jkwlikestowrite t1_jegsfml wrote

The Twenty-Niners

How strange is it that the time between our births and deaths are arbitrarily decided by a calendar invented and maintained only by humans, and yet that has always been the way. I was born on March 31st, 1990 and once I arrived into the world kicking and screaming the maternity ward’s oracles divined my death to be on a February 29th, the year kept to themselves as is and always was tradition. I wonder what they knew when the divined my death, along with the many others like me.

It’s been four hundred years since then, I’ve seen many people come and go. My relationship with my fellow man has unfortunately slipped into that close to that an average man and his dog: we’re best friends for a short yet meaningful time, and by the time we know it they’re already dead. It’s a sad life, which is why myself and other Twenty-Niners mostly keep among ourselves these days, living together in small communes in ranches or group houses in urban centers. Fellow immortals give our gift due to congress many centuries ago deciding to get rid of the leap year because it was “too confusing” with no formidable replacement in site. Over time human civilization slipped into a world of lies and half truths, people grew distrusting of the government and the other institutions that have held civilization together for so long, soon universities and research centers became nothing more than “hobbies” for the elite few, and the seasons began drifting with the dates. The snow stopped falling in December as it drifted further towards the summer solstice, and in centuries time people wondered why there were so many songs about snow when Christmas happened in the middle of the summer time. It became too much for us Twenty-Niners who knew a different kind of world.

I live in the mountains on a small ranch amongst a group of many of my kind who had given up on the outside world and taken an oath of celibacy. There’s another thing about us Twenty-Niners, it’s that our children aren’t guaranteed to die on the 29th, especially in a post-29th world. As one would expect, nothing creates a greater crisis and grief as outliving so many of our offspring. I had birthed too many children who died and I have had enough. Hear that fate is mine no more.

Of course a few of us don’t live in communes. The Extroverts as we call them. They live amongst the others either trying to live a normal life until their death date is found out, forcing them to drop everything and start anew in another city (some cycle between cities and countries, like outfits, leaving and returning after a few generations have passed and returning to a clean slate). Others have tried to use their immortality, knowledge and wealth to amass power, with only a few succeeding while most are driven off. Henry Samson comes to mind. A former partner of mine who spent half a century with me at an urban Twenty-Niner community before taking off to rule a small island nation off the Gulf coast. I hear he’s made quite the name for himself there, but I haven’t paid attention to the news in decades to know what’s up. There’s also Becca O’Hare, the world’s richest human to ever lived. Although I have never met her, her name has become synonymous with the greedy Twenty-Niners out there. “Don’t be such an O’Hare” people will say once the matter of wealth is brought up. And then there are the politicians of us, the snakes and rats in sheep’s clothing who emerge every so often to enter the rotten world of politics to solidify our longevity by making sure legislation to restore the 29th day of February never returns and promote the indefinite continuity of idiocy that keeps the population subverted. They make the warlords of small island nations and megalomaniacs who bare our death day seem like reasonable people in comparison.

Out here in the mountains where the air is forever cool and crisp I sit upon the lodge’s deck, meditating on the facts of life and death. Many people’s lives are prolonged by heroes rushing into the scene of an accident, or by the intelligence and wisdom of their medical professionals keeping one’s heart beating in spite of whatever ailments they’re cursed with. Ours had been prolonged by the inept bureaucracy of the government.

Thank you for reading! Check out /r/QuadrantNine for more stories by me if you so feel like it. Immortality and what it does to one’s psyche is a common theme that I like to explore in my stories, so if you enjoyed this I recommend checking out “Retirement” which is about a general brought back from stasis ever so often to help her empire win conquests, only to awaken one last time to nothing but ruins and machines waging a pointless war. I also recommend “Boxed In” which is about a mimic who’s trapped inside the ruins of a castle for 10,000 years, unable to escape the form of a simple box of supplies.

