Ataraxidermist t1_jealb7y wrote

"I see the world," said Andrea, "and it doesn't break under my gaze."

Her existence could be summed up with a single word: restraint. Andrea had a peculiar gift, her consciousness begeted matter. Wherever she focused, atoms reorganized to suit the product of her imagination, of which she had a lot.

Alas, the result only stood for as long as she looked at it. A shift in attention, and reality caught up to correct the breach of its law.

Towers of grass and hand-shaped altars growing like trees in fields turning to dust as fast as they came to be.

And people. If Andrea forgot, her imagination renewed them for a minute, before death claimed them.

She could create, but only for a moment. What was left after was entropy and destruction

Except today, much to Liliane's chagrin, who was currently in the process of having her lower body turning into a slab of concrete. Her team was mostly a goner. Johnny was a statue of organic gold feeding verdoyant flowers. Esme had melted and became a pool of magma surrounded by a murder of singing ravens. They sang the beauty of creation, their words like worms which wriggled under Liliane's skin, entering her thoughts.


Liliane willed her fears back. Her lower body was a goner, she could still survive if she was fast. Weapons had been a bust, shooting bubbles and breaking into their base components. The supernatural help they had hired fled the moment they realized the target was closer to God than any of them.

All this due to a strong batch of hallucigenic mushrooms.

Hers wouldn't be the first team to fail at stopping a superhuman being gone mad. It might well be the last.

Andrea saw the world in singing colors, a world of ever changing brightness, and the real world followed suit.

And once done, the whole planet would turn to dust.

"Andrea!" Liliane shouted, "please, restrain yourself!"

"Not anymore," Andrea laughed, her hair an animated bundle of flaming snakes, flowing in mesmerizing rythme to a wind that was not there, "for the first time I am free. No more fearing for you or them."

"You're killing us all!"

"No, I am making you beautiful."

Liliane felt the concrete creeping into her lungs, stiffening her joints. The area under Andrea's will was expending, she felt it in the earth beneath her, an influence reaching to the Earth's core.

"What's your aim?" Asked Liliane in a curiously calm tone.

The dissonant serenity slowed Andrea's mad re-creation as she listened with more intention.

"To make you into shining beings, so beautiful I cannot harm you in any way. So I can finally let go."

"We're nothing, just matter that will soon turn to dust. You're so much more, you should fly among the stars."

"To me, you are all made of stars." Andrea whispered.

Liliane started to coalesce, her skin turning white hot in places, pain only kept in check because Andrea had decided so.

"But what if I don't feel like I am a star? What if I feel I'm not becoming closer to one?"

"How would you know?" Andrea's hair had a gravity of its own. This was no figure of speech, between the strands of hair Liliane could see a new world gestating. Only her mouth moved, melting concrete had grown over her eyes, she could only trust the sound.

"I don't. But have you ever looked at the stars up close?"

The creeping concrete ceased its growth, the earth held its breath.

"I'm not asking for much," Liliane continued, "just that you make sure the... template is right."

And just like that, Andrea was gone. Flying higher and higher, breaching the atmosphere and reaching a space devoid of colors.

By the time she would have a good look on a star, the drug bender would be over.

Her influence left with her. The absurdities that were Liliane's former colleagues turned to dust, she felt the same fate befalling her.

At least earth and humanity had another chance to grow on its own.

That's not so bad, Liliane thought, before the last of her turned to dust.


Ataraxidermist t1_je6bsc4 wrote

"I shall bind the stars and bend the whims of a galaxy to soothe thy terrible pain," said the golden mage.

"I shall will the gods to erase this stupendous sickness out of your body," said the silver mage.

"I shall mix some ginger, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda and he shall shite this out of his arse by noon," said the ruffled mage, who had been woken up from his afternoon nap for this.

There was a long, slightly disgusted silence following these admittedly coarse words.

"How barbaric," said the golden mage.

"He's got a stomachache!" shouted the most-definitely angry mage, pointing at the ailing noble, "he's been downing cauliflowers for two days and needs a good fart, this all."

The silver mage scoffed. Not the usual scoff done by the bored person who finds no better way to express having heard words by blowing some air out of the nose and making a face. No. This was more of a show-all-your-disdain-towards-the-lower-classes-in-the-span-of-an-instant scoff. Unfortunately for the silver mage, the mage who was done giving a crap had gotten the message.

"Oi! Cunt!" he shouted, rolling up the sleeves of his nightgown, revealing some very non-scholarly forearms, "why don't you come here and make that face right before mine?" By the time he was done asking the question, the silver mage had already dived under a low table.

"It was a really bountiful cauliflower harvest this year," said the noble who hadn't been asked, "I had to celebrate by eating lots of cauliflowers."

