Original Works

Rebirth [12 Genre Months]

Once upon a time—a story always begins. The same four words that captures a child’s curiosity upon utterance—the opening to many stories, folklore, and legends. Alas, there was one beginning that commenced differently. It was a beginning that came forth once every five-hundred years—a beginning that repeated itself over, and over, and over again. For upon its very first once upon a time, there would never be an end—a fictional happily ever after that ceased to exist.

I was twelve-years-young when my mother told me the story. It began as a tale of a great adventure, where the hero traversed the golden dunes in the North Desert in search of the Fountain of Youth. It was said that beneath the great sea of sand was a cave—one that would rise above the earth when a mortal, worthy of its gift, should stumble upon it. And, like every other story, the hero had been worthy since birth. Still, it took the hero thirty-seven years to face his destiny—he had just turned sixty when he uncovered his calling.

It was a fateful evening when the ground shuddered and groaned. A rocky chamber emerged before the hero’s aging eyes, striking him in wonder and awe. It’s iron-grey accents, disparate to the surrounding topography, revealed a winding hollow that descended into the earth. And, the hero had no reservations. He strode into the mouth of the colossal chamber, leaving the world at the foot of the cave.

As the uneven and slippery path led him into the abyss, the hero soon found himself out of light’s reach. But in that darkness, where the hero thought of assembling a torch, he heard a disembodied voice—it asked a simple question with a deep resonance that reverberated through his bones.

“What do you seek?” The ghostly echoes of the question sent a shiver down his spine.

‘What do I seek?’ the hero thought to himself. The answer was easy. The hero had long sought for one thing and one thing alone—it was the reason for his quest, and it was the very thing the cave was said to offer. So the hero replied, “I seek what you promised.”

Just as the hero uttered those words, the cave trembled. And almost immediately, the hero hesitated—should he stay or should he run for his life? Then realising how he had wasted many years for that very moment, the hero stood his ground. And at the resolution, the trembling ceased.

Silence and darkness reigned. A nothingness prolonged—seemingly perpetual to warrant a response. But before a word left the hero’s lips, a faint light flickered in the hollow up ahead. It drew nearer and nearer, until the hero could see its very form—a ball of light akin to the sun.

Again, the hero was uncertain—should he embrace the fiery orb or step out of its way? Was it the gift he had longed for or a curse of death? The hero chose to remain. And as he closed his eyes in expectation of the magical light, the hero felt a warm sensation entering his chest. The comforting heat extended to every inch of his body. Then, it dissipated—its heat lifting from his being as a cold draft stirred around him. As the gift was dispensed, the voice returned.

“You will live for a thousand years, and a thousand more. Never will you meet death.”

Thus, the end of the story—the closure that every mother offered as she tucked her children to sleep. Alas, that wasn’t the end. I would know, as I went on the same adventure, only to discover that the story never ended there.

Unlike the hero, I wandered a few years short of twenty. I thought myself lucky—having not to spend another night in the soulless desert as a mortal. But as I uttered the words of the hero and embraced the gift, I came upon the part of the story that diverged. Oh, how I had hoped for a warm and comforting sensation in my being. Oh, if only the legend was true. Alas, the gift was a curse.

As soon as the fiery orb nestled in my chest, an eruption of raging heat burst forth. A searing sensation scorched my skin from the inside out. And before my very eyes, ash rose from my being. I thought I was dying—I felt myself die. To my dismay, I was still alive. When the pain eventually ceased, I could no longer feel my body. The only sensation that remained was an unending fire that stirred within.

“You will live for a thousand years, and a thousand more. Never will you meet death,” the voice said.

It was too late then. I would have renounced the gift but I had lost my voice. No longer was I mortal. I had become the sun. And I was destined to grace the skies for all of eternity—to live as a mythical creature that would be reborn in its own ashes over, and over, and over again. Thus… once upon a time, at every quincentenary, my story continues.


12 Genre Months © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

The Winter Raven [12 Genre Months]

Every year, at the arrival of the winter festivities, there came a call for the bravehearts—the warriors of hope, the heroes of peace, and the defenders of faith. A call that was sent to the chosen few—a call that came as a raven, perched on my window sill. Little did I know, being chosen meant that Christmas would never be the same again.

“Mum!” I called from my bedroom. “There’s a bird on my window. And it won’t fly away.”

I was an ordinary nine-year-old, who had just attempted to shoo the feathered creature with a pillow. Alas, it stood stock-still with unwavering determination to accomplish its task.

“What bird?” my mother replied as she strolled in. After a quick glance around the room, she headed to the window to pull it shut. “How many times do I have to tell you to close the window before bed?”

“The bird,” I merely replied.

My mother shook her head as she turned toward me. Believing that she had dealt with the raven, I slipped under the warm comforter—ready to call it a night. Alas, night had only just begun. Once my mother bade goodnight, flicking the lights off as she did, I heard an echo of a deep raspy caw. It sounded almost ghost-like—not of an actual bird. And when I couldn’t ignore it any longer, I sat up and looked at the window.

