1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.

    Past Contest Submissions CLOSED for contest #186 "Birth"

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Feb 1, 2016.

    Short Story Contest # 186
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Birth" courtesy of @Blighters

    Submissions will be open for 2 weeks.


    To enter the contest, post the story here in this thread. It will show up as an anonymous author.

    The contest is open to all writingforums.org members, newbies and the established alike. At the deadline I will link to this thread from the voting thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. As always, the winner may PM me to request the theme of the subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Entries do not have to follow the themes explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.

    Word limit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Sunday the 14th of Feb, 2016 1600 (4:00 pm) US Pacific time.

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. Any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    If we reach 20 entries, the maximum number of stories for any one contest, I will consider splitting the contest into two. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permitted.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece basis to decide its legitimacy for the contest.

    A story entered into the contest may not be one that has been posted anywhere** on the internet, not just anywhere on this site. A story may not be posted for review until the contest ends, but authors may seek critiques after voting closes for the contest. Members may also not repost a story anywhere, or bring attention to the contest in any way, until the voting has closed.
    (**We tried one that had been posted for critique before entering but it defeated the anonymity so I've gone back to no stories perviously posted here in the forum.)

    PLEASE use this title format for all stories: Title bolded [word count in brackets]

    If there are any questions, please send me a PM (Conversation).

    After the voting ends, posting in the thread will re-open for comments.

    ***And thanks to even more long hours put in by our very special mod/member @Wreybies, winners are now awarded with olympic style medals displayed under their avatars.

    Be sure to preview your entry before you hit 'reply'.
    Check italics and bolding as sometimes the end code for bold or italics doesn't copy/paste affecting large stretches of text.
    If you need to fix the formatting, hit 'control a' to 'select all' and clear all bold and italics code. Then re-add it back in using the board's font controls before you hit 'post reply'. Watch those extra line spaces. PLEASE delete them directly from the post before hitting 'post reply'.

    The point of consistent titles and line spacing is to avoid having those things influence votes, sometimes for worse.

    Thanks, and good luck!
  2. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributor Contributor

    Nov 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    This is a tricky theme to hold the complete story idea too. I mean if you take birth literally the point of the story is the beginning of something. lol.Which by definition is going to support the idea of it being part of a larger story.
  3. OculusNovelist

    OculusNovelist New Member

    Jan 31, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Outside The Womb-

    My body was being continuously nudged through my current resting place, The walls were closing I around me, but tried their best to stretch out.
    My round head was leading in the direction I was travelling, the small amount of hair that spreaded along the pale scalp I owned, although my eyes weren't open, I could still imagine the small journey I was going on right now.
    The top of my head now hado a sudden breeze that lay upon it, the coldness then moved down my body until I felt a bright light sneaking through my eyelids. I slowly flicked both my eyes open, the calm voices filled my head with confusion, I was placed into a gentle touch of another being, she was a very pretty figure.
    She had golden hair and misted, blue eyes which looked down onto me with an exhausted, yet relieved gaze.
    Her smooth tone replayed in my mind, tears began streaming down her bushous cheeks, she grew further into the distance. Those were tears of emotion now, they were taking me from her, where are they taking me? I want to stay with her, I miss her!
    I miss the warmth that she provided for me back from when I sat on her lap, the were moving me to another room.
    A new room came into site that stood full with new borns, just like me, I was put down into an empty cot along with a blue towell wrapped around my bare body. Discomfort became a big issue in the little cot, the towell kept getting stuck on my chubby legs.
    A beefy man walked in with something in his left hand, it was put into straight into my flesh, a shooting pain had made its way up to my shoulder. The feeling of liquid emerged around my upper body as the bright light above me stared down to create a tired feeling in my head, my worries faded away as I fell into a fresh slumber.
  4. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    The above story has 335 word count. It doesn't meet the 500-3000 +/- 10% guideline. I'm going to leave it posted in the thread but will have to discuss it with the other contest administrators what they think about allowing it to be voted on. If that is your story, feel free to PM me, (@GingerCoffee) to discuss it if you would like.
  5. blueheaven

    blueheaven New Member

    Jan 24, 2016
    Likes Received:

    If we were given two hearts instead of one, would we find twice the reason to love, or no reason to love at all?
    [767 words]

    “No! NOOO! Let me go!”

    She woke up in cold sweat. Her heart was palpitating, she started to panic. These dreams have been haunting her for the past couple of months. She took a few deep breaths realizing that it was just a dream before she felt a sharp pain coming from her protruding abdomen.

    “She’s in labour!” her mother shouted while her dad called the ambulance.

    7 months ago, they discovered that she was pregnant. Nobody knows who the father is, not even the poor girl herself. She was raped by a cold blooded stranger still roaming the streets but that wasn't what they were worried about. She was sixteen and it was absolutely impossible for her to keep her twins. Her father pushed for an abortion, her mother screamed for adoption. She wanted neither; she wanted to keep the twins. They met halfway and went along with her mother’s suggestion.

    In the ambulance, conflicting emotions filled the air. She shrieked in pain and her calls were full of sorrow while her parents had nothing but relief on their faces. Her father couldn't wait for the results of an abomination to be thrusted to another family’s hands. Her mother had a worried look but yet relieved that her daughter will be able to start anew after this. But she continued to beg.

    “Please make sure Luna and Selene stays together.” She had named her twin girls. She might not be able to keep them, but she didn’t want to separate them.

    “Please, promise me,” she begged some more, but her parents remained silent. They knew it was hard to find people wanting to adopt twins and they just wanted the infants to be out of their sight as fast as possible.

    She cried knowing well that her wish would not be fulfilled, but amidst the pain, she swore repeatedly that when she got her life under control, she would take back her babies.

    The delivery wasn’t smooth, and ironically, both her mother and father’s wishes were fulfilled. Only Luna was escorted to a new family. Selene was a stillborn. Luna was taken straight from her hands and only Selene was left.

    She looked over at the baby, now cold and blue. She held the baby up; its feet dangled lifelessly over her hands. She cried over the dead body and thought she might cry forever. The doctors gave her a few somber moments and she stroked the baby’s face. The eyes were shut tight and the hands were clenched in fists. Still in tears, she placed the baby into a tiny cot, similar to a tiny coffin it would be placed into in a couple of days.

    The funeral was a small one. The only people attending were herself and a priest. Her parents weren’t there. The small pale box was lowered into the hole in the ground. The priest said a few words and she said her bit. Their voices were drowned by the torrent of rain that paraded over the cemetery. It was over quickly, but she stayed behind, her tears mixing with the rain before falling onto the gravestone that says, 'HERE LIES SELENE'

    She stroked the marble gravestone; it looked perfect against the other baby graves surrounding it. The other graves were mostly forgotten. They had be battered by the weather, the names disappearing into the ground. None of them had been attended to in years, no wreaths, no flowers, surrounded only by weeds and unkempt grass.

