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Consistency: 08/05/2022
In Discord Challenges
Her Life or Yours?
In Short Stories
Richard Jones
Oct 09, 2022
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO this made me cryyy
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Consistency: 08/31/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 31, 2022
(I just kind of speed-ran this one so it's not good but yay! Last day of Consistency!) I worked all week on my contest entry. I planned on Sunday and opened the Google Doc, and then the next six days I spent writing. And on the last day of the month, in the hour before the submission period was over, I finished in the nick of time. The next step was to wait a month for the results. I got nervous about my piece, looked over it a thousand times, but I couldn’t change anything at that point. Spotting typos, a plot hole. Definitely, I wasn’t satisfied with the piece. So naturally, I did tweak it. Even if it wouldn’t make my submission better, and wouldn’t increase my odds of winning, because that wasn’t really the point. At the end of my edits, I actually was satisfied with the story. Proud of it. I wished I could’ve sent in the story I was proud of, but whatever. And now, it was the end of the month. I opened the announcements channel and waited. They posted the results. First — not me. Second — not me, either. Third — me. I placed third! My mouth curves into a smile, one I didn’t think could be removed. Oh. There were only three contestants. I made it into the top three by default and placed last. My seemingly-permanent-two-minutes-ago smile fades. The story I wrote was the worst. I read the other entries. They were great. Better than my unedited submission, that was for sure. I could see that. At the same time, I didn’t think mine was bad. Just not a winner. But next time, I would write a winner. I would do better. As long as I didn’t get discouraged and give up, I would eventually write something deserving of winning. So I took the feedback they gave me and I made myself learn from it.
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Consistency: 08/30/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 31, 2022
(CW: two deaths that could've happened) Riley had a superpower. She could see things before they happened. One moment, she’d be peacefully minding her business in the present, and the next, she’d have an image of the future thrust into her brain. Sometimes it was a video, but nevertheless, it only lasted a few seconds. Then, back to the present it was. Some visions laid further ahead into the future than others. Some would be a minute away and others, years. Which is why she kept a leather-bound journal, to jot down the events she saw unfold and when they would take place, and carried it with her everywhere she went. Her son, little Anthony, was five. Currently, he was playing with his toys—building blocks Grandma had bought him. He had his thin blonde hair and that happy-go-lucky grin. And then he was at school, choking on his hot dogs, dying. Despite how much the image horrified her, she made herself look for clues as to when it would happen. The blackboard read September 12. Tomorrow. And then he was perfectly fine, playing with Grandma’s building blocks. Riley shuddered. No way was she giving him hot dogs tomorrow. Or ever. She opened her journal and wrote, No hot dogs for Anthony, though she doubted she’d forget that. The next day, as she was picking him up from school (alive and healthy, hot dog crisis averted!), she had another vision. Her car, swerving violently to avoid a turkey, of all things. And then the jolt of flying into the ditch, going full-force into a tree. Windshield shattering on impact, heads jerking forward, then back. The vision gone, she saw herself at the wheel, but the vehicle undamaged and paused at a red light. She let out a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. Not dead. Yet. She searched her memory for where the crash took place…and recalled the blue street sign telling her Jansen Road. Good, that was one street she was able to steer clear of. But not good—she ground her teeth—she didn’t know when she was supposed to crash into the moronic turkey. The light turned green. When she got home, she’d write a note not to go down Jansen Road. These predictions were always of something bad, of something bad happening to her or the ones closest to her. And so, she guessed she had them to prevent these things. Even if not, she would of course. Later that evening, yet another vision was to be had. An image this time, rather than the usual video. A newspaper. It read, WORLD WAR III BREAKS OUT. Guess her power now included predictions of world-wide bad things. September 24, 2018 (three years from now), was the date on the newspaper. Aside from the title and date, she wasn’t able to read the newspaper—the image was gone before she’d had the chance. Before she forgot it, she penned the date and title in her journal, beneath the reminder to stay away from, what she referred to in her mind as, Turkey Road. But she didn’t understand; every one of her visions predicted an event she could stop. How was she going to stop the third world war? She just couldn’t. A single mother stops the third world war….Nope, she couldn’t fathom it. How? Over the years, she sometimes pondered it. Never did she come up with the answer. September 24, 2018. It rolled around and yet, Riley never heard of any World War III breaking out. Nor did she the following week, or the following month. And she kept up with the news. But her vision, it never came true. She was sure she didn’t do anything to forestall it, so why didn’t it come to fruition? Not that she wanted it to. But still. Weird.
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Consistency: 08/29/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 30, 2022
Yesterday, Chris was on his deathbed, looking upon his lovely, young daughter. She’s intelligent and beautiful and well-mannered, and she was crying as she looked over his frail body. He was supposed to be well and healthy, as a man his age should be, but some people’s health deteriorates faster than others; some people’s time comes sooner than others. What Chris accepted was his death. What Chris did not accept was that his death would come so soon, ripping him away from his daughter while she was still quite young. That he wouldn’t have a man ask for his blessing to marry her, that he would never see his grandchildren if he would have any, that he wouldn’t see her graduate from university. That he’d miss out on so much of her life. Yesterday, he raised a shaky hand to her face, told her not to cry. Told her everything was going to be okay, that she didn’t need her old man anymore. Because another thing Chris could not accept was not being strong for her when she needed him to be. And, it was true. She didn’t need her old man anymore. Yesterday, before she could respond, she was called out of the room. Apparently someone needed to speak with her. A friend, said the nurse. A few minutes later, his daughter walked back in, smiling. “Everything is going to be alright. You’ll get better,” she said. He hadn’t the heart to correct her. No need to get rid of that smile…he needed to see it one last time. The doctors had told both him and her that he was going to die, but if she put off the grief as long as she could, that was good. She shouldn’t spend too much time crying over him, he figured. Except miraculously, today he’s feeling a lot better. He doesn’t look so frail, he notices as he looks in the bathroom mirror, and he can stand without feeling out of breath or dizzy. In fact, he feels very vital. Like he can take a long walk, or even a run, and his legs won’t want to collapse beneath him. Like maybe his lungs and his heart could handle something other than sitting and lying down. So he grabbed the walking IV bag and went for a walk. He doesn’t slouch, as if he’s weighed down, as if he can’t hold himself up. He can, and he does, and he walks like a perfectly healthy man. They run some tests. He’s somehow been…cured? He laughs, so relieved, and hope comes flooding back. He can see his daughter grow up fully. Go to her graduation, approve or disapprove of young men, and get to know his grand kids (again, if she decides to have them). He knows this, now, that he’ll live a long life, that he’s healthy. But what he doesn’t know… …is that his daughter had to trade her soul for it.
