Raid Social Mechanics


, , , , , , , , , ,

This one isn’t technically a short story; it’s more of a slice of one. But there is no larger story surrounding the scene as it was a single idea that never blended with any others. That advice you hear sometimes about writers having to delete scenes they love because they don’t work with the project? This would fit into that category pretty well. I want to share this scene with you anyway because I know if I don’t it will merely sit in a save file forever untouched and alone.

I wrote this piece many years ago, back during a time I raided on an MMORPG. I don’t anymore because it was far too time-consuming, yet I have a lot of love for that time, and a lot of fond memories, both of people I’d met and the games we’d played. This story was an exercise within that mind frame. If you’re not a gamer yourself there are likely many references and slang you won’t recognize, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from enjoying the energy of the piece :)

* * *

Austin cursed as another one died. Not into the microphone though. He button smashed, holding one finger posed over his interrupt as his others maneuvered his character around behind the boss.

Then two healers died at the same time. Bam. Bam. And that was all she wrote. He watched as the main tank went from full health to nothing in two seconds flat during the boss’s special attack. The off tank held him for a few moments, but it was a losing battle before it’d begun and the boss turned and systematically took out the rest of the raid. Austin didn’t even bother trying to run like a few of the other guys did. Just sighed and stood, the echoing sounds of the boss’s emotes ringing in his ears as he bent to open the fridge for a drink.

“Motherfucker,” said Ira. That was the off tank. Ira, short for Irabelle. The first e had a squiggle over it as if it somehow made the name cooler. “What the fuck, people?” Thirteen or fourteen, Austin guessed, and still overly enthralled with the fact he could cuss online.

Austin pulled a water from the fridge, then went and grabbed a hoho before going to sit back down at the computer. The dorm room was quiet around him. His roommate escaped on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights because he couldn’t stand Austin’s hobby, which was more than okay for Austin because he didn’t have to feel self-conscious or embarrassed if Paul brought anyone around.

“Soo…” said Mango. Raid leader and one of the main healers. “What exactly happened there?”

Austin rolled his eyes and stuffed the last of his hoho into his mouth. Mango should be the one to know what happened. Should be the one correcting people’s mistakes, leading them in the right direction, but damnit, he was pathetically incapable unless Des—rogue dps, short for Desbledsallot—told him what was going on.

There was a ping and Austin glanced down at the yellow private message as he took a swig from his water bottle.

I died! I died! Please someone explain to me HOW that could POSSIBLY happen when I’m standing in the fucking fire??? Continue reading


Micro Poem Collection #3


, , , , , , , ,

Her breath of frost and lungs of ice
strip the world with winter’s kiss
Snow-trapped fae and crystal sprites
lodged beneath that frozen mist


Hope shrivels when touched
weak as a butterfly’s wings
you must let it soar


Bone-white teeth and shoulders scarred
Claws of death and muzzles marred
Tortured eyes and longing howls
Shattered pack from play most foul


Stretching fingers wrapped in pigment,
dictate how we live
Painting pictures seeped with fragments,
section love we give


As the memory fades
out of your reach
I hold your hand


Poet’s Bane


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your song, it tarries in the grooves of my heart. Plays on repeat, stuck. Your words, a language spoken by the soul, unintelligible to those outside our bond.

I pen another.

No smile could touch me quite the same. No tears strike the chord yours have found within my heart, swelling a lullaby that cradles me as I sink into the bliss that is you.

And another.

Such sweetness stains, eats away the walls I’ve built. Such devotion drives a track within our lives, carving a future merged from two.

And again.

This gentle soul I’ve found in you, reflected in a thousand mirrors, a million stars lighting your aura that you might cleanse me, free me from these earthly constraints that threaten to drown me in sand and soil.

I flip the page.

Take me to that place, wherever you might be. Come dawn, whisk me to between the worlds where folded together we shall ever be.

Scribble across the unintentional rhyme.

