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As a central theme of Consistency is the existence of time — ensuring that you are writing on a timely and daily basis — the theme of this month’s prompts will also be about time.
Today's prompt: [Timeline]
Definition: a graphic representation of the passage of time as a line.
╰┈➤ Write a piece that implements a timeline.
Word Count: Minimum 250 words, no maximum.
Exactly 250 words.
TW: depression, suicide
PLEASE DO NOT READ IF IT'S TRIGGERING.
TW: Depression, suicide
Moments turn into seconds. Seconds turn into minutes. Minutes turn into hours. Time that keeps tick, tick, ticking away, and yet, you are still. You do not move. You do not speak. You let the tendrils of fear gradually engulf your senses. Tick, tick, tick, goes the clock. And slowly, slow enough that one walking by would not know you moved at all, you blink. And you blink again. And again. And again. And again. You blink until your eyelashes are fluttering in time with the clock, synchronised with the rising and falling of your chest. Tick, tick, tick. Blink, blink, blink. Inside, you wonder if you can blink yourself out of existence. If you can blink away your hopes and dreams and fear and nightmares and terror and pain and hurt and agony and it is crippling you and you cannot stop.
You choose to stop it all instead. Stop blinking. Stop… breathing.
You raise your hands to your throat, inhale that last, clear breath and begin to squeeze.
And as your eyes begin to close and you fight to stop yourself from inhaling that one, sweet, beautiful breath, you realise that you could stop this. Restart.
But it is too late. Your eyes have closed, and your chest no longer moves. You fade into the bliss of dark shadows, lost in unconsciousness.
And through it all, the only sound in the ringing silence of the room is the fading tick of a broken clock. Tick, tick, tick.
Destruction. All around a little boy. People running for their lives as flames surrounded them, followed with balls of but pure destruc- "Hold on, this isn't the right one." The image in your mind is cut in half, replaced by a screen of black. Phoduen, shakes his head and now you see the realm of time.
Phoduen floats around, seeing everything all still, and yet still going forward, still doing something. The cogs and clocks and trees and small pockets of time fill this would-be dull place. Phoduen cuts off several branches of a tree so that it only has one branch. "That's how it should be. That's how it all happened." He pointed at the certain points and holes on the tree and it's branches, where if you peek through it, you see something happening. Although he refuses to shi at first, and now he is gone. You take a peek at the first one, near the bottom of the tree. You are now on a mountaintop, viewing the vast ocean in front, even seeing boats and other sea vessels. As you look behind you, nothing, again. All but black.
Destruction. All around a little boy. People running for their lives as flame- "It's the same thing again!" The image is once more cut as everything seems to be going in a loop. And once more you're back in the realm of time. It's the same tree, although Phoduen cuts the other branch from before, now the tree has only one branch, and you peek through the hole to see what has changed.
There is nothing, not until this line of texts, these line of events, end. Surely, something new will happen. You look behind you.
TW: MENTIONS OF DEATH
The teacher draws a line on the blackboard. It's a little crooked, earning splattered snickers from around the class.
"Today, we learn about the War of Ancients." They begin, creating the first vertical line. "It started ten million years ago, the first and only recorded feud between people living in Panagea."
The discussion unravels to an exploration of the mainly mentioned names, Alexei and Ynesa, two lovers from the northern and southern regions, torn apart by duty to their kingdoms. The tale ends with a tragedy, enforcing that both parties fell in battle, where the earth cracked between them, starting the separation of the land. The teacher squints his eyes in suspicion before clipping the book closed with his fingers.
"What are your theories on these two?" He gestures the offer with his free hand. "Do you believe these records?"
After a moment of silence, one student speaks up, "No, Professor."
He smiles, "And why is that?"
"Translation issues," She says, "From the timeline of the events, as well as the evolution of language into what we speak now, there is a high chance of misconstrued sentences and meanings from the tale."
The rest of the class nod their heads, and the teacher tilts his head in meaningful thought.
"Yes, I suppose so." Their words seem to be spoken to someone else, "However, what if I tell you that the translators are correct?"
