Eighteen

“Come on!” yelled Sobia. “What does it say?”

“Yeah!” said Farez. “Tell us!”

It was my eighteenth birthday and I had just blown the candles out on my birthday cake. Fortunately I didn’t get saliva all over the cake this year. For the past few years, my friends have been calling me ‘The Spitter’ for that very reason. I breathed a sigh of relief. I had made sure I swallowed all my saliva before attempting to blow the candles this time. However, this year my friends didn’t really care about the cake. They were more interested in my final words.

They would have appeared somewhere on my body, but I had no idea where they were yet. As far as I could tell the words didn’t appear on my face or my arms, if not my friends would have seen them already. Oh dear, I hope it wasn’t on my ass. That would be a pain to read.

I was the youngest of my friends in the group. All my friends had their last words appear on them last year. Most of them had typical last words like, “Goodbye world.” and similar variations. Some of them had more amusing ones like, “I told you so.” Which led us to speculate how they would be leaving this world. As for me, I had no clue yet.

“Come on guys, can we just enjoy this cake? I didn’t spit on it for once!” I said trying to change the topic.

“Don’t leave us hanging! We’ve waited all year for this!”

“Fine, let’s finish the cake and then I’ll go check it out.”

Tanzeel was ahead of me. He grabbed the knife from my hands and started dividing the cake for all of us.

I sat down there, waiting for the cake to be served to everybody before I started eating my own piece. It was a silent occasion and nobody hesitated to wolf down their helping of the delicious chocolate-flavored dessert.

“For fuck’s sake, guys! Are you serious? Did you guys attend my birthday party only to find out what I’ll say before I croak?”

“Yes,” Farez replied sheepishly.

“You guys are assholes.”

“Come on, we’re done with the cake, now go find out what your last words are!”

“Did you know birthday parties are a celebration of life? Not a ritual to find out what someone is going to say before they die?”

Nobody listened to me. They just stared at me, waiting for me to get out of my seat to look for my last words.

I grumbled and got up and headed to the bathroom. A couple of them followed me to the door. I could hear them from the outside talking among themselves. “What do you think it’s going to say?”

“I bet it won’t be as epic as yours, Sobia.”

“What if it’s something sad?”

“Oh shit, I never thought of that.”

I put their voices out of my head as I removed my shirt. There was nothing on my body. Craning my neck around, I checked out my reflection. Nope, there was nothing on my back. Hmph. I guess I’ll have to check my lower body. I took off my shoes and my pants. I noticed some letters trailing out under my boxers. It was on my thigh. Not too bad I guess, it would be easy to keep concealed. I pitied those people who had messages on their foreheads. Nobody understood how these last words appeared or where they appeared. It was just an accepted fact of life. We all just learned to deal with it.

I pulled one leg of my boxers up to reveal the full message. Oh fuck. Is this some sort of joke? I stumbled backwards and fell to the floor on my ass.

I heard banging on the toilet door. “What’s up man? Don’t leave us hanging!”

I took another look at the message on my thigh. I rubbed at it, to make sure that it wasn’t some sort of marker pen joke. The words remained, as clear as day.

“What are your last words? Do you need help in there?”

I tuned out their voices again as I sat on the floor, pondering my last words. No, this can’t be real. Why the hell would I say such a thing? I remained speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t tell my friends what my last words were. Nobody could know. I broke down and cried.

“Are you alright? What’s wrong? If you don’t reply, we’re coming in!” yelled Farez.

I couldn’t reply. My friends kicked the door in and found me on the ground, a whimpering mess.

“Holy fuck, Zoraiz. What the hell are your last words going to be?”

I didn’t reply. They inspected my body and saw the words on my thigh, still revealed for all to see.

“There is no God but God, Muhammad is His messenger.”


Writing Prompt from Reddit: When a person turns eighteen, their last words appear somewhere on their body. Yours frighten you intensely.

