John | Apr 17, 2020 | 0
10 Short Story From A Picture Challenge To Read Now – By Imgurians (2 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!
Click here for part 1 of this 5 part series
IMAGE BY FRANK BERNING \ STORY BY DISCDIGGER
“Oh God, is that us?” Guy’s voice was breaking as it crackled through my earpeace.
“Shut up, rookie. We have a deadline”, I snapped back.
As Guy made himself busy with his instruments, I took in the scene.
Take a few trips around the galaxy, and you get used to some time-related weirdness. It seems as if every squad has at least one Mr. “I’m-My-Own-Grandpa”, or a veteran who claimed to have seen the end of the universe. Me? I wasn’t exactly green, and I’d been on enough deployments to know that everyone dies some time.
No, what bothered me wasn’t the fact that I was looking at what pretty clearly WAS us, or at least, our remains. What bothered me was the fact Malcolm and Guy were in the wrong seats. It was one detail missed by whatever it was that posed our corpses…
IMAGE BY JOHN SOMMO \ STORY BY XACKTAR
Sargoh wished he wasn’t alone.
If only one of his men has survived. Just one. Any of them. He would gladly give an arm or a leg to hear Brothe wiping his nose on his sleeve, or Jiat complaining about his feet, or Felmar’s whistling.
But all he had now was the smell of blood and the sound of the wind. He’d left them. All of them. There had been too many to bury. Too many of the enemy still around. He’d had to run. No one else could fight. He couldn’t fight, not against what had come for them.
Sargoh stopped walking. His body wavered from the sudden change. He was standing on an outcropping of gnarled, volcanic rock. He’d heard something. He’d smelled something. They were coming for him.
Had he gone the wrong way? The black storm hills were a maze at the best of times. They twisted rocks obscured the horizon in every direction. The mists hung low between them in every hour of every day. One could hardly track the sun during the day… and at night…
If he’d chosen poorly, if he’d been spending all this time walking deeper into the hills, then he was already dead. The hill demons would come for him. Their wings would appear from the mist. Their spears would fall down and nail him to the ground. He’d watched it happen to everyone around him.
He lifted his spear, his eyes searching painfully through the bright fog around him. He heard it again. The flap of leather. They come. He’d chosen poorly. This was his end. He would stand tall for it. He would fight with the honor of the-
The spear struck him straight through his neck.
Sargoh stood still. The spear keeping him in place. He gasped and choked against the blood filling his throat, but he did not let go of his spear. He was dead. He knew he was. He would suffocate, drowning in his own blood. But he would stand for as long as he could. He would not collapse until his life was gone from his body completely.
The demon flew down from above. Its skin like the blackened earth around them. It’s eyes were white marbles in a statue’s face. Sargoh stared into those eyes. His grip tightened. His arm flexed.
He launched his own spear.
The creature squealed as the weapon drove deep into it’s eye. It shook and shuddered for a moment, then fell to the twisted rocks below.
Then Sargoh let himself die.
IMAGE BY RUSSELL DONGJUN LU \ STORY BY @CATOVADREAMS
They called it the Ache, that much he could recall. Before him lay a hundred miles of dense forest stretching from the great river to the ice-covered peaks that brooded before him like a slumbering giants. Beyond that was a gaping hole in a fractured mind. As much as he could remember the sound of the river and smells on the trail north, the names of both lay cast aside in his mind like footprints in the snow. Something important had happened, but what?
“Are you dead?” A small voice called out to him. It was the same sound gravel made when you crushed it under foot.
“I don’t know,” He said. “Perhaps I am.”
He stared at his hand to make sure. It moved, albeit under a fist of clawed steel and wrapped in tawny fur. Each knuckle sported its own claw and just beneath the steel gauntlet lay a series of intricate tattoo’s painstakingly dyed into his fur. He could remember the design but not who did it or why. It didn’t look like the arm of a creature that was dead, but how could he be sure?
“Nah,” The voice said. “Although you never can be sure.”