Another length of quiet and beat more before another student answers, "The writer of the tale wrote it incorrectly?"
The teacher snaps his fingers, "Exactly! This story is a lie."
He seems to take the attention of the dawdling students, and takes it as a sign to continue, "What if I told you a truer story?"
"Ynesa was the daughter of the leading tribes in the north of Panagea, yes." He lulled his head to the side in a sigh. "But Alexei? He was a mere cultivator of the land, a farmer."
He takes the chalk from his table and scratches a line behind the start of the war, "There was no forbidden love, as this book suggests, but there was a tragedy."
As he pauses, the gazes of his students urge him to continue, and his voice barely cracks as he says, "Ynesa had died, that much is true. But Alexei had survived, overcome with grief and anger, he cursed at the heavens and dug his shovel into the ground, refusing to till the land for his fellow people."
"After five days, a terrible storm hit the area," He shifts his weight between his feet. "Alexei had decided to take back the shovel before it rusted in the growing flood. Once he had hold of it, lightning stuck, and the Panagea began to separate."
"He died?!" A student exclaimed, earning hushes and glares from his peers.
The teacher smiles, the circular light catching the mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "The rest is up to you."
"He could have died, or he could have lived." The whole class nearly slumps at his words. "Find which one entertains you more."
"You said you'd tell us the real story." One says, rolling her eyes.
"I said I'd tell you a truer one." He corrects. The speaker chime before anymore people retort at him. "Alright! Assignment, splash all your thoughts about this story into a file, and send them to me before tomorrow. Everyone who passes their piece gets to order something in the cafeteria on my tab."
Half the class sigh and half busy themselves among their own conversations as they walk out the door. The teacher takes his seat on the edge of the desk, smiling to himself.
"A shame our story never got the better half of an ending."
(( I DIDN'T MEAN FOR THIS TO BE SO LONG I AM SO SORRY. also this takes place like almost at the end of the wip this is for so if the Detective Work doesn't make sense it's most likely from a lack of context okay that's all bye forever ))
“I've figured it out!” “.. uhh ...” “No, really, this time!” Marcus slams his hands on the desk, making Taka jolt back in surprise. “Jesus,” Taka almost yells, “don't just *do* that all of a sudden ...” “Sorry, sorry! But, but, but! Worry no more, Endohora, I have it *all* unraveled!” He turns to the wall behind him with the map of the facility, and moves the map aside, revealing something akin to what you'd see on the walls of the room of any devoted conspiracy theorist, red strings and random circles of photos and all. There's a whole timeline and everything. Marcus has written down the names and extra information of every participant, as well as who died, when, and where. Taka can only look on with dismay. “Oh, Marcus, you *didn't.”* “I *did!”* His grin only gets bigger, which Taka didn't think was even possible. He points immediately to some of the pictures clustered around the left corner. They were all blurred more or less with motion, and from odd, distant angles. Like the subjects of the pictures weren't aware of the camera. Like they weren't supposed to be aware of the camera. And the subjects were them. Taka was there, Marcus was there, everyone they've seen, and a bunch of other people that they've never met before. It's unnerving. “These? Right here? Must date back however long it's been before we got stuck in these buildings, yeah?” “Mhm ...?” Taka nods, hesitantly, wanting so badly to understand but also expecting nothing more than a half baked theory. Where are you going with this, Fisher. Marcus points to two of them in particular. One is of ... it appears to be Octavian. And the other is of Marcus himself. “Now, this. *This* is what's tripping me up.” Slowly, the cogs in his brain start turning, and they catch on to what he's trying to say. “... I get it now. Octavian doesn't even live in the US, and you're from Florida, right?” “Born and raised! But why would you need to take pictures of your victims, and how could you do it at such similar times like this if they live so far apart? I'm still unsure of the first part of that question, but ...” “How do you know when they were taken?” “I'm getting there, don't worry!” “... alright ... well, I don't think you physically *can* do it with just one person like that ...” Taka furrows his eyebrows and leans forward a bit from where he sits. “You're telling me this is confirmation that there's more than one person in on it?” “Yeah, and that's not all! I've figured out one of 'em. And who might be the one pulling the