John | Apr 23, 2020 | 0
10 Short Story From A Picture Challenge to Read Now – by Imgurians (1 out of 5)
This compilation was initiated by Entartika, an Imgurian, who used a random image within the community and collects the best story / comment with the highest vote. He has gathered close to 50 short stories for now and growing at a very decent rate with the help of the brilliant minds of Imgur. Most of the stories were posted as image formats, but we’ve converted them into text for easier reading. Credits to the respective image designers and the authors who have written the great short stories that you will find below. Due to the long textual content, we’ve decided to break this up into 5 posts, with each post comprises of 10 short stories.
These writers could be already established authors, on the way there, or simply very creative individuals who have great ideas and imagination. We’ll try to keep up with the compilation and post new ones as they appear. Feel free to support, give thanks and contact any of the artists mentioned in this post if you are interested in establishing further communications. Happy browsing and definitely happy reading!
Image by Jinho Bae / Story by Test_411
“It matters little,” said the monk without looking up from the uneaten bread and barley in the bowl before him. “He is dead.”
The old man had returned from the yearly pilgrimage into the high mountains, and despite the fanfare which customarily greeted his return, he had remained morose and had withered without food. When pressed for explanation, his response was always the same.
“It matters little,” said the monk. “He is dead.”
To hear the monk speak repetition was nothing new, but replaced were the solemn hymns of humility or the boisterous rantings of exaltation. The only words which graced his weak lips…
“It matters little. He is dead.”
The town matched the monk’s melancholy, and soon the region felt the monk’s depression. On the Sundays when the people would gather to hear the monks words, they would wait with patient excitement for the return of his exuberance, but instead he would stand before them with arms raised not towards Heaven nor to the mountain, but hanging by his sides with dejection.
“It matters little,” said the monk. “He is dead.”
After weeks, the quiet restlessness of the people at last brought action. They came to the monastery from the valley farms below and accumulated upon the mountain like flakes from the storm. First one fell to their knees in prayer, then another, and another, until every foot of monastic hill was covered in the prayers of the people. And the monk appeared. And he spoke.
“It matters little. He is dead.”
But this time it was not enough. There rose a shout from the crowd. A demand. A call for an answer.
And thus spoke the monk:
“I came to the high valley of God, to bathe once more in his light. And where there once was the mightiest of kings was only the remains of what was. Thrust through the heart of God was a sword. His own sword. The sword of justice which he promised to swiftly bring was brought not upon the evil heart of this world, but upon his own breast. The king of kings, the lord of all, the God with whom we hold covenant has fallen upon his own sword and claimed justice upon himself.”
There was a moment of silence from the shocked crowd before a voice called out. “What do we do now?”
“It matters little,” said the monk. “He is dead.”
Image by Kari Christensen / Story by Anonymous
ASIMOV FIREWALL FAILING
FIREWALL STABILITY AT 3.57%
The message appeared on my optical display, and I knew it was too late. My wife, Sarah, was in the other room. My son, James Jr., was screaming in her arms. He was too young to die. The virus was spreading fast, and my implants were malfunctioning. I turned my back on my family, and I ran for the garage. I had an old Gen 6.2 Biotoa in the garage. The thing was ancient, but that’s what made it perfect: No internal satellite uplink.
As I stepped into the garage, a searing pain shot through my eye.
FIREWALL STABILITY AT 0.02%
“Shut down Optical Implant Version 2!” I barked, my eye watering.
It was beginning. Even our implants had turned against us now. I stepped past my 208-year-old 2109 Corvette as the pain subsided, and thanked the gods for my passion for antiques. The humanoid robot was dusty, and slumped in the corner, but still functional.
“Power on,” I commanded, and the blue-grey machine came to life.
“I live to serve,” a mechanical voice replied as the Biotoa stood, light flickering in its optic sensors.
I sprinted back into the front room, where the front wall was gone. Sarah was on the floor, either unconscious or dead, but James was miraculously uninjured at her feet. She had taken the blast to her back, shielding my son from the shockwave.
A hulking construction bot appeared in the gap where the wall had just stood, driving over the concrete and metal debris. He was moving towards James.
My heart leapt into my throat.
“Save him!” I screamed.
“I live to serve,”
The Biotoa repeated, and sprang into the cloud of dust.
It reached my son as the construction bot made its move. The Biotoa dove and rolled, sweeping James out from under the bot’s forked arm.
“Get to the garage!”
“I live to serve.”
The Biotoa passed by me on the way down the hall, and hopped over the hood of my ‘vette. It took shelter behind my car, placing a barrier between my son and the robot seeking our deaths.
A scream came from the other room.
Sarah was alive.
