Original Works

Tragedy [12 Genre Months]

I often thought it was a tragedy—how life, as you know it, could change the moment you lost your family. How horrifying it must be as the one left behind. Yet, I never once believed that it could happen to me. After all, I was of noble birth. So who would have thought that I, the child of a respected minister, was just as vulnerable—unspared from the anxiety, fear, and torment? It was only when they came that I realised… I was just like everyone else.

It was never my choice. It was the law that governed our flawless society. Alas, with one wrong step, your blood didn’t matter. For when they came for you, just as they came for us, no amount of pleading or gold could save you from their loaded rifles. It was, after all, a merciless procedure—your fate had already been sealed. And just like mine, I was the only one left—once belonging, now alone. Once free, now a captive.

“Welcome to the cage.” The cage—introduced so indifferently after my mother told me to run. “You’ll get used to it.”

A cold metal collar was strapped around my neck—its incessant beeping tracked my every move. And with the plain white, over-sized uniform hanging loosely on my shoulders, the guards of the hidden world led me to my isolation. This was my new reality—no longer a being but a number. If only… I could find a way to escape.

“You want out?” she asked.

“You know, if they catch you trying, they’ll zap you,” he said, tapping on his own collar. 

“They won’t kill you though,” she stated. “They’ll just warn you not to do it again.”

“I’d rather die,” I replied. “They might as well kill me.”

I had anticipated my cell neighbours to nod in agreement. Oddly, they laughed—a belly-aching laugh, with tears at the corner of their eyes, as if I had told a good joke.

“Why is that funny?” I asked with a frown. 

“Because it is,” he said with a smirk. 

At that instant, I had an inkling that they knew something I did not. And though I was tempted to ask, I was unsure if I could trust them. For some bizarre reason, they seemed rather contented with their lives.

“You’ll find out why, once you get used to this,” she said. 

Life in the cage wasn’t difficult—honestly, it was easy to get used to. There was nothing to do but eat, sleep, and play—there was no work or chores, except for the 3 p.m. gathering in the hall where we would watch static for an hour. From the outside world, where I was told that no one in the cage ever saw the light of day, I was given plenty of sunlight within the confinement. So perhaps, they were right. Still, why did they laugh at my desire for more?

“You don’t know a lot, do you?” she asked. “You think this is a nightmare.”

“I had a life,” I stated. “I had parents and friends.”

“We had parents, too,” he said. “But they weren’t real. None of it was.”

I furrowed my brows.

“Don’t worry,” he added. “One day, they’ll let you out again. You’ll get new parents and new friends… if that’s what you want.”

What were they talking about? Was I missing a memo? Not once did any of the guards offer me a chance to leave. 

“But, you’ll be lucky if they don’t let you out,” she said. “If they do, the cycle will repeat itself. And it kind of sucks, trust me.”

I couldn’t grasp their words—it was a strange notion that the life I knew was fake. But even more difficult to comprehend was wanting to stay, when there was a chance of a new life beyond the cage. Little did I know, they were right. Three weeks later, I was free.

The choice was a vicious cycle. At the end of every experiment, I would wish for a freedom I already had. I would ask the same questions, frown at the same notion, and realise the truth of my predicament a little too late. I would return to the test tube over and over again—unable to change my mind, before I lost all recollection of what was.

Funny, how I once thought it was a tragedy—to be trapped by fate and robbed of a future. But the true tragedy was a joke—a joke on whoever believed that that… was all what life truly was.


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

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

Original Works

The End Of Arcadia [Music Meets Story]

“The last of Team Sigma has fallen,” he said.

The map of our utopia—a holographic projection of our glorious sky-scraping city, built within the embrace of Mother Nature’s lush topography—had dimmed. The last of our soldiers, who once lit the hologram with her beacon, had vanished from the grid. And, as any wise and learned individual would say, all hope was lost.

“What do we do?” he asked.

Alas, the other four remained silent. Despite inheriting the weight of our survival—a hefty responsibility placed upon their shoulders, after our original leaders had died in battle—they stood mummed. A concoction of apprehension and defeat now governed their collective mien. And I knew—it was now up to me. The uninvited guest, peeping from the vent above the room, was the only one left with a solution. If only they had listened—if only they didn’t wave me out of their meetings. Unfortunately, no one heeded the words of a child.

