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Rupertfroggington t1_iy3h4vn wrote

There’s not enough sunlight for the trees to grow as they once did. They’re short, stubby things now. They’re like children deficient of vitamins, their spines curved, life-expectancy reduced.

All the same, trees do grow again in this corpse of a city. They broke through the ancient concrete like fists battering layers of sheet-ice until it cracked.

I sit on a patch of weeds in front of a crackling fire. The day — or night — is grey and shadowed. The clouds are swirls of black and purple that won’t settle in my lifetime. I feel like I am in a box, or a coffin perhaps, and the lid has been shut on me.

I throw more wood onto the fire then cook a skewered rat over the blaze. The fire leaps excitedly at the food.

The city teems with rats and trees and fruit that rots before it ripens. It is life after death for the city, like poppies growing on a battlefield. But it will never be what it was. There was a time I’d spend my days searching the city, hoping to find something but not knowing what that something was. Now, I barely move. Only to catch food and to cook.

I throw a piece of well-browned meat onto the fire. Then I lean back and try to read my book in the firelight hoping it distracts me from the pain. There is no cover to the book and I can’t be sure of the author, but I think it’s a classic. A slice of American life when the American dream was whole but rippled — like a stick had poked a watery reflection, but the reflection was still just about visible.

“It’s kind of you,” says a voice. “But I’d appreciate my meat less well done.”

It’s the first voice I’ve heard in a decade.

I hold my trembling arms together at my chest as a woman approaches my fire. Sits calmly opposite me.

“Are you… are you real?” I ask, in a raw unpracticed voice.

It wouldn’t be my first hallucination.

Her features are silhouetted, the darting flames only lighting up to her neck.

“It’s impressive,” she says.

I shake my head. I’m at a loss. “What is?”

”That your faith is still with you after so long. After everything.”

“Who are you?”

”The person at the other end of the phone.” She smiles — I see her white teeth even in the semi-darkness. “I’ve been listening to your calls. Every night for almost forty years. You believe you’re the last, don’t you?”

”The last?”

”The last person.”

”Oh.” It’s a thought I’ve suffered many times — it’s the lid that closed my coffin. I haven’t seen anyone since leaving the sewer. Not a soul. And if I was the last, if I allowed myself to believe it, then what would be the point? Humanity would have already ended and I would be a scene playing after the credits. Why would I keep wandering if there was no hope, or future — if there’s nothing more than this?

”They’re doing well,” she says. “I’m looking after them.”


”Your prayer.”

I try to laugh. “Prayer? I don’t pray. It’s clear there’s no god or the world wouldn’t look like this. I wouldn’t be like this.“ I tap the stump of my right foot with my walking stick. A slight cut turned infectious turned self-amputation. Since then, my search for others has stopped. Now I wait in this city, hoping someone finds me instead.

“You pray for them not yourself,” she says. “That they’re happy. That they’re taken care of. Your parents. Your wife. Your children. You pray for this each time you eat. Are you really that torn that you can’t remember your prayer?”

”I don’t believe in god.”

She smiles again. “And yet you pray. Subconsciously, perhaps. Every single meal. Because deep down, below all the pain and hate, you do believe. You need to.“

”You’re not real,” I say. I‘ve known it since she sat down but now I’m firm in my belief.

“You pray for you dog, too. You hope animals end up in heaven. You hope you’ll see them all again.”

Tears cut trails through the dirt on my face.

“You’re not real,” I say, softer.

She stands now. Walks around the fire until she is sitting by my side.

”You hung on so long,” she says.


”You hang on still.”

”…Why? Why do I?”

”Because to be human is to hope.”

She touches my leg. Moves a hand slowly down my calf to my stump.

“Your amputation wasn’t enough. Your blood is still poisoned.”

I don’t look down at it; instead I look at the velvet coffin-box sky. I’d hoped to live but I’m not going to.

“You’re here to take me, then?” I say. “You’re something people see in their own mind, to come to terms with their death.”

She tilts her head. “I’m here to thank you. For never giving up on me or yourself or on those you loved. On your faith. And I promise I’ll look after them for you.”

She presses her hand hard against my calf and I feel my body pulse, as if my blood is being drawn to her palm.

“What is…”

”Shhh,” she says. “Rest now. Tomorrow is a new day. You’re not the last. Keep your hope alive.”

I want to struggle, fight, I want to ask a hundred questions, but a tiredness floods my veins and I fall slowly back on the bed of weeds.


When I wake, she is gone. I am well rested. I feel like I have slept long and deep.

I look up at the sky. There seems to be a glimmer of light on the horizon, as if the coffin’s lid has been opened just a crack.

I imagine the trees growing a little taller next year.

After breakfast, I begin my search about the city. Perhaps today I will find something.


TheCerealFiend t1_iy3tpqb wrote

Holy shit dude you're good at this. Well done!


goathill t1_iy473wq wrote

Seconded. I wish I could upvote this twice


peach2play t1_iy3un27 wrote

That's a wonderful take. 5 stars, totally recommend.


thesmolestboi t1_iy4841n wrote

I don’t normally comment much but I had to to tell you that this was beautifully written! I loved it!!


boredcharou t1_iy4mjm5 wrote

I'm usually just a silent reader. But dang man - this was exceptional! What an amazing piece of writing! Really hope you flesh this one out.. please?


Spare_Confidence1727 t1_iy5fygf wrote

Holy shit dude this feels like it is but a piece of chapter one of book one out of at least three or four maybe more


Zealousideal-Ad-1569 t1_iy5vqu1 wrote

I got chills reading this. I saw Mother Nature in my minds eye comforting one of her children. So nicely done. Applause.


purduephotog t1_iy69cka wrote

>I want to struggle, fight, I want to ask a hundred questions, but a tiredness floods my veins and I fall slowly back on the bed of weeds.

Wow. This is great work- thank you!


nevaleigh t1_iy6ia4o wrote

Are you a fan of Brandon Sanderson? This has the feel of one of Hoid’s stories


Rareu t1_iy5m64k wrote

Hmm I could sure use a part two it’s just that damned good.


booobutt t1_iy6azfa wrote

This gave me chills. You should turn this into a short story or maybe even a book.


MolhCD t1_iy7w9ls wrote

dammit, YOU again. everytime i read something here that gives me feels and they show the name at the end and it's you yet again.


spiritAmour t1_iy6b9ok wrote

i always used my free award today, so take this poor-man's award 🥇 i really liked this :)


MechisX t1_iyabmy7 wrote

It is uncommon for us to meet our gods.

