Affirmations by Carson Work
Cole found the spider between two crates of apples. With all the big boxes in the store, Mommy couldn't see him here in the back; maybe this time he could get away with it. Orange sunlight came through the window, using the stacks of boxes to make long shadows. Cole smiled, crouching in one of the shadows, and guilty anticipation filled his stomach. The spider turned one way and then the other. It paused, and Cole imagined it being confused. "Dumb spider," he whispered, eyes widening with excitement.
The spider ran straight toward one of the crates, but instead of climbing up the side, it crashed head first. Cole giggled and said, "Stupid spider!" He let loose a small shriek as the spider began running in circles, tripping over itself. "You are a fat, stupid spider!" he said, almost falling to the ground as he tried to keep from laughing out loud.
The spider grew to twice its size. Cole gasped and inched closer to see the little hairs on its legs. The spider reached out and touched a crate, and then launched itself at the side. It hit the crate and fell down on its back. Laughter forced its way out of Cole's mouth, and he fell to the side shaking with each uncontrollable breath. He looked at the dumb spider, all of its legs shaking in the air, trying to get back up. He stopped for a moment, listening for Mommy's voice. He couldn't hear her. Looking around, he didn't see her either. Cole was so little that she would take a long time to find him. Mommy always said he was little. Her little baby. She never wanted him to go off without her. Cole pushed himself up, kneeling in front of the two crates where the helpless spider struggled. He leaned in close and whispered, "You are a fat, fat, fat, stupid, stupid spider!"
The spider grew as large as a puppy, legs getting jumbled as the spider was squished between the two crates. Cole scooted backward, knocking into another stack of crates. Cole’s eyes fixated on the spider scrambling to get free, its long, hairy legs scratching against the wooden crates. A little bit of fear mixed with the excitement bubbling in his stomach. The spider turned so that its head faced Cole. He saw its large, glistening eyes. The spider scurried some more until it came out from between the boxes. Cole scooted a little to the left, and the spider turned to follow. The excitement washed out of Cole. He sat on the floor and pushed himself back; the spider followed.
"Bad spider! Bad spider! Go away!" he yelled, backing up into a wall, drawing his knees in. The spider crouched down and shook its hairs; its shadow seemed to grow as the hairs stuck straight out. Its back legs shifted, its body wiggled...
The spider jumped straight at Cole. He screamed and threw his arms up in front of his face, but instead of feeling prickly hairs, he felt a brush of wind and heard a thump. Lowering his arms, he saw the old shopkeeper with a broom. The spider was a few feet away, turning around to face Cole again. The shopkeeper stepped in front of Cole.
"Mr. Spider," said the shopkeeper. "You are so nice and cute." The spider stood still, legs still tensed. "I have never seen a more well-behaved spider than you!" The spider's legs relaxed. "You are so small, so very small, and you are so courteous when you catch the flies in my shop. You really are one of the nicest, most polite bugs I have ever had the fortune to meet." It shrunk slightly. It even bent its front legs to make a little bow. The shopkeeper clapped his hands. "Bravo! Really, truly polite, like all spiders are.” The spider, not quite back to its normal size, gave another bow, and scurried away. Cole sat there in amazement, but looked up quickly as the shopkeeper stepped in front of him. The old man winced as he knelt on one knee. He was wrinkled and smelled like the dirt in Mommy's garden. Cole's stomach tied itself in a knot.
"Now, young boy, what has your mother told you about insults?" the shopkeeper asked.
"She says not to say them; they hurt people." Cole replied, looking at the ground and pulling his knees under his chin. Mommy always said that when she caught him insulting bugs or animals. But they weren’t people.
"That's right. Now, what did you call it?"
"I called him stupid."
The shopkeeper sighed. "I'll have to fix that. I can't have a giant, idiotic spider running around my shop. What happened after you called it stupid?"
"He did funny things."
The shopkeeper frowned. "If you wanted it to do funny things, you should have called it 'funny' instead of stupid. Hasn’t your mother taught you anything after all these years?” The shopkeeper shook his head and slowly stood, gasping and holding his back.
"Well, I believe you are such a strong little boy. Why don't we bring some of these apples to the front? I know you are just so helpful. Could you help me please?"