Retreating from the grave reality of our survival, I returned to my bunker—one I shared with a few other children. The leaders had sent all able-bodied men and women to fight the creatures, leaving all those below the age of twelve as orphans. With the war persisting, there were barely any adults left—the last I saw my parents was eight months ago, and my brother was in Team Delta. But as much as my heart ached in grief, I was humanity’s remaining hope. My only regret was not acting sooner, even if it meant breaking the rules.

“Are you really going to do it?” she asked me.

“I have to,” I said. “If I don’t, more of us will die.”

“But… you’ll die,” he chimed.

“I won’t be the first, but I’ll be the last.”

The adults insisted on protecting our utopia—preserving the toil of our ancestors that went into the living paradise. They believed that our world would be an everlasting home—one that thrived on renewable energy, powering our advancing technology without sacrificing the original inhabitants of the land. It was, indeed, Arcadia. Alas, their quest to defend our future costed many lives—more than we could have afforded. Thus, it was high time someone did the opposite.

“Can we come along?” she asked.

“No, you have to stay,” I said. “You’ll have to start over once the creatures are gone.”

“But it wouldn’t be the same without you,” he stated with a frown.

“It isn’t meant to be the same,” I replied. “It already isn’t the same, and you know it.”

My friends nodded. Then handing me my backpack—nestling the only weapon I needed—they each gave me one last hug before ushering me to the door.

“You guys remember what to do?” I prompted.

“Yes,” they replied in unison.

“Good. I’ll see you guys… soon.”

I turned on my heel, refusing to show the final tears I were to shed—there was no going back now. The only step back, that I permitted myself to take, was into history—a time before the invasion, where every morning presented a new hope. But despite what one would think, hope would arrive at dawn once more—after I was done with my mission.

The plan was simple—with the adults scurrying for another strategy, my friends would trigger the intrusion alarm. The alarm would initiate an evacuation procedure, unlocking the north exit that led to the surface. I would be close by—as the banshee-like shrieks echoed down the hallways—ready to slip out into the world above. And from there, my final journey commenced.

Was I afraid? I was. I had never met a single person who wasn’t afraid to die—I saw the fear in my parents’ eyes when they said goodbye, and I heard it in my brother’s voice when he promised to return. Still, they were brave—every person that left our subterranean haven was courageous in disposition. And more so was I.

With the map to the abandoned power plant in hand, and the explosives slung over my shoulders, I was headed toward destruction. The notion itself sounded preposterous—why would anyone destroy the only place we called home? But it was only absurd to those who couldn’t let go of what we had already lost. Starting over wasn’t the end of our perfect world, refusing to try again was. And if it took a child to help them see, so be it.


This story was inspired by the original composition, Legends by Rajiv Seewoolall of RS Soundtrack

Music Meets Story © 2020 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Disenchanted | Syncopation | Avalanche

“It’ll do you good, honey,” my mother said. “It’s only a year.”

The boarding school nestled at the foot of Mount Avalanche—a white brick building, accentuated with bay windows that overlooked the emerald-green garden with its ever blooming flower beds. The grand Victorian-esque structure had once served as a haven during the third world war. But five years after our last city was razed to the ground, the sanctuary opened its oak doors to final year students—promising those who graced its pristine halls a better future in the new world.

“We’ll get you at the end of the school year,” my father added, just as the towering iron gates swung open.

My parents were part of a humanitarian organisation on a quest to find and document all survivors of the war. As many still lived in the rubble of their desolated towns, it was their job to bring them back to civilization.

“I just hate…” I hesitated to continue. It wasn’t the school, despite the rumours of its strict and unorthodox regiment. It wasn’t the thought of living alone either—having done so countless times before. “Just… just be careful,” I said.

“We always are,” my father assured.

As the car rolled up the pebbled driveway, my only concern was of my parents’ safety. They had been assigned to the north, where ruthless scavengers were known to loot. But little did I know, my apprehension was displaced—the danger wasn’t in the wasteland. The danger was here.

“Have a good year, honey,” my mother said. “We’ll call whenever we can.”

After a hug and a peck on the cheek, I bade my parents farewell. And from that point onward, I found myself trapped in the facade of an academy—discovering the secret to its promise on the very first night, snugged under the covers of my soft feathered bed.

It began when the lights went out—a disconcerting rhythm, with offbeat syncopation, resonated through the dormitory. The music echoed down the empty hallways and filled the sleeping garden with its unsettling nature. Yet, the other students were unfazed. They remained sound asleep as though the erratic cadence was a soothing lullaby.

