His form bled out in shadows across the moor landscape under his feet, but soon there would be no shadows. The cloud would eclipse the sun any minute now. Yes, he and the darkening sky were both just where each wanted the other to be. Still, he needed to reach the stormwarden’s tower before the cloud did. He had to see; he had to know if the stories were true.

Did Hell herself really sit upon that old, stone tower waiting for her Shadows to return from their roaming to and fro? And when they did, did she really kiss them and join their dance, a dance that made a Storm. And this Storm, did it really bring to some their darkest wishes and to others their deepest fears?

Or was it all just a fairytale?

His brother said it was true. He had the scars to prove it.The world had mocked the young princeling for his scars. But no one had laughed when he spoke of the Storm. Not to his face anyway. But Daniel had heard what they called him. Scarface, the Lost Prince … the Son of the Storm.

If his brother were the Son of the Storm … why couldn’t Daniel become its Lord?

He smiled again; this time the sun was gone. But no warmth could not have thawed that icy smile.

Him, the Shadow Lord of stories. Why not indeed.

Hannah Williams
Member

Yes! 🙂

There is so much more story to be told here! 😀 Gorgeous writing style, too.

Lisa
Guest

Good one!

Lisa
Guest

And Yes!

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, BrynS :). It’s dark, but very interesting. I love that Daniel is glad he cannot run from the storm.

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

Yes! I really like the twist — that he’s not afraid.

Leanna
Guest

Yes to BrynS. Love the fairy tale feeling. I also think you were particularly successful in using your scant word count judiciously. There is just enough conveyed here. I think it would expand very nicely as a prologue.

BrynS
Guest

Thank you :)…actually, it could fit very well about midway through the first act of my WIP.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

I jumped upright in rage, the bleachers rattling under me. “This is cheating!”

The cloud of Emmy’s spell smacked my boyfriend onto the practice mat like an ocean wave. The magic permeated him. Dark, shimmering specks swirled around Dan’s athletic body and bled into him like water into a sponge. His back arched. The cloud lifted him into the air, bent backward, hands outstretched trembling toward the ceiling.

Talia tugged my hand urgently. I wasn’t about to sit down.

I had seen this spell enough in movies to know – soon Dan would speak. Soon half the school would know the darkest, deepest secret in his soul.

How’d Emmy cast that incantation?

All cheering from the spectators died into breathless, horrified silence, and Dan’s teeth-gritted groans echoed off the gym’s concrete walls. The specks seethed around him like insects eating him alive, more vicious as his resistance ebbed.

My stomach churned. To hear his deepest secret vomited out would be awful – but worse, what if it was something I didn’t know? Had I told him my darkest, worst secrets only to have him hide things from me in return? I wanted to shove my fingers in my ears and scream so loudly that no one would hear him.

Dan convulsed. His voice came out in a cracked, broken yell. “My girlfriend, Abby Storek – can’t – do – magic! She’s telepathic. She belongs to the enemy side! All her amazing performances are just mental tricks. And I’m deathly afraid she’s playing me too.”

Katie Lohr
Guest

So interesting!

Kessie Carroll
Member

Ooo, I like it! Different from the others!

Lisa
Guest

That first line sucked me in, and the rest delivered. Good job!

Lisa
Guest

And Yes!

April Nichole
Guest

Yes for Bethany

Kessie Carroll
Member

Yes for Bethany!

Janeen Ippolito
Guest

HAH! Love this. Absolute yes. Kudos for a fresh angle!

RJ Conte
Guest

Yes for Bethany from me!

Leanna
Guest

Yes to Bethany. Honestly, every time I read one of your prompts I’m disappointed all over again that you haven’t published a novel yet. But I’ve subscribed to your blog now. 🙂

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

Awww, THANK YOU, Leanna! That’s high praise. 😀 I hope you enjoy my blog. 🙂

BrynS
Guest

Yes – interesting 🙂

Katherine
Guest

Yes for Bethany!

April Nichole
Guest

*A starter*
The approaching cloud wasn’t natural-it was too dark, too dense, and too fast-but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. He ran to the nearest oak tree and huddle down as the cloud approached. He could feel the tree rumble against his leg as he pulled his beanie down over his ears and tried to cover his face inside his coat.

