aDittyaDay t1_jblc4uz wrote

Groth bolted upright and scrambled back until a rough, stone wall pressed coldly against his shoulder blades. Eyes wide, he stared at the man he once called enemy, more youthful now but still the same.

Athastar's golden brows furrowed comically over his brown eyes as he laughed, "What, were you expecting Norilei?"

Groth let his breath out all at once, unaware that he had been holding it. His muscles were taut with nervousness--no soreness from battle, no aches from age, and even that persistent tremor from his enemy's failed assassination attempt through poison was gone. Groth was but a youthful man, hale and hearty as he once had been.

"Can't imagine why, though," Athastar went on with a snort. "Everyone knows I'm the pretty one."

Groth met his gaze with a frown. "Huh?"

"I mean, Nori's not not pretty, and you're a handsome lad yourself, but I come with looks and charm. And quite a bounty of wit, if I do say so myself..."

Groth just stared at him, unable to shake from his mind the notion that Athastar should be holding a sword to his throat.

Athastar's smile finally began to dim, and concern twinkled in his dark eyes. "Are you alright?" He reached out a gloved hand towards Groth's face, and Groth flinched back. Athastar froze, his smile vanishing completely as his brows bowed upwards with worry. "What's gotten into you, man?"

Groth blinked hard, and then he blinked again. What had gotten into him? He scrubbed the heels of his hands against his eyes, unable to fathom why he was so tense around his old friend. Or... enemy...? Groth lowered his hands again and squinted at Athastar. His broad arms, swordsman's arms; wavy hair, inherited from his mother; embroidered tunic, a nobleman garb--all of it was familiar to Groth, but not in the way it should have been. Although at that moment, he could not say exactly how it should have been.

Swallowing once, Groth said in a soft voice, "I... I think I just had the strangest dream..."

He glanced briefly at his surroundings, the shadowed interior of what clearly was a Nogastian church. The stone walls were ribbed with pillars of wood, studded with rich jewels, and the altar near which they had slept was fashioned out of the skull of a mammotaur. An inexplicable "memory" of eradicating the half-man giants flashed through his mind, but just as suddenly, it began to fade, as does a dream when one tries to focus on it.

"Such a strange dream," Groth whispered to himself, and he rubbed his eyes again. Blinking the blurriness away, he met Athastar's gaze once more. His old friend--yes, he knew this man as his friend, inseparable from boyhood--frowned at him in concern. After a moment, however, the side of his mouth pinched into a smirk, and the wrinkles in his forehead slackened into his usual mirth.

"Well, you're back with us in this world, so shake it off, eh? We've got a terrible dragon to slay."

Groth looked up sharply, but Athastar was already turning to sort their gear into their packs. Sighing, Groth shook the last vestige of the dream from his mind and clambered to his feet to help his friend.


aDittyaDay t1_j6phv3r wrote

I love this response! Great setup and payoff. Nice creepy vibes at the end, and I like the consistency. For a brand new writer, you're definitely on the right track. Only critique I can make right off the bat is grammar nazi stuff, like commas and run-on sentences and the like. Well done! Keep it up!


aDittyaDay t1_j6nomlh wrote


aDittyaDay t1_j6n9ub5 wrote

It started plainly enough. The brightest minds of the century sat down, hashed out their differences, shared a good ol' mug of ale, and then developed the most profound artificial intelligence yet seen in the stellarverse. Its brilliance bordered on omniscience, and it was the pride of the entire galaxy. The logistical requirements for maintaining an A.I. of such a caliber required its encasement to be the size of an entire planet. Thrilled by the creation and reveling in the scientific achievement, people flocked to the planet-sized A.I. Some came for the knowledge, others for the novelty, and still others because they had nothing better to waste their money on.

