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Re: [Jan 2016] - Breaking the fourth wall - Discussion Thread Why worry about me? I've got an idea so far but it's nothing fantastic yet.
Even if we have the same idea, the treatment would differ anyway right?

January 03, 2016, 10:30:20 PM
Re: [Jan 2016] - Breaking the fourth wall - Discussion Thread was originally going to do a zombie story, but today on my run a dragon story reached out and grabbed me by the chin.  it won't let go.

fourth-wall dragons, here we come!

January 04, 2016, 09:21:28 PM
Re: Can anyone recomend a creative writing course? Might not quite be what you're looking for, but have you watched Brandon Sanderson's lectures? They've recorded his creative writing university class and posted them on youtube. They're awesome, seriously, especially because they focus on the practical side of writing. They've just finished uploading a newly-recorded version from this year, which is much better quality than the previous versions!
October 13, 2016, 03:46:57 AM
Re: Can anyone recomend a creative writing course? I did the Open University's diploma in creative writing. I absolutely loved it. It's one level 2 and one level 3 course, so gets pretty in depth and covers the gamut of writing - fiction, poetry, radio and screenplay.

I would recommend it to absolutely anyone.

October 13, 2016, 12:57:03 PM
Re: Can anyone recomend a creative writing course? My best writing class was a long time ago (8-10 years), but it wasn't at a university.

It was a virtual class mediated/hosted by a published author. I got a lot of practical experience and encouragement. It was essentially a structured writing group, and I got more than my money's worth. It was not accredited in any way, so it did not have anyone who was merely checking blocks in their degree programs, whom I have sometimes found to be in the way of those looking to get the very most out of a class.

I think it's important to have some idea of what it is you are looking to gain from a class: general understanding of dramatic structure, creative writing essentials, genre-specific explorations and comparisons, etc. In university settings my experiences were not bad, but were not satisfying, as I was making my way through a degree program, and not taking classes appropriate for my weaknesses and desires as an aspiring novelist.

My university did have a Tolkien class that studied him and his works that was amazing - the professor has extensive background in Old English and Medieval Literature, and that was - uniquely rewarding.

October 13, 2016, 02:30:19 PM
Re: Can anyone recomend a creative writing course? The podcast is decent but a little all over the place, sounds like the lectures would be perfect for you (they're two very different things). The lectures are from a course specifically aimed at building up a writer's toolbox for fantasy/sci-fi writers (he even uses the same metaphor), and it's got a lot of depth and insight. Here's the link to the youtube playlist so you can check it out!
October 16, 2016, 12:03:13 AM
Re: [Jan 2018] - Rebirth/Renewal - Submission Thread The Keeper of the Queen Key
1484 words

Spoiler for Hiden:

At noon, I reached the top of the Turret of a Thousand Steps. My halberd, restored to its former glory, glittered in the sun as I strode across the grand causeway to the great domed Tower of the Clockwork Queen. Ancelagon the bronze dragon sat perched upon a battlement beside the great doors.

I spun my weapon. “Good as new. The Queen will love it.”

“For a little while,” the dragon rasped, staring as I passed. A staring dragon is unnerving, for they possess the scowl of an eagle, the eyes of a cat, and claws worse than both.

I frowned. “What—”

“Enter,” called the Queen in her musical voice. Over my shoulder I saw Ancelagon watch me unblinking as I stepped through the door.

Inside, the Clockwork Queen stood bathed in golden sunlight shining down through the oculus high above. She raised a gloved hand, scattering bronze sparkles across the shadowy pillars that formed a ring around the periphery. “Close the door, knight.”

I did then knelt before her.


I presented my weapon. “It is remade.”

She looked down at my halberd, then her sapphire eyes glanced up at me over the line of her filigree veil. “As are you.”

I smiled. “Indeed.”

“It is the way of the world. All things are made and marred, by mishap or violence or the slow decay of years. We preserve what we can, restore what we can. But all castles are sandcastles and soon humbled by the tide.”

“Not you, my Queen.”

She canted her head at me, and the gemstones in her crown dazzled my eyes. “You think not?”

“My Queen?”

“I am neither perfect, nor outside the cycle of the world.” She undid her veil, beneath which I had never seen. The bronze and gold of her face continued as I had imagined: a modest nose, lips, and chin - the face of a calm young woman, though she was as old as the Clockwork Keep itself, I supposed.

“Knight, do you see why I wear a veil?”

“No, my Queen.”