A small creature stepped from behind a nearby pine, arms spread in supplication. It was a goblin and in the instance the word formed in his mind, he felt like he’d gained a piece of himself back. A goblin. Did he like goblins? Did he eat them? This one was covered in a patchwork vest made of squirrel hide with a turtle shell strapped to its back. It’s pink, frostbitten skin made him react with hunger and nausea in equal measure.
“Are you going to try to eat me if I come any closer?”The small pink thing asked.
“I haven’t decided,” He answered in truth. “Do things like me eat things like you?”
The goblin shrugged, but his hand never strayed far from the rusted dagger strapped to his waist. “Sometimes. Not so much anymore. You Broen have rules against eating things that can think now.”
“Broen,” He said, testing the word. It sounded right, but he gave away too much in the task for now the goblin narrowed his eyes and grinned.
“A warrior with no memory,” He said, wading through the snow. “Could be a dangerous thing. Could be someone like you could use someone like me. Promise you won’t eat me?”
He thought for a moment, but then shook his head.
“Couldn’t catch me anyway,” He said, dismissively. Still, he remained just out of reach. “They call me Pig. Do you have a name? What do you remember?”
Given permission, he thought for the first time. He strained his memory, chasing shadows and echoes in the darkness, but all that remained was the vague idea that he had somewhere to be. His identity danced before him like a reflection in glass, but his name remained wordless. It was a soundless scream only the wind could make but within it he felt his first glimpse of an identity. Wynn? His thoughts were chased away as quickly as they came and behind his closed eyes he could see there were eyes in the darkness staring back at him. Beasts that were his sworn enemy but he couldn’t recognize them if he saw them. Perhaps he could use this little Goblins help.
“East,” He said and the word felt right, somehow. “I think I have to go east. My name…Wynn will do.”
“That’s a good direction. Same direction I was headed in just now. I have a friend I have to visit on the way there. Maybe we could travel together? You seem large enough to carry old Pig and I can be your lookout,” Pig said.
“I’ll carry you,” Wynn said, still searching for his true name. “What’s to the east?”
“Dangerous things. Terrible things. Kings of iron and cities of glass. Are you going to see the King? Are you going to kill the king?” Pig asked, allowing himself to be hoisted onto the shoulders of the great bear.
His eyes drifted down to the war hammer in his hands. It’s weight felt safe, like it belonged there in his paw.
“King Robbin isn’t-”
A scream erupted from the forest, half-pulled from a nightmare and awakening within the bear a feeling of danger and the first blossoms of fear. The sound echoed off the freshly fallen snow and trailed up the mountainside, disappearing into the mist.
“I’ve heard many dangerous things but never that,” Pig said, gripping his neck. “What was it?”
He hefted his hammer, letting the wind flow around him, carrying with it the scent of danger and blood lust. Another spark awakened in his mind. Another piece gained back from the abyss. A single word formed on his lips.
IMAGE BY VADIM MAKHOROV \ STORY BY FUNCLIFFS
His mask wasn’t needed now. He was above the smog. He looked down on the city, the tops of the tallest towers just piercing the thick murk below. There was a faint shiver of light pushing upward from the streets below, but it never reached the sunlight above. And the sunlight never touched the ground.
It had been years since the smog descended. It filled the nostrils and plugged the lungs. People began dying. And yet, they all continued their lives unperturbed. “It is an occupational hazard”, they said. “A strong industry is needed to build a stronger country”, they said. But the sunlight no longer kissed the ground.
At first they protested outside official looking buildings. They fought. But slowly the corruption chipped at their resolve. They struggled. But they had to survive, they had to live, they had to work. He alone continued to fight. He protested until they beat him from his tent. And then he climbed. He climbed to escape. He climbed to find the sun, for the sunlight no longer kissed the ground.
High over the city of never ending nights, he felt the mucus thinning. His lungs didn’t burn anymore; he didn’t need the mask. He rested, alone. And there he saw his first sunrise. This became his inspiration to fight. And fight he did. He fought to show others the glory of the sun, he fought to bring sunlight to the city he loved. He fought the fog of despair that settled all around him. But each night he climbed his tower – for the sunlight never touched the ground.
