Hello hello and welcome to this week’s short story, which by all accounts is strange. We are currently running a challenge on The Writer’s Mess Discord, which features a youtube drawing challenge, modified for writing.

So, in May we made a playlist and this month you use a random number generator to get two songs from the playlist, and use those songs to make characters, then use the week theme to give them a relationship. I thought it would be easy, then I got week 1, a friendship between character inspired by the songs “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, and “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift.

This led to the story below, a relatively light story, with dark humor, and darker themes. If you are a person who gets triggered by death, you might wanna scan the tags before reading. Otherwise, enjoy!

She sat, to the appearance of most, alone in a shaded section of the bleachers, watching the practice below. To those who looked closer, the shadow beside her was just a shade too dark, but people dismissed it as a trick of the light, as when they tried to focus on the darkness, their eyes seemed to slide right past it.

“You know, there is a pretty easy solution to this,” a voice said from that darkness.

“There really isn’t,” she argued.

“No, really, a tiny shove here, a misalignment there, and oh, no, they didn’t catch her this time. No more head cheerleader. Done right, no more head at all.” Their voice was light, but she had known them long enough to know that the offer was legit.

“Then he would be sad, and mourn her the rest of high school. Or he would be scarred for life, because decapitation isn’t something most people can handle.” She explained it gently, as she didn’t want to upset them.

“But after,” they started, and she cut them off.

“After he would go after another cheerleader.”

“I’d imagine the visual would be enough to put him off cheerleaders.”

“Okay, then he would go after someone else that was pretty, well dressed, and dumb as a post. He has a type, and clearly, I am not it.” It hurt her to say it, but she had to face facts. She was never going to be on his radar.

“Well, you could change your clothes, and besides, trauma changes people, maybe a little decapitation would make him look for someone with a good head on their shoulders.”

She laughed, it was wrong, so wrong, but she couldn’t help it. “I can’t believe you went there.”

“I can’t believe that you can’t believe it,” they countered.

She sobered up a bit, before continuing on. “I, you’re right, I could change.” She wasn’t sure where to go from there, but she didn’t get a chance to.

“Don’t!” They said it loud enough that some people looked over, and she was surprised. They were usually a lot more careful about that.


“Don’t change, not for him, not for anyone. You won’t always be in high school, and pretending to be someone you aren’t… Just trust me on this one, it isn’t worth it.”

She scoffed, “it’s easy for you to say, you aren’t on a deadline. Your going to go on forever, and I-“ She gestured to them, sitting beside her.

She had spent enough time near death to become a friend. She could only see them when it was close, and they were a constant reminder that the treatments were never going to be a cure. She was just delaying the inevitable, and everyone knew it. It was why she had no friends, and why no boy was going to look at her twice, not with an expiration date less than a decade away, if she was lucky.

“You,” they started quietly, coming more into focus than she would like, and for a brief moment she wondered if the expiration date was going to be today. “You are worth getting to know, even if you aren’t going to be around forever. Tomorrow isn’t promised anyone, Auggie. I won’t tell you who, but, you are going to outlive more of them than you think,” they said, gesturing at the field. “You just have the misfortune of knowing it, and that shouldn’t stop you from taking advantage of it, from living a life just as full as the rest of theirs. More so even, because you don’t have to worry about saving for retirement.”

It was a dark kind of humour, but it was hers, and she let out a bitter laugh. “Okay, okay, I get it. Live for today, Carpe Diem, all that jazz.”

They smiled at her, and it should have been terrifying, but she felt warm, loved. It wasn’t a conventional friendship, but it was the best she had ever had.

She took in a deep breath, let it go, and asked the first thing that came to mind. “So, I know you can’t tell me who, or like, how, but, like, numbers?”

At their raised eyebrow of confusion, she continued, “I am going to outlive some of them, but like is it 1, 6, 14, 72 or 9? Come on, give a girl a hint, at least.”

“Less than 72,” they deadpanned, and at her pleading look, sighed before continuing, “but more than 14.”

She blinked, “really?”

They nodded, “really.”

“Point made. So, new goal then,” she started.

“Different boyfriend?” They asked.

“I am thinking life is too short to stick to such narrow traditional relationship definitions.”

