On 31 January 2018, these three words were chosen:
And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!
The sunset lit the sky in fire, and then the fire faded and died. Shevin watched the moon rise and the stars come out, sitting without moving and looking like a piece of the night itself. When he spoke, Jaden started with surprise. “We should break camp now.” Jaden nodded, rolled up his sleeping blanket and was on his feet in a moment. Shevin surveyed the shadows with his strange white eyes, eyes that saw more than they should. “This way,” the wizard said. Jaden followed him through the trees, trying to be as silent and swift, but his feet caught on roots and rocks that Shevin just glided over. Every night for the past week it had been the same, the pair traveling when other eyes weren’t watching, trying to make it to the border of the Woodlands without the Ember Guards catching them. “I have to stop,” Jaden called out, and doubled over, gulping for air and massaging the cramp in his side. He looked up to find he was alone. “Shevin?” he called out in a soft voice, hoping the wizard had not gone too far ahead. His only answer was the soft whisper of leaves.
I was waiting for the shadows to come before I went out for the night. What needed to be done did not need any witnesses. I dreaded the sunset for the first time in my life and had a very bad feeling that my life was going to take a sharp turn from ultimate white to deepest black. Just the fact that I was planning a murder was enough to make my knees shake.
“I’m heading the movies,” I hollered. My mother grunted acknowledgement as she turned the potion in the pot, sweat beading on her brow. I wasn’t going to waste my life with witchcraft, using up my strength and squandering animal lives on deities.
I stepped out of the house, three throwing knives strapped to my thigh, a gavotte on my pocket and a single phone number. Tonight would be my first kill, my first step into becoming the world’s greatest assassin.
I sat down at the bar and ordered a scotch, dark shadows everywhere concealing that most of the patrons were already drunk. I was tapping my nails on the chipped, grungy bar top until the drink arrived out of nerves, but arriving early was helping me cope a little better. First dates are hard enough, but ones that you’re being forced to go on by your stupid sister are even worse.
She’d sat me down and told me to make a profile. So I had. It had asked questions that I didn’t consider relevant. Single white female seeking… what? I didn’t know. My sister had filled it all out for me when I balked and walked away from the screen.
“Activities?” she’d yelled across the apartment.
“What?” I’d cringed.
“Come on, Lila, What do you like to do?”
“Long walks on the beach at sunset!” I’d laughingly shouted back.
“Seriously!” Joy had cried out in disgust. “Never mind, I’ll make shit up.”
Lots of mysterious clacking on the keys later, Joy had finished my profile, and set me up on this date, that she’d pushed me out the door to go to tonight.
She’d told me “Jon” was a Libra with a good corporate job. He arrived, and sat down. Not bad looking, but I was too nervous to really judge. He introduced himself, and then said, “So… loong walks on the beach, huh? I like those, too.”
I had no idea what to say. I couldn’t kill Joy, I couldn’t even blame her.
She squinted into the fading light of the sunset, trying to make sense of the humped shape she could spy standing at the edge of the water. “Is that…” She turned just enough to elbow John in the side, not looking at him. “Is that a horse?”
John sat up, the book he had been reading falling into his lap as he squinted into the fading light. She could see the early evening shadows playing amid the rocks along the edge of the ocean, the waves crashing into swirls of bleached out color. “It could be,” John said, but his voice was hesitant. He pushed his glasses up his nose as if that would help him see better. “A white horse,” he said definitively. “Definitely.”
She made a face. “What is it doing just standing there like that?” She stared at it, able to see the looming shape a bit easier now that the ball of the sun had dipped below the water. “It wasn’t there a second ago, I swear. It just appeared.”
“Were you watching a second ago?” John asked, picking up his book and putting it aside only after carefully marking his page with a bookmark. “I thought you were reading.”
“I was, but I paused to watch the sunset.” She sighed a little, remembering the colors, the sound of the water, the sensation of peace and well-being that rolled over her. “And then it just appeared, like some water-horse out of a dream.”
Henrick watched as the sunset gave way to night and the white of the stars began to shine. A blanket of cool air wrapped around him as waited for the shadows to emerge. There had been stories in the nearby village of the shadows and their hunger for light. They could not keep fires going or even the tiniest of flames on top of a candle. The instant they were lit, they were extinguished. Henrick had been chasing these shadows across realms for years, in search of answers when he stumbled upon the villagers stories, and tonight he had hoped the ritual he performed would call them to him.
The two sat underneath the sunset, staring as it dipped lower and lower. Boy, girl: you get the idea. But something was off about the entire scene. The most obvious part: the shadows. They did not have them in any shape that was normal, human, or even within the laws of the light spectrum.
Sweeping tentacles attached to bulbous, though small bodies—round like engorged pumpkins.
The girl turned to the boy. “Was it at least fun for you?”
The boy turned to her, and his pupils were milky white and retained nothing of an iris. “It was okay, you know. Rather okay. I wish it could have gone on longer.”
The girl picked up a handful of dirt, black as the night would be without any electricity in the world. “I know, it really is a shame. But there will be other worlds, other spaces, other places. We can raze it to the ground too.”
The boy harrumphed. “I suppose. I guess. But I liked this planet—so many of them did something, tried to stop us. When has that happened?”
“On that one planet with the long-necked ones?”
“I guess,” he said, but he still looked unhappy.