Playing God

He hasn’t killed me yet, which I’m pretty sure means he loves me. His beautiful soul surpassed death, and in his death he found me. He is perfect in every way. I am besotted, and fully support him in his holy mission. I love him when he seeks the women in nightclubs. I adore him when he splits their heads open and burns the crosses into their flesh. I would do anything he asks of me whilst burying their still-warm corpses. All this I tell him, and he knows to be true.

And thus I find myself as bait to the sinners, clad in skin-tight leather and sent into the depths of hell itself; Saturday night clubbing.

Instantly I am lauded over. Men sniff around me like wild dogs over a scrap of meat. They smell my innocence. The air throbs with anger and overwhelming loudness. People grind and sway to the rhythm, sweat shimmering down their near-naked bodies as they move as one entity; the devil himself. I see his power and I am terrified. But I must stay strong. For my love.

Within an hour of seeking the worst of the whores and miscreants, I am downing tequila and dancing to Backstreet Boys. I have failed my lover, my God, but holy fuck am I having a good time. Once your body succumbs to the music it’s so easy to give in to everything else. The alcohol burning your throat becomes almost pleasant. You start to reciprocate the physical attention, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever felt before. Here, I am a queen, a goddess. I am freed of my bonds of servitude.

But then I see him through the crowds. He’s watching me with a mixture of utter disappointment and disgust. Shame and guilt flood my stomach and force its liquid contents back up my throat. He makes the symbol of the cross, washing his hands of me. He turns to leave, but I obediently follow.

Thirty minutes later and my brain is splattered on the bricks, my body mangled and broken by the bins. He’s crying. It’s sad, really; part of me pities him never knowing the pleasures of a sinful life. The rest of me hates this fucker for cutting mine short.

But soon I will be reborn, seeking my revenge by killing the pure, his children of innocence, leading them astray and dancing drunkenly to 90s dance tunes until my second death.

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The Daughter of Thanos Dream

So like, when a guy’s into you, but you’re not really into him, but he’s like, super powerful, trying to take over the galaxy and could easily kill you and everyone you ever loved with a snap of the fingers… what do you do?

I hadn’t encouraged him in any way. He’d simply picked me up on one of his population-destroying adventures and decided to keep me. Like a pet. He was ravishing me with gifts; the most beautiful gifts from across the cosmos. There was the ruby-encrusted diadem, delicately woven from the silver of a far-off planet, the sapphire pendant ablaze with the cold fire of a burning star… He seemed to have a thing for precious stones.

But none of these gifts would make me forget so much death. Wherever he went, bodies crumpled in his purple wake. I wanted nothing more than to hide in some forgotten corner of the galaxy, to never see that ridged chin again. But he wasn’t really the kind of guy you say no to.

Nevertheless, I resisted his advances as best I could without pissing him off, but this only made him try harder. He thought it would be romantic to make me an ice rink by freezing an entire city.

I fucking hate ice skating.

If you ignored the bodies frozen beneath your feet, the city did look beautiful. Crystallised towers glinted in the sunlight, sparkling showers of refracted light across the frosted ground. It would take years to melt ice this thick. A fresh start for the planet.

Somehow, this place held the key to my freedom. Not only was this a supposed romantic gesture, this was also a game. He watched intently for my reaction. Trying to ignore the outstretched hand frozen beneath my feet, I smiled and thanked him. For a moment he almost looked happy. But knowing he had a hidden motive in the skating, I politely declined to join him and his smile soon melted.

There was a delicate veil of snow floating along the ground. Watching something so pure made me feel a small sense of peace for the first time in weeks. It was the first of Thanos’ gifts I could almost be thankful for. I lay amongst it and it was soft and welcoming, like lying in a cloud of cool water. He watched as I made graceful snow angels, and I could tell he was losing his patience. He wanted to see his doll dance, to see her enjoy his wondrous gift and succumb to his will. He wanted to win a woman who would stand lovingly by his side while he massacred half the population.

Many people were already using the skate rink, drafted in from nearby cities to dance across their fallen brethren. They began performing some kind of ritualistic synchronised dance, supposedly to entice me onto the ice. A digital leaderboard appeared, tracking who had completed the most laps, but most were too wrapped up in the dance. I kept an eye on it.

People had hidden themselves in rooms frozen shut, so Thanos used his bladed foot to slice the solid walls of ice apart. Everyone had to be on the rink to appreciate his generous gift. He was getting angry, and I could tell more murder was on the cards. My time was running out.

Having exhausted all my options, I slowly began to put my skates on. They were beautiful; sleek and black, with swirls of silver stitching and incredibly long silver laces. For some reason though, I had rollerblades, as if he didn’t trust me with real blades. I was also burning thin pillar candles in each. I kept them in.

As I reached the rink, the toffee-nosed forerunner of the leaderboard came over and smirked. “Dead already? That’s a shame.”

I smiled innocently at him and said, “oh dude. I’ve not even started yet,” and his face dropped.

Somehow, I needed to be top of that leaderboard. Somehow, that was the key to escaping Thanos. I just needed to not die in the process…

Believe

Character prompt:
Subvert – the independent badass woman who does not believe in love.

