Here are the guidelines and rules if you are interested in participating in this project:
- Leave a comment expressing direct interest in writing or claiming a chapter. First come, first serve. You must comment your interest in writing a chapter. If you, however, send in a chapter without expressing interest beforehand, the submission will not be accepted, unfortunately.
- The participant who claims the chapter has seven days when it’s their turn to write the chapter and subsequently send it back to me. If accepted, I will provide edits if needed and the chapter will be up the day after it was submitted.
- If I don’t hear back from you regarding the chapter, however, and it is beyond the one week limit, I will be searching for someone else to write it.
- Please do not submit to the form without commenting your interest in writing a chapter.
- Authors can write multiple chapters—no constraints or limits on how many they do. However, there is a general courtesy to not claim one chapter after the next. This is to allow other authors a chance to participate and as well get their own claims in for future chapters. When it’s your turn, I will remind you in the thread where you’ve claimed the particular chapter.
- There is no deadline for this story. When I feel it’s near the end, I will release a notice on here to get the final few chapters in.
- The minimum word count I will accept is 500. The maximum word count I will accept is somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 words.
- If no one seems to claim an upcoming chapter, then I will jump in to write again.
- I will not accept anything religious, outwardly political, hateful, pornographic, slurs, or anything that is demeaning, threatening or harmful in its content. Please nothing that is against a particular group, or anything that demeans a certain group of people that would be considered racist, homophobic, sexist, religious discrimination or prejudice. I will not accept your piece if that is such the case.
- An exploration of social issues is fine. It should not alienate or debase the audience, though, in your writing.
- I will as well include your name/pen name and a link to your website (if you have one) with your contribution to the novel collaboration. The novel is titled “Identify.”
You can submit your continuation here.
Chapter One (Psyche) by Lucy.
Chapter Two (To the other side) by Andrada Costoiu.
Chapter Three by B.V. Stratton.
Chapter Four (The fateful night) by Smita Ray.
Chapter Five (Insight Part I) by Amitbhat0912.
Chapter Five (Insight Part II) by Amitbhat0912.
Chapter Six (They’re still out there Part I) by Lucy.
Chapter Six (They’re still out there Part II) by Lucy.
Chapter Seven (Cycles of violence Part I) by Lucy.
Chapter Seven (Cycles of violence Part II) by Lucy.
Chapter Eight (Fragments of the past Part I) by Shweta.
Chapter Eight (Fragments of the past Part II) by Lucy.
It was as fathomless as it began. Tom took a deep breath, recognizing the facets of his life before and his life now. He could not reconcile the time that had passed, though, which entrusted him to have been with Zara for years when he only recalled the fragments of months that passed between himself, Lauren, and Zara.
He knew vaguely that Lauren had wanted to send Zara off to retrieve the lab concoctions to help their escape plan. Everything else was a fog in his mind, being in the labs with her at one point, their attempted escape, and now a child out of a wedlock.
The timeline was odd, it didn’t make sense to him. But, perhaps it had since he couldn’t recollect Zara with their daughter thus far. Their existence only in his mind now, it left him fractured. He could only ask where his daughter was, but fearing the worst, he didn’t want to face the reality that his family could be gone again.
Tears felt like ice on his skin, mercy throughout him itself was pure, defined. The waters descended on the python’s grip, that of Anastasia, remarried to the skins of death and lust.
His head was pounding, pressure accumulating as the waves subsided from his body. He could finally see the figure that was waterboarding him.
Tom grabbed at his pistol shakily, firing shots into her head until her body crashed down. It took him a bit to scale the tree bark—cutting his palms in the process, and holding his breath, he tried to locate the figure that was the source of his suffering.
No one was to be found. He knew it wasn’t a hallucination—she was indeed there. The aura she had could be felt as a stampede—and now if he had tamed this beast, what else would come his way? He still pivoted his sight for her body, but there was nothing. His ears picked up on the shuffle of footfall but there was no shadow to point it to. He felt his skin grow even colder when the insects stopped making noise.
It was as if she never existed.