“If I had a mouth, a real mouth, I would smile at that. But I am not perfect, like you.” She narrowed her eyes, which I had always taken as a sign of a broader smile beneath. But I realized that was all there was. A minor element of artifice, a trifling limitation. But a limitation of artifice nonetheless.

I lowered my eyes to her shining bronze feet. “Why do you show me this?”

She stepped closer and grasped my shoulders, looking up at me with her perfect golden face. “Because I need you to understand what I am, and what I am not, so that you can help me in a great task. So great, in fact, that I would not command you. It is too much to ask, even of a knight. Will you help me of your own accord?”

My breath caught in my throat. “You know I will.”

“I knew.” She stared up at me for a moment longer. The twirled copper and gold wire of her hair shone in the warm sunlight. “The weightiest questions are always asked with the answer already known.” She released me and walked to the door. “Come. I haven’t much time.”

Dumbfounded, I followed her out and across the great causeway, down the Turret’s thousand steps, and then further down into the deeps of the Clockwork Keep, far below my deepest errands. There, the great gears and cams of the keep turned and clanked and thudded. At the bottom, we came to a stout door, marked with the Queen’s seal.

She nodded and I pushed open the door, unleashing the slow but thunderous racket, like an immense bag of silverware falling slowly down an endless stair.

Inside, huge shafts anchored in gears the size of wagon wheels passed through the room horizontally and vertically through holes in the walls, ceiling, and floor. Countless gears clacked through innumberable cycles. What the shafts turned, I did not know, but I imagined they opened and closed the gates and raised the four enormous drawbridges that led to the Thousand Thousand Roads.

It was too loud to speak and be heard, so she pointed at a row of great bronze vats covered with oak lids. Each held an enormous amount of clear, scentless oil. Large ladles hung from each. She walked to the shafts and gears, gesturing here and there. I noticed the shine and realized the oil was for the shafts.

She led me out and closed the door behind us. My ears rang from the noise.

“Yes, it is a noisy place. You must apply oil where I showed you every month, or the Keep will die.”

“Die?” I laughed. I had never thought it a living thing.

She led me all the way back up to her tower.

Ancelagon sat beside the tower door and bowed low. “Farewell, my Queen.”

“Farewell, Ancelagon!” the Queen said, while I just gaped. She embraced the dragon, then went inside.

Ancelagon blinked then nodded toward the door.

Inside, the Queen drew open a curtain and revealed a broad table, on which lay a being like herself. But while the Clockwork Queen was gold and bronze with hints of platinum and copper here and there, this clockwork lady was wrought entirely of shining silver and mirror-chrome.

“What do you think of her?”

“She is beautiful,” I said. “But not as fair as you. And she has no veil.”

The Queen opened her hand. Her platinum filigree veil lay in her gloved palm. “This is my gift to her. Give it to her when she wakes.” To my amazement, she opened a panel in her breast. Within, I saw the end of a small key set within a complex mechanism: the heart of the Clockwork Queen. It turned slowly while I stared.

“Give it to her yourself, my Queen.”

The Queen only shook her head slowly. Had she a mouth, I was sure she would have smirked at me. “I cannot, for there is only one Queen Key, and I have been its keeper for the time allotted to me. You shall be its keeper and use it to wind my great task – my heir.”

“But,” I stammered, “you are immortal! You’re timeless. Without you, the Clockwork Keep stops, and everything...”

“Everything ends, yes. I know. And though you are not wholly wrong, Sir Knight, you are only half right. I am immortal because I cannot die – but that is only because I am not alive, or at least, not alive like you. But as long-lived as I am, I am not timeless. Nothing is.”

“But,” I went on, unable to accept what she was saying. “The Keep needs you.”

She laughed then and set her hand on my shoulder. “The Keep needs only oil. The errands and tasks of the Queen are all artifice.”

I frowned. “Then why have a Queen at all, then?”

“Because the Keep serves people, and people need to believe that there is someone guiding things.”

“But if that’s not true, it’s just a lie.”

“Not a lie – artifice. Lies deceive to serve the liar’s purposes; artifice deceives to serve the deceived. It is not real, but that does not stop it from fulfilling its purpose. The Clockwork Queen does guide things – just not the way people think. My rule is not real, but my purpose is. I do guide the people who come here – but it is they who rule, though they know it not.”

“Why not tell them?”

