Original Works

Clown | Balloons | Chuckle

“It’s just a movie,” they said. “What’s the worst that can happen—a nightmare?”

Alas, they didn’t know—a nightmare was what I was truly afraid of. It wasn’t because I was a child—I was old enough to handle a disturbing dream. It was because, unlike everyone else’s harmless night terrors, my dreams weren’t mine alone—my dreams shaped a world.

“I hate horror movies,” I stated.

“It’s not that scary,” Rich replied. “It’s more of a… psychological horror.”

“Come on, Bill,” Bev pleaded. “It’s the last weekend before school starts.”

“Fine,” I acceded. What was the worst that could happen? A nightmare. Thankfully, there was a way to prevent nightmares.

After learning what my mind could do, I scoured for ways to stop dreaming. Unfortunately, against most of my efforts the foreign world prevailed. The second I departed from my reality, I am swept into another realm without a choice and without reason. Thus, the only way to keep myself away—lest I hurt anyone else—was to take naps. And so, I had a plan to set an alarm at every hour, until I was sure no monster would invade my overdue rest.

My friends were right—it was just a movie with a few jump-scares. If I cupped my ears—dulling the intense soundtrack, the sudden bangs, and sinister chuckles—it wasn’t as scary as I had anticipated. But, I wasn’t risking it. The last time I watched a horror flick, eight people died.

“I killed them,” I remember telling my mother. “I didn’t mean to but I did. I brought it in.”

“It’s just a dream,” my mother said. She couldn’t understand—nobody could. And if I ever tried to explain, they would think I had lost my mind. “Go back to sleep,” my mother prompted.

Alas, I couldn’t return to sleep. In fact, I couldn’t sleep every night after for a week. It was the first dream that had ended with death. And though it happened two years ago, I hadn’t forgotten—it was almost Christmas and my brother suggested a satire holiday film about a murderous half-goat demon.

On that chilly night, I returned to the same place where my dreams often took place. It was a world on its own with the same high-rise buildings, pristine sidewalks, and ordinary-looking people—people who weren’t from my waking moments. But as I stepped through, the clouds darkened and a foreboding iciness settled in the air. Winter had arrived ahead of schedule. And before I could warn anyone, I heard the jingle of its bells.

“It’s just a dream,” Ben echoed. My best friend, too, didn’t believe me.

“It’s the same place almost every night. The same people. The same shops,” I stated during our lunch break. “Do your dreams happen in the same place too?”

“No. But-”

“After the demon killed those people, they were gone. I couldn’t find them. And the dream people… they said a demon had murdered them.”

“That’s some extensive dream plotting,” Ben said, almost sounding impressed. “You should be an author.”

“I’m not joking, Ben.”

“Fine. Let’s just say it’s real—what can you do about it?” Ben asked. “Do you know how to stop it?”

“No. I wouldn’t be telling you if I did.”

Ben nodded, and silence ensued. He didn’t utter a single word until the lunch bell rang. And when we spoke again, it wasn’t about my dream. Ben never spoke about my dreams from that moment on.

So that night—after witnessing an eldritch clown terrorise a group of children—I set eight alarms until dawn. I expected a dreadful following day, with fatigue weighing down my eyelids, but that was the price to pay for yielding to my friends. Hopefully, when the sun rose, there won’t be any blood on my hands.

“You’re early,” Ben said.

After the sixth round of beep-beep-beep, it was almost impossible to return to sleep. Deciding to take a short nap before class, I made my way to school earlier than usual.

“Can you wake me up before the bell rings?” I asked, seeing as Ben had found me in the cafeteria.

“Sure,” Ben replied, plopping onto a neighbouring chair. “What did you do last night?”

“I watched a movie,” I muttered, as I folded my arms on the table. “Stupid horror movie about a child-eating clown and red-”

“Balloons,” Ben interrupted.

“Yea. Have you seen it?” I asked.

“No, balloons,” Ben repeated, raising his finger toward the doorway.

Turning toward our only exit, obscured with floating, bright red balloons, I frowned. Was I dreaming? No. That notion didn’t seem possible. “Ben,” I prompted. “Is this a prank?”

Then, as if a thought had just struck him, terror glazed across Ben’s formerly placid mien. With eyes wide in horror, Ben asked, “Did you say the movie was about a child-eating clown?”

“Yea. Why?”

“You need to wake up, Bill,” Ben replied. Rising to his feet, he pulled me up and added, “You need to get out of my world.”