Cole nodded and stood right up. Of course he would help; Cole loved helping! The shopkeeper pointed to a box, and Cole grabbed it. The sides were just a bit too far apart for Cole’s arms.
“I can’t get it, mister. Mommy says I’m too little to pick up big things.” He stretched his arms as wide as they could go so the shopkeeper would see.
“Oh, does she now? Well, I say that you are big enough and strong enough to carry that to the front. Why don’t you try?” Cole turned back to the crate and put his hands on either side of the crate. He could grab it now! Cole wasn’t so little after all! He couldn’t wait to show Mommy; maybe she wouldn’t call him little today. They walked together back to the front of the store. Cole squinted as he walked passed the big windows in the front; the sun was lower now, orange light blinding him. He could barely see Mommy talking to her friends.
"Oh Celeste, you must come into town more often! We can't possibly remember all the gossip from the whole year! And look at Cole! He...” The woman stopped talking, her red lips still open. Mommy looked down and saw Cole carrying the box of apples.
"Cole! Mr. Gronet, did you say something to him?! Put that box down Cole; you're too little to be carrying that!"
Cole felt the box slipping from his fingers, as if the box were pushing his hands farther apart. The box fell to the ground and apples spilled across the floor. Cole stared at the giant box and the run-away apples. His fists clenched, and he felt tears beginning to form. All the adults seemed a little taller than before. "I was ju—, just helping, Mommy!"
"Oh, Cole, my little baby, don't do such big, grown-up things! Mr. Gronet, you—!" said Mommy. Mommy was right about Cole; he was too little. He tried to grab the box again but found that his arms were too short, just like before. He couldn't do grown-up things. Mommy took his hand and walked out the door with her friends, the little bell jingling good-bye.
Cole twisted and turned in his seat, trying to see the stars through the trees as the train chugged through the night. Mommy sat next to him.
"Cole, please sit still! It's been a long day," Mommy sighed. Cole looked at Mommy, who looked like she was about to say something. She always called him little. Her little baby. He didn't want to be a little baby anymore.
"I'm sorry, Mommy," he said. "You're tired."
Mommy began to nod, but then the nod turned into a yawn. It was a big yawn.
Cole didn't say anything else to Mommy. He didn't want her to think he was trying to say something to her. He looked back out the window, pretending to see the stars, but he was really trying to stay very still. Eventually, Mommy lay down on the seat and fell asleep.
Cole looked at his dim reflection in the window. He felt the guilty feeling in his stomach again and smiled.
"You are not a little baby. You are a big boy!"
Personal Vignette - Kimberlyn Lambert
The darkness swallowed me whole.
Her screams in my head, the ringing in my ears,The tear stains on my face. It didn’t matter that I earlier got hit in the head with a soccer ball. I didn’t matter that I needed help with my homework. All that mattered was that someone I loved was gone. Never to be seen again as they were devoured by the cruel jaws of death. I plunged into the darkness. It fed on my emotions, leaving a numbness, words and thoughts and memories never to return, after it would bring pain when it left. Every little word, every last detail, was slowly ripped to shreds into the darkness, never to be seen again. Every moment, another piece of my heart would shatter, leaving only ice and stone in its place. My fingers snapped off, first the tip, then the joint, then the rest, taking part of me with it each time it cracked. I soon lost myself in the darkness, letting my sadness and anxiety rule my life. It was bitter cold, the only thing giving me warmth was the burning of memories into my head.
She lost sight of what’s important
She was going through a tough time. Her brother had been taken away from her, and I didn’t truly understand, and I never would. I had only met her about a month before, but I still tried to reach her with my light, only to have the depression and darkness try to pull me under, to take me too. I wouldn’t let them keep my friend, and they would not have anyone else I loved either. I would pull her out of the sadness and into the light. I had to keep trying, because if I didn’t, I would lose more than a friend, I would lose part of me.
Then I saw it
While my toes froze off, and the pain was numbed, that’s when I saw it. Light. Laughter. Love. She was calling for me, for me to come back. She was reaching as far as she could into the darkness. She was so warm, I could feel again, so much joy and happiness that I let them strip away from me. Never again. No one uses me. I will not be a slave to this darkness. They will let me go, and see the light again.
