The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Tag: Earth Page 2 of 6

Dog-Sitting Cerberus - art by Chia Yee Liow at Design Pickle

Dog-Sitting Cerberus

With business to attend on another planet, Hades hires Sally to dog-sit his giant three-headed dog, Cerberus. As Sally takes the dog for a walk in the Underworld, they discover a locked away secret.


Sally Wilkerson wiped her brow with her arm and sighed from having just finished her mopping duties at The Creamatory of Screams. She put the mop in the grungy, yellow plastic bucket and pressed on the level, ringing out the last of the dirt.

Behind the cash register next to the ice cream station, her co-worker, Mark, counted the money. Mark took his time, making sure none of the bills were stuck together, every coin was there, credit card totals matched up, and everything was ready for the next day. Sally had learned not to interrupt because she didn’t want him to start over. She would have to wait to use one of her favorite closing puns like, “How in Hell did we do?” or “Everything good in Hell?” The puns about being in Hell, Michigan made Mark groan or roll his eyes every time, which was part of Sally’s fun. She often forgot that he was sixteen like her. 

As far as tiny towns went, Sally enjoyed living in Hell. She knew all of the locals and the tourists were fun. As she pushed the mop bucket back to its station, a tornado of flames erupted in the store. Mark screamed, knocking over the cash drawer as he ducked behind the counter while Sally stood unfazed.

From the flames, a tall, slender man stepped out. He pinched out a lingering ember of fire on his dark, almost black, purple suit with red pinstripes. He inspected his reflection from the ice cream cabinet, about to adjust his hair, but realized he had taken a form where his hair consisted of a blue flame. He stroked a finger along his grizzled movie star beard with crimson red skin.

“Hiya, Mr. H!” Sally greeted.

Mark stood up, picking up the fallen cash and ignoring their guest. Hades turned to Mark, snapped his fingers, and like magic, all of the money flew back to the register in perfect order.

“Your balance is correct, by the way,” Hades said to Mark as he walked up to Sally. “Sally, I have some business on another planet to deal with, and I need you to dog-sit Cerberus for me while I’m away.”

“Oh, wow,” Sally said. “Well, as you may know, Mr. H, I’m a good dog-sitting, but you’re talking about Cerberus. That’s way out of my qualifications.”

“Isn’t Cerberus like a giant-three dog?” Mark said, recalling what he knew about Greek mythology. “Can’t he handle himself?”

“Just because you’re a badass doesn’t mean you can’t use someone watching over you,” Hades said. “Cerberus just needs someone to play with for a bit while I’m gone. It will be easy for you. Just take him for a walk.”

“Well, if you think I can handle it.”

“Excellent. You start now.”

“Hey, wait!” Mark shouted. “We still need to close up.”

Hades snapped his fingers, and from a flame portal, a brand new XBOX gaming console landed in Mark’s arms.

Mark sat the compensation down. “Have fun dog-sitting!”

Hades twilled his wrist in the air, swirling Sally and himself in a ring of fire that warped them to the Grand Library in Earth’s Underworld. The ornate green walls always made Sally think of the Statue of Liberty. The library held several floors of well-organized books, curious artifacts, and eclectic works of art. Many dogs of every breed popped out from around the brightly lit library upon Hades’ return. With tails wagging, they welcomed them. Sally got down on her knees to pet the smaller dogs while Hades gave casual head scratches to some larger dogs.

With the dogs greeted, Hades whistled. “Cerberus! You have company.”

From around a corner, a black dog the size and strength of a tank popped his three heads out. The dog walked over gently as not to cause any books to shake off the shelves. Cerberus’ middle head licked Hades’ head, temporarily putting out the blue flame hair. Hades laughed and rubbed underneath the dog’s chin.

“You be a good boy for Sally,” Hades said in a warm but stern tone. “She’s going to keep you company for a few hours while I repair things.” 

Cerberus barked in acknowledgment.

Hades turned to Sally. “I’ll send someone to relieve you in a few hours. Make sure he doesn’t eat anyone he isn’t supposed to eat.”

In his flames, Hades vanished, leaving Sally hanging with questions.

Sally looked up at Cerberus into his large, red eyes. “So, do you want to go for a walkies?”

Cerberus barked and lowed his heads.

“I am I supposed to ride you?”