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Consistency: 08/28/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 29, 2022
(A continuation of my consistency post for Schedule) My new world is akin to the one before it called Earth. It circles the sun, is made up of oceans and lands, but what is different about it is the species which inhabits it. Human they remain, in the crucial department of looks. Blemishes, acne, two arms and two legs, even gender which I keep thinking about removing. But there are many differences between these humans and the ones of my previous creation. For one, they cannot feel physical pain. No more suffering, no more agony! Isn’t that great? For two, they aren’t as technologically advanced, yet. But they’ll get there in time, I’m sure. They’re still relatively new. And my third change is that they are unable to experience love or other silly, needless emotions. Libido remains, as it’s necessary, and so does the survival instinct. But that’s all they really need, isn’t it? No more betrayal, hurt, and with physical and mental anguish gone, bullying would be pointless, so none of that either. All the bad things removed, leaving only the good. This world is perfect. Well…it’s been a couple hundred years since its creation and nothing much has happened. Reproduction, house building, the discovery of animals (did you think I removed the lovely things?), hunting. All things the previously made species of humans did. Inexplicable why I find myself feeling like something’s amiss. Like something is missing. There’s no reason for it, everything’s the same as it was but better, and nothing’s missing. Except pain. But why in the world would anyone miss that? I must be a sadist if its vanished presence plagues my mind, as if it should come back. No, I decide, I do not miss pain. It’s something else, it has to be. …Joy? The people have to be happy if they can’t be sad was my reasoning when I came up with this new human species. Then again, I’d forbid them from feeling anything other than the instinct to survive. Uh oh. I messed up, colossally. The entire reason I destroyed Earth (number one) was to ensure the future of humans would be joyous and nothing but. And now I’ve created an entire planet of people who can’t experience joy. It makes me laugh, the irony. Well. Do I start over then? At least this time, when I obliterate the inhabited planet, no one will feel it. No one will torturously withstand their demise, but rather go peacefully, painlessly. Good. January 6, year 629. It’ll be seasonally appropriate for it to end in ice, won't it? I push the sun away until the planet grows completely dark. The ice spreads fast, turning the world into an ice cube, freezing everyone to their core, killing them. Maybe I got it right the first time. I’m still not sure about the pain. Physically anyway. But I know I want the people to have passion, because if they don’t, then they do not truly live or exist at all, and they are meaningless.
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Consistency: 08/27/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 28, 2022
(CW: the death of our planet) Websites and posts about when doomsday will come. People on the street saying the end is nigh. Most people believe it, actually. Not many don’t. NASA has people freaked out, telling them about the demise that’s sure to come, the fact being the sun will engulf Earth in its brilliant burn. I probably shouldn’t be making this happen. But I messed up and I need to fix it at last. Already I have waited far too long. After I put this planet and its people out of its misery, I’ll build a better world. Torment, anguish, trauma, evil. Extinguished. There will be none of that in my new world. I wish that around eight billion people didn’t have to die; they should’ve never existed in the first place. But they’re going to die anyway, and I may as well prevent future generations from becoming so they don’t have to go through the terrible things the planet offers. Does it make me a bad person that I also kind of want to see the Earth being destroyed? The planet, blazing, glowing red. It will be beautiful, in a sad way. As a wave of melancholy washes over me, I spectate each country omnipresently. These beings I have created, shopping at malls, eating man-made delights, celebrating birthdays, sharing teary moments…But then another is murdered, someone is betrayed, a vehicular accident occurs, a mother finds out she has cancer. And I have the power to fix this. To press the delete button and start anew. I’ll miss these perfectly imperfect humans, but this is for the best. It really is. In eighty-three seconds, I will end Earth, just as scheduled. Just as my wonderful, smart humans have predicted. “Goodbye,” I whisper, even if none of them can hear me. Three, two… One. The Earth implodes.