Please, I beg you to hear me scream. My voice echoes in my throat, but does not reach the sky. Lost among the nether clouds where your ship wanders, searching for what, I wonder. Searching for me, I hope.

The thesaurus does not help, so I throw it.

You are my heart, my soul, my world and all the worlds you’ve visited since. I breathe for you. A silent song I can not control pours forth into the starry road you travel.

I scream for real, a shout of pure frustration.

What can I possibly say for you to hear, not with your ears, but with your heart? I yearn to follow you, to chase that winding path you’ve left glowing in your wake.

I let the pen fall. Ink splatters the page, looking like star patches and nebulae and a single half note with its empty belly. There are no words left untarnished by my feeble attempts. I merely repeat myself.

Heart. Soul. Stars. Song. World.

How can I not wrangle these thoughts into something coherent, something I could be proud enough to show him? To watch his eyes flick across the page, faster and faster, as he reads of my emotions.

Outside the roar returns. His ship burning, a high whine settling into a blare of engines that shake the building.

I’m out of time.

I shove the used papers into the trash. Ink bleeds across those pages, muffling the pain in those sentences. I take up the pen one more time. Pull free a fresh piece of paper.

May I come with you?

He would understand.

* * *

I had the first two lines of this story for a very long time, but I didn’t know what to do with them. Second person isn’t my favorite type of POV so I knew I didn’t want to write anything too long, but I couldn’t come up with a way to turn those two lines into anything more.

Then I got to thinking about the way I often brainstorm when I’m stuck trying to come up with a new idea or flesh out an old one. And that is…I write new lines, continuously starting over until I finally pick up the right track and can race forward with the story.

I thought it might be fun to create a flash piece using that method…so thus was born the poet trying to pen a love note and having the worst time of it.

What’s neat is that this is an inside look on how I sometimes get to the right words. There are often a lot of unused words that come first, most of which get tossed in the garbage because either they’re not good enough, don’t move the story or characters in the right direction, or simply don’t convey the message I’m trying to get across.

That being said. I absolutely love the first two lines. I think the poet should have stopped with them.


Across That Ocean of Sand


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“You don’t get seasick, do you?”

His attention remained on the leather harness rather than on me, yet I heard a rather interesting lilt in his tone, as if he were remembering some past bloke who couldn’t hold his breakfast.

“It’s a similar feeling, a rocking, swaying with the muscles of her neck bunching between your legs. A different sort of barren landscape underneath.”

I swallowed against an instinctual bile rising to the back of my throat and neglected to answer for I’d never stood foot aboard anything large enough to sail the seas. “Have you ever been on an ocean?”

My curiosity was merely an attempt to distract myself from the wyvern clawing at the ground and sniffing at the dusty air, her focus pulled toward the erg filling the world to the east. Ruins of a distant time jutted from beneath the sandy layers nearby. Crenellations lingering long after the city had been claimed by the encroaching dunes.

The man snorted and patted his vest before tugging free a pair of hide-covered binoculars. “No, but wind-surfing the dunes sparks a similar feeling I’ve been told when you’re on the down side, a dropping in your gut, and I’d dune-surfed a few times in my youth.”

“Who told you they were similar?” I asked.

I had my doubts, as I’d dune-surfed as well and didn’t think it could possibly be comparable to being wyvernback. Not at all. On the sand, I had control of that board. Up there? I’d be at the beast’s mercy. And there was a whole lot farther to fall if I lost my balance.

“And old flame,” he muttered in answer as he scanned the horizon, then he passed the binoculars to me. “We go south, over the sinkholes, stop at the Ribcage for her to rest and then head on to Hollow Heights near dusk.”

“That long?”

“Longer still if we don’t get going.” He patted his girl’s neck, gloved fingers scratching at beige-scaled hide. The man himself, face leathery, short beard unkempt, clothes worn, yet clean, seemed content to merely stand there though. He’d been paid half already. I reasoned, if I backed out now, it’d been an easy payday for him even without earning the other half.