    After her tears ran out, she muttered, “I’ll bring your sister home.” She remembered her promise; it seems, to get her child back when she got her life under control.

    But she never did. She didn't recover, she kept to herself. Every day, she made a gruelling bus ride to the cemetery, her hands clutching clothes, flowers and sometimes teddy bears. She dressed the headstone with a purple cardigan and at the bottom, she placed two tiny shoes. She cleaned the stone every day, occasionally bringing new toys and decorating the headstone with flowers. She did this with a sombre look on her face; no one saw her smile for the next year, or the year after that. Her first smile came 2 years after.

    Humming gently with a smile on her face, she was on her usual routine to the cemetery. This time, she had two teddy bears in her hands. She trotted over to Selene’s headstone, now with another grave right next to it that says, 'HERE LIES LUNA'

    “Together at last,” she said with a genuine look of elation on her face.
  6. MrsK

    MrsK New Member

    Feb 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    [763 words]

    A leather backpack with brass buckles waited by the door, next to worn-in sneakers. A letter stained with tear drops, slipped beneath their bedroom door.

    She wasn’t ready, and never would be, for this move she had to make. She forced herself to turn the handle. She let the tears streak down her cheeks as she opened the front door. Stepping outside, the midnight air choked her lungs. Suffocating in the weight of the moment, she fumbled for her keys.

    It had eaten away at her slowly, over the past few months. But tonight, the guilt came in a wave that swallowed her whole. She couldn’t stay and shouldn’t go. Before tonight it seemed so clear.

    She turned the dial to some static to drown out all the noise inside her head, as she slowly drove away. The road blurred before her and she let it. She didn’t fight the lines on the road for swaying, or the streetlights for merging.

    Fading in and out of the static, blinking through the blurriness, she drove through the night. She opened the sunroof to the stars above her, letting her soul breathe. She found a moment of peace. Finding a back road far from the lights and chatter of her little city she let it all go. Cruising down the slow, winding turns of the tree-lined roads, she sank back into herself and thought of tomorrow and moving forward.

    The car slammed to a halt like a cement wall had fallen in front of it. Her hands flew off the wheel as her face went forward, hitting her nose when the airbag didn’t deploy. The seatbelt held strong around her belly as her body lurched forward.

    Her heart raced out of her chest into her throat as she tried to process the scene. The pounding in her head was overshadowed by a deafening ring, as she struggled to find herself and get out of the car.

    There on the empty road, with nothing but the sound of her engine wheezing, she walked around her vehicle, looking for the deer she hit. The headlights shone, exposing something red. A lump of a man and with a dislodged boot, splayed before her car. Blood speckled the hood of her car, lacing the cracks in her windshield.

    “Hello?” She reached for his hand, slick with blood. If there was a pulse, she couldn’t feel it. “Hello?” She begged.

    The night began to spin around her. Collapsing, she hit the ground. Crying. Screaming. She stayed there for a moment, holding herself. Alone on this road with the stars, and this man, she felt a ripping inside her. A tear of guilt and pain washed over her until she couldn’t breathe. She tried to stand, but her knees gave way as water gushed down her legs.

    “Oh my god,” She screamed into the emptiness. The wave of pain came ripping back to her, leaving her immobile. The pain came and went, once more and again, but she couldn’t will herself to move. With one more wash of pain she knew she didn’t have much time. She crawled around to the car door, throwing herself inside. She couldn’t start the car, her cellphone had been thrown in the accident; she was stranded and alone.

    She grasped for air as her chest caved in on her. Tears flowed freely as she tried to scream in agony, but nothing but the squeal of despair could escape. The pain grabbed her, once more, and urgency took over, knowing she was moments away. She tore at her clothes and scrambled into the back seat. The pressure built inside her until it was clear she had to push. Bracing herself against the door she fought against the pain and pushed. Again and again; she gave everything she had. Her vision faded with the pain. She reached her hands beneath her, grasping at a head. Cradling it tenderly, she pushed one final time. Holding the baby firmly, she brought it to her chest. A little boy.

    There was no sound. No cry of life, no whimper of arrival. Panicking, she swooped her finger in the babe’s mouth, reaching and clearing. Nothing. She patted his back, pinched his leg, anything she could think of to spark some life into him.

    Too many minutes trickled by without a sound. He wasn’t warm and wasn’t pink. He was there and he was gone. Came too soon; left too early. And she, she couldn’t cry, she couldn’t move. She sat in silence with him in her arms.
  7. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

    Jan 11, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Betty Baxter and the Blaf'Thron'Phede


    Out here in the endless void that is space, a simple quantum-mechanics engineer like me sees a lot of weird things. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, loose bolts on the armor plating covering the primary thermal exhaust port, errant tacos, like the one floating past me right now. "Jethro, that was hard to make!"

    "Sorry." That's Jethro. He's on belay for me today, in the red space suit, his feet bolted to the space ship we live in. Attached to a tether, in my orange space suit, I float around the secondary docking claw, making small adjustments to the countless servos and doodads that allow the thousand ton claw to work. Or not work. It can be hit or miss sometimes. "I must have a hole in my pocket." Yeah, I'm not gonna wait for Jethro to figure that one out.

    "Dude, if you're leaking stuff from your space suit..." Hopefully he can guess the rest.

    "...I'll pay you back, don't worry." Jethro's crafty, and he has neat big hands, but he can be a little technically inept.

    "No, your space suit might have a hole!"

    "O-o-o-h, that's true!" Jethro is looking over his space suit now. While he checks himself, I am focusing on the fifth weirdest thing I have ever seen attached to a docking claw. It's a giant space egg. Not a normal egg with, like, an oval shape, white shell, or creamy center. No, this thing is almost indescribable. I'll try anyway. It's a twisting, hexagonal, spiky, writhing, slimy, wormy, translucent...

    "I think the hole is just in my outer pocket, Betty. "

    "Blarby, warpy, chaotic, wierding..."

    "Uhm... Betty, is the radiation getting to you already?"

    "Look at this egg, dude!"

    "Oh wow! Betty, that's a Blaf'Thron'Phede spore."

    "Whoa! I don't care what is going on, you watch your language in front of a lady, Mister!"

    "Sorry. Still, those things are worth a lot to scientists!"

    "Yeah, I guess they don't get to hear a lot of new words."

    "... Betty, I-"

    "With their ears always in those stethoscopes, listening to the hocking waves on the different planets."