strings behind this whole operation.” Despite his distrust and complete lack of faith in Marcus, Taka finds himself getting his hopes up for a fraction of a second. “You have!?” “Maybe. I'm not as sure about this bit, doesn't make much sense beyond what we know for absolute certain, but ...” He pulls out something from the drawer on his side, and holds it up for Taka to see, who feels their heart drop. It's a camera, alright. But not just any camera. “This ...” “Those pictures were from here.” “... You're saying Bee took the pictures?” Taka looks up at Marcus with a skeptical face. “They couldn't have been in two places at once.” “I don't think it was *just* Bee. In fact, it might not have been Bee at all.” “Why do you make everything so confusing.” “It wasn't *all* of the pictures --” “So you should have started with that --” “Will you let me finish!? Bee didn't have their camera when we first got here, remember? They were looking everywhere for it, and didn't find it until we got to that arcade room.” Why did they even have an arcade room, anyway? This place, wherever it is, is so ridiculously confusing that Taka wonders if it was designed that way intentionally. “And when they ... when. They.” Marcus didn't have to finish that sentence. They both know all too well what happened at the maze. ... He clears his throat. “... anyway. They told me before it all started that if something were to happen to them, their camera was in their room, and to not under *any* circumstances let anything happen to it or the photos inside. So I .. took it. And I looked through the camera roll. “And those weird, far away pictures of us were hidden under other, completely normal shots! Which I found interesting. But the point is, I've figured out when these were taken.” He begins moving some of the pictures to the timeline area, right up behind where it actually starts. “And it's important to figure out the when, you know? The when before the why or even the who, because that's how you piece stuff together.” “Marcus, what are you talking about?” “I'm saying that the order of the photos here led me to suspect that someone stole their camera specifically to frame them, but then failed to take into account that there was no way one person could have just done it on their own like that.” “So it's ... not Bee. Bee is in the clear.” Taka just wants to make sure he's following all of this correctly. “Nope! But do you remember *where* Bee said they lived?” This is going on way too long. But if Taka wants clarity and understanding of whatever ideas Marcus has, he has to sit through all the rambles and side tangents and random facts only loosely related to the situation that will get thrown their way. So they grit their teeth and bear it. “.. somewhere in the Netherlands, I think ...?” “Yes! Exactly!” Marcus frowns, with a kind of serious but not too exaggerated expression that Taka isn't used to seeing on him. It's a bit worrying. “... well?” “And someone,” he adds, “was just *visiting* the Netherlands right before all of this happened. He's brought it up a few times, you know?” ... Oh. OH. That feeling, like a light bulb going off, is one that never gets old, but the knowledge that this train of thought makes a little *too* much sense is enough to scare him more than a little. “Shigeru.”
You used to grow flowers every night.
I remember stories of mythical creatures and gods of Greek spoken by eyes that held the sun and brimmed with excitement. Past midnight was when roses and daffodils grew out of ink in the pages of your journal. You outlined petals with ink, colored pollens in yellows and reds, stretched stems with paint, and kept its roots inside your garden, never to be read by another.
Yellow curtains that reach the floor left open, dirt stained rug kept underneath a crowded desk, pencils and notebooks placed inside old shoe boxes under your bed, torn pages that held secrets crumpled at the end of feet. On nights you felt that your heart carried too much weight on its own, you never dared to break the night’s silence. Rather, you never had to say a word. Your pen confessed your worries and told regrets you couldn’t say out loud—you told the moon of the gaps carved out of your heart by friends you never reconciled with, of buses you had to chase without an umbrella on a rainy morning, of harsh words thrown at you at work—and for a while, it was enough. The moonlight’s company was enough and the cold air that kept you awake was enough, until time came that it wasn’t.
For the first time in a long time, you stepped out of your bedroom and left your pen uncapped by your journal, not a single flower on its spread. You sought for someone to listen and cared about tales written in the stars. You jumped over fences, tripped on roots, and climbed branches to find someone who would hold your head up when you fell down—and you did. You found her.
