The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Tag: Loki

Hashtag Cult Problems

A cult’s ritual goes wrong when their sacrifice doesn’t die. 

When the sack came off Gia’s head, she found herself strapped upright on a spinning wheel in a dimly lit circus tent. Her curiosity had gotten the best of her. After seeing the performers’ mind-blowing act, she had to know how they did it for her shows. While she was sneaking around after the show, someone snuck up behind her with a sack over her head. Now, she hung before cult-like gathering.

Using her crowd scanning skill, Gia counted 30 people in bright clown nose red robes with white plastic masks of a cartoonishly broad smile. The outfit vaguely reminded Gia of a production she put on with some friends, but what that was was a hazy memory.

“We are gathered together here under the first full moon of the new decade for our sacrifice,” the cult leader announced. Gai recognized the voice belonged to the ringleader. 

The crowd cheered. The only thing Gia could spot on the cult leader that made him stand out from the others was the golden inverted pyramid necklace.

“Sacrifice, huh?” Gia said with excited curiosity. “If I may make a suggestion, the lighting is awful. How are people going to see me die? Do you have anything else other than the torchlights like some portable LED stage lights? Surely you got some of those.”

“We can see well enough,” the cult leader grumbled.

“If you say so,” Gia snarked. “By the way, what’s your cult or organization or whatever’s name? Or is this some tradition with your circus.”

“We are the Cult of Mischief,” the leader proclaimed. 

Gia remembered the show she was trying to pin down earlier. She giggled like she was part of an inside joke.

The leader picked up the jewel-encrusted ceremonial dagger from a pedestal and pointed it at Gia. “What’s so funny?”

“Oh, you’ll find out. Carry on.”

The leader faced the crowd. “Let the ceremony commence!”

With the crowd cheering, the leader stabbed Gia in the chest. Silence fell. 

“Oh, what cruel world,” Gia cried out. “There was so much I wanted to do. There’s so much in this world I wanted to see. But now, my time has come. Farewell.”

Gia’s body went limp. The cultists chanted in unison, “Our sacrifice is yours. Take this soul and bless us.”

Per cult order, the youngest member pulled out the knife from the sacrifice.

Gia raised her head, unharmed, and smiled. The cult gasped. “Okay, I thought that was a rather stirring death performance.”

“How are you not dead?” the young cultist asked with a quiver in her voice. 

“You picked the wrong kind of person for a sacrifice. Hashtag cult problems, am I right?”

“We cannot stand for this,” the leader said. “Our god will not be pleased with us.”

“You mean, Loki?” Gia said. “I’m sure he’s getting a good chuckle right now.”

The leader got in Gia’s face. “How do you know of our god?”

“Oh, we go way back,” Gia explained and then thought about the chronological order of time. “Or forward technically. He casted me as the first leader of the Cult of Mischief centuries ago to fool some traveling act for him to study their reactions. I’m surprised the cult is still around, to be honest, but knowing him and his partner, I bet they’re watching, studying.”

There was a hushed discussion amongst the members when two people revealed themselves from a stack of cargo containers. One was a slender man in a pink suit with bold, black outlines and a young woman in a red satin dress holding a transparent tablet device. Both had black hair and flowed in sync with each other.

“It’s them!” one of the members shouted. “From the painting of the first ritual.”

All the cult members dropped to their knees.

“Loki, Raven, how are you two doing?” Gia cheerfully greeted.

“I must admit, I find it humorous they tried to sacrifice you,” Loki dryly said while adjusting his cufflinks as they approached Gia.

Raven worked on freeing Gia. “It’s been fascinating studying the cult’s evolution throughout the centuries.”

“But I am growing bored of it,” Loki confessed.

“Shall we end?” Raven asked him.

“Yes, let’s go out on top.” Loki turned to address the cultists, who were still bowing down. “Since you tried to kill my friend, I will now forsake you and no longer give you my blessings – ever. Begone!”

The cultists scattered away as Raven undid the last strap around Gia.

“Thanks,” Gia said. “What’s next for two?”

Loki and Raven exchanged glances and spoke in unison. “More mischief.”

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You have been kidnapped by a cult preparing to sacrifice you to their god. Problems? You’re immortal, the god they worship is a close friend of yours and the entire cult was the result of a prank you forgot you pulled centuries ago.”

I got inspired by this prompt to write a story with my end-timer characters. Thank you for reading!

