Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Tag: 16th Phoenix Universe Page 1 of 2

Sacrificed

Alexia should’ve been dead as one cannot survive while being chained to a sculpture of the deity the farmers wanted to please.


Alexia should’ve been dead. It’s basic science that a seventeen-year-old girl cannot survive being tossed into the ocean while chained to a “stupid boulder.”

Okay, so it’s not a stupid boulder, Alexia reasoned as she tried to wiggle free from the marble sculpture of Poseidon’s head.

Alexia’s real anger was at the oracle, who said the sacrifice was required to please the gods if the farmers wanted a successful harvest. Alexia had insisted the framers had used too many chemicals and polluted the soil. The city depended on the farms, and she volunteered to assist in their production. She had developed a new farming method where plants could grow vertically, saving space, and didn’t require soil.

Now Alexia was sinking to the bottom of the ocean for her blasphemy. In hindsight, she could see the signs of their superstitious nature. Alexia wished she paid better attention to her religious studies. The failure of not metaphorically building a bridge of understanding weighted her down, along with the rock. She did know the head she was attached to was the god of the seas, but the farmers worshipped him as a god of agriculture. It made no sense to her. 

The only other question bigger on her mind was how she was breathing underwater. She was mesmerized at first; however, as she sank, her enthrallment was replaced by rage.

“That’s a nice sculpture there.”

Alexia turned to the voice, which put her off-balance as the sound was in her head, but she could associate a location with it. Swimming beside her was a merman twice her size with pristine muscles, almost god-like – if she had believed in the gods. His florescent blue tail swished back and forth to keep pace with Alexia’s descent.

“Who are you?” Alexia asked in her head.

“Can’t you tell from your sculpture? You know what, it’s not an accurate depiction of me.”

“Poseidon?”

“That’s one name for me. Yes, let’s use that name.”

“Poseidon, huh?” Alexia responded with a hint of disbelief. “Think you can free me?”

“Under one condition.”

“Name it.”

“You destroy those that did this to you.”

Alexia smiled. “It would be my pleasure.”

With a snap of his wrist, a golden trident burst to life in his hand. He slashed the chains that bound Alexia. The statue drifted downward while Alexia remained stationary.

“Take this,” Poseidon kindly offered as he handed her his weapon.

The moment Alexia took hold of the trident, its glow engulfed her body and shot her upward, into the sky. She landed back on the cliff on the flying island, where the farmers sacrificed her.

Everyone was in the middle of their celebrations when Alexia made her splashy entrance. The music stopped, and all eyes – including the oracle – where on Alexia. Alexia pointed the trident at the party, and from the ocean, a fist of waves slammed into the crowd.

Off in the distance on a hill, Poseidon stood on his legs, watching the seaweeds tangle themselves around the people and drag them to their watery grave. A man with similar stature and physique, but with an impeccable white suit, walked up beside him. 

“I wouldn’t have expected such retribution from you, bother.”

“The Atlanteans’ arrogance grows. Either they are too devoted to their sciences, or they worship us incorrectly, thus causing us to change. Are you not worried, Zeus?”

“I am concerned, but I am also fascinated. The interplanetary travel they’re developing will take us to new worlds.”

“If their belief in us holds.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll remind them.”


This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “The local humans are having trouble getting their crops to grow so they decide to sacrifice a young girl to their god, by tying her to a heavy rock and throwing it into the sea. She is found by you, a powerful ocean deity…who is displeased by their cruelty.”

Saturday Morning Interrupted

A programmer’s Saturday morning ritual is interrupted by loud knocking from a soldier in Legionnaire armor with the ancient city of Rome behind him.


Despite being “a grown-ass adult,” Lucas had a Saturday morning ritual of enjoying a bowl of sugary cereal while watching cartoons on a streaming service in his PJs. He lived alone in his one-bedroom Oklahoma City apartment, so it’s not like anyone could judge him, and he didn’t care if anyone did. It was his special way to unwind after a week of coding at Deep Fork Technology.

Lucas nearly choked on the first bite of his cereal from the sudden, thunderous knock on the front door.

He grumbled under his breath, “Who could this be?” as he paused the show on his phone to answer the call.

Upon opening the door, a man in full Legionnaire armor stood before Lucas with the ancient city of Rome behind the solider. Lucas stuck his head out the entrance to study the scene. In his mind, this had to be an elaborate prank. Still, he could feel the sunshine and smell the summer breeze, contrasting the snowy weather he knew was happening in Oklahoma City. The outside building of his apartment matched the clay exterior of a Roman house. 

“Are you Lucas?” the Legionnaire interrupted.

Lucas turned his attention to the solider, now noticing the bloody rag around his leg. “Yes, I’m Lucas.”

The solider let himself inside. “I was told this would be a safe place.”

Lucas closed the door. “Who are you?”

“I am Barbados. You have a strange home here.”

“How are you able to communicate with me?”

“What do you mean? We’re speaking Latin.”

“No, we’re speaking English.”

“English? What’s this English?”

“Never mind. Who sent you here?”