She was timid and so were you but you spoke proudly and she listened. She never said a word but fascination never left in her smile as you retold stories you once told long ago, and for a moment I saw yourself in her—the girl who read in the silence as the breeze tucked her hair behind her ears. Her gaze followed your hands when you pointed at the stars and traced constellations in the sky, not once looking away.
Silence turned into lullabies and the moon was no longer your only company. It must be fate that you two share the same eyes—purple and shy of blue, both curious of what the moon hid behind its shadows. As if she’s a clone of you. Not an hour I spent with you was as loud as you were with her.
She must be the person you write constantly in your journals. The person you wished would carry your burdens with you and give their shoulder for your rest. Someone who shared your smile, your interests, and your woes. The stars must’ve heard your wishes and made it come true for I have never seen two faces smile so widely side by side.
“So you see, around year 2300 is when the catalyst happened, and now in 2500 we are still experiencing the effects of that catalyst. Now, 2600 is projected to be…”
He was dozing off, staring vacantly as the professor moved his hand over the timeline drawn on the blackboard. The catalyst, the catalyst. Everyone talked about it but he never really understood what it was. Things people said just didn’t make any sense. So confusing… He would rather sleep.
“Of course, with our time-leaping technology, we are able to go back and see first-hand just what the catalyst was. Unfortunately, every time we have gone back, we have never been able to see exactly what happened. Our wristwatches are meant to keep us from interacting with previous moments along the timeline, but with that there are some…unexpected side effects. But, come now, next week we will be able to experience all this time technology ourselves. To prepare, I want you all to read chapters 42 and 43 of your textbook, and write a paragraph detailing…”
He was dozing off again.
The following week when he and his group of classmates were to time-leap back to 2500, he found that because he wasn’t paying attention, he wasn’t quite sure how to strap the wristwatch to his wrist. Even after they took off it was still loose, and he was too lazy to ask anyone for help. Especially since he was supposed to be paying attention…
The year 2500 looked exactly like how it did in their textbooks, and he soon found himself bored again. He was supposed to stay with his group, but he wanted to find some food or something.
“Hey, hey, hey! Avilio, come back! You’re going outside the barrier!”
Barrier? What barrier? And then he realized the electricity flickering around his wristwatch. People were looking at him, a terrified expression in their eyes, and he realized that there was electricity crackling all around him. He looked back for his classmates, but he couldn’t see them anymore. Everything was burning brighter and brighter and then—
He was sitting in the classroom again. There was the timeline, on the board. The professor, still going on about the catalyst or whatever.
But when he flipped his textbook open, he saw a vague blurry picture of himself in chapter 42.
Blake entered the room, waving a hand at Wre. Wre responded by proudly holding up a diagram, and although it was hard to tell with the many scribbles on it, it did look like a timeline.
"Heyo Blake, how was your nap?"
"It was quite nice. Waking up was a bit weird though. What happened? The house looks completely different, I don't recognize any of the furniture designs, and you look like you aged ten years."
"Well, you see"—Wre smirked—"the short version is that we all got caught up in a magic spell and fought our way out. You make a surprisingly durable shield."
Blake raised an eyebrow. Wre just shrugged in response.
"As for the long version, may I interest you"—he waved his hand dramatically at the timeline on the wall—"In this?"
"Yeah sure, hit me up. Why don't you start with uhh, the magic circle. Also, I'm still dreaming, aren't I? There's no way Dan would ever become such a dramatic person."
Wre shushed Blake. "I'm called Wre now. I can't really prove you aren't dreaming, I hope that it's all too convoluted and confusing but will make too much sense that you'll end up believing me."
"Hit me with it, Wre."
"It all started"—he raised his arms dramatically—"with your nap. A dimensional mage fourth order decided he has a grudge against our house, and ports it to a different dimension, much like we would take out trash."
"Uh huh, very believable." This was the weirdest prank ever.
"Greg got caught along, though you may wanna call her Samanda now, and of course you and I also were transported. Some kind of seer was expecting our arrival. We were trying to wake you up, but the seer said that you won't wake up in this dimension, and that we need to protect you to return home."