Rock Problems

Over the years, I’ve seen many people come and go but nobody has ever caught my attention like her. Like a moth to a lantern, I can’t help but watch her from where I stand. It’s always the same spot, the bench under the tree. That’s where she eats her sandwiches during lunch time, drinks her coffee and smokes her cigarettes. Always alone, as though she prefers the company of my gaze to anybody else – at least that’s what I tell myself.

I’d go over to say hi, if only my feet didn’t feel like I had concrete filled boots on. I’ve been told that I had a heart of stone but if anyone could chisel through it, it would be her. I don’t know her name, or anything about her but I would love to. I’d find out what she likes, and surprise her every time we meet. I’d be the best boyfriend and eventually husband. I wonder if she feels the same way about me.

Would she like larger-sized guys? Someone who could tower over her and protect her from harm. I was strong enough to crush any foe that would stand in my way. As far as I knew, I was cut from the same cloth as mountains. While I hadn’t lost a fight in the past, this battle for her to notice me will probably be my inaugural defeat.

It’s Friday evening. I see her leaving the office, walking away from me. It’ll be another lonely weekend. But that’s okay. I’ll see her in another two days. Maybe next week I’ll be able to tell her hello, and how much I am in love with her. For now, I’ll stay here, dutifully guarding this pond.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: You’ve fallen in love with a girl, only problem is, you are a statue

Special


Downtime by SeerLight

The night is my escape. The cool breeze and moonlight my companions. Distant chatter, feet on pavement, wheels on roads – a soothing soundtrack to accompany the scene of my favorite movie, one I try to watch every night.

I sit on this ledge. It is dangerous but it is also where I feel the most safe. Away from everybody out there. I enjoy this solitude. I don’t have to talk to anybody, and nobody has to talk to me. It is bliss.

There is no reason to leave. Up here, I don’t have to worry about a thing. Nobody can see me. Nobody can reach me. Just a fly on a wall, watching the world go by. I like it very much.

The funny thing is, this isn’t even my apartment. I don’t belong here. Maybe one day when I make enough money, I’ll buy this place. Then I can stay here all night long. However, a part of me thinks that if I could come here all the time, it wouldn’t be so special anymore. I wouldn’t treasure every moment out here. Are things special only because we can’t have them all the time?

Oh dear, I’m starting to doubt the eminence of this place. That isn’t good. I thought I’d never find a lookout point better than this one. Now I’m starting to have second thoughts. What is wrong with me? I thought I was free from all those problems. I clear my thoughts and take a deep breath. I focus on the view again. I take it all in one more time.

The night is my escape. I make my way down the fire escape and wander off into the darkness. It’s time to return to the world. It’s time to head back home.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: Downtime

Peace of Mind


Peace of Mind by andreasrocha

I dropped my backpack and sword to the ground and fell to my knees. The view was glorious. Up here, the air was fresher. The leaves were greener. The rocks – rockier. The tranquil silence complemented by the sound of rushing water in the distance. The Waterfall of Ages was a sight to behold. After days of trudging through mud, sludge and feces, this brief respite was heaven-sent.

I was on a mission to rescue a princess from a tribe of forest trolls, and it was taking a lot longer than expected. They had managed to escape with her when they abandoned their temporary camp after they heard that I was on their heels. Their tracks continued on towards the waterfall – a once sacred site for the forest elves, it had been abandoned for decades and was now known as a safe haven for the scum of the forest. Until today, nobody ever visited the area unless they were outcasts, on the hunt for drugs, or both.