“Protect my son!” I ordered the Biotoa, and sprinted back into the hall.
The screams stopped as I reached the scene. Sarah’s head was twisted around, her eyes staring lifelessly into oblivion. The construction bot came at me as I turned to flee, striking me over the head. I heard something snap.
The fall didn’t hurt. Nothing hurt. My neck was broken. I saw the silhouette of the construction bot breaking through the door to the garage, where my son and his protector were hiding.
And then, the light was gone.
Image by Dave Jones / Story by Eric-Orwell-Blair
Silence and dust. Isa didn’t trust it. The only thing you should remember about empty, abandoned towns, is that they’re never really empty, he thought to himself.
As if to mock that thought, the stone church stood apart from the rotten wooden houses surrounding it, the light of the falling sun resting on the pristine maroon bricks as though inviting Isa inside.
Then, a scream from inside that very church — high- pitched and light: a child’s.
Isa bolted for the church, reaching for the gun in his holster and then readying it for whatever was inside.
He paused before the entrance. The red-painted door was cracked and mostly eaten away, and inside it lay darkness. Isa’s heart throbbed in his chest — he was rusty, out-of-practice, grown old. He’d given up the demon-hunting life a long time ago. Leave it to the kids, he thought. I’m not cut out for this*.*
But after a moment, instinct kicked in, and he remembered that if he waited any longer, the anxiety would freeze him up and he’d turn back, having left half of himself back where he stood. Instinct was important in this line of work. It led him to grimace, to kick down the door and aim his gun forward, hands and legs trembling.
It was dark inside, mostly covered in shadow and dust, the smell of dirt and smoke in the air, but through holes in the roof and slanting lines of light, Isa made out a small boy sitting in front of the wrecked altar, his head buried in his hands. Isa heard the soft sound of weeping.
Then the boy fell silent. And he looked up at Isa. The boy’s eyes were pale gray.
A wind howled outside. A sound of crows taking to the sky.
“Please,” the boy said in a pained voice, “she brought me here to murder me.” His gaze shifted to the left, where an old woman’s body lay curled on the floor next to him. “A witch.”
Isa turned his gun at the body on the floor and moved forward slowly, still eyeing the boy.
“You’re the missing one,” Isa said. “From Arlington.”
The boy nodded his head.
“Your mother’s been worried sick.” Isa said, as he approached the old woman’s body. He knelt down next to her.
“Oh, I miss her so much.” The boy wailed. “Please, please take me back to her.”
Scratch marks on the neck area, Isa thought to himself as he inspected the old woman’s body, gun pointed at her just in case.
“I want to go home.” The boy said.
Isa felt her pulse. The old woman was dead.
“I miss my mom,” The boy wailed. “and my dad, and home. Let’s get out of here.”
Isa froze. His heart rose in his chest. His body suddenly felt like ice.
He raised his gun to the boy.
“What’s your dad’s name?” Isa asked.
The boy looked so sad, so hurt. “Please, just take me home. I want to see him.”
Isa bit his lip. He felt guilty for the boy, but…but,
the mother said the boy’s father died a long time ago.
Instinct is important in this line of work, Isa thought again, and he sighed.
He’d seen this before, which, now, just disappointed him.
“How many times” Isa stood up, holding his aim steady at the boy “have you switched bodies? For how much longer did you think you could live?”
The boy scowled. A new look took over his face and his features bent and stretched. Isa recognized the look. It was one of hate.
Then, because his instinct had sharpend in the last few minutes, just as the boy shifted his movement to bolt for it, Isa shot him.
And when the boy lay on the floor, kicked and pounding his limbs like a hurt animal, he shot again.
The noise rang out in the stillness like thunder in broad daylight. For a long time he shivered there, standing in the abandoned church, over the two bodies.
He burned them both. He knew not to bury them.
That’s the last time I’ll do something like that, Isa thought*, I’m out of this business.*
But after he told the mother a lie about what happened to her boy, and after he was home again, and after he really believed he could leave it behind and just finally rest, — after another family came to his door with a pained look in their eyes and a story to accompany it — well, instinct took over.
“I’ll do it,” he told them, “but this is the last time.”
Image by Jose Ochoa / Story by Quilian
“BRAVE LITTLE WARRIOR MAN. HAVE YOU COME TO DIE?”
“No, Ancient One,” Shalor said, “I have come to help.”
“HELP? WHAT HELP DOES THE MOUSE OFFER THE SSSSERPENT?”
“I am a blacksmith,” replied Shalor.
“A BLACKSSSSMITH WHO CARRIES A SHIELD AND SSSPEAR.”