There it was—on my window sill with an illuminating purple gem between its beaks. It bore no gifts earlier and I hesitated. Was it safe to approach the creature? But as a curious child—who still believed that there was magic in the world—the glowing stone was the perfect bait. Slipping out of my bed, I went to the avian messenger to unknowingly accept my heroes calling.

That night, the cut and polished stone determined my fate. For the next three years of my life—on the fifth of every December—my raven would return. I would take the stone from its beak and glimpse into the chaos of the world—the invisible monsters with life-sucking fangs and soul-crushing claws that sought to destroy the remaining hope of the year. These otherworldly beasts roamed the streets and entered homes in search of unsuspecting victims. And it was my mission to stop them from destroying my slumbering neighbourhood.

Who would have thought that a child could be a hero? I was nine-years-old when I was gifted the light—the radiant and blinding amber of hope that beamed from the palms of my small hands. It was the light that kept my family and friends safe. It was the light that made me the unsung hero. And though it meant that Christmas was when the monsters of my nightmares came to life, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For when I turned thirteen, the messenger went to another child.

At thirteen, I knew that my quest was over. Still, I couldn’t forget. And every night since, I would wonder about the shadows of humanity—was there an eldritch spectre outside my bedroom door? Unfortunately, it was no longer up to me to save the day. Another hero had been chosen—a reality I had accepted until my own child spoke of a bird on a chilly December night.

“Dad!” she called from her bedroom. “There’s a bird on my window. And it won’t fly away.”

“A bird?” I asked as I entered her room. Turning to her opened window, where I saw no avian creature, I frowned. “What bird?”

“There.” She pointed at the vacant space within the window frame. “It’s just… looking at me,” she added.

It had been over twenty years since my own encounter. And I would have shut the window—just like my mother did mine—if not for the strange inkling to keep it open.

“Dad, can you close the window?” she prompted. And therein, I remembered.

“It won’t hurt you,” I said. Crouching by the side of her bed, I continued, “But if it has a stone in its beak, you have to take it.”

“There’s no stone,” she stated.

“Not yet.” I winked.

“Okay. But what does the stone do?”

“It makes you a hero,” I replied. “It’ll make you brave. And even if the monsters scare you, you’ll be strong enough to destroy them.”

“Okay, dad.”

“Goodnight, Hope,” I said.

Flicking her bedroom lights off, I could only wonder if it were all true. I had grown to doubt. Still, I found a hint of belief. And if there was one gift I could offer my child this Christmas, it was to help her uncover the superhero within.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

Circle Of Chalk [12 Genre Months]

‘I was sixteen. I was sold to a brothel after my father’s death. And just when I caught a glimmer of hope—a glimpse of survival—I was framed for murder. If, for a second, you thought that our dystopia had ruined all chances of a meaningful life, think again—all I ever wanted was to escape the gallows.

‘The year was 1259—one thousand, three hundred, and fifty-nine years after the Red Sun grazed our earth. What was once a thriving planet, with expeditions to the moon, had become a wasteland. Our people were forced to start over and our nations returned to their primeval state—to a past where famine and plagues descended upon the poorer folks, where the kings were chosen by the gods, and where my father died a poor man.

‘My father had accumulated creditors over his many years of Wei-Qi—a game he sought to master, in hopes of reclaiming the very wealth he’d wasted from it. Upon his death, I was sent to the House of Red Lanterns to repay his debts. It was the home to unfortunate women who danced in silky crimson dresses, plucked lyrical string instruments, and served sweet tea and cakes to its male guests amongst other unspoken services. It wasn’t a place for a child. But in the midst of its hopelessness, I saw a light. My saviour entered the brothel’s rosewood halls as a tax collector—the man who soon made me his second wife.

‘I knew. I was well aware—I wasn’t saved because of love. I was rescued from a life of prostitution because of my youth. I was young and fertile—I could bear the tax collector’s child, and I did. I gave birth to his one and only son, and became the mother of the heir to his fortune. Alas, that didn’t sit well with his first wife. It was bad news for the lady of the house—bad enough news for her to murder her husband, frame me for his death, and claim my child as her own. And that is why, Judge Bao, I am writing this to you. I need you to save me.’

“Another letter from the portal?” Dominic asked.

“Yes, as though our own universe isn’t filled with enough injustice,” I replied. “This Judge Bao is getting out of hand. Someone over there has made me out to be a hero.”

“Well, you did solve that one case with the butterfly dream,” Dominic said. “You’re quite the Sherlock Holmes.”

“Please, don’t get started with Sherlock Holmes,” I replied as I handed the letter to Dominic.

Standing from my oak desk, I headed to the bookshelf in my private study. Surely, its occupants had the answer to the hapless girl’s case. Perhaps one of the great kings of the past could free her from her inequitable predicament. But just as I retrieved a thick leather-bound book, an idea struck.

“Are you still getting those letters—the Sherlock ones?” Dominic asked. “I thought they stopped.”