“I… I don’t understand. What-”

“You need to wake up, right now, before you kill us too.”


Clown, balloons, and chuckle were words given by Aaron Kwan on Facebook.

With IT being in theaters, I thought it would be fitting to write something inline with it. Oh, and have you seen the satire holiday film with the half-goat demon? I actually enjoyed that one.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. Perhaps now is the time to write that IT fanfic you’ve been thinking about! Also, if you have three words you’d like to challenge me with, be sure to leave it in the comments below.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a 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

Basket | Spirit | Light

Once upon a time, there lived a spirit on the great wall—an ethereal being, in the form of beaming light, who guarded the stone border of the Northeast. It was believed to be a powerful force with mystical powers—capable of wiping out the monsters that attempted to invade the land. But legend has it that the spirit wasn’t of the gods. It wasn’t made to be a guardian—the spirit was meant to be mortal. In fact, the ancient scrolls called it… a man.

This man came from a faraway place. He wasn’t of the Northeast kingdom—a ‘trespasser’ and ‘intruder’ as some would say. Though, the man had no evil intent. Unlike the power-hungry nations that sought the treasures in the Northeast, he embarked on the treacherous journey for a promise—a freedom from the flesh-eating, ravenous beasts that roamed the land. After all, it was only the Northeast kingdom that had built a wall—a wall high enough that no monster could ever scale.

With that dream, the man ventured beyond the ice and cold. It took thirty days on foot from the caves of the North Mountains to the great wall. And along with him was his wife and their young daughter. Without much, the family armed themselves with a blade—their only weapon against the demons of the night. And bravely, they traversed the dense timberland where the creatures slumbered in the day. “Do not step on their tails,” he reminded his daughter—a task far more difficult than the journey itself as the spiked tails trailed across the forest floor, each three times the length of a beast’s body. “It’s time to climb,” he would also prompt, just as the sun began to set. For when the moon graced the night sky, the monsters would awake and begin their hunt.

Since the beginning of time, these creatures had been a part of their world. Their saw-like teeth and razor-sharp claws had snatched many lives. Their beady red eyes against their black, hairless skin had turned peaceful dreams into haunting nightmares. To be free of them was worth the risk, or so he thought. But it was at the great wall that the man discovered the truth—that not all monsters were villains, and not all promises were sure.

“Turn around,” the soldier on the wall ordered.

“Please, we only seek refuge—safety from the monsters,” the man pleaded.

“You’re not welcomed here,” the soldier said. “Go home.”

“We’ve travelled this far. We can’t go home now,” the man replied. “Please let us in. We have a child.”

“And the world is full of them.”

“Please, I beg of you.”

“You can try climbing,” the soldier offered. “You have five hours before the sun sets.” And with that, the soldier disappeared into a turret.

At that moment, the man hesitated. The wall was made to keep the monsters out—it couldn’t be scaled by the beasts let alone a child. However, if he made it to the top, he could toss a basket down and pull his family up. So the man decided to climb with his bare human hands. But soon, the sun began to set. And at the fifth hour, the clear blue sky streaked with hues of pastel orange—their cue to scale the trees for the night.

“Climb the trees,” the man shouted, leaning against the cold wall for rest. “Tomorrow, I’ll pull both of you up,” he added, turning to look down below. But instead of finding his family—gazing up at him—he found no one. Where had they gone to? The man panicked. Should he continue his ascent or return to the ground?

“Keep climbing,” a voice from above hollered. “You’re almost safe.” The soldier on the wall peered over, seemingly impressed by his determination.

“I can’t. My family,” he uttered.

“Come on—our kingdom needs men like you,” the soldier said.

“I can’t just leave them,” he insisted. He couldn’t—he wouldn’t betray his wife and daughter. And so he began to descend.

“Even if you find them, do you really think we’d let them in?” the soldier asked.

“They promised,” the man replied. “They said-”

“Did they also tell you what the beasts are?”

“Yes, but there’s a cure.”

“A cure?” The soldier chuckled. “Climb up or return to your family, it’s your choice,” the soldier replied and lingered no longer.

As the day bid its final farewell, the howls of the monsters rumbled through the timberland below. If his wife and daughter had climbed a tree, he would see them at dawn. Alas, descending risked his own life—no one had ever survived amongst the beasts, in their domain, to see the sunrise. Thus, from that fateful night onward, he was no longer a man.