The lights themselves had dimmed in the sky, the darkness becoming a navy ocean to observe above. Rocks glistened from a slight distance, the stars barely glittering above him.
The aperture of a cave could be seen.
The carving of dried dryads on the ceiling could not lull her back to bed.
She had about three hours of sleep, she could gather, before she awoke decompressed with solemnity, and then waves of trepidation. Her pupils shrunk when the belly of the cave had a brief cocoon of sound very well reminiscent to gurgling death rattles, but perplexing as it came, it was a broad, high pitch that sounded like a seed drill. How it did not stir her transmutant inamorata was both itself a blessing and a curse.
Her legs rattled with pain, becoming restless, she knew she had to look around.
Lauren weakly tugged herself out from Artemis’s grip, mutant hands clinging onto her arm like a serpent around a prey’s pretty neck. A mystic howl of wind rushed into her ears, where Artemis rolled over to the other side, legs widely thrashing in her sleep.
The human watched on, not even a flicker of emotion formed on the transmutant’s face as the apex of her claws sprung out.
She took a deep breath seeing those claws retreat into their little crevices. Stood head down, Lauren carefully stroked Artemis’s whiskers by her white nose before inspecting the cave.
She noticed the different hieroglyphics on the chamber’s walls either with lilt and grace of pink to something more in tandem with red, striking in parallel lines of the bodies of water beneath it.
Lauren crossed her arms, then laying a hesitant hand on the wall. She imagined that the lay of this hand would incite itself a controlled fall, that not even a millimeter, would crack her skull as an avalanche of rocks took her place; shaking herself out of the reverie, she ran her fingers around the ice welts and engineered craft–locked between her hands, a texture that was asymmetrical to nature itself, finding it to be generated by man instead.
In formation, Lauren could tell that by the vestibule of the mammoth cave, it rather looked like an exit. She devised this idea because of the lack of life around them by the silent grasslands. She suspected that the entrance would have more life to it. She grabbed a lighter from her satchel to illuminate the bowels of the cave, clutched her bamboo spear, and made her way into the heart of darkness.
She looked back at Artemis’s limp form, and choked on every piece of guilt that was stirring in her stomach. Fuck, it could have been fear too of the transmutant but she couldn’t impart that as a main constituent in her pathway; it takes the blame away from her, so she saddled with a vial of guilt in her gut, lurking towards the lowly illuminated depths.
She passed through the stalactites hanging on each side in rows—with steel structure perverting out from the stratum. Vibrations coursed through her veins, an ivy flicker of the light providing a set of glittering eyes on the ceiling, fluttering and splayed with black bronze.
It was fucking creepy.
The cave pooled on a dusty gray, its lifeless folds quietly shone, hinging to the cold darkness in the air. Intervened, footfall was prevalent and darning; she gripped onto her spear as she extended it away from her person, head merging against an animal’s snout. The human gritted her teeth, supporting her head into her hand as she glanced up. She was unsure what she felt first, the flush of her heartbeat in her ears, the dangling blackness that warped her vision, or the growing pit of nausea that traced from her midriff now up to her throat.
Dead silent, she remained on the ground unwilling to look at Artemis.
“Please, don’t let me stop you,” Artemis smirked, arms set to help Lauren up. “I think you like this.”
“Piss off,” Lauren lowered her spear and brushed the woman away, her head lowered from Artemis’s poisonous-like eyes. Adorned with the light, it drowned in their depth of the calloused darkness, flattered by the glint of weaponry. She shook her head and sighed. “You were dead asleep—I didn’t intend on you waking up so soon.”
“So, what, you can go cave spelunking?”
She snorted. “No—It’s just, there’s something up there. I need to check it out.”
In the mystic cave, a trance inflicted Lauren as she witnessed the movement of the transmutant’s eyes. Lauren didn’t dare to meet her eye. It felt almost as if time had stopped but then it encircled them in brief moments across gaining in intensity, exposed to selective dust of the past. The edges of the cave encapsulated, reached its apogee of architecture beauty in the dark; and tethered near their silhouettes was the presence of crumbled statuettes of Yama and then Xipe Totec.
