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A story grows (or wins) in the telling.

Gather around, wanderers, it is time. Time to share your tales with the world. Everyone has at least one or more to tell, so don't be shy. If you pour your heart into it or touch someone's heart with it, a GeForce GTX 1070 and a copy of Where the Water Tastes Like Wine might become yours!

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, a narrative-driven game about harvesting tales from all across America, is a testament to the life-changing properties of storytelling. Now the fine people behind it have agreed to read and evaluate the short stories of the GOG community, before picking a winner who shall be awarded the new shiny GTX 1070, plus a GOG copy of the game.

The rules are simple: just use this thread to post your short story (in English) until March 9, 11PM UTC. There is no specific theme, genre, or character limit, but please keep the stories at a reasonable length and their content aligned with our forum posting guidelines.

So what are you waiting for? Those stories are not going to write themselves you know! Or are they...

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is now available for purchase on GOG.com.
HAPPINESS ! What is happiness !? What is the true definition for it and what does it mean for each and one of us !? Well ... for me at least, " happiness" happened some day early in the morning in June, and all tough it seemed and it looked like every day routine, it felt special, this vibe kicked in. I go ahead and reach for my headphones and play that one song stuck in my head for years ... " Iron Maiden - Can i play with madness", and get this crazy idea for the day. So i quickly grab my guitar out of the closet and leave home as fast as Speedy Gonzales would. Today i was thinking just get some me and my lovely guitar time, me and her together on a hill with great view and beer, just skip-ing work all day, no f**k's given. So here is me roaming near a cemetery at 6 AM in the morning looking for a big tree near a cliff, on one of our seven hills overview. As soon as i reach the place i lay down near the big guy and draw my guitar and start singing Stairway To Heaven from Zeppelin, and all of a sudden this beautiful and mysterious girl appears out of nowhere. She sits right next to me without saying anything, just listening to the songs pouring out of the guitar. But then she just leaves without saying nothing, i try to ask her name be she didn't respond. I'm left utterly confused and dumb by her appearance. Little did i know but she had left her handkerchief near me, it had her name written on it. And as the day passed and another started i went to the tree again to hopefully find her, but instead she left me a note saying " I can't wait to hear you sing again ! ". We got to see each other every morning for a week, it was just like this special secret, a beautiful secret. After all that i had quit my job and went with her on a road trip around the country's sea side and many other places. So ... what is happiness ? Happiness is discovering a great new song, happiness is Friday, happiness is getting out of routine, happiness is meeting that one person that changes your life, happiness is taking road trips, happiness is saying f**k it ... HAPPINESS IS NUTELLA ! HAPPINESS IS YOU MAKING THE MOST OF EVERYTHING !
[Note to mods: This story contains a few choice words, but I couldn’t find anything in the forum guidelines except that language should be “appropriate.” Since this is a military story, and I’m not directing my language at anyone on the forum, I figured it was appropriately used. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.]

[Names of people and units have been changed]

Mission: Gaming in an Austere Environment

The Big Island of Hawaii grew closer in the front windshield of the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. I'm not a Blackhawk pilot- the only reason I could see out of the front was because I sat in one of the jump seats behind the pilots. This particular bird was empty except for me and a Major who also had to return to Oahu for some paperwork. The Blackhawk pilots fly among the Hawaiian Islands weekly and didn't mind the extra company.

I had to leave unit training on the Big Island two days earlier to escort Private Barnett (formerly Private First Class Barnett) to a legal appointment. As the Company Executive Officer, administrative tasks such as this often rolled downhill to me from the Commander who was busy actually training the guys. Private Barnett was the last of the three Company misfits, constantly in trouble for drugs, disrespect, failure to report or other shenanigans. We kicked the first two out of the Army and this was our last holdout. I didn't know it on that Blackhawk flight but within a few days he would go AWOL again.

We landed in a cloud of dust at 6000-plus feet of elevation, right between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea- the two massive volcanoes that form the Big Island. I could already see my supply sergeant just off the airfield waiting for me in First Sergeant's HMMWV. Good, he got my text earlier in the morning. I loaded up in the HMMWV and pulled my seatbelt on, glad to be out of the wind. We bumped and bounced our way down the rocky road to range ten.

"How's gunnery going?"
"Oh you know, Sir, same ol'. Someone had an ND last night."
Shit. A negligent discharge meant paperwork. I knew no one had been hurt because I hadn't woken to a barrage of texts or phone calls. I bet First Sergeant already handled it anyway. After a few minutes I decided to worry about that later.
"How's McCartney?" I wondered aloud, referring to a mortarman who had passed out without warning and fallen flat on his face the day before I left.
"He alright. Mouth is still janky-looking. Doc said he got a pretty nasty concussion too."

I was happy to arrive at the Company command post (CP). The headquarters guys had turned it into an information hub, impervious to rain, wind and sunlight. We had radios, FBCB2, a laptop, printer, charging stations for radio batteries, whiteboards and butcher boards, and the all-important coffee machine. All the guys from the platoons knew they could come here to mooch off our generator and charge their phones- if their Platoon Sergeant let them.

The creature comforts at the CP helped alleviate the stress of operating in the barren wasteland that is the Big Island. The place looks like Mordor: jagged lava rock jutting out of the ground, barely any plant life, goat skeletons scattered on the ground.

We had a lot of downtime at the CP. Range Control shut down our live-fire exercise daily for what seemed to us completely arbitrary reasons, sometimes for hours at a time, and they never offered an accurate estimate of when we could expect to get shooting again. To pass the time we had to entertain ourselves. This proved difficult for some of the guys with cell providers other than AT&T- apparently the only network to bother installing a tower out there in the middle of nowhere.

Luckily for us, I had AT&T and a jailbroken iPhone. Having AT&T meant we could stream Amazon Prime and Netflix. I had also installed a SNES emulator before we left Oahu and downloaded some ROMs of games I own (and still have in my closet). One particularly slow night I decided to fire up the ol' virtual SNES and play some Super Mario World.
"Holy shit, sir!"
It was McCartney, the broken mortarman who had been hanging around the CP since he busted his face.
"Is that Super Mario World? I used to play the shit outta this game." He was looking over my shoulder.
"Yup. Too bad it sucks with touchscreen controls. And I left my PS3 controller at home."
"You can connect your PS3 controller to your iPhone?"
"This phone is jailbroken. I can do a lot of things that Apple normally wouldn't allow."
I soon switched to Chrono Trigger, having quickly tired of the controls in Mario. But it got me thinking about my controller at home.