    "Wow... Just... Wow"

    "Cause you know... they're curved." I always feel so good educating Jethro on the finer points of quantum physical research. You can tell how blown away he is because of his silence. Oh wow, the egg just hatched.

    "How are you an engineer, again?"

    "Jethro, the egg just hatched!"

    "What? Oh... Oh, ew!"

    "Jeeze, that's some weird looking space birth." The egg has burst into a floating cloud of puss and ooze, spreading out behind the ship as it careens through space.

    "Ugh, it's like a cloud of puss and ooze is spreading out behind the ship as it careens through space!"

    "Jethro, I just said that!"

    "I l-i-i-ive!" A bubbly voice cries out, a creature coming out of the puss and ooze. It's forming like some... description of a thing forming from ooze and puss.

    "It talked!" Jethro is so good at noticing little details.

    "It's forming from ooze and pu- aw, the moment's gone."

    "Human Betty!" The Bath'Roth'Peed's voice is so weird. Plus, it knows my name.

    "Betty, it know's your na-"

    "I know, Jethro! God!

    "Betty Baxter..." The creature is looking at me with it's strange, misshapen, un-eye, which is like a regular eye. Only, NOT"... It is I... the Blaf'Thron'Phede!"

    "Uhm, well, hi then, Mr Blaf'Thron'Phede." I never know what to say to undiscovered aliens when I meet them. Usually I just scrape them off the ship and get back to work. But, this one knows my name, and it's the size of a interstellar shuttle hanger, so I should try and be courteous. "You know me, apparently, so I would like to introduce my friend, Jethro."

    "Hello, Blath'Ro-"

    "Shut up, Jethro!" The Bat'Rod'Feed interrupts Jethro, launching a slimy tentacle at my helmet. A giant sucker attaches to the glass with a loud sucker-attaching-to-glass sound.

    "Woah!" Jethro is shocked. "That's so hot." Er, shocked or something.

    "What!?" I am shocked and... well, just shocked. "What' are you doing!?"

    "Ooh, yes, such delicious mental fullness." I am confused by it's choice of words, but get the gist of what is going on pretty quickly.

    "Jethro, I can't see past this... thing. What is going on?" I reach out to touch the tentacle, but based on the vibe I am getting from the two big, brutish MEN around me, I rethink touching the strange, throbbing appendage.

    "I've read about this! The Blaf'Thron'Phede has picked you as it's mate!" Jethro's stupid mouth says what I suspected all the stupid along.

    "Yep, uh huh." I poke the appendage delicately. "I figured. Not even an meaningful introduction, or an offer to spend any time with me. Just straight to the physical stuff. Typical male. Always thinking with your appendages, beaks, or space claws."

    "Ha ha ha ha ha." The misogynistic alien's laugh is annoyingly rhythmic. Ew. "Silly human. I am female."

    "What?" As far into the future and as socially developed as space humanity is, I don't think this alien is ready for some of bigotry and hate-mongering my kind is still capable of.

    "Whoa... lesbian inter-species encounter ... hot." See? Exactly. Jethro's such a dork.

    "Look..." I choose my words carefully. It is so hard to be politically correct in space. "...I am all for deep space, first contact, on-the-job, inter-species, alternate lifestyle, first-date, spontaneous, mile-high club, space hookups..."

    "Hell yeah, Betty."

    "Shut up, Jethro." Hopefully I hit all the right wave tops. "But, this is all going a little fast, don't you think?"

    "Behold!" The Bash'Wrong'Deed is sexpanding... aw man, now It's in my head. "The miracle of birth!"

    "What!?" I am so-o-o not ready to be a parent. But it is too late. The Brat'Rung'Seed explodes outward, spawning thousands.

    "Millions, Betty."

    "Er, right." For all his backwards thinking, Jethro's at least a good counter. Millions of smaller creatures expand into space. They look like little orbs of liquid, pulsing and vibrating weightlessly.

    "Was it good for you, dear?" My new spouse is refreshingly thoughtful.

    "I suppose It could have been worse." The sucker pulls away suddenly, sending me spinning wildly on my tether. "Woah!"

    "Augh, typical human racism!" The Bath'On'Sneed spins wildly, gathering up all the millions of it's babies in its oozy cyclone of puss.


    "Shut up Jethro, and pull me in!" I can barely think as I spin like a space top.

    "Always judging, degrading, and insulting!" The creature collects up our newborn children. "I'm leaving, and I'm taking the kids!"

    "We hate you!" My trillio-... innumerable children all speak in one, high pitched voice. Before I can respond, the Bab'Dod'Mead shoots off into space with our brood. As my new family leaves me, I feel myself being pulled slowly towards the ship. My spinning slows down a little, and I watch the mass of creatures spread out, a huge cloud of life that was nothing but a strange bulb attached to the ship a few minutes earlier. Jethro's big hands grab me, and my disorienting spin stops. I settle onto the ship, me and Jethro watching the family disappear into space.

    "Very poetic."

    "Thanks, Jethro."

    "You realize, Betty..." Jethro slaps me on the back heartily, sending me spinning again.

    "Dang it!"

    "...This is only, like, the third time you have ever hooked up with an alien?"

    "Yeah..." The spinning, among other things, is making me sick. "... You think I'll hear back from this one?"

    "I got the feeling you made it angry."

    "Yeah, well, giving birth makes aliens moody as hell."

    The End
  8. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

    Mar 21, 2012
    Likes Received:
    New Scarborough Adventure
    St Georgina, [900 words]

    Those days people made love in their twenties, and others who were even younger, they were also on the job. We heard too about women who had babies born as a consequence of intercourse, and this story is about how we had, or we tried, probably made one of those kinds of babies. I wrote this news into my pocket diary in tiny writing, in a code, the date was November something nineteen ninety-something. Cathy is pregnant I wrote, watched her tummy swell. Her bosoms became magnificent mountains of womanhood, and for a few brief months I could hide in her valley below. But then this baby thing, the bump turned massive and I myself turned to wondering what kind of bastard might pop out, here in the summertime. No holiday this year I thought, understood it was not the baby’s fault. She told me her waters had broken. I did not know what waters broken were for, only I should go find a minicab. Minicab who cared little about our baby situation, only cab fare was eight pounds, he said.

    Eight pounds I replied, you are a thief. I fought him for man rights at the window, in the street, did not see my Cathy stagger away in disinterest towards reception at that hospital. I chased after her, in my disappointment took her suitcase from her hands. We were sent to one ward. I am not certain what type of ward is was, no smoking in any of the wards, they said, outside only by the dustbins said that first nurse. Medical people got right on their high horses, my smoking enquiries, told me to move baccy, my rizlas, my marijuana, move my ashtray off of their monitor equipment.