"I can still bend the stars and galaxies if needed," said the golden mage to nobody in particular.

"Listen mate," said the aggravated mage to the noble while starting to throw ingredients into a cauldron and lighting a fire in the middle of the chamber, "I cook this, you drink it, you fart. Pain's gone. But open the window, because it's about to smell."

Three pair of eyes looked at the cauldron and fire with some confusion. Normally, a mage would make them appear out of thin air. This mage didn't. He had carried ingredients, cauldron and firewood with him.

Which was all the more impressive considering he had been woken up minutes ago without being told what the problem was.

"It was a really, big, bountiful cauliflower harvest," said the noble to break the silence, not realizing silence would have been preferable to hearing his voice, "we even had lots of cauliflower thefts and there's still enough for everyone."

The silver mages, from the flimsy cover of the low table, contorted to point at the cauldron in confusion.

"Wot u lukin at, mate? When was the last time you had to lift a curse or kill a dragon? 99% of the time it's a cow suffering from gas, or a noble suffering from gas, or a noble who wants a new perfume (which can also be considered gas depending on how you look at it). You think they'd write books about dragons and curses if it was common? Nah mate, it's because it's so rare that it's interesting. But this!" The angry mage planted his index in the noble's belly, which left out a noise warning about an incoming bad smell, "that's reality for most folks around here."

"I really wanted to bend the stars and galaxies."

"Bend them somewhere el... what's that noise?"

Indeed. Beyond the fascinating discourse about a variety of gazes, the boiling kettle and the bickering mages, a low rumble rose. Mighty, powerful. Roaring.

"A dragon!" shouted the silver and golden mages.

"U wot mate?" asked the not that well behaved mage.

Gold turned to a comet and sprang out the window, silver levitated - with the low-table on his back and followed gold. They were gone in a whisk to deal with the legendary, once-in-a-millenium threat, while the exhausted with this nonsense mage stayed to make a rich person fart.

To this mage's credit, it worked wonders, and the sweet scent of digested cauliflowers filled the room with the praise of a very happy noble as the trumpet of judgement times started to roll outside and the stars were about to fall on Earth like angry comets.

The gold mage appeared in a whirlwind of golden dust.

"Believe it or not, and I know I don't," he told his esteemed if hard to work with colleague, "but I need your help."


"I translated the dragon's tongue with the power of stars and galaxies. Didn't think I'd get to use it today."


"He's got a stomachache."


A whirlwind of silver dust, and in came the other mage.

"I can bend the will of the gods so they lend us a bigger cauldron. And lots of bicarbonate too, you know, just in case," said the silver mage.

The room got dark. Through the window, the large, iridescent eye of the dragon obscured their world and gazed through them.

"Aye. We gonna need a really big cauldron for this one," said the surprised mage.

"So that's the one who stole all the cauliflower!" the noble felt the need to add.

All three mages turned to face the noble.

"Man, shut the fuck up," they said in unison.


Ataraxidermist t1_jdqwzfn wrote

Amalgam - Part 3 of 3

Alex found an old abandoned warehouse at the edge of town. No sound of water here, only dust and mold and spiders. It would do.

"I'm not so different from a cult," Alex said idly, "I prayed on a desperate young man and convinced him to forsake his life and all those he knew."

"But I'll be able to change like you do, right?"

"I suppose that's the difference between a more regular cult. I deliver on my promise," she held a tiny pill. It was pink pulsed with a heart of its own. She didn't wait for him to take it. In this deserted place, before a woman who could bend steel, he was little more than clay to shape. She opened his mouth with one hand and put the pill down his throat with the other.

She rummaged through the place as he began to sweat and tremble. Rusted engines, cardboard. An old bathtub, that could be practical. He was writhing, foam formed at the corners of his mouth, he tried to call for help but had no air left in his lungs to do so.

"I'm out shopping," she said, "see you in a bit."

She left as he coughed, trembled and chocked, lost in the abandoned warehouse.

"Who are you?" she asked days later.

"I don't know," he was terrified and emaciated. Drugs and cold had brought him a step away from death. Who he had been was mostly lost in a haze, he still clung to the last shreds of his personality.

Alex took her clothes off. She stood before him naked, and cracked her neck. Her head hung at an impossible angle. The young man started to chuckle at the absurdity of his existence.

Her skin became porous. Fluids left her, from the eyes, the ears, the mouth, every superfluous matter was shed. What remained put its head back on its neck with a resounding crunch.

It had no sexual features. It was like one of these mannequins in clothing shop, with no wrinkles, no particularities, nothing.

