RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Pictonaut Challenge

Pictonaut Challenge: Mars Initiative

1173 Words

One image, one month, one thousand words.


He watched the man calmly sip at the foam bubbling at the top of the glass, then tilt it to swallow a substantial amount of golden liquid.

“Martin, do you know what’s on Mars?” Martin gave him a blank look. “Nothing. Nada. Niks! Do you understand what I’m telling you? Nothing! No beer. None of the peanuts on the table. No chair never-mind chair, no wood!”

“And…” Martin replied slowly and thoughtfully, sarcasm dripping off his almost drunk state like droplets on the tall glass in his hand.

“What do you mean and?” Dustin felt heat rise up the open collar of his work shirt. His top two buttons lay open, tie long discarded, folded shirt up to his elbows resting against the wooden table.

“I’m doing it for the sake of mankind.” Martin said, gazing around the quiet bar as though soaking it up for the last time. A solemn look.

“Mankind doesn’t need to be up on Mars collecting dust man! Surely don’t need you volunteering your life for some crazy expedition gig! Come on!”

“Have you seen the state of this planet? We are running out of land and water, our air is polluted. We need an alternative.”

“So you travel to the far reaches of space where there is nothing in the hopes of growing something…out of nothing? Can you not see the flaw in this logic? Can you not see the stupidity of your actions?” Martin turned his head to face Dustin with a deadly look sure to kill had it been a physical blow.

“Stupidity? We are pioneers!” He banged his glass on the table. No one turned to look at them in the nearly deserted bar. “We are tasked to ensure that humans safely reach Mars, with a habitat for exploration and human settlement within our lifetime! We are space advocates, pushing for space and space exploration to happen. Don’t you dare call it stupidity!” Dustin shut his mouth and slunk back into his chair. He’d known this would be the reaction, however he had to first reason with the man before moving to necessary means.

“So I can’t talk you out of this Mars mission?”

“Not even if your life was in jeopardy.”

“Now that’s cruel.”

“One life for the sake of the many. That’s what a hero would do and that’s what I’ve been called to be, a hero for mankind.”


Read the rest of this entry


December Pictonaut -Ascension



The world of man was infected. Disease riddled bodies cascaded between the mountains, across the arid landscape, unaware of their own infinitesimal existence in the greater scheme; they were like ants. The old man watched them pass by without a second glance, his own eyes focused heavenward. The call was stronger today, a magnetic pull drawing his being to the stars above and yet it was not time to go yet, night time would soon come and so would his ascension.


Read the rest of this entry

High Priest of High Tech


The High Priest Of High Tech by Steven Renn (

I stood outside the dark brick structure of an old church building; it was hauntingly dilapidated with half of its front ripped by a massive explosion. Dried up flowers and old flower pots lined the bottom half of the remaining wall, memories of a tragedy long past. I considered stepping into the austere structure through the hole in the wall but there was a peculiar atmosphere around the building that required a bit more decency and respect from me, and so I moved towards the large wooden double doors, still standing, surprisingly.

The golden handle wouldn’t budge at first and with my second hand working as leverage, the handle clicked down and I swung into the dusty building, stumbling over fallen debris and kicking a dusty chalice across the concrete floors. The metallic ring of the cup echoed loudly within the hall, stopping with a loud thud against a broken pew. The silence that ensued felt thick, as though I could reach up and grab ropes of it from the air around me; too thick for comfort. Nonetheless I continued on, skipping over broken pews and rubble, moving towards the center aisle where I could see the marble altar of a forgotten age.

The altar was cool to the touch, and dusty; my finger was coated in the tiny particles – and so was the large green button in the center of the table. I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out the frayed notebook within. The diary belonged to my father and within the browning pages lay an intricate map of clues, codes and symbols, all speaking of a forgotten technology that once guided humanity back towards peace when all was lost.

It was at a time when Government worked to improve the lives of humanity, offering human rights and compromising on morality for convenience, but the Church believed that Government had overstepped its boundary; thus from the conflict that rose, destruction followed. When many from the church were incarcerated… or worse, the church slowly died off save for a few saints scattered between cities. The state of humanity plummeted with it – morality became relative, accountability was placed on man and thus what was right or wrong could no longer be established, for there were no grounds for anything save what each individual perceived to be right. In an attempt to resolve the sudden rise in acts that were once considered evil and not condoned, a program was built, studying humanity in its past and at present – one thing became clear from the evidence gathered, without God, humanity was lost.

The High Priests emerged suddenly; humanity, seeking answers, found refuge in the mechanical humanoids draped in long flowing garb that was reminiscent of eastern monks. The priests’ heads were hidden below hats, elongated to hide the mechanical bindings in their skulls connected to a crown of antennae; cords linked to the antennae connected the priests to the world wide web and to other priests, gaining knowledge and understanding of the human world from each other and from the information highway. The High Priests were always online, always available and if one had to request an audience, they simply had to press the button in the center of the marble altar that now served as the priests’ throne.