His first sunrise – that was one year ago today. In all that year, in all that fighting, no one would listen. Not a single voice joined his, not a second presence felt that pure glory. They preferred the clubs, the artificial mist, the pulsing beat, the thick smog. He alone could describe the sunrise, the midday, the sunset – for the sunlight never touched the ground.
But now he realized it was all in vain. All his words, all his sacrifice was for nothing. Nobody heard him, nobody joined him, nobody welcomed him. And so, as the sunrise kissed him good morning, he stood. He turned, basking in the warmth. Then he leaned forward and kissed the ground.
IMAGE BY CLAYTRIZZLE \ STORY BY DANNYMETHANE
I stepped into the worn down weapon trader’s shack, out of the rain. The sound of the rain fell a bit as I stepped in, but the tin roof overhead pinged with every gravity fueled drop.
“Welcome.” the shop keep grunted from behind the counter.
I was brushing the hair out of my wet and weary eyes when I noticed it. The man behind the counter was anything but. His fur covered body, elongated snout, and adorably pointed ears clued me in to the fact that this was no ordinary swordsell.
I stood face to face with one of the cutest dogs I’d ever seen.
Resisting the urge to scratch the little guy’s overly fluffy ears, I managed to make a sound. “So, you’re… uh…”
He looked at me, his level of exhaustion with meetings like this shone through. “Yeah, I’m a dog. I can talk. I stand on my back legs. I sell weapons. Now that that’s out of the way, we can talk business. What brings you in today?”
I was still having a rough time coming to terms with this, but tried to carry on as normal.
“Well, for one, it’s raining cats and do–” Have you ever had one of those moments where you meet someone with some kind of glaring physical trait you’re not used to and you find yourself unintentionally gravitating toward phrases that make those differences glaringly obvious?
He sighed and gave his most belabored, “Hah,” clearly not finding the “joke” funny.
“Oh, I’m so sorry about that. I, uh, want to get a new sword.” I fumbled.
“Great. You prefer long, short, claymores?” He returned.
“I, uh, don’t know. A lot of people argue about which one’s best, but I don’t really have a dog in that–”
“Get out of my shop.”
“Can I touch your ears first?”
“GET OUT OF MY SHOP!” He said, barring his teeth.
“Right.” I said as I headed back out into the rain soaked street.
IMAGE BY RASMUS BERGGREEN \ STORY BY ALBO_UNDERHILL
I looked upon my enemy as he bled out. He had battled honourably but he would not die a hero. Nobody would ever know our story but for the gulls and crows that will feast upon flesh. They will start with his eyes. His armour is too hard for their beaks. I don’t know who will die first. My mouth tastes of iron and death. It hurts to breathe. My blood falls and washes into the sea. So does his. We are brothers of battle. Children of war. Do we pray to the same god? Who’s desires will he fulfill?
Night will fall soon. I can no longer move. Perhaps our story will disappear into those woods where glowing eyes have been watching us from the shadows. The pain is numb. My bloodied opponent hasn’t dropped his gaze. By moonlight it remains as my focus fades. How a single human took down a giant, nobody will ever know. That ballad will die between sharp teeth and deep red blood. He fought well for a human. Too well. The spear he lodged in my skull had deafened me. It forced me to the ground. To our demise.
I hope the night beasts choke on our bones. My enemy, he should be legend, for bards to sing about, for the humans to celebrate. Damn our fate. The pain is no longer numb, it is immense behind my eyes. I don’t think he is holding his stare anymore. His blurred body has become three and moved closer to the trees. With the last of me left, I give out one final blast of fire and roar with all my might. I am Regnor the Wretched. This death is not noble but perhaps I can make his. A knights death by the last burning cry of a dying dragon. A heroes death. It is the least I can do… Before… The darkness.
IMAGE BY LUKAS ESCH \ STORY BY NOVEL_ENTERTAINER
“Hello? Is anyone alive? If you are, come out with your hands up.”