The next morning I called my wife on Oahu.
"Babe, can you pack me a lunch?"
She didn't understand.
"How am I supposed to deliver this lunch, Hawaiian Airlines?"
"Ask Sarah if John is flying to the Big Island anytime soon."
Our neighbor John was a Blackhawk pilot. The idea to use him as a delivery service had already occurred to me a few weeks ago when we were lamenting the lack of Copenhagen in our training area.
"Oh, and babe," I added, "throw my PS3 controller in the lunchbox. The black one. And the USB cable. And a log of Copenhagen long cut... for the guys."

Two days later I met John on the airfield. He greeted me with my lunchbox in one hand and the other outstretched for a handshake.
"Most expensive lunch delivery of all time, asshole!" He joked.
"Thanks man, you guys rock."
I told him I owed him one but knew I'd probably have to repay that debt out of work- usually ground pounders like me can't do much for the pilots; they seem to do all the giving.

Back at the CP we perfected our field gaming setup. AUX cable to external speaker. Charging cable to phone. Three chairs around the table. Coffee on tap. Before long McCartney and I had an audience. It turns out he not only played Mario growing up, but knew all the secrets, every Star Road trick and every alternate ghost house exit. It wasn't long before Bowser fell.

And thus, classic gaming lived in the barren wasteland of the Pohakuloa Training Area, Big Island, Hawaii. We traveled together down memory lane, through Hyrule and Donkey Kong's Country, through time in Chrono Trigger, and on the tracks of Mario Kart and F-Zero. We we even able to get the DualShock 3 working with iOS games, greatly improving the experience. The hours of taxpayer-funded downtime flew by, and all was right in the world.
Post edited March 09, 2018 by Kevern_Zaksor
"Have I ever told you the story about how Satan rid the world of sin?"
"Satan? Are you sure you got that right Grandma?" asked the boy.
"Oh undoubtedly. See, one day Satan met God walking along an old country road,
' Hullo there my Lord.' , Satan said while bowing 'It is just my luck to find you out here enjoying the sun!'
' Hello Satan.' God nodded 'And just what are you up to today?'
' I was just thinking about that bet we made a long time ago. Well, I'd like to make another one if your game.'
'Oh?', replied God warily. ' And what would that be pray tell?'
"Let us each go out into the world and see which one of us can rid it of sin.'
'Hmmm.' said God knowing the deceiving nature of Satan but wanting to see how the Trickster could even try to pull this off agreed. ' I'll take that bet.'
After the two shook hands they parted ways. God got dressed up in his Sunday best and stood on a busy sidewalk. Upon a soapbox he preached his word. 'The wages of sin is death. I don't want any of you to die needlessly but to live righteously .' Some people agreed and chose to change their ways.
God visited brothels, drug dens, and places rife with untoward behavior. He communed with the people there, listened to their stories with compassion, and counseled them. 'Go and sin no more.' He said. And many of them did.
In places of learning God spoke of the glories of Heaven and how to try and live a sin free life in order to dwell there forever. ' Repent and follow the commandments and receive eternal happiness.' Those affected by the words were immersed in water and rejoiced.
God went to the newspapers and other such places to spread the message. 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.' It was heard far and wide but not all responded.
After a long while God realized that though many people gave up their sinful lives, the world was still full of sin. God sighed, 'I wonder how Satan is faring?'
Satan, dressed up in the most hip clothes he could think of, talked to people on the street. 'If it feels good, do it! Don't let others tell you how to live your life!' Many people liked the ideas and followed them.
Satan visited places of entertainment. ' Having fun and being happy are the most important things in life. ' Satan sang and drank with the people there. 'This is who your are, don't be ashamed of it!' People felt like a weight was lifted off their shoulders and continued to make merry.
'There is no afterlife so enjoy all that the here and now can offer!' Those who are considered smarter than the average Joe nodded in agreement. 'No regrets in life!'
'This is much more exciting and will sell a lot better!' The newspapers told Satan. "If it bleeds it leads!"
After a long while Satan met God back on the same country road. ' Well I guess I win!' smirked Satan,' Sin is on the decline, not from people not practicing it anymore, but because it is becoming normalized. If everyone believes that sin is no longer a sin, then it's not a sin is it?'
God shook his head. ' You really live up to your name you old Deceiver.'
And that's how Satan rid the world of sin."
Robin and Sparrow

The Robin was alone.
Each day a sad song it would sing and each night it would find a cold kind of comfort in sleep. But, as fate would have it, the Robin found that its sad song had become a duet. It flew all around looking to capture the sorrowful tune’s source. Eventually the Robin found its way to a little glade where a Sparrow with a broken wing warbled into the skies above. The Sparrow did not stop singing well into the night. The Robin could not bear to see this other creature in such pain, so it decided to help.
On the first day since discovering the Sparrow, the Robin hunted diligently for food. It dug through freshly tilled soil to pluck precious seeds. It traced the paths of plump worms to their resting spot and lanced them with its sharp beak. All of these things did the Robin present to the Sparrow, who for the first time since falling asleep, stopped singing to observe what was placed in front of it. So, it was that the Robin bought an extra day of life for the Sparrow.
On the second day, the Robin felt the omens in the air: rain. It beat its little wings as fast as it could and began collecting leaves and small twigs. All of these things did the Robin fasten over the Sparrow into a shelter which protected it from the harsh rain that fell down. With a weary slump, the Robin rested in a nearby tree and watched the Sparrow carefully. It fell asleep in that position feeling cold and wet, but a small warmth spread from the sleeping Robin’s chest as it felt pride in keeping its friend alive another day.
On the third day, danger reared its ugly head. The cries of the Sparrow had attracted the attention of a predatory Cat. It paced around the grounded bird hidden in the tall grass around it. Only the flicking of its ginger tail betrayed any sign of movement, but this was not something the Sparrow could see. No, it was up to the Robin who bolted awake with a sudden feeling of dread and immediately set its eyes upon the rustling of grass and the flash of orange. With a harsh cry, the Robin shot from the tree like a rocket and landed on the Cat’s face claws extended. The Cat screamed in pain and ran away, but not before swatting at the Robin who felt its wing tear by the razor-sharp points. The Robin limped to the Sparrow and nuzzled beside it, resting in the warmth of its body. Another day of life had been bought, but a steep price was paid.
On the fourth day, the Robin awoke to elated cries. The Sparrow flapped its wings triumphantly and arose in the air. It flitted this way and that; it dove, soared, and coasted around the glade that had been its prison. With a final cry, it broke free from the tree line it had come to know so well and went off into the open air. The Robin could only watch its friend drift away. In time, the bird with the broken wing sang a mournful tune for the Robin was once again alone.