Daniel prayed he would catch a break in the weather. He had to make it to the cabin. He worried about Rey’s safety. He hadn’t been able to reach her in hours by phone and he knew that time was running out. Thunder rumbled as the storm pounded down. Daniel crouched down closer to the ground trying to find some relief for his legs. His car had given out on him and he knew that even if it hadn’t he wouldn’t have been able to drive it all the way up without giving away his presence.

After several minutes passed he could feel that the rain had lightened up. He took a look around the tree and it still didn’t look good but it was better than a minute ago. He adjusted his now drenched backpack and took off.

He kept his trek going up the mountain. A couple of times he had to stop huddle again behind a tree because the wind made it too hard to navigate through the rain. During a stop his hand went to his right side and felt for the gun. He knew he shouldn’t have too much longer till he made it to the cabin. Daniel had to make it to the shed and he would be able to get his bearings and make a better plan to help Rey.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Daniel seems like such a cool character :). His determination to help Rey is awesome. I am cheering for him!

Brian Thomas
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. A tiny flame flickered to life in his left hand as he watched it approach. A Swarm that size and speed could only be one of three things. Two of the three were bad, with one being particularly…insidious.
As it drew near, the hum of a hundred-thousand tiny beings reached his ears. But it was not the droning of wings. It was a song, a dirge. Its language was not one of the twenty-seven Daniel understood, and silence from his earpiece meant his Monitor didn’t know it either. But its rhythm and melody – its soul -needed no interpretation.
Okay, Daniel thought, spiking the flame to a steady burn, it’s one of those.
He slid off his speeder, laid it on its side (now that kickstand would never get fixed, darn it), and pulled a metallic egg from his pack. “Give me the caravan’s ETA to the Red Havens,” he said to the unit.
The egg glowed and blinked before responding, “The caravan will reach the caves in three hours time.”
“Will the swarm overtake them before that if not diverted?”
Pause. Glow. Blink.
“Yes.”
“How much time do they need?”
Pause. Glow. Blink.
“Approximately 42 additional minutes.”
Daniel blew out a breath then tossed the egg a few feet away where it nestled in the sand. His right hand lit-up in blue fire.
“Assume defensive posture.”
The egg whirred. Daniel pulled a hood over his head and slid a thick mask over his face.
“I can make 42 minutes.”

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES, Brian. I’m a little confused by this narrative, but I’m also really intrigued. I’d keep reading to find out more! 🙂

Lisa
Guest

yes. A good beginning, and I want to find out more!

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, Brian! This is super cool. I feel like I’m there. I love the strong details and tension.

N. A. Cauldron
Guest

yes

Leanna
Guest

Yes to Brian. I like that it feels like its blending fantasy and sci-fi elements. I also like that you managed to have a victorious/optimistic ending without hand waving away the direness of the prompt.

Marcus French
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. He held fast his ground. “Away with you!” he shouted, but the cloud did not stop its advance.

“Can’t you see I have summoned you myself? Shall I not also command you to die when my will sees fit? Now I declare within the shelter of the Almighty’s love, away with you!” This Daniel said with unquavering lip and unflinching eye, but still the cloud drew near.

Fear then betrayed him as his staunch frame wilted and his iron will collapsed. First tears, then sobs, and finally silence could be heard as the the cloud encased him in darkest night. No love could be felt within that cloud, and death itself was mocked cruelly within its embrace.

The ground then shook, and the earth opened up with cracks growing out from the cloud’s center, where Daniel now lay. In seconds he would be swallowed and no longer know love’s sweet embrace nor light’s gentle glance. And summoning his last shred of strength, he stood with wobbling knees over the growing cracks which lay beneath… and he began to dance.

With his feet now engaged in fleet glimpses of life, new power surged from his legs through his body, and he remembered then the sun and where it lay behind the cloud. He lifted his eyes toward it, and a smile came upon his face. Then he sang: “The light it bears sweetness where nobody knows, and nobody goes. Now darkness must flee!”

Daniel’s body began to glow with an eerie light…

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES to Marcus – although I’m a bit confused by the “eerie” light at the end, I liked the way this flowed, with such elegant old-fashioned flair. 🙂

Katie Lohr
Guest

I love the emotion and imagery you have put into this piece :).