It is even more uncommon for them to come to us.

His god cares for him and for that she gave him back his faith and hope.


WoodsTellsTales t1_iy3extd wrote

I plucked the marshmallow from the bag and gave it several firm squeezes, as I felt its springy texture roll between my thumb and fingers. Satisfied with the moment of sensory bliss, I attached it to the end of my poker and extended it over the coals.

The fire was at the perfect temperature. I was always fussy about how the coals were spread before roasting. It could be an arduous process, for sure. But it was essential to making the perfect s’more.

Tens of meticulous rotations later, the marshmallow bore a crunchy gold crust, just how I like it. After slapping it on my chocolate and securing it between two graham crackers, I moved to throw away the empty bag. To my surprise, I discovered a lone marshmallow firmly lodged in the corner.

A deft flick later, it soared landing in the bed of coals, releasing a few sparks.

“For the Gods,” I muttered sarcastically.

“You know,” a soft feminine voice rang out. “I much prefer my offerings, unburnt.”

I yelped in shock as my chair tipped over backward, leaving me sprawled face up in the dirt. Thankfully, I was able to lift my arm and keep my s’more safe and dirt free. A woman strolled into the dying firelight as I scrambled to my feet.

She bore a wry smile, but not unkind eyes as she motioned for me to hand her the poker that lay by my side. An awkward handoff later, she began to agitate the coals sending up a shower of sparks to the heavens.

The woman wore a stunning white dress that clung to her figure; it seemed to illuminate the dreary night. As the fire roared to life, she tucked her long, jet-black hair behind her ears and gave a satisfied nod.

“Ahh, much better.” She gave me a divine smile and extended the poker back to me.

As I grabbed the poker I cleared my throat, “Erm, I’m sorry. Do I know you?”

“Ah I forgot!” the woman giggled. “Introductions and all that. Very well then, I am the Goddess Hestia.” She gave a mock bow.

“G-Goddess?” I spluttered as she nodded as if she was encouraging me. “N-nice to meet you.” I finally spit out.

Hestia walked closer to me and extended her pale hands, palm up. Confused, I shifted my eyes between her hand and eyes. Several pointed looks from her later, I realized she wanted my s’more, to which I reluctantly forfeited.

A satisfied smile later, Goddess Hestia sat firmly in my chair and crunched away in bliss.

I wasn’t sure if I should break her happy munching, but curiosity won out in the end.

“Uh, Goddess? Can I ask what you are doing here?”

Hestia plopped the last bite of the s’more in her mouth and closed her eyes as if she was savoring it.

A few licks of her fingers later, “Well, I get first offering of course!”

I was perplexed. “Erm, first offering?”

She nodded and continued, “Yep! Any time one of you mortals performs an offering I get first dibs!” She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Perks of being the Goddess of the Hearth and all that.”

She stood up from my chair and dusted off the few specks of graham cracker sprinkled on her dress, several steps later she stood in front of me.

“Oh, and while I’m here. We need to talk.” She accentuated each word with a firm poke in my chest.

I felt the air change as if all the light in the world vanished. The beautiful Goddess transformed in front of me into something out of my worst nightmares. Her dark hair began to float, and her eyes narrowed in what could only be described as malice.

When she spoke again, her voice boomed and I felt the reverberation in my chest. “Stop burning my food!”

Several furious meek nods later from me later, she reverted to the beautiful kind woman and flashed me another divine smile. “Sound good?”

“Y-yes Goddess.” I all but whimpered.

One last smile and she strode away from the firelight, before turning to look over her shoulder quickly like she forgot something.

“Oh! By the way, that s’more was really good, what did you do to it?”

“Oh, um, well you put a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg on it before you squish it together.”

“Nutmeg huh? Hmm,” she hummed and stroked her chin. “I’ll have to try that.”

With that, she vanished into the night. Several furious blinks later, a pop of the logs and a shower of sparks brought me back to my senses. S’moreless.


FachtnaNuadha t1_iy3m6ve wrote

I liked this! It was a fun read.

I had only one logical hangup:


“… okay, then. Is there something like HermesDash or AgniEats I can use to send it to you?”


WoodsTellsTales t1_iy3nf9b wrote

That's clever! You should write one about that. I struggled to tie it all together if I'm being honest, your idea would have helped!


S4njay t1_iy7qq0b wrote


Agni, as in the Hindu fire god?


VoidTheNoob t1_iy4lzmx wrote

I love how they are just focused on the s'mores. Me too man, me too


Lazzanator t1_iy3qlkz wrote

I really like this style of writing


WoodsTellsTales t1_iy3s30s wrote

Thanks, you are too kind! I would recommend checking out the mob story and Artemis one I did yesterday, I wrote them similarly and felt I did a better job on them.


SirPiecemaker t1_iy3n555 wrote

"May you accept this humble offering, oh gods, and watch over me on my travels," I said quietly as I a piece of meat into the fire and bit into the rest.

"You know," a gravely voice suddenly rang out behind me, "I prefer my meat un-burnt."

I darted upwards and turned to see whoever spoke; it was rare for anyone to sneak up on me. A lifetime on the road taught me better. Stranger still, the man before me was old and frail. I was surprised he approached me without snapping a bone, let alone any branches to make a sound.

"Oh, please, please, don't get up," he smiled and walked closer to the fire as if my hand wasn't on the hilt of my sword. "Really. Sit. You're making me feel rude," he chuckled and, with a loud grunt, sat down.

I could see him better now that he was by the fire. He looked well over 70, his face wrinkled and tired, and only wore dusty old rags. A beggar, likely.

"Who are you?" I asked as I sat back down.

"Just a traveller," he said casually. Then, without a sound, he leaned forward and reached into the fire. His hand remained in it for several seconds before he pulled it out holding the piece of meat I threw in. The offering. He put it in his mouth and chewed - I could see that neither his hand nor his rags bore any burn marks.

"You're..." I gasped.


I stood up again, only to fall to my knees.

"Please forgive me, o' Hermes, for I did-"

"Oh please, sit down!" he growled. "Can't stand all this grovelling. You've been on your feet all day, take it easy, will you?"

Slowly, carefully, I resumed my position by the fire but kept staring at him with wide eyes, unsure of what to do next.