    Nor is your baby quite ready for the delivery said the nurse. They dumped us into a deserted ward, a dark, cold ward without lights, and Cathy writhed on a bed. Sometimes I lay next to her, other times I fed her Opal Fruits from my palm. She puked these tiny orange globules of vomit, the regurgitated sweets. I could have eaten any one of those myself, I said to her, but she, the girlfriend took to screams, the foulest of obscenities. I turned the volume high on the television set but heard none of the racing commentary, only a moan to fetch the fucking doctor. Don’t speak to me like that you horrible woman, I told my girl to calm it, Kermit which is totally normally very funny, and normal between us both at these times where she laughs at all my jokes. What is your problem? I said.

    Eventually medics gave me attention, passed over a glass, an aspirin for my migraine and we got to watch Cathy try to deliver a baby child in the delivery suite. Push they said, all nurses, all gathered around the bottom of a bed. She shamed me here, screamed give me epidural you fuck-face, you are fucking Nazis, and they gave her a huge jab in the spine to stop her foam, but still she continued to gurn again, and never received the so-called opiod cosh to calm her anxieties. There was a television in this room as well as in the other room. I suppose my role in the whole operation began about this point when the second, or third nurse said baby’s heart is very weak, your girlfriend is exhausted by her ordeal, she said. Get bloody pushing I said. It was the first thing I really shouted, in public, right into her face. Everybody saw how I took control of the situation. I thought Cathy too should take this whole situation more seriously in her manner. Nope, no baby, nothing came out of her. I tugged at my hair. Push out the baby I said to her. Push the baby out, push I said, clapped, motivated the entire team, the nurses as well who gathered around the backside, the frontside where they usually work. Again I shouted push, but by the looks of things my lady just did not know how to push babies. I got to thinking, my god, my hell, she is going to die on me, and a baby will never come out of there. I am going to live by myself in a small house with no baby, and no little pal to boss about her kitchen, forever.

    Suddenly the room’s door swung wide open, and a magnificent halo of light illuminated blonde hair. White-coated, the most horrible stress bitch ever employed stormed into our intense proceedings. The consultant war horse, scalpel held in her fist, attacked my girl, said let's do this thing, she said, sliced at Cathy, enormous forceps held in her other fist, and finally with one foot rested on the bed, a thump, she deposited a lump of bloody baby into a casserole dish. My boy was born. His head bruised, misshapen, but his eyes worked properly, back then. Dark eyes darted about his dish, he was alive, and I looked over to Cathy. She was mostly alive and grateful. It was left to me to thank the doctor properly, and I was fine as well, and our baby became the centre of most of the free world’s attention, wrapped in a white blanket. Later she held Damien, or Rupert, or Setchel upon her chest, and we have been, all three, here together, happy ever since his first difficult day in Tooting hospital.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
  9. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributor Contributor

    Nov 12, 2014
    Likes Received:
    The Birth of Ivy, the Emerald (2200 words) [Adult Theme/Mature Content]

    A loud wheezing snore was the signal I was waiting for. The beast of a man had fallen asleep just after dusk, as he often did. The forest was my home, but it had been unkind as of late. The smell of the behemoths leftover meat! I needed it.

    Slipping inside through a broken window, I was careful to be quiet. The slob was not very neat, the wooden floor of his cabin littered with a minefield of disgusting filth that threatened to expose me at the slightest mistake. Yet, through miracle or desperation, I managed to reach his unfinished meal. The smell, so delicious my mouth watered.

    A creaking sound caused my heart to freeze. The door opened, and someone entered. No! I scouted! No one ever came here. No! I grabbed the meat and made a mad dash rush to the window.

    “Hey, where you going?” he said.

    I dared not even give him a fraction of a second. As my head was sticking out into the sweet heaven of outside, I felt his slimy grease covered fingers around my ankle as he pulled me back in.

    “No!” I screamed.

    “Hey man, she knows language, we got ourselves a sophisticated thief,” the intruder said to the now awake owner. As if my situation wasn't harsh enough already.

    I squirmed and flailed, desperate to break free. I tried to kick them, but he caught my feet holding them down. The owner punched me in the face. I could feel blood drizzling out of my nose.

    “Now girly,” he said holding my chin. “Don't make you more trouble than you're worth. Don't worry, I pay my debts. You can keep the meat you took, after ya pay for it.”

    I clenched my teeth and shut my eyes hoping this would just end already. I heard a huge thud from across the room, fear coursing through me, I squinted my eyes to see. A third man had entered; he was much larger, he had pulled the owner off of me. The man that had ruined my plan let go of my legs in order to help his friend. It was in vain, the giant tossed them around the room like rag dolls, eventually tossing them through the walls of the cabin.

    My body still shaking, I tried to run. What worse fate had I invoked to come across a monster able to toss grown men around so easily?

    “Please wait,” he said.

    I froze, I dared not defy such a monster until I knew I had no other recourse.

    “Sincerely, I mean you no harm. Please sit down,” he said as a flame flickered in his hand. He lit a candle to light the room.

    How did he do that, I wondered. I lowered my body, carefully keeping the balls of my feet on the ground, just in case I decided to risk running. Looking upon him, I noticed how very unique he was. No scuffs, no hair out of place, or any sign of dirt. He was like perfection, so different to the mud in my hair or the rips on the rags I wore. How could a man exist with no signs of life? My stomach roared against my will. He frowned in response. Did I anger him? I began sweating in the fear of such a situation.

    “This is no place to have a civilized conversation. Please, let me treat you to a meal,” he said as he offered me his hand.

    What choice did I have? I needed food, I accepted his hand and reached with my other hand towards the meat on the ground.

    “No no. You deserve more than the scraps of a piece of trash,” he said as he tugged on my hand every so gently.

    As we went outside, he ripped the satchel off of the two men that had been my enemies, not minutes beforehand. My fear was rationalized as I looked down. They weren't breathing. He killed them! Why? If he did that to them, what was to be my fate?

    “It would make me so much happier,” he paused looking at me and wiping the blood off of my chin, “if you weren't so afraid. I suppose, to some degree, it can't be helped. Maybe a public place with many onlookers will help you feel more secure?”

    I nodded. Not because I approved, but rather I didn't want to risk doing anything that might invoke an ill-tempered response.

    The man I scouted lived on the outskirts of town so reaching civilization didn't take long. Once there, the man guided me to the local pub. Everyone's eyes were on us, or more accurately him. Just as I, everyone seemed to be amazed to see a man in such pristine conditions.

    We sat at a table, and he shouted at the bar. “Your finest meal, please.”

    The man behind the bar nodded before disappearing to the back.