K. H. Marah
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to outrun it.

Electricity charged the air. Beside him, Berith rubbed the skin where his regulator was wired into his nervous system. The boy’s eyes were tight with a pain he would not admit.

This cloud would kill him. Drive him mad and kill him.

Think, Daniel. Think.

The ancient, roofless vehicle that had brought them this far would never go fast enough. But… wasn’t sand an insulator?

Stripping the electronics off his belt, Daniel pivoted toward Berith. “Get under the car.”

Berith squirmed under the vehicle, his shirt riding up to expose the electrical box implanted in his side. His regulator. The only thing keeping him from slipping into madness.

The thing this cloud was designed to destroy.

Dropping to his stomach, Daniel used his hands to shovel sand over Berith’s body, covering him from feet to neck.

“This will help,” he said, praying his words weren’t a lie. “Just keep your head down.”

The boy nestled into the sand, pain and fear etched in the lines of his face. “If I go mad,” he whispered. “Will God still love me?”

Fear clotted in Daniel’s throat. For a moment, he could not form words, but he caught Berith’s gaze and held it. “Yes,” he whispered. “Always.”

And so will I.

The cloud hit with the force of a magtrain. Electricity crawled across Daniel’s body, tiny black particles stinging exposed skin. He curled against the sand and let the wind tear a prayer from his lips.

Oh, God, protect Berith.
Please protect Berith.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES, K.H. I really enjoyed this one. 🙂

Leanna
Guest

Yes to KH. I really felt the emotion of this one. 🙂 Also, I enjoyed that Daniel isn’t the one in danger (relatively at least).

Alex Mellen
Member

YES! This one really grabbed me emotionally.

Lisa
Guest

Yes. An interesting premise, good descriptions, and something to care about.

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

YES! I really need to know if they’re going to be all right.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, K.H. – it is easy to care about these characters and their story.

Kessie Carroll
Member

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.
“Stand still,” Mal said, striding up beside Daniel, and facing the cloud. “You cannot fight it.”
“What is it?” Daniel gasped. He had been ready to drive his silver knife into the lich’s heart, but this new threat had united them.
“It is death magic,” Mal replied, his eyes an eerie yellow-green. “Beyond that, I cannot tell.”
“How can that be–that’s not death magic.” But Daniel’s protests were weak. The cloud’s approach pulled the heat from his body, draining the life motes from his cells.
The cloud reached the magic barrier that he had built to trap Mal. It collected against it, like smoke piling against a windowpane. A black object slashed out of the cloud’s midst, and the barrier snapped. Daniel felt it break as if a tendon had split in his chest. He clutched himself and groaned.
The cloud opened, spreading out to engulf them. In its heart walked a black dragon the size of a semi truck, its eyes merely a pair of cold blue points of light.
Mal raised both hands, and it halted. “Return to your master,” Mal said, as sweat trickled down his pale face. “The Necromancer may not take this life.”
“It is not him that I desire,” the dragon replied, “but you.” It lunged forward, swatting Daniel aside.
He struck the ground and rolled, then scrambled to his feet, knife raised. But the beast had seized Mal in its jaws and was striding away.
Mal’s eyes met Daniel’s. “Help me,” he mouthed.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES. Love it! 😀

RJ Conte
Guest

Yes to Kessie, because I always love more Mal! 🙂

Katie Lohr
Guest

This is very cool – exciting and fast-paced!

Stephanie C.
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural–it was too dark, to dense, and too fast–but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

He was tightly bound to his chair and there was nothing he could do. The cloud was the last stage of the “super bomb” that would destroy all life in the city.
Daniel looked over at Jenny Collens, the manager of the building they were in, who was also tied up. She, surprisingly, remained calm.

“Don’t worry. It’ll all be over soon.” said their captor standing in front of them.

“What do you hope to gain? ” asked Daniel.

“Respect.”

“I’ve been tracking you and your gang for two years while you wrecked havoc around the world. Each crime you pulled off without a trace, but now I’ve found you and soon others will too.”

“That seems a bit hard when you’re all dead.”

“This has to end sometime. When will you stop this madness.”

“I want everyone to know and fear me no matter how many cities I must go through. I’m the White Wolf.”