I drank from my canteen and got up to my feet. I wanted to make more progress before night fall, I had to find a place to rest before those nocturnal bastards came out looking for me. I picked up my backpack and slung my sword over my shoulder. It was time to make a move.


writing prompt from Reddit: Peace of Mind

World Building

There’s a reason why I usually write fiction set in our world. I’m not very good at creating new worlds. Somehow I find the task of creating a new planet/city/location an extremely daunting task. I mean, it’s alright if it’s realistic fiction – you don’t have to establish anything. But when it comes to a make-believe world, you have to establish rules for everything. Even things that might not directly appear in your story need to be fleshed out. Like for example, we want monsters in a world. How did these monsters appear? Were they creatures from another planet? If yes, what brings them? Are they hostile/peaceful? How do the characters interact with them? What are their abilities? How do they look like? Do they drive the plot? Are they just sub characters? If the monsters were from the planet, how did they come about? Did they evolve naturally from other creatures? Have they just been there all along? Are they tamed? Do they speak? What do they do in the story?

There’s a lot of things to think about – and that was just one example. In a complete story you’d probably have way more elements than that. The name of the city. Its layout. The people living in it. The political/economical situation. The period. The characters. The food. The vehicles. They all need an explanation. If not written down, you should at least have some rough guidelines for them in your head. Because every time something monster-related needs to be written, those questions probably need to be answered.

When writing realistic fiction, you don’t have to do any of that. Maybe you explain your characters and the situation/place that they are in. There’s really not much else to do, you can just tell the story. People are already familiar with how human beings work. It’s not something that needs to be explained. Which is why I’ve been writing realistic fiction, or at least fiction set in established worlds. Also, it’s much easier to draw from real-life experiences if the setting is realistic. I can easily retell a story of my life in a character’s perspective without worrying if it would fit the world.

World building is something I need to work on. I have trouble coming up with fictional settings and names for those places (I faced those challenges doing my two Nanowrimos). I need to read more and pay attention to how people write their worlds. I could pick up a lot of tips.

Running from the Light

Seven in the morning, another blue Monday, I thought to myself as I swung my legs off the side of the bed and sat up. I had one of those unmemorable weekends that flew by without much thought. I couldn’t even remember what I had for dinner on Sunday. But I appreciated the rest I got. Not having to think about work was something that I enjoyed. Alas, that time has come to an end.

I wiped the crust from my eyelids and dragged my feet to the bathroom. As I turned on the tap to wet my toothbrush, I heard a loud crash from the living room. What the fuck? I turned off the tap, dropped my toothbrush into the sink and strode quickly out of my room.

In front of me stood an armored man wielding as sword, pointing it at me and yelling, “Dark Lord, your reign of terror ends today!” Around him lay my door in half, splinters all over the ground. This crazy person had destroyed the door to come into my home. I was not amused.

“What is the meaning of this?” I yelled back. I couldn’t see the man’s face behind his helmet’s visor, but based on how he reacted, he seemed surprised.

“Did I get the wrong house?”

“You sure as hell did!”

“I’m utterly sorry,” he apologized. “I was told that this was the house of the Dark Lord!”

“Not another one of you fools!” I sighed, shaking my head. I looked at my watch, I was going to be late for work.

“For the last time, can you tell whoever is giving you the information that this is the wrong place? Please stop bothering me. I’m tired of having to buy a new door every time this happens!”

“My sincerest apologies,” said the man who lowered his sword. He put it back into its sheathed and turned around, going through the now door-less door frame.

As he left I breathed a sigh of relief. Phew, I guess it’s time to look for a new place to live in. It had been a while since the light side discovered where I lived. They’re probably going to send more men next time. Next time, I won’t be around.

I phoned in to work to tell them I quit. Then, I went into my room, packed my backpack and teleported to another dimension.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: You are an average person going about their day when suddenly your door is busted open. Outside is a man in armor wielding a sword, who points it at you and declares, “Dark Lord, your reign of terror ends today!”

Rain, rain, go away

Jimmy’s head was a mess – his hair flat and stuck to his forehead, dripping with rain. A far cry from how it looked at the hair salon an hour ago. His buttoned white shirt was now extra fitting, his nipples showing through the wet fabric. His grey pants looked like he had pissed himself – which was an accurate representation of how he was feeling right now.

His girlfriend had invited him over to her house for a family dinner and this would be the first time he would meet her parents. He thought he’d make a good impression by dressing up, but the weather decided to throw a wrench in his plans.