Nothing. 5 years in the marine corps never prepared him for this. He was alone. His partner, Johnny, had called in sick. Detective Smith moved closer to the ambulance, clutching his shotgun tightly.
The tendrils around him were pulsating… like they were breathing. It was silent. No-one was moving, not even the people in the cars nearby. He peeked inside the ambulance, shotgun ready to blast anything that could pop up. Inside was what you would expect: the emt’s trying to revive the patient, medical supplies scattered, and patient zero, lying on the stretcher.
Except everyone was dead. The dark tendrils were plastered around the room, completely engulfing the bodies. It was like everyone was frozen in place, painted over with black-red tar. Strands of it connected all the bodies- even the driver. Backup was already called. Hazmat teams, SWAT, even the national guard was called. Detective Smith was only their to look for survivors, of which their were none. He turned to back up. The fumes might be toxic for all he knew. Then all the bodies spoke in unison.
“Let us feed.”
Detective Smith spun, turning to the bodies in the ambulance. “What?”
“Let us feed.”
He ran to his squad car, calling dispatch over the radio. “Where the hell are you guys!? Get over here now!” Damn Johnny for calling in sick today. He grabbed as many shells as his vest could carry. He took cover behind his door, aiming at the ambulance door.
Plink. Plink. Plink. Looking around him, he saw the bodies emerge from the cars, breaking the glass to escape. Plink. Plink. Plink. The tendrils had killed everyone and taken over their bodies. Now they forced themselves out of the car windows, stumbling onto the street.
“Let us feed.”
Detective Smith was outnumbered. He stumbled into his vehicle and put the keys into the ignition. Then Patient Zero walked out of the ambulance.
“Join us, Smithy,” The body said. “your daughter is already one of us.”
The detective froze. “How do you know my name?”
The corpse smiled. “You don’t recognize me? It’s ya boy Johnny!”
IMAGE BY EMILIS EMKA \ STORY BY TEMPORARYPATCH
The duo worked together in silence, one by choice, one by programming. Lan Fing straightened up, stretching with his arms pressing into his back. He turned to look back at the machine behind him. The automaton sat inert, only a small plume of smoke indicating that it was active.
Sighing, the elderly man turned back to the work in front of him. He raised a hoe and plunged it into the ground, kicking up a small clump of soggy dirt. He pushed it behind him, and heard the machine whirring to life behind him. The mech reached for the dirt pile, but extended further than planned. It crumbled forward, an arm slamming into the human’s leg.
With a scream of pain, Lan Fang crumbled to the ground. He slowly got back to his feet, the pain in his leg immense. He whirled around in anger, swinging the tool with all his might.
The hoe bounced off the face plate, a long streak smearing the smiling face that was emblazoned across the robot. Gasping in a mix of pain and horror, the man stumbled towards the machine, the tool falling to his side. He ran his fingers over the mark, desperately trying to return the design to its original status.
When he was moderately satisfied, he stood, his eyes brimming with tears. Lan Fang looked on sadly, remembering the smile on his daughter’s face so many years ago as she dragged him over to the mech. “Daddy, look! I made him happy now! You can work together and be happy together!”
Grinning, he had lifted her up and swung her around, rejoicing in seeing her giggle in delight before she descended into a heavy coughing fit. Quickly putting her down, Lan Fang led her back to her bed and tucked her under the sheets. The little girl curled under the sheets, her chest softly heaving at the last remnants of her cough. “I love you, Daddy.”
It was the last words she would say. The disease which had eaten her body from the inside finally claimed her during the night. As Lan Fang cried at the bedside of his lost child, the machine looked on, the smiling face still painted on his visage. Days later, the grieving father had gone to clear the paint, but when he looked, all he could see was the last moments with his daughter.
“I miss you, sweet pea. I’ll never forget you, regardless what the bucket of bolts does.” Lan Fang wiped away a tear, hidden under the large hat shading him from the sun. Looking back at the machine, he thought he saw it move its head in response. Dismissing the thought, he returned to his work. The duo worked in silence, one through sadness, one by programming.
