The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Tag: Raven Page 1 of 3

A drawing of a young adult woman waking up in a fancy train high that's in outer space as two people on a TV screen explain that she is on a game show.

Resurrection on the Oriental Express

People from various worlds wake up on a train where they have to solve who is reviving people from the dead in this reverse murder mystery game show.

Elle snuggled tight on her comforter while forcing her eyes to stay close so she could continue to soak in her luxurious sleepy state. Her bed felt unnaturally comfortable like she was staying at a premium resort. Then a voice in her head asked, “Is this even your bed?”

Elle opened her eyes.

The bed was not hers. For starters, Elle’s room did not resemble a royal suite on a train. Waking up in unknown places was not something that happened to her unless one counted all the times she fell asleep in the car during a road trip. However, this was not a road trip, and she wasn’t on vacation either. She vividly recalled going to bed at her apartment, dressed in different clothes. Nothing was out of the ordinary about that night.

Elle spun around and looked at the window behind her. The vastness of endless galaxies shimmered outside. Her heart began to race as she looked up and down through the window.

“I’m in space, but there’s gravity,” she whispered. “This doesn’t make sense.”

As she settled back into the bed, the flatscreen TV across the wall turned on with two siblings standing next to each other in a bright white room.

“Good morning, Elle,” the man in the pinkish suit said with a sly smile and the high energy of a game show host.

“We hope you slept well,” the woman in the red dress said like a scientist conducting a study as she made a note on her tablet device. “I’m Raven, and this is Loki.”

“Where am I?” Elle asked, unsure if they could hear her.

“You’re on the Oriental Express,” Raven said. “That we put in space with some modifications.”

Loki spun in a circle. “And we have you here for a game. It’s like a murder mystery, but in reverse, as everyone tries to solve who is bringing people back from the dead.”

All Elle could blurt out in response was, “What?”

“The door to your suite will unlock in 10 minutes, giving you time to use the bathroom and enjoy the breakfast we’ve prepared.” Raven pointed below where a feta cheese and egg white spinach wrap raised from a compartment on the dresser. “Figure out who among you is raising the dead, and you get to go back home.”

“However.” Loki waved his finger. “If they revive all seven people first, you will be stuck here forever.”

The image of the siblings transitioned away to a logo of a magnifying glass over a dead body. Elle sat there for a moment, processing everything. She was positive this was not a dream. With no other options, Elle followed their suggestion to eat and freshen up. She didn’t find another set of clothes, but she woke up in attire she would’ve worn to a bunch with friends.

When 10 minutes passed, the doors on each side of the train car automatically opened. Elle looked in the mirror and said to herself, “You are going to embrace the weirdness.”

Elle picked the exit closest to her. A row of yellow fluorescent lights flickered on above as she stepped into a room that felt like one where police would watch an interrogation. File cabinets that seemed to be over a hundred years old lined the dark green concrete walls. Elle scratched her nose at the faint smell of cigarettes. 

“Is someone there?”

Elle turned her attention to the room on the other side of the one-way mirror, where a tall man in a black suit with purple pinstripes paced around the room. His skin color was burgundy, while his hair consisted of a blue flame, making Elle think of Hades from the Disney movie Hercules. With a grumble, the strange man adjusted his red tie as he sat down on the steal chair.

The man spoke to the camera like somebody making comments on a reality show. “Which one of you is behind this?”

The man paused, waiting for a response. None came. Elle didn’t dare respond herself. The stranger leaned forward, keeping eye contact with the camera. “What would my wife suggest I do? She would play along.”

The man cleared his throat and sat up straight. He put on a smile. “My name is Hades, a.k.a the God of the Underworlds, and I’m excited to be here to play this game.”

A green light above the door in his room turned on. “Huh. That worked.”

Hades left the room, entering the one with Elle. She took a step back as he looked down at her. 

“Hello, there,” Hades said as he studied Elle like a bargain bin book. “I presume you’re stuck here too, mortal. Do you know what’s going on?”

Elle thought for a moment about how to explain. “Well…I woke up in this train car where these two people on the TV said I was on a game show. There is someone on this train bringing people back to life, and we have to solve the mystery of who’s doing it if we want to get back home. We’ll be stuck here if they resurrect all seven dead people.”

“Interesting,” Hades said as he crossed his arms. “I didn’t get that introduction. What did these two look like?”

“One wore this pinkish suit, and the girl had this red dress.”

Hades groaned. “Loki and Raven.”

The way Hades spoke their names made Elle think that that’s how Commissioner Gordon felt when hearing the news that yet another villain was running amok in Gotham. Elle was even more intrigued about these two individuals. “Yeah, that’s who they said they were. Who are they?”

“They are a pain. That’s who they are.”

“Is this Loki like the Norse god?”

“No. Far from it. They are end-timers, eternal beings that can travel throughout time. Only the universe itself is above them.”

Elle’s jaw hung in confusion. “But you’re like a god, right?”

“Yes, but they can go back into time and erase me from existence.”


“That’s one word for it, kid.” Hades started walking to the next train car. “Come on, let’s solve this mystery.”

“You seem…different from what I’ve read,” Elle said as she followed.

“People wrote those accounts of us over 2,000 years ago, so they’re missing a ton of character development and not to mention all the inaccuracies.”

“Oh. That’s a good point.” Elle held out her hand for a shake. “I’m Elle, by the way.”

Hades shook her hand like a professional. “Hades, which I assume you knew from watching me.”

Elle rubbed the side of her arm as her eyes drifted to her white sneakers. “Yeah.”

The show’s hosts decorated the following room in a vintage royalty style similar to Elle’s car, but as a dining room with several square tables with a chair on each side. Elle rushed to the dead body of a human male lying in the middle of the floor while Hades looked out the window into the space.

“That explains why I’m so weak,” Hades said as he stared outside. He turned to Elle and asked, “Is he one of the dead?”

Elle checked for a pulse on the neck. “Yeah, he’s dead. Wait a second. How do I know you’re not the one who can resurrect people?”

Hades waved his hand and rolled his eyes. “Please. I manage the dead. I don’t bring them back to life. Also, deities receive some powers from those that believe in them, and no one is around.”

“Oh,” Elle said as she stood up. “I guess we should try to find the others.”

“Agreed. Let’s check out the next room.”


Ildikó awoke to a golden retriever licking her face. While some people would’ve found being licked by a dog in the morning funny or cute, Ildikó was terrified. Nilnorians did not have dogs on their planet. She shoved the animal and stood up against the wall. The room was like a forest, covered in grass and plants, but with windows to outer space. 

“What are you?” Ildikó asked as she searched her tactical vest for a knife, only to find none equipped. “Where are my weapons?”

