Attributes Out

Writing Prompt:
“An Inside Out-esque scenario, but instead of the emotions being personified it’s the stats of an RPG (e.g. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. from Fallout).”

Hidden away in the dark lurked a foreboding room. There was no entrance, no exit. The walls were carved from living stone, intricately detailed and unfathomably old. A ring of carefully sculpted pillars supported the cobwebbed ceiling, depicting fierce battles and legendary treasures. In the center of the room stood a shaft of rowan wood, twisted and ornate but seemingly naturally occurring. Rather than branch out and bloom, however, it ended entwined about a softly pulsating crystal the size of a man’s fist, the source of the soft pink light that illuminated the room. A thick blanket of mist shrouded the floor, appearing to glow with the light of the crystal. It slowly wafted back and forth, swirling slowly about the pillars, as well as the robes of the six dark figures that stood silently arranged around the central shaft.

The largest of the six stepped forward to the spire, swept back the hood of its deep grey cloak, and placed one massive hand palm-down on the crystal. It flashed a deep red and grew suddenly brighter, throwing light around the room and on the face of the man standing before it. His rough, battle-scarred visage twisted into a sinister smile and he turned to his companions to speak, his hand never leaving its place.

“My comrades,” he boomed, “the obstacle before us obviously requires a full-strength offensive! I will gladly take over from here. Allow me to clear the path toward conquest and glory!”

The brute gripped the crystal tightly and focused. As he did, the chamber seemed to rock and shudder, as though the very ground beneath them protested. A second figure rushed forward and pushed the behemoth of a man out of the way, taking the crystal with it’s own more slender hand. It flashed a pale yellow that fell harshly on the angular face revealed by the now absent cowl of the second figure. The tall, slender and angry woman glared daggers at the first man, practically spitting her words at him.

“You fool! You can’t just rush headlong into this, we’ll all be killed! At least let a more dexterous professional such as myself keep us from being shot down before we begin. We have to flank the target, or we don’t have a chance.”

As the severe woman concentrated on what she was doing, the room seemed to tilt from one side to another, threatening to throw the remaining figures off their balance. In the midst of the developing chaos a shorter and much stouter man flipped back his hood and trundled up to the shaft, seemingly oblivious to the rolling floor. He plopped one hairy-knuckled mitt on the crystal and the room took on a sudden emerald hue. He completely ignored the woman who had been there before him and who was now pummeling his thick head with a flurry of impressive, but ultimately ineffective, blows.

“You know,” he said, “we should really leverage our superior constitution. Just prove we can take whatever is thrown at us.” He grinned. “Wear ’em down, that’s what I always say.”

He stood stock still at the rowan staff, not seeming to make any effort in particular. Meanwhile, the room began to develop a faint haziness, gradually obscuring vision and turning the brilliant green of the crystal into a sickly chartreuse. The remaining figures removed their hoods, as though they were having trouble breathing easily. One of them, a young man of very slight build, rushed forward and pinched the simple man’s nose until he was forced to comply and step back from the staff. The newcomer swiftly stepped in and placed his palm upon the crystal almost disdainfully. The light turned a rich and dark purple, and the young man rolled his eyes at his compatriots.

“Have you no intelligence whatsoever? Are you attempting to eradicate the lot of us?” He turned back to the crystal and closed his eyes. “I surmise it’s left to me once again to rectify the situation. Kindly remain stationary while I present our adversary with an indefatigable and irrefutable debate. We will certainly emerge victorious momentarily.”

An elderly woman stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Son, I think it might be wise to hand the reigns over to me. It’s said that discretion is the better part of valor, and that seems quite prudent at the moment.”

The young man hesitated, but eventually bowed to the wishes of his more experienced senior. The crone set her gnarled and bony fingers on the crystal, changing it to a calming indigo color. The haze left the room, the floor settled, and all the figures took a deep breath of relief. All but the last one.

The remarkably handsome gentleman swaggered forward and draped one arm around the wise old woman. “Granny, you do a great job around here. You know that, right?” He aimed a white smile and a wink at her. “But I said it before and I have to say it again. This is a job that requires finesse, appeal, a certain je ne sais quoi. This is a job for… Charisma.”

He wrested the crystal from the woman’s hand, and the chamber was once again bathed in a soft pink light.


Ashley watched in growing confusion. She had been enjoying a drink with a couple of her friends, grooving to the music, when a handsome young man had caught her eye. She had thought to flirt a bit, since he was pretty cute, after all, but that was certainly off the table when he abruptly turned to the stranger next to him and knocked the guy out cold with a wild haymaker. He proceeded to take out three more random clubgoers with vicious blows before the crowd withdrew from him in terror. With a ring of onlookers watching in bewilderment and fear, the young man squared off against a single brave fellow who had taken it upon himself to bring down this strange assailant. The young man had ceased his own attack entirely, dodging and skipping around in a manner completely different from his previous straightforwardness. It was bizarre to watch, but the club’s heroic defender never landed a blow on the mysterious stranger.