She was hot. She was independent. And most of all, she was badass. She flicked her shining auburn hair as she loosed another arrow, straight and true into the heart of yet another henchman. Before the next arrow could be nocked, an arm wrapped around her neck. Soon the arrowhead was buried deep in his oesophagus, blood spurting across her face and adding to her murderous aesthetic. Cool rock music began to play in time with the fight scene.

After endless cartwheels, high kicks and the odd elegant stabbing, a neat circle of dead and unconscious henchman surrounded the leather-clad vixen. There wasn’t even a bead of sweat, nor a hair out of place. With a perfect pout of full red lips, she stared off into the distance for a moment; hands on hips, eyes glowing from the heat of unfair battle.

She had no need of their weapons, but she searched the pockets of the nearest bad guy for a grenade. Pulling the pin out sexily with her teeth, she threw the grenade at their van. There was nothing in it; they had no precious cargo and weren’t likely to use it again. But she needed the explosion to walk away from.

As she walked – in slow motion, of course – she passed a stage; the source of the cool rock music. Justin Hawkins, in his tight white spandex and flowing pink locks, winked at her. He delved into an awesome guitar riff. She stopped involuntarily. Her feet wouldn’t move. She gazed upon this fine specimen, and just listened to the rhythm of her heart. She was a strong, independent woman who didn’t need no man. And yet… As she contemplated The Darkness before her, she now believed in a thing called love.

 

The Digital Detox: how one day can change your perspective

Many of us will have witnessed attempts to detox from 21st century addictions; be it Carol’s latest fad diet, Alan’s month-long sobriety or Sharon cutting back to twenty a day. But it wasn’t until I spent hours scrolling through Facebook and losing the war against eleven separate Messenger chats that I sat back and thought, “oh my God. I’m addicted to social media.”

How many hours of my life have I lost to flicking through ‘epic fail’ videos and the latest attempts at trending memes? How much of that time could have been used to eradicate my current lack of book knowledge that could really help with my University degree? Why has the quest for likeability underhandedly overtaken every other aspiration of my life?

Meanwhile, my to-do list has grown out of proportion. My room is a mess; clothes overflowing the washing basket, endless coffee mugs breeding on my desk, important paperwork fanned across the floor. All visually representing my busy brain, while my body sits deactivated, staring at a screen.

Social media has become a highly influential factor of any and every business aspiring to get anywhere. This is because us millennials are symbiotically attached to it, and thus it is the perfect way to reach a large, previously somewhat unobtainable consumer market; the market of the future. The consumer has been consumed. But in order to get into a decent job, you more often than not must know the ins and outs of social media, to jump on the latest ephemeral trends. And thus the vicious, unbreakable cycle continues.

So, like any true addict giving justifiable reasons behind not completely giving up, I decided to try one day social media-free. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Snapchat.

It was liberating.

I got so much done, and I imagine more psychologically than anything, I felt so much more intellectual. There was no mindless scrolling; my mind was active all day. There was no requirement to talk to anybody; just myself and pure, uninterrupted thought. My only conversation was with the barista at Caffé Nero as I ordered my cake and latte. Then I sat, read, and gazed out the window at the Nottingham skyline, a sense of peace in the knowledge I was doing something useful. 

I did my washing, tidied my room, took control of my washing up, caught up on reading for my lecture on Friday, ran errands in town, did copious amounts of research for an extensive piece I am writing both for and beyond coursework, began reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (which coincidentally ties rather well with the themes of this article) and still had time to game and write! What have I been doing for the past 160 days since I began my Masters? How about in the past ten years since I joined Facebook? I dread to think.

(There’s an online tool that shows me how much of my life I have lost to League of Legends, which depressingly informs me I could have read 152 books in that time instead. That plus Facebook… my brain should have been a library by now!)

And yet, despite its positives, it was so damn difficult. My itchy trigger finger occasionally pressed the button on my phone before I could even realise what I’d done. I quickly swiped away any notifications before I could look too closely at them. I think, more than anything, the habit of checking my phone is like a tick; if I had something to fidget with (downright refusing to get a spinner) I would be fine. But my brain kept wandering back. I wonder who’s messaged me. What if it’s important? Go on. Check.

There were also many things I would normally post about that happened during my day; like when I bought a copy of The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski from WHSmith, they gave me a free copy of The Sun, as if they finally realised it wasn’t worth selling. Which amused me greatly and I assumed others on my Facebook would appreciate. Similarly, my order at Nero looked so pretty that I took a photo, and instantly wanted to upload it to Instagram. I believe I have a common case of social media tourettes.

Have it here anyway as an aesthetically pleasing break from reading. I imagine your attention span is probably as twitchy as mine –

 

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Ooft, that cake…

Anyway, I believe Aldous Huxley was on to something; the trick is conditioning. Condition yourself to remain conscious of your actions. Sometimes having to sign in rather than being automatically logged in can make you consider this. Before you press the Log In button, just think, “do I have to? Could I do something else?” Or it could be that every time you scroll, you think of a trigger phrase like, “Job Seekers” which will scare you back into being productive.