How the spirit came to be, no one knows for sure. However, many believed that its mystical powers kept the real monsters away—away from his wife and daughter who were both finally free.


Basket, spirit, and light were words given by Hui Xuan on Facebook.

So let’s be honest, I edited her ‘words’ a little as holy spirit and street light weren’t exactly one word each, and were also rather difficult to write with unless I decided to do a Ghost (1990) fan fiction. However, with that minor removal, I managed to come up with something rather decent. And, yes, I left the plot twist and ending a little vague—leaving the rest of the imagination to you.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. If you managed to work ‘holy’ and ‘light’ into your story, be sure to link it in the comments below!

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a 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

Reach | Goals | Hotel

They say that some goals are impossible to achieve—that no matter how fervently you imagined, dreamt, or even planned, it could never come true. And perhaps, they are right. But, did I believe them?

“What do you think—grand, isn’t it?” I prompted, as I showed her yet another one of my sketches.

My mother responded with a thin smile. It was the same smile that had graced her meek demeanour for the past few years—an empathetic expression of little belief. Though, there was a time when she truly did believe—a time when we would have sweet cereal and cold milk for breakfast, when the weekends involved a game of frisbee at the park, and when my father would take us on spontaneous road trips in his sputtering jeep. It was a time of jaw-aching laughter, silly yet dangerous pranks, and wide grins of true belief in the bright side of life. But within three years, my mother had lost it all.

Some days, those memories didn’t seem real to me either. It would play in the blackness of my eyelids right before I fell asleep—like a family-friendly film in the popcorn-scented theater we had not visited since. It often felt like someone else’s story—perhaps, the story of another me from another universe. Were we really that happy? Is that how a genuine smile looked like—raised cheeks and wrinkles by the eyes? Some of those memories had slipped from my mind all together—now surreal.

“There’ll be three floors of swimming pool, connected with a swirling water slide. It’ll shoot through the ceiling!” I added.

“That looks like a lot of fun,” my mother said. “But you’ll need lifeguards.”

“Right. Like at the public pool,” I noted.

I almost forgot about the swimming classes I took every Friday. My father would pick me up after school—my yellow swim bag and metal lunchbox often placed on the backseat. Yet, in the recollection of those sunny afternoons, there were gaps in what was once a weekly routine. I had forgotten the warmth of the sun on my skin, the soothing humming in my ears while underwater, and the shiver in my spine as I dashed for my towel on the pool bench.

“Is it almost done?” my mother asked.

“Almost,” I replied, flipping through my sketchbook. There were a few sketches left before the blueprint of my first hotel was complete. It would be my proudest creation yet—the first step toward achieving my dream of becoming the world’s youngest architect.

“Don’t forget to show your dad,” my mother said. “He’ll want to see it.”

“Yup! I also need to ask him about the piping.” I smiled. And at that moment, I wondered—was my smile a true smile? I had no mirror—were there creases by my eyes? When my mother responded with a loving gaze, I knew—I had a smile of belief.

My parents may have long lost their belief but I had yet to lose mine. Despite the past years of uncertainty and fear, I still believed. Even when I struggled to be brave, even when I cried into my pillow, even when they could no longer remove the endotracheal tube, and even when the doctor said it could be any time now, I still believed that dreams do come true. That if you stretched your hands—reach for the stars—nothing was impossible. And though I might have forgotten what life was like—what it should be for a healthy twelve-year-old—I had not given up on it yet.

One day soon, I would be free from my restraints. I wouldn’t have to peer out of the hospital window to glimpse the stars, I would stand beneath them. I wouldn’t have to replay old memories, I would make new ones. There would be no more tears. There would only be belly-aching laughter. One day soon, my dream would come true—I would be the boy who conquered death. And there would be plenty of smiles—authentic smiles of true belief.


Reach, goals, and hotel were words given by Mervin Raymond.

It has been awhile since I’ve written something like this. And honestly, I found myself tearing up a little. I’m sorry if I made you a little sad too. I just felt like writing an emotional piece and this was it.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. Perhaps you can lighten the mood with a story of your own?

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a 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

Candle | Craft | Colour

They said that if you truly believed—owning a faith so unmovable—you would find it. They said that if you trusted in its existence, despite the echoing doubts, you could tear through the very fabric of space and time. But what they didn’t say was that it wasn’t as simple as believing. For if it was a matter of belief, many would have glimpsed this realm of magic—I, myself, would have traversed its land with my credence since birth. Alas, I lacked… the one thing that would’ve unlocked its doors. I lacked the one thing I had all along—I lacked courage.

