#AtoZChallenge: Grayscale

He walked along the ashen road. It was always the same road. Lined with tall, drooping trees that had leaves the color of tar and slate-colored trunks. It was a narrow road, winding, and without end. At least, it felt that way sometimes. He had been walking the road every morning and every night, in search of a new life that he might never find.

Glass, steel and cement. Those were the components of her prison. She sat in the same chair and her fingers tapped away on that same silvery keyboard every day, its keys streaked with grease. A wide window yawned in front of her, affording her a panoramic view, but it was little consolation. All she had to look at was more of the same. Glass, steel and cement.

It was a city full of strangers, huddled together yet isolated. They shambled between home and office, from one square building to the next. illuminated by the rays of the pale morning sun but devoid of any warmth. Once, it had been known as a city of dreams, but the only dream anyone had anymore was to not die alone.

He walked into the city, feeling his neck grow stiff as he stared up at the towers looming above him. They dotted the skyline, reaching for the heavens with no sign of gods. Many roads spread out in front of him, winding and crossing over each other. He kept walking, as he had always done.

She tapped keys with mechanical precision, bathed in the glow of the screen in front of her. It was her sole companion on long days, her friend and her family, staring at her in silence as the world danced across its face in a mess of words and images. She looked out the window to ease the strain on her tired eyes. It was the same view of sprawling skyscrapers. But something was different.

He approached an intersection and looked up at the shining tower in front of him. It was identical to the others with its glassy exterior and angular design. But there was something different about it.

Somewhere on the path between heaven and earth, their eyes met. In her eyes he saw the ocean, a roiling sheet of blue and green. In his, she saw the desert, golden brown and stretching into eternity.

His lips curled into a smile. She put her hand on the glass, as if to catch the rays of sunlight filtering through. It felt warm.

A to Z Challenge: Soap

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This is the story of Sybil St. Clair, heiress to the vast St. Clair publishing fortune. Her father, Gerard St. Clair, is the owner of several newspapers, magazines, two new channels and a website. Her mother, Virgina St. Clair, passed away when Sybil was a young girl. A despondent Gerard threw himself into his work to cope with his loss, leaving Sybil to be raised by their family butler Clarence and housekeeper Mrs. Finchley.

On the eve of Sybil’s 15th birthday, Gerard met a beautiful young woman named Tabitha. Within months, they were married, and Tabitha, who wasn’t really the maternal type, begrudgingly accepted Sybil as her stepdaughter. Whatever helped her hold onto Gerard’s fortune.

Sybil kept a distance between herself and her stepmother while yearning to be closer to her father. But, she also had to navigate adolescence and school life at the Frampton Academy with her two best friends, Allison Davenport and Deirdre Holliday. Plus, there was her unrequited crush on Kyle Barlow, future inheritor of Barlow Hotel Group. Sybil had fawned over him for almost five years now, but in spite of some nudging from her friends, she never said anything to him. And perhaps she wouldn’t get her chance, thanks to the arrival of the new exchange student from Switzerland, Gretchen Friedman.

Gretchen wasted no time in climbing the teenage social ladder to become the most popular girl in school. And of course, she dug her claws deep into Kyle’s heart, so that Sybil became nothing more than a shadow to him.

Tabitha, meanwhile, was growing increasingly impatient. Along with her brother Talbot, she agonized over the fastest way to take over Gerard’s media empire. A skiing accident? A poisoning at a charity benefit? Perhaps a boring old home invasion? She knew she had to think of something fast. Sybil was becoming a woman, after all. At last, Tabitha formed a plan. A car crash. Simple, but so very effective.

And so it came to pass. Gerard St. Clair was involved in a fatal car crash. Sybil’s entire life was upended. Clarence and Mrs. Finchley did what they could to console her, but it was no use. Tabitha put on the guise of the dutiful widow. Gerard’s funeral was attended by hundreds, from extended to family to friends to old business associates. And there was another unexpected guest. Gerard’s estranged twin brother, Jerome.

It had been twenty years since Gerard and Jerome had last spoken, yet there he was, paying respects to his dead brother. That wasn’t the only reason, of course. He wanted his share of his brother’s inheritance. And more…

Who will win in a clash between Jerome and Tabitha? Will Sybil ever tell Kyle how she feels, or will she lose him to Gretchen forever? Will Deirdre ever solve the mystery of her haunted mansion? Will Clarence be rescued from his alien abductors?