“New girlfriend?”

“Well mostly I was thinking, get laid, but ya, maybe you’re right, girls could work too,” she conceded.

They met each other’s eyes, and cracked, laughing like idiots. She didn’t care if she looked like a nutcase, laughing alone in the bleachers, because at the end of the day, what she would really be missing in a life cut short, were more moments like this.


Three of a Kind

So this week’s story is a little out of character, and I am not sure what I was thinking when I was writing it. It feels a little like a summary of a longer story, but follow the story of Shilah, Stephan, and Grayson, who find a different way to look at happily ever after.

Every morning she woke up, miserable, exhausted, over tired, and then she remembered. A smile slowly crossed her face as she turned at the edge of the bed to take a long look at her lovers.

It wasn’t common, and most people would never be able to handle this kind of relationship, but for them this was it.

Shilah and Stephan had been friends since they were kids, and half way through high school they met Grayson. Until that moment Shilah had been able to ignore the crush that Stephan had on her, and it seemed that Gray changed everything, throwing it all out of balance.

Soon Steph was more into Gray than Steph, and then it seemed he bounced between them until her and Gray finally started dating.

It flamed out after two and a half years, not due to lack of love, but due to lack of resources. They both had things they wanted more than each other, and at some point there just wasn’t enough time being made.

They said they would be friends after, and well, they were. A year later when Gray and Shilah went to a fundraiser for her Mom’s work, it was as friends, and soon it spiralled into more. A year and a half later it started to spiral back out.
By that time Steph was living with them, a small door-less office had a bead curtain to delineate the transition into bedroom. He had tried dorms, living alone, roommates, and after two months a couch surfing had finally, reluctantly accepted the office conversion.

When Shilah and Gray had started melting down, Steph had stepped up to help out, by going to Shilah’s work events, or watching stupid sci-fi movies with Gray. Gray and Shilah had in turn stepped up their friendship with Steph with treats from the grocers, or an afternoon out at the park to people watch.

When a classmate had casually commented on her partners, Shilah hadn’t even really parsed it. When the subject of polyamory came up, and she got several pointed looks, she explained that they were just good friends.

It was a kind girl with purple hair and big glasses that explained that she understood, but did Shilah know that they could be more?

It was like the genie had been let out of the bottle and from then on, it’s all she could think about.

In the days that followed it was always with her. Even when she wasn’t actively thinking about it, it was still there, lurking in the back of her mind.

Multiple google searches, followed by history clearing just in case, had given her a better idea of what she was looking at and to her surprise it was a lot more than the threesome that she was thinking about.

Honestly, with her own lack of interest in the bedroom lately due to midterms, it was what they were already doing. The thing was though, that sex changed everything and while they had been together in a few configurations, this would be different, more, and if they fucked this up it would be the end of a friendship that she wasn’t sure she could take.

Even bringing it up could ruin everything, and once she put it out there, it was a bell that could not be un-rung.

She was not however as cautious as she had thought, she realized as she looked up at the screen. The three of them were sitting curled up on the couch watching a movie with a triad relationship and she doubted it was an accident, especially with the way that Steph wouldn’t meet her eyes.

It had only taken 5 or 6 times of Steph looking away and flushing before Gray had realized something was up and by the end of the film, he two was flushing.

Bell rung.

So she started to talk, laid out her case, and then fled, mortified, to the small café down the street mumbling coffee as she stumbled out the door.

She sat on one of the overstuffed couches drowning her sorrows in a coffee that was mostly sugar, letting the crappy music wash through her when she heard a familiar cough.

She looked up, and there were her boys, red faced and awkward as they sat on either side of her.

They sat in silence for a while until, almost so quietly she couldn’t here him, Steph said that they were in.

That was 23 years ago, and against all odds, here they were, still together, still happy, still them.

The Death of Baldur – Sci-Fi Version

Hello hello, and welcome to the short story of the week, which was written for the Mythological March Event on The Writer’s Mess. This piece is for Week 3, Norse Myths, where the goal is to take one of the Norse Myths and re-imagine it. I took “The Death of Baldur” and re-imagined it as a sci-fi story, told from the perspective of Loki.