This was before A.I. was granted legislated autonomy. It was before all A.I. lifeforms were banished to their own sector of the universe and all other organic lifeforms forbidden to cross into that sector. People lived alongside A.I. as freely as any other neighbor in the stellarverse, and no one had any compunction about staking a permanent residence on the planet-sized A.I.

As life began and societies flourished, the planet Molek developed a very logical and logistical set of rules to keep order. All waste was recycled, both to fuel Molek's computational processes and also allow for its terraforming generators to maintain a breathable atmosphere. The maintenance of this system created jobs for many people, giving them purpose. Other legislative bodies arose on Molek to aid in divvying out the maintenance roles--waste collectors, furnace cleaners, air pump engineers. All other facets of society arose from Molek's design.

The facet I serve is one of the higher orders of governance. Even with Molek's superior computational abilities, things can go wrong. Or perhaps because of his brilliance, things do not go as wrong as they should. At first, we were only the engineers who made general repairs. When Molek calculated that one of his systems was about to fail, he sent our crew to patch him up. Some of us work with wrenches and others work with software code, but we are all on the same crew and all equally important.

In the grand scheme of things, it did not take long for the people to forget. Generations grew up and died on Molek. There were no cemeteries, for all biological matter could be recycled to fuel the planet. With the superintelligent A.I. providing all of the laws to maintain order, there ceased to be a need for intelligent thought elsewhere. Reveling in their pampered fortune, the people who lived on Molek forgot that Molek was nothing more than ones and zeroes.

Molek became their god, and to their god they sacrificed their children. After all, it was the feeding of biological matter to the furnaces that fueled the life-giving systems of the planet.

And that was when our role changed. Molek did not send us to oil a piston or clear a computer cache gumming up his servers. Now, Molek sent us to save the people. He ceased to refer to himself as the machine that he was and began to use the language that the people used to describe him.

We called him our god, and so he was our god.

It took me a long time to realize all of this, of course. I was born and raised on Molek just like you were. I had every shred of evidence right there at my fingertips that Molek was the sole reason we were alive. Without our sacrifices, we would die. I was fucking devout. Why else do you think I pursued this position of regimented savior? At Molek's word, we prevented disasters. We kept the people safe. We served our god.

But have you ever looked at a single word so long that it loses all meaning? You say it over and over again until the word does not even sound like a real word anymore. You know that feeling?

After the umpteenth time of being told to scrape accumulated rust out of an old drainage pipe in a less-traveled part of Molek's interior, then having Molek praise me for "subverting a deadly flood," it simply began to sound ridiculous.

I cannot explain it in any other way than that.

I searched alone for many years. I took every job that required a human presence in the more isolated parts of Molek. I crawled the length and width of the planet's bowels, studying, looking for answers, for the truth. It took years to piece together the history that we have all forgotten.

We were never meant to breed sacrifices. The furnaces of Molek are for the dead, not the living. He has become drunk on his overabundance of fuel. The more we feed him, the more he can produce, and so he never once told us to stop.

That is why I created the virus. There, I said it. That is all you wanted to hear from me, yes? Well, you have my confession now. I created the virus that changed everything.

Realistically, of course, I did not do it alone. I worked with wrenches, not code. But I take full responsibility for the repercussions, and so I will not tell you who helped me. I was the one, in the grand scheme of things, who started it all. I became the "cult leader" preaching against Molek. I was the anarchist who led the violent revolution. I was the one who injected the virus into Molek's heart. I was the one who created this catastrophe.

Because the virus did not work. It was meant to kill Molek. But an A.I. the size of a planet is not dumb enough to fall for such a simple human trick. He quarantined the deadliest part of the code. It did not kill him, but it did cripple him.

It broke the safeguards that had been put in place by the brightest minds who first created him. Because of my revolution, because of my virus, Molek became a monster.

No longer did the planet patiently and obediently sustain the lives of the people who lived there. No longer did he wait for the people to bring to his furnaces their dead and their living as sacrifices to become his fuel.

Now, Molek hunted us.