"Eat," he commanded. I carefully bit into the meat.

"You're wondering why I'm here, sitting with you, aren't you, Lavrentios?"

I nodded. I couldn't force myself to speak, too afraid of saying something wrong.

He smiled. "Sorry to disappoint, but there is no grand reveal. I'm not about to send you on a mighty quest filled with peril. I just wanted some company. But, if I am not mistaken," he said and his eyes briefly lit up with a golden light, "you are relieved to hear that."

"...yes. Yes, I am."

"I respect that. A man that likes his place in the world. Rare nowadays, I'll say."

He reached deep into his robe and produced a waterskin that he took a long sip out of before offering it to me. I carefully accepted and took a swig - it was wine. The best wine I had ever tasted in my mortal life. I swiftly took another gulp before handing it back.

"Thank you," I said quietly.

"I like you, Lavrentios," he suddenly opened. "You're humble. Pious, but not zealous. A capable messenger," he said and nodded towards the bag sitting beside me. "Are you happy with your lot in life?"

"Of course, o' Hermes!" I spurted out quickly.

His eyes glowed gold again.

"Certainly not that happy, but I understand you're nervous talking to me."

He took a deep breath, taking in the fresh night air.

"But," he said, "about your offerings."

Cold sweat ran down my forehead. He reached into his robes again, pulling out... a silver coin. He placed it on a nearby stump and as he did, the moonlight hit it at just the right angle to shine straight into my eyes, forcing me to wince. When I opened them again, the man was nowhere to be seen, though I could hear his voice echo all around me.

"Place them beside the fire next time, would you?"


asolitarycandle t1_iy3j9hs wrote

Full moons and wide open plains have always had a certain serenity to which the city could never compare. Out here, in the dark and cold, Ember felt lighter than a feather. The horses added to that as they pushed her around but that was their job and hers was to guide them and the carriage south.

Winter’s edge had started to be felt far up on the slopes of the mountains and they needed a couple of supplies before snow made the path difficult to travel. Her parents and a cousin were all in the back as the last of the sunlight had faded. They argued. Ember tried her best not to pay them any mind.

It was late, night had come early as deep clouds threatened yet only stood menacingly on the hillside till they parted as the wind changed. Luna crept over the horizon as Ember settled for the night and started her fire. Small kindling and a couple of dry logs that she had found crackled softly as she pulled out her small pot. Salted meat and a couple of vegetables flavoured a skin of water as they were all brought to a simmer. Holding a piece of pork back from the water, Ember smiled into the fire and held a small piece of meat to it.

“Esseem, protector and guardian, please watch over us as you always have,” Ember whispered as her family tried to set up the small tent they had brought with them. Her Ma wouldn’t approve, she didn’t believe in the family’s ancient guardian nor thought it was wise to invoke a deity that hadn’t brought them any fortune in living memory. From the moment her great-grandfather had spoken to her of the old legends, Ember had felt a kinship to the ancient spirit and their stories. Taking a deep breath, Ember sniffed the pork and then whispered, “I wish there was more I could give you.”

"You know, I would very much prefer my food un-burnt," a whisper returned to her before she was able to place the meat in the fire.

Ember flinched away and dropped the dried morsel next to the fire. A small cat, darker than the night around her bounced out of the bushes and pounced on the meal Ember had left for them. Biting down, it gave out a bit of a warble in frustration as the hardened salted pork pocked at its mouth. Ember watched.

“You humans make your food so tough,” a whisper came from the creature as they hissed at the food and then glanced up at the pot of now boiling water, “Is that any easier to eat?”

“Yes?” Ember whispered back, glancing at the pot and then at her family by the carriage. Was this real? Taking a cube out of the pot she flung it toward the dark-furred cat and watched it eat. Seemingly satisfied, the cat licked its paws and gave out a quiet meow. Ember hesitated for a moment but had to ask, “What are you?”

“You’re guardian,” the cat whispered before declaring, “I am the lord Esseem.”

“You're a cat,” Ember argued back.

“Very observant human,” Esseem acknowledge, “You will make a brilliant new high priestess.”

“What? No, hang on,” Ember tried to argue but the cat ignore her and went to the pot. Before the thing was able to look into it, Ember grabbed it and pulled it away, whispering, “No, that’s not yours.”

“Human!” the cat called out as it struggled, “Unhand me! This form needs substances.”

“I’m going nuts,” Ember whispered to herself as she dragged the cat away.

“You are not,” the cat argued, “I, your faithful protector, have… umm… protected you.”

“From what?” Ember argued back, “Mice?”

“Among other things,” the cat explained as it twisted and tried to get out of Ember’s grasp. Barn cats weren’t all that hard to move once you learned how to get the claws facing away from you and Ember had more than a little experience at this point. Never had a talking one though. That was new. The cat stopped struggling for a second and looked around, “Where are you taking me?”

“Away from our food,” Ember scoffed as she carried the cat passed the light of the campfire and put it down facing away.

“How rude,” the cat whispered, “You offer me food and then pull me away from it?”

“I didn’t,” Ember argued, “I offered you one small piece, not the entire pot.”

“Ember!” Ember heard her father call out and glanced at the carriage, “What’s wrong?”

“There’s this weird cat,” Ember yelled back and looked down to now bare land. A scuffle behind her and she saw the black cat was almost back at the pot. “Hey! No, you stupid… Don’t you dare.”

The cat only had its paw in the pot for a second but was able to scoop up a large piece of meat for itself and bolt away. Her father saw the thing as well and ran toward the fire but it was long gone before either of them got to it.

“Till your next offering!” a small, wispy voice carried on the wind behind the cat.

Ember could only watch the thing go as her father gave her a confused frown.

If you want to read more of my work, you can find it over at r/asolitarycandle. Not sure what to read, check out my favorites.


BlackwoodBear79 t1_iy3wyrn wrote

My wife occasionally thinks me strange when I treat feeding the cats as a sacrificial offering.

You brought that to life, thank you!


purduephotog t1_iy69lfs wrote

>“Till your next offering!” a small, wispy voice carried on the wind behind the cat.

Heh, oh that poor kid!


SamuelVimesTrained t1_iy88iqk wrote

>“From what?” Ember argued back, “Mice?”

That sentence makes me glad for my own office - as for sure i`d have startled colleagues with my laugh.


Well done.