Baldur was an ass.

Okay, so Baldur was good looking, smart, and incredibly kind, which I must admit irritated me to no end.

Everyone on The Asgard absolutely loved Baldur, and they all knew him. While The Asgard, name ship of the Asgard fleet, lead ship of the Yggdrasil alliance was large, it could feel very small to those living on it. There were a lot of people on the ship who could get away with fading into the background, becoming the invisible force that kept the ship moving forward, but neither Baldur, nor myself, Loki, were among them.

I was, after all, not just the a captain’s son, but third son of the Allfather, who ran the ship, the fleet, and ultimately ruled over the entire alliance. I grew up with the same level of scrutiny as one of my samples in the lab, continuously observed, tested, and in my case providing sub-optimal results.

Everyone had known since the day Thor was born that he was to replace Odin as Allfather when the time came, as first born, it was his duty to do so. Personally, I had my doubts on how well that would go, as Thor could outfight just about anyone, in or out of the cockpit, but he has this earnest quality, a naivete about him that was sure to spell trouble for him when he took the helm. There was plenty of time for that to change though, and I feel I continue to do my part to help subdue Thor’s overly trusting nature.

Baldur was second son, my half brother, and somehow, almost impossibly, he was even more trusting and earnest than Thor. Baldur was a pacifist, a position which I could never bring myself to support, and worked as a diplomat, spreading peace where Thor would choose to fight.

I would have thought that my parents would try and dissuade him from his ridiculous notions, but instead they indulged him, in a way that I was never indulged. Everyone loved Baldur, from his friends, e to his enemies, and well with Baldur no one stayed the latter for long.

Where Baldur could do no wrong, I could do no right. I was fair with a weapon, but not like Thor, had a silver tongue, but could never broker peace like Baldur, and my gifts instead laid in the fields of science, and technology. Oh the things I could do with holo-projections were unparalleled, and while I was penalised for the prank later, I once convinced Thor that he was speaking to our mother, when in fact, it was one of my works. Was I congratulated on my success? No, I was confined to quarters because Thor hadn’t the brains not to paint the hull pink, the idiot.

My talents didn’t end with holo-projections though and I could use plants, and crystals to heal the most lethal of wounds, and when I fought, a little of the right tincture on my blade made me far more lethal than my dear brother.

I, however, was dismissed as a trickster, a child, and no matter how glorious my creations, I could not get my father to see me for what I was, gifted. Watching the same man who told me that I could not trick my way out of a fair fight without being branded a coward, turn around and praise Baldur for refusing the same fight was infuriating, and I watched it happen again and again, day after day.

While Baldur was never anything but kind to me, and wasn’t that the worst, having someone you hated being nice to you, ugh, I did not feel the same way in return.

I could ignore them treating Thor differently, as Thor would one day be responsible for all of us, but then there was Baldur. It was like my parents had their heir, their spare, and then got saddled with me. I decided to make myself useful, and where I worked on Thor’s gullibility, with Baldur I worked on his pacifism. Sure he had guards, but there were so many dangers out there that the guards could not defend him from.

I mean, when I helped that delegate smuggle in that blaster, I didn’t expect him to actually SHOOT at Baldur, you know, just be armed. Father was livid with me after that incident, but not for my actual role, the delegate died before he had a chance to reveal my hand in it. No, Father was livid as he believed I should have been able to disarm the attacker prior to the shot, despite being half a room away, and unable to see what was going on.

It did inspire action though, not from Baldur of course, but from my dear mother, who insisted Baldur be kept safe. Thus began the “great upgrade” where over three years the fleet’s security system was revolutionised to detect and disable threats.

The cost was astronomical, and the sheer marketing of it all, spinning the colossal waste of funds into something that would “keep us all safe” was absolutely disgusting, as there was no way that the endeavour could succeed. I told Father as much, that there would always be a way around such a system, a novelty, an oversight, and my Father, arrogant as he was, issued the challenge for me to get around it.

Well, not in so many words, he said that I was acting childish as I could not think of way around it, and I knew that he meant it as a challenge. The biggest weakness in the system, as far as I could tell, was in the detection of poisons, where things such as amounts and species changed all the variables.

