Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!
Below The Surface
Gronsky woke up on the wrong side of the bed. While not unusual, it did present him with an unfamiliar problem. In his entire past, while there had always been small wars here and there, and even bigger wars which had seemed somehow contained, this war, this Russian invasion of Ukraine had the feel of how it must have been in 1939.
This noxious notion caused Gronsky to consider staying in bed.
Perhaps until the next morning.
When he would reassess his lie-in.
No! It’s lie-in.
He had hit the sack the previous evening at midnight after watching countless news stories of Ukrainians fleeing their cities, scurrying to the west of the country.
Many however were staying put, huddling in their cellars, in the subways of their nation, subways that served as bomb shelters.
The channel-hopping had blurred his aging eyes.
As a third or fourth-tiered writer, what he really wanted to do was arise and write a poem about war.
Snuggling under his covers, pondering poetry, bed protests, and the like, he struck on an idea.
“That’s a good one,” he said to the empty room, empty but for Bark, his pooch.
“Holy happenstance, Bark. I do have to get up. You need…you know what you need.”
After their constitutional, Gronsky stripped down, put on fresh pajamas, and crawled back into bed.
For a time, he thought poetic thoughts.
“O, War, why did you not stay dead,
You have nothing to offer the living
But your specialty.”
That was as far as he got.
I need to act, he thought.
With that, Gronsky crawled underneath his bed.
He stayed there till sunset when Bark again barked.
Under the bed was like a bomb shelter.
A token gesture of solidarity, perhaps.
But a start.300 words by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)
It burned. It damnably bloody burned. He couldn’t move, couldn’t see, or even breathe. And it burned.
How long had it been like this? He couldn’t remember. He didn’t know his own name or even if he was alive, but there was a concept of lives and names somewhere in his mind. He needed to kill something.
Cool air touched his right hand. It was stiff, but he could move it. Clench it. Feel the weight of his elephant gun in it. He was Colonel Ambrose Mitchell.
“My God, he’s still alive!”
“This is incredible!”
The voices were muted. Distant. But he could hear them. Understand them. His body stirred with the need for more soothing cool air.
He strained against his prison. Despised it. Refused to be contained. He was rewarded with the thundersome cracking of his restraints and freedom rushing in from all sides. His first shuddering breath was like plummeting from a burning deck into an icy river.
He fell to his knees with resin shards rolling off his body. He opened his eyes. It was bright. So bright. There was a woman and a boy?
“What the hell is this?!” A man’s voice. Maybe fifty paces ahead? “Mr. Graff ordered you to clear out thirty-two hours ago!”
Colonel Mitchell squinted. The woman and boy were dressed oddly. He particularly didn’t like the cut of the man in the suit.
“We found and revived a man trapped in amber! This is the most remarkable discovery in history!” The woman interposed herself between Mitchell and the man.
“Using resources Mr. Graff made clear were no longer at your disposal. You will be ruined for this,” the man removed a small device from his coat pocket.
Colonel Mitchell deeply disliked that man. He raised his elephant gun.298 words by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)
When you bartered my ancestors’ lands for gold and iron, my body stirred
When my brothers and sisters rose in revolt and smashed down your wall, I cheered for liberty.
When you choked my brethren for daring to defy you, I sewed on wings to defend them.
And when you burned my home and heart from afar, painting your hands in blood, I ascended beyond mortal name or form.
Now I live in the skies, above your reach and between your breaths.
Your heart will chill when you hear my name, though I will never speak it again.
Your hands will quake at the sight of me, the last movements they will ever make.
And when I rip your wings from your unworthy husk, know that I await you again at the gateway of Hell.
I am Pryvyd Kyyeva.
The Ghost of Kyiv.
The one who burns the Red Star in the flames of vengance.
In blue skies choked by wicked smoke, I will hunt you down.250 words by Anonymous (shadetheraven.wordpress.com)
I looked at my computer, then stared at the screen a moment, then scrolled the screen a few pages down. It was all the same. All noise. A cacophony of chaos, a thousand voices all screaming, “What about this?” or “This is right!” or “This is wrong!” in a never ending string of words.
The news on TV, ROKU, Amazon Prime, and everywhere else I looked was not any better. Always filled with people screaming, “What about this?” “This is right!” “This is wrong!”
And everywhere I looked it was an endless assault made by each side of every story against all the other sides of the same stories. Nothing but an endless, chaotic, never ending scream session.
As I sat, looking at my screen, I stopped scrolling. I pulled my hands away from the keyboard, and the mouse, put them in my lap, and sat there. I closed my eyes, and realized all I could hear were voices in my head. Voices my brain cells had apparently invented. Voices that screamed at each other. Endlessly.
Each voice hated every other voice. To the voices, it didn’t matter who was right or wrong, what was ethical or unethical, moral or amoral, good or evil. None of it mattered. The only thing that mattered was, “Me!”
As I sat there, my eyes closed, one voice slowly silenced the others. One at a time, it locked them all away in rooms, and left them screaming. Until only that voice was left. And that voice was mine.
And I said, “Shut up!”
I turned off my computer, then the TV. then the radio.
All the Chaos went away.
I think I’ll keep it all off, so I never have to scream, “Shut up!” at those voices again.294 words by Mark Ethridge (@mysoulstears)
The black earth is damp and fills the crevices beneath my fingernails. The achingly blue sky hints of spring and the sun warms my face. Though it’s still too early to plant, I dig a hole anyway and place my seeds. As the ground gives an occasional shudder, tears slide down my cheeks, watering the just-planted seeds. I move to the next patch of earth and begin digging there. The usual busyness of the neighborhood has disappeared, as have most of my neighbors. It would be a beautiful day except for the bombs dropping closer and closer.
I absent-mindedly feel for the basement key inside my pocket. Lina made me promise I would bunker there if needed. Though the thought of sitting in the dark listening to bombs fall around me, wondering if the building will collapse on top of me, fills me with dread I continue to dig my holes and plant my seeds.
The ground shakes again. This time a tank rolls down the street in front of my house, driving over fences and through gardens. Soldiers march alongside. I expect fear to overwhelm me, but something different happens. Indignation lifts me to my feet. Anger opens my mouth, spewing hot words at these invaders.
“Stop! Look what you’re doing. Do you have any idea how hard Lina worked on this garden? Look what you did.”
No one responds. I point past the rubble of houses to Lina’s once lush garden.
“Do you hear me? Get out of here! Look at her garden.”
The tank continued to roll down the street. The soldiers kept marching, avoiding eye-contact.
The front of my shirt wet with tears, I sink to my knees and dig another hole, carefully patting soil over the seeds.292 words by Teresa M Eccles (@TeresaMEccles)