MechisX t1_iyacaf3 wrote

That is a cat alright.

Had to argue with mine just a little bit ago over MY dinner.


Ataraxidermist t1_iy3rqtb wrote

"How then?"

Prepared with love.

Amadeus had little going on for himself. I'm not much of a man, it's the sort of things he kept repeating in front of the mirror. Not that he minded, some people were meant to stay in the background and never become a main character. Amadeus had that sort of stoic fatalism to help him going through the day. If not me, then somebody else gets to stand in the light, and I'm happy for them.

"I expect more from you," she would say. She, Amadeus' boss at work.

The hardest part was the lack of purpose. If he had to remain on the sidelines, then at least someone should tell him how a sideline character keeps himself occupied. The routine of work, sleep and loneliness didn't cut it, and at 40, Amadeus' stoicism had trouble withholding the assault of a budding mid-life crisis.

And then the voice made itself know. Maybe it was always there, waiting. Or he had been lucky. Or a myriad of other possibilities, the voice didn't specify, and Amadeus didn't ask. Their conversations were few, but they gave Amadeus what he had been longing for: a purpose.

Rare meat. No, raw meat, it would sometimes say.

An ephemeral whim, perhaps. But an original objective still. So Amadeus put the dead cat in the center of a crudely carved offering bowl. Nothing happened.

Until he watched elsewhere.

And the corpse was gone. He felt disappointed to not see the body disappear.

Dreadfully sorry, said the voice, reality-breaching happenings have a tendency to break human's sanity beyond any hope of repairing.

"And a permanent voice in my head doesn't?"

If you think you're sane, you might want to look into the mirror.

Amadeus looked and saw himself. That's the problem with sane and insane, it doesn't always show on the outside.

"I expect more from you," of course, a mysterious voice in his head didn't absolve Amadeus from working to pay the bills.

It liked Pork, marinated duck and loathed chicken. More than all of this though, it adored the love Amadeus put into his cooking. It loved the effort and dedication he went through to serve proper meals. And the voice loved him back in turn.

"I expect more from you," it was the last time Amadeus heard the boss' words, as he held her high by the throat with a strength beyond any definition of sane, her feet dangling above the floor, her eyes turning to fog and life leaving her.

Now that's a treat!

Everyone suspected him, but he was never bothered. Nobody found the body.

Amadeus was a murderer now, with only his conscience to judge him. A conscience dimmed by exhilaration.

He felt like a man.

I think you and I can come to an agreement.

"That, we do."

The days had a shine to them now. No judge, no jury, only the executioner. Although, there was a slight judging involved. Here stood a blond fellow, tall, muscular, so terribly successful in love, in sports, at life. But he was nice, so Amadeus let him be.

Here was another with dark hair, even larger, with a brutish look on his face. And Amadeus got to know him, silently. Without words, he learned.

We rarely talk lately. Then again, maybe I was never there at all.

And when Amadeus learned what an asshole he was looking at, it wasn't long until the brute's two feet were dangling above the ground, as his throat was crushed.

Amadeus was content staying in the background. But he was very picky about who got to be a main character.


Taarabdh t1_iy4cuzm wrote

Chilling, and yet full of curiousity about so many directions it could go.

Would work very well as a take on Jekyll and Hyde. Or even an example of Frankenstein's monster done right.

Such a good response to the prompt. Thank you for sharing it.


Ataraxidermist t1_iy4ozj2 wrote

My pleasure, and thank you for the compliment. Didn't know where to go when it started but I like the result.


JerraNeedsHobbies t1_iy4qyr0 wrote

Edit: This is literally my first time to write for fun, so constructive criticism is appreciated!

Another normal night was in the works. Cooking over the campfire has been my nightly ritual since I started squatting in these woods three months ago. The people in the nearest village warned me not to come here; they say it's home to a trickster spirit, but I've never been superstitious so I paid their warnings no mind. I still can't decide if that was a good idea or not.

I stirred my chopped veggies as they sizzled in the cast iron skillet. Food is never scarce in a forest when you know what to look for. The smell of my impending meal reached my nostrils: sunchokes, wild onions, and fennel. I plucked the skillet from the fire and very tenderly scraped a bit out onto the glowing coals for whoever shares this forest with me, as has been my habit since the first week here. It seemed to calm the smoke, and more importantly, it usually made me feel less alone. It was then that I heard something that I hadn't heard in weeks: a voice.

"You know, I would very much prefer my food unburnt," it said from somewhere behind me, in an accent that belonged in a Shakspearian parody. Startled, I slung the food from my skillet and prepared to hit whoever approached.

"Well you didn't have to throw it on the ground,” muttered my uninvited guest, scrambling from the shadows to pick up my dinner and shovel it into his oddly gaping mouth. Though it had a human form, its skin was the color of ash and its eyes looked like glowing coals. As I moved forward, armed with a skillet, its scalp ignited into flowing hair made of flames. It cowered back as I screamed, its hair extinguishing with a sizzle.

“Who are you? WHAT are you?!” I bellowed into the empty night, certain that this one would be my last.

“I am the Fritz, and I’ve decided I like you. Put down the weapon, lest I decide I do not”.

Stepping backwards, I lowered the skillet. The Fritz continued eating, ignoring my presence and my frantically muttered questions. When it finished, it turned to me, its eyes no longer glowing but instead black as virgin coal. “I am the Fritz. I am the Fire and the Forests burnt long before this one sprouted. I have always been, and I always will be. And while I appreciate your offerings, I prefer my vegetables raw as they cook from my touch”.

This was no hallucination. As The Fritz approached, I could feel heat radiating from its body from yards away despite its small stature. It reached directly into my fire and grabbed a small, glowing chunk of log. Finally processing the creature’s request, I quickly ran to my modest, hand dug root cellar for some fresh sunchokes. When I returned, all that remained of it was a series of small, charred footprints in the grass and a large, raw, glowing diamond carefully placed in my skillet.


intheweebcloset t1_iy4tidr wrote

A man sat in the woods, face and chest enveloped by the orange glow of the flame before him, all other sides of him in darkness. Crickets roared and owls crooned from tall trees, creating a soothing environment for the man as he unzipped his maroon-soaked knapsack and pulled out a slab of raw deer meat.

Fresh. The man had just killed it himself. The iron scent induced a comforted sigh from him as he tossed the meat into the fire, listened to its cackle and went to his knees for prayer.