I chuckled. “Stop? See that pile over there?” I said, gesturing at a box brimming with unopened envelopes. “They keep coming. Heck, I’d rather be a beekeeper at this point.”

“You’re afraid of bees,” Dominic stated.

“Precisely. Now read that letter and give me some advice, Watson.”

Dominic retreated to an armchair by the lit fireplace. And after a brisk read, he said, “This seems pretty straightforward.”

“Yes, I’m sure. So how do we help her?”

“I have no idea,” Dominic said. “If I did, I’d be you.”

“You’re always of great help,” I said. “Thanks for being here.”

“You’re welcome, Solomon.” Dominic hopped off the armchair. “Better get to replying that poor child. The gallows is a deadly place to be.”

“Yes. Death waits for no man.” I shooed Dominic to the double doors before returning to my desk. Hopefully, with the right instructions, the magistrates on the other side would save yet another soul—hopefully, that would be all from that universe for a while.

‘Dear fellow judges,

‘It has come to my attention that the tax collector’s second wife is being framed for a murder she did not commit. But to say that she is innocent without proper investigation would be a crime. Thus, I have found a solution to unravel the truth.

‘Before the girl is unjustly sentenced, draw a circle of chalk around the heir of the fortune. Then, instruct both the lady of the house and the girl to pull the child out of the circle. Whoever refuses to hurt the child in the process is the true mother of the boy. And though that will not discount the murder, it will reveal the true liar.

‘Best regards, Judge Bao’


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

The Songbird of Andromeda [12 Genre Months]

I had long searched the galaxies for the songbird—the bearer of unparalleled beauty, the heir of unprecedented grace, and the keeper of the songs of the universe. She was known by all men—her transcendental voice echoing from the stars both near and far. Alas, no man has ever laid his eyes on her. And it was my mission to be the first.

Ninety-seven light-years from my planet, I travelled to the brightest star in Andromeda—the navel of the steed, Alpheratz and Sirrah. After a millennium of mapping the constellations, I had found the source of the songs. And if the stories were true, I would find the songbird in its blazing core—her wait for her saviour finally over.

Alpheratz and Sirrah was an incandescent mercury-manganese star. It was a blinding furnace, deathly to the voyagers of the galaxies. But I came prepared—my spacecraft was a creation of Jovian, the Father of the Sky. Upon my arrival at the outer atmosphere, my gifted vessel remained unscathed by the perils of its roaring nature. And it was there that I heard a song. It was called, ‘Epsilon’.

‘Return to me my fifth star, the son of Pegasus. From distances near and far, and across the universe. Remember our promise, the vow we made for us. Remember me my love, oh break heaven’s curse.’

Epsilon—a melody of despair, the story of the songbird’s fate, and a call for salvation. But it was more than a ghostly tune one would hear on the fifth day of each century. Epsilon was the name of her beloved—the fifth son of Pegasus, cursed by the Gods to forget his eld. It was only Epsilon who could free her—only Epsilon who could hear the words that made the music. It was only Epsilon who could find her. Granted, if he could remember.

If he could remember her tender smile, adoring gaze, and loving touch. If he could remember the rise of stars that bowed at her majesty—a shimmering of light upon her celestial being, as they fought for her hand in marriage. If he could remember the moment she chose a lowly and insignificant star—the epoch of their story. If he could remember the promise that they made to never part. Epsilon had to remember.

‘For my heart can no longer bear, the void of this despair. Still with faith, I believe that you are there. Remember dear Epsilon, of how they tore our souls apart. Remember dear Epsilon, the missing piece of my heart.’

Epsilon had to remember the night that the Gods descended—the night that the Gods discovered their vow. Epsilon had to remember the curse—how he was made to forget the songbird and was sent to live on a foreign planet, ninety-seven light-years from home. Epsilon had to remember the heavy chains that bound his bride, trapping her for all of eternity. And until he remembered it all, they would remain as separate pieces of the same heart.

“I remember, my songbird.”

No man has ever laid their eyes upon the songbird but it was my mission to be the first—to be the only. When I remembered—the reason for the ache in my chest, the meaning of each melody that filled the vast universe, and the promise that I had made beneath the heavens—my quest began. And after aeons of searching for my lost love, I had finally found her.

“The wait is over, dear Andromedae. I remember.”


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

Puteri & The Frog [12 Genre Months]

Once upon a time, there lived a princess in a white-bricked, two-storey house, complete with a shaded front porch and a tiddly garden. She had light brown eyes, thin lips, and a sprinkle of freckles—a reflection of innocence on her small, youthful face, framed by her short dark brown locks from her mixed heritage. She was like every other child, except for her name—her mother called her Puteri.

Puteri’s favourite past-time was an evening in the neighbourhood park—a gathering ground for the city-dwelling children to be one with Mother Nature. Every Friday, Puteri would bring her golden ball to the field, adjacent to a lotus pond, to toss, kick, and bounce. As she wasn’t very fond of the playground’s swings and slides, Puteri preferred her more solitude activity away from the other children. But on one fateful evening, to her dismay, her golden ball went bouncing into the still water.