Then I saw her
Her face, Her hand. They were reaching for me. To pull her out of the shadows and back to the sunlight. I plunged my hand into the shadows, wanting to have her back, to see her smile again.
The shadows wrapped around my arm, starting to drain the love and happiness from me. I fought back, and while I was, I didn’t notice my friend grasping my hand to pull her out of the bitter cold.
I pushed with all my might.
The darkness, black and charred, were fighting against my friend, hoping to drag her to where I was. I could not let that happen. I fought with all I could, straining my muscles in the process. That would hurt if I managed to survive. I twisted and turned, pulled and pushed. Nothing was working. Only the light seemed to hurt it, and it avoided it like a vampire from the sun. Then I realised something. If only the light could hurt it, and it wanted me, then maybe…
It blinded me
In the shadows, that tried to steal me, I was pulling with all my strength, hoping that it was enough. Then I saw it. The light that shone within my friend roared back to life. The darkness was cleansed, and purified. She flew up to greet me as if we had known each other forever, instead of a few days. She smiled at me, and I was truly happy to have her back. We hugged for what felt like eternity. I never wanted to let her go again. After she let go, she saw the others in the shadows, chipping away at them, little by little. They had also lost themselves to the strap of depression, some plunged much more deeply than my friend. She stared for hours. She looked at herself then at them. She did this a couple times, which made me wonder what she was thinking.
When she finally turned to me, she only said five words: “We have to rescue them.”
Sam the Lonely Tuba Player by Peter Young
Sam played the tuba. As it’s unusual to play the tuba, he was the only one in the school band. This isolated himself from the rest of the band. People figured that since you can't hear the tuba during the song, it wasn't important, and so Sam wasn’t either. Sam knew the truth, about the importance of the tuba in the band, and that the tuba is the coolest instrument in the band.
Every day in band class he sat alone, a few seats away from the rest of low brass. After band he went to lunch. He didn't sit alone, but by some clarinets. Still, he didn't talk to them, and they didn't talk to him.
One night he went home and practiced the tuba. He was still amazed at how cool the instrument was and wished more people knew about it. He knew some people from orchestra would never like the tuba, but everyone knows that band is way better than orchestra anyway.
Suddenly, looking at his music, titled: Make Flyers About How Cool the Tuba Is, he had an idea. He would make flyers! He ran to the computer and searched up the best tuba solos he could find on YouTube. Then he printed the link on papers reading, JOIN BAND AS A TUBA, WE NEED MORE! GO TO THE LINK TO SEE WHY!
Sam woke up the next day and ran to school excited. He put the posters up all over the school, then waited. The next day, a kid named Jack showed up in band wanting to play the tuba. The next day, there were three more kids wanting to play. By the next week, there were 30 tubas in band, and Sam was the best of them.
There were so many tubas, that the band conductor had to make a whole new band of only tubas, called Dream About Tubas. Sam was the band leader.
Prologue By Kelton Lambert
A history of Time
Creation created a universe. At first, there were only two beings: Chaos and Creation. Inside the universe, Creation created the elementals: Light, Shadow, Air, Earth, Fire, and Cold. Each Elemental represented a side of Creation. Cold, the bitter bite of the void, the toughness of life Creation faced every day. Fire represented his power, and his want for a force of protection. Earth represented his strength, and his love of creation. Air represented his curiosity, his intelligence. Light was created, the most like Creation, as his side of justness, and the power of law, and the want for right. Shadow represented his darker side, his deeper wants of darker creations. Chaos infested the universe and created the realm of chaos, where he resides to this day.
Patterning off of Chaos, Light created the Lumenal plane, Shadow created the Tenebral plane, Cold, fire, earth and air created the plane of magic, and all of the elementals together created the Prime material plane, where creation was given its best chance to grow.
After many attempts and prototypes, Each elemental created a race. Light created the Luxum, a race of curiosity and innocence. Creatures of the forest, plants that gained human form, they flourished and prospered. Earth created the dwarves, creatures of the underground, miners and laborers in the dark. Air created the Aurans, beings of Intelligence and workmanship, mouse-like and eccentric, yet unchallenged in intelligence. Cold created the Awoken, beings of ice in the northern mountains, where only the hardiest survive. They were a nomadic race, with light blue skin to camouflage with the deep snow of the mountains. Fire created the Pyrok, a race of power, of flame, and of strength in numbers. Cat like, these beings towered over others and were unchallenged in martial might. Shadow finished the creations of beings with humans, prone to greed and the lust for power.
