I Have Come To Free You

Written by Atticus Payne


“My child, my child, I am so sorry.” A voice echoed from a cluster of white and gold mist as it rushed in, somehow still managing to look like it was tripping over itself. Sagging, too, like it’d taken all of its strength just to get here. But that couldn’t be true: people never spent energy getting here. They did, however, burn out by trying to leave.

I looked up, gesturing with my shackled wrists to show the plastic chains. I’d spent countless nights trying to speak, but couldn’t. And that’d only been after I’d known the truth of the Prison.

Still, the mist rolled closer, now darting left and right, looking over me. I let it. I had no idea what it’d see, anyway. The Prison was blinding.

“Oh, my poor child. I am so sorry. For years, I’ve been questing to find a way in. And a way out for you, after that.” Then it froze and gasped upon noticing my arms and neck. I knew it had no idea what to say because no one ever did. Neither did I, really. Arms hadn’t been made to bear that many scars, all in varying stages of healing, most grossly infected.

There was a flash, and the chains were gone. Impossible.

My tongue loosened. “Who are you?”

The mist had a form and a face now, of endless beauty. It was kind, and warm, with quiet, slanted eyes, and a set mouth. It felt safe.

It shook its head. “I am Death, child. I’m sorry I took so long. We must leave; I have come to free you from Life.” It smiled, easily, reaching out a hand.

I gladly took it.

Might This Make Sense?

Written by Tabalith


What am I to you?
Not that!

What for me are you –
Oh, crackling mirror of truth

As the winter sun is to ice
My throat melts tasting your eyes

And never! have you touched my thin skin
Stretching like marble flavored gum 

I do not bleed yet in the mirror, so
Bite me open until I bleed and then!

Cut into my chest your red name
I swear, mine has always been the same

My pumping lips shout out, still
The syllables dancing on my breasts

Your blue spice
Your blue spice

Your eyes meet mine and long
For the mirror’s sparkling dots

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

Written by Erin Nust


She had begun gaining her consciousness. The previous hit had sent her sprawling onto the marble floor and knocked her out instantly. The first feeling when she opened her eyes was the one people have after napping in the middle of the day. For a moment, Kellie forgot where she was, but the thick, impenetrable darkness around her reminded her. The room’s temperature had fallen close to zero and her heart raced in her chest. Too frightened to move, she remained lying on the floor in a ball, trembling on the freezing marble surface. Kellie Kalmar was waiting for the next hit and a hunch in her promised it would be a strong one.

A bright spotlight turned on and broke the blackness of the room. Her eyes were instinctively drawn to it, like a moth drawn to fire, but it hurt her head. Kellie saw a full body mirror with its glass reflecting the poor image of her on the floor. Something called her towards it, an urge too strong to fight with her common sense, which was screaming to get out of the house. She stood gingerly and walked towards the mirror, pausing at the sight of her reflection. The urge commanded her to pull up her light blue sweater and reveal her snow-white skin. Purple marks dotted her stomach, all in different shapes and sizes. Terrified, she looked down and realized the bruises were only reflected in the mirror: in reality, her skin was clear white. Seconds later, just before the chilling atmosphere crawled into her skin, purple marks peppered on her belly at the same spots her reflection did.

Panic rushed through her. She thought she had left of the past and her marks behind. There were not much she could do as a child, she answered, the few times she decided to reveal her most traumatic past to a friend. She could only endure the pain and live by the rules someone else made for her. When someone asked her why she never reacts when people treated her degradingly (like Professor Trevor did when he decided to expose her bad essay as an example of bad writing in the whole class), she answered there was not much she could do but to live by the rules the world made for her.    