IMAGE BY TOMISLAV JAGNJIC \ STORY BY ANONYMOUS
“Dude, you look like your mom banged a deer and somehow had an unholy child that grew up as neither human nor deer, but instead some strange mixture that’s less than the sums of it’s parts.”
Dave listened to the uncharacteristically long and complex insult with attentive ears. Adam always got creative with his shit-talking when he was nervous. Dave replied with his own, much more simple insult. “Suck my deer dick.”
“Seriously bro,” Adam pointed at the sticks glued to Dave’s temples. “Antlers? Come on dude, they’ll stab into the legs of all the dudes you blow.”
Dave laughed despite trying not to. Adam smiled back. “We gotta find out what the forest monster wants man. He’s more likely to talk to us if he thinks my mom banged a deer.”
Adam nodded reluctantly. “Sure, but isn’t this sort of thing usually done by… heroes, or something?”
“Bro, how many times have we had this conversation?” Dave asked. “Just because we didn’t find a magical sword or some shit doesn’t mean we can’t make ourselves into heroes.”
“I guess,” Adam replied as the two men continued walking. They reached the top of the hill and looked down into the valley. There it was. The forest monster.
“Holy shit dude.” Adam whispered.
“Yo bro!” Dave yelled at the forest monster. The giant beast glanced at him. “Is it safe down there in the woods?”
The monster brought up a hand slowly, carefully. It must have weighed as much as a full grown tree. “We’re fucked bro.” Adam said. The hand stopped at full height as a thumb stuck up.
“Oh shit, a thumbs up.” Dave turned to Adam. “What’s that mean?”
“It’s safe?” Adam asked, excitement in his voice.
“Yeah man it’s cool,” Dave said. “Let’s go.”
IMAGE BY JAKUB ROZALSKI \ STORY BY FLAVORSOFBLEACH
Nobody would remember my name if I do this.
They will not build statues of me. They will not shout my name in the streets. They will not put me in the textbooks.
Husked out grass crunched under my weight as I shifted my rifle my shoulder. There were probably more bodies than blades in this field by now, a dark truth I was now thankful for as I laid prone and shaking with fear. Cowardice had saved me alone when the bullets ripped through our charge. But the fields were not covered with their pride, or their heroism. Just blood and bodies. Yet here I lay, practically one of them already.
Mechanical whirring and the thunderous roar of a choked war-engine now filled my ears. The earth shook violently as the enemy pounded their war path over my friends. I could see it now, the horrifying beast that had torn my platoon asunder and now stomped their unfortunate bodies into the mud. It was one of those metal walker-mechs, the ones that our politicians had assured us were no more than a “propaganda machine” that could “never make it past the Dotefsky Line.”
The propaganda machine now marched towards the quaint farming village on the horizon, one-hundred miles behind the Line, with its combustion-fueled heart still bellowing for blood. The walkers always lumbered with four or five patrol men escorting them, like little toy soldiers marching in a line. The brain of the machine was visible behind the fogged glass of its chassis, revealing the silhouette of a man. He had no features, no face, and no helmet.
The village was still being evacuated.
I forced my muscles, cramped and cold with terror, to grip my rifle firmly. How long with it delay them? Ten, fifteen minutes at most? How many people could even get out in fifteen minutes?
I thought of my sister, her body twisted and broken under the rubble. I didn’t want to die, but more than that, I didn’t want more people like her to die. I blinked away my tears, and stopped breathing. This was it. This was what I had to do. I opened my lungs for the last time.
My legs shot up from underneath me on their own. Out of the grass I could now see it clearly. Four patrolmen, and a dog. Only one, the short one in the back, turned his head to face me. Every second felt like an eternity. I raised the scope to my eye and took aim at that faceless puppeteer in the cockpit. My hands had never been so steady in my life.
Blood painted the inside of the fogged glass as I watched the figure jerk and slump forward. A wicked crack in the cool morning air followed shortly after, a dignifying bell to cement my deed. Every patrolman now looked at me, shouting things I could not understand, moving in a way I could not understand. I stood blankly now and, as the attack dog rushed me, lowered my rifle.
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