Seeming as though I alone could hear it, I believed it was a figment of my imagination. After all, the rhythm was oddly familiar. But as I struggled to sleep with the disturbance, I couldn’t place where I had previously heard of the discord either. And when morning arrived, my daily schedule left me with little room for contemplation.

From one class to the next—language, arithmetic, the sciences, and extra curricular—I could barely catch my breath. Students were given five minutes to walk to their next class. And meal times were kept brief—every single body moving in perpetual haste. It was only when the sun retired that I finally recalled the night before. And by then, the strange music had returned.

The soundtrack of chaos—there it was again. Was it still just in my head? Unfortunately, the exhaustion from the arduous day ushered me to sleep. Despite the peculiarity, fatigue drowned the noise. And in the hopes of a peaceful slumber, a memory filled the darkness of my eyelids. Oh, how I wished it was a pleasant recollection of the past—a sweet and comforting dream. Alas, I was swept into a disenchanted world—a time where the smoke and thunder of war robbed me of my simple life… and my sister.

“Let’s go back. It’s not safe,” she said, as the siren of an incoming attack shook the trees of the timberland.

“Yea, let’s go,” I echoed.

My sister and I hadn’t travelled far from our backyard. We had only followed the walking trail for fifteen minutes, escaping the harsh reality for Mother Nature’s comforting embrace. Alas, even Mother Nature couldn’t shield us from the war. It was there, amongst the sky-scraping pine trees, that the enemy struck—an air raid that ripped through my sister’s chest while I cowered behind a fallen tree trunk.

“Eva?” I called. “Get up. We have to go.”

I knew—I had found my sister sprawled on a bed of dried leaves. Her small body limp and lifeless on the forest floor. And I knew—I was simply too afraid to face the truth. Then, the siren stopped.

I snapped awake. Dawn had arrived at the academy. And at the chime of the first bell, my routine began—a regiment that, after a day, I had surprisingly acclimatised to. Every morning I would be awakened by the same nightmare. I would then shuffle through my draining classes, with short meals in between, only to return to the distressing memory. It was a never ending cycle with no answers and dead end questions. What was going on? I lost my grasps on reality. And it was only at the end of the school year that I finally understood—I now knew what a better future meant in this new world.

“We missed you!” my mother exclaimed.

“I missed you too,” I replied. “Why didn’t you call?”

“We did but you were always in class,” my father said.

“It must’ve paid off.” My mother beamed. “Your teachers said you did well in your tests. They’ve even recommended you to the New Order.”

“The New Order?” I asked.

“You’ve always been a fighter,” my father replied. “Think you want to enlist to defend our country?”

“Oh, sure,” I replied without thought.

“Eva would’ve wanted that,” my mother said as she gave me a tight hug.

“Yea, she would,” I echoed—Eva would’ve wanted it. That I knew… for sure.


Disenchanted, syncopation, and avalanche were words given by Ryan SMJ on Facebook.

Honestly, these three words weren’t easy to bring together—it was certainly a challenge on my end. But somehow, I managed to concoct something from them and I can only hope that this makes a decent read. So… if you have any thoughts on this story, be sure to leave it in the comments below.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. It might not be easy but it’ll definitely push the boundaries of your imagination and skill.

*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 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

Five Words [12 Genre Months]

I’ll be back, I promise—five words scribbled in black ink on a note. They were the first words I read that morning as I headed to pour myself a glass of milk. Stuck to the door of the fridge with a magnet, I thought nothing of it—he had left many notes as such. But that evening and the evenings after, I started to doubt he would ever keep his promise. Until one day, twenty years after he’d left, another note appeared.

Would you like to reconnect?—five words in a sans serif font blinked periodically on a card. They were the first words I read on a chilly December morning as I went to collect the mail. The card made no mention of whom it was from but I had an inkling. Still, I hesitated. My thumb hovered over the green ‘yes’ button on the device. Was this how I wanted to see him again? I decided to accept the request. And, there it was, the chronicles of his life.

I scrolled through the magazine of what he had been up to—the places he’d visited, the parties he’d attended, the food he’d loved, and the people he’d met and then left as digital memories. He was using a different name, or at least, not the name I used to call him. And, after I had flipped through the past ten years of his seemingly exciting and adventurous life, five more words called for action—would you like to chat? I clicked the green button once more.