“You’re not pregnant.”

The doctor’s words shattered the look of joy that had been on Sally’s face, and Derek relaxed back into his chair, releasing the tension he had been experiencing ever since his girlfriend of almost two years had claimed to be pregnant. He knew that was impossible — they always used protection, after all, and she wouldn’t even have a missed cycle for another two weeks if she were pregnant anyway, so he had been dubious of her claims. The doctor had just confirmed his doubts, and he’d have to have a long talk with Sally about —

“However, the ultrasound did detect an… unusual mass growing in your upper abdomen,” the doctor said, “and the technician noted an unusual scar on your stomach. May I…?”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Sally nodded, pulling up her shirt over her stomach. As the doctor knelt and examined her skin, Derek realized that her belly did appear to protrude just a bit more than it had the week prior.

“Hmm.” The doctor focused on an area just above and to the left of her belly button. Derek leaned in and observed a puckered, red scar about the size of a quarter. That was new from last week too.

“Sally, what happened when you were at your grandfather’s cabin last weekend?” Derek asked.

His girlfriend grew thoughtful. “Well, on Saturday night I went out and watched the meteor shower. It was gorgeous, and some of them came so close you could hear them pop when they finally burned out. Then… well, it’s funny, but I don’t remember anything else until Sunday night, packing my things to come back to town Monday.”

Derek and the doctor exchanged a look. “It… may be a parasitic infestation of some sort,” the doctor finally said. “I’m going to consult with some of my colleagues who specialize in the field, and in the meantime I’d like you to check in to the hospital here.” The doctor left to collect paperwork for Sally to fill out.

“Are you doing okay?” Derek asked Sally, but she didn’t answer. She just kept staring at the ultrasound photo the doctor had handed her, caressing the indistinct mass.

“My baby,” she whispered. Derek felt a chill run down his spine.


When Derek came to visit her in the hospital the next day, he was taken aback at the strange woman wearing a black suit in Sally’s room, and even more shocked by the size Sally’s belly had ballooned. “Hello,” he said to the strange woman. “Who might you be?”

The woman withdrew a wallet from one pocket and flashed a badge. “Dr. Walters, CDC,” she said. “I was informed about this case last night and hopped on the quickest flight here I could secure. My bosses are highly interested in your girlfriend’s case.”

Derek walked next to Sally, who was whispering sweetly to her belly, and grabbed her hand protectively. “Why? What’s wrong with her?”

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Sally protested, pulling away from Derek’s hand in annoyance.

“Well, according to the best doctors on Earth, your girlfriend doesn’t have a parasite. Or at least, not any parasite known to be on the planet Earth.”

Derek’s eyes slid down to Sally, cooing over her growth, and back up to Walters. “What, like an alien?” She nodded. “Um… not that I would agree with it, but why wouldn’t you take her to Area 51 or something? And wouldn’t this be a job for the CIA anyhow?”

Walters rolled her eyes. “Area 51 is one of the most well-known military bases on the planet; if the government had any alien artifacts, it would be a lot cheaper and more secure to just stick them into a public storage unit in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And the CIA? It spends most of its budget on server farms and AI subroutines scouring the Internet for the next terror attack. It’s government policy that the CDC takes the lead of any potential alien encounter, since interstellar microbes are the only alien threat we could really manage effectively anyway.”

Derek nodded slowly. It was an awful lot to take in. “Okay… so how do we proceed? Do we terminate it?”

Sally shot a look of horror at him, curling her hands around her stomach protectively. “It’s my body, it’s my choice!” she demanded. “If you love me, you’ll respect that!”

Walters pursed her lips. “Your girlfriend is correct: we cannot perform any medical procedure on her without her consent. Besides which, the entity’s pattern of growth has left it… entangled with several of her internal organs, so any such procedure would endanger her health regardless.”

Derek moved around the bed towards Dr. Walters and leaned in to whisper. “Doesn’t that mean it could be brainwashing her, though? She might not be in her right mind.”

Walters shook her head. “I’ve already considered that possibility. Her EEG shows no abnormal activity, and blood work indicates no unusual or unidentifiable chemicals, save for hormones produced by a pregnant woman.”

A nurse came in and set a bowl of soup down in front of Sally. “Here you go, dear.”

Sally’s eyes went wide with anger as she looked down at the soup — vegetable, by the look of it. “I said I wanted MEAT!” Abruptly, she grabbed the nurse’s arm and bit a sizable chunk out of it, chewing with pleasure as the nurse screamed and ran out of the room.

Derek gave Walters a skeptical look. “Still think she’s in her right mind?”


Derek bought a gun.

He knew that it would be a matter of days, if not hours, before Sally’s stomach would burst open and unleash a nightmare on the city, or perhaps even the entire world. Sally’s doctor and that government agent were apparently too stupid to realize the true danger they were all in, so it fell on Derek. Killing Sally would hurt like nothing else he could think of, but as far as he was concerned Sally was already gone anyway.

He pulled into the parking spot at the hospital and looked around. There were a lot fewer cars present in the parking lot than there usually were, and that made him nervous. He shook off his worries and started thinking of ways he could sneak his gun past the metal detector inside the hospital.