"I thought you didn't believe in that seeing the future stuff."
"I still don't, neither did the seer. She was talking about the past, because time flows backwards, and that's why we need the timeline. Look, we start here on the right, after the dimensional mage tossed us here. Before, or for you maybe easier, next thing we did was enter the village, after hunting some monsters."
Blake's face turned into that of a frown and a goofy smile. Did Wre lose a bet?
"Here's where we met the elves, and before that we fought against some slimes. Stupid slimey goo. Then, here at the beginning, we beat the demon king, and were transported" —"back home?"—"To the previous dimension, which is also the next dimension. You can see that we start here in the middle. Time was out of order here, so we hid behind your body. That's when you decided to fart."
Blake touched his forehead with his fingertips. He knew he sometimes farted in his sleep, but this was just embarassing.
"Samanda, being the good girl she was, decided to kick you in the butt, and so we were caught up in the tides of time. By sheer luck, we end up back in our dimension, on the other side of the origin. The origin," Wre added at seeing Blake's confused, and resigned look, "is where all the universes of similar dimensions come from. The universe we were in was not our universe though."
He wildly pointed at the beginning of the timeline. A ton of scribbles were added, stuff Samanda would totally write. Very orderly, very structured, so unlike him.
Fuck, this was real.
"So, here is where we met other lifeforms. They didn't really like sleeping people, reminded them too much of the dead, so they kicked us out in one of their spaceships. Luckily, Drrskskkss knew how to hack into them."
"So that's how we got back?"
"Nah, we're still on the ship."
A rumble shook the room. Alerts flared up.
"We're under attack. Quick, Blake, into the pods!"
"Pods, pods!" Wre pushed Blake out of the room down the hallway into a more isolated room. Escape Pod read the letters, R-13-24-19BT. One of the pods opened with a hiss and steam. Still very numbed and in disbelief by everything, Blake entered the pod.
"Good night; May you live on."
"Wait, what about you?"
"My duty is to the ship."
"What the fuck, Wre?" Blake struggled against the pod. "You just sacrifice yourself for some ship? Is this really what you do after bearing with my fart?"
The sleeping gas kicked in. Blake's eyelids struggled, before they rested down. Wre smiled, and pulled off his mask. "Oh yes. Your fart was so terrible, we just had to pull that prank on you."
The Temple of a Thousand Pillars and a Hundred Crowns is the oldest temple in the world. It is in the heart of the Langai Forest, hidden among mulberry and hawthorn trees. Carbon dating dates it back to around 4000 years, during the Kal Ages. It is a temple built in the honor of the Goddess Kali, locally called Kali Thaiye, Goddess of Time, Death, Sexuality and Doomsday. She is associated with divine feminine energy and the mother of all mothers.
The temple has four entrances, all leading to the center chamber with the statue of the goddess. There are tall walls around the temple, and inside are 99 little chambers dedicated to each deity. The Kali Chamber is the crown piece. The temple is also shaped as a chariot. The Kali chamber has eight 10 feet stallions in a battle motion. It is estimated that in today’s value, it would take billions of gold marks.
The architect of the temple, Rajendra Rama Lingamurthy, was commissioned by King Kaniyan of Eelam. The king thought of this temple as the home of the Goddess. It is rumored that there is a secret tunnel connecting the royal palace and the temple, but it is yet to be confirmed. Architect Rajendra Rama Lingamurthy’s descendants still pursue his art and live among the highest of the high society. They are also one of the oldest families of Eelam and closest to the royals. Rajendra Rama Lingamurthy was paid so handsomely that at one point a tenth of the land in the entire kingdom belonged to him.
There is even a law, passed on a few centuries after the temple was built, that when publishing works that would name the Architect, it is illegal not to use his full name. Any book, movie or journal posts like this would be taken down and a fine of 300 gold marks will be given.
That’s all for this week's bit of ancient facts. Chime in next week for the blog post on the Yelangoan Quarry and its controversies.
"Select the memory to be modified." A pleasant but cold voice came from the lips of the room's assistance robot. The off-white room was lit only with artificial light, it was a not very large space of about 4 square meters, however, David was in a state of complete overwhelm.
"Select the memory to be modified." The robot repeated, and David woke up from his reverie, still feeling somewhat lost, but he didn't want to waste another minute, after all, he was only allowed thirty minutes in that room, whether he modified his memory or not. Moremory was a company that specialized in recreating memories realistically for use and review. There were several services, including 'review' which was about amplifying people's fuzzy memories, and then retain the memory in better condition. The second most popular service was to 'modify' memories, and was widely used in medicine to treat trauma, or even remove it outright.
David plugged his memory chip into the port of the robot, which on a holographic screen had access to his entire memory. It would take a while to find the one he was looking for, but since it wouldn't take that long to modify it either, David fell into the nostalgic trap of watching the preview of his memories from childhood.
He went through his first sleepover, three boys in a tent house in his friend's parents' backyard. He had so much fun back then, ate so much popcorn he threw up on a plant, his friends always remembered it with laughter.
Then he saw when he confessed for the first time, a little boy who didn't know about life promising all the planets and satellites in existence to someone who didn't even know his name. Of course, he was rejected, though he still ended up marrying that brown-eyed boy who rejected him so cruelly the first time.
He saw his wedding, full of guests, wishing them happiness, health and well-being, but neither that nor almost any memory had that woman who had mattered so much in his life.
His mother had been so far removed from his life that David still didn't understand why she mattered so much, why he was so guilty, why it hurt so much. Why did he still love her?
After the memory of their wedding, he soon arrived at the memory he was looking for. He selected it, and the robot stepped back a little, repeating the instructions and conditions of service again. While well known and effective these tools were, they were so expensive that hardly anyone used them, so David was a little tense, there was no going back, no second chance, but then again, that was life, wasn't it?
The room changed shape until it replicated the living room of his home, the cold walls turned yogurt colored, and a window from which warm sunlight poured in took up an entire wall. As David turned to admire how detailed and realistic everything looked, he came face to face with his mom. He was home, and his mother a little younger and healthier compared to the last time he saw her was looking back at him.
David was speechless for a few seconds, the lump in his throat taking control of his body, and while he had mentally prepared himself before arriving, he still found it difficult to look her in the eye.
His mother watching him silently frowned, cold, apathetic eyes hiding the fragility he had discovered on her deathbed, and after the last words shared, David questioned what he had returned to that moment for.
"So now what, you're not going to answer?" his mother opened the conversation just as she would have, it was impressive the profile the IA could develop with the few shared memories she had with his mother, her tone, her choice of words, even the pain hidden in the hurtful words. "Now that you know the truth you can rot, this relationship should never have been, you..."
"You should never have been born."
David completed the sentence that had changed everything between the two of them so few months ago, and his mother stared at him in surprise, but quickly returned to her posture. Poised, defensive, and David's heart couldn't help but soften. His gaze softened, and with his voice trembling, he continued.
"I'm so sorry for what you went through for me, for what you fought for me, for what you lost for me." David took a deep breath and connected his gaze with his mom. He began to walk slowly toward her, so as not to scare her. "I know you never wanted me to call you mother and that maybe it hurts you more to be one than it hurts me not to say it, however, even if it's an illusion, even if you didn't get to hear it before you left..."
David stood in front of his mother once again, just an arm's length separating them.
"Even if this moment isn't real, I wanted to tell you here and now that I love you." David's tears were mirrored in his mother's and he saw in that image their pain.
"Thank you for everything you were able to give me, I know at times you tried to do more than your wounds would allow, that you came here...not to separate us, but to try to make amends for a relationship neither of us were ready to have."
He raised her hand and caressed the cheek of that woman who had tried to give the best version of herself to her son, yet the past had left only broken pieces of an incomplete woman. His mother rested her hand on David's hand, and as she parted her lips to answer him, but before his eyes, the room and she slowly began to disintegrate into small fragments of light.
David tried to hold the illusion in his hands a second longer, and the last thing he could hear, was the same "I love you" that on her deathbed he had been able to hear, but didn’t understand.