“Because believing that I am the incomprehensible, incorruptible wheel that turns things convinces them that they are not. They leave their squabbles and greed and pettiness at the gates because they believe ... what they believe. What they believe is not important - that they behave as their best selves when they come here - that is very important. Without a Queen, this is just a place. With a Queen, the Clockwork Keep is where the sun rises first and sets last – and in such a place, the realms of men share ideas and exchange that which is most crucial of all.”

The prospect of losing my Queen clenched my jaw so tight my teeth were grinding. “And what is that?”

“Hope,” she said. “You must teach her this. That is the mission I call upon you, the Keeper of the Clockwork Queen, to accomplish.”

I wanted to refuse, in the vain hope my wishes would change the way of the world. But I had given my word.

“Farewell, Knight. All things end, even I. There can be no beginnings without ends, and a world without beginnings would be sadder still. You remain the finest of your kind, and I am very fond of you. I made her to match your weapon. Serve her well.”

“I will,” I said. And I did.

January 14, 2018, 10:56:25 AM
Re: [Jan 2018] - Rebirth/Renewal - Submission Thread The Curious Case of the Lacertus Estate
1450-1500 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
‘Predators come in all forms, and one’s guaranteed t’be lingering when large sums of money’s involved.’ Me father spoke those words some three and a half decades back, on the day Simon Fonner arrived in Swallow’s Glen. He moved here shortly after it was made public that Lady Lacertus, owner of the fabled Lacertus Estate, was terminally ill with lung cancer.

Brash, suave, and bubbling with confidence, young Fonner strutted the streets in his flared trousers and knock-off silk-scarfs like he owned them. His less than subtle queries over the Lady’s circumstances fuelled immediate suspicion, and once he finally wormed his way into her confidence as a ‘carer’ he’d flutter around her like the very cigar smoke that festered her doom. Within months he was living in her former castle turned mansion on the hill, preparing meals and washing garments at first, but his duties quickly elevated to writing cheques on her behalf. His regular trips to the bars on her expense rubbed everybody up the wrong way, no less than his lauding over his close ‘relationship’ with her. Then the solicitors went in.

“That settles it,” my father exclaimed at dinner. “We’ll be out of work within a month of her passing.” And his fears held merit. The Lacertus Estate was the lifeblood of our unremarkable farming community lost among the lazing slopes and grazing pastures of the Scottish highlands. The Lacertus dynasty had kept the place afloat for nearly four centuries. Lady Lacertus, made a tragic widow in her early twenties, was worth in excess of ten million pounds, so it was claimed, and she was an only child who’d never remarried nor born any children of her own. I recall in her final days peering through the estate’s polished bronze gates bolted to pillars capped with lizard reliefs, and marvelling at the diamond windows of the tower over the mansion entrance, only to seeing her peering out from between the bars in the alcove protruding from the third floor. Oh, how sad and despairing she looked.

Fonner had become more reclusive by that time... more cautious, contemplative... switching out the playboy attire for an antique suit far older than he. On the fleeting times he did wander into town his braggart personae was also more refrained, bordering dignified, as he engaged with us mere locals as if he’d known us his whole life.

Alas, change his skin he might, but the act did little to quell the unrest that Lady Lacertus’s inevitable death dealt to the neighbourhood. Before the funeral could even take place there were whisperings regarding the fate of our livelihoods. Folk were already sharpening pitchforks when the news landed that the entire estate would be left in the care of Mr--now Lord--Simon Fonner. And while the usurper tried to calm the outrage with promises of business as usual, even his legally changing his surname to Lacertus did little to dissuade folk of the sell-up sure to occur.

Yet, despite all doubts, the man was true to his word. Apparently some people genuinely are just looking for an opportunity in life to prove themselves.

In the years that passed, Simon Lacertus never shied away from running the operation as though it were built off his own sweat and blood. The elders in those days came to call him a blessing. He even made me the estate’s caretaker when I reached working age--a job I still do to this day. All my life I’ve looked after that mysterious mansion that awed me as a kid, from its fragrant courtyard gardens to the yawning main hall, the cosy lines of bedrooms off elegant stone hallways, the expansive kitchen, and even the chandelier hung parlours and games-rooms. The only place I ain’t ever been allowed to see’s the cellar. But each of us is entitled to our own private places, right?

