Writers' Guild

A community for writers of all genres to hone our craft, with monthly exercises, challenges, and collaborative writing. Open to anyone who enjoys writing!

Picture prompt!

Picture prompt!

750-1000 words, based on this picture. I'd like to see more than one response this time, please.

Cymmeiian's Redemption

The mist has never called like this.
The radiance has never been so silver.
The presence has never been so palpable.
There has never been such suffocation of sound.

I cannot help but sojourn on, deeper into the mist Ė deeper into the sticky softness of unknowing. I cannot remember the last time my feet were not guided by the mist. My heart has succumbed to the mist. My heart has succumbed to the unknowing.

The path before me has never been linear, despite the trail. There has never been a paved road. There has never been a manicured path. I see only what I must of the trail. I see only what I need of the trail.

The past year has picked and pried at my spirit. The past year has pierced my morale. The past year may have been a complete waste. I am unsure of when my dreams are reality. I am unsure of when my reality is dream.

There are branches moving. There are branches scraping each other. There are dead, dried leaves rustling. I see the motions but that is all. Do leaves rustle if they do not make a sound? I hear Footsteps though; they echo around me after every step. Dull, sonorous Footsteps that drag and scrape and are crystal clear.

I echo my way through the unknowing Ė through reality Ė down my vision of the trail. Tests have never been uncommon. Not since that day. I remember that reality vividly. I remember Her, kneeling on the ground, whispering into her ear. I heard everything then. I could not hear Her whispers. I heard her wet, gurgled choke. I heard the thick soup fill her lungs.

She pleaded with the kneeling woman. Her fingers pawed and strangled Her robes. White-knuckled balls of cloth jerked Her with increasingly feverish pleas. As the sun rose, the light faded from her eyes Ė peridot to sage to lichen to nothing. The kneeling woman was gone.

The mist was there that morning. It was subdued like lead. It lurched and careened over boulders, through fences, and into the villagers.

In those days I rode the mist.
It was my stallion of fear.
It was my carriage of destruction.
I was the stallion of Fear.
I was the carriage of Destruction.

That morning I saw the raven. It perched with staunch talons on the edge of a crumbled cobblestone wall. That morning I saw the raven. It bore through my eyes and crumbled my cobblestone wall. That morning I saw the raven and cried and screamed until my throat bled raw.

The raven ravaged my soul before turning into a weeping eye. My soul wept as I closed her eyes. The kneeling woman was gone. She took the raven. The weeping eye faded from peridot to sage to lichen to nothing.

My dreams are my reality. My reality is my dream. I bare the memories. I bare the scars. I bore the burden. I bore her burden. I have never forgot and She will never let me.

My mist smells of smoke. My mist smells of ointment. My mist wafts like smoke. My mist stings like ointment. My mist beckons me forward and urges me on. It prods my back with sharpness of my memories. It rips me forward with the strength of my guilt. It caws and chides me like the raven. My echoing, crystal clear footsteps caw and chide me like the raven.

My path is my reality and She beckons me onward towards, through and beyond the mist. Her will is my reality. My reality is my dream. Her dreams are my torture. Footstep after footstep sneer at me along the path. Footstep after footstep parts the mist Ė it swirls around my feet with every step.

I must continue on. On is hope. On is redemption. On is the promise of not having to bare the burden anymore. On is the direction in which I atone. On is the direction in which reality and dream split apart. On is the direction in which the eye fades no more.

I follow the mist on.
I follow on to atone.

The Thing

I walked along the dirt path in the park, scattering dry leaves as I walked. I glanced over my shoulder. I couldn't place it but the place never seemed very friendly to me. It always had a dark atmosphere in my eyes. Uninviting. I quickened my pace as the wind rustled through the trees of the nearby park. THERE! Did you see it? I stopped as I peered through the growing mist, searching for the dark figure I always saw in the trees. Nervously I began walking again. I had talked to my friends about it, the figure in the trees. They just laughed it off as another one of my stories. Its not my fault I like fantasy rather than reality. Reality is always so boring when compared to the exciting adventures in my books especially the horror novels ... at least it was ... until I spotted ... it. THERE! ... No ... that was just a tree branch rustling in this blasted wind. I wish the wind would at least clear away some of the fog, but it never does. The fog almost seems like a living thing, rolling this way and that, and flowing somewhere else altogether. But most of all I hate it because it hides ... IT.