And backing out seemed more and more attractive the longer I stood there hesitating. Couldn’t seem to move myself closer to that wyvern, my heart beating a rapid rhythm and my mind tricking me into thinking I was in danger. Sweat broke out on my neck. My legs screamed for me to run.

“Her name is Preen. Likes compliments and jewelry. To a girl’s heart.”

When I didn’t move, his eyebrow quirked and a resigned smile that held a hint of irritated empathy flickered across his face. “She’s a nableclaw. Small, swift and friendly to boot. You’ll be in safe hands.”

My chest squeezed, the air so dry I felt as if could feel my lips cracking. “Give me a moment.”

The words came out sharper than I’d intended, but I didn’t correct myself as I spun abruptly and strode away, needing to be out of reach of the wyvern, my fear an animal in its own right, clawing up my spine, ripping through my skin, pouring from my pores like burning magma.

Along the edge of the rocky mound, I paused and leaned, staring longingly to the northwest where the plateau around Springhaven stretched. The small city—home—couldn’t be seen, not from this height, not from this distance, but I knew it to be there, hidden beneath the plateau.

The man’s boots scuffed the rock behind me. “You’re not a dune crawler or a wyvernback. What’s in the Wastes for you to do this?”

What indeed. More like a who. A man I wasn’t even sure would be happy to see me.

I knew I could convince myself of the uselessness of this trip easily enough. I also knew I’d forever ask myself what if…

What if I hadn’t let this fear stop me from going to him? Hadn’t let it be the end of us. Continue reading

I wrote you a poem of rhythm and rhyme


, , , , , , ,

I wrote you a poem of rhythm and rhyme

A small little piece filled with capers and crimes

I fed you red herrings and snippets of clues

Plus suspects most foul I whittled to few


You read every word and thought that you knew

The murder committed, the how of it too

You played along nicely, your guesswork divine

And though I tricked you, you had a great time 

© EMMI LAWRENCE (5.13.2018)

My Life, His Breath


, , , , , , , , , , ,

We played a game that summer, one both dangerous and arousing. That lake—crystal blue and quiet—held secrets of our trysts, hiding those breath-swallowing moments within the silt and grasses. Every second, every touch and tightening grip, emblazoned itself upon my memory. For he held a power to him, a charisma I could never resist.

Whatever game he created, I would have said yes.

This one took a turn during the heat of July, when the sun sweat circles on our shirts and cooked the water level down half a foot. Dan, with his bright green eyes and daring smile, grabbed my hand before I could dive off the pier.

“How long can you hold your breath?”

About as long as anyone, I presumed, but I shrugged in response, anticipation tingling up my spine.

He leaned closer, a drop of sweat leaking down his temple. I wanted to lick it off, taste the salt upon his skin, flavored with a masculine scent no lake could wash clean. His voice became a deep whisper of suggestion.

“Want to find out?”

I never did need to say yes to him. Not in June when he’d winked at me across the parking lot at the camp ground. Not last week when he’d groped his own crotch when he caught me neglecting my fishing rod in order to stare in his direction. Not two nights ago when he snuck into my tent with a fat stack of condoms and a need that shook his fingers. And not today.

He pushed me off the pier with a laugh, his palms hotter than my skin. I gasped as I hit the water, sending a splash across the pilings. He stood above me when I surfaced, unrepentant and cocky, his hands on his hips. I could stand there, the tips of my toes curling against slick rocks that had already sliced our feet open during our first weeks at the camp.

“I’m going to find out,” he said, then he dropped his hands and stepped forward.

I jerked to the side to avoid getting hit as Dan came leaping into the lake. He didn’t surface after the water splashed against my face, but the lake, as bright as it was on the surface, was nigh impenetrable underneath so I couldn’t see where he’d gone. I fished about, searching for him, anticipating him yanking my shorts or tickling my balls.