"May the gods bless me with go- better fortune. Despite all the misfortune which has befallen me, I still believe. May your spirit fill the void felt by my fami-" He stopped and turned.

"I would very much prefer my food unburnt. Did you know that Isley?" A voice said. A deep voice at that, its bass resonated through Isley's molars.

Isley knew something was off before the words even greeted him. Mid-prayer, the wood behind him had started to emit a pale blue glow so intense it painted the flame in front of him a lilac color.

He couldn't have known the sight waiting behind him, the presence of a semi-transparent pre-pubescent boy fitted in an oversized t-shirt and sneakers. His attire and stature suggested youth and innocence, yet his eyes and slight tilt of the head hinted at maturity.

"Isley?" He paused. "How do you know my name is Isley?"

"I would hope one of my devout believers wouldn't be foolish or a simpleton. Take it all in. Think about it, and the answer will come to you." The boy said. With a snap of his finger, the rosy flame behind Isley dismissed itself. He extended his hand with a smile and said. "Offerings are much better when they're personally delivered anyway."

Isley froze and considered running away. Thought better of it and reached for the deer meat sitting atop the ashes, much to the boy's dismay. "No, you fool!" Too late. Isley grabbed the deer flesh and understood the warning immediately.

A scorching pain shot through his arm as the child berated him.

"I can't believe you did that! It was a joke. I didn't believe you would grab meat straight from a fire! Are you stupid? Does that brain come with a warranty?" On and on he went.

Tears stained Isley's cheeks as he listened, and a smile crept on his face. "I'm s-so glad. My wife strongly believed in you, and you sound just like her. So I guess there truly is a bit of the gods in each of us."

Yet his smile lived shorter than his tears, dying young like all good things. He doubled over as images of his family haunted his memory. His deceased family. His extinguished family, whose deaths he accidentally caused. He wept.

Eyes narrow, the boy approached his trembling body, squatted, and placed a hand under Isley's left shoulder blade.

Panic shot through Isley's spine upon the cold touch. He felt violated, as if the touch had probed his very essence. Probed and seized all his secrets. Secrets he didn't know he had and strewn them around the public forum of his mind.

Would the god know?

Would it know that his own foolishness killed his family? He never mentioned that part in his prayers.

Would it know he wished he had been the one to die every day, not them? Despite his best attempts to seem grateful?

Would it know... would it know he secretly cursed the gods themselves? Spiteful at their very existence?

In truth, praying had long been a tradition for him. A habit he carried out mindlessly with little belief. His wife is the believer in the family, or rather she was. But, unlike him, she'd always been strong, reliable, and intelligent. So why was she the one to die from his mistake?

Though he didn't believe, the prayers were his only repentance.

The young boy removed his hand and flopped next to him on the Earth. His eyes searched Isley's as if double-checking a room stripped bare. Finally, he spoke.

"I would like to hear your prayer more intimately this time. Please share it with me."


Fluid_Capital_2483 t1_iy3v8px wrote

[Wip] Usually when I prepare my food I make extra for whatever God or upper being wants my food. As I had finished making my food I threw the extras into the fire and started to eat my own portion, "You know, I would very much prefer my food un-burnt." I wiped my head around looking for whoever was talking, not seeing anyone so I called out. "Hello who said that?" I grabbed my dagger and was prepared to fight but then the voice called out agian, "what you think you can kill me with that gods can't die from the power of humans, though they've tried." I wiped my head around to see a tall being with pale blue skin black eyes with white eyes and black horns. I stood there frozen, "S-So your the one that's been taking my offerings?!?" The God gave a cocktail smile as he said "Well yes its free food and it's good apart from the fact that it's burnt which all you needed to do was put the food out on a tree stump or something." The put the dagger down, "Oh well sorry I didn't think it would get to you burn


UnlawfulKnights t1_iy5qhgi wrote

Jalla tossed another chunk of meat onto the fire and sat back on her overturned log with a huff. She was never a fan of camping, but sometimes magic couldn't take you where you wanted to go. At times like this, you had to rely on yourself. She gnawed on her own piece of jerky as a shadowy figure manifested beside her and stared quizzically down at the fire, before addressing her with an accusatory tone.

"Why?" Jalla gave a small chuckle, and looked up at Ofnir as their proper form finished materializing. They sat down on the log next to her, wearing an expression of sorrow that was definitely not befitting of the being that she had bound into her service.

"It's a tradition in my homeland. We burn an offering of food for the gods when we take from the world's bounty." Ofnir scoffed and turned away from Jalla.

"Well I prefer my food unburnt, thank you very much. Plus, that's wasteful." Jalla gave a small tsk and tore off a chunk of her jerky, prodding the young god with it in her palm. They finally faced her again, picking it up and biting into it.

"It's not wasteful, it's respectful. You got it from nature, it's only fair to give a little back." Ofnir nodded thoughtfully, and to Jalla's surprise they tore off a small piece of their jerky and cast it into the fire. Noticing Jalla's gaze, Ofnir shrugged.

"Just being respectful. One god to another."


Writers_High2 t1_iy6547b wrote

The sound of crackling leaves was subdued by the crackling of the campfire. Behind the sweet smell of smoke was the smell of grass and earth, carried by the cold, crisp autumn air. But the sky was warm, a mix of reds and oranges surrounding the sun and fading out in purples and pinks.

When I was little, my mother and father taught me days like these were a reward. A gift of peace, of beauty. Stoking the fire, sitting on sturdy log, I couldn't help agreeing. I stirred a pot of stew, eyes watching a piece of meat as it began to char. I quickly turned it, ensuring it would cook evenly.

In my pack, I took out two plates and three bowls. I'd made too much food again, but I hoped they wouldn't mind. I poured myself a third of the stew, and half of the meat. The rest were for the gods. As I took my offerings to the fire, a voice behind me sounded.

"You know, I would very much prefer my food un-burnt."

I chuckled, looking back at the source of the voice. A local diety, and family friend. Talia, the goddess of the Blue River.

"You could visit more if you wanted. My family hardly ever sees you. The last time we met up was the summer solstice festival." I poured half of the remaining stew into the third bowl, handing it off to the goddess.

"Some human hadn't been leaving offerings at the river, and Mother felt quite insulted. It took a while to convince to not flood their village."

The thought of insulting Mother ran a chill down my spine as much as it made my face hot.