Cerberus wagged his tail.

Sally shrugged. “Okay, I guess I’m going to ride Cerberus.”

With the helping nudges of the other heads, Sally got up on Cerberus. The moment she got into position, Cerberus ran, causing some books to fall off the shelves. She gripped the red collar like she was holding on to the bar of a wild rollercoaster as they raced out of the library, bursting through a large double swigging wooden door and out into a cave.

It took a moment, but Sally acclimated herself to the ride. Several ghostly white transparent butterflies the size of her head crossed their path. Cerberus changed course and chased after the butterflies until they faded away. Sally laughed and petted the center head. Cerberus continued walking along a glowing green river. Sally took in the sights of the luminous green crystals and plants adoring the dusty red cave. The place smelled like an underground forest to Sally, which she wasn’t expecting, but appreciated.

As they continued down the river, Sally could no longer see the library. She was a bit concerned but also figured Cerberus knew the way back. A gentle harp melody snuck into her ears, bringing a feeling of sadness as she listened to the song.

“Where is that music coming from?” Sally said. Cerberus barked. “Can you find that sound?”

Cerberus run in the direction of the sound. As the music got louder, the cave got darker and smaller until they came to a pair of bronze doors. While the doors were huge compared to Sally, they were only the size of one of Cerberus’ heads. Cerberus pawed at the door and whimpered.

“I’ll go check it out,” Sally offered. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

Cerberus lowered his heads, and Sally slid off. With a big push, she opened the door to a dome-like room. The glowing blue flames from the torches revealed piles and piles of musical instruments. Some she recognized, but many she didn’t. Sally stepped deeper into the room, and the music stopped.

“A visitor?” a voice called out, echoing in the room.

“I’m sorry,” Sally apologized as she searched for the person. “I was just following a beautiful song.”

“You have nothing to apologize for, Sally,” the voice replied.

“You know my name?”

“Of course. I know everything about you, including your future.”

“You do? Where are you?”

“In the center. I’m the giant four-string harp.”

Sally found the golden harp. It was three times her size. As the harp played, each one of its strings lit up as a different color. Sally’s jaw dropped in awe of its splendor. 

“I would love if you played with me,” the harp invited. “It would set me free with joy.”

Meanwhile, at the Underworld of the Green Planet, an animated skeleton of a lion that stood upright on his two feet gave Hades an update on rebuilding efforts.

“The rollercoaster is almost complete,” the skeleton lion explained over a 3D holographic map of the Underworld. “We’re still missing one of the carts for it.”

“I have someone retrieving that as well as the other items left on the surface,” Hades answered.

“Good. Once we get everything, it will be like this place never crashed on the surface.”

Twirling around in her green dress, Persephone skipped up to Hades. She rested her head on his shoulder like she was his second head.

“Is the rollercoaster fixed yet?” Persephone asked.

“We’re still putting it back together,” the lion skeleton answered.

“Sad,” Persephone said as she slumped away.

“Persephone,” Hades spoke with a gentle tone. “Would you kindly head to Earth and watch over the Underworld there? I have Sally dog-sitting Cerberus while we’re here.”

Persephone jumped into the air and started clapping. “That’s wonderful! I’m so excited to hear Apollo’s music again finally. It’s been so, so long.”

Hades laughed. “What are you talking about, Persephone? We have him locked away when he went mad after the Atlanteans left Earth.”

Persephone slouched to stop. “Oh. I thought you were finally letting him free.”

“No…Why would you think that?”

“Don’t you remember his prophecy?”

“Apollo was constantly spatting doomsday prophecies. That’s why we tricked him into transforming into a harp and locked him up.”

“I remember the one he said to you and bothers after you chained him up. It was so beautiful the way he sang it.” To the tune of a children’s melody, Persephone danced and sang, “The ice cream girl from Hell touched by the end-timers will set me free.”

The flame of Hades hair mellowed. “Oh, heavens.”

Sally approached the harp without any hesitation. She plucked a sting, filling the entire room with its note. The harp shimmered brighter and brighter, forcing Sally to shield her eyes with her arm until the light subdued. With the light gone, she saw in place of the harp a man with radiant golden skin. He shook his head, causing his long, curly brown hair to dip down to his knees.

Hades kicked down the door. Sally flinched to the sound of the door crashing into the instruments.