“No.” The bold statement came from Ms. Collens who up till now had been quiet.

“What do you mean by that, lady?” thier captor asked, slightly annoyed.

“No, you are not The White Wolf.” she said casually.

“OF COURSE I AM!” he said, angry now.

“You’re not, because I am.”

Daniel was shocked, but before he had a chance to say anything, the lights went out.
In a few moments they came back on and Daniel was surprised to see that his bonds were cut and now his captor was tied up. The bomb was also deactivated, but Ms. Collens was nowhere to be seen.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES, Stephanie. The writing was a little bit stiff in parts, but I love the twist at the end, so it gets a vote from me! 🙂

Stephanie C.
Guest

Thank you! I agree, there was so much more I wanted to add to it, but I had to take words out so that it would fit within the limits.

Katie Lohr
Guest

So fun! I love the super-hero feel :).

Audie Thacker
Member

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

He’d just have to deal with the arriving celebrity.

“You’re here for Trekkie-Con, yes?” Daniel said.

“That is correct.” The cloud replied.

“Let me see…you were…?”

“The cloud in “Obsession”. One of my early roles.”

“Ah, that’s right. Hmm, you weren’t so dark in that episode.”

“Make-up. Plus, I still look this way because of “Lost”. Maybe not my best work, but I did so enjoy doing real action. No stunt double for me, I went full Jackie Chan! Tell me, has Meg arrived yet?”

“Meg?”

“Yes, from “Doomsday Machine”. We go way back, always loved her work in that episode.”

“Oh, you mean…oh my, her?!”

“Her?”

“Yes. Sorry, we’ve had problems with her. She’s in a bit of a temper.”

“Truly? Wait, don’t tell me…No, you didn’t!”

“Didn’t what?”

“You didn’t put Bugles in her room, did you?”

“Q told us she loves to snack on them.”

“Did you not even watch any episodes? Here is something we all learned very early one. Never! Trust! Q!”

“Oh…oh, my, I’m terribly sorry.”

“Let me talk with the old girl, I’m sure I can calm her down before she devours the world. Just…remove the Bugles as soon as you can. She’s very sensitive about them.”

“Of course. And, please, enjoy your sessions at Trekkie-Con.”

“I’m sure I shall, so long as I don’t have to snack on Vulcans.”

Lisa
Guest

Ummm…can I give ten YES’s for this? Love the humourous take. “I still look this way because of ‘Lost’.” HA HA.

N. A. Cauldron
Guest

My favorite – yes

Leanna
Guest

Bwahahaha! Yes to Audie. 🙂 I’m only a slight Trekkie fan but I enjoy the insider humour of this.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, Audie :). This is hilarious and so different.

EJ McCay
Guest

“Well, fantastic,” Daniel said, more annoyed than anything.

“You shouldn’t have let her think you like her,” Ben said.

“In what universe does punching a girl mean, I like her?”

“Tell that to the evil cloud.” Ben bent over, clutching his stomach as he laughed.

“You’re the worst henchman ever.”

Daniel turned to look at the cloud. “I punched you in the stomach! The fact it kept the pie from exploding in your face was just a fluke,” Daniel screamed.

The cloud roared in frustration.

“Sandra! Stop roaring at me.” Daniel

“Dude, you stepped in it this time.”

It had been a month since Mr. Fergeson had poured liquid nitrogen on a pie and somehow the experiment had gone wrong. The pie had exploded like a bomb.

Now, thanks to Anti-Hero 202: Accepting Your Villains Inner Menace, Sandra had produced a cloud covering all of downtown Miami.

How could she consider a punch in the stomach a love note? Yeah, the punch had pushed her out of the way, but it was still a gut-punch.

The cloud began to roll, multiple lightning strikes hit like fingers all around Daniel.

“Sandra! I am not taking you to Prom! I don’t care how big your cloud gets!”

Professor Unpleasant’s School for Villains had not prepared him for an evil girl with a crush.

EJ McCay
Guest

Ugh.

“Sandra! Stop roaring at me.” Daniel yelled in frustration.

I don’t know how that got cut off.

Katie Lohr
Guest

This is so funny! I love the unique angle.