"I haven't gone without masks in a long time," said Amalgam to his new pupil who was in the throes of hysterical laughter, "what should I be next? Man? Woman? Elder or child? Let chance decide that. As for you... Can you feel the blood rushing in your fingers?"

The young man, still laughing, looked down at his hands.

Pop, pop, pop, went the joints. They became thinner, longer, as the young man had always wanted.

In this moment, the last of his old self died.

"Welcome to the House of Change," said Amalgam.


Ataraxidermist t1_jdqvepi wrote

Amalgam - Part 2 of 3

"Young man?"

Poor kid was desperate, obviously. It didn't take much coaxing from Brad to invite him into a bar to take a coffee and talk it out. Brad instinctively knew which seats to pick for discretion, he always had some coins on him for cases like this. Experience from previous lives, so to speak.

The young man gave his name. Brad promptly forgot about it, it wouldn't matter.

"My parents sent me to a psychiatrist to get these ideas out of my mind. It had the opposite effect. I asked for hormonal therapy to start transitioning, they refused. They used to see it as child's play, me cross-dressing and so on. But since my rendezvous with the therapist, they are cracking down on anything that doesn't suit them. They screamed me out of the house because of this," the blue of his nails was tasteful.

He had yet to drink from his steaming cup of coffee.

"I was a woman once," said Brad.



"Oh," there was crushing defeat in his voice.

"You walk on the high wall often?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I want you to think of something," Brad laid both hands on the table, palms open, "imagine a deal with the devil. The devil will give you the key to unlock your flesh. You could be anyone, at any age, no limits but your own imagination. But it is a deal with the devil," Brad clenched his fists, "what you will give in exchange is yourself, the man I see before me. Once you'll gain this ability, you will no longer be this man, you will no longer care about turning into a woman. The man I see will be dead. The devil sits at a crossroad before you, would you take his hand and sign the contract?"

Brad left. He didn't even pay the bill.

A supermarket was forced open in the night, the thief left with heroic amounts of food.

In the forest, Brad devoured. Deep frozen dishes, flour, salt, sugar, soda, vegetables, grass, tree bark, the skin on his hand. No pain, ever, he knew the path of pain and had declared upon his body that the information would therefore be transmitted in a polite manner, free from any ache or burn.

His heart pumped faster, heavier, blood coursed through through him, reshaping arteries and capillaries. Matter was decomposed and transported away, sweat carried the useless bits out.

A stinky, dirty woman emerged.

Alex. She was young, she was olive-skinned, she had a feral grin and fire in her eyes.

She sat on the bench the next day. Well dressed, she had found a tourist with the right size and put her to sleep for a quick change of clothes.

"Young man," she hailed when he passed her by, "did you consider the deal with the devil?"

He was taken aback. Nobody listened in yesterday, the bar was almost empty. Brad didn't tell her, they had nothing in common. How...

Alex's grin crystalized, she grit her teeth so hard the muscles of her jaw bulged. And the young man saw a wonder. He saw the tension going down the sides of her throat, taking a hold of her shoulders, her biceps. And through the clothes, he saw how they grew, how the thin women became immensely powerful and large. And he knew change.

When she opened her hand, he took it.


Ataraxidermist t1_jdqt547 wrote

Amalgam - Part 1 of 3

Brenda's nipples were so hard they could cut through paper. On bad days, they could cut through tree bark. She wore only the most expansive sport shirts, lesser fabric did not survive a day. This was made more complicated by her being homeless and penniless, making buying clothes a problematic prospect. As luck would have it, she had no moral qualms about petty thievery and spent her idle days breaking and entering into various homes and shops for her daily needs.

Pick this shop, for instance. It is night, it is protected by an alarm, it is located in a calm city in the Sicilian countryside. The window breaks, the alarm goes off. Lights in the distance, curious faces gazing through the windows. When the police comes, Brenda is long gone, dozens of kilograms heavier, shock-waves going up and down her fat belly with every step of her absurd escape.

Officers shook their heads, as did the few witnesses who had taken videos. It was the first time they experienced a chocolate shop being broken into for the sole purpose of drinking the chocolate fountain empty. The thief would die from a bursting stomach, that's for sure.

Brenda lost herself in a meadow under the moonlight. Damn videos, they made the world go hasty. She lay down, plucked some grass to chew onto. She closed her eyes.

The veins traced a map, ribs, armpits and breasts a geography to rise and lower with the tide of age. With wisdom came understanding of one's bodily picture. With experience came the patience to let the flesh's earth heal. And beyond, far beyond the limits of an everyday human life, came the key to unlock the flesh. Brenda felt no veins to speak of. Neurons, blood and gray matter were a constellation of stars, a graph to pick a shining point and displace. One by one, she moved the stars of her world.