The Spiral Staircase in the Woods

During a morning jog, two friends take a detour to explore a mysterious spiral staircase that leads to a trap.

Sydney had long since accepted Chloe’s need to pause, change course, and explore during their weekly jog together. In the beginning, Sydney was annoyed by her friend’s curiosity as she preferred to keep a steady pace, but she grew to love the detours as they added a sense of adventure. It wasn’t uncommon for Sydney to jog a bit before she realized Chloe wasn’t by her side, but this time, Chloe put her arm in front of Sydney to stop themselves.

“Look at that,” Chloe said, pointing out toward the woods.

Sydney scanned the scene. Behind a battered and boarded manufactured house stood a spiral metal staircase that reached up into the treetops. 

“That’s weird,” Sydney commented. “It reminds me that suspended staircase public art piece in Automobile Alley.”

“We should climb it!”

“I don’t know if that’s safe.”

“I bet it was put there on purpose so you can see the birds. Don’t you want to see the birds, Syd?”

Sydney sighed. “I’ll do it for the birds.”

“Yay!” Chloe cheered as she jogged to the staircase. 

Sydney followed. Without a second thought, Chloe ran up several steps while Sydney stopped to inspect the staircase for safety. The staircase didn’t fall with Chloe on it, but Sydney wasn’t sure how exactly it was standing as she couldn’t see any wires or beams holding it in place.

Chloe ran up several more stairs. “Come on. It’s safe.”

Sydney chased after her friend, who ran up higher, giggling. They reached the top, which led to a metal-enclosed balcony capable of holding a small group of visitors. The sun started to rise off in the distance as Sydney stood next to Chloe.

They soaked in the warmth of the sunrise as it painted the sky a vibrant orange. Neither of them said anything to each other. Sydney glanced over at Chloe, watching the sunlight glide over her freckled face. She turned back to the sky, searching for any birds. 

After a moment, Sydney could sense Chloe’s restlessness. “Ready to head down?”

Chloe bolted. “Last one down has to buy brunch!”


Chloe only managed to stay a few steps ahead. Sydney knew she could beat her, but as hard as she tried, she couldn’t seem to get past her. She kept running and running and running, never gaining on her. 

Sydney stopped to catch her breath, and so did Chloe. “Shouldn’t we be down by now?”

“Yeah, going downstairs is always easier and faster.”

“I see the bottom.”

“Me too. Let’s keep going.”

The two walked down the stairs, keeping an eye on the grassy floor. Neither of them could explain the phenomenon, but the more they went down, the more they didn’t get any closer to the bottom.

“I’m starting to freak out a bit now,” Chloe confessed.

Sydney looked over the rail. It was too far to jump safely. Out of a sense of placement, she looked up. There were two people on the balcony. 

“There are people up there.”

Chloe looked up. “How did they get there?”

“Let’s go find out.”

In the balcony viewing area stood a tall, slender man in a pink suit with a woman of a similar build, but a little shorter and in a red dress holding a tablet device. Behind them was a door the same color as the man’s suit.

“Looks like they found us, Raven,” the man said as Sydney and Chloe reached the top.

“Indeed they have, Loki,” the woman said.

“Do you think they know what’s wrong, Raven?”

“I think they suspect something, Loki.”

“I think you are correct, Raven.”

“Okay, what’s going on?” Sydney demanded. 

“Shall we tell her, Raven?” Loki asked.

“I think you should tell her, Loki,” Raven responded.

“But you have a way with the words, Raven.”

“As do you, Loki.”

“Would one of you explain what’s going on?” Sydney interrupted. “I don’t care who. Take turns if you must.”

“This staircase is a construct of your fears, Sydney,” Loki explained.

Raven tapped on her tablet. “Like any fear, the only way to break free is to confess your truth.”

Loki opened the door. On the other side was an impossible night scene of a series of office cubicles. Raven stepped inside, followed by Loki. “Good luck.”

Loki closed the door behind him. It disappeared in a blink the moment the door shut.

“What truth do you need to confess?” Chloe asked, visibly freaked out. 

Sydney looked into Chloe’s eyes. Actions are more powerful than words, she thought to herself right before she kissed Chloe. Chloe returned the embrace. When they parted, they discovered they were on the ground where the staircase once stood. 

“Been waiting for that,” Chloe admitted. 