Kellie let the sweater down immediately and drew a step back. The only thing audible was the crescent rhythm of her breath. The spotlight turned off, as though the house could read her inner thoughts and grant her wish to disappear into the darkness. It didn’t last long. Seconds later the light turned on again. Kellie’s mouth was half-open. She moved her hand, waved to the mirror just to check what the new reflection would do. The little girl with ribbons in her hair did the same things. Her left hand was raised and then she waved back. As time went by, she realized that the girl looked familiar. She reminded of herself when she was a child-

She didn’t manage to follow the conclusion in her head when the spotlight turned off and on again, but instead of the cold white light, the dark room was illuminated with a red one. A gasp of agony came out of Kellie’s mouth when the image in the mirror showed the shape of a strong woman’s body, with messy curly hair and a wide forehead. The cold, angry eyes were nailed on hers and it was only then that she wanted to run, to run as fast as possible and save herself from this nightmare. But she was paralysed.

“Don’t ever dare to talk to me like that again! You stupid kid! I’m your mother! Don’t ever forget that.” The voice of the reflection seemed so real that Kellie covered her mouth to swallow her own scream. The woman in the mirror grinned at her, a grin crooked and wicked that fit perfectly on the face of a demon.

“Kellie, how many times have I told you to clean up your bloody room?” Sounds of wooden furniture moving against each other, glass objects crashing and human hands striking another body surrounded Kellie. It was like she was watching a movie and she was standing in the middle of the act.

“Come here, Kellie! I’m not finished with you yet!”

A well-shaped, muscled arm came out of the mirror, like the reflection of her mother was striving to get out of her entrapment and jump into her reality to catch her. The previous stifled sounds crescendoed into a scream that filled the room and echoed back from the invisible walls of the house. She didn’t have many options. She had been inactive human flesh, welcoming hits and punches.

(much like when you were a little girl with ribbons in her hair isn’t it, Kellie?)

Images bombarded her, flashes that played tricks with her mentality. She wasn’t even sure why she was going through this nightmare. Visiting the mansion was a joke she simply made with her friends, a bet she had to pay for not being brave enough to tell them she was scared. Now it had turned into a self-torture game. And it had to be over.

She took another step back and ran towards the mirror, driving her left shoulder into the fleshed-out arm. Shattering pieces of glass impaled her skin, oozing blood while the fleshed arm shaped a fist and tried to hit her. She grabbed it and used all of her power to break it. The vanishing screams of the demon filled her ears while she grabbed the body of the mirror and dropped it onto the floor, breaking every piece of glass that remained on its surface.

The red light faded and the room sank into darkness again. Kellie’s breast was heaving. She stood in the middle of the room, lost in the blank waiting for another punch to hit her over. Only this time she was ready to fight.         

facing recovery

Written by Gabriella Troy


if i thought i could recover
maybe 
i would try. 
but my mind, 
it’s a funny thing:
it doesn’t know my body.
it doesn’t listen.
it likes to fight
and hurt and crush
my personality into
ash so i am free
no longer to burn, black.
black, black, monsters
crowd my mind.
my mind suffers
an alien invasion 
and my limbs submit
to the whims of a puppeteer;
i have lost control and
i have lost myself.
i am neither a mind
nor a body,
just a chaos of pain 
and doubt and defeat
because i have rejected
myself.
if i thought i could recover,
maybe
i wouldn’t want to
maybe
fear would feed my monsters
maybe

i need someone to collect my ashes

maybe

i’ll just be

for now.

Consequences

Written by Erin Nust


The idea which wandered in his mind and tortured him day and night was that he had to face every single one of them under a new light. What was more, he had just been burdened by accusations for her death and that made his guilt even more unbearable.

Although one might believe that his daily routine would probably change, the truth is none of the things he did while Janet was still alive ceased their flow. He woke up at the same time (7:30 in the morning), he washed his teeth, and he drank his coffee by the window. The difference was that there was no one to keep him out from the toilet or the kitchen where she made breakfast. Since she was gone, breakfast was just a luxury to him and he skipped it. Then, he had to do the hardest thing for the day: go to his office, sit down, and write.

Writer’s block hit him harder after his wife’s death (death, you make it sound like it was something natural, like something that would happen anyway) and going to the office and actually sitting on his comfy red chair was literally harder than breaking an egg without dropping any shells. He decided to go out that day and skip the writing session, as he did with his breakfast. What’s the point in trying anyway, nothing good will come out of it.