The mask that was Brenda died that night.

In the meadow stood Brad. A blond, blue-eyed, and utterly gorgeous athlete who could effortlessly win regional bodybuilding competitions and make a career as a model. And his nipples weren't so destructive anymore.

Brad traveled, and the people who spoke to him, drawn by his almost supernatural good looks, were quickly repulsed by his sheer stupidity. Brad was Australian by heart, loved surfing and tanning under the sun. It's at this point that people pointed out there was no sun this late in Autumn, that this was Italia and that Brad didn't seem to know English, that he would catch a cold, and could he please stop sunbathing naked on the concrete road? There are children about.

Men and women left Brad disappointed at how life could mix such gorgeous looks with an abyssal black hole of a brain.

Brad didn't care, he was too stupid for that. His travels took him to Gallipoli, A city bordering the sea. There was lovely promenade there, on an old high wall that once protected the Italian coastline from invaders. Today, Brad gazed over the lazy sea as he sat on a bench. The sun was hidden behind clouds, a cold breeze washed over the old stones.

When Brad tired of the sea, he observed the passerby. An old couple enjoying retirement. A hurried woman going to work. A teary young man with painted fingernails. A tide erupted from deep inside Brad, forcing him to look closer. Indeed. Painted nails, tears on his face, a t-shirt that would never keep out the cold.

Brad, not entirely looking like the homeless person that he was due to his great looks (he must have been a hippie or something), felt the need to approach the young man.


Ataraxidermist t1_jbxtlim wrote

Axiom, second colony.

March the twelfth, Time of Earth.


Dear doctor,

It is a delicate letter I write. We had our disagreements. Yet today, I cannot stop myself from asking for genuine pardon, and wish for nothing more than to call you a friend. Strange how a single day in the vast universe can change a perspective.

Do you remember who we were before humanity met another life in this galaxy? The memories to me are like an old series of movies that haven't aged well and fell to irrelevancy.

First contact was a more delicate matter than books had us believe. In our stories, the aliens have always understandable features, bodies we can imagine, traits we can logically put together to built a being feeding our imagination. It had to, writers were human. Lovecraft understood before all of us that the only proper way to describe an inscrutable, terrifying being, is to not describe it at all but rave at length about the broken minds of those who tried.

And then came reality. With aliens inscrutable and impossible to describe, yet leaving our feeble brains whole and unbroken. As with any event whose recounting is dependent on perspective, we were just as strange to them as they were for us.

For one, our scientists burned down years of research about the definition of life. By all means, these beings were not alive. They appeared carved out of black carbon, their varied bodies closer to an art exhibition than any practical tool. There was no wiring in these bodies, no flesh, no bark or organic matter.

In short, there was no conceivable ways for us to understand how they could be capable of thoughts and feelings. Yet they did. You argued they should not be considered as living beings, I felt you were a fool holding on to outdated research.

Through hard work on both sides, we translated sounds and scents, worked out gestures with no prior experience to base ourselves on. Months and years only to exchange the simplest of greetings. But ultimately, we did open communications.

Which was the start of a long and arduous process: mutual comprehension.

As I write this letter, that process is still going on, perhaps it will always go on. I hope not.

I was arrested shortly after my last travel. No crime had been uncovered, it is a tale of individuals trying to understand fellow individuals. Motes of dust trying to make sense of the universe.

"Yes," I told them, "my belly is a part of me." The devices, smooth white rocks clinging to their obsidian frames, painfully translated as best as they could.

The smell, acrid, coppery. My own device heated up to put together the finer points of a whiff my own nose will never be keen enough to translate on its own.

"But why?" they asked.

"Evolution," that word is understood fast. Half of our communications have this word as a conclusion. This should have been the end of it too.

They were scared, every time they scanned a human body and saw the fleshy mess of gas and acid that was our digestive tract, they feared for themselves. A thin sheet of frail skin was all that stood between them and a spill of toxic sludge that would corrode them beyond recognition and put them in the universally accepted state of death.

Irony would have it that these beings were hardly comestible and would likely poison us humans to death before we took a second bite.

My device whirred some more.

"Yours is different," they said. No question there, a simple observation. I like to think that it is my very earthly experience with fellow humans that made me notice the slight hint of... I shall say prudence.

"You noticed well," I replied. And they awaited some explanations.

But how could I explain it? I never liked your cynical ways my friend - can I call you friend? - but even I have to recognize that should it ever come to a scuffle, fighting beings that immune to bullets and, according to preliminary research, required a nuclear payload to - maybe - take one out, didn't spell great chances for us in case of conflict. They didn't have guns. They had inertia, and dense material. An unrelenting force, and we are no immovable object.