Stay tuned to find out!

WEP Valentine’s Challenge: Forever

Yolanda and Renee of Write, Edit, Publish have put forth their first writing challenge for this year, based around Valentine’s Day. The challenge is to write a fiction or non-fiction piece in 1000 words or less. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.


 

John couldn’t believe it was Valentine’s Day already. How time flew.

It was one of the most important days of his life. The day when he and Marnie had decided to take the next step in their relationship.

John adjusted his hat and walked along the same street where he had taken so many moonlit strolls over the years, hand in hand with Marnie. He smiled. The city had changed so much over the years, but it was still beautiful at night, pulsing with life and vitality. The both of them had had many wild nights together, painting the town red.

They were inseparable, always with their arms around each other. Her sing song laughter echoed in the evening air, replaced by ecstatic moans as the night went on. His thick, stubby fingers would comb through her dark tresses, caress her pearlescent skin, trace the contours of her sanguine lips. She in turn would let her spidery fingers roam over his rough form, from his scruffy brown hair to the slight bulge of his gut. The passion they shared could scorch the world, but that wasn’t all that they had.

Marnie was one of the few people, perhaps the only one, that truly understood John. The both of them could spend hours engaged in the most idle conversation, or simply watching the world go by in complete silence. They were content to simply exist together, two bodies and minds joined as one.

John’s footsteps grew a little heavier as he walked away from the city, towards the small hill that lay on its outskirts. He paused before the iron gates at the foot of the hill and took out a small package from his coat’s inner pocket. He opened the package carefully, removing the wrappings to reveal a single, blood-red rose. With a sigh, John walked through the gates.

He hadn’t expected his romance with Marnie to end as abruptly as it had. Though perhaps he should have. They had become too reckless, drawn too much attention to themselves. With the number of people that had gone missing in the wake of their nightly escapades, it was only a matter of time before a hunter showed up in town. John and Marnie hadn’t been concerned. They thought they could handle things. But they were wrong. The hunter was cleverer than they had anticipated. He laid the perfect trap, and they fell for it.

John knelt down and placed the rose on top of an unmarked gravestone. Marnie had made the ultimate sacrifice so that John could escape. This was where she rested now, though he wondered if she’d found any peace. He patted the stone and started to walk away. All good things came to an end, he thought.

His jaw clenched.

But this wasn’t supposed to.

John walked out of the cemetery and back to the city, running a finger along the bite marks on his neck, still as fresh as they were 150 years ago. Eternity was too long a time to be spent alone.

Word Count: 509

Story A Day Challenge – Day 20: Saying Goodbye

This prompt was about stepping out of your comfort zone and writing in a completely different genre. Mission accomplished! Never again…

Lydia whistled in appreciation as Callum walked into the room.

“What’s up, good lookin’? You are one sharp soldier.”

Callum grinned, adjusting his uniform. It fit snugly over his lean but taut frame. He was a good-looking young man, the kind that often attracted a wandering eye. But he only had eyes for one.  “Why thank you, ma’am.”

Lydia leaned against the door frame seductively, a sly smile on her face. “You planning to kill the bad guys or make them swoon?”

“Maybe a bit of both.” Callum winked.

“Knock ’em dead, tiger.” Lydia’s cherubic face broke into a grin. She walked over to Callum, who pulled her into a long, loving kiss.

“That’s the idea,” Callum said, pulling back from the kiss, and went to pick up his bag.

“Don’t go,” Lydia whispered.

Callum stopped. “What?”

Lydia cleared her throat loudly, using it as an excuse to quickly wipe the tears that were threatening to spill forth from her dark, almond-shaped eyes.

“I said…I’m proud of you, honey.”

Callum smiled. He embraced Lydia and kissed her again, lingering against her lips for a few moments, then walked out to the car.

Lydia watched him drive off, no longer able to control her tears. She didn’t know if he would come back. She hoped this wasn’t their last goodbye. The ring on her finger sparkled in the dawning sunlight, like her glistening cheeks.