Truth be told, I became good friends with dear Si over the decades. We drank many a night away together. Sure, like most, he had some eccentric quirks. His particular passion--other than smoking those accursed cigars that claimed his benefactor--was crocodiles. References to the scaly things cover the mansion: skins splayed on walls, skulls on podiums, organs preserved in jars, and even the cutlery handles are engraved like scales. My personal favourite’s the croc-foot back-scratcher. But yes, Si is... was fascinated with the things. “Oldest living creature on land, you know?” he’d often tell me, finger raised profoundly, a reptilian glint in his eye. “Their success comes from settling in the right territory, a place obscure enough to go ignored, but important enough that a plentiful supply of prey will wade through with expectations of a better life on the other side. It’s similar to how the dragons of myth live on their piles of gold despite having no need for wealth.”

“Fascinating,” I used to tell him... to humour him, of course, ‘cause I hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was blabbering on about.

So that was our life... simple, quiet, unassuming... till the day tragedy struck and poor old Lord Lacertus was diagnosed with an advanced stage of lung cancer. Less than two years to live the doctors said. Oh, how indignant he was, sat in his scaly leather arm-chair, cigar smoldering betwixt his fingers. “Four centuries,” he’d grumble. “And still they've failed to devise a cure for this dastardly disease.”

Before the news had been in the public eye for twenty-four hours a Yorkshire strumpet by the name of Penelope Pinch had arrived. Barely in her twenties, she skipped right into Simon’s life, flinging her thighs and bouncing her bosom, and he was smitten as a teenager having seen his favourite actress in the buff for that one scene she regretted ever having filmed.

“Girl’s only after one thing,” I told my wife.

“You old cynic,” she replied. “Perhaps she genuinely loves him?”

“Perhaps,” I huffed back. But when was the last time any young lass chose to fondle, let alone buy, the wrinkled, seeping old plums on the fruit stand when they weren’t planning to sue the supermarket afterwards?

My suspicions over Penny’s motives were furthered on seeing her flirting with the local lads around town. I tried to tell Simon, to awaken his infatuated eyes, but he’d have none of it. Banned me from the mansion, he did! Strange box after strange box was soon arriving from the far reaches of Australia, Africa, and South America, and all I could do was watch despairingly as my old friend’s wealth was being leeched away on Penny’s exotic tastes.

Penny’s playful excursions into town ceased around the time of their sudden and entirely private marriage, feeding rumours on the imminent demise of our reclusive town. Then I saw dear Si staring despairingly, full of youthful naive innocence, from the barred window on the protruding alcove of the tower’s third floor. “That cinches it!” I exclaimed to the air, storming off to bang on the door and demand answers. The woman who answered... Oh, it were Penny’s all right--her figure were undeniable. But she was wearing old Lady Lacertus’s clothes, gloves and all, a long-sleeved, frilly-necked sixteenth century garb that showed not a smidgen of skin beneath the chin. The nerve of it left me gobsmacked, and before I came round to air my protest she dismissed me and slammed the door in my face.

Poor Simon died before the end of the year. After the funeral, Penelope Lacertus invited me back into the mansion to discuss my continued service. It eased my my dread some that, on the surface, she appeared to want to continue the Lacertus legacy. Still, I had to ask whether she were worried about the townsfolk revolting.
“Not at all,” she said, thin lips stretched into a wide smile. “They’ll come around eventually. They always do.”
“And Simon?” I asked. “How are you taking his loss.”

“In my stride,” she said with a long breath. “It’s painful, but I console myself in the knowledge that dear Fonner only wanted my life, which is exactly what I gave her.”

“Him,” I corrected.

She stared blankly at me a moment before tittering. “Of course. My bad. The stress of all this change... it plays havoc with the old mind.” She took out a cigar, lit it up, and reclined in the scaly leather chair. “So... Is there anything you’d like to get off your mind to solidify this fresh start?”

“Well...” said I. “I’ve always wondered about the cellar. It’s the only place I’ve never seen.”

She took a serious puff, rose to approach me, rest a cold hand on my shoulder, and oily eyes glistening with a strikingly familiar reptilian glint, said, “Some things, my old friend, are best left to the imagination.”

January 16, 2018, 12:57:57 PM
Re: [Jan 2018] - Rebirth/Renewal - Submission Thread Creature
A poem of 263 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
Squirming, squeezing, squamous creatures with bumps and lumps and other features
Doubtless desire something greater; a better life than their own
Those loathsome, sloth-some, reeking fiends, hated by humble human beings
Pluck pus from prey in secret scenes that they alone call home
In bogs and brooks and hidden nooks and flooded fields and barrow-domes
Is there beauty in those bones?

