Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!
Before the Storm
I often disappoint myself. Even before others express their disenchantment with me. Now there’s a motto to live by…disparage yourself and save your betters the trouble.
It’s a courtesy, isn’t it. I mean, there’s a ton of stress involved in being critical. Maybe there are a few critic-centric folks who find it easy to scorn. Some careers are even built on it. The Arts for example. Movies and such. The people who opinionate on those endeavors are actually called critics. And they get paid.
You’d think other recreational activities like sports would have paid critics as well but no, they are called “reporters” or ”journalists”. Yes, they’re paid, and they can be critical, but they’re not formally labeled as critics. I wonder why.
No, I don’t. Sports are a business. A big business. I know teams and individual players are often criticized for their lack of performance. Even the ones who make millions.
But, like I said, their critics are not called critics.
Some democratic electoral systems have the term critic built-in.
Where am I going with all this? Do you really want to know? Let me tell you…and don’t tell me to calm down. This is a real hobby horse of mine. Everyone’s a critic. Yeah, you heard me. So, let’s be clear…I am my own worst enemy. My own worst critic.
If you could hear the conversations going on in my head, hell, you’d leave the room, cross the street, do anything to get away from the noise.
So, I plan to beat you to the punch. Anyways, P.G. Woodhouse said it best when he asked, “Has anybody ever seen a dramatic critic in the daytime? Of course not. They come out after dark, up to no good.”
So there.299 words by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)
“Don’t tell me to calm down!”
Erin looked at Davidson with contempt in her eyes. Only a fool would stand underneath the ruins of an ancient castle in the dead of night and urge someone to stay calm. They were in the crypt for crying out loud!
“Calm down!” Davidson repeated.
Erin realised she was fidgeting, making jerky, involuntary movements constantly.
“Don’t tell me to calm down,” she repeated.
Her faltering tone was clear even to her. Davidson looked at her, eyes wide with concern. Something scurried across the dark floor behind Erin.
“Fear feeds them, you know,” Davidson whispered. His voice betrayed how much effort was required for him to sound rational.
Erin sighed. Davidson always managed to patronise her. She knew the effect of fear on the crypt’s mysterious inhabitants. She thought of the detail packed into her thesis, the hours of research she had carried out in dark, deserted buildings like this one.
“Maybe I won’t be able to calm down,” she hissed.
“But, you must!” he told her. “Please say you can calm down. I should never have brought you.”
“I know,” she said. “My heart, my breathing, my mind are all completely out of control.”
“You must, you simply must,” he gabbled. “Get control of yourself! They will come, they will come! Calm down, calm down, cal-”
A dark shape loomed out the shadows. It absorbed Davidson’s form, leaving a pile of clothes and electrical equipment on the stone floor as the only signs that Davidson had ever existed.
Erin looked down at the small bundle on the floor.
“Don’t tell me to calm down!”
Erin turned and began to stride out of the crypt.284 words by Stephen Leatherdale (@stephenlev)
“Pay attention. This is important.” The dragon dipped its head to meet her gaze squarely. “You cannot survive here in this state. You must take on a temporary existence so you can affect the items and spaces around you. But there’s a time limit on this existence. You only have three days, seventy-two hours, to complete the quest before your real body dies.”
“What?” Nichelle felt all the blood leave her face. “You can’t be serious. Why can’t I just stay in the body I have? I mean, it’s mine.”
“Why?” The dragon swept its tail straight at her and it slid through her without even making her hair flutter. “That’s why. You aren’t really here but you’re not really in your own world. It’s a strange paradox that none of us can fix. However, you can take on a new body for the duration of the quest, find the things I need, and get your old body back to face the Wizard.”
“Wait, wait. There’s now a wizard, too?” Nichelle narrowed her eyes. “Why do we need to face the Wizard?”
“Because the Wizard will give you the final choice.”
She swallowed hard, panic zinging through her. “Final choice?”
“Yes. I’m not privy to what choice you’ll be given – that’s up to the Wizard – but I suspect it will determine if you can stay here or be kicked on to the next world.”
“Oh my glory, there’s another world after this one?” Nichelle’s voice hit a sharp note.
“Calm down, I’m sure it will be just fine—”
“Don’t tell me to calm down. You’re not facing a mythical being telling you your body’s going to die in seventy-two hours unless you go on said mythical being’s quest!”289 words by Siobhan Muir (@SiobhanMuir)