“Hey Will, how’s it going?”

Will is typing a reply—the device read.

“Hey! Long time no see!”

Could I define this encounter as ‘seeing’?

“Long time indeed. What’s up?”

I wondered if I should bring up the promise he’d made twenty years ago. It didn’t really matter that he left—I moved on. I had my own collection of countries, events, food, and people, in my own magazine of life. But I wanted to know why he left, with no explanation, only to reconnect now.

“I thought about you recently.”

“That explains why you reconnected.”

“Haha! Still sarcastic I see.”

“Why all of a sudden?”

“I made a promise, remember?”

So he didn’t forget after all—those five words that left nothing but expectation. Five words that gave me no reason for his disappearance. Was he finally going to own up to his broken promise?

“Right. What’s up with that?”

“Well, I’m keeping my promise.”

“Are you serious right now?”

“I am back, aren’t I?”

Was he joking? Did he think this was acceptable—that a simple ‘hello, I’m back’ on a device was enough? Did he not think to be a little more courteous—to actually show up in person after all these years? Who gave him the right to hide behind a screen?

“It was nice ‘seeing’ you.”

I wanted to end the conversation there. And I could. All it took was a click of a red button and I would archive the entire exchange. I even had the option to ‘delete’. Then, I could toss the card out and carry on with my day.

“Wait, don’t go just yet!”

“What do you want, Will?”

“Look, I’m sorry all right.”

“Of course you are, Will.”

“Five words are too little.”

“You realised that only now?”

“I mean, on this chat.”

Five words was how the device worked. ‘Five Words’ was what it was called. It was ‘a small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’—their tagline on every highway billboard and at the top of every salesman’s pitch. It was designed to reconnect people in a disconnected world. And the rule was simple: only five words—no more, no less.

“I know that too, Will.”

“I have much to say.”

“Then say it in person.”

“I want to, trust me.”

“Right. I’m signing out now.”

“Wait wait wait wait wait.”

“Our friendship was long over.”

“Can you come to me?”

Was this another joke? Did he expect me to take the first step? I was not a pushover—I never was. If he wanted a convenient friendship, he came to the wrong person.

“No. You come to me.”

“I can’t. I’m… I’m sick.”

“Sick? What kind of sickness?”

“Life threatening, the doctors say.”

“Oh. Wow. I’m sorry, Will.”

“I’m not a good friend.”

“You left without an explanation.”

“Let me apologise to you.”

Perhaps I could make an exception this time. Perhaps, for a dying friend, I could put my pride aside. After all, he wanted to make things right… and in person.

“Where are you right now?”

“I left you a box.”

“You left me a box?”

“The Yung Brothers & Co.”

“Yung brothers? Who are they?”

“My lawyers. I’m really sorry.”

I was expecting the name of a hospital. I was actually willing to make the drive. Why did Will want me to meet with his lawyers instead?

“Your lawyers? Why your lawyers?”

“I can’t apologise in person.”

“What do you mean, Will?”

“I’m sorry. I should have…”

“You should have what, Will?”

“I should have said more.”

____________________________________________________________________

12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Coffee | Scientists | Existence

Scientists, they called us. Highly-educated individuals who make calculated risks for the betterment of humanity. Doctors and professors with achievements and awards, who were about to reveal to the world the capabilities of mankind. We were people your children would, supposedly, one day look up to—that was how we were defined. And that was what we believed too. But, we were wrong.

We weren’t glorified scientists. We were playing God. But unlike the Gods of the human faith, we made a decision that challenged our very existence. We were in delusion—we brought to life a beast that set the apocalypse in motion.

“Wake up,” she said, placing a paper cup of steaming black coffee on my desk.

“What time is it?” I asked, with a croak in my voice.

I had spent the past five days within the corners of these four white walls, running the numbers back-and-forth for our next test. Time had been relative to our research, that we didn’t have a clock to define our circadian rhythms.

“Eleven forty-three,” she replied. “Are the numbers correct?”

“I hope so,” I said.

We had done it three-hundred and fifty-six times. And that day, at noon, we would see if our years of trial-and-error had paid off. We would witness water turning to wine—we would have the answer to magic. If we finally succeeded, there would be no stopping us—magic would be science and science would be magic. But at what expense? Nobody cared enough to answer that question. We were playing with fire but we had no contingency plan to put out the flames.