“Do you need a hand?” a voice asked.

Puteri hadn’t noticed anyone else around—jumping startled at the sudden intrusion of her quiet playtime. Looking up from where her golden ball had disappeared into, she saw the owner of the voice—he stood across the pond with wide curious eyes, as though he’d never seen a girl before.

“Yes,” Puteri replied. “Can you retrieve my ball for me?”

“If I do so, will you be my friend?” he asked.

“Why do you need a friend?” Puteri frowned. She didn’t understand why friends were important—she enjoyed her own company and that alone was enough.

“I don’t like playing by myself,” he said.

“I do,” Puteri stated. “But if you don’t like playing by yourself, why don’t you go and make friends?”

“No one will play with me.”

“I see.” Puteri had no interest in being the strange creature’s friend, but she didn’t want to wade through the dark water either. So, for the sake of her beloved golden ball, she said, “I’ll be your friend if you retrieve my ball.”

“You will?” He beamed.

“Yes.” Puteri nodded and pointed to where her ball had sunken. “It’s somewhere over there.”

“At your service, princess,” he replied, promptly entering the pond.

The still water wasn’t as deep as Puteri had imagined—her imagination often wilder than her dreams. Once she was handed her golden ball, Puteri said, “Thank you.” Not waiting for a response, she promptly turned on her heel—ready to break her promise.

“Wait,” he said. “Aren’t you going to play with me?”

“Maybe next week,” Puteri hastily replied, before running home.

Puteri hoped to never see the frog again—his big round eyes, Cheshire-like grin, and stubby frame were perhaps the reasons why he had no friends. Alas, when the next Friday rolled around, there he was again.

“Hi,” he said, with a wide smile. “Do you want to play?”

“I-”

“You promised,” he said.

“I didn’t promise anything. I said, maybe,” Puteri stated.

“But you said you’ll be my friend,” he insisted. “We can toss your ball, and if it falls into the pond again, I’ll get it for you.”

Puteri hesitated. Then seeing how his excitement began to turn into disappointment—the mien of a broken heart—she said, “Fine. One game. Just one game.”

“Thank you,” he said. “We don’t have to talk if you don’t want to.”

Puteri nodded and tossed him her golden ball. For a while, the two played without a word—the golden ball bouncing back and forth, while the shouts and laughter of the other children filled the silence. It was a bizarre game but Puteri slowly came to enjoy his company—simply having someone to toss the ball to brought comfort. And it was then that Puteri entertained the idea of keeping a friend—to have someone who truly wanted her around. Alas, before she could ask her first friend for his name, the clouds began to grumble.

“Puteri,” her handmaid called. “It’s going to rain. Let’s go home.”

“I have to go,” Puteri stated, just as her golden ball bounced into her arms.

“Next week?” he prompted

“Sure,” Puteri replied with a smile.

“Let’s go, Puteri,” her handmaid repeated, reaching for Puteri’s hand. “Who are you talking to?”

“My friend,” Puteri said.

“Your friend?” her handmaid asked, bewildered as she glanced around. “Where?”

Puteri pointed to the pond where he sat poised on a floating lotus leaf, bearing the same curious gaze as though he’d never seen a woman before.

“The frog?” her handmaid asked.

“Yes. He’s my friend.”

Her handmaid chuckled. “Frogs make good friends,” her handmaid said. “Come now.”

“Is mummy coming home for dinner?” Puteri asked. Her mother often encouraged her to make friends—it would excite her to learn that Puteri had actually made one.

“Not tonight, dear,” her handmaid said.

“And daddy?”

Her handmaid gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “Maybe next week. Your mommy and daddy are very busy people.”

“I know.”

“You’ll have dinner with me tonight and we can talk all about your new friend, all right?”

Puteri nodded. She would rather have dinner with her friend, but she doubted her parents would let her bring him home. Though, would they notice if she did? They were rarely around. The only thing that was of them was the golden ball. And that itself was merely a reminder of their existence. At the very least, it made her… a friend.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

Search Future [12 Genre Months]

It’s not everyday that you’d stumble upon an odd feature on your web browser—the kind of feature that would, perhaps, make you wonder if it’s April Fools’ Day. After all, our technology couldn’t have possibly advanced in such a way. Or, at the very least, not in any capacity to question our reality.

“They haven’t rolled it out for everyone yet but I got the update this morning,” I said. “Have you?”

“Nope,” she replied. “Don’t tell me you think it’s legit.”

I chuckled—of course not. Not a single sentence of the user algorithm commentary, listed in the patch notes, made any sense. So perhaps, April Fools’ Day was really in August wherever the developers were from.

“Sounds pretty cool though,” I said. “I’ll play around tonight.”

That night, I allowed my browser to run the application update. It took ten seconds before a solid crimson ‘forward’ icon appeared beside my ‘ad block’ extension. Without any hesitation, I launched the feature. And instantly, a search engine page flicked to the front of my screen.