It is with a shake of my head that I underwent the operation. Your operation, and invention. I believe I did it only to preserve myself, should the worse come to pass. But who am I kidding? Going under the knife was already an admittance of my shaking faith, of the terrible black spot in my brain. The more I thought of them, the more I saw them as an anomaly, plain and simple. They shouldn't be. They disprove everything our science has worked for, and they do not allow us to prove anything afterwards by their mere existence. You weren't holding on to outdated data. No. You showed us the only way forward.

So I told them. I told them the fluids in my belly were meant to digest them. I told them my teeth were meant to pierce the hard rock of their body. Against aliens resistant to conventional warfare, our best bet was even more conventional warfare. Teeth and nails, who would have thought. Lovecraft didn't see that coming.

They called me mad.

I called them an anomaly.

They called me the anomaly.

I told them they scared me. Not them as individuals with thoughts, but their very existence. It called mine into question, it cast a shade over every belief I have or had, and grinds them down to meaninglessness.

And they suffered the same.

I suppose from afar, it appeared like the ravings of mad beings. Mad is the word.

This was the first galactic conflict between us and them. Me, and two of them.

And as such, it is with a true delight that I inform you that your modifications were a success. The taste is somewhat to be worked on, but I have torn and bitten and devoured them without any signs of illness of my part.

You remember me deriding your idea of a maw in the void? You presented it as a hypothesis for the far future, like the best mad scientist would. Like everyone, I mocked that Dyson sphere of teeth and stomachs and hunger as the ramblings of a man beyond saving.

I'm not so certain now. I can see how we could build such a wonder, while the aliens I just ate are still inscrutable to me. And just like you, I came to despise beings whose existence is anathema to what we comprehend of the universe.

Maybe they think the same of us. Perhaps they are afflicted by the same creeping realization that the universe will never care about our logic, our mathematics, our attempts to make sense out of it, unless we force it to. Tear the chaos apart and note down the shreds for further examination and burn the parts we can make no use of.

It's only a matter of time until this species or another decides that we are a bump in their logic that needs to be polished.

I want to see the maw in the void started and completed. I want to sail across its sea of digestive fluid, I will walk over a tooth the side of a country, raise my hands to the stars above, and know that if one of these stars doesn't follow our rule, it will be devoured.

I my dreams, I see a galaxy turning dark as the specks of light are swallowed by a god of our own creation. I see the atoms and dust composing the strange beings we meet, and for my small eyes, they are as shiny and in need of extinctions as the stars above.

We are all made of stars.

From the lowliest being to the greatest galaxy.

Lovecraft feared those who could extinguish us in a blink. Let us pay our respect to this visionary man and become this fearsome being. And as we sail through the great beyond, gorging and feasting, we shall put his fears to rest.


- Fondest regards,

Your old rival and new friend.


Ataraxidermist t1_j8sqkhu wrote

"Friendship is magic. The saying came from a... peculiar show, I must admit, but the words do embody our ethos well."

Ener, human envoy and diplomat, spoke to beings who were all around him. Floating mist, it is how Ener's mind made them appear to him. Other humans felt them like a gust of wind, or an ethereal set of interconnected neurons.

It's one of the reasons they laughed at us. We still fought with bullets and mean words on the internet, while they had discarded their flesh. Mind had overcome matter, thoughts shaped reality while we suffered it. They had no need for the internet, as their thoughts could be transmitted far and wide with a larger emotional depth than mere words could.

Had they invaded Earth, there's not a thing humans could have done to resist a nearly instantaneous extinction event.

"Obviously," Ener added, "my words may sound both crude and treacherous, considering the hungry payload our ships have in store in your orbit."

Ener was surrounded by an angry, murderous mist. The mist happened to be surrounded by ships containing horrors the mist knew to be far, far worse than the construct of flesh and bone before them.

"But let me assure you, our intentions are nothing but pacific."

Of course they were. Never had Ener been more honest than in this very moment.

When humanity was ignored, they still studied the few mysterious interactions they had with these beings. They learned what little they could. When another, lesser species felt an odd sense of kinship as they felt just as weak, Ener extended a hand to strengthen them both in a hostile universe. They shook appendage, and a friendship was born.

"Understand this," Ener's tongue passed over his lips, "friendship is what makes us strong."

Humanity communicated with their new friend, opened ambassies, invited them over, welcomed them with open arms, buried some of theirs on Earth. Then, they dug the bodies up and studied them. Each word, each gesture, it's effect in space, analysed and dissected. The best parts of society, copied and reused at home.

"Friendship is so much more efficient than warfare."

When the lesser species asked for some clear boundaries, humanity feigned shock and sadness. When they pushed for boundaries harder, humanity revealed it's true colors.