Sydney smiled. “So, who has to buy brunch?”

“I think we’ll count that one as a tie.”

Out of sight in the abandoned home, Loki and Raven watched as Chloe and Sydney jogged off together. Loki tossed Raven a golden coin, which she caught and put in her dress pocket.

“You won that one,” Loki admitted. “I thought it would’ve taken them much longer to escape.”

“Don’t worry. You got more opportunities.” 

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You’re walking home and you see a solitary staircase in the woods behind an abandoned house. They go up into the treeline. Out of curiosity you start walking up them. After walking up for awhile you decide to go back but never reach the bottom. When you look back up again you see the top.”


The nearest beach was thousands of miles away from Jake, but somehow he woke up on one with no knowledge of how he got there and a text from an unknown number that simply said, “Welcome.”

The morning sunlight brushed Jake’s face, but he refused to open his eyes. It was his first day off from work in two weeks. He reached for his pillow, only to notice it felt hard and slimly. Jake snapped his eyes open. A piece of driftwood had replaced his pillow. More seriously, a beach replaced his bedroom. 

The nearest beach for Jake was over a thousand miles away. His roommates could pull from a clever prank from time to time, but getting him to a beach was not in their skillset. The texture of the sand felt too real on his bare feet for this to be a dream. He stood up, looking for anything that would tell him where he woke up.

The beach appeared to span a few miles, but he saw no people. The beach itself was unusually clean in Jake’s opinion. No litter anywhere, the ocean waves were clear, and an orange glow from the sunrise blanked the sky. However, was something unnatural about this beach Jake couldn’t place.

Jake decided his first course of action was to do an inventory assessment. He wore a plain red shirt and checkered red pajama bottoms. The only item in his pockets was his cell phone fully charged. With a glance, he unlocked his phone. There was no signal, but there was one new message from an unknown number. Jake tapped it.

“Welcome” was all the message read, dated for 6:30 am that day.

“Welcome to where?” Jake mumbled.

The icon for someone typing a message appeared. Jake waited in nervous anticipation. After all, he had no service. A few seconds later, the next text came through. “Find the door before they find you.”

“Before who finds me?” Jake said to his phone, hoping someone was listening to him on the other end.

No message came.

Jake sighed and put away his phone. As he looked around for the door, he realized what felt so off about the beach. There were no animals. Anytime he had gone to the beach, there would always be birds, crabs, or washed up jellyfish. There was no life on the beach except him. 

With no door in sight on the beach, Jake wagered his best bet would to head into the forest. After a short hike, the scenery changed. If you were to ask Jake about his knowledge of maritime forests, he wouldn’t be able to provide much in the way of answers, but he did know trees were not purple with neon pink leaves.

Jake pulled out his phone and took a few photos of the unusual trees. He wanted to look up what they were later or proved they existed. From the camera’s screen, Jake found a freestanding black door with a pink wooded frame holding it up. He put his phone away to see the door with his own eyes. It was there. 

Today was Jake’s day off, and with the door found, he was curious about what secrets the forest held. He traveled in the opposite direction, pushing past green leaves twice his size, to a clearing with a small campfire. Surrounding the campfire where a dozen of purple-haired creatures have his size with wooden masks of his own face.

The furry creators stopped their dancing and faced Jake. They picked up their metal spears from the ground and charged after Jake. Jake ran for the door. The battle cries from the masked creatures pushed an out-of-shape Jake to run blindly fast. He was a long way from the door when he tripped and fell hard into the ground. Before Jake could stand, a couple of spears pierced through his body, causing him to fall back down. The island inhabitants surrounded Jake and took their prey back home.

A man and a woman side-stepped out from behind the door. The tall, slender man wore a pink suit matching the door frame’s color while the teenaged girl, slightly shorter than the man, wore a red tasseled dress. The woman worked away on a transparent tablet device while the man watched Jake’s body get dragged.

“That’s the second time they got him, boss,” the woman said. “What should we do differently?”

“Let’s send him a third text message telling him to run.”

The woman made a note of the change as the man opened the black door to Jake’s bedroom with Jake sleeping in bed. 

This week’s short story was inspired by the following writing prompt: “You go to sleep one night, in your bed just like you would every night. Only this time, you awake to find yourself washed ashore on what appears to be a deserted island. You check your phone, no service, but you have a text from an unknown number saying, ‘Welcome.'”

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.


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.”

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