Barbados fell into the worn-out, brown thrift-store bought couch. “This man in this strange, pink outfit I’ve never seen. New fashion, I suppose. Pointed me to your door and said you were a healer.”

“I tried to be a doctor, but I switched majors to programming,” Lucas explained. 

“I didn’t understand a word you just said.”

Lucas thought for a moment to best word the situation. “I’m not a healer.”

Barbados nodded in understanding. “I see.”

Although Lucas didn’t have much medical training, he did recognize a dying person and rushed to his side. He kneed by him, stuck in a state of what to do, as Barbados took his last breath. Lucas checked his pulse. There was none.

“Fuck.”

Before he had much time to think about what to do next, there was a knock at the door. Lucas opened the door to a tall, slender man in a pink suit with bold, black outlines and a teenaged girl in a red dress from the Roman era. The scene behind them was of a rainy night of a futuristic neon city.

The two individuals let themselves inside and headed straight to Barbados.

“Don’t mind us,” the man in the pink suit said. “We’re here to collect Barbados.”

The woman lifted Barbados from the legs while the man grabbed him from the other end.

“Have a nice day,” the woman said as she walked back past Lucas.

The strangers closed the door behind themselves. Lucas waited a few seconds, trying to process what happened, and opened the front door. Outside was his snow-covered apartment building. The cold wind whipped his face, telling him it was real. Lucas closed the door and returned to his cereal as that’s all he could think to do. 

In the raining neon city, the man and the woman dropped Barbados on the alleyway pavement. The man opened Barbados’ eyes and pulled out a contact lens. He handed it to the woman.

“I’ll get the footage processed right away,” the woman said. “How are you feeling about this episode so far, Loki?”

Loki pulled out a black pen from inside his suit jacket. He shook it, and the pen transformed into a staff as tall as himself. He poked at Barbados with the bottom end of the staff.

“I’m not sure yet. I think Barbados died too soon to have any comical moments with Lucas. We’ll try again, but with different people.”


This week’s prompted short story was inspired by the following idea: “You awake one Saturday morning to frantic banging on your front door. Upon opening the door you see in front of you a man in full Legionnaire armor and behind him the ancient city of Rome.”

The Clock Tower’s Purpose

After the initial chaos of a clock tower falling from the sky, it faded into normalcy with only a reporter keeping tabs on it until one morning when its lights went out.


There were many theories why a clock tower the size of two houses fell from the sky and landed in Whiteridge. The initial reaction to such as large object falling in the village center was that a spaceship had crashed, but when emergency crews arrived, all they found was a violet steel tower with digital numbers the size of a person displaying the current time. There was no way discovered to get inside the structure. Early speculations suggested The Black Dragon dropped the tower; however, when the press inquired, The Black Dragon denied any knowledge of it. 

One of Auceon’s favorite theories was the whole tower was a social experiment by a secret cult. He didn’t have any opinions about what that experiment was. Although Auceon also liked the idea of it being an art piece, he figured the artist would’ve come forward to claim it or had the clock count down to something as part of a statement. After months of the clock running normally and no one taking credit for it, the clock faded into normalcy.

Despite the lack of activity, Auceon kept tabs on it as one of his beats for the newsroom. As part of his commute from work, he stopped by on his hoverboard. All the changes he recorded were beautification efforts to the area, like new flowers, trees, benches, and playground equipment — all of those he received press releases. No mysteries there.

This morning was different. From off in the distance, Auceon noticed the red glow from the numbers were gone. With no time on the clock, Auceon raced on his hoverboard to the scene, his brown fur blowing in the wind as he traveled as fast as he could. Since most visitors came to the tower in the evening, it was easy for him to spot three humans carrying boxes running out from a previously hidden door at the tower’s base. They fled around the corner and out of his sight. Auceon had a choice: follow the people or go inside.

Auceon went inside. Thousands of screens covered the entire room. His jaw dropped in shock.

“Hello,” Auceon called out. “Anyone here?” 

With no reply, he decided to familiarize himself with his surroundings. He rushed up the glass stairs, calling out again, only to find a self-sufficient greenhouse. At the end of the room, he found two doors. One lead to a bathroom and the other a tiny bedroom with three bunk beds. There were no personal belongings or clothing left by whoever resided there.

Auceon trekked back downstairs to study the screens. It didn’t take him long to figure out all of the displays were live feeds monitoring people and places throughout Whiteridge.

“What did I find?” Auceon muttered to himself.

Auceon scanned through the various monitors until he came across a set of static screens. Underneath was an infamous name: Bravak.

As if on cue, Bravak tore through the door. Auceon trembled at the sight of the shark twice his size. Bravak saw the screens as if they confirmed a suspicion he had and then noticed Auceon.

“You,” Bravak bellowed in accusation. “I should’ve known it would’ve been one of you reporters spying on me.”

As Bravak marched forward, Auceon knew it was the end of his journalism career. 

Five Minutes Ago

A jogger is out on a run, paranoid someone is following, only to discover her stalker is herself in this week’s prompted short story.