I first spotted it watching me on my way home from school. I always have to take this path through the park to get to my house on Miller Road. One day I had glanced up into the trees when the wind blew my report card out of my hand. All A's of course, but that's not important. The wind carried it up into the upper branches of a tall oak tree, so as I squinted my eyes and looked into the gloom for my report card, I felt a chill on the back of my neck and I saw it. The black figure was sitting in the tree staring straight at me. I screamed and ran for my life. I heard a dull thump as it hit the ground behind me and a sort of slithering clomping noise as it began to chase me. It ran impossibly fast. I was pretty fast myself having been among the top three in the track team's sprinters, but I could hear this thing catching up. Sliiiiiiide-clump. Sliiiide-clump. Sliide-clump. I ran faster than I ever had before, but I could feel the thing's breath on my neck. I was tiring quickly; my breath coming in short gasps. I still don't know how I made it that day, but I broke through the treeline and heard a terrible screech of fury as the thing disappeared back into the darkness of the park. I immediately went home and told my parents. I told them to call the police; to get the dogs; to get the army, to go into the woods to find and get rid of this "thing." But they didn't believe me. They thought I was making up a story as to why I couldn't show them my report card. I told my friends, but they thought I was making things up. Only I know the truth. That these woods ... harbor a monster.

I glanced behind me once again. No sign of it. I knew it was watching me; waiting for me to make a move. I continued walking. One foot in front of the other, just put one foot in front of the other and you'll make it home. I began saying this over and over in my mind; almost like a chant that could keep the monster away. I saw the treeline. My friends were waiting for me. I could see them through the mist. Sliiiiiiide-clump. Sliiiide-clump. Sliide-clump. I turned my head to look behind me. There it was running full tilt straight for me. I screamed and started running. I ran faster and faster. I could sense the thing getting closer and closer. I screamed to my friends for help. They didn't stop. It looked like they couldn't even hear me. My breath started coming in short gasps. HELP! HELP! HELP! I thought with all my might. It was right behind me. I could feel it. The thing was right behind me. I neared the treeline, broke free of the mist and ... NO! I felt a cold spindly hand on my arm. The thing started a low laugh. Tears streamed from my face. I turned to look at the monster that had been plaguing me for all this time and everything went dark.

"So, I'll be blunt, did you daughter take any drugs for medication or otherwise?" asked the officer with a bored look on his face. He always had to deal with the families. He was getting sick of it.
"No, not at all" said the girl's mother
"She is a smart young girl with a bright future ahead of her" said the father
"Okay; Okay. I'm just doing my job." said the officer, getting annoyed. "Well that is just about it. Is there anything else that you can think of, anything at all?"
"No ... wait. There might be something in the nearby park." said the mother.
"Something in the park? What do you mean?" asked the officer curiously.
"She was trying to convince us, before she disappeared, that there was a dark monster in the nearby park and that it liked to watch her from the trees." said the father.
"You said she likes to read right? Its probably just her imagination." said the officer dismissively. "Well, we'll see what we can do. Goodbye."
"Yes, goodbye."

There was a time when I was much younger

That the road ahead seemed an uncertain and exciting thing.

As I grew and aged, I realized I could see farther, see the forest for the trees as it were...

Ghostly whispers of apathy then crept into my brain, singing a lullaby, tempting me to sleep...

For a time it seemed I had actually understood something... that I could gain traction and rise to new heights...

Until I did... until i started to see the forests for the valley... and the valleys for the continent... the land masses for the world...

While patterns emerged I realized eventually the overarching paradigm was that amidst these predictable patterns, amidst what was understood, there was always new excitement over the horizon.

Fighting apathy then became much easier as I then learned to take comfort in the chaos as it slowly ate my dreams.

While the excitement of uncertainty may come less frequently with age, it makes it all the more valuable and able to be cherished and appreciated for the miracle it truly is.

I know that doesn't meet the word requirement but I felt like writing a poem on the fly. Please avoid beating me for not meeting the word count </3

I lost count after 300 or so words and didn't use a program that counts words, so I hope this meets the quota.
I called this, which I just wrote on a whim after looking at the picture in the last 20 minutes, 'Cross'.