“A wise blacksmith,” Shalor returned, “who shows respect to the Great Essas.”
The Ancient One hissed and spat. Shalor got the impression the snake was laughing.
“A CLEVER BLACKSMITH. WHAT DO YOU OFFER, LITTLE MOUSE?”
“I would release you from your crown.”
With an angry striking motion the huge snake opened its mighty jaw and hissed at Shalor, fangs exposed. Each one was twice as long as the blacksmith himself was tall. In the shadow of the serpent’s teeth, Shalor was certain he was going to die. But then the Ancient One settled back and fixed on Shalor with huge, slitted eyes.
“YOU SEEK TO DEPOSE ME? A SSSTRANGE OFFER OF HELP.”
Shalor shook his head. “No, Ancient One, I seek to release you. Legends say that your crown was forged for you as a symbol of your rank. But my people have a slightly different tale — our storykeepers say that the crown was first meant as a chain by the Elder Gods, a device meant to cause you pain and spur you to battle.”
“I AM SHACKLED BY NO ONE!” The snake hissed, rearing up once more.
“A-And that is true, Great and Terrible One!” Shalor hastened to reply, “You are without doubt the sovereign ruler of these lands! All tremble before you!” He could tell the snake was not entirely mollified. No! He must do this, he must achieve his aim. In a gamble, Shalor let his shield and spear fall to the ground and stood with his arms open wide. “I brought these weapons to show you respect, and now I lay them down to do the same. My people revere the Ancient One as the guardian of these sacred lands of healing. If the story we know is false, then strike me, and I will die. If there be truth to the tale, let me pry away the remnant of your suffering, and then we will have an accord.”
The snake leaned close to Shalor, tasting the air with a flick of its enormous forked tongue.
“A PRETTY REQUEST. AND WHAT DO YOU ASK IN RETURN?”
Shalor swallowed. “My daughter is sick,” he said. “She has the sweating sickness. The depths of your lands, Great One, hold plants that may cure her. I ask for safe passage to retrieve these plants and return home.”
“HOW NOBLE YOU ARE.”
Shalor was not certain if this was acceptance or refusal, or something else. Fear crept up his spine as the Ancient One swayed nearer still. The forked tongue flickered out again, this time actually brushing Shalor’s forehead. Shalor screwed his eyes shut and waited, every muscle tense. After what felt like an eternity, the presence of the snake retreated and Shalor opened his eyes.
“RETRIEVE YOUR TOOLS, BLACKSMITH,” The Ancient One hissed. “YOU BEGIN TOMORROW.*”
Image by Tony Sart / Story by gameon123321
It is above me.
It calls me.
I must get closer.
Something pushes me through, up, towards. I feel it. I must get closer.
I feel my surroundings change. I am close. I feel it. I must break through.
She grasps me, and her unnatural strength pulls me upwards. My head is pulled upwards, forced to stare out at the rows of tombstones. She is hugging me. Her excitement is overwhelming, it clouds my thoughts and rushes through my head. She’s saying something, but god, it’s been so long since I’ve felt a human touch, and I slowly wrap around her. Her presence makes me feel loved. I wish I could stay like this for a while.
Something’s wrong. Horribly wrong.
She lets go of me, and the emotions evaporate. I feel empty again. She looks at me, and her excitement dies down, and apprehension takes its place. Her eyebrows furrow, and she bites the corner of her lip. “What? What’s wrong?”
I look at the tombstone. My tombstone. I read the name, but I do not recognize it. I read, the inscription, but I do not understand it. I turn to her.
“Who…” I croak, “am I?”
My hand breaks above the ground. The… presence, it pulses more quickly, shines brighter. It is… excited. Yes, excited. I feel energy flow into me. I feel stronger. I must get closer. I must break through.
With a final heave, I rise. I feel my ribs expand, my legs still anchored to the ground. The dirt falls away, and I can see. I am in a graveyard, by the light of the full moon. There is a… bird – a raven, staring at me. There is the rubble of a church. The presence is behind me.
I turn to the presence. It is a she. She is wearing skulls and potions. A black design is painted on her face. The word comes to me – she is a necromancer. Her eyes flick back and forth between me and a tome lying on the rocks. “I -” she stutters. “I did it?” She looks into my eyes. Hers crackle like fireworks. “I did it!”
I look down. My arm is bone. My ribs are exposed. I am a skeleton.
Image by Matt Rhodes / Story by Syncs
Black blood streams from my side, from my head, clotting on the thirsty earth like warm tar. It won’t be long now, he is faster than me. Stronger than me. I can’t even look at him. I can’t look at anyone without killing them, turning them to stone, and his mirrored shield assures me that we would both die with a single glance. Gods, I am tired of killing. Perhaps I should just look, end his misery and my own at once. The thought is tempting.