    My captor or savior looked back at me. “I am going to be awfully embarrassed if those pieces of garbage didn't have enough currency,” he paused looking at me. “Oh my, where have my manners been. You may call me Daniel.”

    I assumed giving a name was a signal that he also sought mine. I tried to reply quickly but my mouth quivered. “I...” my breath quickened, in the forest I never needed to speak, it felt like for that one moment, I had forgotten how. “I am Ivy.”

    “Yes yes, I know. Save your energy dear. There is no need to rush too much,” he said as he opened the satchels dumping nearly fifty glittering emeralds on the table.

    More than enough to own this establishment. I had never seen so many at one time before.

    “Ah, gemstones. I must confess, I have long since outgrown the need for currency, but all the same, I find it marvelous how different cultures create a different form of it. You know, one world I visited had drawn symbols onto a paper-cloth-like material," he said looking at me for some sort of response, but I had no idea what he wanted. "Oh my, I am sorry. I must be boring you?”

    Boring? No, frightening was still more likely. Now I was sure he was a crazy man. I mean paper-cloth currency? That didn't make any sense. It is such an easy material to find. How did such an easy to replicate material hold any unique value? Yet, again. I just shook my head. I am no idiot. You don't call the crazy man a fool.

    The barman came over bringing us food. Bovine meat. My god, this crazy man could kill me and I would still count myself blessed to have the honor of such a glorious last meal. I couldn't resist, I dived in face first. After a minute or so, I looked up to find Daniel had not touched the meat. Had he been waiting for me? I pushed the plate towards him just in case he had been waiting.

    “Oh no. I am not hungry, but please. Enjoy to your hearts content. I insist.”

    You didn't need to tell me twice. I pulled it back in and shoved it into my mouth as fast as my teeth would allow. So juicy and delicious. Bless this crazy man.

    “Feeling better?” he asked.

    I nodded. Here it comes, the price. No way such a gesture was free.

    “Good. Now you see, I must apologize. Under ideal conditions, I would not be here yet, but as you are all too familiar with, conditions rarely hold on ideal for very long.”

    “I… no understand,” I replied.

    “Sorry, I am not so good at thinking on the fly,” he said rubbing his fingers through his hair. “I would like you to help me.”


    “Wait,” he said cutting me off. “There are some important details I need to say first. One, it is an open offer. You may come on or leave at will. Two, all that I seek is your friendship and loyalty. If you cannot give those to me, then just say no. There will be no hard feelings.”


    “Because an ally I cannot completely trust is worthless to me,” he said.

    “Why… me?” I asked.

    He grabbed an emerald and began tapping it. “People are so foolish. This entire planet considers this a 'precious stone' but yet it is just a rock. A rock amongst a world of junk. The truth is Ivy. You are the most precious stone of this world. You are a true emerald. I need people like you. You are more special than you would ever have realized.”

    I didn't know how to react. I had never been compared to an emerald before. People have compared me to things on many occasions, but usually the backside of a goat, or the droppings from there. This man, Daniel. Could he be telling the truth? Did he really think I was special? Or was he just drawing me to some deep and dark trap?

    “I want you to know Ivy. If you are part of my team, I will always protect you and always provide for you, but I am afraid there is a catch. You see, I have been watching you for a very long time. Well, not directly, but friends of mine. Have you ever woke up and noticed some dead game nearby?”

    What! He… he had done that? He had been my guardian angel. What was so special about me? I wish I knew.

    “What… is... why me?” I asked.

    “Those words would not make sense to you now, but rest assured, I will one day be able to express to you why. If you choose to go with me,” he looked to the side and then down. “But, as I said. I normally prefer not to rush this kind of thing. Yet, here I find myself in a bit of a situation. A large campaign is coming up, and I cannot afford to leave men here to watch over you. I want you to come with me. To ensure, you will be safe.”

    Come with him? No. This man hadn't proved anything to me yet, but what to do, if I risk running, he might destroy me. I had to distract him. “Prove?”

    “You want me to prove my intentions?” he asked.

    I nodded.

    “Name your price. What can I do to prove it to you?” he replied.

    “Kill, them,” I said looking around. He may have been able to kill the other two, but surely he couldn't handle this many. Or even if he could, I would slip away while he did.

    “You want me to kill the people in this place? Everything in this world is junk compared to you. So, I will do so gladly, if it is your wish?”

    I nodded.

    “As you wish,” he said as he took in a deep breath.

    Something was very wrong; the room felt heavy. It was hard to breathe. I couldn't move very well. Looking around the room, I saw I wasn't the only one suffering from this. Everyone was struggling, people on their feet fell to the ground, and people at tables slumped over. I tried my best, but even my head hit the table.

    “Oh sorry,” Daniel said as he waved his hand and all the gravity around me was gone. “I was holding most of it off of you, but I forgot how weak you were from hunger. Let me finish it now.” With a loud grunt from Daniel, the room fell silent.

    I jumped out of my chair and looked around; everyone was on the ground. No one was breathing, he had killed everyone with… some sort of magic? What was left to do? Was I going to die? I was scared. I wanted to run, but how far could I even hope to get. I began crying against my will. I didn't want to die. I stumbled back, falling to the ground in the process.

    “As I said. I would never hurt you. You are free to turn my offer down, but I can teach you this. I can show you how to be strong. I am a king, and I am offering you a seat at my throne. It is that simple. No tricks, no lies. It is up to you to decide if you wish to be the emerald I know you are, or if you wish to remain hidden in the filth of this disgusting world. It is your decision?” he asked as he held out his hand.

    He… was real. I knew it. My very soul knew it. How else could he do such things. He was my king. I didn't feel afraid anymore. For some reason, I thought he was my nightmare, but he was my savior, a blessing I had been praying for. He saw in me a beauty no one ever had before. Why else would he be here? I wanted to see it, the beauty he saw in me.

    I grabbed his hand. “Yes.”

    He smiled, without words I knew we both could feel it. This was the birth of something beautiful. More beautiful than those silly green rocks.
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  10. Samuel Lighton

    Samuel Lighton Senior Member

    Feb 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Not Every0ne's a Hero [3368 words]

    “Look, I know you get into a lot of trouble with a lot of people I'd rather not be on the wrong end of the stick with.” He said as he looked down at him. Nelo simply sat there, his chin cradled into his palm as he swills a half full glass of flat beer around in his hand.

    “And I know what kind of toll that takes on someone. I'm offering you a chance to get back on to the good side for a while. To do something right for a change. There isn't pay, and there isn't any half-in bullshit either. You're in? You're in all the way.” Pan said sternly, leaving his hands floating outwards in a gesture. Nelo sits there, he's stopped swilling the glass around and now simply stares at the gradually dissipating foam on it's surface. Pan limply drops his hands and shakes his head gently side to side.