So now he stood, outside the front door of her house, waiting for his clothes to miraculously dry in time for dinner. Despite the traffic, he had managed to arrive earlier than expected. He figured he’d wait a bit before he announced his arrival, there was still time. He sat down on the driest spot of the bench outside the front door and unlaced his wet shoes. He had drenched his socks running from the car to the front porch.

“Shit,” he cursed to himself.

Taking off his socks was the last thing he wanted to do, but he couldn’t see an alternative. For as long as he could remember, he had always kept his socks on when visiting his friends’ houses. It was the reason he never wore sandals (despite some of his friends telling him how trendy they were when matched with socks). Growing up, he was bullied for having extra toes on his feet – so whenever he left the house he made sure he was wearing socks and shoes.

When word spread, he was constantly reminded by his peers that he was a freak and would never be accepted. So when his family relocated and he got into a new school, he made sure that he never left the house without shoes and socks on. But thanks to the rain, it seemed like he would have to face his insecurities again.

He got up to his feet and started pacing around, hoping that walking around would help him dry his socks. All he did was wet the floor of the front porch. As if the rain wasn’t doing a good enough job. He sat down on the bench again and sighed. He looked at his watch again, it was now dinner time.

“Maybe they won’t notice”, he thought to himself.

“The trail of water you leave behind or your twelve toes?” his other voice replied.

Suddenly, the front door swung open and he saw a familiar face.

“Jimmy! You’re here!”

“Babe!” he replied, surprised.

“I knew you’d be on time, how come you didn’t ring the door bell? Come on in!”

“I was waiting to dry off a bit before going in.”

“Don’t be silly, I’ve got a towel for you to dry yourself off.”

His socks squished audibly as he got up.

“Urm, babe, you should take your socks off. Mom wouldn’t like it if you made a mess all over her carpet.”

“Oh, yes, I forgot,” he replied.

Jimmy sat back down on the bench and started to gingerly remove his socks. He decided to draw her attention away from his feet and started some small talk.

“So, what’s for dinner? It smells good from here!”

Jenny beamed with excitement, “you’re in for a treat! My mom’s famous pork in ginger sauce and I’ve also prepared some lovely – what the fuck, Jimmy, your feet!”


Writing Prompt from Reddit: His socks were wet but he waited patiently.

Dragonfang

“Fabian, we need your help!” came a cry from outside my open window. “Please! This is an emergency!”

What is it now? The last time I fell for their tricks was six months ago when they told me that my crush was waiting for me around the corner. Instead it was my buddy dressed up in her clothes. I never went out with them again. They still came over to my place to hang out though. I had a PlayStation VR since I saved up my money instead of spending it on booze and parties. While I know they weren’t sincere friends, I did enjoy having some company over every now and then.

I put down the latest issue of Weekly Shonen Jump and stuck my head out the window sill. The sun was already down, I must have been lost in its pages for some time.

“I’m not falling for your tricks again,” I replied.

“No, this isn’t a joke, I swear to god!”

“You know the story of the boy who cried wolf?”

“I’m serious, Fabian! You gotta believe me!”

“Fine, if this is another one of your pranks you guys aren’t coming over to use my PlayStation VR for a month.”

“Hurry! And bring your sword!”

Sword? That was a weird request – but not something that I was going to refuse. Dragonfang had been sheathed for a while now and was thirsting for some blood. I decided to bring her out. “Sorry,” I told the other swords in my arsenal, I would bring them out another time. I quickly pulled Dragonfang off my sword rack and strapped it around my body. I put on my fedora, hopped down the stairs and opened the front door.

Tommy was standing in my front yard, looking extremely distressed.

“We’re under attack by some monsters! They just came out of nowhere and started killing everybody at the party!”

He was either telling the truth or the giving the performance of a lifetime. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but monsters?

“Dude, monsters don’t exist in the real world!”