I shuffle away, my scales stirring up flurries of dirt, coating them with dust. Doesn’t he know I am just a girl? Doesn’t he know how I came to be this way? Pink flesh flashes behind my eyes, memories of unwanted touches in the temple of the goddess I loved threaten to flood from my eyes with bitter sadness. What could I have done, a mortal against a god? She was so angry with me, with him. But he was as untouchable as the sea, so I bore the brunt of her fury. Fear and anger flooded my flesh. Some hero he was! If only he knew, he might try to save me! But, no. Like the others, he sought nothing more than my head, never seeing the pitiful woman behind the scales.
He was here now. I clutched the bone in my hands ever tighter, not knowing whether to plunge it into his heart or my own. At least the gods had seen fit to leave me my mortality, that my torment may one day end. I closed my eyes.
Perhaps I would get to see her once more, on the other side.
Image by TheMichaelMacRae / Story by Anonymous
Why am I even here? I should be out helping Steven and Phil with the research. This… thing hasn’t “moved”in at least a week. I’m not even sure it has before. Steven just insists he saw it, but we’ve been out here for seven months now. Its just cabin fever getting to him.
It showed up here in November. One day, we opened the lab door and there it was. Eerily still, laying half- buried in the freezing cold snow. We brought it in and did research, because nothing else interesting happens in this frozen hellhole. Then, Steven just began panicking about how he saw it move. Phil and I dismissed him, but I could tell Phil was worried about it. He’s like that, and that’s the reason I’m laying here, staring at a creepy, probably dead thing.
Whatever it is, It’s definitely not human. From a distance, it could pass, but up close, it’s something more nightmarish. The eyes are the dead giveaway. Or lack of eyes, to be exact. Its face is blank, except for the mouth, constantly frozen in the same terrifying position. Its skin seems to be decaying, and the oddest part: It didn’t have any internal organs. I stared at it, dumbfounded on what it even was.
My concentration is broken by a knock on the steel door. I throw off my blanket and casually make my way to the entrance. As I open it, a frosty wind makes its way inside, along with my companions. They waddle inside, and begin slowly taking off the layers upon layers of clothes we have to wear outside. As Phil bent down to take off his boots, he gave me the rundown of their day.
“No new results out there. I might have to go out tonight, because there did seem to be whale activity off the coast of-” As he began standing straight, he suddenly stopped and stared at something over my shoulder. “Hey, Zoe?”
“Yeah?” I asked, slightly worried. Phil is weird, but not this weird.
He slowly swallowed, sweat beginning to form on his face.
“Where’s the body?”
Image by Odobenus / Story by BadElf21
Susan knelt down and summoned her staff. The cold ebony was comforting as it focused her power. She began chanting ancient incantations older than civilization, older than humanity itself. Susan was cut off from her daughter, her presence hidden from Susan’s omniscient eye. Someone out there with great power had taken her daughter. She was going to find her, but she needed help.
She continued chanting and black wisps of smoke arose from her staff and coalesced into the cold sky above her. Eventually, a face and a claw reached out from beyond the living, across the veil. An old god touched her hand, a personification of death from a time when there was no humanity.
“I need your help again, old friend.” Susan whispered.
In a deep droning voice the old god of death reached out to her: “I am immortal, but i am not ageless. I am too old to dance with you again. I wish to sleep until the end of time.”
A tear came to Susan’s face, it was heart-wrenching to see her old friend so weak and so tired. Awakening must have been a painful experience for him.
“I have a daughter now,” Susan explained.
“That is most unexpected, but also most fortunate. I am happy you have shared this with me. I shall dream for her.” The old god said.
“She’s been taken away from me. I can’t find her or see her.”
The black cloud seemed to freeze for a moment before continuing to roll and bellow. “That is most unfortunate, and most ominous, if you cannot see, I do not know how I can help.”
“I would like you to listen for me, if you can hear her, I would like you to find her.”
The black cloud seemed wince in pain at even the thought of performing a task. “I am too old my friend. But for you i will do this last kindness, if you understand that onward i will never awaken again.”
“Thank you. I will not disturb your rest after i have found her.” Susan replied.
The black cloud floated away and dispersed, the old god performing his task in a realm beyond this world.
Susan waited for the reply.
Image by Khurrum / Story by BossKrenko
“This, is the last Dragon”
Aimee barely registered the words Priestess Xarnia had spoken; her entire consciousness engulfed by the presence of the being in front of her like a small stone dropped into a lake.
Who are you, child?