He needn’t have worried (about the metal detector, at any rate). The guard who was usually stationed at the entrance was absent, as were the half dozen or so people on average who waited in the lobby to check in or out of the hospital. Only the receptionist remained, and she looked straight at him and smiled. “Hello, Derek,” she greeted with a smile. “Sally is waiting for you.” She turned back to her computer monitor.

Derek could not remember ever telling her his name. As he pushed the elevator call button, he glanced back — from this angle, he could see that the computer screen was black, powered off entirely. Yet she still stared at it. All at once Derek wanted to run back out of the lobby, hop in his car, and drive for the horizon, but he swallowed the panic and stepped on the elevator. He had to see this through to the end.

Sally’s floor was just as bereft of activity as the parking lot and lobby had been. A sole nurse was sitting at the nurse’s station — again, staring at a blank monitor. “Sally is waiting for you,” she said with a smile. Derek shuddered and pressed on. Glancing into the rooms leading up to Sally’s, he kept seeing the same things: empty beds, unhooked monitors, IV needles discarded, meals uneaten. It reminded Derek of the stories of Mayan families abandoning their homes mid-dinner centuries ago.

He reached his hand into his pocket and grabbed the gun’s grip for comfort before walking into Sally’s room. She was standing in front of the window, broken restraints dangling from her wrists. She turned, and gave Derek a wide smile. “Derek, it’s so good to see you,” she beamed. She gestured to her stomach, now flat once more. “I’m a mother. Many, many times over.”

“Sally, where is everybody? Why are the only people in this hospital staring at blank monitors?”

Sally shook her head, an amused look on her face. “They’re not focused on the monitors, Derek. We’re talking. We’re all just so, so excited — this will change everything.”

He glanced around the room. “Dr. Walters?”

She turned and looked back out the window. “She’s already on a flight back to Atlanta. All the patients left — they’ll never need medical treatment again. Neither will I. They’re all going home to share the joyous occasion.” She turned back to Derek, and if anything her smile had gotten bigger. “I’m going to be a grandmother, you see. And Derek, I want to share my gift with you.”

Sally’s gaze shifted behind Derek, and he swiveled around. It was crawling towards him on the ceiling: its golf ball-sized body consisted of a shimmering dark pink substance, something like a cross between pudding and gelatin. Its limbs were skinny black tendrils, their wobbly movement reminding him of strands of spaghetti. The thought of it touching him — burrowing inside him — caused panic to shoot through his guts, and without hesitating he whipped out his gun and fired. The thing fell to the ground with a wet plop.

He turned back to Sally, whose serene look had been replaced with one of fury. “MY BABY!” she shrieked. Her hand shot forward, and more of those black spaghetti tendrils shot out of her palm, whipping the gun out of his hand and looping around his arms in a motion faster than his eye could track. “You know, Derek, you never did respect my right to choose,” she said mournfully, before raising her other hand and sending out more tendrils.

Derek screamed.
My friends, let me tell you of one famed throughout the lands for his skill with the blade. A torturer by trade, he would wring the secrets from anybodies mind. They thought they had walls, they thought that they could protect what they sought to keep hidden.
But with spike and nail, with rack and heated iron, he would burn and scourge the secrets from their quivering flesh. And, strapped in his dungeon, he would eke out their suffering. Day after day. Week after week. Until their lives finally, finally let go of that fragile mortal coil. And then, my friends, the next day he would begin anew.
And he would sleep well that night, for in his heart there was no mercy, no pity. He was cold through and through.
She slowly crept up the stone steps. Surrounded by nothing but the piercing cold and the gloomy darkness. She clutched her wooden torch tighter, as she could barely feel the heat, barely feel the warmth, barely see around her. She hears some static over the radio and turns up the volume. She hears a voice.

“Are you sure there’s no other way?”

She’s relieved to hear it’s Khep.

“I have to do this.” She whispers. “Finally!”

She moves the torch closer to what looks like a stone artifact. Her pulse starts racing and she quickly pulls the torch to her rucksack and starts rummaging around. She begins to panic.

“I can’t find it!” she mutters.

“What do you mean you can’t find it?” replies Khep.

“I…I…I know I…It’s got to be here. I must have…shit!” she stammers.

She falls to her knees, drops the torch and grabs her head in a panic.

“Take a breather.” Says Khep calmly. “Take another look. Take your time. It’s going to be there, you just need to have a closer look, right?”

“Yeah…Ok yeah sure. I just need to take a closer look.” She replies.

She stands up and looks around for the torch. She can’t see anything. Without hesitation she grabs a flare from her rucksack and sets it alight. She looks around for the torch but realizes it must have fallen into the abyss.

“Well, there goes my torch.” She whispers.

“You’ve still got your flares.” Reminds Khep.

“Yes, I know!” she scorns.

She moves the flare towards the stone.

“It’s melting!” she cries!

True enough, the stone was melting. Without hesitation, she prods the stone with the flare and looks in shock as the liquid stone slowly engulfs the flare and extinguishes it. She begins to panic and drops the flare. She is surrounded and darkness. Surrounded by nothing but the gloomy darkness and the piercing cold. Piercing cold? Her hand feels cold. She can’t move her hand. She begins to panic. Yes she does this a lot. She think to herself, maybe she’s gotten frostbite. Except she was holding the torch and flare with that hand, so that should be the warmest. Shouldn’t it? Now her arm begins to feel cold. She panics some more. She hyperventilates. Except she can’t hear herself breathe. She feels her knees give.

What feels like a short while later, she opens her eyes. She sees nothing but white. So much white, it’s blinding. She no longer feels cold. In fact it was warm. It reminded her of the time she and her family went on holiday. She sees three lights, brighter than her surroundings in the distance. She stands up and begins cautiously walking towards the lights.

“Fyarn?” proclaims one of the lights as it slowly turns into the resemblance of a person. “Is that you?”
“Jeth?” She questions.

On hearing Fyarn’s voice, the other two lights also turn into the resemblances of people. Fyarn now clearly sees the three lights. She sees before her, her mother, her father and her best friend.

“What are you doing here?” says Fyarn’s father.

“I don’t know,” says Fyarn confused. “I set out to avenge you. All of you! I don’t know what this is or what I’m doing here.”