"I'm glad you did, as much as I'd like to see that person's nice garments soaked." I said with a light laugh.

"Or their finest pottery cracked." Talia laughed. She pulled her dark hair back over her shoulders as she dug into her bowl of stew, and smiled with a please hum.

"It's been so long since I've had your stew. Your father has been teaching you well!"

Bringing my own spoonful to my lips, the taste was rich, meaty, juicy.

"Still not as good though."

Talia sighed and shook her head. "Just as your father, aren't you? He didn't believe the same until Mother said so. Your mother begged him to make it for Mother's festival. And what a blessing it was that I could be there too!"

"My mother did know your Mother best. I'm not surprised she was so confident." I look at the untouched half piece of meat on a plate.

"Would you like to take some just for Mother?" I asked, offering her the plate. She shook her head.

"More for the others then," I said. The meat was tossed into the fire, and with a prayer, it disappeared in the smoke. With that, Talia got up to take her leave.

"Will you be at the winter solstice festival this year?" I asked. Talia looked back at me and smiled, a teasing look in her cool blue eyes.

"If the river remains un-frozen, and my food, un-burnt."

A giggle burst out of me. "I'll see to that."


RabbitAWritter t1_iy6bd1h wrote

It was silent, I liked silent, that's why I camped so much. I read somewhere that you should always offer a bit of food into your Campfire, it's an offer to the gods, I thought it was just a hox, but one night I found myself doing it, and I just went with it, I didn't mind, it was never much.

One night, my final night before I packed up in the morning, I broke off a piece of the bread and bacon that I had cooked. Getting up from my seat, walking to the slowly dying fire, about to toss a piece in, then a voice rang out
"You know, I would very much enjoy un-burnt food offerings."
Jumping out of my skin, stumbling back a bit, tripping over the rock barrier for the fire, nearly falling into the flames before a hand caught and pulled me away.
"I'd also enjoy if one of the only people who actually did the offerings this way, didn't become one themself."
The voice chuckled, backing away when I was steady enough. Now actually seeing the person, the figure? God? Yes, God, that's what he was.

He took a seat in the empty chair next to mine. One I left out for the visiting ghosts, spirits, demons, now apparently a God. He patted my seat, I walked over and sat down in it.
"So, what god are you?" I asked looking up at the God, he laughed, or maybe it was a chuckle? His voice was so loud, booming, so both could be used.
"I am the God of all things related to fire! Lava, fire, stuff like that! That's why I've been the one who received majority of your offerings!"
He laughed; I couldn't help but feel embarrassed, all the small food I've given for some reason actually landed into the God's hands, wishing I had at least offered at least a little bit more to him.

We spent the night talking, I told him why I camped often, he was amused to say the least. As the morning sun rose, I told him I needed to get packing, or at least sleep a bit before.
"Pity! I was having fun."
He groaned; I couldn't help but snicker.
"Oh, I'll be out here again sooner or later. Not like it's going to be years."
I rolled my eyes, an idea dawned on him.
"Maybe I don't leave! I've listened and watched you when I get your offerings, want a cat?"
He asked, smirking, I was now, scared and nervous.
"I am a GOD! If I want to turn into a cat, so be it!"
He laughed, and like a blur, he was a cat, a Ragdoll from what I could tell. He hopped up onto my leg, climbing up before I picked him up, a little embarrassed.

We got home about midday and setting him on the ground, he began to roam around my house as I went to put everything away, when I came back, he was sitting on the counter.
"Off the counter, come on."
I sighed, he smirked, not moving, swishing his tail back and forth. Grabbing something in the cabinet, filling it with water, turning around and facing the fire god, his face dropping, he jumped and ran, I fallowed laughing, spraying him with water before he disappeared. Literally into thin air. Standing there confused, looking around, suddenly picked up by the fire god himself, in human version. Both of you laughing, water dripping from his hair.

Years passed, you kept the offering up, and the fire god grew stronger, who's name you learned was Adara, became friends, growing stronger and tighter. But you grew ill, your lunges became weak, and you couldn't travel as you once did. Adara was concerned, now alive through the bonfires in your yard, but he returned to the heavens, he didn't have enough strength to stay, he watched you, he called to you, trying so hard to get to you when you collapsed, when you were hospitalized. The other gods and goddesses grew confused on why Adara was acting like so to a mortal, but yet, they never felt what he did, cared for and treated so human like, it made his heart swell.

He was there for you, he greeted you at the gates of heaven, you cried, both of you. He was with you again, his friend a mortal friend. He never let go for so long, until the passed of your own loved ones found and greeted you themselves. You where safe now, at least you wouldn't burn Adara's food again.


Mercerskye t1_iy55lm6 wrote

I've long forgotten how long ago the war happened. We thought we'd be wiped clean in nuclear fire. We definitely tried, I remember the radio talking about the impacts as they got the reports.

But I guess we came to our senses. Someone stopped pushing the button. I do remember the counts. Thirteen hit here in the States. Our neighbors to the north got half a dozen. They reported thirty across Russia. South America and Africa totalled up were twenty.

Then the new plague. Engineered, radioactive flu, didn't matter. I held my only child in my arms as she died, practically melting into a viscous black paste as the disease took her. I remember her mother slowly banging her head into the window as I cried.

The not so fortunate victims. We called them hollows. Sometimes the plague just ate away your insides and left a shambling husk wandering around. Mostly benign until they saw something alive.

We fled the cities. I keep saying we, like I don't remember their names. Maybe I don't want to. We were a team of analysts and communication specialists meant to keep the country running as Armageddon happened.

We failed, no one could have kept things from falling apart, but we tried.

Out in the wilds, after I buried my family, I saw the first shrine. A collection of sentimental knick knacks in a fountain, "He was here" scrawled across the concrete in what I hoped was red paint.

I found a radio that worked, and found a station. Emergency Broadcast didn't take long to fail, anything commercial had fallen off even faster. But on the shortwave, there was someone, something broadcasting; "Drive West, friends, He was here, He was there, and He waits for you in paradise."

It was something. I needed it to keep from going crazy. I don't even know what His name actually is. Some of the makeshift shrines made Him out as a man in a pullover hoodie, sometimes a robe, sometimes just a t-shirt and jeans with a pulled down ball cap over His eyes.

They never showed His face, and I never met anyone else in my travel. Just me and the radio, discovering more and more intricate depictions of Him.