    “Your choice mate. You know where I am if you change your mind. Do as you like.” With no faith in his voice he turns and takes shallow steps to the edge before stopping. A room full of people and he always sits in this thing.

    “See you around. Mate.” Nelo says snarkily at his back. Pan gives a gruff grunt and steels himself, taking a step over the threshold. The sound of the surrounding room comes back in full as a shiver passes down his spine, like an ice cube being dropped down the back of his shirt. People throng around the place, packed in like sardines. You can barely hear your own thoughts over the sound of people clamouring, yelling, spilling and drinking drinks alike. One of them bends over, a sickening gasp as he up-ends the contents of his stomach onto the floor in front of him.

    Pan turns to face behind him and sees a stone pillar, the same stone that covers the walls of the room. There's a wide gap between the pillar and the next person around, a large circle where the people don't like standing. Looking at it, he feels uneasy and fights the urge to make some distance between himself and that pillar. Staring at it, he can only wonder what would drive a man to push everyone else away like that.

    Staring down at the lifeless beer Nelo only contemplates one thing. Why should he care? He's not some 'white knight' in shining armour, come to save the day on his noble steed. The only one that matters is himself. He's lived by a set of rules since he was a child and it's worked out just fine so far. Number one – if there's no profit, it's not worth it. Number two – Don't personally invest yourself in the job. Number three – always listen to the voices.

    Draining the last of his beer he places the glass down on the table, leans back and places both hands flat down on the table. This job he wants me to do, it breaks the first two rules right off the bat. But the third trumps them both. His ears hum gently, drowning out the noise of the people dancing outside his bubble.

    “Yeah I know. You don't have to tell me twice.” He says to the empty air, closing his eyes as he does.

    “Well, what do you expect me to do? It breaks the first two rules completely. I don't do any jobs with kids, and it's not like he's offered up payment is it? Besides that, it's gonna earn me a black mark with the Khans - and that does not bode well for anyone. Yeah. I know they're not a threat to me, but for fucks sake, I barely keep it all together as it is. It'd be like lighting a bonfire under my own arse while pissing gasoline.” The hum intensifies in his ears, building up to an undulating thrum that whines up and down. He winces as he raises his hands into the air in a placating gesture.

    “All right. ALL RIGHT. No need to bloody shout is there?” He stares intently out into the empty space surrounding him, before relaxing and giving out a sigh.

    “But...what do you expect me to do. You know this won't end well. You know it. So, what? What is it you want me to do this time?” He stares back out across the empty floor before him. The hum in his ears continues, then suddenly stops as his jaw goes slack. A moment passes before he clicks his jaw shut, his eyes blinking rapidly, as if someone had said something utterly ridiculous.

    “Wait, you're serious?”

    “So where does this leave us?” Standing in front of a circular table with scattered charts, files and plans strewn across it, Pan passes his gaze around the room of faces.

    “We're going to need another hacker. That much is clear. So who do we know? Alternatives?How many taskers will we need to equal a psychic? Do we even know any in this district?” Again, silence ripples around the room. Two look at each other, one taking a deep breath in consternation and closing his eyes gently before directing his gaze back across the table.

    “There is an alternative….” He pauses, uncertain of what he is about to say. “Is there anything...we can...do….to make Nelo help us?”

    Pan stands there, frozen. He stares at him with an unwavering and solid stare, trying to process what was just said.

    “Blackmail?” He scoffs. “That's your suggestion? You know….everything we're doing this for, EVERYTHING we are fighting against, and you want us to use blackmail?” Sighing, he draws his hand down his forehead before clasping his fingers above his nostrils, closing his eyes in thought.

    “We may as well be working with the Khans if we do, we'd be...no better. Besides-”

    “Besides…... you got nothing on me….. mate.” Nelo's voice carries from behind the crowd gathered around the table, his dull, slow footsteps cutting through the silence that had stilled the room.

    “Excuse me..” He says as he pushes a gap between two of them standing at the edge of the table, all eyes focused on him. He looks around the faces before arriving at one of the people standing next to him, staring at him.

    “No worries mate, I'm here to help.” He chuckles, slapping him on the shoulder. “So, let's go then.”

    Pan shakes his head quickly, recovering from his sudden appearance. “Wait a minute, we have to plan. We have to get our gear, move people into -”

    “You got a comms unit for me? A console tablet with wireless?” Nelo cuts through him. Pan stands there, mouth half formed in words.

    “Yes, we have those. But we -” Nelo waves his hand around in the air.

    “It doesn't matter, I've seen your plan on the table.” He scoffs. “It won't work. I have a better one, so come on. Grab those, get a comms unit on yourself and the others and just follow my lead. Alright?” Standing there with the question hanging, he can see that Pan is undecided,

    “Look, you wanted me, I'm here. Trust me, we have to move fast. We have a window, they're understaffed, and we have to move or we miss our best chance, so stow your objections. All we need is comms and a console. I can explain the plan on the way.” Turning away from the table in a final statement, he makes way to the exit. Pan stands and surveys the room, all of his fellow men and women staring at him, waiting for his approval. He sighs, shaking his head again.

    “Let's move.”

    The van's weight shifted heavily with each break and turn. Nelo, sat in the back shifts in his seat with the console tablet in his lap. He grunts each time the suspension gives way and he's thrown in his seat.

    “I'm sorry, we couldn't get a better vehicle on such short notice. We've been restoring some ancient tech for some time now, so it's untraceable to conventional sensors, but the securicams will still pick it up.” Pan apologises to him.

    Nelo looks him dead in the eye, then grunts a short laugh before looking out the window onto the street beside them.

    “It's alright, I was just wondering where Scooby-Doo and the rest of Mystery Inc. are when we've got their ride.” Pan looks at him and tilts his head, obviously confused, but Nelo just waves a hand at him, dismissing any answer he'd be willing to give. Instead, he unbuttons the cuffs on his shirt's sleeve and rolls them up. He turns the console over in his hands.

    “Hmm. Nope.” Gripping the base and the lid he rips them apart forcibly, wires swinging violently and components spilling out of them all over the floor, rolling around like shrapnel from the movements of the van.

    “What in the HELL are you doing?!” Pan says, shocked. Nelo, still holding the screen in his left hand stares at him, bemused by his expression.

    “What? The screen was in the way.” He says flippantly, discarding it nonchalantly away from him. It clatters off the side wall of the van and bounces around the floor before skidding to a halt under the seats. Nelo tugs at the wires hanging out the console base before finding the one he was searching for. Biting down on the end, he strips the insulating coating off and spits it out. His eyes flair open as sparks fly from the end of the wires.