Edit: Fixed a typo for my writing subreddit. Whoops 🤦


jkwlikestowrite t1_j9x7ztz wrote

Oh wait, I guess I wasn't clear in my first message. I knew what you were talking about, Bloodborne is one of my all time favorite games, so it would make sense that it's rubbed off on me. Not sure if you're familiar with the horror manga Uzumaki by Junji Ito, but there's a part in the manga where (light spoilers for the later half of Uzumaki by Junji Ito) >!people have voluntarily (sorta, depending how you look at it) deformed and twisted their bodies into spiral like shapes and tangle into each other. It's a rather disturbing sight.!< Anyways, that scene just mortified me when I first read it ten years ago, and now here I am, drawing from that scar left upon my younger impressionable brain. (It's a great manga though if you love horror like I do, one of the best in fact).


jkwlikestowrite t1_j9v1ykf wrote

Within the Tower

Removing the dragon's head was not easy. My opponent laid stunned and incapacitated from a magical potion I had finally managed to throw at it when the dragon's fatigue, much like my own, had begun to catch up to it. Its long neck of golden scales like chain mail laid across the ground, a prisoner in its own body, but not for long. The potion mage only guaranteed me that this concoction wouldn't last more than sixty seconds, so I moved with haste to finish this fight one and for all. I drew my blade up in the air and swung it down, using the rest of my might to hack through the dragon's thick scales, dense bones, and pulpy flesh like a lumberjack chopping through the mightiest tree in the forest. Halfway through its neck the beast let out a deep moan, it was then that I realized that I had cut through most of its esophagus as a spurt of wind rushed up from the wound taking with it crimson blood that sprayed all over my shining armor and face. I did not stop, in fact I chopped harder and faster in fear that the potion had begun to wane. I did not do so to put the beast out of its misery. No, my mind had become clouded with the bloodlust of victory and a desire to save the rumored beautiful damsel that laid within the tower that I had staked my upon my life to save when I set out for this quest many moons ago. I had become a man driven by conquest and spoils, nothing more. Little did I know at the time that the dragon did not guard the tower to keep its prisoner in, but to protect the outside from what lies within.

The dragon let out one last moan when my blade finished it off. Its body went limp and the life flicked away from its eyes like a blown out candle. With my opponent now just a husk of flesh, scales and bones I turned towards the tower and began limping towards the tower doors. Time and rot had devoured the tower. The ancient stones had been eroded away and eaten by the scarlet vines that stretched upwards from the base to the very tip. Like a flame devouring a fuel log in the middle of a bonfire. I feared that even the gentlest breeze would rattle the walls and send it crumbling down upon me and the dame that lived inside. However, this did not fuel me with fear, but haste to save whoever had been taken prisoner. I began moving as fast as my tired body would allow.

When I pushed against the doors a deep groan came from within the walls of the tower. I paused, bracing for another battle with another beast, but the groaning stopped. I pushed again and the same sound echoed through the tower's cylindrical walls and bounced back to my ears. Pausing once again the sound stopped. Finally, with one last push I heard the groan again, louder and fuller, and then I laughed at my own delirium. My chuckles reverberating off the walls back towards me. The doors! There was no beast calling to me from the abyss of the tower, but the sounds of the heavy metal doors as they rotated about their hinges. I must had been more exhausted from that battle than I had previously thought. Shaking my head I gave the doors one final heave and entered the tower.

The interior was pitch black, darker than I had expected given the daylight outside. But luckily for me I found a torch beside the door and lit it up, granting me some respite from the darkness. I lit the torch and the room filled with an amber light, except there was no room. I had expected a room filled with tables, chairs and perhaps some books, as one usually expected to find in old mage towers, but instead I was greeted with an empty void just a few meters from the entrance. A thick dark abyss that absorbed even the sun's light as it shown through the door. To my right, a spiral staircase descended into the void. Putting all sense of unease behind me, I followed the stairwell. I would not have come all this far just to cower away at the sight of darkness like a child.