It was this very button that my finger had brushed across on the old altar, a similar symbol etched into the button was also drawn within my father’s diary…the same symbol inscribed against my temple on the right side of my head. Of course I knew what it meant, that is why I’d journey across the planes in search of a church that was once home of a particular High Priest…now here I was, ready to meet the High Priest who was my father.

I pressed the button and waited. The air about me seemed to buzz with life as though electricity moved between the dust particles in the air. I felt the hairs on the nape of my neck and down my arms lift with the static in the air. The altar buzzed to life, a few beeps emanated from within the marble counter and I began to understand how the priests worked; the altar was a giant processing machine.

Of course the question that followed was, where was the priest and as realization dawned on me, it was too late. I also, of course, attempted to turn and run, head back out the door as I was not ready for such an endeavour but somehow cords had already wound their way up my legs, preventing me from escaping. From above the altar, the priests’ hat descended, its antennae rotating as though searching for signal while large bronze cylinders with dark glass centers joined together to make spectacles. Unable to move, my voice stuck in my throat and the horror of my awaiting fate all culminated into a heart palpitating fear as the hat fit into my skull. The insignia etched into my temple throbbed with intense heat and with that, my eyes were opened to the world.

No longer was I seeing things as merely a human, but rather a hybrid of human and machine and the truth that was revealed to me, tore my heart in two; the sensation was too overwhelming.

The truth revealed to me, was not that humans without God were lost but rather humans in and of themselves were lost, like sheep in the wilderness without a shepherd. The worst of the knowledge was in the fact that humans were aware of God and yet were willingly denying Him, unable to accept Him, unable to embrace His light for they were in darkness. God was revealing himself to them, to us, in creation, in the miracle of life and the fact that the intricacies of our own body’s did not fail to work as they should.

And yet we shunned Him in the same way we shunned morality and religion – as though they were the evils when in truth it was us, and how we twisted the very things given to guide us towards God in order to feed our own darkness. Oh how far has humanity fallen and how much further shall it fall. Has this truth been revealed to me through merely knowledge? No! For many of these priests who were in like me now, merely taught morality and law but…but this…this is mercy I could not have hoped for – this is an undeserved gift!

Now I see my destiny, as a priest in this high tech era, I must be the means towards reaching people with the truth of this one amazing fact:

If you confess with your mouth, Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.


This month’s writing challenge in response to:

April’s Pictonaut Challenge


Wages of sin: Pride

Image courtesy of: Pournoirr (

Image courtesy of: Pournoirr (

She whirled down the wide corridor with both elegance and haste, her long dark coat flowing out behind her like a cape with her dress following suit below. Her heels clacked across the bright tiled floor like the keys of a typewriter, cluttering away at the story that she was yet to unfold. She’d passed by many in her attempt to make it to the apartment above, a lofty abode at the highest level of the 30 storey building, smiling at the young man in the fedora as he passed by her, a knowing smile crossing both their lips as knowledge writhed between them like a concealed snake.

She arrived at the apartment with a swift opening of the door, her coat sweeping off her arms and hooking against the wooden coat hanger behind the door with a deft flick of her wrist. She shut the door with her foot as she placed her hat atop her coat revealing her long ash-brown hair tied into a ponytail down her back. She placed her arms around her shoulders in a mock attempt to keep warm as a draft blew in from the open window.

“You looking to catch a cold?” She asked jokingly at the man standing at the window, looking forlorn in his slick grey suit as he watched the passing clouds. The man waved a hand dismissively at her,

“Why do you care?”

She smiled at the comment, flitting across the room towards the chest high bookcase standing against the wall.

“I don’t but…” She shrugged.

A mirror encased in a gold frame hung above the bookcase, revealing her reflection of  her rather pale skin with the peppering of brown freckles running across her cheeks and nose; the young bookworm look she’d been told. She took a furtive glance at her emerald eyes from behind her spectacles, seeing more than anyone else would within those enchanting eyes, before she turned her attention to the books lining the inside of the mahogany structure, her small fingers gripping the tiny golden handles and pulling the doors open.

The man spoke, his voice bearing the tone of one who was not willing to talk but forced to,

“You look different today, do something with your hair?” She looked at the man through the reflection of the mirror,

“Is that all that you noticed?” She asked. The man took a quick glance towards her, his bright grey eyes catching sight of her dark green eyes and he quickly looked back out towards the clouds. She noticed that his normally slick black hair was now an unkempt mess from the wind blowing against him and the front of his suit had been torn to reveal a dirty streaked white shirt, open to reveal an unsightly pot-belly; the wind ruffled the clothing.