The dog wagged his tail and ran off. Ildikó recalled a tree branch hitting her across her head. She thought she had died, but her attacker must’ve rendered her unconscious instead and brought her here. She was thankful she wasn’t chained but confused about why not. As she surveyed her foreign surroundings, a TV mounted to a tree switched to a broadcast of Loki and Raven.

“Hello, Ildikó,” Raven greeted warmly. “Are you ready to join the game?”

“Who are you?” Ildikó demand. Loki and Raven looked similar to her, but they had beige skin and black hair, while Ildikó’s was purple, prompting her to ask, “What are you?”

“None of that matters,” Loki said, waving her off. “What matters is that six people on this train are dead, and someone among you is bringing them back to life. To get home, you must solve the mystery of who’s resurrecting everyone.”

Ildikó clenched her fists. “You dare challenge me.”

Loki and Raven cracked half a smile together before the screen transitioned to the logo of a magnifying glass over a dead body.

“Hello, there!”

Ildikó faced the friendly voice, ready to fight.

“You must be another player,” said the dry, scaly blue skin person in a white robe. “I’m Tate and this Gnarl.”

The red furry beast on two legs with a body of a bull wearing jeans, a black t-shirt with an illustration of a cinnamon roll, and an apron bowed. “Greetings.”

Ildikó relaxed. “My name is Ildikó. I have never seen any people like you on my planet. How are we able to understand each other?”

Tate shrugged. “We figured it has to be something to do with this place.”

Gnarl took a step forward. “We are trying to account for everyone on this train, both alive and dead. We found two of the seven dead.”

“Seven dead?” Ildikó repeated. “I was told there were six.”

Tate and Gnarl exchanged glances.

“The person must already be reviving people,” Tate said.

Gnarl nodded. “We should make haste.”


Elle’s eyes lit up like a child visiting a theme park as she and Hades entered a room filled with colorful plastic balls in a pool. Elle immediately jumped in upon the sight of the ball pit. When she emerged, the balls were up to her chest. With caution, Hades stepped in. He picked up a ball for inspection as Elle swam around. 

“There might be a dead body here,” Hades said as he tossed the ball back down.

Elle stopped. Her heart sank. “Right. That’s a good point.”

From the opposite end of the pool, the golden retriever barked.

“There’s a dog!” Elle shouted with joy.

Elle wadded through the balls, carefully feeling each step for fear of stepping on someone. Hades followed with the same reserve. The dog waved his tail as they approached the other side to greet him.

“Hey, there,” Elle said in a playful voice devoted to speaking to dogs. “What’s your name?”

The dog barked.

Hades groaned. “He said his name is Zeus. But don’t get him confused with my brother. This dog is not my brother.”

Elle began to pet Zeus as Gnarl, Ildikó, and Tate entered.

“Greetings,” Gnarl bowed. “I am Gnarl and this is Tate and Ildikó.”

“Hi, I’m Elle, and that’s Hades, and this good boy is Zeus.”

Ildikó scoffed. “Didn’t realize that yellow beast had a name.”

“We have quite the ensemble here,” Hades said, summarizing. “Were you all informed that we must find out who is bringing the seven dead people back to life?”

“We’re at six now, according to the latest broadcast Ildikó saw,” Tate kindly corrected. “Gnarl and I did find two dead individuals on our end.”

“We’ve only found one dead body so far in the previous room,” Elle added. “Though, there might be some in this ball pit. Did you all reach the end on your side?”

“Yes, I came from the end,” Gnarl said. “How about you?”

“The room I woke up in had two exits,” Elle said. “Perhaps we should head that way? Maybe this person is on the opposite end.”

Tate kneed down by the ball pit. “Is this substance you’re swimming in safe?”

Elle held up a ball in her hand. “It’s just plastic balls. They’re safe.”

Gnarl, Ildikó, and Tate slowly lowered themselves like people easing into a cold pool. Once inside, they began to shuffle through to the other side. 

Elle looked back and saw the dog sitting by the edge, waiting. “Hold up! We should take Zeus with us.”

“Very well,” Hades said as he doubled back. He scooped up the golden retriever. The dog licked his face. “My dogs will be so jealous when I get home.”

About halfway through the pool, Gnarl fell into the balls. Everyone paused. Gnarl emerged a moment later. “Found another body. Looks to be the same species as you, Tate.”

Tate dived under to see for himself.

“No one I know,” he said when he resurfaced. “Let’s move along.”

Everyone continued, being a bit more cautious with their steps, but they didn’t trip on any more bodies. Hades sat Zeus down, and the dog bolted into the next room, wagging his tail. Everyone climbed out, helping each other out as needed. A crackle followed by a hum filled the room.

“Five people are remaining,” Raven announced over the intercom system.

There was another crackle and then silence.

Ildikó stormed into the next room. “We need to hurry.”

Everyone followed after her. The dining room was as Hades and Elle last saw, but with the dead person now alive, petting the dog.

“That person was dead when we were here,” Hades explained to the rest of the group.

“Then our healer must be near,” Ildikó as she ran to the next room.

Everyone rushed to the next room while Elle joined Zeus in greeting the previously dead guy.

Elle sat on the ground next to the guy, pleased to see another fellow human. “Hey, I’m Elle.”

“I’m Nathan. So I’m on a game show, huh? Weird cast of characters.”

Elle laughed. “Yeah. You wouldn’t by any chance remember seeing anyone when you woke up?”

Nathan shook his head. “No, just this dog licking me awake.”

A funny thought popped into Elle’s head. She scratched the dog under his chin. “I bet Zeus here brought you back to life, huh?”

The train car blacked out.

Elle woke up in her bed, dressed in an oversized tank top and underwear. She leaped out of bed, touching everything to ensure this was real. Satisfied, Elle plopped back down on her bed. She looked at her phone. The time was only 6 am.

“That was a weird dream,” Elle said.

Three knocks tapped on her front door. Confused, she tossed on her fluffy white robe to see who was there. On her front porch was a golden retriever who resembled the one in her dream. Elle kneed down, giving the dog scratches as she read the note attached to the collar.

“Dear, Elle,” she read aloud. “As a bonus for being the first person to guess correctly, you get to keep Zeus. Don’t worry. We took away his power to revive the dead. Congratulations!”

A drawing of a young adult woman waking up in a fancy train high that's in outer space as two people on a TV screen explain that she is on a game show.

This short story was written for a challenge on Vocal. The prompt was: “Write a story about someone who wakes up on a train. They have no ticket and no memory of how they got there. Oh, and one more thing: the train shows no signs of slowing down.”

Thank you for reading!