    “Ohhhh...yeah…….that's the stuff.” His eyes shine an unnatural, luminescent blue and begin flitting around in every direction, suddenly and violently. “Stop the van.” He orders.

    Pan taps on the window separating the driver from the compartment in the back and the van begins to slow to a stop. Taking deep breaths as he focuses on Pan a lopsided grin spreads across Nelo's face.

    “Time to go.” He says to Pan with a gasp who looks back into that childishly gleeful face.

    “Don't you need a comm?” Pan asks. Nelo just continues to stare at him with that locked expression, taking heavy breaths while images appear in miniscule flashes along the irises of his eyes.

    What? You don't think I've already hacked in? Pan says over the ear comms, his mouth not even moving. You really should have more faith you know.Giggling in his seat, Pan squints at him, unsure of how effective he'll really be. Well, go on. The rest are already getting into place. No time to waste mate.

    Six foot high. Electrically charged, lethal capacity. Follow the fence, a weak link. I can stop the flow. Hacking local securicam protocols. Hold there. Wait for my signal. Nelo's voice flowed through the communication buds hanging in their ears. Eight cloaked figures, their faces obscured with masks.

    “Check your equipment, make sure you're ready to move.” Pan orders from a half crouch near the fence wall.

    Cut the fence. Pan coughs a laugh before reaching under his cloak for a small tin spray can. Twisting the top, he tests the spray against the ground. Satisfied, he quickly sprays the metal sheet fence in a large circle. The mixture hisses and fizzes against it, quickly melting it. Tentatively, Pan places his naked hand on the sleek fence surface, testing it for current.

    Don't doubt me so much. I have a reputation to uphold here, it's you I should be worried about doing the job right. Gripping the fence and pulling gently on it until it gives way, clanking quietly on the floor as he drops it and shifts it out of the way. Gesturing behind him, all of them file through the hole, crouching into a semi-circle around the exit, each of them reaches under their cloaks and pulls out a square block the size of half of a suitcase, holding it intently with their hands clasped around it.

    “What next?” Pan says as he steps through after them. Two guards, to your left. Just talking. Heavily armed. Head right, there's an access door there. Patrols. Radio silence for now, I will advise. Pan pushes a button on his breather, sending out a small burst of static that repeats in the other visors. He taps the nearest on the left on the shoulder, they in turn tap the next along and so on until they all get up and follow Pan single-file along the side of the building.

    Stop. Drone. Hug the wall. Pan raises his hand in a fist and they all fall in along the wall, crouching down to make as small a silhouette as they can. The dense mist that had formed made it impossible to see more than five feet, the street lamps faded into mute and hollow lights in the distance, but the sound of the drone whirring above was unmistakable.

    “Hack it.” Pan ushers a whisper, knowing the risks. On it. Stay put. The drone buzzes around above them, out of sight. If it spots them, they'll be discovered. If they're discovered, they're dead. The buzzing fades as it moves further along it's patrol route ahead of them. As it moves away Pan unclenches his fist into a palm and waves it forward twice. The two behind him break off from the wall and advance forward in turns, each covering the last until they move far enough away that they faded into the mist. After a short time, two bursts of static pulses out of the masks, signifying the all clear.

    Raising his open hand he gives the signal to move up, each of them spreading out in a formation that put distance between each of them. They reach a corner, each of them separately taking a stance behind the other. Looking around the corner, Pan spots the advanced scouts, alongside two prone bodies on the floor, still breathing. At a short sprint they easily cover the distance, Pan sliding into a half crouch near a door he signals the others to follow up. Reaching into his cloak pocket he pulls out a small, circular device and places it on the door. It lights up as it clanks into life, small wires etching their way along the door's control interface, which lights up a fragmented screen of images and numbers.

    The screen lit up a cubic array of numbers, each filtering in and out of the box, some turning green and staying, others falling red and disappearing into the void behind the screen.. Pan watches it so intently, understanding that-

    “Pan. PAN!” A voice screams across the intercom in his helmet, drowned out by the blazing whir of a drone's fan blades. Turning quickly, he sees it, not inches from his face as it descends right in front of him, it's front panel scanning him, it's gun belts detaching to track him, the click of high velocity kinetic ammunition chambering.

    Wha – I SAID STAY PUT. Nelo's voice harshly blares. Not enough time. Sorry mate, you're fucked. The drone's guns whine as they spin up to impossible speeds. Pan clenches his eyes shut. Oh. Just kidding. The drone chimes as it's gun turrets reset and retract back into their housings. Well, at least we have some firepower.

    “No killing Nelo. I mean it.” Pan says as he watches the drone spin around to watch the rear. You just suck the joy out of everything, don't you? Might as well cut radio silence by the way, I'm in their system, if they try to talk to each other they're getting an earful of static.

    Pan chuckles over the microphone as the door scrambler finishes with a quiet beep, the wires drawing back into it's housing as he reaches for it and removes it, placing it back into the recesses of his cloak.

    “Let's move.”

    It seems they had an intruder system built in. Dimethylheptylpyran gas….they'll be out for a while. Access carries all the perks. The security cameras behind the checkpoint spin on their swivels, focusing in and out behind them.

    Pan pays no notice, inside the building they are close to their objective, but also much more vulnerable. “Nelo, can you pull up schematics?”

    Weeelll...yes...but these schematics are old. That door you went through? Not there on the plans. The hacked drone whirls overhead and bounds around the corner ahead. I'll send the drone ahead, see if I can scout the overlay of this place for you.

    They made good headway deeper into the facility, all guards knocked out by the gas system, and all security measures focused on observation, not violence.

    “This is unlike the other Khan facilities. Where are the auto-turrets? The auto attack drones? This doesn't make sense...” Pan questioned the air around him. Rounding a corner, he rids himself of these thoughts as he spots his target. Eight metal doors.

    “Place the explosives.” He orders as they all move to a door and begin unfolding the half suitcase devices. Hard shell casings with high temperature, slow burn incendiaries inside. They plaster them to the locks on the doors and retreat away, each confirming set up, and Pan triggers them to blow. Loud hisses belch and the doors begin melting around the containers, popping open as each reduces the locks to molten slag.

    Running to each of the doors he slides them fully open and states a single word. “Run.” Emaciated women and children tentatively edge around the corners of the barely lit rooms before fleeing down the halls, guided by the other eight members of the team to the exit. Coming to the last door, he slams it open to an unlit, near empty chamber, containing a single, young girl.

    We have incoming. The drone speeds off further down the hallway, eager shouts echoing down from beyond.

    “Nelo! No - !”