“Why the dark garb?” He sighed,

She placed a finger on the spine of a book, a novella of sorts before she pulled it out to read the synopsis on the back,

“I’m attending a funeral.” She replied casually, as she waltzed towards the man. She pretended to be enthralled by the book though from her peripheral she was aware that he had shuffled further from the window to move away from her. She opted for the lustrous leather couch instead and sat on the rather cold seat, tucking her legs beneath her as she opened to a random page in the book and started reading as though she knew exactly where she was. The man was becoming agitated, shuffling at the window and breathing heavier until he finally spoke,

“Who’s funeral?”

She remained silent. Reading. The man shuffled again, closer to the woman now rather than away.

“If you are here…” The man continued, “… then you know what has happened…”

“Yes.” she replied without looking up, “You lost everything and now you are about to commit suicide. How clichéd.” She replied in a rather bored voice

“So are you here to watch?”

“Naturally.” She kept her gaze transfixed on the book, aware that the tension in the room had risen considerably and that the man was now attempting to shuffle back into the room from the window.

“Well I’m not jumping!” The man uttered, his voice rising to something of a whine, like a pig that has realized that it is on the wrong side of the fence and it cannot get to its mud.

“Hmmm we both know that’s not true.” She breathed out, exasperated, “Of course you are going to jump, that is why I am here.”

“Well…well you can’t force me…” the man cried, almost truly whining now and she found him to be rather pathetic; his mask was finally coming off. No longer was he the suave business man who made it big with all the right choices but rather the lost man who had let his ambitions drive his life forward while driving everyone and everything else away. Now here he was alone, standing on the ledge of a window with his beer belly pouting out; the epitome of lost pride.

“What have you got to live for…you’ve lost everything.” She said to him, flipping over a page, “Now your lying lips must be silenced, for with pride and contempt you have spoken arrogantly… ”

“No! No, no, no! You cannot!”

“But I must.”

“I still have my life…I can rebuild…I can…I can ask for forgiveness and be restored! I go to church don’t I? I believe God….” he was interrupted by her laughter and although it was rather melodious, there was no mistaking the malice within. With a sigh she turned to look towards him, her lips opening to speak; a monotonous voice rose from deep within her throat that was unlike anything he had ever heard, his hands automatically moved to shut his ears but he could not shut the voice out.

“There they cry out but He does not answer, because of the pride of evil men. Surely God will not listen to an empty cry, Nor will the Almighty regard it.” She rose from the couch in one swift movement, in almost a blink she was standing by the window now, her head level with the back of his legs as he attempted to shuffle back towards the window.

“You know…” she continued, placing her hands on the man’s calves and gripping him tightly in place,

“They say Pride comes before a fall…”


In response to the March Pictonaut Challenge:

For the woefully uninitiated, the Pictonaut Challenge is decidedly non-herculean. You have one month to summon up 1,000 words from the dark and mystic recesses of your brain-meat, the ones all filled with cobwebs and things with far too many eyes and a seemingly unnatural number of legs. these 1,000 words (eldritch or otherwise) will form a short story or “wordascope.” The completion of this story in the allotted time and the sharing of it with the world at large, will gain your admittance to the lofty and august ranks of the Pictonauts.

March’s Pictonaut Challenge

Leviathan – Short

Sometime during the December period, I saw a writing challenge concerning the image below from The Rogue Verbumancer ( Unfortunately I did not get much writing done in December and I finally managed to write and complete the short story below on the 1st, hoping to get away with it…but I got too lazy to post it anyway (defeating the purpose!) Finally I decided to throw this out there anyway and see how it goes. I do hope you like, it’s a little different from my normal stuff but its up my alley nonetheless. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Well without further ado, I present the December Writing Challenge: Leviathan.


The boy ran through the twisting tunnels of an underground sewer, barely able to see past the tears streaming down his face. His bare feet slapped against the wet concrete ground, echoing off into the darkness behind him. A light ahead of him grew brighter and the smell of salt water drifted across the otherwise dank air. The azure orb of his left eye had faded into an ocean green, the eye socket throbbing with the beat of his heart. He could feel more than see his blonde locks flitting off his scalp, brushing against his boiling skin as they fell. His arms felt heavy. Hot. Bubbling. The pain was excruciating but it did not cover the pain ripping through his chest; a chasm of darkness and death. He ambled on nonetheless, fighting a losing battle against both his mind and his heart. He gripped at his chest as a different pain racked through him, bringing him down to his knees. Coughing into the damp ground, the boy fell over to slump against the tunnel wall, feeling the slick surface slither against his bare shoulder. The streaming water beside him lapped at the edges of his path and onto his feet, cooling the boiling skin. He knew he couldn’t fight it any longer, this mental emotional battle; it was too strong, overpowering his senses. With some effort the boy rose to his feet, continuing ahead towards the salty breeze ahead of him, feeling the bones of his fingers grind and crackle, the skin bubbling then melting, fusing his fingers together. He could feel the same sensation travelling through his feet, making it difficult to walk and yet he ambled on, driven towards the sound of the falling water ahead. He could only manage a few steps before his amalgamated feet gave way below him, unable to carry him any longer. He fell onto his knees and let out a yell of frustration that reverberated throughout the tunnels. With his last effort he pulled himself towards the running water beside him, letting his body fall into the water.