I journeyed down the stone stairs, only the light of the torch and the clattering of my armor accompanying me. The deeper I went the silenter it got, the echos of my armor became more muted at each level, and the flames of the torch dimer. As if the darkness itself absorbed them. Soon, the pounding of my heart had become the loudest sound in the depths. For the first time since I was a little boy, I begun to feel real fear. I looked up. The light from the door had nearly vanished, just a sliver of white light. Like a moth near candlelight, I felt a strong urge to go to it and I hard nearly given into my rational fear when I heard her.

A gentle singing from deep down within the well of darkness. Beautiful and delicate. Alas, I had found my princess and she was not far away. Laughing again at my delirium, I ventured down towards the base. I had not noticed at the time that my chuckling did not echo back to me.

At the base I could feel the immense pressure of the darkness pressing against everything. My torch, although still burning full, seemed to let out no more light than a candles, and the clattering of my armor had taken on a muffled sound as if it had been submerged underwater. My heart however, thundered through my ears. A drum pounding loud on either side of my head. Looking up only the abyss remained. Even the faint musk of mold and dust that I had smelled at the top of the stairwell had disappeared. The air had become completely scentless. All that remained beyond the dim reach of my flames was the trace of a stone floor. Again, the cowardly side of my brain began nudging at me to retreat back up. To return to the comfort of the daylight. But when I looked up into the endless void above me, I wondered if I would ever be able to find my way back to the light. And then a sliver of light appeared across the room from me, followed by that elegant singing.

Pure white light. Whiter than even the sun shone from across the well. My eyes now well adapted to the abyss had become nearly blinded in its rays. When they finally dilated I made sense of the source. An opening to a doorway! And beyond it, her voice. I followed the light and the voice and entered the room.


Have you ever seen a rat king before? I have, it is not a pleasant sight. A group of poor rats all tangled together at the tail in an impossible knot. Each little creature pulling away from one another, squealing for their lives. Each tug tightening the knot. Each shrill more agonizing. Until death comes in and spares them of their unfortunate hell. Now imagine that with people, except without the blessing of death.


I entered that room, eyes still blinded and adapting to the harsh light. The singing now filled me on every side, too full to be just a single damsel but many. For a brief moment as my eyes recovered I grinned in thinking of the reward I would get for being the savior of so many lost ladies. I would wed the fairest of the bunch and then marry the remaining off to my other fellow knights. I would be a hero to not just one kingdom, but many. Perhaps all in the land. But that fantasy did not last long. Once the curtains of light faded away I found myself within a realm not even reserved for nightmares.

Bodies tangled in bodies extended across the floor and climbed up the walls into another deep void that hung overhead, a demonic creeper from the depths of hell itself. Limbs twisted and turned into one another, limp and boneless like rope. I could not discern where one body began and the other one ended. The tangle of flesh withered and pulsed like a pile of worms upon the flesh of a rotten corpse. Faces of women stared back at me all letting out one harmonious moan after another. Others had been buried deep within the monstrosity, if they moaned I could not hear them against the backdrop of the shrills that filled the room. I wanted to run, I wanted to escape, but instead my instincts locked me into fear. My mind grasped to find some sort of explanation for this and yet it found none. When I found the will to move I stepped one foot back. I should have made a large step.

An arm extended from the pile and grasped itself around my ankle. I shook my leg, trying to wiggle it loose but the arm would not let go. It tugged at me. I tugged back, and then another arm of a different flesh wrapped its fingers around my leg. They pulled and knocked me off balance. I reached for my sword and swung at the limbs indiscriminately. The more I swung the more they pulled and many more joined in on the effort. The moans of the flesh grew louder and louder until not even the clattering of my armor as it dragged against the floor while they dragged closer could be heard. My resistance had been futile, soon the tangle had covered all but my face. I let out a scream as my body became submerged in the tangle of human flesh. It was then that I thought I finally understood what the women had been singing. "Join us, join us!"