Instead, he surfaced near the last piling. Green eyes sparkling as he blinked water off his eyelids, he grinned at me with surefire need on his face. The devil in him, I’d seen it. Loved it. So none of that warning scared me away.

I swam for him, chasing him into the lake. He swam backstroke, laughing at me as I gave chase. A need rose up inside, a need I was familiar with. The same need he had reflected in his eyes. One that shone brightly, brighter even than the sun.

This was us. This is what we had become. Lusty and focused and drawn to dark desires. Continue reading

In the Darkest Hours


, , , , , , , , , ,

I lay in that bed. The sheets cold. The heater off. Winter at its depth. A chill seeping in through the bottom of the door. A whistling outside the window. The stars beyond covered with clouds. And the light from the streetlamp creating a glaze upon the glass, a frosted smudge.

I lay there. Waiting. Wondering if he would return. My mind too focused on that question, as often as it seemed to come.

There’d always been a swath of feeling when that doorknob finally turned. When the keys jangled as he cursed the fact they were stuck once more and wouldn’t turn without much coaxing. Even now, I wondered at it. Had it been relief? All those times. All those hours, waiting, wondering, unable to sleep until I heard him arrive home.

He’d been warm when he entered the bed. A heater. A furnace. And even though I hadn’t been cold, I’d turned into him. Felt the hair upon his arm tickle against my shoulder. Hear his annoyed grunt as he shifted away from the stubble on my chin. We never stayed like that. Never woke up entangled in each other’s arms. Always broke apart sometime in the darkest hours before dawn and never found one another again.

I wondered if that was where this feeling crept from. The darkest hours before dawn. Waiting to see if this time he wouldn’t return. If this time, he kept his foot on the pedal, drove past our building, onto empty highways that would lead down a different path.

And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out if the feeling that swept over my body, tingling through my veins when that doorknob turned, wasn’t relief after all, but disappointment. Or even dread. That I would hear his irritated sighs. His exhausted groan as he turned over in the sheets. The blanket tugging, feeling far colder than any empty bed.

I thought back to when we’d first met. When I’d been working on the corner. Serving food and drink in the evening hours after classes. When I’d hide flashcards in my apron and study as the hours grew long and the tables empty.

He’d come in, like clockwork. Thursdays. Always Thursdays when the beers were cheap and the smoke lifted above the bar so thick it was visible from outside the windows.

Work meetings, he claimed. His fellows were coworkers and the conversations easy and comfortable. Networking, he murmured later with an exhausted smile and lips that held the scent of spicy wings I’d served earlier. We’d speak, at first just small talk. About the weather, hot and cold. Him asking about the classes I took and wondering over job openings he saw. That was how we got to working together. Me, grabbing a hold of his offer to toss my resume to hiring managers in his office.

How long had he been planning on wooing me? How long until I finally realized what he was after? How long until I’d wanted him in return? Continue reading

You have the thirst


, , , , , ,

You have the thirst
though not the power
You claim the courage
Yet waste your hours

You have a dream
But not the will
You live a life
Yet aren’t fulfilled

You have tomorrow
but lost today
You see the goal
But not the way

You find your voice
When no one hears
You face your faults
But not your fears

You’ll wake too late
To live your dream
If all your time
Slips through the seams

So take this day
Shift out of park
And through the years
You’ll make your mark

© EMMI LAWRENCE (2.1.2018)

~ ~ ~

There was this moment, over a decade ago, where I went from ‘someone who wanted to write’ to ‘someone who writes.’

We talk a lot about things we want to do, things we’re going to do, but so few of us actually get to doing them. And every so often, even if we’ve conquered these moments in the past, we still need reminding to stop talking and start doing. Reminded me of that awesome Shel Silverstein poem. Hopefully I can post it here without getting into trouble:

All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin’ in the sun,
Talkin’ bout the things
They woulda-coulda-shoulda done…
But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little did.

© Shel Silverstein