“Search future,” I read the minimalist block typography in its archetypal red. “All right. Juke Matthews,” I echoed, typing my name in the search column. Then, setting the date to a year from that evening itself, I hit enter.

About 59,300 results turned up in 0.46 seconds—majority of which weren’t me. There was ‘Juke Matthews the physicist’, ‘J. Matthews the science-fiction author’, but no ‘Juke Matthews the boring accountant’. What was I expecting? I wasn’t famous. I was a nobody. But perhaps, I wasn’t looking far enough. Deciding to change the date—fingers-crossed that one day I’d find recognition—I began scrolling through five years, ten years, twenty years, and even up to fifty years into the future. Alas, I never accomplished anything noteworthy to make it on the internet.

“Never mind that,” I assured myself. “Does this work with socials?” I furrowed my brows before excitement sparked at the wild possibility—could I peek into my future through my social media accounts?

On the same page, I pulled up my favourite platform and logged in. Expecting to see the familiar layout—of which I’ve spent most of my weekends staring into—I was briefly confused. Had I just logged into a bogus site? Did I foolishly give my login details away? A second later, it dawned upon me—this was my timeline ten years into the future. Surely, the interface would’ve updated. Ignoring the settling apprehension, I clicked into my profile.

“I have… a girlfriend?” I asked in disbelief. My profile picture had changed from the badly lit snapshot of me at my cluttered work desk to a vacation photo with a woman—a woman I had never seen before. Granted, our faces were barely distinguishable as we stood against the sun—the sandy beach and the deep blue ocean prominent in the background. “Not bad, Juke. I’m impressed.”

If the update was a prank, it did a great job at making me a fool. Oh, how I wished it was all true. Despite my lack of internet fame, I seemed to be doing all right in the future. Expecting to find myself further entertained, I scrolled down my profile.

There was a job update—“Ah, I got a promotion. I guess Aaron isn’t such a prick after all.” There was a picture of a black Labrador pup, presented as a gift with a pink ribbon tied around its neck—“Oh, I always wanted a dog.” There was an essay-long status about the ten things I was grateful for—“Wow, life sure is good.” And then… there was a picture from when I was a baby, cradled in my mother’s arms—the caption read, “We will never stop loving you.” That picture came right after another of an empty hospital bed—“Cancer?”

“Not funny,” I added. “Not cool.” I contemplated closing the page but curiosity kept me lingering. Even after the little voice in my head had warned me not to proceed, I still needed to know.

Down the timeline I went—one status update after another. But after eight years, I still couldn’t find a beginning. When was the diagnosis? Perhaps, it was too sensitive to publicise. Wondering if I should act on the information, I decided to give my mother a call. It was better to be safe than sorry.

Grabbing my phone, I dialed her number. The moment the phone line clicked, I said, “Mum? I need you to see a doctor this weekend.”

Silence lingered on the other end of the line. “Mum?” I repeated. “Can you hear me?”

“Who is this?” my mother asked.

“It’s me, mum. It’s Juke. I need you-”

“Whoever you are, this isn’t funny,” my mother replied.

“What are you talking about?”

“Goodbye,” my mother said, before promptly ending the call.

Bemused, I dialed her number again, and again, and again. Alas, not once did she pick up. Resorting to a message, I asked for an explanation—why was she acting strange? Did something happen? When my mother finally replied, after my twelfth line, she wrote, ‘My son is dead. Stop messaging me or I’ll call the police.’

I frowned. Did my mother change her number without informing me? Shaking my head, I contemplated calling my father. But before I did, a notification appeared on the screen before me.

“Your session will expire in sixty-seconds,” I read. “Click here to continue.” I clicked.

Upon the command, the page scrolled on its own—breezing past all posts and settling on a date. It was that day—the day I ran a poll to see who else had the browser update. The day right before a series of condolences filled my page—“We will miss you, Juke. You were a great friend.” The day my brother posted on my behalf for the first time—“Keeping this page alive in memory of Juke. Love you forever, bro.”

But who else had the new search engine feature? No one answered my poll—it was only me.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

The Man With The Missing Fingers [12 Genre Months]

Six weeks ago, he woke from his slumber to a missing thumb. It was the thumb on his right hand—the very thumb he sucked on as a child. But tomorrow, there would be a missing hand—a bizarre addition to the story he was once told. He didn’t expect it to get any stranger, despite having five fingers left⁠—two on his right and three on his left—exactly five days ago. He thought, what more could happen? Would he lose his toes too? How about his eyes, nose, and mouth? Alas, two months from yesterday, he would discover having no hands left. And from that day onward, he would begin to lose his toes too.

At twenty-four, she didn’t think fables and legends were real. Yet, she always thought they made for a good warning—a whimsical threat to put things and people in order. And so she would spend many hours scouring books for a worthy tale. Days and nights, years before and years after until finally, at the age of eighteen, she found the story of the man with the missing fingers. Who was the man, what was his name, and where did he come from—futile questions she didn’t ask. All that mattered was the day she turned thirty—the day she told him the story.