Motion Activated - art by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle

Motion Activated

Nathan wakes up to a motion-activated alarm with a video of him several minutes into the future, pounding on the front door.

Nathan could have sworn his smartwatch was set to bedtime mode when it buzzed him awake. He moved his wrist to his face while avoiding waking up his husband. It took several seconds for his eyes to focus and his brain to process the message on his watch: “There is motion at your front door.”

“What is it?” Grayson mumbled, partly awake.

“I’m sure it’s just a cat,” Nathan whispered. “Go back to sleep.”

“Check it, so your imagination doesn’t keep you awake, again.”

“Hey, that story won me an award.”

Grayson rolled over to the side, ignoring him. Nathan reached for his phone on his nightstand, missing it during his first attempt but grabbing it on the second. He opened the notification, bringing up a video feed of himself pounding on the front door. The version of himself in the video wore the same bison t-shirt and pajama pants he had on now. In the video, he ran up to the door, pounded on it, searched through his pockets, and ran off-screen. He watched the video a second time before shaking his husband fully awake.

“What? What?” Grayson said. Nathan shoved the phone in his face, forcing Grayson to watch. Grayson sat up. All he could say was, “What the hell?”

“I know.”

“Hold on, what time is it?”

Nathan looked at his watch. “It’s 2:37 am.”

“Look at the timestamp. It says 2:48.”

“Wait, that’s like 10 minutes from now.”

Nathan tossed off the sheets and walked over to the bedroom window. Dangling from a rope net in their front yard, a man in a white suit with pink accents and a woman in a red dress waved at him when they noticed him peeking outside.

“There are people caught in a net in our tree,” Nathan said in disbelief.

“You’re joking,” Grayson said as he rushed to the window. “No, you’re not.”

“You stay here while I go talk to them,” Nathan said. 

Grayson nodded, grabbing his cellphone just in case while Nathan stepped outside.

“See, I told you that would get him to come outside,” the man in the white suit said to his sibling.

The woman sighed and tossed him a gold coin, which he caught with a smug smile.

“I’m surprised the video we had of him covered in blood didn’t cause him to come outside,” the woman in the red dress remarked as she brushed aside her raven black hair. 

“Okay, what is going on?” Nathan asked. “And who are you, and how did you get…like this?”

“Ah, Nathan!” the man in the white suit greeted with a warm smile like they were old friends. “In the order asked, we’re trying to catch a monster, I’m Loki, and this is Raven, and we didn’t catch the monster.”

Nathan chuckled and starting looking around for cameras. “This is a prank show, isn’t it?”

“No, we’re trying to catch the monster you set free the first time we met,” Raven said without snapping at him.

“The first time we met?” Nathan repeated.

“Yes,” Loki answered. “This is like the….”

“34th time,” Raven added.

“34th time we’ve met,” Loki finished. “We can’t seem to leave until we manually set time back in order.”

Loki rolled his eyes during the word “manually” as things would automatically set themselves in order. Before Nathan could respond, a large crash erupted from his backyard. Nathan thought it sounded like a battery ram smashed through his backdoor. He ran to his front door, as going through would be faster than around. Nathan tried to open the door, but something was blocking it. He pounded on the door, calling out for Grayson. Nathan pushed on the door again, with no luck. He ran back to the two strangers in his tree for answers.

“Seriously, what is going on?” Nathan demanded.

“It sounds like the monster went around back,” Loki said.

“We should set up our motion-activated trap there next time,” Raven said.

“Next time?” Nathan shouted. “What do you mean next time?”

“Once the monster kills someone, we reset to 2:30,” Raven explained.

Grayson’s scream pierced through the walls to the outside.

“Too late,” Loki sang.

Nathan woke up to the buzz of his smartwatch. 

Motion Activated - art by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle

I’ve been mauling over the writing prompt that inspired this story for some time, but when I finally sat down and wrote it, the story came out. The prompt was: “‘There is motion at your front door’ – You groggily awake to the notification on your smartwatch. You check the video on your phone and see yourself frantically trying to open the door. The timestamp reads 2:48 AM. You look at your watch. It’s 2:37 AM.”

Loki and Raven

When I first saw this prompt, I thought it would be perfect for Loki and Raven, which at the time, I got this beautiful piece of artwork done by Janine De Guzman of my characters. Janie is also responsible for this story’s amazing cover art.

The Ghost Child from the March of Flaming Skeletons

Three time-travelers visit a Halloween parade when a young spirit starts to cause mischief. 

A thousand people dressed as skeletons held tiki torches as they led a Halloween parade. The three time-travelers siblings blended in with the Saturday, October 24, 2009 audience with their own costumes. The one named Raven wore a silky red dress with a foam pumpkin over her head. The one named Gia dressed as the 1950s movie star Marilyn Monroe. The one named Slayer simply wore a hooded black robe.

“I can’t believe you had me change my form for this,” Slayer grumbled as they crossed their human arms. “Skeletons are on parade, and you wanted me to look human. My form would’ve been appropriate.”

“A floating transparent skeleton would’ve freaked people out,” Gia playfully reminded. 

Slayer put a thin piece of white paper in their mouth. “At least the candy is good.”

“That was a sticker you ate,” Raven corrected in a polite factual matter. 

Slayer shrugged. “I’ve never been much for this world anyway.”

Gia scanned the parade for something to change the subject. It had been a while since she spent time with them, and thought this parade would’ve been something they could all enjoy.

“Hey, look at the little skeleton,” Gia said, pointing at a little girl dancing in the street with the other marching skeletons. “Aren’t they just the—”

Gia’s jaw dropped as the child danced through the other people. People shivered, losing their balance, and some almost hit others with their torches.

“That’s a spirit,” Raven said in a matter-of-fact as she pulled out her tablet from her dress pocket that was much bigger on the inside. “It seems to be causing quite the disturbance.”

“Finally, some chaos!” Slayer cheered with hands raised high.

“No, no chaos and no watching how it all plays out,” Gia ordered. “We have to guide the spirit home.”

“Fine,” both Slayer and Raven grumbled.

The ghost child turned into the crowd of bystanders, skipping along through people. While Gia lost sight of the girl, she watched the movement of people shaking from a sudden chill and losing their balance. The three pressed against the crowd. 

“Where did she go?” Gia asked as they emerged out from the crowd. 

“Over there,” Raven alerted. She pointed to the girl standing in front of a couple heading to watch the parade. A man in his late 20s got one knee to talk to the girl on her level. “That human seems to be able to interact with the spirit.”

Gai squinted in thought. “Wait a second. I think I know him or, more specifically, who he will become.”

“What becomes of him?” Slayer questioned.