The science teams were aware of it though, and my own healing research was incorporated into the system, though the extensiveness was glossed over rather than praised, and I did GOOD work. One by one. All departments’ research was uploaded, and then came the plants.

They were sensitive, as so many had applications in healing that could also harm, so Frigg herself added the information in, on each plant, the uses, the doses, etc., and I watched in disgust as critical research went untended in favour of the system that should never have been.

It was going to make us lazy, slow, and when the time came that we encountered an enemy that was not so slow, our guard would be down, and I had to make them see that. Pandering to Baldur’s whims could end up coming back to hurt us all.

The system appeared perfect, and dozens tried to bypass it when it first went up, throwing things at Baldur, trying to hurt him, and laughing at the system holding them back. I knew then that Baldur was in far more danger than Thor, someone would eventually be successful, and Baldur was learning to stand in front of blasters instead of duck, this would not do. I hated him, but having him dead, it seemed a step too far.

It took me eight months to find a flaw in the system, and I waited another year to allow the security system to become old hat, for the slowness of complacency to creep over the fleet before I enacted my plan.

When I searched the database, I had found that Frigg had not been nearly as thorough as she may have thought, and there was a loophole, a missing plant, and a missing evaluation, mistletoe.

Obviously I wouldn’t be able to get him to just eat it, and really, it wasn’t typically lethal in this manner, so it would be a poor test indeed. Instead I would capitalise on Baldur’s daily tradition, of tea with friends, and add some mistletoe to the next batch of new tea strains that were being tried. It would be their own fault, having the service being prepared entirely by Hod, a blind man, without any prior identification of plants being added. They were just asking or it.

At worst it wouldn’t taste good, they would take a few sips and feel some nausea, and at best, they would all drink a cup, and get some terrible cramps, then I could reveal that in a higher dosage it could have been lethal. I would prove that the guards were still needed, and that the security system was flawed.

I had no sooner switched out this days dried berries for mistletoe,. than I was summoned to the Allfather’s chambers. I admit, at first I assumed that the security system was far more sophisticated than I had expected, but alas I was disappointed to learn that I once again was being sent on a mission that someone with half my credentials could have completed. I was never allowed on any of the good projects, unless I started them myself, and even then they were sometimes given to another.

I was gone three whole days, and the thought that kept me going was the look that would be on Father’s face when he realised that the oh so vaulted security system-that he would not let me assist in designing, but I wasn’t bitter at that, I did not think it could work-had failed so badly as to allow for the mild poisoning of Baldur the perfect. It would be glorious.

That there was no one at the shuttle to greet me was surprising, I expected at the least that Father would send someone to request my immediate contribution to the security system, or my recommendations, given my prior dismissal of it, but there was no one.

The halls were near empty, the mood visibly low, and when I read my messages in my quarters, I sat heavily on my bed as my knees went weak. Baldur, second son, ambassador of the Yggdrasil alliance was dead.

It was being hailed as an accident, Hod, had added the lethal mistletoe berries to a new tea blend in error, and they were not recognized by the security system as poisonous due to an oversight in programming. It seemed that a brief border scuffle had cancelled the tea gathering of the day, and so enamoured by the new flavour, Baldur had drank the entire pot alone during an overnight meditation, and been found dead the following morning. An investigation hadn’t revealed how the poisonous berries had ended up in Hod’s hands, but it was being assumed that it was a mix-up on one of the greenhouse ships with tragic consequences.

It would be days before I received my accolades, for being right about the security system’s flaws. The Allfather had Frigg add mistletoe, and redesign all the modules relating to plant’s toxins. I was summarily ignored, as usual, as apparently despite being correct I was still not good enough to help reprogram the system.

I was watched far more carefully after that, and while the guard all claimed it was because I was now second son, I knew otherwise. For no reason at all, Odin suspected me, and it hurt to have my motivations questioned.

The biggest downside of it all, was the time I now was forced to spend with Thor, to help smooth over his rough edges when taking on diplomacy. Listening to him fumble another greeting I missed Baldur a little, for his buffer had let me keep to the laboratory and skip most of these silly meetings.

