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

Cinema | Heart | Hospital

Romance movies—a poor imitation of reality. Yet, when I recalled that day—the evening I had long planned and hoped for—I found myself in an almost cliche plotline.

“I don’t feel so good,” I said.

We were barely halfway through the latest action adventure when my heart began pounding. No, it wasn’t from the thrill of the film and neither was it from being on a date—if, I was even allowed to call it that. The sudden eruption in my chest was something else, sending me into a panic. And, as much as I wished for my dear heart to calm down, I knew something was wrong—I had no choice but to call an end to our short time together.

“Can you… can you send me to the hospital?” I asked, embarrassed at the request.

At once, apprehension and concern swept across her previously entertained mien. “Why? What’s wrong?” she replied. Oh, how awkward it was from that point on.

Who would’ve thought that our first time alone would be in an emergency ward, wondering if I was having a heart attack? Who would’ve thought that it would end in such an ill-fated manner—a disappointment from the hope of a pleasant and delightful evening? Who would’ve thought that it would be cruelly memorable, like a tragic romance meant to make one weep? Who would’ve thought that it would make the perfect premise of a depressing love story?

Alas, I was unlucky, bearing a fair share of dating mishaps. From a punctured tire, spilled coffee, and a broken nose in a single date to missing keys and an unexpected thunderstorm, my love life had either been a comedy or a tragedy. Why was it difficult to catch a break—a chance to have things go my way? Little did I know, it was all in my head—fiction that was once reality.

“What did the doctor say?” she asked.

It was the day after and I wasn’t sure how to feel about her call. She seemed to care. But perhaps, it was simply a natural, human thing to do. I would do the same, too, with a friend. Was I someone special to her—had my fate changed?

“I have to go back for a full check-up,” I replied.

“I see. Make sure to listen to the nurses,” she said.

“Okay?” I chuckled. It was an odd statement but I brushed it off. After all, she had called me first—she started the conversation, even if it was out of concern.

“I’ll come see you tomorrow, all right?” she added.

“Huh?” I replied. Were we set for a second date—was there a lapse in my memory? Just like that evening, in the dimmed theater hall, something felt off. Alas, I couldn’t pinpoint the problem—it certainly wasn’t my heart.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she repeated. And before I could reply, she ended the call.

I couldn’t grasp her words at that moment. It seemed strange and out of place. It didn’t belong in my world. Until it became clear, the following morning, when she knocked on my room door. I hadn’t forgotten her promise to see me but it was then that I had to face my reality.

“Hi dad,” she said, welcoming herself in. She placed a bag of lunch boxes on the table, before asking, “What time will the doctor see you?”

“Dad?” I asked with a frown. Wasn’t she the girl in the cinema—the beautiful Anna, with short curls and big brown eyes? At my confusion, sympathy glazed her gentle face.

“Are you hungry?” she asked. “I packed your favourite—peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“Who are you?” I asked. The more I looked at her, the less like Anna she was. “Where’s Anna? Anna drove me to the hospital yesterday.”

“She did,” she replied. “I’m Jess.”

“Where’s Anna, Jess? I have to speak to her after our terrible date,” I said.

I had to apologise for the trouble I caused—it was ungentlemanly to make her wait while I changed the flat tire, and more so humiliating to have her drive me to the ER again with a broken nose. One mishap after another, it was as if we weren’t meant to be.

“Mom-I mean, Anna is busy,” Jess replied. “But she’ll visit soon.”

“Soon? That’s great!” I beamed.

Not all hope was lost. Perhaps, we could go on a second date. Perhaps, I could win her over. Perhaps, we had a future. There was much that we needed to do, and much I was excited for—much like a love story with a happy ending I had long been waiting for.


Cinema, heart, and hospital were words given by Nick Ko on Facebook.

Initially, I wanted this story to be fully romance but I soon realised I’m not very good at romance. Thus my ‘poor imitation’ of what should have been a proper love story.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story with the three words given. Let’s be honest, you probably can do a better job than I with these words. So why not give it a go!

*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

Puteri & The Frog [12 Genre Months]

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

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

“Do you need a hand?” a voice asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No one will play with me.”

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

“You will?” He beamed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I-”

“You promised,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Next week?” he prompted

“Sure,” Puteri replied with a smile.

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

“My friend,” Puteri said.

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

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

“The frog?” her handmaid asked.

“Yes. He’s my friend.”

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

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

“Not tonight, dear,” her handmaid said.

“And daddy?”

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

“I know.”

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

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


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

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

Original Works

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.)