“Then let’s go. The team is waiting,” she prompted.

Grabbing my cup of coffee, I followed my colleague to the largest lab in our facility. It was built solely for this experiment—as wide as an airplane hangar for two Boeing 747-8’s, with a ceiling that was eight storeys high. A spherical chamber of forty-meters in diameter, said to be made from glass as strong as steel, occupied the centre. The chamber was attached to grey tubes that drew biological matter from twenty-three molecule cylinders that were lined against the back wall.

“Do we need any changes?” our head scientist asked, just as I strolled in.

“Everything looks to be in order,” I said. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure, but never were we ever a hundred percent sure since the day we started. We could only hope that this time would be the last time.

“Great. Let’s begin.”

At the command, every member of our team took their place—ten of which planted themselves before a series of control panels. As I had done my part, I remained where I was, watching as the molecules in the cylinders began to churn. Shortly after, a humming reverberated through the walls of the laboratory as the chamber fogged. That was it—the moment we had been waiting for. It had been exactly like this in the previous three-hundred and fifty-six runs. But, I had a gut feeling that that day was the day. That day was… doomsday.

If only we’d learned from the cinematic adventures of Alan Grant. If only we took fiction a little more seriously—that just because it wasn’t real, it does not mean it can’t be. If only I entertained the doubts and reached for the emergency ‘stop’ button. If only I listened to the voice in my head that told me something was about to go wrong.

The spherical chamber began to shake. All twenty-three grey tubes unhooked themselves at the sudden quake, spilling matter onto the polished-white floor. As the fog within the chamber condensed, we didn’t know if we should celebrate or run. And in that moment of contemplation, we heard a crack.

“Unbreakable,” the scientists from Japan boasted. And perhaps the chamber was indeed unbreakable at the face of earthly phenomenons. But it seems, in that lab and on that day, we weren’t dealing with nature.

“Everybody, out,” our head scientist ordered.

Nobody saw the need to defy the command as we rushed to the exit. The second all seventeen were accounted for, the doors were shut. A lockdown sequence commenced. And from the outside we watched—through the lens of the closed-circuit televisions—the beast we created, breaking free from its glass egg.

Its black wings—spreading sixty-meters wide—shattered the chamber from within, sending deathly shards in all cardinal directions. Lifting its scaly head, we caught sight of its blood-red, oval eyes. It looked angry. It looked hungry. It flared its nostrils. And as it parted its jaws, lined with flesh-tearing teeth, it released an ear-piercing screech.

It was supposed to be a hatchling. It was supposed to be blind. It wasn’t supposed to be a beast that could rip through the steel ceiling of our laboratory—that could find land, despite our unmarked location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t supposed to be the end of mankind. But it was. It was the definition of our actions. It was blasphemy.


Coffee, scientists, and existence were words given by Jessica Chen on Facebook. So clearly, I went with the whole scientist and existence route which, you know, has been done many times. But I hope, at the very least, the story was entertaining. 

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. Give it a try! You probably can be more creative than I.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Trappist | Baby | Aubergine

“We have to travel thirty-nine, no, almost forty light-years for an eggplant?” he asked in disbelief.

“Aubergine,” I corrected.

“Aubergine, brinjal, eggplant, whatever you want to call it–forty light-years for a vegetable?”

“Aubergine.”

“And you said ‘yes’ to this mission?”

“It’s important. It won’t take long.”

“It’ll take us at least three years if nothing goes wrong.”

“No other ship can take the job–it’s government commissioned.”

“What does the government want with an eggplant? We have plenty on home planet.”

“It’s not an eggplant. It’s an Aubergine.”

My friend of ten years cum second-in-command wasn’t a bright person. He was courageous, ambitious, and zealous, but had no skill in deciphering hints no matter how obvious they may be–everything had to be spelled out for him. Unfortunately in this case, I could only insist on ‘Aubergine’. I was sworn to keep the nature of this mission a secret. And, as silly as it might sound to Gregson and my entire crew, we would still have to travel to Trappist-1 to retrieve the said vegetable.

“Ah, it’s because we’re a small ship, isn’t it?”

“It is,” I replied.

“Making us run errands–pointless missions,” he muttered under his breath.

I shrugged.

Despite the fact that our size–a spacecraft of only one hundred men–was the reason for being chosen, it had nothing to do with being sidelined from expeditions of seemingly great importance. Far from it, our size had put us on a hazardous path. A path Gregson would be excited to embark on if only he knew.