“This is a place between time and space.” replies Jeth.

“What am I doing here?” asks Fyarn.

“We’ve come to help.” says Fyarn’s mother. “If you insist on going down this path, you’ll need to hide your memories from that which will use your memories to weaken you.”

“You’ll need light to guide you where no light has ever reached.” Says Fyarn’s father.

“You’ll also need something to make him squeal like a pig!” says Jeth.

“Well that one made sense.” Chuckles Fyarn.

“It’s time for you to get back.” Says Fyarn’s mother. “Time for you to wake up. We’re with you.”

“Let’s do this” says Jeth.

“Yes, Lets.” Smiles Fyarn as her eyes well up.

Fyarn’s vision blurs and she begins to feel weak in the knees once again. She closes her eyes and collapses to her knees once more.

She feels cold again. She knows in her mind she has returned. She opens her eyes and stands up. She looks on in the distance where she sees a light. She walks a short distance towards the light. The light splits into three. One shoots off into the distance further ahead. One enters her and one transforms into a weapon. With nothing clouding her judgement, she grabs the weapon and mutters to herself. “Let’s finish this.” She hurries into the darkness following the path of the first light. She finally arrives. There she sees a dragon-like creature made out of a flowing blackness. She inhales slowly, roars and charges at the beast with the weapon in hand.
“Get your product here! Come and get it!” The cry, along with those of dozens of other street venders, seemed to swoop and dive through the air, a raucous creature fighting against its brethren to be the first to fall upon a customer’s ears. This time it succeeded, reaching a man leaning against a nearby waste bin. He stood straighter and sought out the origin of the cry.
“Ah, Mr. Corsche. So pleased to be graced by your business once more. The usual?” The vendor was short man, with a florid complexion and a peculiar taste for brightly-colored clothes.
Mr. Corsche nodded, his oiled black hair shining in the golden rays of evening sunshine. “Of course, Billy. And please, call me James. Heaven knows I’ve been buying from you for long enough.”
“True, James, how very true.” Billy began to fill a paper sack. “How about I include a little treat for the children as well?”
“Thanks.” James paid the man and walked away, tucking the sack into the side pocket of his briefcase. It was normally a short walk home, but the congested ocean of humanity on its way home from a long day of toil made it much longer. By the time he arrived at his suburban dwelling, the cool night air was soothing his aching muscles and darkness had enveloped him. When he opened his door the darkness was shoved back by an equal measure of light, heat, and noise.
“Daddy!” He was nearly bowled over by the two small bodies rocketing into him.
He smiled tiredly down at the two children. “Hey. Now if you let me in, I’ve got a treat for you.” Their eyes brightened as they raced each other to the kitchen. James followed at a more sedate pace, kicking off his shoes and depositing his coat on the hook.
The kitchen glittered like a dragon’s hoard as he passed through it, light from the subdued fluorescent bulbs refracting off of the many pots and pans, all seeming too immaculate to have ever actually been used. The living room was another story, with toys and tax forms littering the floor and enveloping the old rocking chair in the corner.
The children were there, chattering excitedly with their mother and older sister, who were both reclining upon the couch. The mother turned her head as he entered, raising her eyebrows in mock annoyance at the paper sack in his hands. “Again, James? You know that the children will start getting spoiled if this happens too often.”
James merely smiled, taking two foil wrapped packages and handing one to each child. They greedily tore through the packaging. The two younger boys immediately began stuffing his face but the Megan, the oldest sibling, regarded hers with distaste.
“Really Dad? Another brownie? I’m not a child anymore, you know. It’s so embarrassing the be the only girl in the entire middle school who still hasn’t even tried any of the hard stuff yet. Just yesterday, Lindsey brought in some...”
“Enough!” he barked. “I tried to do something nice for you, so either eat that or give it back to me right now.”
Her lips pursed in a petulant pout, Megan threw herself back down onto the couch and did as her father had commanded. The two parents waited in companionable silence as she, like her brothers, began to stare listlessly into the distance and glaze over at the eyes. Only then did James join his wife, Eliza, on the couch. He emptied the remaining contents of the sack and handed her one of the cheap plastic syringes.
She regarded it with languid eyes, absently tapping the side with her varnished nail. “You know, I remember a time when this used to be illegal. Strange to think about, isn’t it, how quickly things change?”
He shrugged. “Not really. It’s just heroin. Perfectly safe. Why shouldn’t it be legal?”
“No reason.” She pulled the plastic cap off of the needle, which she then plunged into her arm. “It’s just that...” she never finished her sentence, slumping back with drool already beginning to collect at the edges of her lips. James smiled, kissed her as the icy maw of the needle bit at his own flesh, then lay back as the world began to flicker and blur around him.

The smell, that of vomit and sour human body, was the first thing to pierce the sullen clouds in his head when he awoke the next morning. With a groan he sat up, instinctively reaching to the side, but Eliza was already gone. Still groggy, he went through his morning routine of showering, shaving, and popping a few pills before heading out. The drive was much the same as any other day, with the usual complement of speed demons and those inflicted with road rage.
Upon reaching his work, he spent several hours balancing finances before his phone interrupted his rendezvous with a reheated slice of pizza.
“Are you James Corsche?” The man’s rough voice sounded weary, as if he were performing a task that he was all too accustomed to.
“Yes, I am. Who are you?”
“I am Sergeant Burlow. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but I am afraid that there has been an accident involving your wife, Eliza. It appears that she has committed suicide.”
The world seemed to fade away, condensing down until all of existence was concentrated in the cool brick of glass and plastic in James’s hand. “What?”
“I’m truly sorry sir.”
“What… but why...?”
The man’s voice softened, an edge of sympathy entering it. “She jumped from the top of her workplace earlier this morning. We’re not sure yet, but it seems that she may have been under the influence of a chemical substance. Had she been doing drugs recently?”
“Nothing illegal. I just... I can’t believe...” James felt his voice break as tears began to fragment his vision.
“I understand how difficult this is, sir. We’ll be in touch to let you know when you can pick up the body.” The click at the other end of the line seemed terribly, unapologetically final.