“His name is Geoff DeRoot, and he becomes a rather prominent paranormal researcher, but this isn’t his origin story. Not until the death of his fiancé drives him mad,” Gia explained as she started to sprint forward. “We can’t let him get introduced to ghosts just yet.”

“So, where are your grown-ups?” Geoff asked the spirit.

Before the spirit could answer, Gia stood beside them. 

“There you are!” Gia exclaimed to the spirit. “Come on, let’s get you home.” She looked at the couple and smiled. “Thank you.”

“No problem,” Geoff said as he stood back up and wrapped his arm around his girlfriend.

The girl smiled wide and held out her hand, which Gia took as best as possible to make it look like she was holding the spirit’s hand and not going through it. Raven and Slayer caught up with Gia. Together, they walked down the alleyway, where they parked their freestanding doors that allowed them to travel throughout time and space. 

Slayer opened his red wooden door, letting out a bright white light. “I’ll take this one where she belongs.” Before walking through the door, Slayer turned back and faced his siblings. “You know, watching the Halloween parade was kind of fun. I guess this world isn’t so bad.”

Gia smiled. Missioned accomplished. Slayer closed their door, and it blinked out of existence. Raven reached for the handle on her red metal door with a golden frame.

“It has been fun, Gia,” Raven thanked. “I should get back with Loki as I left him in the middle of an experiment.”

“What are you two up to this time?” Gia asked with a slightly accusatory tone. 

“We’re hosting a spaceship reality game show on Earth.”

“Oh. That sounds like fun! What year?”


“Yikes,” Gia chocked up. “I tend to avoid that year.”

Raven chuckled. “It’s been fruitful for us. Anyway, it was good to see you.”

The two exchanged hugs and left through their respective doors, disappearing without any fanfare as the first wave of parade participants crossed through the alley to the afterparty.  

This week’s short story was created in response to a writing challenge. The setting had to involve Halloween with a word limit of 800. Bonus points for using the following words: Candy, Leaves, Chill, and Pumpkin. Points for also using the sentence blocks, “Skeletons are on parade” and “I’ve never been much for this world anyway.”

Hope you enjoyed this story and all of the other spooky tales this month!

Story Artwork by Joemar Villarejo, 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.

A Killer Among the Spaceship Game Show - art by Henry Yusman at Design Pickle

A Killer Among the Spaceship Game Show

After being laid off during the pandemic, Alex responds to an online ad to be a contestant in a spaceship-themed reality TV series with game show challenges. Unbeknownst to Alex, they learn one of those challenges is to stay alive.

Part 1

I should’ve known there would be a catch to being a contestant in this reality game show. Like millions of others, I lost my job in April due to the ongoing pandemic. Shortly after I made a post on Facebook about looking for a job, an ad appeared seeking contestants for a new reality TV series. The advertisement asked for people out of work to pay five thousand dollars a week with possible bonuses. I was a little creeped out by the algorithms’ accuracy, but it wasn’t the first time my personal life was the target of an ad. With no job prospects and out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on the ad. After all, they did offer more money than what I used to make in a month.

The website was rather vague about the show. The page said the show was based on a hit video game and would be a mix of reality TV with game show challenges. I assumed they didn’t want to leak too many details. There were a ton of legal conditions, which I skimmed over, and in retrospect, I wish I hadn’t. Auditions were happening that day not far from my apartment, so I grabbed my bike, hoodie, and a face mask and then made my way to a run-down warehouse building downtown. 

There were a series of printed signs with the word “auditions” and arrows leading the way. I thought there would be a long line of people, but I never saw anyone. I began to think I came at the wrong time until I entered this massive empty warehouse space when these two people directed me to stand under a light beam. I wasn’t sure if they were the producers or casting directors, as I never did get their titles, but they were an odd pair. One of them was this tall man in a white suit with pink accents, and the other was this woman in a red dress with a tablet I’d never seen before. Hollywood types, am I right?

From their metal folding seats, they asked some basic questions about me, including some health questions. Then they asked me some weird questions.

“How do you feel about spaceships?” the woman inquired.

“I think they’re pretty neat,” I stumbled to answer.

Not a second after I answered, the man demanded to know, “What would you do if a big scary alien jumped out in front of you?”

“Uh, I would probably scream and run away.”

“How many times has someone tried to kill you?” the woman quizzed.

“None, I think….”

The audition ended with them informing me that they would call me tomorrow morning if selected. I left, not feeling too confident. My mind spent the evening replaying various should-haves for the interviews. I also wondered what the show would be like, what I would do with the money, if that couple was related as they looked like siblings, and other racing thoughts about the audition. I calmed myself with some home renovation shows.

I was shocked when I received a call at 9 am the next day. They said they thought I “would bring a much-needed personality to the show.” They then asked if I could start on Friday with the quarantine process, and I enthusiastically replied yes.

When I returned to the warehouse, a construction company filled the audition space with unfinished wooden walls. The experience was like being behind a movie set. The woman I met from the interview introduced herself as Raven and one of the show’s producers. She wore the same sparking red dress with a keyhole cut top as before with a matching face mask. She led me to a sizable boxed structure with a door covered in a black number seven. Inside was a fully furnished studio apartment with a modern white sci-fi spacecraft theme. On the opposite end was a locked sliding octagon metal door. She informed me they were still building the stage and pointed to the headphones hanging next to the wall-mounted flatscreen TV if I needed them.

I signed a mountain of legal documents while she explained I would have to stay here for two weeks as I’ll be living with the six other contestants. However, I would have internet access to keep me occupied. Plus, I was getting paid $10,000 to do nothing for two weeks. Awesome, right?

With the paperwork done, Raven walked me over to my uniform, a white spacesuit costume. The outfit didn’t look bulky or uncomfortable like an actual spacesuit–more like a jumpsuit or something one would wear underneath a spacesuit. Raven showed me the craft supplies to decorate my uniform however I wanted.

There were drawers of gray sweatpants and t-shirts for me to wear for the show. Above the drawers and TV was a twin bed. The bathroom was tiny, with a standing shower, toilet, and sink. If I wanted privacy, the bathrooms were the only place without any cameras. There was no kitchen other than a water dispenser and a dumbwaiter for food. Raven told me to change out of my clothes and put them in the dumbwaiter after she left. After the tour, I was left alone.

The clothes they provided were comfortable and fit perfectly, which I was worried wouldn’t be the case. I learned to sow because I had difficulty finding outfits that worked for me.

About seven days through, time started to drag. I dyed my suit yellow and wrote my name, Alex, on the name patch with a marker. I worked out and did yoga to keep myself in shape. I started to watch shows I was less excited to check out. Thankfully, I was allowed to FaceTime and text my friends and family. The producers didn’t mind as they said this would “build hype.” Talking to real people was better than talking to the camera above the TV, which I might have had several rants for that camera. In my defense, conversation topics would pop up on the screen when I wasn’t watching anything. The whole quarantine process made me sympathize with the astronauts training to go to Mars.

