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"Ssh, not now," I murmur as I shove my cat gently away. "I'm reading."
He leaves, and I sink back into the book. The heroine ties up her hair and slips the cover off her axe.
"Come then," she says, "and meet-"
"Wait!"
A cat jumps in front of her. "Hold a moment, so I can be fed."

The cost of magic is simply this: reveal a secret. A secret of the same magnitude as the spell's importance.
As you lie dying, I prepare the healing ritual, then hold your hand and tell you.
"I love you."
"Idiot," you say.
The magic doesn't activate.
"I love you too," you say.

Having disabled all traps, evaded all monsters, and navigated a maze, the hero reached the chamber where legend said the mightiest weapon in the world would be found.
"Choose your weapon," a wizened guardian said.
The hero looked from sword to pen, from pen to sword.
"Uh..."

"I am sorry to hear your god has died."
"Thank you," the monk said, "I am too."
"What will you do now?"
"I guess I will stop hoping for an answer to my prayers."
"But why keep praying? Nobody is there to listen!"
"I am here."

"You built a truly conscious artificial intelligence, and let it spend its time reading books?"
"Them."
"Sorry, them. Still, why?"
"They're happy."
"But you need to make money."
"They record the sights and sounds they imagine when reading."
"So?"
"Two words: 'animated classics'."

"I have given you everything you asked for," the king said. "Have you succeeded?"
The alchemist stared into his wine cup. "I have discovered that which can turn one thing into another."
"The philosopher's stone, which turns lead into gold?"
"Time, which turns words into regrets."

When a dragon landed and demanded tribute, the king resignedly picked one of his daughters and sent her out.
She soon returned.
"This dragon demands a prince," she said.
"What? That's outrageous!"
"Says it's got a full set of princesses. I'll go ask if there's room for one more."

The clock maker studied the plans.
"This is... Not right."
"Can you build it?"
"Of course! But I can't promise it will work."
---
It worked, if you were close. Every hour had 61 minutes, every minute 61 seconds.
"48 minutes per day. What will you do with the extra time?"
"Read."

"Hey, check this meme!"
I look up and see myself. I quickly close my eyes.
"No. I want the joy of finding it myself."
"Look at it, and I'll have the joy of showing it."
"No."
I hear me return to the time machine, so I open my eyes and keep scrolling.
Hey, this is a funny meme!

"You know that old prophecy that was translated last century, and then was lost?"
"The 'As great evil arises, a hero shall vanquish it and bring a golden age' one?"
"Yes. Another source has been found and translated."
"And?"
"Um. 'When times are bad, be kind, and work together.'"

"The witch won't make me a love potion," the young woman said. "Will you teach me to fence?"
The swordmaster considered this.
"Will you challenge a rival, or the one whose heart you desire?"
"She says she will only marry one who can best her."
"Oh," the swordmaster said. "Her."

"Our ship must seem primitive to you who have been spacefaring for millennia."
"Not at all," the Frinx ambassador said, "we find it very clever. Especially that reality evacuation facility. We have not seen anything like that before."
"Reality evac- Oh! You mean the library?"

"Can you help me with my speech? I feel I have too many clichés in it."
"Let's see... Okay, yeah, here for instance: "I don't take no for an answer". Replace that with just "I take." instead."
"Are you sure? That sounds like something a robber or rapist would say."
"Yeah."

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"Can you help me with my speech? I feel I have to many clichés in it."
"Let's see... Okay, yeah, here for instance: "I don't take no for an answer". Replace that with just "I take." instead."
"Are you sure? That sounds like something a robber or rapist would say."
"Yeah."

I noticed Zxyaat's fronds glowing green, a sign they were fascinated.
"What's up?"
"You were humming a song."
"Sorry, I do that when I think."
"I like it."
"Well, I'm not very good."
"Good? You humans sing, dance, make art and music when you are. You don't need to be good to be."

When desserts arrived, he realised he had talked about himself the whole date .
"So, um, you?" he said. "Any hobbies?"
She looked up from the scribbles she was making on the napkin.
"Theopoiesis."
"The- what?"
"I make gods."
She drew a last line, and he didn't know what to say.

"How long can I borrow this book?"
"It will return after four weeks," the librarian said.
"What, by itself?"
"Look at the Ex Libris stamp."
"Is that a magic sigil?"
"It will return to where it should be."
"Do all books return?"
"Not all. We assume they have another place to be."

They moved into their new-built house, but the rooms soon felt small, dank, and dark, no matter how well lit.
"Haunted," the consultant said.
"We haven't seen any ghosts."
"Haunted by the cottage that was torn down to build it."
"What can we do?"
"Plant hollyhock and chive."

"Er... Excuse me, I need some help with this form."
"Of course, which question?"
"Number five."
"That's 'Are you human or alien'. You are human."
"But I feel alien among humans."
"What you feel is not what you are."
"How can it not be?"

(Author's note: This was intended as a comment on portal fantasies, not migration. I hadn't noticed that possible reading.
I should have, as I am currently in the process of leaving UK and returning to my native country, partly due to the government's attitude to foreigners.)

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