There was a fantastic TED Talk we were made to watch during a Time Management course at my old job. I highly recommend watching it. And when I occasionally resurface from 21st century autopilot mode, I remember, particularly the end of this video, and it motivates me to get my ass in gear. I hope it can do the same for you:

So at the end of this day-long experiment, I have decided to take a break from social media for one day each week, not only for increased productivity, but also for the sake of my mental health. I cannot recommend it enough, and now fully believe everyone like me with social media Stockholm syndrome should find a way to escape once in a while. Go on, try it! Finish reading this and turn your phone off. Do that thing you’ve been putting off. Don’t just look out the window, use the door! There’s a whole world out there.

The Reaper

Gary had always loved the sound of their screams. At 6am every morning, he cut off another pretty little head and left it purposely to rot beside those still living, imprisoned in their earthen pits. A warning of their imminent future.

In these uncertain times, he was lucky enough to have a job he truly enjoyed, even if the salary was poor. Lord Mycroft had entrusted him to keep the estate immaculate, and thus given him free reign of the grounds. He must have known about Gary’s hobbies, having regularly witnessed him massacre thousands at a time, rotating blades with glee as their bodies spattered and fell about him. And yet, he still kept him in his employment. In fact, he encouraged it. Asked him to bury innocents; hundreds of them in neat rows, just to pillage their limbs several weeks later. Gary was all too happy to oblige.

He would often linger in the toolshed after hours, caressing the equipment of his sadistic pleasure. The shovel was a personal favourite. At a touch of the worn metal, he imagined pushing it deep into the flesh of the earth, feeling the agony of the ground beneath, begging him to stop. Of course, that only drove him to continue, until a gaping wound had been made. In this he would bury a fresh victim for his games. It was an obsession. There were millions just waiting to feel pain at his hands, and nobody was going to stop him.

Oh yes. Gary fucking loved being a gardener.

The Grinning Guise

Amanda watched her mother die and smiled. The blood pooled wide around her head, creeping towards Amanda’s kneeling body, and she smiled even wider. Tears fell freely down her aching cheeks, but her maniacal expression was unwavering.

“Amanda?” It was Toby. She turned and grinned, eyes shining.

“She’s dead, Toby.”

“No!” he cried, the familiar corpse swimming into view. For a split second his face expressed something else. His sister’s eyes flashed a warning, and then he too was smiling. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, both siblings lost in grief and looking positively joyous.

“What happened?” The words caught in Toby’s throat.

As if on cue, an army of seven men with latex gloved hands and pristine white uniforms entered the room. They formed a perfect, ghostly ring around the scene. One bent down and retrieved his ornate dagger from the still-warm chest, careful to keep his clothes clean and maintaining eye contact with Amanda throughout. The rest observed the new orphans, ensuring their own high smiles were reflected in their stricken faces. There was only one major difference; the smiles of the men were sincere.

The writing prompt:

Make our Federation great by smiling every day. After all, what Federation is greater than a happy Federation?

Adapt

Delta scanned the shelves of Walmart, looking through various attachments and enhancements for what she needed. There were mechanical arms and living wigs and the odd Brita water filter. After a few minutes of panic she finally reached the section she was looking for; genetic modification.

There was only one T3NT4 mod left. Delta snatched it up and hugged it close to her chest. She walked quickly to the back of the queue and stood, feet twitching. The girl in front of her turned and looked enviously with her cat eyes. The man behind her growled with his canine vocal chords.

Come on,” thought Delta. “Hurry!

“Next please,” the cashier drawled. With her first and second arms she took the T3NT4, and with her third and fourth arms worked the till.

“That everything?”

“Yeah.”

“You want to add insurance for 30 extra credits?”

“No, thank you.”

“Would you be interested in our special offer today? Segway Legs, only-”

“No.”

“That’ll be 200 credits then please, love.”

Delta tapped her wrist on the machine and her hard-earned money passed over.

“Thanks, have a good day,” said the cashier lifelessly.

Delta picked up her precious cargo and left the store. But she couldn’t wait until she got home. Ducking into a doorway, she ripped open the packaging and let out a small, “oh.” It was beautiful. Twelve whole inches of smooth, purple perfection. Her fingertips ran across each section of puckered flesh, and she shivered excitedly. Unattaching her current arm, she primed her new limb and connected it to the stump.

As it came to life, it began to flick and sway at the end. Delta was mesmerised by its movements. Her movements. So when the mugger tried to reach for her tentacle, he took her by surprise. In a new reflex action, she let out a spray of ink, accidentally blinding her assailant. She slapped him hard across the face, which sent him sprawling into nearby bins. As she advanced, Delta realised something that both terrified and exhilarated her; the tentacle wanted blood.

The soft flesh slid around his neck, sucking at his skin as it pulled tighter. Ink ran from his eyes and he let out a pitiful cry. His pain urged her on. Delta squeezed harder until he went limp across the pile of bin bags. She released him and observed the red circles branded around his neck, like a pretty necklace of bruises. The end of her new limb flicked happily. The tentacle was satisfied.