Oh, how envious was I at the claims of those who had gone before me. They spoke of a spellbinding universe, overflowing with enchanting colours no human mind could ever conceive. They recounted the shimmering lights—a descending of the stars of the universe—that surrounded their very being, of which weren’t merely a sight to behold but a gift of overwhelming wonder and peace. Those who had journeyed beyond the boundaries of this world had an experience that was uniquely theirs, yet coherent with this gifted faction of society. And despite all that, they claimed to be ordinary. Despite their very own odyssey in such a sentient space, they believed it was a place for all.

Still, none of them made mention of courage. In my desire to leave this world behind, their only advice was faith—faith I thought I already had. Alas, I had to recognise what true belief was… on my own. For only when my present cloaked me in a veil of hopelessness—when darkness was all I could see—I had to retrieve my candle. I had to find the only remaining light—the light within—to lead me forward. And with that flickering yet undying flame, I wielded the courage to carry through. I found my belief in my craft.

True belief isn’t a notion—it isn’t merely the possibility of a great future but the reality of which I wanted to escape from. True belief is the courage to do, even if what I did wasn’t grand or magnificent. True belief is magic—the only door that opened to a realm so breathtaking, it can only be explained with colours and light. I am but a neophyte in this cosmos of curiosity and imagination but should one ask for a map to this universe, my answer would be the same as my predecessors—believe, truly believe. And once you do, the keys to this realm would be forever yours.


Candle, craft, and colour were words given by Emily Tong.

I wrote this short piece of fiction with a dash of reality in mind—a message I hope many would read in moments when they are afraid to step out. Believing isn’t just a good idea. If we truly believe, we’ll find the courage that has been within us all along.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Don’t be afraid to try. Start believing in your craft today!

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3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Writing Journey

The Reality Of Fiction

Last Thursday was the 1st year publication anniversary of The Slave Prince. It marked the sixth year of my relationship with Thom. And… looking back at Thom’s life, I realised that some stories will never truly be over.

Prior to the publication of the book, I wrote a ‘farewell’ letter to Thom. Though I knew our relationship had ended, it wasn’t really goodbye. Thom will always be there—somewhere, out there—even while I work with other characters. After all, our history together has shaped my present—there is no way that he could ever disappear from my life.

Funnily enough, I’m not sentimental with all of my characters. It is only the ones I’ve known for years who tend to linger on. And, as I embark on a newer adventure with Robb and Myra—of which their tale might go on for far longer than I had previously envision—I have an inkling that they too will join Thom when it’s all over. Which… makes me glad—thankful they are here to stay even when the work is done.

Truthfully, writing isn’t always fun. And my relationship with my characters is one of the factors that make writing their stories meaningful—it is they who make the experience memorable. Because, let’s be honest… I’ve spent more time with these fictional people than with the friends of my reality. They—Thad, Thom, and Robb—have molded my life just as much as I have molded theirs. They have helped me to understand myself better—to grow in trying seasons—carrying parts of me in their personas. Despite their different stories and identities, I trust them to bear the unfiltered and tangible version of me. Despite their fictional disposition, they are real.

‘Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?’

Ask any author and I’m sure they can name a character that is far more real than reality itself. These characters break the barriers of imagination—the reason why Thom’s story feels like a personal experience, why I sometimes find Robb to be annoying, and why Thad will never be forgotten. But… it doesn’t stop there. At the end of my own story, I hope that these people wouldn’t merely be a part of me—that they wouldn’t die with their creator but will live in you.

I hope their lives will be an encouragement in your difficult times. I hope their stories will be a light in your darkness moments. I hope they linger on because they have become a part of you—as real as they can be… in what we call ‘this reality’.

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

Hat | Handkerchief | Car

His name was Jasonian Arventus—the kind of name you wouldn’t forget because it had pretentious written all over it. Jasonian Arventus—who had always insisted I used his entire moniker, as he couldn’t accept the shortening of his name to that of a commoner—never once left his house without his silk, peach-coloured handkerchief. Routinely, he had it snugged in the front left pocket of his expensive grey-checkered, double-breasted wool coat, before taking a foot past the front door. The plain and glossy piece of fabric was akin to a child’s security blanket, for Jasonian Arventus—whose name I’m bound to misspell in the near future—believed it brought him good luck.