“Can you call for a crew meeting?” I prompted.

“When do we depart?”

“Tonight.”

Sighing, Gregson nodded and excused himself from my cabin. Shortly after he left, I headed to the main deck where my men had gathered. They donned their dark grey and ocean blue uniforms–their ranks marked by the number of stars on their shoulder pads. As I stood on the balcony overlooking the excited crew–ready for an adventure after months on the bench–regret swept up my shore.

If only I didn’t answer the call. If only I wasn’t as courageous, ambitious, and zealous as Gregson. If only I didn’t accept the mission out of a desire for some action. Even after hearing what the Excalibur had to do, I still said ‘yes’. If only my conscience pricked me then and not now–not when I had to keep a secret that could possibly cost lives.

“We will be heading to Aquarius,” I announced.

“McLaughlin, set course for 2MASS J23062928-0502285,” Gregson ordered.

“It’s a simple mission,” I said. “We are to locate Destiny–a cargo ship that last pinged near Trappist-1–and retrieve the Aubergine on-board.”

“A brinjal?” McLaughlin asked, as he tapped on his tablet.

“Eggplant,” Gregson said.

“Aubergine,” I replied.

Murmurs rose from below. My men didn’t raise their voices, but the disappointment on their faces betrayed them. Should I tell them the truth? I had sworn, but they deserved to know. After all, they were putting their lives on the line. Still, would knowing guarantee their safety? I chose not to the tell.

“Yes, it may seem like a pointless mission,” I stated. “But as part of this ship, you have taken an oath to go where no man will go. This time, it’s Trappist-1. Next time, it might be the Magellanic Clouds. The Excalibur has never chosen the adventures–we let our adventures choose us.”

It was a lie, but a lie worded to cloak their reality. Yes, my vessel and the men within have never chosen their adventures–I chose them for them. But this time, it was important. We had to successful return the Aubergine to our home planet. It wasn’t just a vegetable of seemingly little importance, it was a child–a baby in cryosleep that needed to return to earth. For if we didn’t save this child, leaving it to the wolves out for its throat, humanity would face complete annihilation. Home planet would cease to exist. And it would be the end of adventures… for good.

“We will depart tonight,” I said. “If any of you wish to sit out on this mission, you can disembark and leave your uniforms behind.” That was the least I could do.

“None of our knights will surrender their swords, Arthur,” Gregson said. “We shall all go!”

Many cheered. Some chuckled. A few shrugged.

“To save a vegetable,” Gregson whispered to me.

“Aubergine.”

“Aubergine, brinjal, eggplant–who cares?”

I did. I was the only one who could.

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Trappist, aubergine, and baby were words given by Vincent Lim on Facebook. Honestly, trappist set the direction of this story–if not for what I found on Google, I wouldn’t know where to start. Talk about random words!

Now, it’s your turn! You have until the end of April to write a story of your own with the three words given. A shout out to Vincent for making this even more difficult than it already is.

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Original Works

Square | Exhausted | Populate

We all have stories to tell–stories of adventure, love, grief, and misfortune. Stories that shape who we are and the decisions we make in life. In every galaxy–on every living and dying star–stories flood the cosmos. This is my story, on a planet I call home, Bevattna.

Bevattna nestles in the Andromeda galaxy. It doesn’t belong to any solar system–static amongst many others. It has four moons orbiting its cobalt blue surface. And yes, the blue you see sweeping across this planet, from your expensive telescope, is indeed water.

Bevattna is a beautiful place covered by a great ocean–so I’ve read. No one knows how our people were able to populate–how we even began civilization–but we do know we’re a thriving race. It’s amazing when you think about it–being supported by an air bubble system beneath our concrete, man-made surface. How did we come so far? But my story isn’t about my sun-kissed countrymen and the advancement of our technology. My story begins in a square room I live, eat, sleep, and breathe in–the room I’ve never left since birth.

This room is white–blinding white. The white walls reflect the single fluorescent lamp hanging two feet from the white ceiling. A white, rectangular table sits at a corner by the white door, accompanied by a white chair. A white bed frame, nailed to the white concrete floor, cradles a white mattress covered in white bed sheet. All is white, and the only other colour in the room is me–the absence of light. So, why am I here? I don’t know.