On the morning of day 14, I put on my spacesuit as instructed by the TV. Right at 8 am, the internet went off, and the sliding door opened. I jumped up from the couch and walked outside into the bright white hallway with an octagon shape. The six other contestants stepped out from their rooms. I have to admit, the producers selected a diverse group of people with three girls and three girls, although everyone was probably in their 20s or 30s. We greeted each other, and then Raven spoke over a speaker.

“Good morning, crew!” Raven greeted with an authoritative tone of leadership. “As a member of this spaceship, there will be random tasks for you to compete to keep this ship flying. Successfully complete the task to win bonus cash. At the end of every day, there will be an elimination round. Survive to continue. Good luck and enjoy breakfast in the dining hall.”

With a charming ding, the transmission ended.

“Let’s go eat!” shouted the tallest contestant. He was the only one who didn’t decorate his spacesuit other than writing his name, Jake, in the name badge section.

A woman with the name tag of Sari in a sky blue spacesuit and raised her hand. “Where is the dining hall?”

No one said anything. I think we all half expected Raven to tell us, but when she didn’t, we all awkwardly scattered. I took the left hallway, walking alongside Maro. Out of all of the spacesuit designs, his was by far the most detailed, with drawings of flowers and dragons. During our walk, I learned he was a tattoo artist, and his parents moved to America from Spain before he was born. When the pandemic hit, he and his husband owned a tattoo parlor together, putting them both out of work.

Before I could say anything about myself, we wandered into the dining hall about the same time as the others. The octagonal room had four entrances that were also octagon-shaped, like the hallways. In the center of the room stood a large, octagonal white metal table. It was becoming apparent that the set design team was obsessed with octagons, so from here on out, if I talk about anything, assume it was octagon shaped too.

Scattered along the walls were seven numbed dumbwaiters. I walked over to number seven, slid up the door, and my breakfast sandwich wrap was inside. I brought the tray over to the table and sat next to Maro. A curly blonde-haired woman with a fruit smoothie sat next to me. She decorated her spacesuit with numerous multicolored hearts.

“I love your hair,” she complimented. “You got this whole artsy half buzzcut superhero thing going on.”

“Thank you,” I replied, sliding my hand through my hair.

“Oh, I’m Kate, by the way,” she introduced. “She/her.”

“I’m Maro,” he said with a wave. “He/him.”

“I’m Alex. They. So, Kate, what did you do before the pandemic?”

“Well, I am a singer slash songwriter, and I was planning this big tour, and well, here I am. Granted, I would’ve been couch surfing with some strangers because I was going to do the tour self-funded, so maybe it’s for the best this all happened.”

“Trying to see the positive side of things,” I said.

“As best I can,” Kate exclaimed before taking a drink.

We chatted over breakfast, with mostly small talk and how we lost our jobs. I couldn’t help but feel how weird and refreshing it was to be around people physically during the whole conversation. I missed in-person contact.

About the time we finished eating, Raven spoke over the intercom. “Reminder: You have work to do. Explore the spaceship for tasks to complete and bonus rewards.”

Jake bolted up from the table and ran out through the north door, hollering along the way. The rest of us casually got up and returned our trays to our dumb waiters, with the guy that sat next to Jake taking care of his tray too. We went our separate ways.

I knew the warehouse space was huge, but I didn’t expect them to utilize as much space as they did. I was away from everyone on my path in no time. I stumbled upon a door marked with three blue cylinder tubes. The door slid open as I approached. Inside was a ball-pit the size of my bedroom filled with clear balls. In front of the pit was a pedestal with one blue cylinder tube with a sticker that said “fuel-cell” and holes for two others.

“I assume my task is to find the other two fuel-cells hidden in the ball-pit?” I spoke into the room.

No response. I shrugged and carefully dipped myself into the pit. The balls went up past my waist. As I swam around, I became awash with joy. Although there wasn’t a live studio audience cheering me on, I felt like I was on some old Nickelodeon game show. I wasn’t sure how long I was in there before I banged my foot on the first tube in the bottom center. I pulled myself out of the pit and placed the object in the slot. The fuel cell lit up, and a robotic voice announced, “One more left.”

This time, I returned to the pit doing a cannonball dive. I went to the furthest corner, where I found the third one. I raced out and put the device in the slot. The room lights turned green. 

“You’ve received a bonus of $342,” the robotic voice congratulated in a monotone. “Please exit the room.”

As instructed, I left the room. I inspected both ends of the hallway. There was something different. I could’ve sworn the air vents were toward the ceiling and not toward the floor. The spaceship’s design was modular enough that perhaps the TV crew could move things around in an attempt to confuse us, or maybe was I just mistaken?

The question was a moot point, so I went left, and at the intersection, I nearly ran into Flint, the guy who cleaned up after Jake. He was the opposite of Jake in appearance. Jake was tall while Flint was short, Jake was muscular while Flint was heavyset, and Jake was White, and Flint was Black. Flint also took the time to dye his spacesuit orange. He apologized, and I said it was all good.

“Did you find any challenges?” I asked him.

“Yeah, I was walking down a hallway when this panel slid down, and there was this clear tube sticking out. I was starring at the contraption for a moment when this green ooze started to flow up, and a green light started to flash in a corner with another tube, and then a bunch of tube pieces fell on me. I figured I had to connect them to get the ooze to go to the other end.”

“What did you win?”

Flint gestured to the green gloop on his arm. “I don’t think I won.”

I covered my mouth as not to laugh. “Well, I found a ball-pit room where I had to find two fuel cells.”

“That sounds fun,” Flint said with amazement. 

“Yeah, it was,” I admitted. “Anyway, good luck on the next one.”

“You too.”

We traveled in opposite directions. I kept my eye out for the same ooze puzzle, but instead, I found a door with a thin black line symbol. The room was about the same size as the previous challenge room. On the opposite end of the room was a large red button, but there was a balance beam over a foam-padded pit to get across. I think I managed three steps before I fell. The moment I hit the ground, the lights in the room went red.

“Failure,” the robotic voice announced without any emotion. “Please exit the room.”

I climbed up the metal ladder and left the room. I didn’t get the same hallway shifting vibe that I did last time. Either the crew didn’t have time to move things around on me, or I imagined things. I explored the hallways without encountering any more challenges when I ended up in the dining hall for lunch. I found the three girls, Kate, Sari, and Alyssa, enjoying lunch together.

“Yo, Alex, come sit with us,” Kate shouted.