A jog in a forest was what the doctor would’ve ordered. Gia needed this escape after the audience from her last production tried to kill her for ridiculing their corrupt ruler. She paused for a moment to soak in the partly cloudy skies, a comforting summer breeze, and the fact that there was no around for miles. The latter was vital because her black leggings and sports bar were not appropriate for the 514 C.E. time.

Not far, there was a loud crack of a broken branch. Gia studied a large, fallen redwood tree for any possible dangerous animals. She thought she heard a voice too, but when nothing emerged, she shrugged it off and continued her jog.

“I’m getting paranoid,” Gia said to reassure herself.

Humans weren’t supposed to discover this portion of land for at least a few hundred years. No one could be there. It was only her. Still, she couldn’t shake off the feeling someone was following her. The trail was thick with twists and turns, adding to her paranoia.

Gia made a sharp turn off the trail and doubled back, keeping an eye on the route she had taken in case someone was following her. The seconds in the four minutes of intense investigation felt like pine needles always poking her. In her journey back, she came across the fallen tree, where she first thought someone was watching her.

As she positioned herself behind the tree, she lost her footing and broke a thick branch in half. She cursed under her breath, but caught herself and shifted her persona to a spy character hiding from enemy forces. 

A moment later, she heard a voice, “I’m getting paranoid.”

Gia crept her head over the redwood.

Jogging along the trail was herself from five minutes ago.

Gia stood up. “This isn’t good. I must be caught in a localized loop, but what’s causing the contamination? It has to be close.”

Gia leaped over the tree and followed her past self down the trail. When she came to the spot where she made the detour to go back, she discovered a set of paw prints. She kneed down to study them.

“These look like lion prints, but they’re not native to these parts.”

As Gia reached for her back pocket, a sneaker hit her on the head. With one hand, she rubbed her head and inspected the show with the other. When she recognized it, she looked up in the sky to herself held by sphinx flying below the treetops. 

“I guess I found the contamination,” the Gia on the ground said.

“You found it?” the Gia in the sky snapped. “I found it first.”

“What is going on here?” the sphinx demanded.

The version of Gia in its grasp answered, “We’re trapped in a micro temporal loop because you don’t belong here.”

“I’ve been here for years!”

“Have you noticed the changing of the seasons?”

The sphinx landed on the ground and released its Gia. The two Gia’s hugged, causing a radiant yellow light that caused the sphinx to cover her eyes with her paw temporarily. When the light subdued, only one Gia stood.

“I hate the headache that brings,” Gia mumbled to herself.

“What just happened?” the sphinx asked.

“My people can merge themselves whenever there’s been a loop,” Gia explained. “It causes an annoying headache as the duplicate memories sort themselves out. But enough about me. Let’s get you home, friend.”


This short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You’re out for a jog and you can’t shake the feeling that someone is following you. It started off as an inkling, but now the idea has consumed your thoughts. As you reach the crosswalk, you wheel around and confront your stalker. It’s you, from five minutes ago.”

The Argument at Mercury Theatre

This week’s short story is under 500 words and is inspired by the following writing prompt: “Two time travelers meet in the past and end up getting in an argument about history, unaware that their conversation is being listened to.”


Gia worked on catching her breath as Kojack slammed shut his purple, free-standing door. Across from his door in an office was a green door that belonged to Gia.

“Let’s go back in time to the first bull running,” Gia said in a mocking tone. “It will be fun, he said.”

“It was fun until you tried to direct the bulls,” Kojack snapped back.

Gia didn’t respond. Kojack saw the hurt in her expression. He knew she was trying to become a great director, so he changed the subject. “When and where are we?”

Gia pulled out a tablet from her muddy red dress. “Wednesday, October 26, 1938. The Mercury Theatre.”

“Anything interesting about this place?”

“Anything interested?” Gia said, offended. “This is Mercury Theatre! Why in a few days, they’re going to perform the War of the Worlds radio drama, and that show was one for this planet’s history books.”

“What was so remarkable about this show?”

“The public reaction. You see, Howard Kock was trying to adapt the novel of the same, but Howard was having trouble making it interesting or credible as a radio drama. Then Orson Wells gets inspired by this other program on the Columbia Workshop. They adapt the story by using real people and places for the alien invasion. They even add lots of eyewitness accounts and news breaks to create urgency and excitement, giving the show incredible realism.”

Kojack could tell from Gia’s bright smile how passionate she was about the arts. Getting her to talk about the radio drama got her mind off the mess that was their previous adventure. He smiled back at her.

“Where to now?” Kojack asked. 

“There’s this food truck festival in 2011 that didn’t seem like much at the time, but sparks this whole big movement. I figured we should take a break and get something to eat.”

“Sounds good.”

Gia and Kojack opened their doors, went inside, and when closed, they blinked out of existence like they were never there.

Off in the corner of the room, hidden from sight behind props and costumes, sat Howard Koch, Frank Froelick, and Orson Welles.

Howard turned to Orson, breaking their silence. “I thought you didn’t get a chance to listen to Columbia Workshop today?”

“I didn’t,” Orson softly replied, his mind racing with thoughts from what transpired. “But we should do want they said.”

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén