Swamp Monster | by Emily

“Don’t go there,” they warned. “It’s not safe… there are rumours of people who have gone there and never come back. Please, don’t push your luck, Chester. It’s dangerous.” The more his parents said, the more he wanted to explore the ancient swamp-Ish forest that lies just past the end of the garden. Nobody really owned it, they’ve never wanted to, besides, what would anyone gain from that horrid place. He was about to find out.

Now that Chester was in this mysterious and widely unknown mess, choices were soon regretted and more bad decisions were made. Emerging from the shadows was a tall Swamp Monster brandishing its long branch-like arms that were already clutching on to a poor, vulnerable animal who was hanging on for dear life. Chester, on the other hand thought he knew what he was doing from those man vs monster movies that he’d seen and always wanted to be in. He wanted everyone to think he was a hero. Enough daydreaming, he was now face – to – face with a human eating beast! Just a breath away from becoming its dinner! Chester and the Swamp Monster made eye contact for the first time. Nor Chester or the Swamp Monster moved a muscle. All went silent. And for those brief few seconds everything was still.

Quick to respond to the failure of Plan A, Chester found a pile of wet, dirty fallen branches and leaves. Finally, Chester saw a lame old branch that he could barely hold it was so big. The perfect weapon. Big, sharp and good grip.

Chester wanted to go home. But this creature was stood in front of him, clueless, armed, disgusting and scared. Scared? It was scared too! Chester realized in what felt like 3 days later than he should’ve done. He wasn’t prepared for a swamp monster… So, a swamp monster couldn’t be prepared to see a kid in its forest. 1… 4… now 6 steps closer to the strange beast, still clutching that same heavy twig. Not sure if he needed it. The monster stepped back, still watching the boy. Both putting down weapons, Chester stumbled across the rough floor and tripped! Snapping sticks and rustling leaves trying to stand. Cautiously, Swamp Monster bent down to human height and helped him up with a skeleton-like hand.

Chester, after a brisk lift home (to the edge of the forest would be more accurate from his new SECRET friend. Once Chester had snuck through the back door.) everything seemed so dull… and normal.

Tank Man | By Georgia L

I never realised how hard the fall would be. Others had tried to warn me, to help me prepare. But it’s more painful than I imagined.

Waiting, watching. Waiting for some kind of release. Watching my purpose come apart around me, piece by corrupted piece. Existence itself slowly drooping like a withering flower, ever so gently ripping gaping holes in my universe.

The fact that I can’t stop it, or even move, makes the fall all the more terrifying. Falling backwards, pinned by the pressure, having to watch the apocalyptic destruction of Heaven with dark and regretful eyes. I’m so used to being powerful that this knocks the wind out of me. My weakness. My vulnerability. A brand-new feeling of fear. I’ve never had anything to fear before, a privilege that I didn’t realise I had until now.

I, and everyone around me, used to be flawless. Perfect bodies accompanied by perfect spirits existing in a perfect universe. But soon enough, His idea of perfection changed, and everything became twisted. Broken. Flawed. The ground we walked on changed, the homes we lived in became dust.

He was most powerful spirit ever to exist, and the oldest. He had been here since the beginning of everything, and this was the destruction of everything.

My back hits the earth, and the pain of thousands of years of existence crashes down onto me, filling the lungs that I don’t know I had and clouding the brain that feels heavier every second I lie on this planet. Moving is impossible, at least until the sky is dark and freckled with the stars that I’m so used to seeing below me. The worst part is seeing the shooting stars and knowing they’re my brothers and sisters hurtling to the earth. This isn’t their fault. I want to scream, but all that escapes me is a quiet whimper that sends stabs of pain through this thing the humans call a body. This isn’t their fault.

The gentle cushion of my wings slowly dissipates, and I’m left lying on concrete, wishing my existence would cease as quickly as breath snuffs out a candle. Heaven has ceased to exist, and I am full of fear.

But then my remaining senses finally light up. I finally hear the conundrum about me. I finally smell the blood-soaked earth. Panic and chaos, screaming and shouting, smoke bombs and tanks. I finally understand where I am. Beijing. Tiananmen Square. 1989.