As driven befrienders.

What good day it had been, when Ener knocked at their door and told them that friendship was non-negociable. But as he was a strong believer in free will, he gave them a choice: be friends, or face total obliteration.

Today, nobody spoke of the lesser species. They were part of humanity, integrated, their history absorbed and digested.

"Hence why I insist how important it is for me that you understand my point."

That on the other hand, was utter bullshit. Ener only wanted them to comply, them understanding was irrelevant to his grand design.

In time and in discretion, humanity found a way to touch these beings, make them feel and see death the ways humans did.

"Friendship made us."

Indeed. Friendship had made them absorb the old, forgotten species. Friendship had made them copy their societal strong points, friendship had made them develop creatures made of violence, kill them, and contain their death cries in a frozen capsule, ready to be opened on case friendship was refused today.

Friendship had made humans erase their boundaries, kill dissent, forced Earth to smile forever like Ener did right now. Friendship had made good mood mandatory.

"Friendship is why we reached the stars instead of burning down on our planet."

Of course, older generations would say this is anything but friendship. But the generation nearly killed humanity with global warming and had been erased in turn, as such they couldn't be right because they weren't there to be right and nobody remembered them.

"I ask again. Will we be friends?"

A promise of an end, the fog knew. Worse than the unreal beasts in the capsules, there was the beast of humanity, always hungry, always smiling, a smile lined with sharp teeth, the bits of previous pray still clinging to it. The beast didn't linge at you. It awaited with open mouth for you to step inside to be devoured.

But if the fog didn't, humanity would make sure to do much, much worse than a single extinction event.

Slowly, the fog coalesced into a hand.

Ener shook it, ecstatic.

"You will see. Friendship is magic."


Ataraxidermist t1_j1du2ec wrote

In this moment, I may be the most spoken about figure in all of Greece. In a day, I will be executed and buried in history. I wonder what Socrates would think.

My name is Aristofanes, general of the Spartan army. Born and bred to be the finest warrior, mind sharpened for tactics and strategy.

We rarely used these tactics.

Mostly it was about putting down the slaves. Quite the annoyance to have a dozen slave for every warrior, we have to cull them every now and then.

Often, actually.

But it's in the blood to want for a worthy opponent. I came to hope I would see it before a slave revolt would bring us low. Crazy thought for a spartan, but with only war at home to ponder the future, I came to think that having so few warriors may be our downfall. But then, going against our two kings and rewriting tradition was a surefire way to get me exiled.


I had my wish.

They called themselves the Delian league. Smart move, Pericles, smart move. I can think of no other figure as hated as Pericles. Where we built strength, he encouraged philosophy. We culled, he nurtured. We trained, he promoted mathematics. We have kings, he proposed debates.

But the wise lion has sharp fangs.

The Delian league was a coalition of city states to stand against our encroaching presence. Soon the league was forgotten, absorbed by the city state of Athens, to face the city state of Sparta. He had planned it all, centralize power to be certain to stand a chance.

We longed for the fight, and they were rising up to meet our expectations. I am mighty, but I am smart. Athens had underhanded tactics, Sparta needed me to even the odds. And I had the gifts to catch up with accents fast.

So I was sent to spy on Athens. Oh, did I mock them, the bickering ducks on their plazas, disagreeing about the war, Athens, themselves. Weak men, leaves carried by the wind, to be crushed against our iron. I saw Him, at the Parthenon. Did I laugh.

Did I wonder.

Frictions, and the inevitable war broke out. Inevitable, because we wanted it, in our own way.

So I did what I was sent to do, get information, transmit information.

They ached for a great battle. Almost like gentlemen, they agreed on the sea. The first battle of the Peloponnesian war, maybe the last.

Get information, transmit information.

So I gave Athens our ways to fight at sea. I told our enemy how to face us, slaughter us.

We lost the battle because of me. Our fleet reduced to ashes.


Because I'm engraving this, something I wouldn't have done in Sparta. Because we don't write, we don't create, don't debate for long periods. Oh, the Athenians bicker, but it does something for the mind.

I came back home to await death by Athenian hands... And Athenians became careless, arrived in droves on our shores, our land, our territory. They could have won the war. Instead, they came like brutes, set themselves up to lose.

Captured survivors of the disastrous land battle told my brothers how they won at sea, and their eyes turned on me.

They kept me alive, to see.

The slow erosion of a civilization. Athens, bled dry. Philosophy dying, survivors too busy staying alive.

And me, in a cell, being told how the war went.

Athens, last stone turned to dust.

And yet...

I see it in my captors eyes, the infection spreading. Mathematics and philosophy gaining a solid foot. The stones are broken, but some tablets remain.

