A Sprig of Green

By Jane Maree

I scrub some of the dirt from between my fingers, trying to ignore the furious beating of my heart as I hobble across the pavement. My arms sting with small nicks and scratches from hours of scrabbling through the ruins, but all for nothing. I didn’t unearth a single tiny root.

Not even a hint of green.

And now I’m late again.

The apartment door looms up in front of me, the scanner glowing a soft blue. I lay my hand beneath the sensor. If I slip in quietly maybe Venys won’t notice.A_Sprig_of_Green

“Good evening, Michayla.” The automated greeter registers my identity and swings the door open for me.

“Clover Glyn,” I whisper. How long had it been since Father remarried and Venys reprogrammed the greeter to omit my middle and last name?

One week. Maybe two.

I tiptoe into the hallway, placing each step tentatively against the cold boards. The floor vibrates with the heavy bass blaring from the parlor, but the laughter that accompanies it is still audible over the sound. I clamp my hands over my ears, inching toward the nearest door. [Read more…]

To Whom the Future Belongs

Serena could change the future.

Most days it wasn’t all that interesting. She’d see a potential future in her dreams where she’d break a pitcher or lose a button and, upon waking, simply take a different set of actions to avert the mishap. A far cry from the days of her youth when a warlord had tried to use her powers to win conquests. But Serena didn’t mind the slower pace. It was better when people’s lives didn’t rest on her ability to alter the future. She’d become accustomed to leisurely visions of village life.To_Whom_the_Future_Belongs

But then she foresaw her son’s death.

Serena sat on the edge of her bed, the battered wood rough against her stout thighs. Bells rang in the distance as she rubbed her cheeks. She’d went through this routine of sitting on her cot and rubbing her face every morning when she was in the warlord’s employ. It helped her focus on changing the future. But she hadn’t needed to concentrate this hard for a while, and the circumstances were different. Wrinkles etched her cheeks after many years of living on the earth. Her hands had toughened from being a washwoman since her husband’s death.

And now the stakes were much more personal. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

Ceiling Tiles

Anna Shipley had often been told she was an old soul in a young body. And upon being admitted to the Golden Years nursing home at age nineteen, her first thought was that fate had an unusually twisted sense of humor.

Following that initial observation came a host of others, mostly of a grim and hopeless nature. She soon found existence easier if she avoided thinking and instead focused on small diversions. This morning she took an inordinate amount of pride in confirming that three hundred and seventy-eight tiles covered her gray ceiling, which she would have reported had anyone asked her.Ceiling_Tiles

“Her” ceiling was a relative term, for she had been shuffled into an out-of-the-way spare room while the nurses were manically sanitizing everything after last month’s influenza outbreak. Im no different than the furniture.

The thought caused her mood to further deteriorate. Great. It’s barely past ten and I’m already indulging in self-pity. Pull yourself together, Shipley. [Read more…]

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Sierra Ret is a homeschool student who spent nearly her entire childhood with her nose buried in a book, and consequently decided she wanted to write one of her own (preferably filled with dwarves and elves). Actually getting her thoughts down on paper regularly has proven to be a far greater challenge than she first thought, but Kingdom Pen was kind enough to step in and give her some much-needed deadlines by honouring her with a temporary spot on their writing team. When not hermiting behind a laptop screen, Sierra enjoys gallivanting across Canada and adventuring near her home in rural Ontario with her family. Currently her chief fantasies include making a living as a travel blogger and someday moving to New Zealand. But above all, her chief aim is to live a passionate and meaningful life for the glory of God.

The Girl on the Island

A young girl stood on a beach, watching the water lick at and swirl around her bare feet. But instead of glimpsing her obscured reflection in the undulating ripples, she beheld visions of sorrows she had experienced and outcomes she wished had been different.

The sea foam receded as her thoughts deepened, and she didn’t notice the rectangular object that was wedged in the sand alongside her until she stumbled over it.The Girl on the Island

The object clanked open, revealing a small sack and a damp piece of parchment. She snatched up the items before the waves enveloped them again.

Weighing the rusty, dented box in her hand, she scanned the ocean and the bridge to the mainland for any sign of ships or travelers. The container was much too heavy to have floated, and she wondered how long it had lain there and who had lost it. She examined it for identifying markings, but couldn’t find any, so she tossed it back into the water. Then she untied the sack. Inside were some kind of pellets—perhaps seeds.

She unfolded the parchment, expecting whatever message it might have contained to have washed away. To her surprise, however, the ink was smeared but legible. [Read more…]

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Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as Graphics Coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being an Associate Editor at Castle Gate Press and the Copy Editor/Director of Graphics for Kingdom Pen. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

For the Sake of Her Crumble

The world was ripe for exploitation. Limitless opportunities to profit from, secrets to uncover and sell, systems to squeeze the lifeblood from and ultimately destroy. Infinite wealth practically begged to be carried off from less worthy masters and put to more practical uses, and Bertram Cadwell intended to take full advantage of that.

Just not this morning. This morning he was having tea with his mother.hercrumble

Bertram rang the antiquated brass doorbell a second time and promptly shoved his hands back into the pockets of his gray overcoat. The spring air still had a nip to it in the shadows cast by the tightly packed but orderly houses of Harden Street. The neighborhood was quiet and unobtrusive, yet he still felt exposed standing alone in the empty lane. He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet impatiently. Do get on with it, Mother; I know you’re in there. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Sierra
Sierra Ret is a homeschool student who spent nearly her entire childhood with her nose buried in a book, and consequently decided she wanted to write one of her own (preferably filled with dwarves and elves). Actually getting her thoughts down on paper regularly has proven to be a far greater challenge than she first thought, but Kingdom Pen was kind enough to step in and give her some much-needed deadlines by honouring her with a temporary spot on their writing team. When not hermiting behind a laptop screen, Sierra enjoys gallivanting across Canada and adventuring near her home in rural Ontario with her family. Currently her chief fantasies include making a living as a travel blogger and someday moving to New Zealand. But above all, her chief aim is to live a passionate and meaningful life for the glory of God.