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Consistency: 08/26/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 27, 2022
I sit on my desk chair, in the dark, staring at the only light source in the room: my clock. Mom and Dad should be asleep by now, though they are light sleepers. (And Mom has a habit of vacuuming in the middle of the night.) I’ll have to be really quiet, but I can turn on a light, so I do. In my closet is a stunning, sparkly dress. It’s aqua and is covered in scales of some kind. Dad bought it for me for my last birthday and said the scales were ancient. They’re from some sort of extinct reptilian I think. Anyway, the dress is perfect attire for clubbing, in my mind. My hair is already curled from when I did it this morning, but I should put on some eyeshadow. Peach-coloured eyeshadow. Natural looks best. Lipstick to match of course. Open the door fast, not slow, so it doesn’t creak. Skip the third-to-last step. Sneaking out frequently has made me a pro at maintaining silence in the house. All that can be heard is the ticking clock. And now the AC coming on. And a scream. No TVs are on and both neighbours are single—well, that can change at any moment. But when I listen closely I find out it’s coming from inside the house. The scream is quiet, and I’m sure if it wasn’t the middle of the night, I wouldn’t be able to hear it. But it’s there and it sounds like, “HELP ME!” Where in the house? Is it Mom? It’s not Dad, it’s female. Coming from beneath me. Coming from next to the staircase. Next to the staircase is the basement door. I forget about clubbing and sneak over to the door. Did my parents kidnap someone? That would be ridiculous. I can’t think of another reason a woman would be in my basement screaming for someone to help her, but I’m sure there is. I can ask the woman why she’s down there. Yes, I ease the door quietly open and descend. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been down here. Must be years now. It’s not finished, so it’s not a place I go to hang out or whatever, and as minimalists, we don’t need it to be a storage room. It’s cold. Dark. The woman yells again and it’s loud now, like she can’t be more than fifteen feet away. My hand fumbles for the light switch. Oh my god. She’s managed to get her gag to hang around her neck, but her hands are bound to the chain fence behind her (which I have no recollection of being installed). She wears a half-buttoned white shirt, one of my dad’s, and below… Her bottom half is shaped like a tail, but instead of with scales, there’s just skin. Irritated and red skin. Tears flow down the scaleless mermaid’s cheeks. “They’re so beautiful…I forgot what they looked like. Please,” she sobs. “Can I have them back?” Have them back…? Oh. Oh. My dress is made from her scales, isn’t it? I swallow some bile, giving me heartburn. I’m wearing her scales. I’m wearing the scales of a tied-up mermaid in my basement. Oh my goodness. Why did my dad gift me a dress made from…her? This is so sick. “I can’t grow them back,” she tells me. “I need the ones I was born with, if you just touch them to me they’ll fit back on. Please. I don’t know where any other mermaids are hiding.” I have to help this woman. I have to save her from my dad. Does Mom know about this? She vacuums all the time, maybe she’s covering it up. I need to talk to them about it, but first things first. “Yes, okay. You’re going to be okay. I’m going to bring you home alright? The nearest ocean.” “Thank you, so much.” I take off her gag and rip the scales off my dress one by one. Hopefully all of her previous scales went to making this dress, because otherwise, she’ll be a bit bald…. All it takes for the scales to adhere to her is a tap. One touch and it’s back on; it doesn’t take me long till I’m done sticking them back on. Her tail is gorgeous. Shiny and vibrant and lively. The way she swishes it is graceful and mesmerising. She smiles. A key on the shelf behind me can unlock her wrists, so I take it and free her, wrapping an arm around her lower back to lift her up. “My parents are sleeping upstairs, so you have to be quiet,” I warn her. She nods, and I somehow get us both up the stairs and out of the basement. Her fin drags against the carpet and I take us to the front door, where I sit her on the hall tree bench, panting. Shoes. Keys. Door, careful to turn the lock silently. Lift her up again, go out the door, enter the car. Everyone’s still sound asleep inside the house and no lights turn on. Program the GPS to go to the ocean. And drive there to free a young mermaid who has been wronged by man who thinks her to be just another species to poach. The mermaid smiles at me again, and she looks so human it’s hard to believe someone could not treat her as such. “You have done the kindest thing tonight. Thank you, so much.” “Of course.” I couldn’t have left her there. “I’m sorry this happened to you. I didn’t know the dress was made of…” “It’s okay. It did look really pretty on you.” “Thanks. Ready to go back to the sea?” “It’s where I’ve always belonged,” she says. So I get her out of the car and drag her to the edge of the water. I don’t know what to say as a goodbye to this mermaid I just met. But she knows how to say goodbye. Just a simple, “Bye-bye.” And then she smiles, but with teeth this time, menacing, menacing sharp teeth. And I know to be afraid. I can’t do anything to stop her from dragging me this time, down and down and down, bubbles from my nose floating up. My arms try to claw up, to the surface, but I’m only going down, the mermaid’s grip on my ankle too tight. My parents were completely justified, I think. My ears feel like they’re going to explode. My lungs do, too. And before I hit the bottom, where she is sure to eat me, I pass out.
