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Stories abound.  They are everywhere.  Some stories are massive and glorious like a monument, a structure of marble and stained glass.  Some are humble and simple like a puff of cloud or a puddle of water.  And some stories–most perhaps–are somewhere in between, small, but complex, more than first meets the eye…like a feather.

Everyone has stories.  Here, I will tell you some of mine.

Welcome to Storyfeather.

The Alien in My Headphones

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Digital drawing. Overview of a wooden desktop. Clockwise from top right corner, most of a cup filled with a brown liquid. A cell phone displaying a checklist with a few items checked off. A hand with a bracelet visible, holding a pen perched over a folded-over notebook. A crumpled sticky note. A pair of over-ear headphones. A cylindrical container filled with colored pencils. A partial view of a pair of glasses folded up. A folded-over notebook with notes written on the top half lying over a document affixed with a binder clip holding a note where the sentences are partially visible under the headphones.

I settled the headphones over my ears.  When I inhaled, I felt a little lurch in my stomach.

Every time I turned them on, I was afraid I’d lost the signal.  And every time I turned them on, I was afraid I hadn’t.

This was getting out of hand.  This…investigation that I’d gotten caught up in.  But if it was a prank, it was—I was going to say “epic,” but that word gets overused.  It was…extravagant.

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All the Magic Left the World

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Digital drawing. Various winged animals in the sky positioned at a diagonal from bottom left to top right. At bottom left a snake emerges from glowing clouds. The snake has two arms and is holding them out. The left arm appears to be disconnected. Outspread wings appear from just behind the snake’s head. Behind, above, and to the left of the snake a giant turtle swims through the air toward the viewer with outspread wings emerging from behind the forelimbs and smaller wings emerging from behind the head. A spider crawls on the turtle’s shell. The spider bears eight wings. Behind the turtle at some distance an elephant descends. Faded feathers fall from the elephant’s wings. Behind the elephant, the glowing outline of an owl’s head in three-quarters view, facing left, is just visible.

Three spheres comprised the world.  The waters, the earth, and the skies.  Upon first glance, it would seem that every creature lived in its own sphere.  The creatures of the waters lived in the waters.  The creatures of the earth lived upon or beneath the earth.  But the world was not so sharply divided.  And one of the spheres was not truly inhabited by any creatures.

The creatures of the skies did not live in the skies.  They soared and fluttered, sometimes for long stretches of time, but a time would come when they need descend and perch.  

Some creatures lived where these spheres meet.  Some creatures lived part of their lives in one sphere and part in another. 

Once, in a long-forgotten age, every creature could live in every sphere.

This was so because of an energy, a force that spun around and through the world.

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My Every Existing Memory

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Digital drawing. Composite image. Left bottom, a young man seen from his left side, from the shoulders up, with his eyes closed, with his hand in his hair. Faint words are visible in his hair. The word “Forward,” and below it, in reverse, the word “Backward.” He is in grayscale, while the rest of the image is in color. Behind and to his right is the façade of a diner seen from an angle. An “Open” sign hangs from the closed door. Four windows are visible. A sign above the door and windows reads “Singing Star.” Above the sign is a marquee with a huge five-pointed cartoon star hung in the center. The star has closed eyes with long lashes and an open mouth painted with lipstick. Beside the star are lines hung with musical notation symbols, flanked by more stars. Behind and to the left of the diner is a sign seen at an angle. The sign reads “Dr. V. Varma, Applied Transdimensional Theory, 8-9 PM, Auditorium.” To the sign’s left is a set of two theater chairs. A backpack lies under the leftmost chair.

“Memories are unreliable…”

Max paused, hesitated actually.  He’d rehearsed aloud what he was going to say so many times—despite not needing to remember the words—that he’d fooled himself into believing it all sounded reasonable.  But now, he was about to say the words out loud to another person, the most critical person he could possibly tell his truth to.

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The Union of the Spyglass

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Digital drawing. Composite image. Center, a floating island wreathed with glowing clouds, surrounded by a wispy net of light. Behind the island, a circle encloses a partial view of the moon at top and a night sky. Encasing the circle is a square, showing the same view of the sky. Top right corner shows bolts of lightning. Top left corner shows colorful sparks of light. Along the bottom stand a row of twelve people seen in silhouette from the back, each person holding one hand on the shoulder of the person standing next to them. This square is flanked by thin panels. The right panel at bottom depicts a partially constructed ladder beside a support tower. The left panel shows a spyglass or telescope angled to view the floating island. A final set of panels flanks the rest of the image. The scope extends into the final left panel. Thick gray fog or clouds appear at bottom. At right middle, three smaller floating islands are chained together with bridges. The sky above displays colored gases. At left, a net of light extends and expands from one corner of the island. A larger overlay of the circle showing the sky and moon sits to the left of the whole image. A smaller overlay sits to the right.