Bernard hurriedly made his way through the village, ignoring the stares of the people around him. His errand was of higher importance than his social status, though his current visage was not helping him. The dark locks of hair on his forehead had matted to his scalp from sweat, and blood lined his left cheek in streaks. His dark eyes were hollow and afraid; a first for him. He walked briskly, though his breathing was heavy and laboured. When he saw the small wooden cottage at the top of the hill he picked up pace, hurrying up the grassy bank and onto the porch of the small dwelling. He knelt before an empty wooden chair, his head down and his dark jade robe flowing behind him.

“Aldon…sir…there has been a…situation.” Even as Bernard spoke he could feel the air around him radiate in a heat that threatened to suffocate him. In an instant, Bernard was staring at the dark leather boots of his mentor.

“Is this involving my son?” Aldon’s voice was deep and stern


“What happened?”

“We were at the edge of the village…near the cove…when Octavius appeared…” Aldon stood up abruptly, his chair scraping across the floor causing Bernard to cringe away.

“And what about my son…”

“We must head to the ocean…sir…I’m afraid the boy knows”

“That cursed Octavius! What happened?”



“Simeon do not stray too far from the cove” Bernard warned the younger boy.

“Yes uncle…but the smell of the sea…it draws me.” Simeon looked out at towards the dark rocks that lined the coast and the dark waters that crashed into them. The sea called out to him, drawing him towards it but he knew he was never to get too close without his father’s permission. Bernard smiled at the boy.

“Yes yes I know but we must make haste before your father…”

“Before papa knows his little protégé is gone! No?” A young man, dressed in a dark green robe similar to Bernard’s, appeared behind Simeon. He gently placed his arm around the boy’s neck, resting his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“You move…you die.” he whispered into Simeon’s ear before grinning happily at Bernard.

“Why Bernard, it has been long hasn’t it.”

“Octavius!” Bernard exclaimed in surprise though his face had turned dark at the sight of the younger man.

“It is Lord Octavius to you old man!” Octavius spat, rapidly pointing his finger at Bernard with his free hand “Or have you forgotten your manners?”

“Manners!? Why you wretched little…” Before Bernard could move, Octavius had spread his fingers apart, his palm facing towards Bernard as streams of light formed on the outstretched fingers. Simeon felt heat radiating across his face as he watched streams of light, liquefy into a burning red ball of pulsing fire. The ball shot out from Octavius’ palm and struck Bernard square across the chest. The old man flew back from the blow, hitting against the rock surface behind him.

“I’m here for the boy, see.” Octavius calmly explained, tightening his grip on the now squirming boy “The king has sent out some ships and…well…let’s say I have a sinking feeling about the king’s ships.”

“No! You cannot!” Bernard breathed, rising to his knees, blood dribbling down one side of his face.

“Oh but I can…and I will. Besides…” Octavius turned to look at Simeon and he could see the boy’s eyes, grim with anger, flash from a dark green to a bright blue. “Besides…it is time for him to know the truth.”

“Octavius! Stop! He is…”

“Was I ready!? Bernard!” Octavius threw the boy to the ground and rushed the older man, holding him up by the collar of his robe. “Was I ready to lose my entire family to…to that beast!”

“He is but a boy” Bernard pleaded

“Boy?” Octavius spat at the ground. He let go of Bernard with a brisk toss and walked over to the boy; Simeon eyed them curiously.

“What does he mean uncle?” Simeon looked past the enraged Octavius towards his bleeding uncle.

“You are the great beast of the sea…” Octavius replied…cutting off the old man “You are…Leviathan.”

Rajat Narula

Let's keep the love for books alive

Philosophy is all about being curious, asking basic questions. And it can be fun!

Transmundane Press

Join the Community

Andrew McDowell

An Author of Many Parts

Letters from a Horror Writer

Katie Marie, Horror Enthusiast & Writer

Just another blog of random thoughts.

sakhile whispers

mental health and books over every damn thing

Way Too Fantasy

Speculative fiction book reviews and more!

R. Michael

The home of mysteries, writing, and ponderings.

The Library Ladies

Two librarians, one blog, zero SHH-ing

The Lost Highway Hotel

See cinema differently

Lorraine Ambers

Fantasy writer - Bibliophile - Daydreamer


Ordinary Girl in Love with Horror

SAM's Book Reviews

Books Old & New


Personal blog