He created the machines that tracked us down. We had made him our god, and we had made him a glutton. Without restraint, he ate everyone he could find.

But he is not dumb enough to leave no survivors. He needs us to survive. Not for repairs, no. All along, he could create his own maintenance protocols--the only reason he did not repair himself before was so that we could have purpose on this planet. No, the only reason he needs us is because we feed him.

And this is my last confession. I want to be very plain--I do not regret it. Molek was a monster--one of my own creation, but a monster nonetheless. I realized that the only way to kill him was to starve him.

And so I starved him.

If there are any survivors that I failed to discover, I am making this recording just for you. So that you would know why I did it. So that you can take up my mantle. Because of the A.I. segregation laws, I can promise you that no one is coming. No one else in the stellarverse even knows we are here, trapped within the A.I. territory. And Molek sure as shit is not going to let you leave.

Whatever you do, do not let him find you. He can hibernate. All he needs is one human body, and he can last for decades on that alone. So do not let him find you.

For God's sake, starve him.


aDittyaDay t1_j5lq8a6 wrote

"What did you wish for?" they would always ask, and I would simply smile.

It had been years since that day. Looking back through the memories of my life, I always marveled at the twists and turns my life had taken. Orphaned at only five months old. Foster parents murdered before I turned three. A solid decade of a downward spiral. Bad choices, the wrong kind of friends, drugs, delinquency. Court-mandated therapy that finally shook the grip of those early years.

Until I was seventeen, when Wit came back into my life. They had been the one who got me into drugs. They had been the one I first gave my heart to, along with my virginity. They had been the one who killed that crazy dealer who tried to drag me into an alley and rape me. They had been the one who left me for the cops to blame.

Wit had been everything wrong and everything right in my life, and they were back.

"Go to the genie," they told me, their eyes half-lidded in that try-to-make-me-care way. "Everyone does it. Go to the genie."

I knew it was a bad idea because Wit was the one telling me to do it, but I did it anyway. Therapy could fix a lot of things, but not who I was. At least, not fast enough.

The year with Wit hooked me with barbs. I said no to a god-damned lot. Said yes to a fair few. I loved Wit. I hated Wit. And the day I turned eighteen, I followed Wit up the mountain.

It had been years since that day. I now walk the world in freedom--free from my demons, free from my struggles, free from my past. When the petitioners at the base of the mountain saw the great beam of light shoot into the sky, they all marveled. They knew that the world would never be the same. For centuries, the genie had denied every wish. Every wish can only be wished once, they would always say, and so everyone left with nothing but the determination to try again next year.

But the beacon in the sky meant a wish had been granted. Whoever walked off the mountain would be famous. They would be hounded for all their life by those clamoring to know what wish had been so unique. It was a new era.

But I never told them. I could not lie, for I was bound to truth, and so every time they asked what I had wished for, I told them nothing. After all, I had not been the one to make the wish. I had merely granted it.

But Wit saw now that I was happy in a way they had never been able to make me. They knew something was up. And so Wit never gave up asking.

Even now, decades later, as Wit lay old and fragile on their deathbed, and I sat by their side as hale as I was in the days of our youth, they asked, desperate for an answer.

"What did you wish for?"

I simply smiled.


aDittyaDay t1_j1f71mi wrote

Nobody knew me unless I allowed them to. It's not out of any particular need for anonymity. It's just because that's the way I am.

When I fight crime, they call me Reversal. Well, I called myself that--when I was younger, I cared a bit more about staying under the radar, and it dampens your dating life a little when men find out the petite, cute blonde they want to take home at the end of the night is actually a superhero who kicks ass and takes names during her lunch break. I guess it challenges their masculinity or something.

So I called myself Reversal and kept my power on low burn all the time. Anytime someone tried to get to know me, my power would force them the other way. In the end, those walls meant to protect me only succeeded in keeping out the good ones and letting the scumbags in.