I grabbed my lunch, a turkey sub, and joined them. Kate introduced everyone. I learned that the pandemic caused Alyssa to get furloughed from her nonessential medical job. Sari couldn’t complete her art historian dissertation with everything closed.

I asked them about the ship’s challenges, and all agreed we felt like we were on a Nickelodeon game show. Although we had to explain what that meant to Sari – complete with examples of Double Dare, GUTS, and Legends of the Hidden Temple – she ended up agreeing with us.

The guys entered the dining hall, laughing and flinging green gloop at each other, which they were all drenched with on their spacesuits.

“What happened to you guys?” Alyssa asked, concerned.

“We found this room where we had to work together and throw balls at these cardboard aliens,” Maro explained.

“Those ‘aliens,’’ Flint commented with air quotes, “also had cannons that fired this green goo at us.”

“But we each won $500,” Jake enthusiastically added.

The guys grabbed their lunch and joined the group. I discovered Jake was a personal trainer who lost most of his clients when they lost their jobs. Jake certainly had the energy of a trainer, and I bet he was great at it.

Flint was a bouncer, and with all the clubs and bars shut down, there was nothing for him. Although he admitted the downtime was giving him a chance to reevaluate his life because he only started his job because people thought he would be good at keeping order. I also found out that he dyed his jumpsuit purple for his favorite football team, the Baltimore Ravens. 

Before we could finish eating, the lights flashed yellow.

“Danger,” the robotic voice announced in a high pitch tone. “The ship is under attack. Press the ten yellow buttons throughout to repair our shields.”

We all jumped out of seats and raced throughout the hallways as the voice repeated itself, and a perpetual alarm followed. After a few turns, I found a lit yellow button the size of my hand mounted on the wall. I pressed it, and the panel flipped, disappearing the button.

I ran down the hallway and made a right turn. I couldn’t hear anything over the alarm, and no one was around. I found a second button. I pressed it, and this time the alarm and flashing lights stopped.

“I guess I found the last one,” I boasted. “Good job, Alex.”

I half jogged my way back, trying to remember which way I came. After a few wrong turns, I found everyone gathered in a circle in the dining hall. 

“Hey, what’s going on?” I asked.

Maro stepped to the side to reveal Kat on the floor with a knife in her back. “Someone killed Kate.”

“This isn’t really Kate,” Jake stated. “This is clearly a dummy.”

“This isn’t a dummy,” Alyssa corrected.

“How do you know what a dead body looks like?” Jake snapped.

“I’m a fucking nurse,” Alyssa snapped back. “I know a dead body when I fucking see one.”

A flashing red light filled the area.

Raven came on the intercom. “Everyone, return to your rooms. Return to your rooms.”

We all looked at each other, and Raven repeated herself a third time. We walked back to our rooms. The light was normal. Once I was inside, the door closed behind me. Raven was on my TV screen.

“There is a killer among you who killed Kate,” she coldly revealed. “We offered one of you triple the weekly reward to kill one of your fellow crewmates. I will give you 12 minutes to reflect on your day. Share your thoughts into the camera above your TV and type your vote on who should be eliminated. Choose wisely.”

The screen switched to a red countdown clock, leaving me with my thoughts. Who should I vote to eliminate?

* * *

I starred into the lens. Am I honestly expected to share my thoughts on who among us could be a killer? I let out a frustrated sigh and let myself rant, hoping that talking out my day out would help me think.

“Honestly, I have no idea who would’ve killed Kate. She was so warm and friendly from the little time I got to know her. From the motive of money, we’re all hurting, but who could be hurting the worst? Jake has been really into winning, so maybe he’s in more finical trouble than what he’s lead us to believe. But, I can’t also disregard his accusations that perhaps Kate isn’t dead. That’s a weird thing to say if you were trying to cover your tracks.

If I look at this puzzle from the perspective of who I would expect the least, I would have to vote for Maro. It’s never the obvious answer in any murder mystery, and Maro has been so kind to everyone. Of course, if he were a back-stabbing murder, he would use kindness to be deceitful.”

I put my hands over the keyboard. They froze, unsure of the consequences. 

“Plus, if it isn’t Maro, eliminating him from the game would spare him from getting killed,” I reassured myself. I typed his name. “Done. Let’s see what happens next.”

When the clock reached zero, the screen went blank, but nothing else happened. I paced my room, waiting. I tried to entertain myself, but they turned off the internet. Approximately five minutes later, my door automatically opened.

I cautiously stepped out, just as everyone did. The highway lights were a vivid blue and had a movement pattern that pointed down one way. I didn’t see Maro. 

“Are we supposed to follow the lights?” Sari asked.

“I think so,” Alyssa replied and started to follow the lights.

We all followed in silence. My throat was tight from the awkward tension vibes everyone was giving off. I don’t think they expected this part of the show either.

The hallway opened up into a brand new room with three white couches, a wall-mounted tv with how much money everyone’s earned, and a glass door with Maro on the other side. I assumed the tiny room Maro was in was supposed to represent an airlock.

Maro started pounding on the glass the moment he saw us. He spoke, but I couldn’t hear him. His face was red with anger. The airlock room filled up with smoke. We all watched in silence as the smoke cleared out. Maro was gone. 

The intercom dinged.

“Carry along with your day,” a friendly robotic voice inspired.

The message repeated itself and concluded with a ding.

“So, did Maro do it?” Flint asked the room.

“I found him in the room first,” Sari revealed. “I saw him wiping his hands clean.”

“It’s always the person you least suspect it in these murder mystery things,” I chimed. “I voted for him.”

“I voted for him for the same reason, too,” Alyssa added with a tone of happiness that someone else had the same idea.

“Well, I voted for Jake,” Flint confessed.

Jake laughed. “I voted for you!”

“I guess we get to play some more games now,” Alyssa said, clapping her hands together.

We all agreed and split up. I was positive the tv crew moved the hallways around while we voted as no route was familiar. I found a challenge room door with two squares side by side, just as Sari did.

“I think you found this one first,” Sari shied away.

“Wait!” I interrupted. “Maybe it’s a room where we have to work together.”

Sari nodded with a smile. “If you want, let’s give it a chance.”

The door slid opened, and we stepped inside. The center of the square room had a ten by ten grid of light-up squares on the floor. Some were blue, and some were red.

“Any idea what we’re supposed to do?” Sari said. 

I stepped on a red square, and it turned blue. I stepped on a blue one, and it stayed blue. “I think we’re supposed to turn all the squares blue.”

Sari nodded. “Let’s do it then.”

We started walking on the red squares, turning them blue. After some time, we noticed some of the tiles reverted to red. We started running to keep pace with the squares, working together to get all of the same color. Sari stepped on the last one, causing all of the squares to flash purple. 