Audie Thacker
Member

Some people may have a problem with the idea of him punching a girl, even if it was to get her out of harm’s way. Maying “pushing” or “shoving” would have been better.

Becky Farb
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural – it was too dark, too dense, and too fast – but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to outrun it.
Glancing over his shoulder, he realized his refugees wouldn’t make the forcefield in time. Behind the shimmering barrier, allied soldiers bolted for their defensive turrets. Was Arja among them? Even so, her technology couldn’t defend against these mages.
Mages I trained. He began chanting. Forgive me, Arja. I always meant to tell you.
Red-gold sand shrieked upward, cutting the mages’ black cloud off from the fleeing refugees. The force of warring spells and counter-spells rocked him. Too long. Too long since he’d called on his magic. Pain shot through his trembling limbs. He sensed the mages’ surprise turn to dark glee as they sent a column of black sand toward him, searing his face.
Daniel’s torn lips curved. Foolish children. I didn’t teach you everything.
Then he did what he had always warned his former students against. He drew from the Power itself.
Great Father, aid me!
White light. Spinning. The warm sound of Arja’s laughter. Then, nothing.
Eternity passed.
“Colonel! He’s here!”
“Alive?”
Fingers against his throat. “Barely. Ma’am, you may not want to look-”
A gasp. “Great Father! Oh, Daniel.”
The words scraped from his throat, “The refugees . . .”
“They made it.” A calloused hand grasped his.
“Arja . . . I’m sorry . . .”
“You wonderful idiot.” Her breath brushed his ear. “Did you think knowing you had magic would make me love you less?”
He would have cried had he been able.
“Lieutenant.” Tears thickened Arja’s voice. “Let’s bring my husband home.”

Alex Mellen
Member

YES! Ooh, really good. However, it looks like you lost italics when you uploaded. Not sure how to get them to work.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES. I enjoyed the magical aspect. 🙂

Katie Lohr
Guest

Great character development and conflict :)!

Lauren Beauchamp
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. He had come to meet it.

This was what his people had feared for generations. This was the unknown fear that niggled at the edges of men’s minds and woke them in the night with a terror they couldn’t recall.

“Give me back my son,” Daniel said in the voice he had once used to command the armies.

Voices like those of his neighbors chattered around him. “What son? You never had a son. Your wife is dead and she bore no child. What son? What son?”

“I remember my son. You stole the memory of him from everyone else, but not from me. I remember my son. You must return him to his people.”

The voices returned. “His name, his name, what is his name?”

“You think I am a fool, that I would give you that power over my child? You cannot hold him. The mark of the Star-Breather is upon him. Your darkness cannot bind him.”

A cloaked form appeared before Daniel and spoke to him in a voice that was disturbingly human. “Do not your elders teach that such a mark is on each man? And does not each man meet evil in his time? So it is for your son.”

A primal urge to flee overcame Daniel as the figure drew closer. But it was too late.
When his people found him, he was like a wild man, and could not even speak his name, but still he called out for his lost child.

BrynS
Guest

Yes, very interesting.

Katie Lohr
Guest

This immediately draws you into the conflict! I love the focus and drive.

Heather P.
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

“Not them!”

Daniel dropped a vial on the ground near the geyser. He glanced down. “My research.”

Old Faithful erupted as the incoming monstrous aircraft– shaped like an onyx dragon— took its direct hit and veered off course. The edge of the ship plowed into the sprinting Daniel, knocking him down. Pain surged his body. He limped through the forest while the ship skidded to a stop, kicking up dirt in a miniature dust storm.

Daniel wiped the sweaty dark strands of hair from his face. His pounding pulse continued in his ears. He caught his breath and took refuge behind a large piece of shale. He pressed his hands together and thanked God.

The sides of the mechanical beast opened. A team of people dressed in ominous military gear exited the craft with weapons drawn. One pulled out a device that emitted a green beam, which highlighted areas of the forest.

Their commander ordered, “Find him before he discovers the detonator link.”

Daniel shook his head. I thought studying Volcanoes was a safe job. Hmm, if I run, I’ll be shot dead. Unless… Daniel hunched over and crept a few steps often turning to watch the invading adversaries. The bare soil under his feet loosened and collapsed. He sucked in air to restrain a scream before he plummeted into a deep hole.