The remainder of the work day seemed almost surreal, having the ethereal quality of a poorly remember dream from which there was no escape. The world moved in shuddering jolts, like a computer struggling to meet the necessary framerate requirements. Even the cheerful chatter of his children when he picked them up from school failed to stir James.
He turned the wheel, almost by instinct, and pulled into a parking space. “Stay in the car. I’ll be back in a moment.”
The cold air still rang with hoarse shouts. The vendors themselves, seen through a shifting haze of delicate smoke and lurid smog, seemed skeletal and otherworldly.
James stalked up and down the road until he heard a familiar voice calling. He turned sharply and walked in that direction until the eye-wateringly bright apparel of Billy came into to view.
“Right this way, sir, what can I do for...oh, hello James. The usual?”
James shook his head, feeling the hollow ache in his chest. “I need something stronger. The strongest you’ve got.”
A smile spread across Billy’s smooth face. “Well, I do have some of my own specialty on hand. I call it the High Mountain Blend. Guaranteed to be the best high you’ll ever get. It’s a bit expensive, though.”
“That doesn’t matter.” James exchanged his credit card for a dully glinting syringe, which he pocketed before returning to the car and driving home.
After sending the children to bed, he climbed the stairs to his room. Not bothering to turn on the light, he sank onto the bed and plunged the needle into his arm.

James awoke with a start, a noise from below cutting through the dark landscape of his dreams. He lay still, the darkness writhing above him, until he again heard the slam of a cabinet below. This time he leapt from his bed with a snarl and tore down the stairs, nearly ripping the flimsy bedroom door from its hinges as he went. Vague lights strobed across the corners of his vision, and his own skin seemed to be tearing itself apart, but his rage sustained him.
“Get out of my house!” he roared, catching sight of a figure shuffling through one of the kitchen drawers. He seized the intruder, and slowly lost himself as screams and blood fountained into the air.

The gentle vibration of a moving vehicle greeted James when next he woke. He opened his eyes but all he caught was the blurry outlines of some sort of van around him, and two men in blue uniforms sitting towards the front. Groaning softly as the light seared through his eyes and lanced into his brain, James squeezed his eyes shut and tried to listen to what the men were saying.
“In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like that. What was this guy on?”
“We’ll have to wait for a fully report from the lab, but the forensics guys are saying it looks like some mixture of meth, crack, and lsd.”
“Well, whatever it was, it sure made him angry. There was almost no flesh left on that little kid when we found him.”
“Yeah, I hope it was quick. Anyways, you want stop by my house after work for a line or two?”
“Sure, why not.”
James stopped listening- none of the conversation was making any sense to him anyways. Instead, he opened his eyes once more and stared upwards, tears from the harsh light fragmenting the world into countless shards shimmering reality.
Hello I come to ask a part of your precious time to read my stories or history is not a big deal I do not have many expectations but to pass the time is not bad to emphasize that if they see a connection failure or coherence is because I write this with the google translator I wish you have a good time

1. Your motivation
I grew up with him and I see him change and I am very close to people who tell him that we are the same person but I do not believe that our resemblance is so much even though it does not matter what I have seen him changing. He has never been a very blessed person. life is not physically attractive or a prodigious mind and apparently never had a skill a characteristic gift that bothers him to bring problems when you get out of control when you reject him I try to calm him down I tell him that they are delusions They do not see its potential but it is usually in vain it always ends in a disaster this time it seems that it is improving although we have to remain anonymous since this does not behave normally. tonight I said the two of us have talked about taking a break we will go to a place to relax and meet them I hope that you trust in him if not this time I He promised that if he fails this time he will release us both he promised me so I trust in the .............

2. Because of what I do:
You look at yourself wondering why your actions that ill urge to do it execute it and then finish it .......
I look at it, I am part of it, it gives me a shame to try to comfort him, give him a false explanation, I try to lie, I tell him that it is because of having a complicated, murky past, but this is false, far from the truth, he always had a quiet normal child, so I can not to do a great deal with him this time he crossed the line made a mess was wrong this time I scold him I try to reprimand him but he does not listen to me it seems that it is cold and I can not help him to fix all this disaster since it would be a lot help that is said so I invite you to go to a safe place to your house it seems that this time it was worse since this one that gave fight scream and all that kind of things I have to finish and I think it will be tonight both we will be free at last tonight a few more hours and everything will end ........

3. an ode to cowards:
Another night but another internal debate seems to be the last one since it seems that he is very determined this time he talks to himself! COWARD! he says himself again and again while I tell him that it is not an act of cowardice to turn off his life to end his cowardly easy would be to end with another think it wither a foreign life with one that nothing hurts to end with this would not affect you nothing since you are not you. Courage is what you will do now, just choose, you will give this step that has gone back, who knows maybe as the believers say you will rot in the land of the lord of the sins of temptation or only swim in a black sea of ​​eternal silence nothing like that matter since you want to end your misery get rid of that eternal weight that you followed you hear their voices it's time for you to become brave consume the pill and let all your ills fly but unlike them yours will be softer than the fate that they ran an ironic end for someone so violent and that he let himself be carried away by lust ....... I wish you an eternal rest
When I opened my eyes, I found myself crouched over in a confined space. I was waist deep in water that was faintly luminescent and surrounded by moist, granular sand.

I ran my fingers around my prison, feeling the coarse walls and pondering about the means that would explain the light. I glanced up and watched as water, plain and clear, dripped through the sandy barrier to become illuminated once it joined the pool. Despite the constant flow, the water level never rose above my waist.

I tapped above my head and watched the sand fall unnaturally. Rather than random clumps and bits, it broke away into patterns of 90 degree angles or geometric shapes. The formation held until it struck the water and dispersed to settle at the bottom. With no other course of action, my natural inclination was to dig upwards.

It was slow and tedious work. I was working in tight quarters, and the sand I dislodged from the ceiling had to be shifted beneath my body. But I didn't feel any fatigue or distress. My only concern was of the current task and what was above. I thought it was odd that given the amount I moved, and the loose nature of these walls, that there would be this habitable space. It was then that I wondered if I was dreaming.

At that moment, I suddenly became fully aware of my predicament. I was underground beneath untold depths of sand and partly submerged glowing water. It had to be a dream.