It was their screams. That was what brought me here, I remember that now. The screams of those lost along the path.

The tale never spoke of the endless road, and the frail trees, endless, peeking through the fog as you inch along into nothingness. When the boy shared the tale, my spirit soared on the thoughts of riches and dreams, never thinking his gray-cast skin or pale grey eyes spoke truth, but not the riches or dreams I longed for. Who would believe it anyway? Am I dead? I remember thinking that many times, pausing along the path each way identical to the other, lost in the soft luminescent fog just out of reach where ever I turn. It was so bright beyond the trees! Such a white wall that you had to close your eyes to press on, and when you opened them again you were upon the path once more.

That strange boy. And those horrible screams.

"Toli!" yelled the woman from the window with the broken shudders, lost in a great gusting storm days prior. Trees had fallen all around, one through the shed and another through the carriage. We were one of the first to acquire the new motorized carriages, such a wondrous contraption created by the bright minds of our time. But now, even that opulent thing was a waste, dashed against the hard dirt of the front drive. "Yes, I know, I know!" I chimed back, realizing it was just another reminder to hurry to the crossroads to catch a passing cart into town. I knew, gods I knew, being reminded over a dozen times since the sun crept over the east tree tops and broken branches left after the storm. I heard the girls playing in the giant puddles of leaves, mud and water left behind and couldn't help myself but to creep over and scare the poor wits of out them, causing Shair to fall face-first into the dark, swirling pool and have Sadria's eyes roll to whites and flee in terror from me, almost as
if I was some horrible monster of nightmare dancing across their pure dreams. Shame. Gods I felt shamed by their horror, running off to the crossroads without a further word to try and shake their stricken faces from my thoughts. The memory of their faces came back to me when faced with the boy at the crossing.

The bustle of horse and carriage and cart down the road to and from town was heavy this early, unusual I would say. I spent most of the walk in the muddy trenches along the high grass and roots of the small trees dotting the roadside. No motorized carts came by, as we had once owned the only one within the area. The shed buried the horse cart as well, which was useless now that the fences were scattered and the horses gone free through the vast weald we lived within. None of that mattered now though, only the road ahead. A smile and a wave here, a hat curtsy there, and the occasional calls for greeting were met during the trek, but none compared to the boy all alone at the cross. Why was he standing alone in such a water-drowned and animal excrement-filled crossroad? The unusual traffic dispersed right before I saw him, not a single horse or man or cart came after. Left was to town and right to the dells, but forward was the long road south, away from everything I knew and had no reason to go there. Something in his voice, though. I felt, no, I knew I had to listen to him, as if his every word demanded attention and acceptance.

Why wouldn't the sun come through clouds, was the thought that pounded into my head as I neared the cross clearing.
There was something else now, I can see it. A dog. A ragged dog, fur-soaked, skin stretched across it's starving bones. The dog came as I stopped to talk to the boy, offer him help along or just direction. It gave me a long, sad yet final look, never a wag of the tail, and took the southern road away from us, disappearing into the shadow of distance trees. "It's your turn," the boy whispered, yet it seemed too clear to be a whisper, too soft to be spoken. He pointed south and smirked, but there was no warmth in the creased corner of his mouth, nor the strange pale-gray eyes that seemed very old and sorrowful for such a young one.

It was warm during my walk, the lack of a sun not calming the heat and humidity of the dreary spring morning, yet it fled before the cross. A chill took the air, deep into my chest it went, flooding out into my fingertips, so I flexed them to ease the sudden stiffness. "You must go forward to go back, to go on, to erase the terror from their faces." My heart froze when he spoke about that. How could he know what I was thinking? I rubbed my thumb and fingers together nervously, glancing left and right to avoid his eyes for a moment before I collected myself. "I don't understand what you are saying," I mustered. "Do you need help? Mayhaps I can guide you somewhere?" He smiled but there was nothing behind it, no sense of person. "Guide me, yes. I would be in need of help as well, to make sure the way ahead is clear." He spoke so softly, like wisps of clouds formed into words, falling from the lips of men. "Others went south and never came back to help me. Dreams and riches beyond us wait down the road, if you only dare find them and return to the crossing to share your tale with me," he eased his pillowy voice into my ears, seizing the beating heart within my chest. I couldn't refuse. I should look and return, continuing to town as needed. Riches and dreams, he says. "Very well, boy. I'll soon return with my find and escort you to town if you like," I added and moved off down the shadowy, southern road.