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Consistency: 08/25/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 26, 2022
(CW: two curse words) Hailey never thought she’d be selected as a lab rat of sorts. She had no connection to the scientists running the tests, after all. And yet there she was, at a laboratory, nervously taking a seat in a chair that looks suspiciously like it’s from the orthodontist’s. “So, all we’re going to do is put this—“ the scientist indicated to a helmet-looking machine “—on your head. Afterwards, you should have an increased intelligence for up to thirty days.” Increased intelligence. Perfect. She would need it for what was next. And she would only need a month. She nodded, and was instructed to close her eyes. The scientist put the metal machine on her head; it was lighter than she expected. Electricity fired through her head, sparking, hot in some places and sharply painful in others. It only lasted a minute. The scientist took the machine off her. She felt no different than before. Of course, it’s not like it would feel different, physically anyway. More scientists came in and they wanted her to solve puzzles, most of them easy for her. Never did she like Geometry, but she was excellent at it today. She received an A+ or in other words, a one hundred percent score. After she left the laboratory, the first course of action was to pick up a suit. What type of confident nemesis was she without the proper attire? The dry cleaner wished her good luck, presuming, and correctly so, that she was dressing for something important. It definitely fell under the important category. She considered it life-changing. Back at her apartment, she changed into her suit. Tie, gold cufflinks; watch, gold to match. She slicked back her short hair with gel. Ready for her “date” with the city’s hero, a vigilante without a name. Of course, the hero didn’t yet know about their date. But somehow, last time Hailey and her fought, she’d gotten her number. So she dialled the hero. “Hello?” The hero’s voice was mellifluous as always. “Ready for our date tonight?” “Our date?” “Yes. I thought it’d be nice if we talked things out. Over dinner, maybe?” “Oh, ah…okay, that sounds reasonable.” She smirked. “You’re surprised at me being so?” “No! No, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply you weren’t reasonable…Not that you even care if I think you’re reasonable or not. Not that you should.” “I’ll pick you up at six,” she said, giggling only after she hung up. Six should be enough for the hero to get ready. Now, time to plan their evening. * * * As scheduled, Hailey was at the hero’s house at six. She stood by the passenger side of her red convertible, waiting for her date to exit her house. She didn’t take long to, and she walked over to Hailey with a puzzled expression. “How do you know where I live?” Hailey blinked. “How would I not? Don’t worry, whenever I think of setting it on fire, I remember I shouldn’t make rash decisions. Plus, you’d probably escape before it killed you, anyhow. And there’s the fire department.” “...Right. Well, if you know where I live, I should know where you live.” “Is this your subtle way of suggesting we go back to my apartment?” The hero laughed. “Sorry, don’t do that on the first date. And I don’t trust you enough.” Fair enough, she thought. “Oh, where are my manners?” She stepped aside to open the car door. Once they were both inside, she noticed the dress the hero wore. Navy blue, sparkly, off-the-shoulder. She had nice shoulders. “You look beautiful,” she complimented. “Thanks. Wait, why are we going on a date again? Aren’t we enemies?” “Yes, we are, usually,” she said, starting the car. “But if we’re going to fight each other, we should know one another first. Besides, you know the saying. ‘Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.’” The hero looked unsure. “Oh, and if you don’t trust me enough to come back to my apartment, why would you ever trust me enough to get in the car with me? I mean, there are lots of people in an apartment building, but in a car, I could take you somewhere secluded to kill you.” “Is that what you plan to do?” “I’m not sure yet. That’s up to you. But you should know that I didn’t bring any weapons.” She raised an eyebrow. “Really. On another note, I should know your name.” “Oh, yeah, you know where I live but you don’t know my name?” “Yes that’s right.” “Elizabeth.” Hailey smiled. “That’s a nice name.” “What’s yours?” She entered the highway. There would be no restaurants for a while, which she was sure would make Elizabeth suspicious, but the car doors were locked and she didn’t see how she could’ve snuck a knife in her dress. “I don’t like my name,” she answered. “But what is it?” “Hailey.” Elizabeth snickered. “That does not sound like a villainous name.” “Then you can see how I hate it, right?” “No. It’s fitting. You’re not very villainous at all inside your heart, are you?” She froze. The car veered to the right, heading for the gutter, but Hailey didn’t notice. All she could think of was someone else who once said, You have a good heart, don’t you? The same person who used it to their advantage, who broke that good heart. Elizabeth’s shout brought her back to the present. “Okay, okay, don’t crash the vehicle!” Back on the road. “You’re wrong. I don’t have any good in my heart left.” The car pulled into a gravel-paved street, and then to a stop at the end of it. Nothing but forest surrounded it. Destination reached. “Everyone has a little bit.” “Sorry, you’re wrong,” she had to say, laughing bitterly. Because even if she had some good in her own heart, she was sure her witch of an ex didn’t have a molecule of good. Also, what Hailey was about to do was not a bit good. “Get out of the car,” she instructed Elizabeth, and they both did. “What did I do wrong?” “What?” “You said whether or not you bring me to a secluded place to kill me depended on me. Tell me what I did wrong.” She couldn’t say. “Was it because I said you have good in you? You didn’t like that.” Maybe. Elizabeth put her hands around Hailey’s waist and shifted Hailey to look at her. “Why am I going to die?” Why aren’t you running if that’s what you predict? “I lied,” Hailey whispered. “I was going to kill you all along.” “But you said you didn’t bring any weapons— Oh. You lied about that too.” Hailey wondered if she should correct her about that. She decided not to. Time to get rid of an enemy. “Sit by that tree,” she told her, getting the rope out of the car. To her surprise, Elizabeth did so. But as she looked at Elizabeth’s face, smooth with youth, features adult but childish in their look of innocence, she didn’t want to imagine those lively eyes glazed over. So beautiful, so good. She saw herself in her. Her old self. Maybe a better self. Someone that wasn’t broken. And why did she have to break Elizabeth like she was? It’s not like she needed to. The hero would try to stop Hailey, but hell, so what if she succeeded? Why the fuck did she need to kill someone over her plans? Tossing the rope away, she conceded that maybe some goodness lingered in her heart. Or maybe this was the increase of intelligence telling her murder was stupid. “I knew you weren’t a killer.” “Oh, I could’ve killed you.” “Okay so I did estimate a fifty percent chance of you killing me, but I knew in my heart you weren’t a killer.” “...Would you still like to go for dinner?”