I willed myself to awake. Nothing happened. I pinched myself, I tore at my skin and hair, hoping the pain would jolt me awake, but I remained where I was. I pleaded. I shouted. I cried. Nothing worked. My panic and anger ebbed with each failure until I became silent and still. There was only one choice: dig.

I resumed my labors, but now with a sense of urgency. Burdened with the growing horror that I might never leave, my despair grew, and so I drew solace from the aqua light for it became my only source of hope.

But then the light began to fade.

Fear shook my limbs as I moved faster, and my breathing became quick and ragged. Unbidden to my mind, I wondered how much air I had left. I then realized that there was never any to begin with.

I gasped as my vision began fading. My heart pumped rapidly, trying to circulate the non-existent vestiges of oxygen within my body. There was a dull ache in my chest that became more severe with each second. I was going to die.

Right before I completely lost consciousness, I heard a voice. It was sharp and compelling. I instinctively heeded its command. I felt the pain subside before everything went black. When I opened my eyes, I was in my own bed with the covers over my head. I moved them away and saw my mother glaring at me through the doorway.

"Hurry up, "she said. “It’s your first day of high school. You don't want to be late." She turned away to go wake up my siblings.

I rubbed my eyes and shuffled out of my bed.
Post edited March 10, 2018 by searchingout
A time for work and now a time for play
Time has borrowed and now I take time back
With abundant choices ne'er shall I lack
Yet a new problem has found me today
As I fired up the beast pain pierced my mind
As the cooling water rushed I heard whine
Why did this start now, no warning or sign?
From water to whine was far too unkind
Outside I now sat, fresh water in hand
A stranger passed by and noticed my pain
Touching my glass he said run from the fog
I felt a new hope and now I did stand
My water was wine my problem did wane
So I shall enter that contest on Gog
His name was Howard Garner. He was thirty-five years old, a loving husband, a soon-to-be father, and a thief. He would tell his wife that he was working overtime at his low paying job, when he would actually leave to steal valuable items from other homes. On one unusual night, after a job, Howard returned home. He quietly unlocked the door, walked in, and stored the money he recieved from the stolen items. But on the way to bed, there was someone in front of the door. Howard couldn't recognize this person as they wore a full, dark cloak and a mask over their face. The only clue that it wasn't a shadow was their glowing red eyes that caused Howard to freeze.

"Howard Garner," This shadow said in a deep, monotone voice. "Due to your crimes against humanity, I challenge you to a game."

After a few seconds, Howard was able to say something. "Who-Who are you? W-Where is Sarah?"

"She is sleeping, unharmed. You have no reason to worry about her, Howard Garner. I'm not here for her." They hovered closer to Howard. "As for your other question, I have no name."

"How do you know mine?"

"I know all, Howard Garner. Including what you have done. Which is why I challenge you to a game." Their voice stayed monotone. Their eyes never once moved either.

Howard cleared his throat. "Yes, so you have said. What kind of game?"

"One that will determine your fate, Howard Garner. Do you accept?" They stared while waiting for a response.

"What happens if I refuse?"

"You would immediately die." They said. "You have caused harm to others, Howard Garner. That cannot go unpunished."

Howard clenched his fists. "I'm just trying to take care of my family."

"Explain that to those whom you stole from, Howard Garner. What you do will make things worse if it keeps going. Not just for them, but for yourself, Sarah Garner, and your child." Howard tried to punch them, but his hand went right through them. "You cannot harm me, Howard Garner." The shadow remained emotionless as if the punch never happened. I ask again. Do you accept?

Howard took a deep breath. "Alright, it doesn't look like I have a choice. I accept."

"Very well." As the shadow said that, the house began to fade. The walls, the couch, the tv, all fading away until it looked like the two were in outer space. Howard's eyes widened.

"What just happened!?" He yelled.

"We have transferred to my realm. It is here that the game will take place." The shadow responded. Howard looked around with his eyes still wide and remained speechless. When he looked down, he realized that he was standing on nothing even though it still felt like there was a floor. Howard just stared at the nonexistent floor for a few seconds until he eventually shook his head and looked back at the shadow.

"Okay, so what is this game that we're going to play."

"Since you heavily rely on luck as a thief, Howard Garner, I chose a game that reflects that. A game that you might be familiar with." The shadow raised its hand as what looked like a coin appeared on it out of nowhere. "A game you might know as a coin toss."

Howard raised an eyebrow. "Um, yes. I am familiar with a coin toss."

"So, you know the rules then?"

"Yeah, you flip the coin and I have to guess whether it landed heads or tails," Howard said.

"Correct. If you make two correct calls out of three, you live. Two incorrect calls out of three, and you die. Do you understand?" Howard nodded. "Very well. Let the game commence." Without taking its eyes off Howard, the shadow flipped the coin and grabbed it as it fell. "Call it."

After a few minutes of silence, Howard finally made his guess. "Tails."

"Are you sure?" The shadow asked. When Howard slowly nodded, the shadow finally took its eyes off Howard as they slowly moved toward the coin. It opened its hand revealing that it was tails. It looked back at Howard. "Correct." The shadow flipped the coin again, still looking only at Howard. "Call it."

Howard let out a sigh. After some more thinking he made his second guess. "Heads."

"Are you sure?" Howard nodded. The shadow once again slowly moved their eyes toward the coin. It opened its hand revealing that it was tails. "Incorrect." The shadow flipped the coin for the last time. "Call it."

Howard took a deep breath, then opened his mouth before closing it again. Howard eventually looked back at the shadow who didn't react to Howard. He made his guess. "Tails."

"Are you sure?"

After a few seconds, Howard responded. "No." He went back to thinking for a while. As his hands started to shake, he took several deep breaths before nervously making his final guess. "Heads."

"Are you sure?" Howard slowly nodded. The shadow slowly moved its eyes to the coin for the last time. It opened its hand to reveal that it was heads. "Correct."

"Oh, thank God." Howard let out a huge sigh of relief.

"Congratulations, Howard Garner. You win. I will send you back. But first," The shadow moved its hand forward. "bring out your hand."