Jasonian Arventus had a myriad of possessions but none as precious as his rabbit’s foot of a mouchoir. He lived in a Victorian mansion the size of a Slovenian castle, and had not one but fifteen automobiles that would awake your inner green-eyed monster. He also had a private collection of historical armaments from the Crusades and ancient scrolls from the age of pharaohs. And, if you ever had the patience to hold a conversation with him, he would boast of the ungodly amount of jewellery he owned that rivalled the royal museum. Yet, you would find that Jasonian Arventus would give it all up for his handkerchief—except for that one night, when he was offered a hat in exchange.

The felt hat arrived at his doorstep in a box. It wasn’t a package he had ordered nor was there a delivery man requesting for his fanciful signature. When Jasonian Arventus attended to the chime of the doorbell—he didn’t believe in squandering his wealth on a doorkeeper—he found a note attached to the parcel. The scribble of a letter read, ‘Exchange the kerchief for the bowler and you’ll receive your greatest desire.’

Some days, I wonder if I am to blame for what happened to Jasonian Arventus. However, it was a blessing in disguise. As I was, unsurprisingly, the only person who cared enough, Jasonian Arventus rang me over. He sent his chauffeur to my humble abode, ensuring that I couldn’t decline his seemingly urgent request—made a few hours shy of midnight.

“You have to help me, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus hollered, just as I exited from the daylight robbery he called his favourite car. “I don’t know what to do.”

My name is not Beasty—lest you believe my parents would actually pen such an atrocity on my birth certificate. Jasonian Arventus never saw the importance of learning my name as I did his. Thus, he called me Beasty—short for Aarion Beastanol.

“What is the matter, Jasonian?” I asked, questioning my kindhearted nature for attending to his almost always childish beck and call.

Jasonian Arventus, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus corrected.

“What is the matter, Jasonian Arventus?” I repeated.

“I received this.” Jasonian Arventus slammed the letter on my chest—forcefully enough to knock all the air out from my last breath. “And that,” Jasonian Arventus added, pointing to the box on the marble front porch.

“Hmm,” I said, after reading the hastily written words. “Exchange the kerchief for the bowler.”

“You think I should?” Jasonian Arventus asked. His eyes widened as though he had already decided but needed further affirmation.

“You want to, don’t you?”

“But you know how important silkie is to me,” Jasonian Arventus said.

“The letter didn’t say what to do after the exchange—there’s no return address. Once you make the trade, I’ll take silkie out and keep it for you,” I offered. All I so desired, as my eyelids weighed heavily in the need of rest, was to end the conversation.

“Good idea, Beasty,” Jasonian Arventus said. He took my proposal as encouragement and shuffled to the package. Ripping the box open in unrepressed excitement, he swapped his prized possession for a promise. Then waving me over, he prompted, “Take silkie.”

Withholding a sigh, I did what Jasonian Arventus asked once more. If it meant that he would send me home, I was more than happy to abide. Little did I know, that was the last time I did anything for Jasonian Arventus. In fact, it was the last time I ever saw him or uttered his name. For the following morning, as I returned to Jasonian Arventus’ mansion, I found only the bowler.

Some Wednesdays, while I sipped on earl grey tea in my cluttered office, I would wonder about Jasonian Arventus’ greatest desire. What was it that he had secretly coveted—that made him, his entire household, and every paraphernalia that moulded his persona, disappear overnight? Other days, I would imagine a different scenario, of which I didn’t suggest he trade his handkerchief for the bowler—would he still be boasting his grand and lavish lifestyle? Fortunately, on most days including the weekends, I left my inquisitive thoughts at the back of my mind. After all, if it wasn’t for Jasonian Arventus’ vanishing, I wouldn’t have learned about my sickly aunt in Chenonceaux, France.

Who knew that I—an ordinary man of no stature—could be someone of great importance. Who knew that society would someday say my name—the entire moniker, Aarion Beastanol, that should not and could not be shortened to the likes of a commoner. Perhaps, Jasonian Arventus was right about the handkerchief—luck was now on my side. And should I be offered a hat in exchange, I would be less of a madman to make the same mistake.


Hat, handkerchief, and car were words given by Manua De Cia.

I wrote this with Discombobulate, from the Sherlock Holmes film soundtrack, on repeat. It may or may not have anything to do with the tone and setting of this story. Also, the names were given by a friend—an inside joke that could have, possibly, inspired the characters themselves.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. And while you’re at it, feel free to challenge me with 3 MORE WORDS in the comment section below!

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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