“Oh trust me, they do! See this blood stain on my shirt? It doesn’t belong to me, that was from Sarah – when one of those beasts took her head off!”

There was definitely a bloodstain on his shirt.

“Why didn’t you call the cops?”

“We did, but they were all killed! Some back up is on the way but I don’t think that they’ll be enough. I managed to escape the party with a bunch of other people but most of them are still trapped in the house. I didn’t know who else to call!”

“All those nights spent partying when you could have trained in the art of sword fighting with me. Tsk tsk,” I muttered.

“Come on! We’ve got no time to debate, I’ll learn the art of the blade with you – if we survive this.”

“You promise?”

“I promise! Let’s go!” Tommy said as he turned and started running towards the party.

I pulled the tip of my fedora downwards, arched my body forward and raised my arms behind me to streamline my body.

“Dattebayo!” I yelled and ran after him.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: While others partied, you studied the blade. Now they have the audacity to ask for help.

The Stranger

It was just another night – or so I thought. Like everyone else, I liked to unwind at my favorite bar after a long day of work. I was minding my own business, reading tweets on my phone while taking sips of beer in between puffs of my cigarettes. “Heh,” I chuckled to myself after reading a joke about abortions. These people sure know how to make something cruel seem funny. It was a quarter to midnight, almost time for me to get home. I had work the next days after all.

The bar was almost empty save for a young couple seated at the other end of the room and the bartender standing behind the counter. 80s music was playing through the speakers at a low volume, while the TV was showing some football match I didn’t care about. Football was never that interesting to me, I found basketball to be a more entertaining sport. The faster pace and higher score line seemed much more exciting.

The door bell chimed and a man stepped in. A stranger to this part of town, I immediately thought. After drinking at this bar for the past ten years, I recognized everybody who visited. Everybody who frequented the place knew me as well. Apparently, so did this guy.

“Jimmy!” he turned to my direction and greeted me as soon as he entered.

I stared at him, puzzled. He was unfamiliar to me. He was pale skinned, dressed in black and had a bald head. He reminded me of a knock-off Lord Voldemort minus the fucked up nose, though he did have a creepy smile. The man walked towards me briskly and sat down opposite me.

“One bottle of Carlsberg!” he called out to the bartender.

The bartender nodded and headed to the fridge to get him his order.

“Do I know you?” I asked the stranger.

“Sure you do! It’s been a while though, and circumstances were very different. But I’m sure you don’t remember me, so I guess you don’t know me…” he trailed off.

I was confused. I was expected to know who he was, yet I didn’t. But somehow I felt that he was someone I should know. It was a curious feeling – like trying to explain a dream to your friend when you can’t remember every single detail even though it was so vivid moments ago. Or like trying to Google a song when all you have are the wrong lyrics and a tune you can’t sing for shit.

“Could you tell me who you are?”

“If I did, I’d have to kill you,” he replied, his expression suddenly serious. Then he broke into a smile, “jokes, jokes!”

I laughed nervously. Who was this guy? It was bothering me. I repeated myself.

“Who are you?”

“I’m death.”

“Death?”

“Did I stutter? Death.”

“What kind of name is that?”

The bartender brought the man’s drink over to our table and walked away.

“Well, it’s not really a name per se. It’s just what I am.” Death lifted the bottle of beer to his lips and took a gulp. “Ahhh.”

A chill ran down my spine. Somehow this creepy man in front of me started to feel familiar – but I still couldn’t remember why.

“Are you here to kill me?”

“Yes,” he laughed. “Oh dear. You really don’t remember?”

“No, I don’t. What should I be remembering?”

“How do I tell you this? You made a decision to be part of this world. You wanted to experience what it was like to live among mortals before you died. The devil granted you your wish and gave you some time to live on earth, exactly ten years ago. Also, we had to wipe your memory, for obvious reasons.”

“I only asked for ten years?”

“Well, the devil wants to take over heaven and can’t do that while you’re still alive, so he agreed to give you a maximum of ten years to live.”