“Apollo!” Hades said with his fists clenched. 

“Uncle Hades,” Apollo greeted with warmth. “It’s so good to see you!”

“Wait, what’s going on?” Sally interrupted.

“Sally, go to Cerberus,” Hades said.

“Why?” Sally said. “This is Apollo. What’s he doing here?”

“I became overwhelmed with visions of the future,” Apollo explained as he walked toward Hades. “Then, Dionysus got me drunk, while Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades here locked me away here.”

“You were ranting non-stop about the destruction of a universe, someone collecting demigods, and I can’t remember what other nonsense,” Hades said, getting in front of Apollo. “You also became insistent on making sure those doomsdays would happen.”

“Not that they needed my guidance,” Apollo scoffed. “According to my original calculations, shouldn’t the universe have cracked?”

“It did, but it was resolved and turned out to be no big deal,” Hades said.

“Okay, time-out! Time-out,” Sally shouted like she was babysitting some fighting siblings.

Both Hades and Apollo looked at Sally.

Sally pointed at the ground. “Sit. Both of you.”

Hades crossed his arms. “I’m not going to sit.”

Apollo smirked. “I didn’t need to look into the future to see that coming.”

“Look,” Sally started, “I don’t know what happened back then, but Apollo hasn’t been ranting about the future since I’ve been here.”

“That is true,” Hades mumbled.

“Without as many followers believing in me, I suppose my powers have weakened over the years,” Apollo said. 

Sally put her hands on her hips. “Well, it sounds like you all just need to talk it out now. Just don’t resort to locking people up or having their liver pecked out or whatever you all did in the past.”

Apollo sighed. “I guess I didn’t leave you many options back then.”

“Oh, Zeus had many options for dealing with you back then, but this one seemed the least sadistic.”

Apollo laughed. “How is my father nowadays?”

“He’s still an ass, but he’s matured.”

“I guess I should pay him a visit.”

“You should. I do know Persephone wants to see you again.”

“Oh really? Maybe I can join you for game night?”

“Haha, no. I still remember what you cheat you are.”

“Surely you got some games I can’t cheat,”

As the two walked out of the room, Sally picked up a neon purple electric guitar. She pretended to play it as she walked back to Cerberus.


Dog-Sitting Cerberus - art by Chia Yee Liow at Design Pickle

This short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “As you may know, Mr. H, I have had a good experience as a professional dog sitter but clearly this is a task too monumental to take on. I mean this is Cerberus we’re talking about!”

When I saw this prompt, I pictured Sally from #TwinCities. This story takes place after their original meeting, so if you enjoy this adventure, be such to check out the first one.

Thank you to Chia Yee Liow at Design Pickle for bringing this scene to life. The butterflies Chia drew I incorporated into the story.

Thank you for reading this story!

You Have 2 Unread Prophecies - art by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle

You Have 2 Unread Prophecies

After getting off the San Francisco trolly, a young woman receives a notification on her phone about two unread prophecies. When the first one comes true, her curiosity compiles her to investigate the second one, despite its danger. 


Claudia could not think of a single previous instance of when she took the San Francisco trolly with practically no other riders. It was just her and another woman with red hair like herself the whole ride home. It was nice at first, but as no one else boarded, the entire trip began to feel like a bad omen. Where is everyone? Is there a big event going on? Did something terrible happen? She could feel the whole trolly getting wider and bigger with each passing moment while the other passenger was jamming out to tunes on her headphones.

When Claudia’s stop finally arrived, she bolted out, nearly tripping on the steps on her way out. She could feel her face light up on fire with embarrassment, but the driver didn’t seem to notice as they said nothing and carried forward.

“What was that all about, Claudia?” she said to herself. “Come on, now.”

Claudia spent her first minute of freedom letting the world resize back to normal. She focused on her breathing and then listened to the sounds of the city. Feeling composed, it dawned on her that she hadn’t looked at her phone since leaving the coffee shop. She pulled it out from her laptop bag.

On the phone was a notification: “You have two unread prophecies.”

Claudia re-read the notification three times to make sure her eyes weren’t deceiving her. She thought it might’ve been something from one of her games getting her attention, but none of those had anything to do with prophecies. She tapped the banner, which brought her to her text messages.

The first message warned: “Watch out for the firebird.”