Abruptly the elusive young man ceased his skipping and calmly strode over to the bar, where he began downing the shots that remained there. The defender saw his opportunity, and launched himself at the stranger. As his attacks had no effect, however, he slowly came to a frightening conclusion and retreated.

The violent young man finished his twelfth shot, wiped his mouth, and staggered over to the table where Ashley and her friends sat, trapping them in the booth. He proceeded to present a detailed and convincing series of reasons why Ashley’s companions should, in essence, beat it. They needed little convincing, and as soon as they were fairly certain it was safe to move, they both made a dash for the club exit. So much for friendship.

Ashley was frozen with sheer disorientation, and watched helplessly as the unstable young man turned toward her and took a deep breath to say something. However, he instead abruptly turned around and headed toward the club exit himself without a word. She was just beginning to get a grip on herself when he paused at the door, turned back, and jogged over to her table once more. He sat down next to her and smiled, oblivious to the panic behind him and the sound of approaching sirens.

“Do you like my new jacket?” he murmured.

Falteringly, she stammered, “Y-y-yes?”

“Do you know what it’s made of?” he crooned.

Unsure, she ventured, “…No?”

The young man pulled a pair of sunglasses from his pocket, put them on, and grinned again, coyly.

“Boyfriend material.”

And that is when the police burst in.

 

Original Prompt: Reddit – Inside-Out

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Attributes Out

Fear the Light

[Note: This is my first attempt at writing a sonnet. I enjoyed it immensely!]

Writing Prompt:
“Everyone’s afraid of the dark. Make me afraid of the light.”

Don’t bare me to the stark and brutal light,
Expose me with a flicking of a switch.
Don’t make me face the fallout of the fight,
But let me hide here deep within the pitch.

Should I relive the erstwhile night’s exchange
I’d lose what piteous hope inhabits me,
And should one chance upon me in the shade
Have mercy on this wretch and leave me be.

I suffer now the void where once you lay
Which hardly measures to the void inside,
For I can not reverse my tongue’s cruel blade.
Redemption out of reach, instead I hide.

The murkiness obscures my shame, and yet
I’d welcome light behind your silhouette.

 

Original Prompt: Reddit – Afraid of the Light

Fear the Light

Tranqira

Writing Prompt:
“Tell the experiences of a person who’s losing one emotion every day.”

I used to have real anger issues. No, I wasn’t angry all the time. It was more insidious, more dangerous than that. I, like so many men before me, developed a bad habit of bottling up my frustrations until I blew like a faulty pressure cooker. It was hard to keep long term friends or pursue a career with such a volatile nature. I definitely burned more than my fair share of bridges. Hell, I blew those bridges sky-high with a half-ton of emotional dynamite.

I dealt with the consequences of my rage the best I could, or at least I convinced myself that I did. Still, every newly ruined relationship served only to stoke the fire inside me and drive me that much closer to another outburst, cycling endlessly. It was my life. I never really made an effort to change until after last Thanksgiving when– well, let’s just say that my father and I still aren’t on speaking terms. I don’t like to talk about what I said to him. I don’t like to think about what I said to him.

I knew I wasn’t in control after that incident, and I resolved to change. I went through a bevy of self-help books, and I thought I was making real progress until I threw my desk lamp through my TV when I struggled to grasp a concept in Rage against the Routine: Finding Vivacity in Variety. I tried therapy, but it turns out even therapists draw a line at flipping the couch out the window. If anything, the frustration of trying to improve myself only made my tantrums more frequent. Perhaps it was destiny, though. My tantrums are what drew the attention of Dr. Samuel Beech.

Dr. Beech had been at the therapist’s office scouting out potential candidates for a clinical study on a new medication, Tranqira. After witnessing my eruption, he approached me and explained the program to me, informing me that I was an ideal participant. The drug was intended to put a damper on chronic surges of rage, which I clearly suffered from. Having tried everything else I could think of, I jumped at the chance to medicate my problems away. The fact that it was a paying gig didn’t hurt, since I never knew how long I’d keep a job.

Tranqira was still in the very beginning stages of clinical trials, when safety and dosage were still being fine-tuned. That didn’t deter me for a moment. I was desperate to rid myself of my unpredictable temperament. The Saturday of the trial I was too excited to even eat. I rushed to the facility an hour and a half early and waited impatiently to be let in. After attending a few seemingly endless lectures and signing more complicated paperwork than when I purchased my car, I was finally given three little green pills, what was explained to me to be a “heavy” dose. I was then handed a bottle of the same pills and told to continue that dosage daily for the next month according to the included instructions unless serious side effects occurred. We would then reconvene to report the efficacy of the drug.