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Consistency: 08/24/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 25, 2022
(CW: minor cursing) I’m glad I don’t have to lie in a coffin during the day. That’s what the vampires in the Sookie Stackhouse novels do, but of course, a lot of literature is wrong about vampires. In little ways. They all get the blood drinking right. If I had to lie underground all day, it’d be terrible. Vampires like myself can’t sleep, so I’d be awake the entire time, waiting for the sun to sink. And the dirt…I shudder at the thought. Luckily, I can just stay in my house throughout the day. Blinds, curtains, duct tape over the curtains, duct tape over the blinds. The fridge is full of blood bags. Television in the comfy living room. Books in the three-floor library. Never do I have to leave my house during the day. I’m pretty free; no job at the moment, I restock on blood bags every few days, I have no friends. Wow. Sad, lonely life. I bet I could make a friend if I could tolerate sunlight…Being a night owl gets you access to clubbing, bars, late-night poker games, but not coffee dates or luncheons. And I am a big outdoors person, or at least I was before I turned. Visiting the parks, getting mesmerised by the vibrant colours of flowers, and of course trips to waterfalls and, annually, the Grand Canyon. I can still see the parks and flowers and waterfalls and the Grand Canyon, too, but it’s just not the same without the sun. Stupid sun of a bitch having to be so important…. Oh wow. It just occurs to me now, but what if the sun doesn’t actually burn vampires? I’ve avoided it so vehemently I never gave myself a chance to be burned by it, but maybe it doesn’t set vamps alight. Maybe it’s merely another myth. But do I risk finding out? Screw it, life isn’t life without day. I may regret this rash decision, hell, I probably will, but what’s to lose? Let’s not think about that too much, actually. Now instead of just jumping out into the sun, let’s be rash responsibly. The best way to test it is the windows, and if I really am “allergic” to the sun, it’s best to find out in a non-life threatening manner. I approach my smallest window, one across from the dining table, and put my back to the wall next to it. I’ve brought a fire extinguisher, which I hold in one hand, and with my other, I rip the duct tape and pull open the curtains. My eyes are clenched tight, and I prepare for the burning feeling (if there is any way to prepare, that is), but none comes. As I reopen my eyes I see it’s because the blinds are shut and taped, too. I rip it off and then toss the dusty tape onto the wood floors. And then, pressing myself firmly to the wall, I use my to-maybe-be-sacrificed hand to twist open the blinds. It’s warm. My hand is warm. Perhaps my pain receptors don’t realise I’m burning yet, but I feel the warmth, and I’m not fooled. Shit. No sunbathing for me. I don’t want to open my eyes to witness the curling flames engulf me, but I have to in order to use the fire extinguisher and hopefully save myself… Oh! Oh that’s pleasant, I’m not on fire. I forgot what the sun felt like, but yes, it’s warm on my skin. I can go to the beach. I can get coffee and sit on the patio and watch the birds sing from their nests. I can read outside. (It’s not much fun at night when there’s no light; straining your undead eyes is bad, even if they can regenerate quicker than they can deteriorate.) Well, now that the excitement is over, I can be mad at myself for not going out at day for sixty years. Although I suppose it could’ve been much, much longer. Anyhow, no more time that could be spent in the sun should be wasted. Perhaps I’ll try surfing again….
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Consistency: 08/23/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 24, 2022
That autumn day, we were standing under an orange-leaved tree. The sun was setting behind the country hills, and it smelled like fresh rain, and then she got down on one knee. “I don’t know if you do this on Earth, but on my planet, we have this…thing where we give the person we love a ring” — she pulled out a black box — “and ask…’Will you marry me?’” The best four words, the happiest moment of my life. “Of course! Oh, yes, of course.” She slid the ring onto my finger and kissed me. “Good,” she whispered, laughing. “I was going to love you for eternity even if you didn’t love me back.” I felt the wings of butterflies flutter around in my stomach. “Love me for eternity?” She nodded, hands cupping my face, shy smile on her face. “I’ll love you for eternity, too.” The moment was one that seemed so normal, so human. Until a UFO landed ten feet away and Jamie, her alien brother, ran out of it. “KATIE!” he called her. “What, what is it?” Jamie grabbed her by the shoulders, and I could tell whatever it was was serious. “Our planet. It’s…not stable. There are earthquakes.” And my heart sank, because I knew the one good thing in my life was about to disappear. “Oh. I have to come back to stabilise it.” “You’re the only person who can appease the goddess,” he confirmed. My throat told me tears were coming and I couldn’t say anything or move an inch until Katie threw her arms around me. “I’ll love you for eternity,” she reminded me, her voice soft on the verge of tears too. But I couldn’t say anything back, couldn’t even say goodbye as she followed her brother onto the UFO. It zipped into the air and vanished in a flash of light, and it never came back. How long was an eternity? If she ever returned to Earth, would she still love me, or would an eternity have gone by already? I never found out when I was alive. But when she showed up to my grave and felt her tears fall on the soil above me, when she talked about everything that’d happened, when she came to visit again and again, I realised eternity meant forever. And I silently apologised for ever making the immortal alien fall in love with me.