With scar-stained paws and matted maws, with howling hiss and scratching squawk
And shrieking shout and cutting caw, these things make themselves known
To all fool enough to wander ‘cross shrouded vale and valley sundered
Each bristling beast becomes the hunter of humans far from home
They hide and slide ‘til prey is tired then pounce over mud and loam
   Can there be beauty in those bones?

Necessary though, this is, the predator lets off triumphant hisses
And on the body places toothy kisses that bite right through to the bone
The spiked and spined beast gorges, mantling down on muscled haunches
It transmutes to something gorgeous, a change the world has not before known
As from manuscript to lavishly illuminated tome
   Could there be beauty in those bones?

Cartilage soon wastes away and delicateness takes its place
While mangled maw shifts to pretty face, tender skin revealed as muted muscles are torn
Diaphanous wings seize their form, shucking off the shattered shell of before
Renewed the creature takes a yawn, in transformation its energy sworn
But no more feast on bloody meats for this here beast as an oath of peace is sworn
   And thus those bones in beauty are reborn

January 26, 2018, 11:13:17 PM
Re: [Jan 2018] - Rebirth/Renewal - Submission Thread Renewal

Word count 1499
Twitter: @idledragon27

Spoiler for Hiden:
The creamy, grey-veined marble hallway of the Universal Coffee Emporium headquarters was meant to soothe her, but a bubble of resentment simmered under her breastbone. Here she was again, waiting for the renewal of her Coffee Emporium Decade Licence when others could pick up a half century licence without such pointless examination.

A being sat contently on the other end of the grey, cream-veined marble bench, resting long hands on knees. She watched them out of the corner of her eye for a moment then with a sigh, folded her legs underneath her for comfort.

The being coughed.

“These benches are not built with short legs in mind, no matter the species,” she explained.

“Sitting all hunched up is not very, professional,” the being replied.

“Neither is sitting with legs swinging like some infant, so I’d rather be comfortable. How I sit doesn’t reflect on my professionalism.” The being hummed under their breath as silence flooded the hallway.

“You here for your licence renewal?” she asked before it became uncomfortable.

“My second half century,” the being said proudly. “You?”

“Another decade for me.”

“Only a decade?” the being queried. “I’m sure I’ve seen you before.”

“Probably.” She tugged at her long, gold-embroidered waistcoat and rubbed her knees with her palms. “I’ve been in this trade a long time.”

“And you’re still on a Coffee Emporium Decade Licence?”

“The universe is like that sometimes,” she sighed.

The being tugged their own simple brown waistcoat and straightened the long pocketed brown apron in thought.

“I know you, you’re that human who keeps screwing stuff up. I don’t know why they let humans join. Wouldn’t know a decent cup of Joe if it hit them in the nadgers.”

She fumed inside but put her coffee selling face on to reply.

“Lots of species struggle with caffeine, but that’s our job, to find a level that works so the Universe can stay connected and continue to learn about itself.”

“You spout doctrine like an Assessor.”

“Did the exams,” she admitted with a shrug.


“I discovered I enjoyed the day to day interaction of actually selling coffee and other caffeine based derivatives, rather than checking the overall balance in the Universe.”


“Some of us aren’t cut out for that level of wider knowledge.” The being looked at her, blinking three of their eyes in question.

“It did my head in,” she explained. “The whole of what we do, of what the universe is all about, is fine in the abstract. But to know, to really know...” She shook her head.

“So your still on a CEDL.”

“Doing the Assessor training gave me a different skill set, which means I’m often sent on reconnaissance to new planets.”


She waved a hand. “Its not as fun as it sounds.”

“And you keep screwing it up,” the being replied with the sound of laughter in their voice.

She let her hand fall to her knee and swallowed. She couldn’t get angry with ignorant Coffee Emporium pod owners right outside the renewal office door.

“I don’t bollix it up,” she said.

“But, didn’t you destroy a planets socio-economic civilisation just recently?”

She turned her head to look at the being, all smart in their standard Universal Coffee Emporium uniform, and blinked back tears. “I only set it back a century or two,” she admitted. “Its all in my report.”

The being gulped.  “Sorry, but you are something of a legend. The human Coffee Emporium Master; and yet you make all these silly little entry level mistakes. I’m, curious.”

She stared at them.

“And anyway, reports are such dry affairs, even with the best brew. I sell coffee. I know what it can be like, so, tell me.”