I'm not much a man of faith, but I found hope in that thread of a constant while the world was dying around me. "Drive West, friends, He was here, He was there, He waits for you in paradise."

Walk during the day, find something to eat, sleep through the night, rinse and repeat.

I'd developed a bit of a ritual before sleeping. I'd cook what I found, and I'd toss a bit in the flames. "For those that were here," and the fire would crackle, "for those that are there," the fire danced, "and for Him," the fire would jump and celebrate.

The United States isn't, wasn't, a narrow country. I'd found a compass to help me keep straight, and always walked west. I did so, I've done so, for years.

I'm not sure if I'm in Hell, or things are just different now, but the broadcast never stops, and the only people I've ever met are corpses.

"Drive West, friends, He was here, He was there, He waits for you in paradise."

"For those that were here, for those that are there, and for Him."

"I hope you don't mind, but I'd rather not have to eat another burnt meal." A voice low and gravelly from the darkness outside the light.

I jump away from the fire, terror in my heart. "Who's there?"

"Just a man wandering around what has been, like yourself."

I realize the tone isn't malicious, and the terror abates. At least a small amount. I thought I was alone.

"You're not, friend," he says as he comes into the light, sitting cross legged before the fire. He's wearing a tattered denim jacket and a cowboy hat pulled down to hide his face.

I try to stutter out a response, and he waves a hand up. "I can't hear all your thoughts, but I heard that one. You're not alone out here, just a bit lost."

"How have I spent so long trying to get West, and I still have never seen the mountains?"

"Your heart is full of pain, and guilt. The world took your family, it's not your fault."

Tears well up in my eyes, "how do you know about "

Another raised hand, and that grandfather like tone, "I've been there, I'm here, and I'm waiting for you. You just have to forgive yourself."

I couldn't see for the tears clouding my vision, but somewhere in the flood of grief, the stranger had left. I'd have doubted he even existed, save for the coat pin where he'd sat. Just gotta survive today was written in black on a simple white square of ceramic.

Sleep wasn't easy, but when I awoke, I saw mountain tops on the horizon.

I'm sorry Anna, Candace, I couldn't save you. Mark, Wendy, Terrance, I hope you found peace.

I gotta survive today, he's been here, he's been there, he's waiting for me in paradise.


Neat_Site t1_iy5pegm wrote

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Bullshit, absolute bullshit, I think to myself. I’ve been living a long time, rich and poor. Lemme tell ya, health, wealth, all that jazz, it just comes down to luck. Luck is all it is and all it ever will be don’t let anyone else fool you. True, I am not a man and can’t speak much on the wise bit, but the message holds the same.

Maybe if I was a bit more wise I wouldn’t be in this mess, not that I think my sleeping patterns have anything to do with it. I am currently what you would call “without a home.” That does not mean homeless, mind you. Homeless sounds so final, like a limb that is chopped off your body. Mine is a temporary situation, one that will be fixed as soon as possible.

A situation caused my idiot child. Who, who tell me, throws their dear mother out onto the street? Absolute madness, that one. Always thinking of nothing but herself. Her whole “your critics aren’t good for my mental health.” Such a weak generation that I’ve raised, that’s the real fault that lies with me. If she would put a comb through that hair and clean up once in a while maybe I wouldn’t feel the need to comment. After all, I’m just looking out for her. But no, Gods forbid I say anything. Had me out on the street, did she. Said I had to go somewhere else. Only gave me a year to do it! In this economy!

Anyway, what’s done is done and I’m stuck without a home for a moment. Not that I mind all too much. It’s summer and warm enough. Managed some camping gear and the works. Besides, I know these backwoods so well it feels more like home than any four walls could provide.

I get started on dinner. Same food every day, in and out. Not the best for this aging body, but you have to do what you have to do. Right before I dig in, I dump a bit into the fire. Some old thing my mom used to do back in the day, that she passed on to me. Clearly, she was a better parent than I turned out to be, so I still do it when I remember. I think it’s for the Gods, but honestly is just a waste of food. I throw some in and start to chow down.

“You know, I would prefer my food unburnt-“ I deep voice says from behind me. I turn around as fast as I can, assuming I’d finally gone off the hinges. It’s not like the door was ever bolted that tight anyway. Standing there is a man about my age, wearing black jeans and a hoodie. In my younger years I would have gone screaming for the hills… but somehow I know this isn’t just some man, the black hair giving it away.

My mother use to tell me stories of Gods that watched over us, keeping us safe. She would do it when we were in these backwoods, I assumed to keep me from complaining too much. She said that when it was time, a man with jet-black hair would take us where we need to go. Until that time comes, we would have nothing to fear. With him standing here though, I know she’s slightly off. When he’s come, there is nothing to fear.

“So, it must be my time,” I say, my voice quivering a little. Even knowing there’s nothing to be afraid of, the body is a machine, and a machine does not want to be stopped. He nods. “Well, you’re right. I can fix you a better plate than that. Come in and eat first.” He does, surprisingly. We sit down in these woods one last time, then he takes me where I’m meant to go.


BreadDragonSword t1_iy5f5ec wrote

The first thing you picked up on was the voice. Partly because you had absolutely no clue it was watching till it spoke, but mostly because of how it sounded. It was like the voices of many, layered and slightly out of sync, brought together to speak for this one thing.

You’re second point of interest was the feet. They quickly came into view as you turned your head, hard and cloven, like a goat. If you listened close you could hear a faint clip-clopping as it slowly paced towards you.

And then, there was the rest of it. It was like no beast you’ve seen before. It had a giant toothy maw twisted into a needle toothed grin. The god, demon, or whatever the hell it was, was covered in a thousand tiny eyes, all blinking, all starring, all seeing. The very sight made your skin crawl.

It stepped closer, with what it probably thought was a friendly look on its face, and held out its hands. They were the only human thing about it, despite the long claws attached at the end. You slowly, carefully place the offering into its hands.