He put on his black coat and he took Apple Street. It was his favourite route because it was a small road, all covered with grey stones and a pavement which was stacked with, as the name pointed out, apple trees. Now that the summer was fading out and September took over, the leaves had already started to lose their green brightness. He anticipated the October weather when they fall off and the red colour of the apples pops out in the midst of naked branches. Following that road, he would end up in Greystone, the main street in North Crennal that was always busy but never in the kind of car jam that happens in the centre of Astus. Moving here was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. And it wasn’t even my idea.

He walked along the street until he reached the crossing. He pushed the button and in seconds, the light turned green. A happy green man that paced appeared. George passed Greystone and took the second alley to his left hand. A big label appeared that exhibited the brand of the local bakery shop, CRENNAL’S BREAD AND TOFFEE. He entered and the smell of hot bread and the cookies made his empty stomach rumble. George cursed himself for not having breakfast.

“Good morning,” he said and smiled at the little fat guy (George tried to remember his name. Leo or Louis, he wasn’t sure). The baker smiled until he realized the man standing in front of him was George Frazer. He didn’t reply.

“Two loaves of bread and a box of these wonderful cookies, please,” he said and stood witnessing Leo or Louis moving in curt ways and staring at George impolitely. Of course, they do, they all know who I am, what I did. The smile disappeared from his face, adapting to the situation.

The man outstretched his arm to give George the bread and the box and he looked at him coldly. “Two forty.” His voice was that of the executioner.

George put his free hand to his right pocket and fiddled in clanking coins until he felt the right ones. “Thank you.”

“She was a good woman, your wife,” the man said when George reached the back of the store. “Why’d you do something like that to her?”

George turned around and looked at the man, glad that he had the chance to explain to someone. Even convicts had the right to one last wish.

“I didn’t know, I would cause such harm, mister. Things were completely out of hand lately and…” he didn’t know what else to say. How could he explain the situation in his marriage, in his house to a stranger? He couldn’t, so he decided to spill the raw truth to him. “I’m sorry, for everything that happened.”

He liked the small, fat man–even now. Before his nightmare would begin, he used to welcome him with a friendly smile and he always offered a cookie or two just because. Now things didn’t work that way.

“Sorry is not enough most of the time,” he said with a tone of wisdom and George knew he was right.

He decided he had enough interaction with the world outside and he took the route back home. Suddenly, the idea of sitting behind his blank page was not so terrifying. On his way back he noticed nature around him and he firmly believed that even the apple trees treated him differently. He imagined how they turned their backs on him, how from beautiful and welcoming they became terrifying and apathetic.

A couple of women started chatting when they saw him passing by the road and George lowered his head. He knew these women. It wasn’t much time ago that the one with the brown coat called him and Janet on her birthday. It seemed like he deserved the good behaviour and the warmth of his neighbours as long as he had Janet by his side. Gone, and the smiles were gone with her. Is this really who I am now? Or was I this man all along but Janet made me better?

A cold breeze made his eyes wet and he rushed to find his keys and enter his home. In his solitude, he could define better who he was and who he wasn’t. When he put his foot in the house, an idea electrocuted him and made him stop. It was as if a Muse was waiting for him by the door and hit him with an idea at the moment he entered like a homeowner would do to a burglar.

He put the bread on the table, grabbed his coffee and the box of cookies, and rushed into his office. He opened a blank file and typed like crazy. He would write a story inspired by his life. It was a story about a writer that had an affair with a woman twenty-five years younger than him. His wife had depression and clawed to their relationship when she caught him with that younger woman, she fell off a cliff near their district.  He was left to face the consequences and himself.

NotDemon

Written by Callan Latham


I see them, their mouths open. 
They’re on the prong of a fork, teeth jagged 

like glass. I keep them in the mudroom 
at the tip of my tongue, spew them out 

with new clothes and a good hat. They prepare 
breakfast between 10am and the shadows.

I color them pink and orange and sometimes 
yellow to fit the new tulips on the side of the road. 

They unfold like the softness around an egg, 
then boiled to hardness to mimic the shell. 