Claudia scratched her head. “There’s no such thing as a firebird.”

Curious, she scrolled down to the following message, which warned, “A woman in a black dress with a matching briefcase and a pink scarf will get off the next bus. A man in a brown suit and a brown briefcase will follow her and kill her.”

“That’s specifically odd,” Claudia said as she put her phone back in her bag. She then corrected herself. “Or oddly specific, but totally fake still.”

As she snapped her bag close, a pair of car headlights blasted her eyes. She looked up to a red convertible with a flaming bird painted on it swerve in her direction on the sidewalk. She leaped out of the way, avoiding the car. It continued to weave down the hill and around a corner.

“Idiot,” she grumbled. She paused, remembering the warning. “But there was a firebird on it.”

Claudia pulled out her phone again and re-read the second message. Consumed with curiosity, she decided to cross the street, placing her opposite of the bus stop, and waited.

She scrolled through her Instagram feed, catching up with news from her favorite local businesses and friends. There weren’t any major or terrible events she saw that would’ve warranted the trolley’s lack of people. I guess I didn’t miss out on anything, she thought. While scrolling, she kept an eye out for the bus after every few posts. The sun was almost gone, and the night was starting to take over.

She wasn’t sure what she would do if the message was true. She figured if she followed the woman, the man wouldn’t make a move on her with someone else present.

Safety in numbers, she remembered her parents drilling in her head.

As Claudia read a post about the Museum of Ice Cream, the bus approached the stop. She kept her phone out, pretending to be on it as the bus let out passengers. When the bus drove away, it revealed an Asian woman in a black dress with a pink scarf, holding a black briefcase as she walked up a flight of steps with a Caucasian man in a brown suit and briefcase following her. 

Claudia’s jaw dropped. “Well, fuck.”

Claudia looked both ways before jogging across the street, following the two up the stairs. The unassuming and easily missed concrete staircase provided a passage to the Ashbury Heights neighborhood and also provided some scenic views of the city. The woman continued up the street, walking along the sidewalk with the man not too far behind and Claudia not far behind him either. She caught strong gusts of the man’s tobacco and oak scented cologne that almost made her gag. She thought for a moment that her reaction would’ve drawn too much attention, but both strangers marched forward like they were eager to get home after a long day.

They walked past a dozen houses to a turn in the road, revealing the tiny thousand square-foot park, Mount Olympus. Claudia remembered one of her friends telling her this place was once considered the city’s geographical center. With a name like Mount Olympus, her first and only visited shattered Claudia’s grandiose expectations with disappointment. There was just an empty pedestal for a lost statue, and any views of the city were obstructed by trees and condominiums. Nothing had changed since her last visit with the expectation of maybe that there were even fewer viewing spots of the city.

Claudia kept back as the woman walked up the stairs to the top by the pedestal and waited. The man joined her.

“Cats are dangerous creatures,” the woman said to the man.

“Not as dangerous as birds,” the man replied. 

“You have the item?” the woman asked.

The man tapped on his briefcase. “I thought it would only be fitting to sell The Ring of Olympus here.”

The two exchanged briefcases. While the woman looked inside the briefcase given to her, the man reached inside the side of his jacket.

Thinking she saw a holster for a gun, she shouted, “He has a gun!”

The woman looked up at the man and immediately swung the briefcase at his face, knocking him out. As he hit the ground, a gun slid across the concrete. The woman walked over and kicked the weapon even more out of reach.

The woman looked down at Claudia. “Thanks for the warning. Are you okay?”

“I feel like I should be asking you that,” Claudia replied as she revealed herself.

The woman laughed as she walked down the stairs. “It’s my job to protect people.”

The woman extended her hand out. Claudia studied the friendly gesture for a moment before shaking her hand. The woman’s silver bracelet flashed a calm, blue light, rendering Claudia unconscious. The woman grabbed and gently laid Claudia down. She seized Claudia’s phone and tapped the screen with her bracelet, unlocking it. She went straight to the messages, finding the prophecies.

The woman held two fingers on her bracelet and spoke into it, “Hey, I got a situation of another innocent human getting one of those ‘prophecies’ to our operations. We really need to figure out who is sending these messages to people.”