“Congratulations,” the monotone robotic voice reported. “You each won $347.”

We high-fived each other as the room went dark.

“Did we cause a power outage?” I joked.

“This game did use a lot of lights,” she pointed out.

“That’s true. Hold my hand. I think I can get us to the door.”


I led us back to the door. We only managed to step on each other twice, so I count that as a success in my book. The door opened automatically to a lit hallway.

“Must’ve had an outage in just that room,” I commented.

“I think so,” Sari agreed. “Hey, weren’t the air vents toward the bottom?”

I looked around the hallway for any differences. “Yeah, I don’t remember. I had the same feeling the air vents were in a different place after one of the challenges I did earlier, but I shrugged it off.”


After a moment of silence of Sari staring at a vent, I told her I would look for more challenge rooms. I went down a hallway while Sari kept staring. After two turns, I found the same tube puzzle Flint first found. Since I knew what to expect, I worked fast to connect the tubes to allow the green ooze to flow to the other end. When linked together, a screen covered the puzzle with $100 written on it.

I did a victory dance, but my celebration was interrupted by a scream. I bolted to the source to find Alyssa – still alive – against a hallway wall holding a hand over her chest on her red jumpsuit. 

“Are you okay?” I asked as I jogged up to her.

“Yeah, I thought I saw something in the vents,” she explained.

I looked at the vent in front of her. “Nothing now.”

“Yeah, I think I’m just hungry,” she consented. “You think dinner is ready?”

“We can go look,” I reassured her.

We made our way to the dining hall together. Along the way, we talked about the challenges we faced. I also told her about how I believed the rooms were moving.

“Okay, so it isn’t just me,” Alyssa said, relieved. “I thought I was going crazy the first time I thought the path was different.”

“Me too,” I said without any enthusiasm. My mind got hung up on another topic I wanted to asked Alyssa now. “So, about Kate. Do you think she was really dead? Like it wasn’t a fake body?”

Alyssa was quiet for what felt like an eternity. “It looked so real, but at the same time, they’ve put a lot of effort into this show, so maybe it was all fake.”

“They didn’t give us time to inspect things,” I mentioned.

“True. Kate could’ve been in on the whole thing too.”

We turned the corner and ended up in the dining hall.

“I wasn’t expecting to get here until a few more turns,” I remarked.

Alyssa playfully punched me on the shoulder. “Don’t mess with me.”

We opened our respective dumbwaiters to find dinner ready. We sat and talked about our favorite movies. Flint was the first to join us, followed by Sari and Jake. Thankfully, a friendly message from Raven came instead of a surprise challenge that concluded our dinner time.

“Please return to your rooms when finished,” Raven kindly directed. “Get some rest as you’ll have a busy day tomorrow.”

One by one, we went back to our rooms. When I went to my room, all alternative routes were closed. Once inside, the door automatically locked behind me. I turned on the TV. The producers returned Internet access, so I watched some movies until I got tired and retired to my bed. 

I woke up at my usual time, and the door was already open. Although I was still in my sweatpants and t-shirt, I popped my head out. The hallway lights were dim, and the producers opened all the doors. I jumped in the shower, put on some fresh clothes, my spacesuit, and went to the dining hall. 

“Good morning,” I greeted as I stepped inside.

Alyssa, Flint, and Jake looked up and glared at me.

“You look awfully fresh,” Jake accused.

“What?” I muttered, taken back by the harsh comment. “Why would you say–”

My eyes noticed Sari’s body with her head cut off. I covered my mouth. I could feel the room getting smaller as everyone stared at me. I wanted to vomit.

Alyssa crossed her arms. “You were the last one to arrive last time.”

A flashing red light filled the dining hall.

“Everyone return to your rooms,” Raven ordered over the intercoms. “Return to your rooms.”

Without hesitation or having Raven repeat herself a third time, we all walked back to our rooms. When I got back to mine, Raven was already on the TV. The doors closed.

“Maro was not the killer,” she informed. “Now Sari is dead. Vote to eliminate the right person this time if you want to leave this ship alive.”

A 12-minute countdown clock replaced the feed of Raven.

“What the fuck,” I blurted out to the camera. “Does everyone think I did it now? Fuck. Who could it be?”

I sat there, contemplating my choices. I reevaluated who could be the most desperate for the money, but nothing new came to light. Then I started to think about who could physically be able to cut off someone’s head. 

“It has to be Jake. He’s the strongest. He could do it.” I typed in his name. “I hope he didn’t convince everyone else it was me.”

The timer disappeared. This time, my door opened immediately with three faceless people in bright orange hazmat suits. 

“You have been eliminated,” one of them ordered through a voice box, confirming my fear. “Come with us.”

I got up, and they led me to the airlock room where they left me. About a minute later, the rest of the crew came into the room to witness me go. I tried to scream that I was innocent, but I knew no one couldn’t hear me. The room filled up with smoke, and I felt two pairs of hands guide me out of the room. 

The smoke cleared away, bringing me behind the film stage. The two guiding hazmat personnel left me in front of a cheap folding table with a box of my belongings, minus my original clothes, and a check of my earnings. Before I could ask any questions, they left through a metal door. I followed the series of arrows out of the building. I tried to get back inside, but they locked the doors.

I waited around for a few minutes, expecting Raven or one of the other producers to debrief me or do some final on-camera interview, but no one came. I walked back to my apartment. If it weren’t for the pandemic, I would’ve called a friend or a Lyft. I had been inside so long I kind of forgot what the sun and wind felt like, so I embraced the walk. Surprisingly, I didn’t get any attention for my outfit, or at least none that I realized. 

When I got home, I called my friends and family and told them about the show. They all had a good laugh. Everyone believed that the deaths were fake. I didn’t disagree with them as I leaned toward the same opinion when I was on the ship. I asked everyone to keep an eye out for the show because I was curious about the outcome.

About a week later, I landed a new job. I searched online for the other contestants, but I couldn’t find any details about anyone. I contacted practically every tattoo shop in the area, thinking someone would know Maro, but no luck. Did he lie about his profession? Was he an actor? Or maybe he lived out of state? I guess I didn’t have enough information about anyone to be able to track them down. 

Months later, nothing new surfaced. I still haven’t heard from the show’s producers or any of my crewmates. Now, I’m sharing my story online with you. Does anyone know anything about this show?

A Killer Among the Spaceship Game Show - art by Henry Yusman at Design Pickle

Thank you for your patience with this story! I meant to have part one out a week earlier, but as you can read, this story became my longest yet this year and it’s only part one! I had to set the scene, figure out the characters, and the whole process required more time.