Every day–breakfast, lunch, and dinner–a hand, in a white glove, will slip through a flap at the bottom of the door. The flap locks immediately after I receive my food tray, often bearing the same meals daily–a sandwich and a glass of milk. What do people eat beyond these walls? I don’t know. It’s a wonder I’ve yet to find myself exhausted by the lack of variety. It’s odd, don’t you think–I have no complaints.

After my last meal, I find the highlight of my day. It’s the most anticipated hour because I get to leave this room. Three knocks will come from the door. The knocks are an order to face the opposing wall. Once I position myself, I’ll hear the click of the lock and the faint grind from the hinges of the door–you have to really listen. A series of footsteps will then make its way toward me–one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight–before a pair of hands slip a blindfold over my eyes. The same hands will guide me out of the room, along a pathway I imagine to flank more white walls, before I arrive in another white room. When the blindfold comes off, it looks like I’ve never left.

This room is white too, except that there’s nothing but minute–almost unnoticeable–holes in the walls, ceiling, and floor. I can’t remember who taught me this, but in this room I’ll remove my white gown and place it over a hook on the door. Then, the hissing begins. Two seconds after, a burst of water escapes the holes–first clear, then foamy, then clear again. This room provides me my daily bath and dries me with a blast of warm air. It sounds fun, doesn’t it? But that’s not the reason why I’m telling you this. My story, up till today, has always been the same. Day in, day out, I write the same words on a blank piece of paper. But today, my story changes. Because today, when there was supposed to be three knocks, there was none. Instead, I heard the click of the lock.

All I’ve done since is write and wait. I’ve been waiting for my bath. I’ve been waiting for the person to arrive. I’m not sure if he or she is late. I don’t know what happened and why the schedule changed. I’m contemplating about going to sleep. But will the light turn off at the same time today? Will I receive my meals tomorrow? Something isn’t right and I don’t know what to do about it. Is this where my story ends, or is this where it starts over?

I’ve considered leaving this room, but I’m afraid the walls outside won’t be white. What if they’re black? That’s not how I’ve imagined them to be and it scares me. I’m not sure why I’m scared to leave. I only have one piece of paper and a pencil that is now blunt–I cannot write a list of why I think I’m scared. The only thing I can do, once this page is filled, is wonder and wait.

Perhaps if the light don’t turn off tonight, I’ll peek outside. Maybe if the meals don’t arrive tomorrow, I’ll leave this room. If you–whoever you are–are reading this, without me by your side, it means I’ve started a new story. But if you find me with this paper, clutched to my chest… well, my story–amongst a great many others–is over.

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Square, exhausted, and populate were words given by Matthew Lok on Facebook. Like a majority of my 3 Words 1 Story pieces, I started with no idea where the story is heading–forcing me to leave the dull white walls I often find comfort within. Though I’m not sure how well a story as such will sit with you, I can hope some find it enjoyable… or, at the very least, intriguing.

Now, it’s your turn! You have until the end of February to write a story of your own with the three words given. If you choose to take on this challenge, be sure to link your work in the comment section below!

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

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

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

Writing Journey

Is Genre Important?

I think we’ve all wondered, at some point during our creative journey, if genre is important. We question if fantasy sells better, if post-apocalyptic is hot this season, if memoirs win more awards, if our genre – the one we love and consider mastering – is worth pursuing. So, let me just clear this up today. This is a personal statement. I am in no way claiming my thoughts are based on a rule, and I’m speaking from my belief: personally, I don’t think genre is important. What brought me to this conclusion? Why – why I write.

Genre isn’t important, because I’m not trying to be the next bestseller. Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to want to be the next bestseller. Heck, if that’s your goal, go for it – I’ll cheer you on! But, personally, my goal isn’t to write the next hit novel. I have no plans to craft what the majority of people want to read. My goal is to write what is meaningful to me and what I think is important to share. And if I end up being a bestseller along the way, that’s a bonus! If not, it makes no difference in my authoring career. I’m still going to write what I want to write.

Genre isn’t important, because I’m also not trying to win any awards or competitions. Again, if that’s your goal, please don’t take any offense at my personal statement. I know what type of a writer I am – far from literary and a fan of simplicity. And through my past experiences, writing for awards and competitions, I’ve found myself pretending. Well, it feels like it – it feels like I’m ditching my voice and writing to suit the preference of another. And I know… that’s not me. That’s not how I write. Though there’s nothing wrong with challenging myself and writing outside of the box, I don’t enjoy doing so for the sake of winning. Personally, it doesn’t feel right. And, well, it’s just not fun – it kind of feels like work.