"When you hear the others, you must choose to help them or help me. You will see," he called quietly to my back.
Something about that left gooseflesh along my arms, creeping up my back and caused an involuntary twitch.

The high grass gave way to soft field, the road to a dirt walking path with tall, skeletal sentinel trees arching over the road. Then came the fog, and the voices. They began as soft, winded pleas born from the branches of the trees, then into distant calling voices, the words a mumble but the tone sorrowful and foreboding. The fog came in suddenly, all around, as did a bleach-white barrier beyond the edges of the trees, causing me to squint when I looked anywhere but forward or back. With the thick fog came the assailing of screams. The words still sounded eluded me, but the long, dragging terror in those screams shook me to my soul, so I began to run. Backwards first, but the fog was unrelenting, so I did as the boy said and ran forward to return, to go on. I ran until my legs ached and burned, until I was forced to slow and walk, and sit. That was a mistake.
When I sat, the screamng returned, seeming to creep closer. I walked and walked. How long have I walked?
How far have I gone? Can anyone hear my own screams? I loosed a few long, sorry bellows towards the endless tree path and the fog.

Where am I? Maybe just a little further. I cannot stop for fear of those screams. Gods help me, how far have I gone?
How long have I been here? An understanding of the inevitable filled me. Toli, you fool, just to town and back! And now I am lost, unable to return as the others who treaded before me on this path. How long have I walked?

That strange boy. And those horrible damn screams.

Ooooh - Ina, it'll take a day or three, these pics you find are great. Don't worry, I'll get to it - yummm

Dang, nothing but horror stories so far. Maybe it's because we're so close to Halloween.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

I glanced down at my watch and groaned inwardly. 7:15. I was really in for it now. There were two things which Doctor Abrams absolutely would not tolerate: tardiness and an unkempt appearance. Given that I had only gotten out of bed ten minutes ago, I already had one strike against me. Unless I could make it to the Institute in the next fifteen minutes, I was as good as fired. I bolted the remainder of my cereal, dashed out the door, and made a beeline for my car.

I slammed the door, turned the key, and stepped on the accelerator. The tires squealed, leaving a thick black mark on the asphalt as I left the parking lot, but I was beyond caring. Tires could be replaced; my job couldn't. Not in this economy, at least. I checked my watch again. 7:18. I swore. Twelve minutes to drive ten miles. Actually, if I couldn't find a good parking space at the Institute, it was closer to eight minutes. I hoped the police were still asleep.

I drove like a madman. Horns blared at me in angry protest as I weaved in and out of traffic. A motorcycle swerved onto the shoulder, narrowly avoiding a collision. I hadn't even seen him; the morning fog had rendered him all but invisible. For what seemed like the hundredth time, I silently prayed that the police were occupied elsewhere. I looked at my watch again. 7:26. I was almost there. With any luck, I just might- NO! I slammed on the brakes, fishtailed into the right lane, and came to a screeching halt.

The road was closed. The road was closed! Why the hell was the road closed!? Why today, of all days!? Three men in reflective jackets were standing in a deep sinkhole, working on... something. An orange sign nearby proclaimed: "DETOUR." It pointed to the left, indicating an unfamiliar single-lane road. No. NO! I punched the steering wheel in frustration. The Institute was right there! If not for the fog, I would be able to see the buildings through the treeline!

I took a deep, calming breath. It didn't help. Doctor Abrams was not the kind of man who gave second chances. Just last week, he had warned me that I was "definitely not indispensable." He would fire me without hesitation. All he needed was an excuse. I stared out the windshield in despair, first at the slow-moving line of cars before me, then at the treeline to the right. The thin, sparsely-populated treelilne. Without even realizing it at first, I made a decision. I turned right.