I don't know why I write so much horror (and horror comedies). I just do. Probably because I read a good amount of it, after all this story is highly influenced by the Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, and Uzumaki by Junji Ito. If this story piqued your interest then I suggest you subscribe to /r/QuadrantNine for more short stories by me, along with project updates and the occasional post about random things like productivity (scary, I know). I also have an complete list of my short stories over on my website that extends past the subreddit's archives.

If you enjoyed "Within the Tower" then may I recommend you check out "The Last Apple" which is about what would happen to the doctors once we run out of apples. Another rec of mine would be "Potted Plant" (only available on my archival website) which is about those strange creepy beings that hide behind faux plants inside all our houses.


jkwlikestowrite t1_j87jn9f wrote

I'm happy to hear that! If you haven't checked it out, I actually wrote a 5000+ word follow up to this story to another writing prompt later that day. It's titled Code Inspection and is about the old god Dar'goth, brought back by Anthony, possessing the body of the landlord of this story as Dar'goth attempts to build a temple dedicated to his almighty wrath on top of the apartment building. However, the elder god has been gone so long that he's never had to deal with the ruthless inspectors from the city's code department.

If it wasn't for your inspiration that story for another prompt would have never existed, and it was a blast to write!


jkwlikestowrite t1_j87emk9 wrote

Always happy to twist writing prompts into unexpected directions. 😀 I'm glad you liked it! Just curious though, what were you originally anticipating with the responses to you writing prompt?


jkwlikestowrite t1_j80c8ht wrote

Unregistered Tenants

“Anthony, I need to talk to you about the unregistered tenants I’ve seen coming and leaving your apartment. You signed a lease for a studio apartment and we only allow up to one extra person living there on a regular basis, plus with the fire marshal I legally can’t allow you living with more than three people in that size of an apartment.”

“You can see them too?”


“The others. They live within the walls of my apartment, taking on the forms of inanimate objects or strange alien beings when they come home. They only look human when they leave.”

“Just what are you talking about?”

“I’ve told them that there’s no need to assume human forms when they venture into the outside. Only I can see them, but they’re a paranoid bunch and take on people’s forms just in case somebody else has the gift. I suppose their paranoia has been proven justified.”

“Anthony? Are you okay? I can consult a mental health care official you need it.”

“We have plans. Plans that you or anybody else if allowed to see. Big ones. Oh I wish I could let you see them, you’ve been an amazing landlord. Great rent in a fantastic part of town. A steal if really. My friends - no, not the ones from the the other realm, my tangible friends - are jealous.”

“Well I’m flattered to hear that. I like to think that we provide affordable housing and terrific customer service to our many tenants. We didn’t win the best leasing managers in the city five years in a row for nothing. But as you must know- Hey, let go of me!”

“I’m sorry, I really am. But my friends - the intangible ones from another realm - and I can’t let you interfere. We have big plans and we’re just so so close. As an entrepreneur yourself you must understand.”

“I said let go. No, don’t shut the door. Ahhh!”

“Big plans. Big plans indeed. Friends, can you show her to the ritual closet? I think she’ll make a great beta tester for our first incantation.”

“Please, I’ll do anything. I won’t tell a soul. What are those? Tentacles? Please! Pl-“

“Her voice a faint muffle now. I told ya’ll that sound proofing was necessary for a ritual space in the modern world. Apartments are too cramped with paper thin walls nowadays. We’ll check back in a few hours to see if dar’goth is satisfied with his first sacrifice. How about we watch some Netflix in the meantime? I hear Physical 100 is pretty good.”


Thank you for reading! For more stories like this please feel free to check out /r/QuadrantNine for my past works. I recommend The Humans if you’re looking for a dialogue only story, or Pretty Eyes if you’re looking for a darker story (side note: Pretty Eyes is only on my archival website right now and not my subreddit).

Edit: if you liked this story then I definitely recommend you check out the 5000 word sequel that I wrote in response to another writing prompt titled Code Inspection. It deals with the old god, now possessing the landlord's body as he tries to build a temple to himself on top of the apartment building. It's a fun romp!