Howard did so. The shadow dropped the coin and it landed on Howard's hand. The coin looked different form any coin he had ever seen. "What's this for?"

"Consider it a reminder, Howard Garner."

"A reminder for what?" Just as Howard asked that. Both the shadow and the outer space around them began to fade. "Hey, wait!" The shadow was gone. Howard was back home with the coin in his hand.

"Howard, is that you?" Howard smiled when he heard Sarah's voice.

"Yes, Honey. It's me." Howard looked at the bedroom door and back at the coin. "Sarah, I don't think I'll be doing any more overtime."

Every day Jesse looked into the mirror hanging on their wall and every day they saw the same thing: ugliness.
"No more." Things were going to change.

At work, they greeted everyone from executives to janitors with a fervent smile. A few days later Jesse donated a large sum to a food bank.

Two weeks later Jesse peered into the mirror. Still ugly. It would take more than some sincere smiles to change, so Jesse sought out a charity that required more than just signing your name on a check. A local soup kitchen needed people to wash the pot and pans. Jesse signed up excitedly, all the while thinking, “this is still step one.”

The next day the head of the soup kitchen showed Jesse around introducing them to all the fellow volunteers. One of which Jesse already knew: Hayden. They were a “lowly” secretary at the office, but here at the kitchen, they were in charge. Everyday Hayden worked with Jesse showing them the finer points of working in the kitchen. They did a lot more charity work than hand out soup. Far more than Jesse ever knew.

As time passed the two grew closer. After the day's volunteer work was done, they'd go to a nearby bar and talk for hours. They had become dear friends, but Jesse felt more for Hayden. After 2 months the mirror was still the same. Were they worthy of Hayden? Or could they see the ugliness within?

“So, Hayden.” Jesse words were thick in their throat. A sip a beer might help they thought. “Maybe... maybe we should go on a date one of these days.”

Hayden Laughed. Jesse's heart sunk. “J, what do you think we've been doing?”

Jesse smiled. “I didn't want to assume....”

Hayden grabbed Jesse's hand. “Assume.”

Months passed. Jesse stared at the mirror. It was the same as always, but everything was different. Better. A blinding light shone behind Jesse's reflection in the mirror. They turned to see Hayden behind them.

“You see it. Don't you?” asked Jesse.

“I see you frowning at yourself in a mirror.”

“I see ugliness when I look in that mirror.”

Hayden reached with both hands and lifted it off the wall. They opened a nearby window and threw it outside. It shattered, the wooden frame splintering on the cement. “There. Now you'll never see it again.”

“But.” Jesse looked at the ground confused.

“If anything makes you feel ugly, anything, you throw it away. Simple.” Hayden grabbed Jesse's hand. “Let's get breakfast.”
Post edited March 09, 2018 by cricketfarm
It was 13th December 1981. That day left an imprint on everyone. The memorable speech of general Jaruzelski echoed in ours heads. Martial law.We ate dinner and everything was casual. At that time only the opposition was hiding everything that could convict them. We were a little scared, but on television they said, that the army and militia would take care of our safety. We went to sleep. At 6 am I was going to start my shift in the smelter, so as always I got up earlier and boiled water for tea. The sandwiches were laying on the table, so my wife had to get up earlier, but morning broadcasts are just like that. "With ham?", I thought when I took a closer look to the sandwiches, it's rare article. She could do everything.

They entered when the tea was cooling down. Without knocking, breaking the lock and destroying the doors. Citizens' Militia. The bugbear of the citizens, and guarantor of their safety. They challenged me and one of them ate the rest of my breakfast. What a boor I thought. They asked me where the Anna is. I was sure she's in work so I said that. They chained me and took me to the police station. On the way I was worrying about the door. "How the hell will I find the new doors" – I was screaming in my mind. The furniture was rarer than the meat. I wasn't worrying about me and Anna, we have never broken the law. We were both after the university, I was the supervisor in the smelter and the owner of big house in the tenement. She was leading broadcasts in the radio. The bourgeois. The intelligentsia. The enemies of the communist goverment. It's the way the people was describing us, but we weren't suprised. The system was hard but we had a good life and prospects for the future, so I wasn't suprised at all by the morning visit. In the end, the militians have been taking care about society safety.

At the police station they asked me about various things, mainly about my attitude to goverment and about content of Anna's broadcoasts. I didn't understand it, they knew it well. The cenzorship was pearmiting everything. I kept asking them about Anna but they didn't told me anything. They kept me there for a 3 or 4 days, in the cell the time passes in the strange way. I got to know about everything after all.
Anna was operating covertly in the underground, leading the illegal broadcasts and distributing conspiratorialy leaflets and newspapers. She was even a leader of our district undergound. She has never told me about that, beacuse she wanted to keep me safe. The trial was fast and confidential, verdict short. Death. She was execute by firing squad, popular execution in Eastern Block. There was no fireworks, the goverment was eliminating opposition silently. Without publicity. The folks don't need to know. There was no funeral, only the simple cross above the grave. After all I got a permission to say my last goodbye, at least we are all humans. Nothing more than a simple bouquet and candles.

After all I was escorted to the smelter by the militians. The five-year plan won't realize itself. After I came back home I saw that I have a new door. Later I saw it was not only me, who got a new door. It's time to meet new nieghbours.
Post edited March 09, 2018 by Gdyxu
This is an older super short fiction story that I thought would fit your competition, since it tastes like very old wine: it might feel a bit bitter at first, but it's an acquired taste.

A cure for short sight

The 12.1 mm bullet passed through Jesus' head with a thud. The statue's silver head now had a 12.1 mm hole in it, just below the rusty crown of thorns.

"See that, father? Jesus can save you from sin, but it can't save you from lead! Aren't ya' gonna preach, as I flex my finger on this trigger?"

The old man kept his head down.

"This life, this life is just..."

"Life? My life is gone because of you. It's only fair I take yours in return!"

"Who... who are you?"

"A rambling lunatic, or the man whose dreams you and your drinking buddies crushed, when you burned that house in Louisiana, years ago."

"How did you... ?"

"Everyone knew. Except for God. It's him I came here for! That big ol' Jesus you keep in your church. He was blind, so I gave him an extra eye, for scum like you!"