She looked up at the high creamy, grey-veined walls and let them soothe her.

“I went down, looked around, decided they weren’t ready. Knocking their progress back by a couple of centuries was a fluke. I didn’t intend to, but on reflection it was a good idea.”

“And that tells me nothing the report wouldn’t,” barked the being.

She scooted round on her bottom and faced them. “We sell coffee,” she said quietly. “We know all sentient beings in this universe have caffeine or similar in their make-up and we balance this to their particular needs. Every species looks up at the stars, and wonders. And so the Universe learns.”

The being nodded.

“This species didn’t. They never looked up and wondered. And, they had no caffeine.”

The beings mouth fell open.

“But they had known it,” she continued. “They knew caffeine and they hated it. And if anything on that planet had once contained it, it had been eradicated.” She smoothed down her long waistcoat with shaking hands.

“I followed protocol, pretending to be from one of the smaller lands in a big population centre, my pod well disguised but they knew. They could smell it on me. It was like they could see it coming off my skin in waves. They were not happy. Caffeine was their devil, and I was its embodiment.”

“You got sent into that?” The being was shocked.

She shrugged. “They interrogated me. They attempted to condition me to the evils of caffeine. But their main method was purging. Draining me of every drop of caffeine they could.”

She raised hands to clutch at her head. “Headaches. Whole body headaches that wouldn’t end. Creasing me up into an animal ball of stabbing agony. I was blind, deaf, incoherent, I only wanted to stop the pain.”


“When you get sent on reconnaissance, you are on your own. Utterly, unless you get back to your pod.”

The being nodded slowly. “Had they genetic sciences?”

“If they had, I would have been really screwed. I don’t recall much, but something clicked when they talked about a mutated crop they were destroying.”


“Returned to what ever sense I had left. The crop had been infected by caffeine. I was the source. I hallucinated I could be the means, the return of caffeine to that planet, but first, escape.”

“How did you?”

She swallowed, trying to slow down a suddenly racing heart. “I helped them purge me of every particle of caffeine they could find with their crude methods. I puked my insides out.”

“No caffeine, that could’ve killed you.”

“We humans are resilient creatures,” she smiled. “And their containment procedures were non-existent. I polluted their water supply, their soil, their every breath with my own caffeine laced essence. They quickly descended into a destructive frenzy against any one they could blame. They didn’t consider me as the source.”


“I honestly don’t remember how I got back to my pod. I woke up, sucking a mouthful of Betelgeuse Robusta Roasted I had for those really awful days when you need a caffeine hit like an ore container.”

“Bit of an overkill as a pick-me-up.”

“I needed to get out of there. Their weapon sciences were extremely advanced, and they were bombing the hell out of any place they thought the caffeine devil might exist. Including where I’d hidden my pod.”

“Each individual Emporium Device can stand a fairly big explosion.”

“They blasted themselves back two centuries,” she explained. “I wasn’t taking any chances.”


“I sent the emergency retrieval beacon, UCE brought me back, patched me up and debriefed me. Its all in the report. Now I’m having to wait for my renewal. You know, its funny. I’ve never seen another being waiting for a licence at the same time..”

The wide metal doors in the wall opposite opened, stalling her words as an Assessor walked out.

“Nayr Kim Durand?”

“Yes?” she breathed.

“Here is your CEDL. Sign here, and here, and your hand please.”

She stood quietly as the sub-dermal chip in her wrist was read, updated, wrote her name and accepted the computer paper with her licence on it in silence.

“On behalf of the Universal Coffee Emporium, we thank you for your frank retelling of the Thine 137 incident. And your, personal sacrifice. Reports can be so dry, can’t they.” With a bow, the Assessor left, leaving her staring at nothing.

She rounded on the being on the bench. “You in your regulation uniform with your regulation words and your...”

“Sorry,” the being replied with an attempt at a grin. “They needed to check. And you are very good at giving regulation answers at debriefings.”

“You want to know?” she muttered looking down at the page in her trembling hands. “You want to know the truth?” She breathed in and stood upright, looking the being in the eyes.

“The truth is, coffee has always been my life, before I even suspected the Universal Coffee Emporium existed. Keeping the caffeine balance of the sentient Universe is natural for me. But after this, I can do nothing but sell. My own caffeine balance is screwed.”

The being gasped in horror.

“Yes,” she said quietly. “I can never drink another cup of coffee again.”

January 27, 2018, 01:25:54 PM