Only the downfall of perfection could allow what I see before me to happen. Only complete and utter corruption could cause this. Death is everywhere. It has infected everyone. No one in this place will walk away, not unless this nightmarish brutality stops. I’ve never cried before, but by God do I cry now. All these people, deserving of a beautiful and happy ever after, but with no Heaven left to go to.

The sound of fear is everywhere. Pounding feet, desperate screams and the sobs of those who have already accepted their deaths. These people used to look small and pathetic to me, but now, stood here amongst them, I realise I am exactly where I need to be. The only reason these creatures turn against each other is fear, this thing that I finally understand. But being fearful isn’t equal to being weak. These humans that live through fear every day are stronger than I have ever been.

The advancing tanks will crush everyone who remains. Dead, alive, young, old, they don’t care who they kill anymore. They’re too scared to see what they’re doing is wrong.

While everyone around me runs, I stand my ground. I cannot let this happen. I at least have to give those who are not ready to die a chance to flee. The tanks stop. Crush me, if you will. But please, just leave them alone.

I can’t put my emotions into words. For the first time in eternity, I’m feeling. And I don’t know how to express it.

My hand stretches out in a gesture of power and defiance. A gesture of no.

And suddenly, I am fearless. For everyone on this planet, I am fearless. Instead of heavenly fearlessness, when you have no need to feel fear, this is the kind of fearlessness you feel when protecting people. When rushing into the road to save an oblivious child. When giving your life for someone who deserves the rest of theirs.

Compared to these people, I have so much of my life behind me. But them? They have yet to accomplish so much. They have their whole existence ahead of them. Me? I’ve already lived mine a million times over. Since the fall of Him, what else can I do with this new-found mortality? I am willing to lay my life down, for them. For the people already dead, for the people I’m trying to protect from death. For as many as I can. Isn’t that what I was created for? To protect? To be fearless for those who can’t?

They called me the Tank Man. Once everything was over, once everyone had been mourned, my legacy would continue. The actions of a lonely angel, newly mortal, trying to make themselves worthy of the existence bestowed upon them. Letting their fear drive them to be fearless, and hoping that the actions of one could save the lives of a million.

Her Blank Canvas | Katie N

A painter creates her life upon her canvas  
she has no secrets, for they are all laid out  
in swirls of arching colours  
gracefully blossoming across the paper 
Untouchable beauty  
and scenes of happiness 
Preserved within paper  
That complete her 
Through paintbrush she feels  
Laughter and tears  
And all in-between  
Created, built and left to dry 
Each day she feels  
Filling her life with meaning 
Paint and memories 
A life fulfilled 
And she is finished  
Paintbrushes banished  
locked in their boxes  
For creating life- another day 
But the picture will stand there  
Years on untouched  
Fading at the corners  
alone gathering dust  
A painter leaves her life upon her canvas  
she has no secrets left to lay out-  
Turns her back on the colours  
Thoughtlessly floating back to her life
of grey

Image Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/1b/57/98/1b5798ab8dd89ac7883a3da10df1e3cb.png (20/02/21)

Musings of a Wide Open Space | Ruby H

These moments are now laced with a longing  
For more of the same old. And in these barren winds sway, 
The wild grasses of a month without sun. 
Over the moors lay your absence, 
Rolling under horizon after horizon. 
With these hands I could christen you, 
But the sunsets churn out shadows, 
And each one holds me and asks for a dance. 
Until my hands bear the mark 
Of arching waltzes dissolved in rain, 
Because I’m dancing around the sun rays, 
Chasing these soulful nights.
Over the hill stands a flower. 
Dropping hours through its hourglass.
And gently, the winds pluck it away, 
Slip away petal by petal. 
Sway through the sun. 
Dance into the grasses. 
Pull apart the seconds.

Help me weave these moments, 
Into reeds by a lake. 
And watch me as I wade through shallows, 
Towards the emptiness of the sky’s flaws. 
Watch the petals cry into the water. 
Lean away from this echoed longing.  

