Beyond Scarletta's Reach (a short story)



Only a few feet from the village dock's boardwalk, Scarletta hesitated, glanced backward, then placed her hand inside the aged woman's outstretched palm, accepting her invitation. Calmness replaced fear the moment her fingers touched the woman's skin. She felt her intense grip further tighten. The woman's words were slow and deliberate as Scarletta attempted to penetrate her mysterious obsidian eyes. "That which you desire is but a mere instinct foraging for permanence. If your yearning is heart-felt and your mind ready, then step inside, shielded from fearmongers' qualms."

Scarletta couldn't decipher the meaning. It didn't matter that now the renewed fear felt before her journey began elevated the throbbing of her heart. In an effort to conceal her fear and hopefully her maturation, she refrained from divulging her past.

The layered candle flickered from the drenched oil. Casting an eerie glow and equally grotesque figure against the bare wall, Scarletta cringed, immediately regretting her decision as a dense and stifling aroma filled the tent.

"You aimed high, young lass." The deep voice surrounded Scarletta and forced her to speak.

"You know nothing of me. Besides, who are you to decide the pinnacle of my reach?"

"Wise words for one only nine and ten and immature in the machinations of the world. Nelvana, I'm called." Water seemed to trickle from the old woman's eyes as they turned emerald.

"I know enough. And you'll instill the remaining that's obscure from my understanding." Scarletta pulled back the hood of her red robe, exposing her face.

Nelvana gasped, then retreated several steps almost stumbling. From her bloodshot stare, Scarletta was accustomed to that reaction.

"Who dare laid claim to you, Scarletta, beyond this realm? I'd advise that the dark arts you can't grasp should be kept arms length." Nelvana turned away, recovered instantly, then grabbed Scarletta's hands, seemingly unafraid of her disfigured face. Scarletta jumped at the connection created between them. Her hands shook as she backed away.

That was all Nelvana needed.

Lumbering over to the small cast iron cauldron that sat atop a low fire, Nelvana added several drops of oil into the steaming water, wrapped cloth around a twisted, wooden cross, then dropped it into the post.

While beckoning Scarletta to approach, the old woman submerged her own hand into the boiling water, then emerged with the amulet sealed in a gummed substance.

It glowed red, then burst into flames as it absorbed Nelvana's words that were unfamiliar to Scarletta.

Placing the amulet on her wrinkled chest with deep lines running its length, an eerie glow spread throughout Nelvana's body.

Turning to the cauldron, she stirred the mixture. Mist rose up, then circled the black pot forming a clear orb.

Returning to Scarletta, Nelvana pressed the amulet into the exposed, bare region of her cursed patient's chest.

Lush forest. Clear stream. Village. Handsome young man. Alluring young girl. All appeared in the large orb. Landscapes and figures swirled, then moved in rapid motion recalling a story.

Nelvana had witnessed Scarletta's past. Lust, passionate crime, revenge, killing, sacrifice. Happy ending. Then clouded as the curse revealed itself.

Scarletta woke to Nelvana standing astride her, pinning her hands to the tent's floor.

"Did the end justify taking of a life to secure your happiness with one already claimed?

"The beginning. Afterward, it thrust me further into despair?" A single tear escaped before a flood of sorrow rushed forth.

Nelvana demanded she remove all coverings. She'd already decided to help Scarletta. The curse she knew. It was of her own family's.

"Can you restore me? I'll do anything you ask," Scarletta begged.

"You committed your life to serve if granted your wish. Broken beyond comprehension and repair. The curse only revealed what's hidden from the world. Restoring the shell without repairing the soul will do even further damage. In the end, you'll lose your existence. "I can't help you if you're unwilling to submit to my teachings."

"You reached beyond your station, young lady. Knowing the human male as I do, I can tell you it wasn't worth losing yourself. The road back stretches farther than the years remaining of your life. That is what you exchanged for a moment in time of pleasure."

She lay on the straw covering the bare floor. She had nowhere else to turn. And she was too embarrassed to divulge that the object of her desire had since moved on, but first shunned her publicly and denouncing his offspring before abandoning his conquest.

Scarletta was now willing to submit to the old woman. Nothing, she thought, could be worse than the black widow embedded in her soul, now bearing fruit, protruding in a myriad of tentacles from her outer form.


In preparing this generative art project, I utilized the program Deep Dream Diffusion. This program I've used almost daily over the past two years. After discovering the site now offers stable diffusion art, I decided to give it a try. I'm thoroughly pleased with the results. This is my final project for the Halloween holiday. In it, I attempted to create a female carrying an arachnid curse.

Upon completion of the image, a short story emerged as to my thoughts of why the young lady was cursed.

Below are my steps:

Text input:

"Female surrounded by flowesr with spider protruding from her back entangled in a web, photorealistic and surrealistic."


The only downside to Deep Dream Generator is that, as offering a diffusion option, the system doesn't provide you the process images as it develops the final product.



Thanks for taking the time to view my post. I hope you like my generative art project and short story.



Happy rest of the week everyone with whatever your endeavors.







a) JustClickindiva's Footer created in Canva utilizing its free background and images used with permission from discord admins.
b) Unless otherwise noted, all photos taken by me with my (i) Samsung Galaxy 10" Tablet, (ii) Samsung Phone, & (iii) FUJI FinePix S3380 - 14 Mega Pixels Digital Camera
c) Purple Butterfly part of purchased set of Spiritual Clip Art for my Personal Use
d) All Community logos, banners, page dividers used with permission of Discord Channel admins.
e) Ladies of Hive banner used with permission of and in accordance with the admin's guidelines
f) Thumbnail Image created by me in Canva.
g) "Flames." What is Apophysis 2.09.

Your Personal Terminal Discord Invite

Copy of Copy of Decorative Shape Facebook Cover1.gif


Bang, I did it again... I just rehived your post!
Week 130 of my contest just can now check the winners of the previous week!


now know why Scarletta is how she is !!

loved the reading.. you have a lot of talent in this


Hello. I appreciate you stopping by and viewing my short story and art project. Pleased you liked it. Yes, actions have consequences, sometimes severe. But she did seek help.

I appreciate your kind words of support.

Take care.