When he was seven years old, his mother told him about the man with the missing fingers. She had told him the same story when he was five, three, and even before he understood what words were for. The myth was rather nightmarish for a child—a man whose fingers disappeared overnight. But when he turned fifteen, he began to question his mother’s story—how could fingers disappear? Were fingers secretly magicians? Who stole those fingers? Unfortunately, despite his disbelief, his fate remained. On the morning of his thirtieth birthday, he found himself with nine fingers—a little finger had vanished from his left hand.

She thought that if she told him when he was old enough—at the acceptable age of fifty-two years young—he would change in his stubborn ways. Many legends had worked to her favour, alas the man with the missing fingers had failed. Why wouldn’t he believe? If only he did, he would still have all his fingers. If only he believed, he wouldn’t awake to the horror. It was strange that a man his age refused to accept the reality in her stories—didn’t wisdom come with age? To her dismay, she was left with a man now incapable of caring for himself. Oh, how she regretted—perhaps she should have told him later rather than sooner.

The man with the missing fingers lost all his fingers before he actually became a man. One would assume he was a man when he lost his fingers but that was a supposition made into gospel by those who retold his story. Now, if he could correct them, he would. Alas, after his toes had left him so did his mouth, nose, and eyes. How could he address the rumour, let alone add to the bizarre tale in his unfortunate state? How could he give a complete account of the plague that had struck him? And so the man with the missing fingers became a legend. He became a myth that was all too real for those who followed after him.

Six weeks ago, she woke from her slumber to a missing thumb—the same for all and for one. Sadly, before she could even utter the horrifying truth, there would be nothing left of her—nothing but the mind of a peculiar anthropoid. And that itself isn’t the end, for how truly frightening is the end, no one would ever know.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

36,200 Feet [12 Genre Months]

“We’re here,” he announced.

Our deep sea watercraft—barely large enough for the two of us—swayed on the coordinates said to be the gateway to a new world⁠. It was a promise from a time-worn expedition journal, found in the rubble of the recent apocalypse. And despite the absurdity of the seemingly fictional work, we believed that if we reached the depths of Challenger Deep, we would find a hidden realm—a habitable space of amazing wonders.

“Thirty-six thousand and two hundred feet. You ready?” he asked.

“As ready as you are,” I replied. And, as though it was only natural, we shifted our gazes to the journal on the control panel.

We had both been fixated on the paperback since its discovery—an odd find during one of our routined foragings for provisions. As the one who pulled it off the top most shelf of a partially submerged bookshelf, I didn’t think much of it—except of how it would serve as a great time killer, with its intriguing symbols and charts. Little did I know, we became obsessed. The maps, drawings, numbers, and accounts offered us the possibility of a fresh start. So who could blame us? In a world that had lost all glimmer of hope, therein sprouted our radical faith—an idée fixe.

After the great flood—sweeping the planet like a vengeful beast—three quarters of our home became inhabitable. Mother Nature reclaimed her birthright with the sheer determination to spare no one. Alas, some of us survived. But what good did it do being alive? It only seemed logical that when the possibility of a future presented itself—as ludicrous as it sounded—we tried our luck.

“Our adventure begins,” he quoted—the first handwritten sentence of the log—and yanked the lever that submerged our vessel beneath the calm waters.

We were lucky to have found an operational mini-submarine at the Marine Research Centre of our once thriving city. Its 300-paged waterproofed manual was snugged beneath the control panel—one that became his second favourite read after the journal itself. Thus, when he said that it would only take us two and a half hours, I believed him. Yet strangely, after my watched beeped twelve thirty, we had yet to arrive at Challenger Deep.

“Are we lost?” I asked—a difficult question to answer in the engulfing darkness of the ocean deep.

“We…” He stood befuddled, hovering over the radar and the numbers that tracked the depth of our descent. “We’ve passed thirty-six thousand and two hundred feet,” he stated.

“Did we miss something?” I added, flipping the journal open. “Did we miscalculate?”

“That’s not possible,” he said.

“We could’ve made a mistake,” I replied, turning hastily to the page that led us down this path.

“No, we couldn’t have. The deepest part of the ocean is thirty-six thousand and two hundred feet. We can’t be going any deeper,” he explained.

“Maybe the numbers are wrong.” I reached over and tapped at the screen. “Maybe we should go back up to find another submarine.”

“Or maybe,” he paused, turning toward me. “Maybe we’ve passed the gates.”

At his prompt, we looked out the glass panel and into the black canvas. The journal made no mention of the crossing from our world into the new one—it merely stated to descend. Perhaps, we did miss something. But just when we were about to refer to the written work once more, we felt a forceful tug in our chests—a sudden lifting sensation as our vessel began to ascend at rapid speed.