Soon, Shadow became jealous of Light, and started a war. After the war, the dwarves soon died off, though, a punishment inflicted by Shadow for choosing to aid Light in the war. The rest of the races, at the time, were just beginning to flourish, and took no side. During the millennial war, The Lumenal plane and the Tenebral plane were destroyed down to their innermost realms: The celestial realm and the Realm of torture. The realm of Chaos was shut off, though Chaos could have opened it at any time, and the plane of magic was destroyed.
The magic that once existed within the plane of magic began seeping into the prime material plane, specifically the realm of Tyraea, where the races were now evolving. A purely technological world, they had become about to the point of technology that allowed them to create firearms, rockets, and other weapons such as that. Magic only furthered that understanding of technology, and allowed for golems, and other creations of wondrous proportions. The Aurans embraced technology and magic intertwining the two as the obvious solution. The Pyrok put magic to work more in armor and weapons. The awoken joined the Luxum in embracing magic, as they had never embraced technology, and now accepted magic as the true force of the universe. The humans believed that magic was a divine gift, and only let certain individuals practice it's art.
When the war ended, as a way of celebrating the end of a millennia of war, Shadow and light had a child, bringing in a new age of peace. No elementals had ever had children, and they did not know what to name her, and decided to call her Hikari Musume, or Daughter of light. This elemental then fell in love with an auran: Raysdo Eagleclaw. She changed form to an auran, and soon was married with him, when she took on the name of Alora Eagleclaw. She soon had a child, and was delighted, as the child took after her grandfather, Light. Two years later though, to her shock, her second child was much darker: almost darker than shadow. She feigned death, and then left in embarrassment, watching Reeta and Tara, as they were named, from the shadows.
Though it was no fault of her own, Raysdo blamed Tara for the death of his beloved, and could no longer see her as his child. This led to two very different childhoods for Reeta and Tara- a stark lit contrast of the sides they embodied. 12 years later, Raysdo revoked Tara, and removed her from the family, no longer being able to accept her as a member. Tara then found her own path,with her unnatural connection to the realm of shadows (stemming from the connection she shared with shadow), while Reeta kept evolving in intelligence and creativity.
One year later, as Reeta had just finished college at age 15, and had now recently started a company named Reeta's Robotics, Tara Returned, this time, for the worse. Now harboring no love for her family, she became a Lich, the ultimate ending of any who strayed into the dark arts of magic.
An undead abomination, she rose at her own funeral, killing all except Reeta, who managed to escape. Reeta then created the Resistance, a small band of elite warriors dedicated to defeating Tara, and, ultimately, returning Tyraea to its rightful position. Meanwhile, Tara amassed an army of dead possessed by the most infernal of beings: Demons. Bound to her will, she soon amassed enough to destroy the world. These beings were called the Unnatural. Her attack marked the start of a new calendar, or, at least, a new calendar for those who still remained. This event, called the great fall, plunged the world into eternal darkness, leaving the Resistance the only thing left to combat Tara.
Sarra Prodigialis woke up from the four hour regeneration cycle of the hibernation chambers, circular tubes designed to revitalize the constitution of a warrior, and to increase the speed of the sleep cycle so that each soldier could be more useful.
Sarra Had spent her entire life in the cavernous base of the resistance. From since she was only a small Auran child, these walls had been her home. She had played, and learned her craft within this hidden cavern deep below the earth.
She wore a red and blue coat, with a pistol at her hip and a shield on her back. The shield was slightly triangular, with the tips of that triangle cut off, and replaced with 3 spikes. It was all situated upon a small, but powerful motor, allowing Sarra to spin the shield, both helping to deflect objects and defeat her dreaded enemies, the unnatural, and, ultimately, Tara. Her eyes were bright green, her grayish white hair tied up out of her face for functionality rather than look. She had a high, tinny voice, even for her race, yet this seemed to only heighten her need to talk, and she tended to ramble when nervous.
She shivered as she looked around, and seeing the rest of the hibernation chambers empty, realizing it was not a nightmare. She had been on an expedition with her party, a group she had known for over 2 years, all intimate, good friends. It was dark, and they had decided to camp for the night. She had just turned over the guard watch when, hearing a loud scream, she was woken up, startled, as she soon realized her party was being overwhelmed by monstrous hordes of unnatural, undead abominations of great power and evil. They did their best to hold the unnatural off, but, when a monstrous Balor Possessed Unnatural Minotaur. With its monstrous flaming whip and it’s cruel looking flaming sword, stepped into the fray the unnatural clearing a path, it only took one swipe from the whip to destroy their warrior, Aborel Spiritfire, his armor melted and fused to his now limp corpse. With a swipe of its sword, their mesmer was ripped in half, eliminating any chance of them teleporting out of the situation. Obviously outmatched, Sarra had ran, and, by some sort of miracle, managed to crawl back, limping from the many fights she had had somehow survived, to another expedition party, who took her back to the base.
She silently weeped for her friends, knowing that they were now undead, monstrous fiends. Thinking of her friends Unnatural as they most certainly were now brought more sadness and anger, but she quickly pushed the thought away.
She was soon startled from the plaza, where the remaining members of the resistance spent their free time, when her name came over the magical speakers located at strategic points in the base, along with a few others she had never heard before.
When she got there, there were a few others there. All unique, yet all united in purpose. The first one she noticed was clothed in black, a shoulder pad on one of her shoulders looked as if it was welded from spare gears and metal scraps it- Sarra knew not who it was under those black strips covering the human from head to toe- had found around the base. At its hip stood a short scabbard, holding a small sword that, from Sarra’s experience, she knew was much deadlier than it sounded.
The second person Sarra saw was an old auran, with constructs crawling around him, a pack full of gears and other assorted engineering bits on his back. His face withered with age, two pistols sat on the man’s hip, their holsters old and weathered. His eyes belied a tiredness not shown by the rest of his appearance. The haggard old man stood by Sarra and the others, and was petting one of his constructions as if it were an animal.
The third one Sarra saw was a Luxum, wearing simple leather armor, with a huge Sword, in its scabbard, strapped to his back. His light gray skin had white lines traced all through it, his piercing maple eyes almost staring to your soul. They possessed a fiery look that put Sarra off somehow.
The last one she saw was an awoken shaman, hides used to create his armor, wielding a simple staff. His light, pale blue skin glowed faintly, as he turned with the rest of them to look at Sarra. Reeta, the leader of the resistance, wearing her silver and blue armor, began speaking.
“As your parties were both sadly destroyed, you will be merging, along with one of the more powerful members of the resistance. I would like you to introduce you to Vestro Golemhand.” Reeta said, and stepped aside, as the old auran used a construct to get up to the platform Reeta had stood upon previously.
“I will be your leader for this expedition,” The auran said, as if every word was painful to say. “Our mission will be to recover an artifact of magical power from a now decrepit noble Auran household. It will be a short journey, and should take no more than a couple of days.”
The Auran then told them to meet with each other, to get to know their new teammates, and the time at which they would be heading out.
“Hello,” Sarra said to the Luxum. “My name is Sarra Prodigialis. I’m the last of my family… Tara destroyed it with the rest of the auran houses. I was just a baby then, barely newborn, when my mother was somehow able to get me out and to the resistance, where I’ve been ever since. I’m sorry. I tend to ramble when I get nervous…” The Luxum quickly cut her off, and replied.
“I am Lornal Kingor. I am a disciple of flame. Though all the elementals are known to be real, I follow the path Flame led for me. It is good to meet you, Sarra.”
Sarra then talked to the ninja and she had seen, and soon learned the the ninja was a woman. “Good to meet you, Sarra.” She said, “I am Cybil Abner.” The greeting was short, as if Cybil did not enjoy sharing information with others.
Sarra then went to the awoken. “My name is Direl Wolfson,” He said, a look of wisdom, though he was still young, in his eye. “I remember the times my tribe would hunt in the mountains- my tribe is but a small number, now, and most no longer follow me. How a leader has fallen so far from Grace.”
Sarra then went back to the hibernation chambers, and, with a forlorn expression, stepped into the chamber.
The next morning, they left at 0400. They had an uneventful day, and camped for the night, about 3 miles away from their destination. Their night was also quite uneventful, and, in the morning they set off again.
Suddenly, as they were traveling, they heard the unmistakable grumblings of Unnatural. What they saw were two unnatural gith, creatures of skeleton like like proportions. Their bodies were wrapped in some sort of once fanciful enchanted armor, now withered with age, and dulled by the eons.
One gith held a large gith sword, the other nothing. The one who only wielded his hands was the most dangerous, they knew, because he was the one adept in casting. Magic could be a thousand times more painful than the most powerful weapon, more debilitating than the cruelest poison.
As the fight began, the party began to see what an asset Cybil was. Feinting and dodging, the gith could not touch her, yet her blade made a thousand small cuts, and, as the poison did its work, the unnatural slowly fell to paralysis. Lornal was about to cast a beam of positive energy into the gith when, breaking his concentration, he looked up to see Cybil blasted 5 feet away, her short sword disintegrated.
The fight was still in their favor, though, as Direl closed his eyes for a second, and, when they opened again, they were not his. Spirits flew and attacked the unnatural, battering the creature back, pushing it to the ground. Lornal was on the gith quick, as a deft hand touched its chest, and, as a burst of energy flew into the creature, it disintegrated, leaving no body where there once was one.
Direl did the same to the paralysed Unnatural creature, and they were on their way again. As they got to the perimeter of their target, they realised it would be no easy task. The walls, though falling apart, were still quite high. As they debated how to get over the wall, Vestro simply placed a small contraption at the base of the wall, which quickly expanded and unfolded, drilling and placing until a beautiful, auran sized arch had been created, without structurally damaging the wall.
“Sorry it’s not the right size,” he added tiredly, as most of the party had to duck to get through. They all got through, and, as they walked around, they were ambushed by unnatural kobolds. Small humanoid lizards, the creatures moved with an unnatural quickness, their spears’ length only accentuated by their size.
In the commotion, one managed to attack Cybil, leaving a deep cut, yet Cybil reacted, and, in the flash he stopped moving to take the spear out, she grabbed the spear, grimacing through the pain, and, with the kobold still holding on, the flipped the spear up and over her head, pulling it out of her wound, and the kobold with it. With a quick slash from the spear, The kobold lay dead in front of her.
Cybil then took the spear and jabbed it at kobolds as she could, scoring a hit every one or two jabs. At that point, the party became more organized, and somehow managed to get into battle formation. As they each struck out at the unnatural kobolds in their own way, the battle was soon over as the kobolds lie unanimated on the floor.
They then moved to the front door (or what used to be the front door), where they walked through the rotting wood to a decrepit caverns that had once been a large greeting room. They continued to explore, going deeper and deeper into the mansion.
After finding a long, downwards winding staircase, they came to an area that was relatively untouched by time, guarded by a solid titanium safe door. “Let me through,” Vestro mumbled, as he placed a simple contraption on the rotating arms of the safe. The machine started to do its work, as it spun the wheel clockwise, counterclockwise, then clockwise again, and the door clicked open. Inside, they found a simple, orange gem, though, as lornal soon divined, the gem was extremely magically powerful.
Along with it, they found two heavily modified pistols, and magic armor, obviously designed for an auran. As Sarra put the armor on, it started to glow with a blue hum, the plated leather comfortable and form fitting to her body. Sarra also took one of the pistols, obviously tinkered with over many years to become very powerful, belying its small size. Cybil took the other pistol, as she did not have a weapon, as they exited, their loot in hand.
As they made it to the entrance, the door exploded, as a monstrous werewolf, with two horns, its hand ending in claws, ran through to decimate the group.
“Leave! Run!” Vestro Golemhand said, a sense of urgency and finality in his voice that was not there before. “I will hold it long enough for you to leave!”
As they all ran, having to follow the orders of their superior, Sarra looked to the man she had admired her entire life. A man that had taken her in when her father and mother had been slaughtered by the unnatural. A man, degraded with age, once having performed amazing feats, who was now facing his last moments. With a tearful eye, Sarra turned her head and ran back out, and as the party continued in muted victory, They all mourned for their last comrade.