Lauren found her hand lingered on the blood lotus of Xipe’s sword, skin briefly cut by the lip of the statue. “What does this all mean?” She murmured.
Artemis looked over. “They both mean death.”
“Then, why are they destroyed? Was it by those against…?”
“The regime? Perhaps,” Artemis turned her head, whiskers sharp. “I would be more inclined to say that the statues being eradicated would be more natural, not quite caused by human kind.”
“Hmm… I guess, but maybe there is a symbolism behind their destruction. Maybe it’s the desire for peace—that whoever destroyed them is sending a message to, um, Anastasia that they no longer want death, misery and hell on the island.”
“Optimist,” Artemis was cheeky. “Anastasia loves symbolism—it’s like poetry to her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she destroyed these herself to enact a different kind of symbolism to us.”
“Then, that would mean she’s luring us here,” Lauren said lowly, slipping the bamboo spear back into her hand. “If that’s true, then this… this may lead us to her.”
“I didn’t say that necessarily.”
“Fine, what did you mean to say?”
Artemis huffed through her nose, eyes narrowing as she looked back towards the ingress. “The night-slayers…” she began, “perhaps she is saying that while those gods were once destroyed, her night slayers are a cycle. If one dies, there will be more. They are eternal.”
The ruins as Lauren remembered them sprinted in her mind. The isthmus with pale, ivory discoloration, the beasts and brutes of Zara and Zargaff; the blood that fountained from his chest, the eluding breath of Zara in her face, she could hear the quiet death rattles as her eyes turned to must, her limbs disquieting from internal bleeding.
The illumination of light broke through her memories; Artemis was staring at the ruins of the statues intently, as if she was going to play with them. The lines and cracks on each statue were accentuated with a common pattern on their chests that took on a zig-zagged shape.
“Give me your spear.”
Lauren knew better than to ask.
Artemis examined the tip of the point with her claws, before stabbing the spear into Xipe. From the slight distance, Lauren could feel the strength that went through the weapon itself, her face still at the sight, her jaw nearly slack. The spear was levied deeper into the mid-point of the shape, forcing it through the access until it was covering almost half of the weapon’s shaft. The stone had wildered it to a point until the lines criss-crossed; the eyes above them had shut, the deep black of the stone partially rising.
An aperture formed before the ground of the effigy, worming itself in flickering wavelengths. Lauren dropped to the ground.
Artemis stared, shuffling uncomfortably. “You alright?”
“Look at this,” Lauren pulled out a cross. She ran her fingers through it as if it were holy when it was just as broken as her and her brother were, physically and mentally. She saw the etchings of the roman numeral three, surmising that they somehow skipped the second one when Artemis cut them through the forest.
“What’s so special about that?”
“It’s—we—we can escape from here. It leads to a pathway in connection to the map—”
“Are you insane? You know there’s no way out of here.”
“This gives us a chance, Artemis. Think about it, we can live in peace finally. All three of us.”
Wearily, Artemis looked at Lauren before speaking softly. “Are you sure this isn’t just leading you to your death?”
Ignoring her, Lauren went on. “We just need to find Tom and kill the regime. That’s it. Then we’re free. We can mark the spot that we came around so we can find it again later.”
“One thing at a time. It’s like you’re on speed.”
“Wouldn’t you be after being so close after all this time, after everything, the loops, the memory changes, the missing time, the serums? We can be normal,” her voice croaked. “We don’t have to live in fear anymore. We can be safe.”
“Yeah,” she sniffled overwhelmed by her own abrupt reaction. “Yeah. We can be safe. We don’t have to just survive.”
“Safe… I’m not… I’m not fit for the regular world.”
“Fuck it, it doesn’t matter.”
“It does. I’m not human, not anymore.”
“A lot of people have lost their humanity through their innards,” Lauren snorted. “Nothing will happen. I promise.” The human followed the trail that so far had guided them, expecting the transmutant to follow. She turned her head, beckoning as if to say, Well?
“Safe…” was all Artemis could murmur. Darkness criss-crossed as they both heard the commencement of “heam.”
It was Anastasia’s voice.