From the balcony of a condominium across from the park, the redhead woman on the trolly with Claudia earlier spun and danced with a gigantic grin plastered across her face. She paused, leaning on the steel balcony rail as she watched backup arrive for the agent. Her grin grew even wider.

“Looks like you hit a nerve, Veritas,” she praised herself as she spun around to her freestanding door.

Veritas opened the fiery-orange door, revealing the aftermath of the first prophecy text message she sent to a person in Hoquiam, Washington. She closed and opened the door, rewatching the scene of her prophecy text in Augusta, Maine. She closed and opened her door several times, rewatching the endings of all of her escapades. She took a long look at the one in Atlanta, Georgia. When she closed the door, her smile snapped straight.

Veritas pulled out a tablet from the air. “I think it’s time to conclude this quest and force those secret keepers to reveal their truth.”


You Have 2 Unread Prophecies - art by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle

For this short story, I wanted to expand on the mystery of, “You have 1 unread prophecy.” No prompt inspiration this time. I chose to write about San Francisco because I was thinking about Oklahoma City’s streetcars and then thought about the trolly system there. I looked around Google maps, learning about Mount Olympus, and thought that would be an interesting focal point.

For this story, I wanted to show the same thing happening to another person, but when I finished the first draft, I felt like it was basically an alternative version with nothing new. I thought it over and decided to use this story to reveal the person behind the prophecy message: the end-timer, Veritas. As I hinted in the story, Veritas is obsessed with the truth. She never tells a lie and believes the universe’s lies and secrets brought its downfall. 

The ending does set up for a third and final text prophecy story. I don’t have any ideas for it yet, but it will involve three unread prophecies. 😉

Curious Dream Beginnings

A conversation with a philosophy professor about a repeating dream beginning prompts a revelation. 


For the past three months, my dreams began with waking up in my own room with a man in a white suit with pink accents on the end of my bed. He would encourage me to go through my bedroom door where I would be in some alternative reality for the rest of the dream. Regardless of what happened, I woke up refreshed. Still, with the way the dreams always started the same, it began to bother me.

I considered taking a psychological or a dream interruption class, but while doing some research I stumbled upon an online philosophy class taught by a fellow journalist, Hank Williams. In the sample lesson, he spoke with such wisdom and insight one would gain from interviewing numerous people. I was hooked.

Eventually after several classes, I got to have a one-on-one videoconference session with my professor. I started out by asking him course related questions, but the conversation drifted over to the subject of dreams and I solicited him for his thoughts on mine. He asked me questions I never considered and he seemed particularly interested in the man and the door I would go though.

“Do you recall seeing this man in your life before you started to have these dreams with him?” Hank asked.

“I don’t believe so,” I replied.

“Is this man always alone or is someone with him? A woman perhaps?”

“No, it’s just him.”

“Have you ever tried to touch this man to make sure he was there?”

“No, I never thought to do that.”

“This door you would go through, are you sure it was your door? Did the weight and movement of the door feel different from your real door?”

“I didn’t really notice anything…”

“How curious.”

Our conversation ended with him saying he would like to discuss the subject further tomorrow. He was curious if our chat would alter my dream. I didn’t think it would, but I said I would be glad to talk to him again tomorrow. 

Upon waking up in the dream, my philosophy professor sat at the end of my bed. He wore a dark brown suit under a light brown overcoat, being a stark difference between the man in the white suit who would normally sit there.

“Strange, isn’t it?” Hank commented.

I took a moment to startup my brain to process some words. “Hank?”

“Please, call me Quis.” He walked over to my door. “This isn’t really a dream and neither were those dreams you had.”

With those words, everything suddenly felt so real. It was like a fog had been lifted from my brain. My face got red with awkwardness, but Quis wasn’t paying any attention to me as he turned the door knob. On the other side was a sunny forest. He closed the door like a person who had gotten what they needed out of a fridge.

“When did you get this door replaced?” Quis asked, like he knew it was new. 

“About a few months ago, actually,” I said, shocked. 

“Then the dreams started, didn’t they?”

My jaw dropped. “Yes, they did.”

“Do you remember what the person looked like who installed it?”

“I do. I only remember her because she wore a red dress, which I thought was unusual, but I hate fashion criticisms myself.”

“Black hair, right?”

“Yes!”