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Consistency: 08/21/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 22, 2022
(I’ve got lots of good karma so this isn’t projecting but I love a reverse character arc) As I enter Dollarama, noting the presence of someone behind me, I hold the door open for them. They don’t say thanks. In fact, I’ve only ever received a thanks once, and that was when I was eleven. Dad taught me my manners, said to always hold the door open, that I shouldn’t do things for thanks but instead to be helpful and kind. So my entire lifetime, that’s what I’ve been. Always holding open doors. Telling the teacher a student never got handed the test. Helping my new neighbour move in. Still, I would’ve liked a thanks. It’s all I ever ask for. Or for the people I walk by to say a greeting, but mine recently go unreturned. Everything I do goes unreturned, it seems. Now that I think about it, no one’s ever done something randomly kind for me. Even if I dress up nice I don’t get compliments. I help carry in my roommate’s groceries but she never returns the favour. Why do I bother? It’s not like good karma exists. Hell, do people exist anymore? It’s been so long since I talked to anyone. I see them but it’s like they’re just video game NPCs. (Yes, as an older person I play video games.) If I’m going to put in an effort to be kind, there needs to be a good reason, I think. The old “being kind for the sake of being kind” isn’t enough anymore. It used to be when people deserved it. Maybe they still do. But I’m going to need proof. I’m not doing anything nice until someone does something nice for me, and that’s that. So the next day, as I buy my groceries and I leave the store, I don’t hold it open for the person behind me. And as I see my neighbour enter their house and then their car starts rolling down their driveway because they didn’t put it in park, I don’t do shit about it. ‘Cause why should I? Not my responsibility! For over half my lifetime I fooled myself into thinking I’m the main character, the hero, but I’ve wisened up over this lifetime. Ignorance may be bliss, but man, watching the door shut on someone’s face amuses me more than it should. (I’m blameless for it! They should’ve known I’m just a meaningless NPC like everyone else and took the door into their own hands. Their face is their responsibility.) This is true bliss.
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Consistency: 08/20/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 21, 2022
Being a vampire is not sexy. I’m a dead woman, and that isn’t glamorous (though I wish it was). Whenever I see blood, my fangs drip venom, which doesn’t taste good. The fangs themself, I keep cutting my tongue on them. But those are the minor things. You know how in Twilight, the vampires were fast? Like, running and jumping from trees fast. Not how real vampires are, sadly. I’m extremely lethargic due to my condition. No dead person can really be living, walking about, if they have no blood to fuel them. I got my vampirism from, of course, another vampire, who drained me completely of my blood. And once you’re dead, it’s not like you produce more red blood cells. But his venom infected me and he made a human exsanguinate into my mouth. Because once you have the venom in your system, you have the ability to drink other people’s blood and use it to pump your own heart. In order to keep living like this, you might imagine you have to take a substantial amount of blood from someone. Really, you have to take it all. For one, you can’t stop drinking once you start, and for two, not even all the blood a human has to offer is enough for very long. So I’m lethargic, have to drain people of their blood very frequently, and because of that, most of my clothes are blood-stained. If I buy new ones, they’re cheap and thus I never even have cute clothes. I’m going poor; how do I work when I have to feed so damn often? Look on the bright side…at least I can (and need to) eat food. I’m still mortal in every way except for my need for constant “blood transfusions”. I wish being a vampire would make me hotter. (And immortal, instead of more mortal than ever.) But all it did was make sure I’ll never be hot, ever again, for the rest of my undead life.
5
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Consistency: 08/19/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 20, 2022
I may just have the strangest roommate ever. She’s smiley, always dresses in suits, eats cereal for every meal, and doesn’t really cause any problems. Pretty strange even if that was it. But I haven’t told you the strangest thing about her yet, that one little thing she’s somehow capable of doing. That is, she knows the time I will stop doing something exactly, and the time I will start doing something. She’s set up alarm clocks all around our apartment. On the fridge, in the cupboard, under my bed, in the laundry room, on the tray of shoes. Every time I finish or start doing something, an alarm clock sounds. It’s not like she has a button she presses to set them off. She’s set them in advance. And I can’t understand for the life of me how she does it. How she knows I’m going to finish reading The Dead Zone by Stephen King at exactly 12:21 a.m., or how she knows I’ll finish getting ready at 8:30 a.m. I join her in eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast. She doesn’t speak much, really, but she has this shy little smile on her face most of the time. She’s told me she’s the youngest child, as if that would explain her personality, or maybe even her gift. I eat fast so I’m not late for work, and as I shovel the last spoonful in my mouth, an alarm goes off. “How,” I ask, “did you do that?” “Do what?” Her smug smile tells me she knows exactly what. I shake my head at her and leave for work. An alarm goes off as I exit the apartment. When I get back from work, greeted by the beeping alarm clock over the head of the door, I make a resolution. I am going to talk to her about it. I catch her in the process of resetting the alarm clock under my bed to go off at 11:30 p.m. Once she’s done with the one in my bathroom (well, there are three in my bathroom, so I should say the one near the sink), I say, “Can we talk?” “Hm?” This is the one thing she hasn’t anticipated of me. “Yeah, I guess, what about?” “The alarms.” “Right…okay.” She leads me to the green couch, and we sit down. “How are you able to know things that’ll happen, when they’ll happen?” She gives me a smile, sadness in her eyes, though I don’t know why. “It’s always been a gift of mine. Once I know people, you know, what they get distracted by, how often their attention strays, how fast they read, their routine…they get predictable.” Damn. I was really predictable. I should start doing more spontaneous things. “Okay, but why do you set these clocks?” Surely there’s a reason. Maybe it was just fun for her, predicting me. She wouldn’t speak. But why she doesn’t is because whatever reason she has is sad, I know that much; no shy little smile at the moment. I almost don’t want to pry it out of her. I just want her to forget I asked, yes, and carry on. What did it matter, anyway? I wrap my arms around her. “It’s okay, I don’t mind the alarm clocks. It’s actually pretty cool.” Then I added, “...You don’t have to tell me why.” Tears stream down her cheeks, but she instantly rubs them away. “I like your predictableness, you know that? I love you for it, ‘cause no one else is predictable. I know everything that you’re going to do, everyday, you never change. So, I know that you’re going to finish reading The Book Thief at 11:30 p.m., sobbing at the end, and I know that the next day you’ll be out the door at 8:45 a.m. to go to work. I know you’ll keep living in this apartment with me until you get higher pay and leave for some better place, and that’ll be in about six months. If I know all this, if I can predict your future this much, then there’s no way something unpredictable will happen to you!” “Like what?” “Like, I know you certainly won’t go skydiving and fail to activate the parachute somehow. If I know the exact time you’ll finish a novel, I’ll know if you’re going to die…and that won’t be any time soon. It won’t be like…” “It won’t be like what?” “Like how my mom died, so unexpectedly. I could never predict what happened with her life, never predict what was going to happen to her.” A surge of emotion attacks me. I hug her tight, her face buried in my chest. I never thought my roommate cared so much about my well being…. “I’m so sorry,” I whisper. “I’m so sorry.” I don’t know what else to say. An alarm clock goes off. I suppose I should’ve been doing something else, something predictable that would justify the sound. But all the sound need be is a reminder I’m alive and doing something. “Don’t be sorry. Be predictable.” She laughs, disentangling herself from my arms. “This was not predictable, you know.” “Maybe not,” I agree. “But as long as I’m with you, you know I’m well, right?” She grins. “Right. So maybe just never leave my side then.”