WPwriting t1_iy6e7zk wrote

I set up my campfire as usual: six logs of wood and a lighter because who actually knew how to light a fire? Wake up people, it’s not 1450 anymore. I grumbled and waited for my fire to grow significantly. I liked being alone out here. It often became taxing to constantly be around incompetent beings and I thought it better when I was out here, alone. The thing is, I put on my tough act for so long that this time, with myself and my beliefs, was the only time I could really put down that mask.
The clearing where I light my fire each day is usually empty. The grass stretches out cleanly for miles and the stars glimmer brightly. Tonight, however, the stars are obscured and clouds conceal their glistening light. The clearing is still empty but a large pile of animal poop brings bile to my throat.
The fire has finally grown to a height that will do the job. I turn around and grab the food for tonight: mashed potatoes, a slab of meat, and some green beans. I arrange them on a plate, each sectioned off into its own clean area. Suddenly, I hear a gag from behind me and someone says, “You know, I would very much prefer my food un-burnt.” I whip my head around and see a silhouette walking toward me. A woman. Her legs are long and her muscles bulge out of the sides. Apart from this, I cannot tell much.
“Who- who are you?” I yell out to the shadow. A prank, I’m sure. Perhaps my brother found out and thought he’d get a laugh out of it.
“Leave me alone, Derek!” I say, trying to scare away my nuisance brother. I already know it’s not Derek.
“That isn’t of importance. I appreciate your sacrifice, Jasper, but it would be more appreciated if the food was less…” she paused. “How do I put this? Charred and well, ashy.”
I stared at her. What the heck? “I don’t go by that name,” I mutter. “And to my earlier question, who are you?”
She took a step closer. I could see who she was now. A white dress elegantly framed her muscular body. A gold belt wrapped around her waist, securing it in place. Her arms were muscular. She was striking. What was most intriguing was her shimmering pink eyes. I knew who she was. But I didn’t believe it. “Sorry, you go by ‘Joe’ now, correct?”
I scoffed. “Yeah. Look, lady, if you don’t mind, I’m busy and I'm not gonna donate to your charity so if you just scurry back along to your boyfriend who’s probably already married,” I make a pushing away motion with my hands, “that would be lovely.” She stares at me. “Give me that.” She takes the mashed potatoes, green beans, and meat. Just digs in. No fork. My mouth drops.
“That’s not for you,” I say laughing nervously. “It’s for-”
“The gods,” she replies, mouth full of food. Her hands go back to her mouth and shove in any crumbs that might have been left. “Very kind of you, these offerings.”
I just gawk at the woman. She steals this food that I’m offering to the gods, ignores my questions, and won’t stop talking about how it isn’t cooked right? “You know,” she says licking her fingers, “I’m a goddess. And something really cool that comes with it is I can hear your- this was delicious by the way, so much better un-burnt- thoughts.” She looks me up and down. “I can’t be coming down here every night because my brothers and sisters want some of these offerings too, and frankly they’re quite delicious when they aren’t blackened. I’m going to need you to find a way to get these to me without, you know…” she looks into the fire, disgusted. “I’m Eos, by the way.”
What. The actual. Freak. “Okay, ‘Eos”, how would you like me to deliver your meals? I don‘t suppose you use Seamless or Grubhub,” I shoot, sarcastically.
“No, I don’t in fact use those,” she says genuinely, “But I do have something else for you.” She opens her hand and gold sparkles begin to form a tiny tornado in her palm. It grows larger and larger until it takes the form of a shimmering delivery box. Eos blows on the box and all the glitter goes away. It’s… a cardboard box. Scrawled in pink crayon on the side are the words “Oddities and odds for your favorite gods”. She turns the box and on the other side is a smiley face, also written in pink crayon.
“You’re kidding me,” I say. “This is the end, I’m definitely hallucinating, going crazy, something.”
“Just put the food in here and it’ll send it right up to our home,” Eos says, grinning. “Look, I’ll try.” She leans down and grabs a brown leaf off the floor, placing it in the box. I lean over to look inside and the leaf shimmers away in a tornado of golden glitter. Not long after, a leaf lands on Eos’s head, and written on the leaf, again in pink crayon, are the words, “Stop it, Eos.”
“Not only am I going crazy, but apparently cults for kindergarteners exist now.”
“Try it tomorrow night,” Eos says.
She begins to walk away but I call after her, “And what if I don’t?”
She looks me up and down. “I will get my meat one way or another,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be a cow.”


Different-Peak-8821 t1_iy6tkld wrote

I have always been a supersticious person, my grandma always drilled into me the many supersticions of life, ya know; never walk under a ladder, if you spill salt throw some over your left shoulder, there are many more, but my current circumstances leave me in to much shock and with much bewilderment to tell you more. I have always had myself a little ritual when i went camping, not really sure why, it just something i have always felt the need to do, and its not something my grandma taught either. I set up my tent, mark where i am, than i dig my toilet, after all the other things are done and just before dark sets in (HAS to be right at dusk) i set up my campfire. I get 10-20 rocks of roughly the same size and shape, place them, collect the large sticks and place them in the circle of rocks. Than i place place the piece of firestarte abd some paper below and i start the fire and set up dinner, and the most crucial part is to always throw some food in the fire as an offering to the gods.

I can hear the brains ticking, why not prepare the setup beforehand or why not go somewhere you dont HAVE to do this stuff, nope cant do that, it causes a maddening physical itch to my brain, have do take it apart and do it all over againg tge "right" way otherwise, druves me mental, but ah well, im used to it now.

Now on to tonjghts dilemma that started tgus little rant. Here behind me with food in my hand about to throw the food in fire to offer i hear "you know, this time, i would very much prefer my food un-burt." "Who the hell are you?" I yell. "Oh, thats my bad manners, i forgot to introduce myself." With a deep breath the person now in front of me continues; "I am Tyche."

My expression drops, full of shock, Tyche, i know who that is, but they are lying they have to be, i cant say who Tyche is either, because only iykyk and its bad luck to say. And for those interested Tyches looks were extroadinary, thats it, no words or colours can say it better, and i cant tell gender, because Tyche looked truely androdgynous.

After and interrogating Tyche, and finding no lies and everything i have ever heard to be true come out their mouth. I find myself in pure shock, sitting down having an amazing conversation, and dinner with Tyche, they apparently like duck, and are surprisingly not a fan of apples. Sorry folks thats all there is, because again iykyk, and my luck is good currently, i will say though, if you want to know, google is a great resource. Imma go see if Tyche likes Rum.......


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MegaTreeSeed t1_iy6skpy wrote

I mean I actually do this, though the offering is to the fire itself. Every time I make s'mores at least one full s'more gets fed to the fire, as well as many marshmallows. Same when I cook anything over a fire. Probably stems from the scene in howls moving castle where he feeds calcifier during breakfast.