Daniel lifted his face out of the dirt and saw a numbered, gemstone decorated cylinder device. Its red button flashed above a progressing countdown.

Heather P.
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

“Not them!”

Daniel dropped a vial on the ground near the geyser. He glanced down. “My research.”

Old Faithful erupted as the incoming monstrous aircraft– shaped like an onyx dragon— took its direct hit and veered off course. The edge of the ship plowed into the sprinting Daniel, knocking him down. Pain surged his body. He limped through the forest while the ship skidded to a stop, kicking up dirt in a miniature dust storm.

Daniel wiped the sweaty dark strands of hair from his face. His pounding pulse continued in his ears. He caught his breath and took refuge behind a large piece of shale. He pressed his hands together and thanked God.

The sides of the mechanical beast opened. A team of people dressed in ominous military gear exited the craft with weapons drawn. One pulled out a device that emitted a green beam, which highlighted areas of the forest.

Their commander ordered, “Find him before he discovers the detonator link.”

Daniel shook his head. I thought studying volcanoes was a safe job. Hmm, if I run, I’ll be shot dead. Unless… Daniel hunched over and crept a few steps often turning to watch the invading adversaries. The bare soil under his feet loosened and collapsed. He sucked in air to restrain a scream before he plummeted into a deep hole.

Daniel lifted his face out of the dirt and saw a numbered, gemstone decorated cylinder device. Its red button flashed above a progressing countdown.

************************
Sorry, I posted too early. The formatting doesn’t translate over from another software. I hope it’s fine as left aligned.

Katie Lohr
Guest

I love the action in this piece :). I love the action-movie feel! Very cool.

Heather P.
Guest

Sadly, italics do not translate over for me.

Yaasha Moriah
Guest

​The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to outrun it.​ There was nothing to do but stand. How appropriately heroic. That is, it WOULD be heroic if it weren’t so dashed unnerving to observe a supernatural black cloud pouring toward him like a thousand black steeds wreathed in smoke.

Good gravy. It ​WAS​ a thousand black steeds wreathed in smoke.

This was insane. Here he was, alone on the edge of a fifty-foot drop to the sea, with supernatural horses swooping toward him on the wings of a biting wind. Jordan had cornered him this time.

A slow, sly grin spread across the man’s clean-shaven face as a thought coalesced. They were ​horses​, weren’t they? Well, then, they ought to behave like horses would.

Only a few moments remained. Daniel reached into his pocket and unrolled a long silk banner he often used in his acts. He shook it, and it fluttered in the stiff wind, weaving toward the cloud-horses like a billowing rainbow snake.

The horses squealed and panicked.

In the next moment, a whirlwind jerked Daniel away, and he stood once more in Jordan’s living room. Jordan lay on the floor in helpless conniptions.

“Daniel, I shall have to write you into my stories more often! None of my other volunteers have responded that way when faced with the Horses of Fear. Most come back to my living room looking ready to faint.”

“Of course,” said Daniel with a sideways grin, as he tucked his banner back into his pocket. “None of them were magicians.”

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

YES. Yes yes yes. This…might be my favorite. 😀 😀 I want to know more about this!!

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

The writing is awesome and lively, too. I love Daniel’s voice and personality, and ingenuity. 🙂

Yaasha Moriah
Guest

Really, it’s so weird. I sat down and started writing and one thing led to another. There was NOTHING planned about this piece. I meant to write it dark and scary. Turned out humorous. I wanted Daniel to be heroic. Turned out quirky instead. Then the twist at the end… The whole thing was a surprise to me. I’m thinking of writing a somewhat longer piece with Jordan and Daniel in it. Think I should?

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

I totally think you should! 😀 I’m a sucker for writers being able to send people to their worlds, go into their worlds, bring characters out, stuff like that.

Alex Mellen
Member

YES! You’ve got a whole big premise here, but it works nicely as a small story. I want to know what else happens to these characters!

N. A. Cauldron
Guest

yes

Lisa
Guest

Yes. Definitely worth exploring more.

Leanna
Guest

Yes to Yaasha. The progression is kind of awkward but I love the premise (writing friends into your stories for inspiration). Not sold on the magician angle. I think it would be more interesting if Daniel is ordinary but in-story rules are like dream rules.