Genre isn’t important, because it doesn’t fit my writing goals. But of course, the same cannot be said for you. Perhaps your goal is different. Or, perhaps, you’ve yet to find your genre.

If you’ve yet to find your genre, I encourage you to try them all. Play around with bildungsroman, attempt a crime (story), and dive into satire. Don’t limit your ability to be creative just because science fiction is gaining traction, or because zombie novels are adapted into movies. Find your genre by exploring them. But more importantly, know why you write.

Steven Furtick once said that if you have a strong ‘why’, the ‘what’ doesn’t matter. What genre you’re writing doesn’t matter if your why is the force behind it. So, if you’re questioning your choice, I encourage you to uncover the reason behind your passion. If your reason is to win awards, then write to win awards. If your reason is to be the next J.K Rowling, then write to become a bestseller. If your reason is to inspire, then don’t let anyone tell you to write otherwise. And if your reason is purely for entertainment – because you love writing – then don’t be ashamed, just write!

In the big picture, genre pales in importance. Yes, it’s a facet of writing. But, it doesn’t make a masterpiece. It’s the pastel in the background – the base on your canvas. The real art are the strokes on top – the story that stands out and makes a statement. Your story holds greater value – it is your artwork and skill that sells by the millions, not your chosen base colour. So don’t focus on the genre. A good story can be written in any setting, but a bad story finds no success even under a popular label. It is what you say that matters most. And you can’t say anything substantial without a solid why.

Writing Journey

Write To Challenge

writetochallenge

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that writing isn’t just writing. In order to become a better writer, I’ve got to do more than writing.

You see, writing isn’t just about writing my niche genre, building familiar worlds, and creating characters I can relate to. Yes, it’s good to have a label under my name. And it’s natural for me to keep building it – heck, I should build it. I should master the art of my choice. But in order to become a stronger writer, I have to expand. I have to grow. Just like a kingdom, once established doesn’t remain stagnant, I need to push the boundaries of my world. But… how do I do that? Do I change my writing style and publish novels in different genres? No, I don’t. I simply experience – experience what I’ve never experienced.

To grow as a writer, I need to write beyond the comforts of my pigeonhole. I need to write outside of what I’m accustomed to. It will make me extremely uncomfortable, yes. I will struggle to convey my thoughts. And potentially, I’ll create disastrous pieces. But in order for me to become better, I need to take the leap of faith. I need to explore the vast universe and adapt to its varying nature. I may not be a master of all realms, but I have to experience them. And who knows? I might just write a decent piece.

There’s a reason why writing challenges and writing prompts exist. They don’t merely serve as a filler for when you don’t know what to write. These challenges, as they are called, challenge a writer to write something different. Despite not being good at a particular genre, world, or character, taking the challenge helps one get better. It is the stepping outside of a comfort zone that carves a writer. It is the embracing of something new that broadens the mind.

Personally, I’ve endeavoured to write in other genres, embrace different worlds, and toy with characters. I’ve written and will continue to write sci-fi, romance, mystery, and other genres outside of fantasy. I’ll mould different worlds with different cultures, beliefs, and eras. And I’ll create protagonists whom I’ll dislike more than the antagonist itself. Even if I don’t excel in these challenges – even if I don’t write novels through them – I’ll write anyway. I’ll write to challenge. I’ll write to challenge myself, my imagination, my skill, and my potential. I’ll write to challenge, because I know it has helped me in many ways. And I’ll write to challenge you, to write to challenge too.

I’m not just saying this on a whim. Through past experiences, I’ve grown from the challenges I put upon myself. From Dr. Slubgob’s Letters, a novella about a demon and his quest for the truth, to The Clubhouse, a blog series with characters I disassociate from; I’ve learned to construct deeper worlds and fuller personas. I’m still not good in either arenas – I don’t think I’ll ever master them. But, I have improved. And with a long way to go in my writing journey, I’ll continue to challenge myself.

This 2017, my writing goal is simple: write to challenge. As this year revs its engine, I encourage you to adopt this goal too. In fact, I encourage you to adopt this goal in general. It isn’t just for writing, but for anything – for areas you want to see growth. And If you stick through it, no matter the obstacles, you’ll come out a finer jewel than before.

Also, it can be quite fun.

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