I could have reported on the “efficacy of the drug” the very next day. I could feel the difference by lunchtime at the café at the other end of my block. The wait was short, the staff was friendly. I hadn’t yet run into any situations that would set me off, but I felt… cool inside, as though some kind of burning sensation that had been in effect for so long that it had become background noise had finally been relieved. I felt confident. I felt calm. What really clinched it was when my BLT came with the mayonnaise that I had ordered it without, and I didn’t feel even a flicker of anger. It was remarkable. Then, like a song that you can’t get out of your head, the memory of my last encounter with my father wormed its way into my mind. I felt an intense regret that I hadn’t pursued help sooner. My mistake haunted me, and even though it appeared I had finally achieved success in gaining control of myself, I couldn’t shake the notion that it was too little, too late. I took my daily dose of Tranqira, finished my lunch quietly and quickly, and spend the rest of the day wallowing in misery and self-pity. Only the rest of the day, though.

The next morning, Monday, I woke up early to get ready for work. After clearing my sleep-addled mind with a cup of coffee, the routine of preparing for the day afforded me time for my mind to wander. It didn’t take long for my train of thought to arrive at Ruined Relationship Junction. Strangely, however, I felt no regret. I was aware that I should, and that I had only the day before. I could remember everything I had said to my father, every nasty word of it, and I understood exactly how hurtful it was, how in the wrong I was. Still, no sadness registered. Just mild intellectual concern for a problem unsolved. It puzzled me throughout my drive to my employer at the time, a small data-entry firm. However, with work came distraction, and I soon wrote off my strange new attitude as a positive step in my rehabilitation. That reminded me of the method of my rehabilitation, and I popped my little green trio of pills into my mouth sitting at my desk.

Tuesday I lost anticipation. That’s when everything really started to roll downhill. It was just like sadness. I knew about upcoming events, about meetings and plans and holidays. They simply didn’t register as significant. There was nothing to look forward to, nothing to get excited about. There were only things that would eventually happen, or not happen. It didn’t matter. I still felt joy when I experienced something positive, like having a really good omelet for breakfast, but being reminded about a looming deadline at work didn’t faze me. I understood it was important, yet felt no drive to complete the task assigned to me. Instead, I spent the day indulging in casual time-wasting on the internet and long breaks. Deadlines were for some other me, not the now me. All I needed to do was to take my Tranqira and enjoy whatever came along, or else sit in quiet hopelessness until something enjoyable did come along.

Wednesday was sympathy. It was so subtle a change I didn’t even realize it at the time. It’s only looking back that I’m able to deduce the change. I frankly didn’t even consider the thoughts or feelings of anyone else at that point. They had no significance. When I arrived at work, I decided I didn’t like work. I told my manager that I didn’t like work, or him, and was leaving now. I stopped only to inform a coworker I passed that he smelled awful and now I wanted to leave even more. I drove home at a very casual pace, enjoying the clouds and oblivious to the angry honking coming from the long line of cars behind me. I wanted to drive slowly, so I did. What did they matter?

When I arrived at home I was quite hungry, so I called in an order for two large pizzas. I took my Tranqira while I waited. It was a long wait time, so I absent-mindedly read over the fine text behind the label on my prescription bottle. This was the first that I had actually gone over the instructions regarding the medication, and I felt a sharp thrill of fear run down my spine when I saw that they warned explicitly not to take the drug on an empty stomach. Thinking back, I realized I had exclusively taken my pills on an empty stomach. I was intensely worried for my well-being, but felt no drive to protect future me from harm. For the next thirty minutes I was a wreck, weeping in helpless terror and unable to formulate any kind of plan of action. Fortunately the delivery boy arrived then, and I was overcome with joy at the smell of the pizza. I took the pizzas, matter-of-factly informed him that I did not want to pay, and locked the door on him. The rest of the day was spent in cheesy bliss.

Thursday is the day I lost my fear. It was a short day. I woke up, ate every delicious thing I could find in my house, and then wandered outside. I managed about half an hour of aimless roaming, staring at everything around me and feeling overwhelming joy at some sights, total emptiness at others. I was marveling at a beautiful red sports car that had just driven past me when I felt a sudden impact in my side, a flash of intense pain, then blackness.

I woke up Friday evening in the hospital. I had wandered onto a highway and been hit by an SUV. They said I was incredibly lucky to have survived the accident. I didn’t feel lucky. I didn’t feel happy to be alive. To be fair, I didn’t feel sad to be alive either. Everything was gone. I listened carefully to what the nurse had to tell me, candidly informed her that I was tired, and closed my eyes.

Turns out it takes about three weeks of discontinued use for Tranqira to be fully expunged from the body. Just in time to report my findings.