Not in the beginning, but early in the history of the world, many mortals suspected that the ones who called themselves gods were shirking their duty of properly governing the world.  Some responded by entreating the gods.  Others by railing against them.  

But a few decided to try answering the question of what it was that the gods spent their time doing if they were not doing what was expected.  

It was known that the gods lived far above the earth and somewhere below the stars.  Their abode was not visible to mortal eyes, but if human sight could be extended, perhaps human eyes could see the comings and goings of the gods, and follow their course to where they landed in the mortal earthly realm. 

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Galactic Ring of Wrestling Ladies

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Digital drawing. Five figures arrayed in flanking formation. At center is a human woman facing forward.  She holds her hands before her, facing each other.  A glowing ball of light is suspended between her fingers. Along the forearm part of her left armband, a lightning bolt glows.  She wears color-blocked exercise clothes. A humanoid lizard sits to her right and behind, raising her right arm as if in greeting. She wears a scarf around her neck, and a breastplate displaying circuitry. To the lizard’s right and behind is a giant seagull, wings outspread, head raised, and beak open, blasting out a ray of swirling circles. To the human woman’s left, a toad springs up and out, to the toad’s left and behind, a unicorn with a rainbow mane rears up, her horn blasting forth a ribbon of light.

“Sentient entities of the cosmos!” the announcer spoke, her voice booming through the arena that floated in free space.  “Welcome…to GROWL!

The audience cheered, waving their flags, waving their extremities, and shouting the names of their favored fighters.  The announcer paused until they settled.

“Our first contender on tonight’s mind-blasting roster, is also our first human ever.  Hailing from Earth, wielding the powers of biological science, I give you….Molecular!”

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The Unicellular Detective

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Digital drawing. Cartoon depictions of anthropomorphized unicellular organisms in a line. From left to right, three filaments of cyanobacteria, a Stentor, a paramecium with flagella who’s wearing a fedora, a slime mold, and a dinoflagellate with glasses.

There’s something you should know about me, and it’s not that I’m a plankton.

I mean, aren’t we all?  Plankton, floating around in the great pond.  Except, I don’t just float. 

See, I was born with some pretty powerful flagella.  What is that, you ask?  Flagella, they’re like…like long limbs, protruding from all over my body—hey, don’t make that face, they’re not gross.  At least, my parent told me they’re not.  Some days, I show ‘em.  Most days I don’t.  But they’re not just for show.  See, I’m a paramecium.  We’re only supposed to have cilia, short little hairs that let us kind of get around.  We’re not supposed to have flagella.  They let me do what most plankton can’t do.  They let me decide where I want to go.  Instead of letting the Drift decide for me.

What is the Drift, you ask?  Boy, you multicellular organisms sure are curious.

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What Is Permanent Damage?

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Digital drawing. Front view of the top two-thirds of a closed door.  A hazy glowing light emanates from bottom left across the face of the door. Scattered bits of redacted text appear over and around the door. The visible words are as follows: Science…in its current state. Project Manager. Project No. Existent…charge and…key…fakery. The first letters of “project” and “existent” are cut off.

Every day on my way to my desk, I passed by a door with the words “PERMANENT DAMAGE” written on it.  

No one ever went in or came out—not that I’d seen anyway, and I’d been working at the firm for about a year.  I asked people about the door, and the sign.  They said there used to be another firm occupying our floor and the two below it.  That door supposedly led to a defunct elevator that shuttled executives between the floors, leading directly into what used to be their fancy offices.  Or it led to a laboratory space.  Or some sort of obstacle course?  The rumors abounded.  Now those spaces were claimed by other firms.  The words referred to the project that resulted in the shuttering of the company.

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Laser Beam Ice Cream

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Digital drawing. Foreground bottom, a bowl with three scoops of ice cream: strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. The center scoop, vanilla, has little lightning bolts surrounding it. The chocolate scoop has a spoon sticking out of it. Behind the bowl are three figures. Center, from waist up is a smiling young man facing forward, with his curled hands on his hips. To his left is a young woman from waist up in three-quarters profile, her head tilted up. A beam of light shoots from her eyes. She holds the first two fingers of her left hand to her temple. To the young man’s right is a black-and-white dog, seated, who is also looking up and shooting beams of light from his eyes. He wears a collar with the name “Percival” on it.

“I’ve done it, Percival. I’ve really done it.”

Arthur strode into his kitchen with the black-and-white mutt following.  In his right hand, he held the cause of the grin on his face.  The fist-sized device looked like an ordinary gate clicker or car alarm controller. 

“I wonder if the name ‘Bandage Beam’ is taken,” Arthur said, as he reached for the freezer handle. 

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