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1
Consistency: 08/18/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 19, 2022
(CW: chicken dies) The Kirityan Clan of the Gerabbinad Planet were very advanced, technologically. They had holograms and jetpacks and cars that could turn into a plane, or if the need arose, a boat. Their people also developed spacecraft. Members of the clan travelled far and wide throughout the galaxies, but were saddened to find no other living organisms—intelligent ones, that is. But the multiverse was infinite, and thus, somewhere out there would be a similar planet with similar organisms. The Kirityan Clan Space Division was always going on missions. The current one was called Intelligence-Scoper III, as it was the third attempt and the spacecraft on the job was called the Intelligence Scoper. Only five Space-Division agents were on the mission: a yellow woman with slimy antennae and flipper-like feet who was but five inches tall (whose major differences in appearance being because she was from a different clan); a purple slug, whose existence, or sentience rather, and abilities to talk were a special thing indeed (he was surely to be studied in a laboratory soon); a tall, pink robot; Jerry, the deformed house-cat who once hacked into the Space Division; and the only normal one, a prime example of what a Kirityan Clan member looked like—three feet tall, with strong legs and long toes, and a squarish head on his shoulders that was so heavy his spine was bent in a wacky shape. After they’d all buckled up and been thrown into outer space, they started to talk to each other. “Do you think we’ll find it, this time?” asked the slug in its posh accent. “Other intelligent species?” Jerry’s claws had dug deep into his chair’s armrests, and he hadn’t yet let go since they’d launched. His voice was strangely deep for a cat’s, probably due to radioactive exposure, when he said, “I don’t know that any will be as smart as me…or any of you even…but all I hope is to find a species that’s smart enough to draw, even…and pretty….” “Oh, yes, hopefully they’re pretty,” agreed the snail. The yellow woman crossed her arms. “Well, all I want is someone who’s smart enough to play Gigelly”—a Terrucattne Clan board game—“with me, hot or not.” The coral-coloured rectangle, who’d introduced themself as Robot-Chan, had a few buttons and a screen displaying an anime girl who supposedly was Robot-Chan. She was blonde and dressed like an astronaut, just without the helmet, and her mouth moved in sync with her words. “Um…For my data, I’d like to know whether being attractive is as important as being smart. You all seem to have conflicting answers, so I’ll go with majority rule, if that’s okay.” The individual with the bent spine replied, in a hoarse, uneven voice, “It depends on who, ahem, who you ask. Most people would say yes, it’s just as important.” The yellow woman screamed. It was astonishingly loud for a squeaky-voiced, five-inch tall woman. Jerry’s claws ripped the armrests a little more, scared. “What’re you…screaming about?” The snail explained with much excitement: “A sun! Ha-ha! This means there’s an entire solar system here, like ours, and with any luck, with intelligent lifeforms like ours.” Robot-Chan squealed. “This is great!” “I count eight planets,” said the bent-spine guy. “Which do we land on?” “I like the look of that one,” the yellow woman said, pointing to a green-and-blue planet. “Me too,” the dog said. “It seems to have aquatic life…probably. The blue part’s water…I think….” So they landed on the green-and-blue sphere, somewhere forested. The shrubbery wasn’t too impressive, since they also had it on their planet, but it gave them hope. And then they saw it—someone. A living organism, dark brown and built well. They had toes, not long ones, and strong legs and a head, but it was sort of spherical, and it wasn’t heavy enough that it bent their spine. No, their spine was in great condition, rendering them strong enough to carry that. A white-feathered, yellow-sticks-for-legs, bundle of BAGAWK! ing, in the strong organism’s hands. Those hands curled around the white bundle just before its head and bent until the squawking stopped. They were glad the strong organism didn’t see them. “The organism appears to be intelligent!” Robot-Chan remarked. “It’s killed that thing, that shows intelligence, doesn’t it? We kill worms and beetles all the time to eat! Do you think it’ll eat the white mammal?” “Shhh,” the bent man rasped the warning. It was mutually understood, then, that this organism could kill them like it killed the feathery bundle. It was definitely stronger than all of them. The yellow woman broke the frightened silence. “I’m going to spy on it. It won’t see me. I’ll report back soon.” And before anyone could object, she bounded away, following the alien who carried the feathery corpse. It was a long time before the tiny woman came back. Enthusiastically, she reported as planned: “It did eat it! It’s eating it right now! It took off the feathers and then he put it on a stick above a fire! It’s intelligent!” They all cried out in joy. “Let’s go join it…,” the dog suggested. “I’m hungry….” “It’s so much stronger, I don’t know,” said the man with the bent back. “Oh, come on, we could take it if we worked together.” So they joined it. It grunted at the sight of them, raised its spear. “We come in peace!” the yellow woman said. It grunted in response. “I don’t think it speaks our language…,” the dog said, digging its claws into the dirt as he often did in fear. Maybe bringing attention to the claws was intimidating, because then the organism ripped a strip of meat off the chicken. It threw the meat far away, hoping they’d go for the meat and not it. Well, it worked. They were hungry, after all. Did that count as having dinner with the new species? If so, hopefully that meant they were on good terms now. Before taking any further action, they ought to report back to find out what their next move was. “Time to go home,” the man with the bent-spine croaked. And they hopped back in the spacecraft and did just that.