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

I tore through the undergrowth, my car's wheels spinning wildly on fallen leaves and loose earth. Trees, vines, and panicked animals flew past me on either side. I was ruining the landscaping, but at least I'd be on time! If anyone saw me... I chuckled grimly. In this fog? Not likely. I could barely see the trees in time to avoid them! If I hadn't found such a straight path, I'd really be in trouble.

I checked my watch. 7:27. I sighed, finally allowing myself to relax. I was going to make it. The parking lot would be just beyond the trees. I'd have to walk a bit farther than I liked, but I would make it. I smiled contentedly. I was going to make it. I yawned and switched on the cruise control. I was going to make it. I leaned back and closed my eyes. I was going to make it. Within moments, I was fast asleep.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I woke up to the sound of a sputtering engine. I blinked my eyes blearily and looked at the gasoline indicator. The needle was sitting on empty. How did that happen? I thought I had filled the tank just last night. I checked my watch. 7:27. At least I wasn't late. I still had three minutes to get to the Institute. The last thing I wanted was to be late.

The car slowly rolled to a stop. I opened the door and got out. I breathed deeply, admiring the trees and the crisp, clean-smelling air. The fog was thicker than ever, hiding a good deal of the wood from view. That annoyed me, but I couldn't bring myself to care. After all, the trees weren't important. My job was. I started walking.

I walked at a leisurely pace, taking in the beauty of my surroundings. The trees - well, the ones that I could see - stood tall and majestic, their branches swaying gently in the breeze. The fallen leaves crunched beneath my feet as I walked, their sound almost blasphemous in the otherwise perfect silence. Absently, I checked my watch. 7:27. Plenty of time.

I leaned against a nearby tree, relaxing for a moment. My thoughts began to wander. Why did I care so much about being on time, anyway? Doctor, uh... doctor... that guy I worked for. He wouldn't mind if I was a little bit late. Abrams! That was his name. I smiled, happy to have solved the puzzle. Yeah, Abrams. Like the tank. I chuckled. Wouldn't he hate it if I told him everyone at the office called him "Drill Sergeant" behind his back?

I took the one less traveled by,

I started. What was I thinking?? Abrams would mind if I was ONE SECOND late! He'd berate me if my tie was crooked! He'd treat it as a personal insult if I tried to call out sick! That's why everyone called him "Drill Sergeant!" I staggered away from the tree and stared at my watch in disbelief. 7:27. What was going on!?

Someone giggled. I whirled, trying to spot whoever it was, but all I saw was fog. Everything farther than five feet away was a shapeless form in a solid mass of white. The trees swayed in the wind, the whispering of the branches growing steadily louder. Except that there was no wind. The fog hung still and lifeless in the air, clinging stubbornly to the ground and trees like a spider web.

Someone giggled, closer this time. I shuddered, a chill running up my spine. How were the trees moving without any wind? There hadn't been any wind for what seemed like hours. I swallowed, realization finally dawning. Maybe it had been hours. I looked back at my watch. The second hand was as still as a corpse.

I ran. Suddenly, the woods were alive with laughter. All around me, unfamiliar voices laughed as I ran. Some were high-pitched giggles; some were deep, rumbling guffaws. All were quite clearly laughing at me. I ran faster. The path narrowed as I ran, branches reaching out to snag my clothes. The laughter grew louder. I gasped for breath. How much farther could the parking lot be!?

The world pitched sideways. I crashed to the ground, landing amongst dry branches and decaying leaves. I had tripped on an upraised root. I watched in shock as the root slid back down, burying itself in the soil. I struggled to rise, but found myself unable to move. I was held in place by thick branches which grew tighter every time I moved.

I looked up helplessly. Dim shapes moved in the fog just beyond my vision. The laughter grew louder. Slowly, the shapes resolved themselves into vaguely humanoid figures. I struggled against the branches, only to have the breath choked out of me as they constricted even further. The shapes came closer. Pinpricks of red light shone from the creatures' heads, close to where their eyes should have been. I gasped for breath. The figures came closer. The fog rolled away, revealing them in all their grotesque splendor. I screamed.

And that has made all the difference.

@thequietone I totally thought my piece was uplifting certainly wouldn't call it horror

sorry it took so long - computer issues -

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Last Database Backup 2017-10-18 09:00:12am local time
Myth-Weavers Status