BONDAGE

By Tessa Just   

Swish, crackle, swish. The sound of straw being moved filled the longhouse. Fifteen-year-old Katrina blinked as a burst of sun lit the gloomy interior. A tall boy grinned down at her through the hole in the roof and teasingly dropped a few strands of straw onto her golden hair.

She glared up at him. “You’d have been sorry if I’d been cooking your meal,” she scolded. “Can’t you give me some warning next time?”bondagess

Lang laughed good-naturedly. “I told you that Miksa and I were replacing the thatch today. You should have chosen to do something outside.” He turned to the boy behind him. “Can you bring up the fresh straw, Miksa?”

“Yes, master.”

Katrina and Lang winced. How they hated that title. The two siblings had offered friendship to Miksa on more than one occasion, but he refused it. Katrina gazed up into Lang’s troubled brown eyes. He leaned down toward her.

“Meet me in our secret place tonight,” he whispered. He glanced over his shoulder. “I need to talk.”

Katrina nodded and returned to her spinning. [Read more…]

A Girl Named Avery

By Jess Hessler

I wasnt too excited about visiting Gramps. After his last stroke, the doctor decided to keep him for a couple weeks to monitor the after effects. Gramps couldnt talk or do much. He would just lay in the white bed while the various machines groaned and hissed periodically.a_girl_named_avery

Mom glanced at me from the drivers seat. Honey, I know you dont like hospitals, but Grandpa is all alone. You can at least visit him.

I shrugged and turned on the radio. Mom sighed, and we rode the rest of the way without conversation.

Grandma passed away a few months ago. The doctor said the stress and grief might have caused Gramps stroke. He missed her and had not gotten over his sorrow. Supposedly only time heals wounds like that. I wasn’t sure there was enough time in the world to get over the loss of a loved one. When Grandma died, I sobbed on my bed for hours, feeling cold and dreary like the icicles outside my window. After that day, something seemed to plug my emotions. I couldnt cry anymore. I went through the motionshigh school, homework, and sports. The funeral passed, and winter melted into spring. Then summer came. [Read more…]

Healing

By Greta Dornbirer

On my thirteenth birthday I met my true love. I invited my entire class, maybe one hundred kids in all, to my birthday party. I thought it would be fun if everyone brought their favorite book to discuss. That was my mistake. The popular kids never read books—either they were too stupid or they didn’t consider it “cool.” The bullies, who my mom made me invite, were definitely too stupid to read, and they thought that everyone else had to be just as dumb. So they stole kids’ books at school, including mine.healing

The normal kids tried to stay out of the bullies’ way. Many of them didn’t like to read because they were scared of what the bullies would do to them. One time the bullies forced a kid who had been reading Robinson Crusoe to flush his book down the toilet. Of course that clogged the toilet, and the poor kid got doused with disgusting water.

I was one of the odd kids—or the nerds, as the bullies dubbed us. My best friend Neal was a nerd too, except he was a science nerd, not a book nerd like me.

Neal showed up at my party with his favorite book on how to blow things up. I hoped he wasn’t planning on demonstrating what he’d learned from the book. Next came Chealsie, a known theater nerd. She brought a book on how to act well. Then I waited…and waited…and waited for the other kids to arrive. But they never did. [Read more…]

Blinded by Conviction

By Jackson Graham

1657 – Port Bristol, England

Those men attack ships and take their money—and kill the crew…” blindedbyconviction

Jade dove behind the trunk, stopping his ears against the horror. These brutes killed sailors and innocents alike. He squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to disappear. Minutes earlier, savage freebooters had barged into his family’s home, demanding money in their drunken stupor. At his father’s flat refusal, the buccaneers drew their cutlasses. Muffled cries rang out. Then silence.

Boots thudded as the men staggered throughout the house, searching for valuables. One pirate flung open the lid of the trunk, further concealing the trembling child, and rummaged through an unrewarding collection of blankets. Another wrenched the family coin chest from its poorly hidden position by the hearth and raised it high. As the footsteps faded, the boy waited, then he backed out of his hiding place. Jade shuddered in relief—and despair—and raced to the door, averting his gaze from the bodies of his family. [Read more…]

Never Alone

By Hannah Whatley

“What are we going to do, Jack?”

The question came from an eight-year-old boy, who by now had nearly forgotten his name. Once in a while he remembered that his mother had called him Sky. For comfort, little Sky leaned against his dog, Jack, a Whippet who was taller than his human friend when they sat together, as they did now. On that bright summer’s day, the two of nevealonepinterestthem sat on the burning hot sand of an isolated beach, watching the waves lap peacefully against the shore. Sky, however, felt neither bright nor peaceful. The little one had been on the run for three months, evading the clutches of an abusive father—whose only name for his son was “Boy” and only touch was a stinging backhand—and the cold social workers, who only wished to hide him away in a children’s mental institution.

The boy had escaped during a late March night, quietly sliding the bathroom window up and tumbling out with only the clothes on his back and a small sack of things he thought he might need: his toothbrush, three packs of Goldfish, a clean pair of socks, and a tattered picture of his mother. [Read more…]