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Consistency: 08/17/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 18, 2022
(I had this book idea when I was ten, but I never wrote it. This prompt inspired me to write the ending to it if it did play out!) :) Ruby Phillips had become the ruler of the Dreamverse in just two weeks. It’d been the most eventful two weeks of her life: Ruby had woken up in another world, the Dreamverse, talked to a satyr (William), found out she had a tattoo on her foot, and that it meant she was heir to the throne. She then stopped the evil elves, who came from a small but populated planet, from taking over Dreamverse and employing their evil ways. And all that at the age of twelve. She wondered if the tattoo of the rose would still be there when she woke up back on Earth. Clothes on her back, check. Well, nothing else was needed — she didn’t really have much here in the Dreamverse, aside from her new friends and responsibilities. A few outfits, but she’d leave them here: they wouldn’t exactly fit in outside of this fantasy world. They were outside, because she’d woken up outside, so why not retrace her steps and lie on the grass hill to try waking up on Earth? Ruby knew she was going back today; she found herself becoming sleepy to the verge of almost passing out, which is exactly as she felt before waking up in the Dreamverse. “I suppose this is where we part ways,” Noah said. He’d become Ruby’s best friend after their archery practice together. He was the type of guy who’d wrestle King Elf if it came to protecting the kingdom — which he had to do a lot for me while I was oblivious of the Dreamverse. Will’s eyes watered. He was her BFF, for sure. The first friend she ever made in this world. Looking at both of them, satyr and boy, she wanted to stay. She knew the elves were trapped in their own world (for now anyway), and that Noah would protect the Dreamverse if it came to it, but even if this world didn’t need her, she needed her friends there. At the same time, she missed Earth. Her parents were there, and so was Emily, her Earth BFF. And her bed. If only she could be in both worlds at once…. Will pulled her into a hug, and then Noah did too. “I’ll miss you guys,” she told them, whispering so she wouldn’t cry. “We’ll miss you too,” Noah said. She thought Will was probably too teary to speak. “But,” he added, “we won’t have to for long.” “What do you mean?” she asked. Will seemed just as unaware of his meaning, one of his eyebrows lifted. Noah pulled something out of his satchel: a necklace with a rose pendant. “This will grant you the ability to travel freely between Earth and the Dreamscape,” he explained. “All you have to do is hold it and think about the Dreamscape — whatever place here you imagine, that’s where you’ll travel.” “Oh, that’s so great! So I can visit you anytime!” “And me,” Will said, “don’t forget about visiting me.” “Of course not.” She smiled. “I’m sure you’ll be the first one to see me again. You’re the only one who walks these hills.” “You can wake up in another place,” Noah reminded her, but she just shrugged at that. This hill was now her waking point, and that was that, no matter how silly. Ruby realised, though, how the necklace’s powers would cause problems. Whenever she wore jewellery, she would fiddle with it, and so she’d probably hold the charm a lot. And then the charm would remind her of the Dreamscape, and she’d think about it, and she’d wind up accidentally teleporting. But for now, she wouldn’t think about that. “I’ll see you both soon,” she told them. Will grinned at her, no longer teary (the necklace had fixed that). “See you soon.” Noah just gave a nod, but he smiled, too. Until next time, she thought. As soon as she fell back on the grass, she fell asleep.
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Consistency: 08/16/2022
In Discord Challenges
Richard Jones
Aug 16, 2022
I work as a Wendy’s cashier. I listen to people rattle off their orders. That’s the job description, really. But what I don’t do is listen to people talk about themselves nonstop — without ordering something. So as I hear Melinda Gabriella Wells, talking about how she doesn’t like her middle name, insisting I call her Mel, and reminiscing about travelling (she’d gone to Iceland, Germany, Greece, and Portugal), I can’t feel more exhausted. Melinda has come here before. In fact, she’d come here every day this week. And what she does is she talks for twenty minutes, nonstop (I can’t even get any words in, like, “Can’t you just order please?”), and then she orders a small fries. You’d think that after lending twenty minutes to her she’d get something more expensive, but hey, I get paid by the hour. And if that’s the case, there shouldn’t be a problem with Mel, right? But there is, because all I want to do is tap the order into the machine and give people their food and do it practically on autopilot because that makes the day go faster. I’m an introvert. “...I bought a fish today, and she’s gorgeous, she’s a beta, and yeah I’ve had fish before but only as a child so like thirty-five years ago so I miss having them. I haven’t had any pets in such a long time, my mother would never allow them because she said they were too hairy but she did allow the fish, since, you know, it’s not hairy.” She takes a pause to think about what she’s going to tell me next, tucking her blonde hair behind her ears. I take advantage of this and say, “Ma’am. This is a Wendy’s.” “Ah, right. I’ll have a small fries, please.” “Coming right up,” I tell her. And then I smile.
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Richard Jones

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