    - Killing. Gotcha. The drone's gun spun up and unleashed a blizzard of bullets down the hall, smashing into concrete walls and filling the corridor with concrete dust. The voices yelp around the corner and recede back away as they shy away from the devastation ahead of them. I would, you know, leave. Now.

    Picking up the young girl, Pan turns into a full sprint as the drone continues it's fire, running back for the exit with the girl clutching around his neck. Passing the final checkpoint he slows to a stop, kneeling and placing the girl down in front of him.

    “You must go and run, now.” Pan said with urgency, the girl merely blinking at him in silence. She has no place to go or run to, Pan. I will take her with me and find her a place. The drone hummed out of the doorway expectantly behind him. Staring into the girls face intently, he wishes he could do more for her, but the timing…..

    Picking up the girl again once more, he runs for the transports, throwing a device onto the ground behind him. As he runs it flares into life, projecting an image, words.

    Tread lightly, Khans.

    - The Black Cloaks watch.

    Sitting in the van with the girl, Nelo unplugs himself from the terminal, his work done, and turns to watch her.

    “You know, I didn't have enough time to hack that assault drone. It's a good thing someone else did.” He said, slyly to the girl. She turns to stare up into his eyes for a moment before reaching under the seat and picking up the discarded console screen. In her hands it flashes into life, it's speakers hissing and crackling in her hands.

    “They didn't have much security. No robotics, no cyborgs. Just one drone, on a permanent patrol route on the outskirts of the outer walls, only brought in closer because of us. And that was all because of you, wasn't it? I felt you out there in the ether, didn't I?” He asked. She continued to hold the screen intently, the unflinching static hissing out the speakers continuing. Sighing he folds his hands in his lap.

    “I believe this is the birth of a beautiful business relationship between you and I.” He says.

    As do I. Her voice crackles over the speakers.
  11. Fernando.C

    Fernando.C Contributor Contributor

    Jul 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Floating in the Cosmere.
    Reborn [1102]

    She felt cold, but she enjoyed it. The sense of weightlessness, the result of floating in her the strange liquid confinement, was oddly soothing. The touch of the unknown fluid with its faint, beige color, against her naked flesh brought on strange sensations; hard to describe but pleasant.

    There was not much room to move about. She did not mind that, preferring to stay in one place, simply…floating. The liquid flowed around her, wrapping itself around her, surrounding her, brushing against her skin ever so gently, like the loving touch of a mother. She loved its embrace, she loved it. Did it make sense to love a non-living substance? But it felt alive to her, the way it took care of her, kept her warm, fed her even; although she did not understand how it accomplished the last one. All she knew was that whenever she felt a bit hungry the fluid took on a subtle bluish hue and grew slightly thicker around her. The change would last only for a few seconds each time but that was enough for her hunger to disappear.

    For some reason, her body was in a very specific position all the time; head bowed, back arched and her arms and legs pushed all the way to her chest. She did not understand the reason behind this, but found the position to be quite comfortable so did not bother to change it up.

    Ah…she love her fluid home. It was cozy and warm and peaceful. She wished nothing more than to stay here forever, yet she had a nagging feeling at the back of her head that she would have to leave at some point. She hated that feeling, why on earth would she ever want to leave her home? It was the greatest home in the world. But what if it was not up to her? Maybe somebody or something would force her out? She could not imagine anyone could be so cruel. Still, she worried. In fact, that was the only thing that troubled her.

    It was hard to stay troubled in here, the liquid was just too calming. Even now, all those unpleasant thoughts were dissipating as quickly as they came to her mind.

    Time passed, it was difficult to say how much. Seconds blended into hours and those, in turn, into days and even month. It seemed to her that she had always been in this liquid home, despite those vague images that popped into her head once in a while of her in other, unidentifiable places. She was different in those images somehow, how different? She could not tell. It was just…a feeling. Sometimes, there were others in these images too, but she did not recognize them.

    These odd mental images grew more infrequent as time went one, as well as becoming blurrier. She did not really care, the images did not matter. Even if they were real and she had indeed been someplace else before her liquid home it changed absolutely nothing. She loved her current home, that was the only thing she cared about; all that she ever wanted.

    More time went by, the images eventually left her mind altogether. To be honest, there was not much on her mind overall. She did not think much anymore. For one thing there was not pretty much anything to think about in the unchanging scenery of the liquid, for another she was too at piece to bother trouble her mind with thoughts, instead she much preferred to just…be.


    Dr. James Patrick rushed back into the room, a look of concern on his face. A quick survey of the room revealed, much to his relief, that all was in order. His bathroom break had taken longer than he thought and with the deadline so near, it was no wonder that he had panicked.

    He check the three different monitors at his left, all indicated that everything was on track.

    Good, he thought, only thirty minutes left; Wow.

    Only half an hour to the first successful implementation of the ‘Rebirth’ project. It still did not feel real to him. His eyes was inevitably drawn to the spectacle in the very center of the room. A giant sphere made of glass stood on a single pillar made of a special metal alloy, made specifically to withstand the mass of the glass sphere.

    The sphere was filled with a substance of Dr. Patrick’s own invention, one he was particularly proud of. The liquid solution which he had dubbed ‘the Rebirth Formula’ had a light beige color and was the main element that made the Rebirth process possible.

    Floating inside the Rebirth Formula, naked and in a fetal position, was a twenty-six-year-old women. She had, of course, volunteered for this project. Although she would not remember that now. In fact, she would not remember anything from her life before stepping into the ‘artificial uterus’, as the glass sphere was called. Not a very accurate name but appropriate nonetheless.

    The aim of the Rebirth Project, as its name implied, was to give a second chance at life to those who had done not too well with their first one. It was a fresh start in every meaning of the word. And the woman in the artificial uterus was about to be the first human being to experience just that.

    Dr. Patrick was restless with anticipation. For two decades he had worked on this project, and here now, he would at last witness the results. The woman would be born once more, a new life, a new path ahead of her. She would be a baby in all but the strictest biological concepts once she came out of the sphere.

    She would not be able to talk, nor to walk or stand. Furthermore every skill, knowledge, and piece of information she had ever learned or acquired would be lost to her. Her mind was completely wipe away. Just like an actual baby, she would have to learn everything anew.

    She would be assigned new ‘parents’ who would raise her and teach her all that was needed for her to be a useful member of the society. The brilliance of this project was that the subject would experience every state of natural human development. Childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Only the process would be faster.

    Dr. Patrick pulled out two similar-looking sheets from a drawer. Both with a picture of the woman. One read:

    Jessica Robinson



    Charged with triple homicide. Sentenced to death.

    The other read:

    Madison Avery,



    The rest of the page was blank.

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