“That would be Raven.” Quis gripped the door knob and yanked it out from the door. “That should put an end to their work. If you do run into my siblings, send them my regards.”

He tossed the broken pieces on the floor and left my apartment. I knew I wasn’t dreaming because I didn’t fall back asleep.


The final weekly short story for the year was inspired by the writing prompt: “You wake up from one of those dreams again. It starts in your own bed, in your real room, only outside the door is an alternate reality every time. The man you see in every dream was your Philosophy teacher this time. Who is he? ‘Strange, isn’t it?’ He says from the end of your bed.”

I thought this prompt would be a fun way to feature Quis again as I only wrote one story, Interview Spoilers, about the end-timer. I got to show a different side of him as previously he was portrayed as just a journalist, but like all the other end-timers, he does take on other roles. 

I hope you all have been enjoying the weekly stories this year! For the most part, I did keep up with my goal of releasing a new story every week with the exception being around A Killer Among the Spaceship Game Show, which took me two weeks to write part one and another week to finish it with part two.

I’ll talk more about my plans for 2021 later, but fun fact: The total word count of all my short stories this year (at the time I’m writing this) was 47,518 words. I do plan to revisit all of my stories, send them to an editor, and publish them as a book. 

If you’re on Reddit, I have a forum for my fictional universe so join the community today!

Thank you for reading!

The Cat’s Warning

While preparing for a hot date, the visiting cat warns him that his date is going to kill him.


“She’s going to kill you tonight.”

My heart sank – not because the cat spoke in a deep, ominous tone to me as I had gotten used to that, but because of what I already had planned for tonight. Before I get any further, I should back up a little bit. You see, when I signed the lease for my duplex at the beginning of the month, my landlord asked me to take care of her cat, Phineus, any time he visited. Since I felt like I was renting the place for a steal, I agreed.

From time to time, the cat would pop in and I made sure to have bowls of food and water for him. I had no clue how he would get inside, but I became accustomed to randomly seeing or hearing him.

After the first week, Phineus started to warn me of danger. The first time this happened, I dropped my coffee mug. The cat told me to take another route to work. I did and later found out about a deadly multi-car pileup. I asked my landlord about her talking cat, but she laughed me off.

“Is she going to kill me like accidentally or on purpose?” I asked the cat as a I put a holiday album on my recorder player.

Phineus licked his paw. No surprise, the can’t didn’t respond. The cat never responded to any of my questions. He would occasionally repeat himself, but he only spoke to give warnings.

The doorbell rang.

“Fuck it, I’m going to roll the dice.”

As I walked to the door, the cat ran and hid behind the Christmas tree. I decorated my duplex just for her. I even went out and bought the biggest Christmas tree that would fit and that I could afford, even though I lived alone. The cat seemed to enjoy it and the smell of the tree was nice, but I only got it for her.

I opened the door. Her long, curly brown hair danced on her bare shoulders. She wore a sparkling black dress and not much else. She was more gorgeous than her photos. If her stunning looks could kill, I would be dead. I didn’t see any weapons on her, so maybe I can prevent her from accidentally killing me?

“I’m going to take your silence as a complement,” she said with a smile. “May I come in?”

Mentally, I slapped myself and stood aside. “Yes, come inside, Iris. You must be freezing.”

Iris shrugged. “The cold never really bothered me.”

As she stepped a foot inside, the Christmas tree came tumbling down at us. I grabbed Iris, spun her around, leaving us with only a slight brushing from the crashing tree. The cat stood where the tree did.

I lifted the tree back up as I scolded the cat. “Phineus, what is your deal? I’m so sorry.”

“It’s cool. Phineus is an interesting name for cat,” Iris said as she entertained herself by browsing though my vinyl collection.

“He’s technically my landlord’s cat. He just like to hang out here.”

“Ah. Well, did you know in Greek mythological, Phineus was a king and a seer?”

“No, I didn’t,” I answered.

I made a note to ask my landlord about the cat again. Once I got the tree situated, I walked over to the kitchen. I liked the open modern concept of the duplex as it was great to keep connected with guests while I was in the kitchen.

“So, what movie did you want to watch?” I asked as I poured us some wine.

“I thought we could browse together,” she said as she took a seat on my couch.