Watch the grasses linger in sorrow.

Image Link: https://i.pinimg.com/474x/9e/f9/f1/9ef9f1dc4d56a15e398cef1804a779b8.jpg (13/02/21)

 

Scrapped | Lottie H

It could only have been a mere matter of hours before a human entered the area. Scanning them, they were scrawny and hunched, a teenager perhaps, loosely carrying an unidentifiable metal object in one hand, and absent-mindedly swinging a spanner in the other. They were kicking around in the rubble, looking for nothing in particular, when their foot connected with a head. The machine whirred on, emitting some concerning beeping noises before his eyes sprung to life. He jolted upright, and turned his head at an unnatural angle, looking at the intruder again. At the sudden movement, a screw slid out and his chest panel fell loose. The boy, as he’d guessed, was pretty young. There were fly-like goggles awkwardly strapped over his glasses with a grimy orange mane growing around them. His face was stained by a mixture of dirt, sweat and grease, and several strands of hair were plastered to his forehead. The thing he was carrying appeared to be a rusting tool box. The paint was chipping off and it seemed as unkempt as the boy holding it.

“That doesn’t look healthy,” the boy said, gesturing the machine’s front. A red light had been revealed through the crack the wonky panel had created, flashing furiously.

He tucked his spanner somewhere in his jacket and began to dig through his toolbox, shaking his shoulders and humming in time with the flashing.

“You’re a pretty new model, right? I don’t have much experience with the fancy-schmancy androids, but I’ll probably have a couple of parts that I could substitute. If you’re willing to try them, that is.”

He paused for a moment, waiting for a response. He moved on after a couple of seconds, realising he wasn’t going to get one, and approached with a screwdriver. As soon as he was close enough to do anything, he shrugged, threw the screwdriver over his shoulder, and tugged at the metal. That was all it took for the framework to fall off.

“Alright, let’s see what we’re working with here… You’re gonna need a little fixing up.” As he spoke, an important-looking something fell out. “A lot,” he corrected himself. “A lot of fixing up.” The boy clicked and held out a hand, and a small drone revealed itself from the tool box, carrying a few cogs. It placed them in his hand and immediately went back to its place, making a low grumbling as it did so.

“Sorry, she’s not much of a talker. Neither are you, really. I removed a couple of her more dangerous features a while back, and she’s still pretty mad at me.”

As he worked, the boy continued his pointless blabber for quite some time, periodically letting out a few frustrated groans and calling his drone out again, who seemed equally irritated. “You know, whoever made you really didn’t want anyone to be able to help you. I don’t even recognise your base design. I have a couple of things you might be compatible with.” He reached into one of his many pockets and grasped around a little, eventually pulling out a part that looked pretty similar to all the others. “I picked it up this morning. Pretty neat, right? I was gonna save it for a special occasion, but…” He trailed off, a mischievous look on his face. Without warning, he shoved it into place. And the world went dark.

Almost an entire minute later, the android woke up again, feeling absolutely nothing different. Everything was exactly the same.

The boy was still there, satisfaction painted across his face.

“And now, you’re not flashing!” He exclaimed with triumph. “I’m not entirely sure what that actually means, but hopefully it’s positive.”

“I didn’t ask for your help, and you didn’t do anything. Nothing’s changed,” the robot spoke up for the first time, already irritated.

The boy looked up in surprise, which quickly faded into a matched annoyance. He let out an exasperated sigh before continuing. “Great, you too. Why does everything I fix have some kind of personality bug.” It was much more a statement than a question. “Did you want me to leave you to waste?”

“Yes,” the android deadpanned.

“You’ll get along with A347 just fine. Speaking of, where has she gotten to?”

The drone revealed herself once again, this time from a pocket on the outside of his coat. She let off an almost-grunt, and started hovering over the boy’s shoulder. “Much like you, she doesn’t know how to appreciate someone saving her.” He shot the drone a pointed look, before laughing it off and pulling his tool box under his arm.

“I’m headed back to the shed. Follow if you like, or if you don’t. There aren’t many options, no one except me comes this far out.”

And with that, he turned and started over the pile of junk from whence he came, resuming the tune he had started humming earlier.

Imitating a sigh, the newly-fixed robot hesitantly followed after. The boy, nuisance though he was, at least had some kind of hope in the world. A rare find in times like these.

If left ignored, neither of them would stand a chance.

Image link: https://i.pinimg.com/236x/d7/1f/23/d71f23e81ad53995632b33123c012e24–edward-scissorhands-aesthetic-inventor-aesthetic.jpg (05/02/21)

The End | Ruby H

Can you let me hold your hand,

as I step over this threshold?

And will you promise to walk beside me

while I knit apart my skin from these scraps of thought?

When the only memory that this world has of me is stone,

will you wash the moss from my grave?

And if I return someday,

will you be there?

Will you still sing my song to the birds,

still water my sunflowers,

still sew my horizons to the night?

If I am blind and weak,

would you carry me through the pain,

would you carry me until I can breathe?

Once my bones have scattered in circles,

do I have your word that you’ll rescue my soul from the ashes?

Do I have your word that you’ll stand as the last pillar,

the last smile in the flames,

the last beat of time,

and hold me?

Remember me?

Image Link: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/69/c1/fc/69c1fcb5103ea5500476232ee995fbe9.jpg (21/01/21)

The Reflection | Anonymous

Every morning. Every single morning. The girl would stand before the mirror, from Monday to Friday she spent this time combing her hair or straightening her tie, she would tuck in her shirt and make sure her uniform looked presentable. On the weekends she may have admired the outfit she had on, or maybe she just sat there, anxiously checking the dark circles under her eyes after getting little to no sleep the night before. The girl spent a lot of her time in front of the mirror; it was where she tried out the makeup tutorials she saw online, it was where she got ready in the morning, and tried on different outfits after a shopping spree. Of course, the reflection loved these times; she loved it whenever the girl came to visit her, and she always greeted the girl with a smile and a wave. However the girl never greeted the reflection, she simply stood there with a blank expression on her face, and then continued with her day as if the reflection didn’t exist at all. Of course this hurt the reflection, and eventually, she grew sour. The reflection started to only greet the girl with a scowl, however the girl still refused to acknowledge her.

After some days, weeks, months of this, in a moment of anger, the reflection broke the mirror. The shards of broken glass stung her hands, and the reflection stared at the girl, maybe hoping for some subtle sign of recognition. But there wasn’t one. The girl simply stared straight through the reflection, at the broken mirror where so many of her days had been spent. It was then that the reflection knew that there would be consequences to her actions. Ever since that day, whenever you were near the girl you could sometimes briefly see the reflection. In puddles and in windows. Trapped. Forced to mimic the actions of this girl she’d grown to hate so much. With an appearance to match that of her worst enemy, even looking at herself made her sick. As the years passed by she found more permanent residences; fragmented glimpses in the diamond ring the girl wore as a symbol of her marriage, or a faint silhouette in the glasses of the girl’s eldest daughter. Then finally in the eyes of those who gathered around the girl’s body at her funeral, right before the coffin closed, when both the girl and the reflection were seen for the last time.

Image Link: https://64.media.tumblr.com/47d655623c95c28efc0d7edcf46956f8/tumblr_poh6e8dEVZ1vehqeko1_1280.jpg (29/01/21)

