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Fantastical Vocal Favorites Vol. III

Supporting Passionate & Talented Writers on Vocal

By Amanda StarksPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
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Illustration by Jom Plang from Jom Plang's Images. Edited with Canva assets.

Hello, everyone! I'm back at it again with another volume of Fantastical Vocal Favorites. This time around we are taking a dark turn into the strange and the terrifying with the pieces I've chosen.

Here's a break down of how this works: I will choose four published stories per volume and give in-depth thoughts as to why these stories are so great ( and why you should read them ) and then I will be gifting a $5 bonus to each of those writers as a way to pay it forward and show my support.

Please note that if you don't have a stripe account attached to your Vocal account I cannot tip you. :(

I will be doing my best to avoid popular stories, top stories, and contest winners with more than 10 likes. This isn't a hard or fast rule - more like a guideline!

I will also never promote my own work on these articles, as I want the spotlight to be on the writers featured here!

So without further ado, let's get into Vol. III!

Please note that every piece I choose is run through an AI checker. I can't guarantee that every piece, however, is detectable through certain programs, so if you find evidence that any pieces chosen are made with AI, please contact me via the Vocal Discord so that I may remove them from this article and a new creator can be lifted up instead!

Shadow & Ichor

His wet footsteps echoed through the void as he walked forward, cold and alone, casting wary eyes at the swirling black. He could feel it watching.

Man, who could have seen this coming? Me? Recommending one of Ian Read's dark stories? Nah, couldn't be. But in all fairness, for a hobbyist, Ian's writing is truly magical, at at other times delightfully bizarre. ( This is your sign from the universe telling you to go subscribe to Ian Read. )

For his fantasy short: The Man of Glass, all of Ian's creative and whimsical talents come loose inside of a dark, creepy setting. It begins quite similarly to one of my own pieces entered into Matthew Fromm's fantasy challenge; a character finding themselves inside of a shapeless void, only filled by shadow.

A visitor comes, who the reader is never quite told the identity of, which makes the satisfying and VERY curious ending all the more potent, leaving us with only a tantalizing appetizer for a hidden world of ink and shadow.

“Then welcome to the Brotherhood, acolyte.”

*cough cough* IAN, WE NEED MORE!

Strange Friends in Foggy Places

we wait in the center of the abandoned streets

as fog engulfs us like an old friend

I don't know what it is about fog as a setting that instantly invites intrigue and mystery. Could it be the simple nature of obscuring ones vision? Or might it be the slightly wet heaviness that settles over us while moving through it despite the fact it is mostly air?

All of those musings and more come to a point in River Joy's atmospheric free form poem: the fog.

It's a narrative poem; telling a story of a pair of companions ( or lovers? ) as they wait within the fog's embrace, hinting at something sinister beyond that keeps them there - oppresses them.

I really love how River drops subtle hints to the presence beyond the fog. It works really well to open up the reader to imagining their own interpretation of what could be out there, and plays into the motif of the fog hiding things from the viewer. In many ways, the fog in of itself is the entity and is personified through River's careful descriptions.

it waits perched on his shoulder

yes him

standing at the corner

holding off what's left of the fog

while we scurry away

I could read pieces like this for the rest of my life and be more than satisfied. Come join me in being a subscriber for River!!

A Useful Psychologist

He screamed into the void, challenging it, defying it. He screamed until his throat tightened and his voice cracked. Then he stopped, breathless, and waited for a reply.

There is something to be said about the requirements for space travel that is put onto hopeful pilots. Not only do they need to be physically capable to maneuver space in a giant suit, but they also need to be mentally sound to withstand the alien environment and the isolation that can be brought about being stuck in a tin can circling above the earth.

In Kelly Robertson's Sci-Fi chapter, Call of the Void, she cleverly exposes this side of space travel through the eyes of a psychologist whose been put aboard a space craft without any prior pilot or engineering training.

It's definitely not a bad idea to have a psychologist on board, but as the protagonist puts it so plainly:

He could barely read a map for god’s sake, let alone the ship’s navipanel. Compared to them, he was utterly useless...The worst part about his role onboard was that he wasn’t even qualified to do that. His doctorate was entirely research-based, not practical.

It's a really creative and smart way to ease the reader into a space that most of us have never been in. Not to mention the huge payoff this detail has at the end...which can I just say, I did not see coming!!

The detail to which Robertson describes the inside of the craft, and the inside of the mind of the main character are wonderfully done, and only add to the uncomfortable suspense held throughout the entire chapter. I really felt like I was there, which is a rare find for me in Sci-Fi work.

This is a fantastic story that comes highly recommended that you read all the way through, fellow readers. If your jaw does not hit the floor, you may need to phone in Houston, as you have a problem.

Kelly comes highly recommended from me as all of her pieces are high quality and never fail to impress. If you want to be swept away with another tale, go subscribe to Kelly!!

It Loves Broken Things

a sinner ascends

a saint crucified by the peaks

I still cannot quite grasp this poem, as it is so abstract, vague, and torturously intriguing that I think I stewed over it for a good hour before forgetting to leave a comment of my own!

Hufflecup shows that being vague is not inherently bad in storytelling, in fact being vague can be one of the most straight-forward ways to keep a reader interested, at least for a time. But oh man, does Hufflecup know how to feed you JUST enough to keep you wondering; like carefully placed breadcrumbs that taste like the best freshly baked bread you've ever had in your life.

godhood is a blind aspiration

immortality berths humility

imperfect believers make perfect servants

zealous devotees the perfect sacrifices

I almost want to beg Hufflecup to expand this into a short story, but as a poem it hits every high note with ease, and leaves us pondering the meaning behind the ascension.

I'm not subscribed to Hufflecup myself but they have over 330 stories published on Vocal ( an amazing accomplishment! ), and with this poem alone I'm sure it will entice all of us to explore more of their work!!

End of Vol. III

And there you have it, four fantastical favorites from Vocal that have made an impact on my reading journey. I hope this encourages others with spare money in their pockets to support their favorite creators financially, as every dollar not only helps the author but encourages them to continue writing with us on Vocal and beyond!

This volume was my favorite to put together out of the series so far, as these kinds of stories are my favorite. (:

I hope you will consider giving these pieces a read, a like, and leaving a comment if you have the time! Let's boost these talented creators!

Don't Miss Out on Volumes I & II!

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About the Creator

Amanda Starks

Lover of the dark, fantastical, and heart-wrenching. Fantasy writer, poet, and hopefully soon-to-be novelist who wants to create safe spaces to talk about mental health. Subscribe to my free newsletter at www.amandastarks.com for updates!

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Comments (6)

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  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    Excellent round up, they all look very intriguing and I will definitely read these today!

  • I've only read Ian's story and Hufflecup's poem before. I need to circle back here so read Kelly's story and River's poem! Thank you so much for putting this together!

  • Andy ortega2 months ago

    This is so cool of you to do! This is what will keep writers on vocal writing, having their work appreciated is the top wish of any writer. Will definitely give all of these a read and consider subscribing to their creators.

  • Ian Read2 months ago

    Alright, alright, I'll write more dark fantasy! Jeez! (Seriously, thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoyed it. :) ) I have been toying with the idea of turning The Man of Glass into a serial or a novella, we'll see.

  • River Joy2 months ago

    Wow thank you! It's such an honor to be next to the awesome pieces. Thanks for your thoughtful words!

  • Matthew Fromm2 months ago

    Love that these are back, thank you for providing my nightly reading list

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