So I laugh, at the eve of my execution. In a hundred generations, we will be a footnote in history, with fantasy to fill in the blanks and myself forgotten. But Athens will have an echo, a word in the stone that will prevail, and spread

I laugh.

Tomorrow, I will be no more.

Just a leave carried by the wind.

I laugh.


Ataraxidermist t1_j1dgsvw wrote

"Do you really love me?"

Does it really need to be said?

Agnes, friendly like a prison door, eyes frozen blue, a smile would crack the smooth ice of her face.

Agnes, having built this persona to protect herself, less of a filter and more of a wall between her and the universe. Bullies, parents unready to be parents, all the little details adding to the necessity and weight of her mask.

Eternal stoicism made it unsurprisingly hard to nurture social contact, and as much as Agnes would prefer to, she was no island. She worked, lived, went by, but loneliness wore her down with each passing year. The pain added to her frozen mask in driving a wedge between herself and people.

So of course, instead of trying harder with online dating and socializing, she turned to the occult.

It was no conscious effort, she didn't set off, free of the material shakles of her mind into the beyond to bring back a mate. But she was wishful for a partner. And when her eyes opened again in the world of humans, she saw a tall, red-haired woman lying next to her. The woman smiled, and in all her perfect humanity, her beauty, her warm empathy, she appeared as the abomination she was to Agnes.

An abomination that had come into existence now, her ties to Agnes a part of her.

Agnes tried to send it back, to ignore it.

You and I, Agnes, you and I. I am Rada.

Rada's lips moved, but her voice was in Agnes's head. Hard to ignore, so was the package she was being offered, containing a severed head.

A bully of old. Caked and coated in blood, a voiceless scream etched on their face. The bully had suffered long before the neck was sliced through. What they had seen and felt was beyond what a human mind could take.

For love.

Agnes dropped the head and ran. Through the streets, through the woods, only to find herself before Rada.

You and I.

"No," she whispered.

Rada held the severed head, dead eyes piercing Agnes with their judgement.

That's when she asked.

"Do you really love me?"

Does it really need to be said?

Agnes took Rada's extended hand, she pulled her into the coldest hug on earth.

Agnes looked for a job, Rada made certain the right person fell sick. She struggled with her peers, Rada devoured them, maw and gullet growing. Larger and larger to swallow them whole, blood running down Rada's face. Then Rada turned, and gave Agnes a pretty human smile.

And more than that, Rada gave Agnes all the little attentions. Flowers, kisses, sweet little nothings obliterating the world around Agnes, leaving only Rada.

Because Agnes had wanted for a happy relationship, a normal, stereotypical relationship with everything a movie has in there. And it was Rada's raison d'être. Now Agnes followed Rada's whims like a puppet. The beast was undying, and it wouldn't let her die either. No more occult. Rada wouldn't let her, she was all the occult she would ever need.

Rada bought the home, bought the ring, and finally, asked for Agnes' hand. Her smile was as warm as a skull's.

Agnes mustered the weakest of "yes," and Rada pulled her in for a kiss with her iron grip, a kiss that smelled like death and murder. Then she kissed her again, more forceful, and again, until she drew blood from Agnes' lips, until Agnes lifted her foot slightly like in the movies.

"Mom, dad, this is my girlfriend," Agnes didn't resist. She had invited hell into a life she didn't like, she couldn't fight it, wouldn't try to.

Mom and dad were hostile, they would never accept a gay daughter. Rada remained polite and smiling.

When they left, Agnes felt she would never see her parents again.

The day came, to say yes at the church. Rada had organized everything.

It was a little church in a village bordering the mountains. Autumn tainted the trees red and golden.

Agnes was in a black car before the church, in a white bridal dress. The doors opened, out came Rada, in a similar dress. She took her by the hand, and led her inside. The doors stayed open.

The place was packed. Everyone was there. Friends, even her parents. She did see them again.

They were held in place with nails, a smile carved on their faces. The priest was pale and gaunt, barely alive as he spoke to the two angelic brides.

"Do you want to take Rada here as wife?"

Agnes, just as pale, could only nod. The corpses in the public cackled and croaked.

"Do you want to take Agnes here as wife?"

"Yes." The warmth in her word could melt off the flesh from a face. The corpses bloated and gurgled as the heat washed over them, dried blood replaced with fresh flowing crimson, the stone floor covered with a shiny coat, wetting the bridal dresses.

"Then I hereby declare you, wife and wife."

The priest's neck cracked, he fell lifeless on the altar. Rada grabbed Agnes' neck with a hand that could crush skulls. The glasspanes shivered.