Cronus, the God of Time | By Georgia

Time is destructive; it’s an all-devouring force. Cronus was both of these things. He was the titan god of time and the son of Uranus, the ruler of the universe. This is Cronus’ story. Gaia, the mother of the earth, was angry. Her children had been taken from her – the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, locked away in the underworld, Tartarus, unable to see the light or feel the sun on their skin, and for what? Because Uranus was disgusted? Afraid? Was the ruler of the universe really unable to bear the sight of his own children? As she felt the weight of the stone sickle that rested across her palms, the answer was clear to her, in all of its simple, violent glory. She called the titans to her – the twelve children Uranus had allowed her to keep. All of them, from Oceanus, the oldest, to Cronus, the youngest, agreed with their mother that the only way to release their brethren from Tartarus was to deal Uranus a great wound – he was a god, and unable to be killed, but the titans knew that if they were able to weaken Uranus, he could be overthrown. However, when Gaia raised her voice and asked her children which of them would perform the deed, all fell silent. No one wanted to be the one to risk angering their father; to risk the consequences that failure would bring. The silence blanketed the siblings in a smothering layer – until Cronus spoke up. He announced to his mother that he would be the one to wound Uranus, that he would be the one to end his tyrannical reign. Unbeknownst to the rest of the titans, Cronus envied his father’s power. He was secretly determined that once Uranus had been dispatched, he should be the one to take his place. And so, the day came. Cronus lay in wait for his father, holding the sickle given to him by Gaia. When Uranus appeared, Cronus leapt out and, catching him by surprise, wounded Uranus gravely. Uranus fled, dripping blood as he went. As each drop of blood fell to the earth, it created something new. The first created the Gigantes, the second the Erinyes and the third, the Meliae. The final drop of blood that fell from the wound landed in the ocean and created the white foam from which the goddess Aphrodite was born. Gaia and the titans rejoiced, happy for Uranus to be gone and for the freedom of the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes. Their joy, however, was short lived, as Cronus immediately took control. He once again incarcerated his youngest siblings, this time commanding the dragon Campe to guard them. He took his throne as king, and forced Rhea, the goddess of motherhood and fertility, to become his queen. Cronus and Rhea ruled all throughout the Golden Age. Cronus was happy – he had achieved his goals, and his subjects were loyal to him. He was the ultimate ruler of all. He feared nothing, other than the prophecy. The prophecy that decreed that Cronus would be overthrown by his son, just as Uranus had been. The idea of losing his throne was his weakness – his one fear. Because of this fear, every time his wife Rhea gave birth to a child, Cronus would swallow each one whole – they would not be killed, but they would not be able to harm him. In a desperate attempt to save her youngest son, Zeus, from Cronus, Rhea stole him from his cradle and gave him to the nymph Adamanthea to raise on Mount Ida, away from his dangerous father. To try and avoid suspicion, Rhea swaddled a large rock in cloth and placed that in the cradle in place of Zeus. Cronus, not realising anything was wrong, swallowed the rock and believed himself to be safe. And so Zeus was raised on the mountain, far away from his father. When he was a baby, Rhea convinced nymphs to play loud, beautiful music at the mouth of his cave to cover the sounds of his cries. As he grew, he got stronger and stronger, and the desire to save his siblings and drive away his tyrannical father grew within him. By the time he was fully grown, Zeus had a plan; but he couldn’t do it alone. So, for the first time since was a baby, he returned to Rhea. His mother was delighted to see him, and to see how well he had grown. When he told her his plan, Rhea agreed almost immediately. Seeing Zeus again had made her realise that the grief she felt for her lost children could be eased – she might be able to get them back. The plan was simple; Rhea would poison Cronus. Of course, he was immortal and therefore unable to be killed, just as his father was before him, but the poison was sure to make him so sick that he would be unable to stop himself from vomiting up Zeus’ brothers and sisters. The next day, Zeus hid as he watched his mother give Cronus the poison, disguised as a herbal concoction of strength. The effects were almost immediate, and Zeus’ siblings began to appear in front of him. At last, Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades and Poseidon joined Zeus on the earth, and turned against their father in fury. One look at their raging faces, and Cronus turned and ran. Cronus’ defeat is what started the 10-year war between the Olympians – Zeus and his siblings – and the remaining titans. After a decade of war and violence, the Olympians emerged triumphant, having defeated and imprisoned the titans in the deepest pits of Tartarus. The Olympians used their new power to finally release the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes from their prison. The Cyclopes were so grateful to them for ending their imprisonment that they crafted weapons and armour for Zeus, Hades and Poseidon – the gods of the heavens, sea and underworld. Zeus was given his thunderbolts, Hades his helmet and Poseidon his trident.

Image: https://www.thecollector.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/giulio-romano-olympian-gods-wall-painting-1.jpg (30/12/20)