“Huh. If I was god, then why was I going to die? Shouldn’t I be immortal?”

“Well, no. You’re impervious to death by ‘regular’ means, but the devil isn’t a regular person. Cosmic beings can kill each other. The devil managed to trick you and had you in his grasp.”

“This is all so strange,” I pondered. If I was a god, how could I be tricked? In fact, couldn’t I just have willed the devil out of existence? If I wanted to live on earth, I could have created a being that I could possess and control. It was strange that I’d give up my own life for something so trivial. It didn’t make any sense to me. Then again, for the past ten years I didn’t even know that I was a god. Come to think of it, I didn’t have memories of the time before I found myself living in this town.

“This is either a dream, or I’m tripping,” I said, breaking the silence.

“You are one funny fuck!” said Death. “Anyway, finish up your cigarette and your beer, it’s almost time.”

I sighed to myself. All the time spent on this planet had come to an end. I didn’t even get to go out of the country. I should have asked for more time. I finished my beer and put out my cigarette stub.

“Is it going to hurt?” I asked.

“Not really. The last bottle of beer you had was laced with poison. In a short while, you’re going to lose consciousness and you’ll cease to be alive.”

“Oh, that’s good to know.” Death was right. I began to feel drowsy and everything around me started to blur.

“Any last words you want attributed to you?”

I half-laughed as I slumped back into my seat. Like a drunk person who had too much to drink before passing out, I managed to mutter: “In the end everything must die, even gods.”


Writing Prompt from Reddit: Write a story with the last sentence being “In the end everything must die, even gods.”

The Night Out

The rules are simple: approach within three seconds, be funny, respond appropriately and try to lead the conversation.

“That’s it?” I said.

“That’s it,” Theodore replied.

“There’s no way in hell this is going to work out!”

“Trust me, I’m better at this than you.”

That’s it. Typical Theodore. The guy who had it all – brains, looks, and charm. The art of seduction was something he was good at and something I was trying to learn from him. The words that came out of his mouth made so much sense and no sense at the same time. Tell me how a backhanded compliment is supposed to make a girl attracted to me?

There’s no way what he told me was going to get me laid but then again, I’ve had no success with women – might as well do something unorthodox right? There was nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The bar was packed with women. There was definitely no shortage to choose from – the only question was if they’d choose me. Theodore was already making his move on a couple of cute girls sipping their cocktails – he didn’t waste any time.

“Three seconds – one, two, three,” I counted in my head and took a step forward to a pretty girl sitting by herself. Then I stopped. The shoes on my feet felt like they were filled with lead.

Theodore previously said that I had to let loose, relax and go with the flow. To me that translated into – fill yourself with drinks for that boost of liquid courage.

There was no line for ordering drinks, so pretty soon I had a drink in my hand. The girl I wanted to approach had already left the bar – probably dancing with someone else who had more balls than me.

Theodore was still working the ‘two set’, getting them out of their seats to twirl them around, making them laugh with his ridiculous stories (which were supposed to demonstrate his value) and making plans to ‘bounce’ to another location later.

Time passed.

Tonight the beer must have been watered down, because I wasn’t feeling it at all. The fact that I had seven beers and still feeling like a coward said it all – Theodore only had two drinks and already had five new numbers in his phone. There were none in mine.

“Thanks for bringing me out but I’m going to call it a night,” I told Theodore when he took a short break from chasing tail to order a new drink.

“The night is still young!” he replied. “There’s so many women here who want to get to know you, you won’t know unless you try!” Then he went back to approaching other women, as though somebody had unpaused a movie.

Typical Theodore, always full of encouragement and always right. There was no way I would get to know anybody by keeping to myself. There was nobody to blame but me. Taking the final sip from the bottle of beer in my hand I told myself, “fuck it.”

Then I lit up a cigarette, ordered an Uber and walked out of the bar.


Writing Prompt from Reddit: Write a story but have the words in every sentence start with the same letter.