I reach into me and I’ve seen the cut, 
pressing velvet onto my fingers like a gag 

to keep them all quiet. I see them in jars. 
They are translucent, wishing on my skin 

like dandelion whiskers, infinitely dead. 
I gather my pain from the eclipse 

in the ground, slicing open
a rebirth never again repeated. 

Time Traveler

Written by Nikki P.


one wish granted:
go back to the days of happiness,
any time of Your choosing,
only if you finish your task.
one request given:
save the Girl 
before Her soul is snatched; 
stop Her from falling into a life of misery;
find her last moment of happiness,
the last time her mouth curves up into a smile;
hurry up, the clock is moving fast.
one chance is offered:
to help get Her life back
before She gives up
remind Her of the memories,
that kept her on the ground,
before they vanish.
end Her pain before She does
there’s a possibility that:
she can get out of this;
You can get out of this
bring Yourself back 
one wish fulfilled

Signal Search

Written by Trini Rogando


text from Sprint, says the 
number you are trying to text is 
out of service, says the person 
you are trying to reach didn’t 
bother to keep in touch. 
though: it’s not as if you 
expected anything different, 
though: you once cut open your 
lungs to bleed their oxygen. 
still, you can’t help but think 
it was intentional; their finger-
tips turned gossamer still 
burn like bruises, swallowing 
time & distance in seconds.

remember: longing is a 
one-sided exchange.

it is as if your skin was branded 
as a missing poster, shedding 
whispers of words in the sun.
as if your soul was a collection of 
lost people that left without goodbye—
lost people that think a
text from Sprint is better
than a text from nobody;
that being disconnected
still means being alive;
that being alive can still happen 
while part of you is gone.

In the Light

Written by Nishi Nandineni


I’ve gotten used to it—the screaming, the heart-wrenching pleas.

I’ve begun to ignore it; like I was told to do. 

But that doesn’t help the ringing in my ears, the hollow feeling in my chest at every sound—at every sight. 

I don’t feel pity. Nor do I feel any sympathy.
But I do feel something else. 

Something… hurtful. Hurtful to me. There’s a certain hesitance now before they scream. A certain hesitance that comes with a gulp down my throat, and a bead of sweat down my forehead. 

I’m not sure what to call it. A moral compass, maybe, but it isn’t as if I stop. 

It’s a hesitation. 

That’s all. 

I simply watch them–their pain, their desperation. It doesn’t make me feel good or proud. At least not like it used to. 

I felt as if I was simply obligated, forced. 

I felt… wrong. Guilty. 

I didn’t know how to describe it. I’m not sure if I even can describe it.

It was an odd emotion. Complicated. 

I just felt as if I was on two sides–my thoughts on one and my actions on the other. 

My body, in the wrong, my mind in the right. 

My body, in the dark, but my mind…

My mind was in the light.

an old letter to october

Written by J.M. Chadwick


good morning 
october,

when i sought out to greet you in the dawn, 
i jumped on top of the morning moon,
hit my head on the jagged edge of a fading star, 
and fell asleep. that’s why you never heard from me.
after i awoke, tear soaked, i ran across the ceiling 
and soaked in the sun spotlight of the upside-down windows.
desperate for life and angry with philosophy,
i decided to dance in the kitchen,
i practically absorbed the floorboards,
(all full of cracks and cobwebs)
but i think maybe my left feet went right.
i thought of you, so i banished myself outside 
and crunched some leaves–leaving wiry autumnal skeletons behind.
october, today i am upset 
that i will never see every single song i know 
sung live in person.
and because i don’t know how to play the violin, 
i bawled to my bed and she told me to be quiet already–you would never say that to me.
my mom put a pumpkin on my porch.
i tapped on it and it sounded empty, but i guess that wouldn’t make sense.
so, i went back into my haunted american dream house
and drew shooting stars on my hands 
(i suppose that is something only august would remember)
but then i cleaned my leather shoes 
and stared at my yellow-eyed cat.
i’m not sure he likes me much.

i am so within and without you, october.

maybe you can help me piece myself together.

all my love, 
talk soon.