I handed her her glass. She took a sip and sat the glass aside. The moment I took a seat, she saddled up on me, kissing my neck. I looked to the side to find a safe spot to place my glass when I caught a glance of the cat looking down at me from a tiny door in the ceiling that I’d never seen. Behind Phineus, it looked like he was in a city colored with a purple sunset. Before I could say anything, the cat jumped down from the hole, landing on my head, causing me to spill my drink all over my shirt.

Iris pulled herself off me. Thankfully, the drink only landed on me. I apologized and excused myself to my bedroom. Phineus raced ahead, beating me inside. I stripped off my shirt as I walked over to my dresser. The cat jumped on the dresser and sat next to a small black box with a red button it that was placed in front of the dresser mirror. I tossed the shirt in the clothes basket and picked up the device, looking it over.

“You know, I don’t mind if you leave your shirt off,” Iris said from the doorway.

I looked up at the dresser mirror. The mirror was half the size of the wide dresser, which meant it was large enough for me to see Iris standing in the doorway, however, Iris wasn’t reflected. I turned around to check and Iris was indeed leaning against the doorway, waiting for me. I looked back at the mirror and she wasn’t there. I think Iris caught the look of confusion as when I turned around, a set of fangs protruded from her mouth.

“Push the button,” Phineus ordered.

As Iris leapt at me, I pressed the red button. The room filled with a bight, warm light that made me feel like I was on a beach during a sunny day. Iris screamed. I closed my eyes and held onto the button until she was silent. I released my grip and the warmth and light faded away. With hesitation, I walked over to where Iris stood. There was only a pile of ash and clothes.

I sat the device on the dresser and collapsed onto my bed. The cat jumped over and walked to my face. He bopped me on the nose with his front paw before giving me a warning I had heard before.

“Don’t think with your dick.”


This week’s short story was inspired by the writing prompt: “You’ve just signed a new rental lease, but the landlord makes you agree to care for the cat that lives there. You agree, but within one week that cat starts talking and giving you ominous warnings.”

Story Artwork by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

Missing Stars scene

Missing Stars

While driving her through the countryside to visit her parents for the holidays, Jacqui realizes there are no stars in the sky.


The lights from the car Jacqui rented barely pierced through the Britain countryside. Delays plagued her flight from the states, and she hadn’t planned on driving at midnight. Regret began to set up a room in her mind for not booking a hotel room for the night, but her parents were eager to see her for the holidays visit, and a free bed is a free bed. While she was exhausted, she knew being in the middle of nowhere shouldn’t be as dark as it was that night. She looked up at the sky.

There were no stars.

The sky was pitch black like someone covered it up. Not even the moon was visible.

“This is some crazy Doctor Who level weirdness,” Jacqui commented.

Jacqui was no stranger to the British sci-fi time-traveling series. Her social media account would reveal photos of her cosplaying as characters from the TV show, usually as Martha Jones, as she bore a similar resemblance. However, she never remotely considered an out of this world experience happening to her.

She reached for her phone stationed in the central dashboard to make sure she didn’t take a wrong turn when a voice from the backseat whispered. “Did you realize the stars are gone, too?”

Jacqui slammed on the breaks. She snapped her head to the backseat where a ghostly being with a human skull shrouded in a crystalline, black-draped hoodie. It waved their four skeletal hands hello. Jacqui screamed and reached for the car door handle.

“Oh, the stars are missing, but I’m what freaks you out?” the being snarked. 

Jacqui was halfway out of the car when the snakiness of the being’s tone made her mind say, “hold up…” She decided to reply. “Okay, then, who are you, and what are you doing here?”

“My name is Slayer, and after visiting a parade, I decided to visit a time and place on this planet randomly,” they casually explained as they floated through the car and outside. Slayer looked up at the sky. “From what I know about Earth, there should most definitely be stars here.”

Jacqui stepped out of the car and studied the sky alongside the floating, leg-less being in sympathetic concern. “Yeah, there should be stars here.”

“The stars still exist, though,” Slayer added. “I popped off this planet and checked, but in this time, at this place, they are not visible.”

Jacqui reflected on her sci-fi knowledge. “Could there be some sort of device blocking them from our view?”

“That is a possibility,” Slayed reaffirmed in a monotone. With one hand, they reached through their chest and pulled out a black tablet device through their robe. Slayer tapped around on the screen. “I’m showing a device not from this planet nearby.”