 

Original Prompt: Reddit – Emotional Loss

Tranqira

Made In X

Writing Prompt:
“All existing intellectual properties (cartoons, anime, movies, etc) are now real. What kind of havoc is brought upon Earth?”

It wasn’t that bad. It really wasn’t.

When the Fics first began appearing two years ago, there was some confusion to be sure. Over the course of three months the global population nearly doubled. There were casualties, there were disasters. Villains really complicated things. Humanity had never dealt with chaos and catastrophe on that scale before. But to be perfectly honest, with all the new technologies spontaneously coming into existence across the world and the legions of heroes materializing to combat evil, we as a race had things under control surprisingly quickly. DRCs (Detention and Reformation Centers) were set up to contain defeated villains and the Human-Fictional Creature Treaty was signed.

Steps were taken to terraform the Moon and emigrate roughly a third of the Earth’s residents, Human and Fic alike, to our new sister-world, my new home. Between Lunar Initiative, new construction materials, and a hugely expanded and specially talented work force, we as a new unified people were able to alleviate the population crush and flourish. Crime was at an all-time low with millions of superheroes across both worlds patrolling the streets. Agriculture had reached unprecedented levels of productivity. Multiple perfect renewable energy sourced had been discovered where previously thought impossible, fueling further expansion. Only a few months ago we launched the Martian Initiative, spiritual successor to the LI, to terraform and colonize the Red Planet. It truly was a time of peace and prosperity.

It was. Until the arrival of the cheap counterfeits.

 

Original Prompt: Reddit – IPs

Made In X

I Am Your Father

Writing Prompt:
“Write the big climactic plot-twist. No context…just the plot-twist.”

Her tears disappeared in the rain coursing down her face as she helplessly watched the life drain from his broken body. She could see he was trying desperately to tell her something, and so pulled him close to her and listened closely. The words trickled from his lips, barely audible in the storm.

“Looks like… you’re not… adopted… after all…”

The chill that ran down her spine had nothing to do with the water soaking through her jacket. Fear and understanding abruptly washed over her sadness, leaving her wide-eyed and trembling. She carefully laid his head on the ground as the last light left his pale eyes. As she slowly stood and turned around she spotted a dark, obscured figure standing in the downpour perhaps thirty yards away. Without another thought, she turned to run.

 

Original Prompt: Reddit – Plot Twist

I Am Your Father

Fanboy

Writing Prompt:
“Write a poem about where you grew up and your hobbies.”

Apartment was the NES
And playing Zelda was the best
SMB was up there, too, and they’re what made me so obsessed

Add a “Super,” move away
Still had Kart and Link to play
Earthbound was the best of all, and helped to make the change okay

No more rentals, owner time
Gamecube brought me Smash and Prime
Settled in, new school, new friends, and had a blast playing Sunshine

Home foreclosed but I’ve moved on,
My wife and I, and Donkey Kong
I had a Wii and a PC, plus Brawl and Twilight kept me strong

I’ve got a house, a baby too
And just between me and Wii U
I cannot wait to introduce my child to the Nintendo crew

 

Original Prompt: Reddit – Growing Up

Fanboy

From the Desk of Mr. Whiskers

Writing Prompt:
A letter from your cat complaining about how you take care of it.

Memo

To: All menials of the Whiskers Estate
From: Mr. Cornelius H. Whiskers, Esquire
Date: 8/6/2015
Subject: Standard QoW


Loyal retainers, this is a message from your employer, Mr. Whiskers, regarding a serious and disturbing issue that has come to Our attention. There has been a sharp decline in the quality of work at this estate, and this is unacceptable. We fully expect the following issues to be rectified immediately.

Item A: Litterbox cleanings have fallen behind schedule. The decreed agenda states daily cleanings, but for nearly a month now cleanings have occurred only twice weekly. This is inadmissible. We understand the temptation to rationalize away the need for daily cleanings for a single feline, but We scheduled it this way for a reason, and that schedule shall be kept.
Item B: The quality of our dining has dwindled alarmingly. If the chef will refer to the approved entree list, We are certain he will not find the misleadingly named “Fancy Feast” among the entries. We expect fresh Pollock with catnip butter this evening. This is not up for discussion.
Item C: We know We have covered this last subject in past memos, but it would appear a recap is again necessary. When furniture is lacerated, it does not mean to hide the damaged portion behind a throw pillow. What it does mean is to REPLACE IT. We are allowing one week to dispose of every tagged piece of furniture on the estate and supplant them with new items to be reviewed on Monday.

In closing, if these situations are not remedied with utmost haste, We shall be verydispleased. We do not want to pass out Pink Mice any more than you want to receive them, but downsizing may be in order.

Regards,
Cornelius H Whiskers, Esquire

 

Original Prompt: Reddit – Letter From Your Cat

From the Desk of Mr. Whiskers