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.

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…]

The Rebel and the Princess: A True Story of Two KeePers

Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful Princess in the kingdom of Indiandia. Her parents taught her all that it meant to be a princess and prepared her to one day meet and marry a prince from a nearby land. They warned her about rebellious men who would seek to dethrone her future rule and tarnish the kingdom, and so the beautiful Princess vigilantly guarded her heart.

rebelandtheprincessOne day while on a stroll through the kingdom, the Princess happened upon a peculiar sight: a Rebel who acted like a knight. How strange! He looked just like the kind of man her parents had cautioned her about. But he was…different.

Occasionally the Princess would venture out of the palace to observe the Rebel as he tried to stir up the populace in surrounding towns. To her amazement, he did not speak against the kingdom, or in favor of rebellion. On the contrary, he strove to spur the people toward loyalty.

The Princess had to know more…

She followed the Rebel to an enclave on the edge of the kingdom where he resided. Although she wore a disguise, the Rebel suspected her true identity from the moment they met.

Unfortunately, the Rebel’s enclave was slowly being taken over by enemies of the kingdom. Together the Princess and the Rebel fought to maintain the purity of the haven, but it was a lost cause.

The Rebel was soon called elsewhere, and he left the enclave for good. The Rebel and the Princess parted ways… [Read more…]

The Way The World Ends

By Grace Li

 

Lilian tightened her grip on her littlebrother’s sticky, chubby hand, dragging him through the afternoon street of Whitechapel. If only he could walk faster! grumbled Lilian as she thought about her friend Betty’s birthday party this evening. Of course her parents would have to let her go; at sixteen she could legally work if she wanted to. She deserved this party for taking Ronny to visit their aunt today and helping Auntie waste all her sugar ration on cakes The_Way_the_World_Ends_for him. Now, if they got home early, she’d have time to tidy herself up, and maybe mum would even lend her a dress for the party.

Her brother suddenly huddled closer to her as a wheezing old man reeking with alcohol stared at them; they got a lot of weird looks on the streets now, like all children staying in London after the government-issued evacuation. Most of Ronny’s friends had gone to the countryside for refuge, but their parents balked at handing him over to strangers. “Yer mum and dad don’t care nothin’ ‘bout yer safety, lass? They’re just keepin’ yer lil brother here for the Jerry bombs!” the old man croaked after them.

“Don’t listen to him, Ronny. He doesn’t know anything,” whispered Lilian as she hugged her brother to her side. She could not stand against his worried, puppy look no matter how much he annoyed her just moments ago.

“Will the Jerrys really get us?” asked Ronny, still distressed over the old man’s comment. [Read more…]

The Day Santa Wore Carhartts

By Rosey Mucklestone

 

Hey Robby,

Mind being the Santa for a day?

I have family in town a day and can’t make it to work.

The costume is in my locker.Santa Carhartts Pinterest

Thanks buddy.

You’re the best,

Harry

 

 

Rob stared aghast at the note left for him.

Emma looked up from her desk and blinked at Rob with her dinner-plate eyes.

“Is anything wrong?” she asked, “I didn’t think you’d mind.” Rob mumbled under his breath and stalked over to Harry’s locker. His nimble fingers slid the lock in place and the door practically burst open, smacking him in the nose. He groaned and leaned his head against the wall for a second, then, taking a deep breath he picked up the main piece of the costume.

“I hope today doesn’t turn out to be busy,” he muttered, holding the enormous Santa suit up to his lean frame.

“Oh, no!” said Emma brightly, “This looks like it’ll be the busiest day this week!”

 

“Great, Em. Thanks.” I’ve prepared myself to substitute for a lot of jobs, but I never thought I’d have to be a Santa. [Read more…]