When I published part one, I posted on my social media asking people who Alex should eliminate. It was a tie between Maro and Alyssa, so I broke it and eliminated Maro in part two, which I published on October 17. 2020.

This story was inspired by a writing prompt about a reality show where the crew abandoned them, the Among Us video game, and r/nosleep. (In a divergence from the prompt, the crew is very much involved with the show.) I also thought it would be fun to have people vote on who should be eliminated, doing a mini-series for October. I ended up concluding it by having Alex eliminated in the second round.

Thank you to Henry Yusman for bringing the murder scene to life!

Thank you for following this story!

Adventure Granted - art by Bienvenido Julian at Design Pickle

Adventure Granted

Be careful mocking eccentric small business owners, asking them for an adventure because you might find yourself on an alien planet. 

Waking up in this battleground wasteland was payback. Rafael Vásquez was sure of it. His parents were small business owners themselves, and he knew better than to ridicule others. He was better than that. He regretted making fun of that eccentric couple and their boutique selling “personalities.” He thought their business was a joke or some crazy immersive art installation. The place did look the part with its floor-to-ceiling assortment of drawers, all labeled and allegedly filled with personality traits. At the time, he told himself he was “just playing around,” but now accepted that his attitude must’ve come across as mocking when he requested they give him an adventure instead.

Rafael went to bed like usual only to wake up on his blanket and pillow in a crater filled with corpses of green lizard people in military gear. He was no expert on alien lizard biology by all accounts, but judging from the bodies’ rot, they had been dead for a long time.

After spending the first half-hour pinching himself to wake up, screaming for help, and begging to be returned home, Rafael settled to a state of acceptance. An adventure was what they must’ve given me, he thought. I’m not sure why my clothes are different and why they didn’t bother to give me my shoes.

With no answers, he wandered about the graveyard. He knew he wouldn’t get far in his socks, so he took a pair of boots from a corpse. He then pilfered a golden sword and what he interrupted as an automatic assault rifle from someone who looked important because of their uniform’s cleanliness and intricateness.

“I wouldn’t normally steal from the dead, but I’m just trying to survive, so I hope you will forgive me,” Rafael apologized as he equipped himself. “Man, I wish you could tell me where I’m at.”

The alien landscape reminded him of some photos he’d seen of Mars but mixed with New Mexico’s desert that he’d experienced with his older brother and cousins during a road trip to visit family. A few hours passed, and all was silent until three white lights whizzed past above him. They looked like drones to Rafael as they spun a circle around them, flashed gold, and proceed to fly north. With no better leads, he chased after them.

Thanks to the flat red clay valley and the casual cruising speed of the lights, they were easy for him to follow. The lights came to a stop when they arrived at a patch of land unobtrusive by bodies or nature. The lights spread out, singling for a landing spot for the spacecraft above. To Rafael, it looked like a house-size flying limo. The ship had a few significant scratches against its shiny black paint, but they only gave it a sexy rebel battle scar vibe. Along the side near the front were neon blue digital letters in an unrecognizable language until he blinked. They transformed into English to read Starbringer II.

The side doors began to slide open. Rafael pointed his rifle at them, but then he had a thought. Maybe they’re here in peace? After all, if they wanted me dead, they probably could’ve killed me from their ship. Rafael returned his gun to his holster.

The ship’s ramp extended out, letting off three people. Taking command of the center was a six-foot-tall humanoid lizard with sapphire, red skin. There was something about her that gave Rafael the impression she was a slick, badass rebel with a gentle heart. She sported black jeans and a black leather jacket with a neon blue backlight like a rebel, but then she also wore a black t-shirt with a drawing of a calm white tree with flowery branches.

To her left was a seven-foot-tall minotaur with red bull fur and muscles that could crash kegs with a glance. Numerous pockets adorned his outfit, from his brown camo cargo pants to his matching brown shirt. Then to the woman’s right was a flying metallic silver sphere the size of three basketballs with four mechanical arms surrounding it.

The lizard woman pointed her pistol up, flipping it to its side, showing she was didn’t want to fight. She spoke to Rafael. 

“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand you,” Rafael replied. 

The woman sighed. She turned to the robot and issued a request. The robot beeped, pulled out a wristband from a compartment inside itself, and strapped it around Rafael’s wrist. Rafael was hesitant but didn’t resist. Upon finishing, the white wrist band pricked his skin like a needle.

“Ouch,” Rafael commented.

“There, can you understand me now?” the woman asked with slight annoyance in her tone.

“Yes, I can understand you now. What is this thing?”

“It’s a basic networker,” she explained, dumbfounded that he didn’t know the answer. “How’d you get here, kid?”

“All I know is that I went to sleep in my bed, and I woke up in a crater filled with dead bodies on an alien planet.”

The minotaur huffed. “You expect us to believe that?”

“I swear, I have no idea where I am or how I got here.”

The robot emitted a series of beeps.

“I see,” the woman acknowledged. “What is the name of your homeworld?”


“What!?” the minotaur exclaimed. The robot beeped in confirmation. The minotaur turned to the robot. “What do you mean he’s not lying?”

The woman put the backside of her hand against the minotaur in a gesture to calm him. “You’re a long, long way from home then. My name is Kára. The big lug is Sinas, and the mechanical is Norbit.” 

“I’m Rafael. Could you help me get home?”

“Visiting Earth is highly restricted, but I might know someone who can smuggle you in.”


“But it won’t be easy, and it sure won’t be cheap,” Kára finished. “We could use someone in our crew to do miscellaneous errands, you know, earn your way back home.”

“I’ll do whatever you need me to do,” Rafael offered.

“Good. How about you start by handing over that sword you got. The family commissioned me to retrieve it.”

Without wavering, Rafael turned the sword over. “Here. It’s yours.”

“Thank you. I hope you’re an adventurous sort, Rafael, cause that’s what’s in store for you as part of my crew.”

Adventure Granted - art by Bienvenido Julian at Design Pickle

This week’s short story was brought to you today by the following writing prompt: “You lay your head down to sleep, only to wake as the sole survivor of a horrific battle of some kind. Blasted earth and wreckage are all that surround you. You walk through this silent graveyard towards eerie lights in the sky.”

I thought it would be fun to callback The Little Shop of Personalities with another character having a different reaction to the shop. I was initially stumped on how to end it though. Did I want Rafael to get home or not? No, because he wanted an adventure of a lifetime so I turned his tale into his origin story for joining Starbringer II, which is from an audio drama podcast series I’m developing. Don’t forget, you can find other stories I’ve written about characters and places in the page tags.

Thank you to Bien Julian at Design Pickle for bringing this scene to life!

That’s all for this week! Be careful what you wish for now.

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