Jacqui grabbed her phone and keys from inside the car. “Let’s go check it out then.”

Slayer took the lead, with Jacqui following behind using her phone’s flashlight. They walked up a short hill before stopping in front of a straw scarecrow dressed in jeans and a button-up red flannel shirt.

“This is it,” Slayer softly spoke.

“That’s a scarecrow,” Jacqui quipped.

Using all four of his arms, Slayer stripped off the shirt and straw from the scarecrow’s chest. Inside was a silver metal box with three black switches and a maxed-out gauge.

“What is that?” Jacqui asked.

“I’m not quite sure,” Slayer mumbled as he reached for the switches. “Let’s kill this machine.”

Slayer flicked all three switches down. The gauge spun down, and the stars and moon flickered back to life, illuminating the countryside. 

Jacqui cheered. “And let there be light!”

From further up the hill, an exclamation of pain screeched through the night. With the sky back, Jacqui was able to see a destroyed house further up the hill. The ground rumbled, and the cry got closer, revealing a black six-legged spider the size of a pickup truck with the head of a bison. Steam sizzled off its body like the light was burning it. It grabbed the device inside the scarecrow with one of its two harry tentacle arms while knocking Jacqui away with the other. The arm passed through Slayer, who was unfazed by the attack.

The creature flipped the switches, causing the stars to fade out. The beast was nearly invisible with the lack of light, making the device it held appear as if it was floating. The creature hissed and scurried away.

Slayer floated over to Jacqui and helped her up.

“What was that?” Jacqui forced herself not to scream.

“I do not know,” Slayer answered with a hint of excitement. “We should kill it.”

“Or stop it at least. It looks like any sort of light hurts it. You think a car’s headlights will work?”

“It would stand to reason.”

“Then let’s go.”

Jacqui ran down the hill, with Slayer floating beside her. Jacqui jumped in the driver’s seat while Slayer slipped through the back. The car roared to life with the lights on their brightest setting. Slayer directed Jacqui where to drive, using the tablet to track the extraterrestrial device.

A minute later, down a gravel road, the lights illuminated another demolished house. The creature emerged from the wreckage, hissing at the car. It flung a corpse at the vehicle, which Jacqui narrowly avoided. She spun the car back at the creature, aiming the lights at it. The lights melted away its body, and it retreated down the hill.

“It’s working,” Slayer praised.

“Yeah, but it went off the road, and I can’t get to it.”

“I can fix that.”

Slayer pulled out a shimmering purple box the size of a tennis ball from their chest and attached it to the car’s ceiling. Dozens of veins of purple light wires erupted from the box, expanding in every direction throughout the vehicle before sinking inside. 

“What did you do?” Jacqui screamed.

“Modified your car to fly,” Slayer calmly explained. 

Jacqui could feel the car lift up from the ground. “Woah.”

“Go!”

She slammed on the gas, and the car flew down the hill. In seconds, the creature was in their sights. She pressed forward, shining more light on the beast until it collapsed from its legs melting. The creature dropped its sky blackening device, causing the stars to return upon impact with the ground. Jacqui kept the car still on the creature as it melted away into a massive pool of black goo.

Slayer floated out of the car and inspected the goo. Jacqui joined.

“Is it dead?” she questioned.

“Yes,” Slayer affirmed.

Slayer returned to the car, pulled out the transformation box, returning the vehicle to normal.

“Well, that was an adventure,” Jacqui declared.

“Indeed it was,” Slayer admitted. “You should get to wherever you were going. I imagine they’ll be here soon enough to clean up this mess.”

“Who’s they?”

From above, a blinding white light blasted down on them. Jacqui felt like a criminal caught in the spotlight. 

Slayer slipped down through the ground. “It doesn’t matter. You’ll forget all of this soon enough.”

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “It’s midnight, and your headlights barely pierce through the darkness settled on the road in front of you. Shaking away your exhaustion, you begin to panic as you realize you’re lost. As you reach for your phone, a voice from the back seat whispers, “Did you realize the stars are gone, too?”

Story Artwork by Chen Kang at Design Pickle. Get a discount off your first month of Design Pickle via this affiliate link, which full disclosure, I earn a small commission as a discount for me as well.

Discover more stories following Slayer via the character tag.

Have a safe holiday travel!

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