Yaasha Moriah
Guest

Hey, Leanna. I appreciate your feedback! It’s giving me more ideas, and now I’m seriously thinking of taking Daniel & Jordan through another (possibly longer) adventure. Thanks!

Katie Lohr
Guest

Yes, Yaasha :). This is so fun! Daniel seems like a really cool character, and I would enjoy following him in a longer piece :). I agree with Leanna that Daniel may be more interesting without the magician side. He seems like the kind of guy that learns random stuff and has a knack for improvising, but that’s only my opinion :).

Yaasha Moriah
Guest

Hi, Katie! I like your idea of Daniel just being a good improviser. Sort of like a story-Macgyver. Now I’m churning with ideas!

N. A. Cauldron
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.
It descended in front of him, its particulated coating dissolving as it touched the ground. He unknowingly approached it. It was like it was pulling him in, inviting him to enter. Inside was a fully furnished home, complete with a sofa, computer, and windows.
Daniel looked at the computer screen. There was a man there. He was talking, but Daniel couldn’t hear him. The man pointed to his headphones. Daniel saw a pair laying undisturbed in the seat of the chair at the desk. He put them on.
The man spoke, “Listen. I need your help. I’m trapped and can’t get out.”
“What happened?”
“This thing just landed in front of my house. I knew I shouldn’t have gone it, but I couldn’t stop myself. But once I had-”
Daniel threw his headphones down and jumped from the chair. He ran to the window. Stars. All he could see were stars.

N. A. Cauldron
Guest

I apologize for posting twice (Gtk I wasn’t the only one to do this though-lol) I need to submit an edited version.

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but

Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. It descended in front of him, its particulated coating dissolving as it touched the ground. He unknowingly approached it. It pulled him in, inviting him to enter.

When he touched the metallic grey skin, his hand sank inside. Within the cloud was a fully furnished home, complete with a sofa, computer, and windows. Daniel’s eyes scanned the room before landing on the computer screen.

He saw a man there. His mouth was moving, but Daniel couldn’t hear anything. The man pointed to his headphones. Daniel saw a pair lying undisturbed in the seat of the chair at the desk. He put them on. The man spoke, “Listen. I need your help. I’m trapped and can’t get out.”

“What happened?” asked Daniel.

“This thing just landed in front of my house. I-I don’t know what it was. It was like a big … black … cloud or something.” The man ran a hand through his frayed hair and exhaled a weary breath. “I knew I shouldn’t have gone in, but I couldn’t stop myself. Once I had-”

Daniel threw his headphones down and jumped from the chair. He ran to the window. Stars. All he could see were stars.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Wow, that’s scary! It seems like a maze story, and those are fun :).

Katherine
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. The magically-induced fog probably held some kind of poison or spell, although not a fatal one. His brother, warlord of Aldar, wanted him alive for his punishment. By the time Treyvan’s torturers were finished with him, he’d be alive, but crippled and helpless, forced to make enchantments while chained to a desk until his brother tired of him. Bile rose in his throat. Treyvan wouldn’t spare him. They cared little for each other, and Daniel’s actions were accounted treason.
He didn’t regret the mercy he’d shown the two Kurani slaves trying to escape. The Aldars’ enslavement of the Kurani had never set well with him, and the way Treyvan bred them, used them as soldiers, and then discarded them disgusted Daniel. He only regretted that their attempt had failed, and they were back in chains.
As Daniel drew his twin swords, someone hit him with a paralysis spell. He dropped his weapons and fell to the ground. Helpless fury choked him. The cloud had been a distraction! One of the Kurani, dressed in war gear, stood over him. He knelt down and dropped a stone into Daniel’s right hand.
“This holds a transport spell. Use it. And don’t expect another chance if we find you.”
The warrior stood and ran off, vanishing into the shroud of a hiding spell. The paralysis spell lifted, and Daniel got up. As he sheathed his weapons and picked up the stone, he allowed himself a quick smile. Apparently, mercy was contagious.