The numbers on the control panel rolled in reverse, flickering faster than our eyes could blink. As though propelled by a force, air bubbles rose from beneath—obstructing all view until the glistening of daylight hinted at the world beyond. It took mere minutes—the compression in my ears nearly muting all sounds, despite a cabin designed to withstand the atmospheric pressure. And when our watercraft eventually halted, we had reached the surface.

“What happened?” I asked, seconds before I noticed the thumping in my chest.

He leaned forward, peering into the world beyond—his eyes searching for a sign that we had succeeded. Alas, what appeared before us was the same endless ocean. Was the journal a lie? Did our vessel fail? Were we out of our minds when we decided to go on such a quest?

“We tried,” I muttered. “At least we tried.”

He turned away from our reality with a sigh. “At least we tried,” he echoed—disappointment evident in the resonance of his voice. “I’ll set a course for home,” he added. But while he keyed in the coordinates, there came a resounding wail overhead.

“Is that a… plane?” I frowned, pointing at the aircraft flying past us and toward the horizon.

“Someone must have found one,” he stated.

“Even if they did, where on earth could they have taken off?” I asked.

His eyes widened—he caught my drift. A chill ran up my spine as the hairs on my nape stood. Our mission wasn’t a failure. We had arrived. It wasn’t the fantastical world from our wildest imagination, but it was a living planet nonetheless.

“Did we… go back in time or is this a parallel universe?” he asked.

“Does it matter?” I chuckled with disbelief.

“No,” he said with the widest grin. “It’s the new world.”

“Yes, and we’re here,” I exclaimed. “We’re… home.”


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

Lady Chivalry [12 Genre Months]

Since her birth, Bella had been taught the ways of grace and sophistication. She acquired a mastery in early Renaissance art at the age of five and was fluent in Latin, Greek, French, Italian, and German before she turned seven. Her remarkability modelled finesse, of which only a lady from a powerful household could ever procure. But Bella was no damsel, let alone in distress.

There came a time when Bella Fortunia refused to play by the rules of society. What was the meaning of life if all she ever did was don burgundy velvet dresses and feign bashfulness in the presence of men? No, she was going to wield a sword in a quest for honour and justice. And what finer way to begin her heroic and valiant adventure than with the rescue of her betrothed, Ziennaticus Vera.

It had been a week since Ziennaticus Vera went missing. He was last spotted at the Temple of the High Society, pounding on the oak double doors in request for entry he was seemingly denied. The High Society was an organization for the noblests of nobles—Bella’s father would attend its weekly meetings whenever it was required of him. And though she had heard of the exclusivity and prestige of the High Society, Bella knew little of what went on beneath the ribbed dome roof—never was a lady invited and never will a lady be. Alas, to the High Society’s dismay, Bella was about to kick its doors in the name of love.

Since it wasn’t ladylike, Bella had acquired a fine level of swordsmanship from a retired musketeer—excusing herself every alternate afternoon in the name of literary pursuits. And, because she knew of no one else who would be in possession of suitable garb, Bella paid her teacher an unexpected visit—at his cluttered room above his favourite tavern—on the morning of her quest. After an intoxicated night, the middle-aged man stood fuddled as Bella swiped a deep crimson doublet with golden laces, a black cape, and the retiree’s polished rapier. Promising to return the attire, she slipped into the swordmaster’s former persona and wasted not a second more—storming toward the Temple of the High Society.

What was Bella’s grand plan? Surely, the chivalrous young lady had it well thought out. And she did, without any need for theatrics. Standing at the heavy double doors of the High Society, Bella demanded for her lover—whom she strongly believed to have been kidnapped by the coterie of elitists—to be released.

“Do not make me swing my blade,” Bella threatened. “Release Sir Vera this instant and I shall be on my way.”

“We have not heard of this Ziennaticus Vera. So be on your way, woman,” a voice replied from behind the doors.

“I am no woman,” Bella stated, in abhorrence of the foul appellation. “I am a lady and I am here for my knight in distress.”

“We do not have your knight. So be gone!”

Oh, how the stranger regretted his words. Instead of a futile argument, Bella responded with a forceful kick at the door. The sudden impact—despite failing to send the door crashing down—led to an oof as if the doorkeeper had fallen on his back.

“Have you caught the plague?” the man yelled—outrage present in the resonance of his voice.

“My knight or I’ll send you the plague!” Bella raised her own in competition.

Bella hesitated for a moment—in contemplation of offering the stranger a chance to concede—but the thought of her beloved locked in a cage, hanging high above treacherous spikes, sparked her to action. Bella raised her knee high, ready for another kick, when-

“What the devil is going on in here?” Lady Fortunia asked, failing to hide the horror that had swept across her face the second she walked through the reading room door.

“We’re… just playing,” Bella replied, promptly tossing the wooden sword onto the floral hand-woven carpet.

“Is this how a lady behaves?” Lady Fortunia questioned. Ziennaticus, who had placed an armchair between him and Bella as the imaginary door, lowered himself from view.