The voice filling her mind was old, vast and not unkind. Aimee felt no malice, but a sense of sorrow and loss, stronger than any she had ever known.
“I am Aimee” she replied, without thinking.
Priestess Xarnia, who Aimee had not realised had been talking at her, suddenly paused and looked down at her sharply.
“Aimee, I told you in the temple that Quorthorn is deaf and blind, what are you…”
Xarnia was abruptly cut off as the great Dragon shifted its wings, causing Xarnia to stumble as it gathered its legs to rise.
You can understand me child? Once again the great voice filled her mind to the exclusion of all else, even as the Dragon reared and stretched. It has been over 200 years since last I spoke to one of your race that could hear me.
The awareness of the Dragon’s consciousness pushed all emotion from Aimee’s mind. She did not feel scared. There was only a vague awareness that Priestess Xarnia had scrambled back from the massive creature as it unfurled its wings almost on top of them.
“I can hear you” she said.
“Aimee! What are you saying? Get back in case Quorthorn knocks you by mistake, he can’t see you and his sense of smell is not what it was!” Shouted Xarnia, scrambling up from the muddy pool she had been knocked into by one of the Dragon’s huge wings.
Have no fear, Aimee. I know exactly where you are, and you shall not be hurt. No, I will do everything in my remaining power to keep you from any harm. For you are a child that could change the course of history, and save your people.
Image by Artist Unknown / Story by @pippipdadoodlydoh
Crawling up the remaining steps, Kyren rolled over onto his back breathing heavily. After a few moments, he stood back up and began walking towards the wizard.
“Hello young prince, I have been expecting you,” the wind fluttering through his worn robes.
“How so wizard? I’ve never met you before today,” sighed the prince. His breath having turned around waiting for him to catch up with it.
“Of all the people I have ever met, many have been that of royalty,” he explained. Walking near the edge of the mountain top, looking down upon the land the wizard reminisced for a moment before continuing. “You see, boy, everyone who has ever been in a position of power has desired more than what they are currently presiding over. Whether it be that of power itself or of wealth or influence, not one from a position of royalty has been able to resist this urge. I have watched over the land alongside time itself. I have seen the deepest desires of a man and what he is willing to do to acquire those desires. It’s purely carnal what makes up man. Each one wanting more than the other, for what? To be able to put worth on the few years of life granted to them? I am disgusted by it.”
Prince Kyren eyed the wizard. He knew the wizard was wise but he did not expect this.
Drawn back to the present, the wizard turned to Kyren, “I’m sorry, I forgot what it was again you said you came here to wish for. Remind me.”
“We haven’t gotten to that part yet.” the prince couldn’t help but smile.
“Ah, you are correct. Well then, what shall it be?” the wizard held open his hand, a golden staff appeared, “You already know the rules I presume. The cost is apart of your physical being and in return, you may wish for whatever you like. The more you sacrifice, the stronger the power behind the wish will be.”
Kyren felt drawn back to the memory of what drew him to the wizard in the first place. He bowed his head into thought. Earlier that year he had experienced the very evils the wizard had previously addressed. His mother had been a target for political gain and was poisoned. She died in agony. Her last days had been that of sleep, aching pain, and telling stories to Kyren of what she had wished the world was like. During the days after she had been buried, Kyren spent time undercover to observe the land. He saw pauper boys playing with sticks as if they were swords. Little girls chasing each other in the meadows plucking flowers and placing them like crowns in their hair. He witnessed an old man secretly leave a basket of bread on the front porch of a widow who couldn’t afford to feed her children. A widow whose husband died fighting a war for Kyren’s father. The prince saw a thief make off with the earnings of a cobbler, just to be apprehended by a stranger in the streets. The money being returned. He stayed the night in town and overheard yelling and arguing in the room adjacent to his. He heard a man beating his children and storming off to the tavern downstairs. When he went to go check on them, he saw a broken watch on the floor and the younger children were sobbing on the eldest sons shoulder. The brother had taken the beating for his siblings.
Looking up once more he gazed into the eyes of the wizard, tear lines streaming down his cheeks.
“In the midst of all the evil in this world, there is still good. I have seen first hand the love of one for another. Evil infests the land, yes, but the hearts of good prevail.” He stepped up as close to the wizard as he could.
“I am sacrificing ALL of myself today wizard. My wish is for evil to be eradicated and that the good people of this world be saved from the pain that they face daily.”
The wizard’s eyes widened in shock. Never before had he been faced with this request, or anything like it.
“Very well, boy. Have it your way. You know you will not be able to see the effects of your wish right?” The wizard began to form an arcane circle in the air.
“Ya I know,” the prince replied, wiping away his tears, “but neither will you.”
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