The corpses burst and applauded with their bony hands, viscera coating floor and walls as Rada's lips approached Agnes'. A storm picked up in that frozen instant, when madness had become the new normal and Agnes' mind was shattered into a thousand glass shards.

A gust of wind slammed the church's door shut right before they kissed.


Ataraxidermist t1_iydu0s9 wrote

Harry, Harry, Harry... You cannot seriously tell me you thought this was a good idea?

Harry's inner voice had a deep rasp to it, like burning coal dragged over a race car. He wasn't schizophreniac or mentally sick, but he had seen the movies.

And the movies stated serial killers had to have an inner voice pushing them around. This he created his own. But as he wasn't technically sick, their relationship was less about slavery and more of a democratically elected list of victims to work his way down.

"It will work," Harry said outloud.

He had forcibly retired the husband through liberal application of excessive force. When the police came breathing down his neck, he replaced him, the wife was so addled by her many pills she didn't see a thing. An isolated, friendless couple, and the police didn't ask for anything, as technically, there had been no body found. Just a weird loner who had scared the neighborhood.

Now what?

"We play along, until the whole matter is forgotten," said Harry, cooking an omelette in an unknown kitchen for his temporary wife. The last few bits of the late husband had been cooked in the dishes and fed to the family dog who really didn't mind the change in management.

"You never cooked for me like that," said Liz, with the tone of a drug addict.

Harry nodded along. That night, he helped Liz to bed when her legs started to shake, and held her tight until she fell asleep.

No killing.

"No," targets had to be picked carefully. Assholes, leeches, horrible people and boy scouts. Fuck the boy scouts. Liz was already damaged, poor thing.

"Hon?" She asked in the morning.

"Yes, love?"

"Thank you."

He had cleaned the house. What a mess, a pig stall without the glorious pigs to give it some style.

She's falling for you again. It's going to rekindle your love, and it will be the best sex ever, If there wasn't a caveat.

"Not again, it's the first time she's loving me."

We're headed for a catastrophe, you should leave.

"No, I like the place. And her late husband started to work on the yard, it has potential."

He worked in the yard, and got to know his dickish neighbor.

Days later, Liz came back from her doctor's appointment, as usual. Less usual was the decision the doctor had taken to get her off several pills, as her state had improved.

I told you

"I know, I know," replied harry, getting changed in a hurry to disappear, before Liz's less addled mind recognized the fool play.

"Hon?" She said, appearing suddenly before him, sizing him up and down. Harry braced for impact.

"I made dinner," she said with a wink, and left for the kitchen.



Dinner was excellent.

Somehow, harry felt that Liz, deep down, knew the truth. Something about her, she was smart, there were subtle hints that she had seen through him and didn't mind.

Subtle hints like her helping you change the photo on her husband's ID? Or her various ways to convince her family that you were always here and haven't visited enough? Or her hiding you from her best friend because she knew she wouldn't buy it? Subtle?

"Let me believe I'm smart for just a second, will you?"

Days went by. He cooked, helped her in various ways, showed attention in all the little things. She replied in kind. They didn't sleep together, this was taboo.

"Not him, I like him?" She said one day, out of nowhere while cooking an arm.

"Is this the neighbors arm?" He asked, "and who did you talk to?"

She paused, hasn't expected him.

"Yes," she said tentatively.

He fished a crumply list out of his pocket and looked it over. The neighbor was there. He showed it to Liz.

They both smiled.

I told you, said the voice later, it would be the best sex ever.


Ataraxidermist t1_iycz34m wrote

Good idea and great way to finish the short with that sentence at the back of the photo. it would have had a greater effect if the story had been a tad longer, for the buildup. But that's really polishing, it's a nice start.


Ataraxidermist t1_iycsezn wrote

Somewhat similar themes, people who find a way to break their minds and body to bring in change. Story is told by the point of view of a recruit who changes body each chapter, and slowly comes to loathe the house. I finished the first draft, but now there's the rewriting process.

One of my earliest shorts about an abduction on this sub is pretty much the introduction.

The great thing is that I tried out a few things on this sub to see how well it went or not. The sub isn't too fond of horror, keep that in mind, but it's great even just for yourself to out it in word and see how you feel about it.


Ataraxidermist t1_iyccle7 wrote

I started on this sub.

If you look at my post history, you'll find a truckload of stories all written in more or less half an hour, most of which had little success. But it's a good way to get it off your chest while working on a bigger thing alongside it.

Said bigger thing being a novel called House of Change.


Ataraxidermist t1_iya582k wrote

Wow, that's one of the best compliments I got. I'm surprised my story worked so well, but damn does it make my day. Thanks a lot, glad you liked it that much, it's really encouraging for me.