“No,” Bella replied, dropping her gaze as she did. Instantly, she knew her fate had been sealed—additional hours pouring over manuscripts with her aging tutor and the arduous task of embroidering the entire garden with her nursemaid.

“Ziennaticus,” Lady Fortunia ordered forward.

“Yes, Your Ladyship,” Ziennaticus muttered, daring not to raise his head.

“Tell Lady Vera that you’ll be too ill for anymore visits this month.”

“No,” Bella interjected. Reading and needlework was acceptable, but prohibiting the only time she could be herself was cruel.

“Not another word from you, young lady.” Lady Fortunia snapped. “Now off you go, Ziennaticus. I don’t want to see you until the month is over.”

If there was a time Bella Fortunia needed to wield her sharpened rapier, that was the time. Alas, some rules of society couldn’t be broken. Even if Bella Fortunia refused to play along, her mother would see to it that she did. After all, Bella was a damsel… but one in distress? No, never—at the very least, that decision was hers and hers alone.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

Crown Prince Philius [12 Genre Months]

Once upon a time, there was a crown prince named Philius. Philius stood at thirty-eight inches tall, with feet the size of his oval head and arms that stopped short of his waist. He was a splitting image of his father the king—an actuality his mother often declared in pride.

As the firstborn of the royal bloodline, Philius was to inherit all of Aeter—every flowering crop, fertile soil, bountiful harvest, and living creature. But when his father left for the underworld, Philius learned that he would only receive half of what was promised to him.

It was on a rainy day when Philius and his envoy of lions set out for Shec. Shec was a prosperous city in Aeter—a place where many amphibians and reptiles gathered for their extravagant celebrations. However, on that un-fine day, all the inhabitants of Aeter assembled for one reason and one reason only: Philius’ coronation.

Despite the gloom, the ceremony was nothing less than festive. The multifarious crowd cheered, glorious steamed beetles were served, expensive gifts in the shapes of square and rectangle were stacked two-storeys high, and Philius was pleased. He was in a boisterous mood, until an unexpected guest arrived.

Thorad, an official in the former king’s court, invited himself to the party—the one who had once engendered a rebellion and fled when his crimes were uncovered. With a plain golden chest in his hands, Thorad said, “I have come to congratulate you, Your Majesty. Here is a gift I have brought from my travels in the land of Yellow and Blue.”

“Thank you. It has been a while,” Philius replied, contemplating if he should summon his baboons to escort the traitor out.

“Is has been a while indeed, Your Majesty. You have grown.”

Philius nodded in reply—he had grown nearly five centimetres since Thorad’s insurgence.

“Your Majesty, if I may add,” Thorad continued.

“You seek a favour?” Philius asked.

“Yes, Your Majesty. Your father has put a yoke on me and my birds. Now that you are king, I wish for you to lift this burden from us. With your kindness, we will surely serve you wholeheartedly,” Thorad said, with a seemingly forceful smile.

“My father has indeed put a heavy yoke on you,” Philius replied. “But as my father’s favourite child, it is only right if I make your yoke heavier.”

“I beg your pardon?” Thorad asked, with disbelief glazing his hawkish mien.

“My father sequestered you for your betrayal, but I shall banish you instead,” Philius said.

“Your Majesty, are we not your citizens? Don’t we have a share of this land? To banish us is cruel,” Thorad challenged.

“If I am cruel, your shoulder would be missing a head and your birds their wings,” Philius threatened.

Thorad lowered his head. “Very well, Your Majesty. Your wish is my command,” Thorad resigned. And with that, Thorad and his birds departed.

One would think that King Philius could rest well that night. Alas, Philius was afraid that Thorad might rebel again—the avian king had an army of wilful aves that would attack on his command. So to keep a watchful eye on the betrayer, Philius sent a three-eyed deer after Thorad. Unfortunately, before the deer could be of any use to the king, it became the rebel’s dinner. And with that one meal came a series of events that led to the destruction of half the land—the end of half of Aeter.

Instigated by the actions of the king, Thorad ordered his birds to incite the citizens against the ruling family. And in response to the threat, Philius sent his army of eighty thousand baboons to Thorad’s camp. Philius hoped to capture Thorad, and reclaim the land Thorad had attained through mutiny. But on the night before the battle, the Star bestowed Philius a message.

The Star instructed Philius to abandon the war and send another three-eyed deer instead. The Star could foretell the future, so Philius did as he was told. When the birds saw Philius’ deer, they directed the creature with their flattering wings and deafening squawks toward their leader. And when Thorad caught the mammal, he butchered it for dinner. However, unlike his previous carnivorous meal, Thorad shared the cuts of venison with his allies—a pinch of meat each to unify their forces. And, a pinch was all it took.

When the sun rose at the break of dawn, those who had consumed the three-eyed deer didn’t wake from their slumber. Half of Aeter—who had sided with whom they hoped would be their new king—had died. And with that, Philius won the fight against the anarchist. Alas, he also lost half of what was promised to him—destroying his own inheritance, with a deer that would’ve been his own dinner the same night before.


12 Genre Months © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)