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. The magically-induced fog probably held some kind of poison or spell, although not a fatal one. His brother, warlord of Aldar, wanted him alive for his punishment. By the time Treyvan’s torturers were finished with him, he’d be alive, but crippled and helpless, forced to make enchantments while chained to a desk until his brother tired of him. Bile rose in his throat. Treyvan wouldn’t spare him. They cared little for each other, and Daniel’s actions were accounted treason.
He didn’t regret the mercy he’d shown the two Kurani slaves trying to escape. The Aldars’ enslavement of the Kurani had never set well with him, and the way Treyvan bred them, used them as soldiers, and then discarded them disgusted Daniel. He only regretted that their attempt had failed, and they were back in chains.
As Daniel drew his twin swords, someone hit him with a paralysis spell. He dropped his weapons and fell to the ground. Helpless fury choked him. The cloud had been a distraction! One of the Kurani, dressed in war gear, stood over him. He knelt down and dropped a stone into Daniel’s right hand.
“This holds a transport spell. Use it. And don’t expect another chance if we find you.”
The warrior stood and ran off, vanishing into the shroud of a hiding spell. The paralysis spell lifted, and Daniel got up. As he sheathed his weapons and picked up the stone, he allowed himself a quick smile. Apparently, mercy was contagious.

Katherine
Guest

I just realized I posted the story twice! Sorry for the confusion.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Wow, that’s cool! I love the relationship between characters and the twist ending. I would love to see more of the setting of this world :).

Jamie Mortensen
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it. He looked down at the scroll in his hand. If he secured it well enough under his robes, it might survive. The storm was moving towards his camp, away from the city. His fellow Advocates might come looking for him, and surely if they found his body they would find the scroll. He might still be able to save them. But the Realm might come looking for him as well. And if they found him, they would know that the Advocates were seeking the Forbidden. They would mobilize, and quickly. His companions would be dead in a matter of days. Leah would be dead in a matter of days. If he allowed the storm to blow away the scroll, it would likely become buried and never found. Someone else would have to risk the perilous journey to the city. But the majority of the Advocates would remain safe for the near future, a mild irritant to the Realm and not a threat to be immediately quelled.
The storm was almost upon him. The whirling sands framed pockets of what seemed to be unnatural darkness. Daniel closed his eyes as the front-most grits began to dash against his face. He stretched out his arm, trembling. The parchment brushed through the tips of his fingers and the winds took them both.

Katie Lohr
Guest

Nice, tight writing :). I would love to see more of Daniel’s emotions, and I really hope he survives and recovers the parchment!

C. F. Barrows
Guest

The approaching cloud wasn’t natural—it was too dark, too dense, and too fast—but Daniel had no place to hide and no chance to out run it.

Footsteps pattered and a hand tugged at his. “Danny, we gotta go!”

Daniel swept his sister up onto his shoulders, then tore off towards the woods before the oncoming cloud. Sparks of electricity crackled from above. Bolts in his head, buzzing in his ears — he was running out of time.

“Danny, lookit!”

A crack split the air. Daniel dove aside as the great oak behind him collapsed.

Nina sobbed. “I don’t like it, Danny. I don’t like the buzzing.”

No. She couldn’t hear it now. Not with the storm so near. “Just hang on tight, Nina. Hold onto me.”

A whimper answered, and Daniel stumbled forward. Light flashed. The crackling grew louder, closer, filling his mind with static.

He spotted the den ahead and stretched a hand towards it. “Temperas cessate!”

The clouds screamed. Wisps of smoke snatched at him, but light shot from his hands, forming a protective globe around them.

Then the globe shattered.

Something shoved him, and he threw out his hands to catch himself. The electricity pulsed, hammered, threatened to explode his head.

Then it burst forth and rose to join the clouds from whence it came.

Daniel gasped, shook off the haze. Had to think. They were exposed now. They had to reach shelter before…

Nina.

Daniel leapt to his feet and gawked as the clouds swirled into a whirlwind and spiraled into the sky. Blonde hair whipped around their cargo as she screamed and reached hopelessly for the ground.

“Nina,” he rasped. “NO!”

Alexa
Guest

YES to CF!!! 😀 The feeling is so intense, and it definitely makes me want to know more about the story!

Alexa
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verbositybookreviews.wordpress.com

Katie Lohr
Guest

I love how you let us feel Daniel’s and Nina’s emotions. I hope he can save her!