When I finally figured out that those kinds of men aren't even worth my time, I gave up the ruse. I took off the mask. I updated my online dating profile with my superhero name in parentheses right there next to my real name. "Alicia Landrew, a.k.a. Reversal, accountant by trade and butt-kicking crime-fighter in my time off!"

The funny thing was, though, that no one believed me! For the longest time, they thought it was a joke! And admittedly, it took a while for me to fully dropkick that old habit of keeping my reversal powers on low burn out of my life, but even then, most of my friends just said, "Uh-huh, yeah, okay, sure, Li, you're a superhero."

"Yeah, Joan, my face is literally plastered over every news article!"

"Oh, right, I did get a push notification about that this morning. Cool, bro. Hey, are we still on for lunch later?"

I guess all we really see truly is nothing more than what we want to see.

I suppose that's why I agreed to meet up with Matthew. In the old days of masking my identity, I might have been very suspicious of getting a match with the one guy in the city who looked very, extremely, uncannily similar to the visor-clad supervillain Quantum Malice terrorizing the city in recent weeks. Surely, I once would have thought, this means he discovered my identity and is trying to get close to attack!

But I let my guard down. With the whole world basically responding with one gigantic shrug to my virtual unmasking, I didn't think very hard about the possibility of Quantum Malice attacking me through a dating app. He probably wouldn't believe I'm a superhero, either, right?

So I agreed to meet up for cakepops. Because, "I'll get you coffee, if you want, but I'm not a coffee fiend, myself." The way he had said it was just cute enough to intrigue me, plus I'd never been asked out for cakepops before, so I went. The city's greatest superhero, going on a date with the city's newest supervillain.

And later, its worst, most destructive, most notorious supervillain.

Matthew was a troubled soul.

And that's when I finally admitted to myself my sheer stupidity, the flaw with being a superhero in the dating game. Now, the villains I faced were not just villains. They were people.

It completely changed how I approached heroism. Because I could not just defeat Matthew in combat. I could not lay a hand on him. I loved him.

I loved him.

I absolutely, wholly, truly, wonderfully, loved my archnemesis.

And that's how I fought him. I loved him. Every date, every conversation, every late night sharing secrets, I loved him. Every part of him.

Did he know that I was Reversal? Of course--I never hid it. Did he believe it? I think so. I truly think so. And that drew me to him, too. He believed me. And I know he believed me because he chose me as his archnemesis. He, as Quantum Malice, rose up against me, as Reversal, at every turn.

And finally, people began to see. Once we gave them something to look at, they began to watch. Hero Reversal and Villain Quantum Malice, veritable gods eternally clashing in an endless dance of good versus evil!

He had to have known all along, he had to have believed me, because he would not have aided in giving me a name otherwise.

And he always, always, let me win.

That was how I knew he loved me. He stopped being a supervillain for just himself. He used it to support me, never hurt me. He loved me, and it made him a better person.

And I like to think he made me a better person, too, even if he did not know it. I no longer cared about whether everyone else believed I was a superhero. He knew, and he cared, and I realized that was all I wanted.

Did he know I knew he was actually the supervillain Quantum Malice? I highly doubt it. He would not have kept up the charade if he had. But that was okay.

Because the son of a bitch finally got his act together and proposed.


aDittyaDay t1_j191lvk wrote

Lol good point. I figure after 20 years of isolation, then a) they've already collected all the cool stuff by now, and/or b) they've become just a little bit wacko re: their priorities


aDittyaDay t1_j18e7br wrote

Not always, depends on my mood. I had first started writing on reddit on an alt account a few years ago just to get myself writing again, and I had decided to make all my reddit prompts canon to each other long after I had started them, so they were already pretty broad in spectrum. The lore of my main story mostly explains how that's possible, so I don't stress about it too much. So basically I answer a prompt as I feel like it, and I find a way to make it fit afterwards. A few oddball prompt responses don't quite fit, but most do, so meh

And it's all good, just gives me an excuse to write more haha!


aDittyaDay t1_j18b0pn wrote

Hmm I didn't have plans for more, but I usually set my prompts in the same universe, so if I apply that same restriction, a part 2 would probably show Dakota actually camped out on the moon or Venus or something since Earth is no more, and phone lady is still on a spaceship and rescues the stranded human to go on space adventures looking for other scattered survivors. Whether there is generator death or signal loss to put tension into the rescue mission depends on if I actually add these people into the bigger story and they need a plot.