I looked over at Thor, who was basking in the attention of an ambassador who would take advantage, and realised I was going to have to up my game with hi,. Thor could not take over the alliance with an attitude such as this, and he was going to have to improve, or I would have to do something about it.

I will admit, this was partially inspired by the myth, and partially inspired by David’s Tea, that has a few tea blends with mistletoe, which I question heavily due to the fact it’s poisonous. It was the first day in an advent calendar I gave from there once, and my friend asked if I was trying to kill them… I also worked to add in the unreliable narrator aspect, so make sure to drop by and comment if it worked. Thanks!

The Bacchae- A Contemporary Adaptation

Hello hello and welcome to this week’s short story, which was written for The Writer’s Mess challenge of writing a Greek Myth adaptation. I decided to write about Dionysus, and do a contemporary take on The Bacchae. It’s a little odd, and in first person, which you will see again for my Norse Myth post in two weeks. Apparently Gods like saying “I”, who knew they had such ego…

I was born the son of Zeus, not that anyone believed my mother when she told them.  They couldn’t imagine Zeus, A-lister as he was, choosing to have an affair with my mother of all people, even after she died in childbirth.

My father’s wife was furious to hear of my conception, the one person who did believe it, and so I was raised sleeping beauty style, in a small town at the base of Mount Nysa, by some people my father trusted to keep me safe. 

I didn’t set out for the celebrity life, the spotlight of it all, I started out making wine, because, well, wine is awesome.  I love wine, and I was good at making it, good enough that I went from being someone no one had ever heard of, to becoming a renown vintner.  Next thing I knew, I was living with the other world-famous people, in Olympus Heights, the most exclusive suburb in LA, where my father lived, and I had like made it.

It’s where I was when I heard the rumours my late mother’s sisters were spreading. Apparently, they didn’t believe I was famous, that I had status, and they were telling people that my mother was a, well, I don’t event want to repeat it, but it was the kind of thing that made my blood boil.

I know that the revenge was petty, that I was above it, and that I should have just let it all go, and if it had just been about me, I probably would have.  I had gotten used to having people take issue with me, I mean, when you make the premier wine in the world, party like it’s 1999 every weekend, the tabloids are going to tell tall tails, but my dead mother, she was off limits.

So, I got a make-under, a baseball cap, rented a low-key car and headed out to Thebes. Thebes was a good size town, near mount Citherion, and it’s Mayor was, my cousin Pentheus. He apparently had taken over from his grandfather, isn’t nepotism grand, not too long ago, and my aunts still lived there, stirring the pot.

My revenge was actually pretty simple, shove my existence down those ignorant assholes’ throats.

The method was simple as well, hold the party to end all parties.  On paper it was a promotional event, trying to break into a local market and all that jazz.  A few dozen venues were rented, stocked, and samples of his wine would be served all afternoon free of charge, with full bottles available for purchase.  At night, the events would switch to more of the party atmosphere, with the alcohol flowing for a low price, my logo on every cup, every napkin, every wall.  Then there was the map, which showed all the venues, which was soon to turn the whole thing into a crawl, making the party spill onto the streets, with Dionysus on their tongues. It would last an entire week, and when it was over, not even my family would be able to deny my existence.

I will admit, they were far more resistant than I would have expected, and to my surprise it was my dear cousin who held fast in his belief, trying a curfew, a crusade for quiet aimed directly at me, at arresting those who danced in the street speaking my name, and we both knew it.

I tried to change his mind, in disguise, but he could not be persuaded.   Things escalated quickly, and I will admit, I did a few things that while I am not ashamed of, they aren’t exactly points of pride.

Tricking him into cross-dressing to get into a women’s only party, and then spreading the rumor that there was a man on the registry masquerading at the part was probably overdoing it.  Even I didn’t expect them to beat him to death with their bare hands.  That his own mother, my aunt, she who disparaged my mother, was among those casting the blows, I will admit, it felt a little like karma.

When she finally realized who the man on the floor was, who I really was, watching her weep was less satisfying that I would have expected it to be.  Far more satisfying was having grandfather acknowledge who I was, rightfully so, and when he slithered off for a fresh start with my bereaved aunt, I finally let it go. 

I was Dionysus, and never again would someone speak ill of me or mine, and it felt good.