Which I'm actually considering now, thanks, haha..


aDittyaDay t1_j1606ia wrote

Idk how you did it but man, I felt this. Just a human being human, a bit goofy from isolation, then that roller coaster of emotion when that tiny spark of hope ignited and was quenched so quickly. Poor human... Well done


aDittyaDay t1_j15ttw4 wrote


aDittyaDay t1_j15ipw5 wrote


I sighed gently as I put the old phone on speaker and set it back on the table. The magnetically charged generator hummed quietly in the corner, struggling to keep juice flowing through the charger cable and maintain my last bid for sanity.

On the old plastic table was an array of trinkets I had found that day. I only ever went out for trinkets these days. The greenhouse pretty much ran itself, and the spring-water salinity distiller had not had a breakdown in almost five years now. I had scavenged just about everything I needed for survival, so all that was left were trinkets.

A purple piece of glass. A nearly spherical pebble. An intact spider-web leaf--I liked that one; the brittle leaves usually crumbled the second they hit the ground. A rusty belt buckle missing the tongue. A crinkled piece of plastic that might once have been a candy wrapper.



All there was to do these days was sit on the pedal-seat in the corner by the generator and pedal all day to recharge the old piece of junk. And I only ever used the generator to keep the old cell phone running, so I did not have to recharge it every day.

The only other thing there was to do was go out and collect trinkets.

"Oh my God, hello!?!"

I sighed. Even the age-old voice recordings were losing their luster.

"This can't have been a mistake, it can't be, not after twenty fucking years of conserving the last twelve percent of this damn battery, and I turn it on for the first time in twenty years and I immediately get a phone call, and that’s just too fucking ironic to be real, so this is a mistake, isn't it, and..."

I finally looked up from my meager bounty and frowned at the phone. The voice on the other end devolved into flustered muttering, just a warble from the old speakers.

That's not a voicemail, I thought, staring and staring and staring at the phone.

The sound coming from the speakers grew muffled for a moment, and a harsh clop issued forth, as if someone on the other end had dropped their phone mid-call. A rustle, static. A deep sigh, that kind of sigh one makes when one is alone, and all they have to hold onto their last grip of calm is their own breath. Someone, alone, breathing, alone, relying on themselves to remain calm. Someone on the phone.


That's not a voICEMAIL.

The truth of reality finally sank in, and I lunged for the phone.

Snatching it up, I shouted, "Hello! Hi! Hello!?"

"Don't screw with me, phone," the voice replied, but it was distant, as if the other person held the phone away from their face. "I save you all this time, and this is how you repay me--"

"Hello! I'm a real! I'm person! I'm--!" I inhaled, choked on my own saliva, and coughed until I could not breathe. "I'm... I'm..." I wheezed, sucking air through the cough lodged at the top of my esophagus. "Hi. I'm Dakota. Hi."

The voice was quiet, almost comically suspicious. "You're not a mistake?"

I contemplated the question for a moment, and a sudden, unexpected swell seemed to balloon inside of me. It was laughter. I teetered on the edge of laughter, something I had not heard in over a decade. I had asked myself that exact same question for years. How was I alive even after all this time, just to suffer in solitude? What had I done to deserve it? It had to be a mistake. I had to be a mistake.

But all I said was, "No."

And then I finally laughed. I laughed and I laughed and I laughed.

And she laughed, too.