Saturday, February 25, 2012

#DearValentine challenge fic #4: Excision

Darkness became blinding light. I was aware of some pain as my eyes adjusted, but I was oddly detached from it, as if in a dream. Two figures, a man and a woman, stood over me. The woman held the car boot open as the man dragged me out and onto my feet, pulling the gag from my mouth. I heard myself scream, "Help! Someone help me!"

The man said, "Go ahead, scream all you want. There's nobody for miles."

My head turned to look around. We were on an abandoned farm somewhere in the countryside.

"It does not matter. The hive is coming for you." That buzzing voice didn't sound like it should have come from my throat, but it had.

"We won't be here when they do." The woman said, her voice strangely familiar. She was carrying an old-fashioned surgeon's bag in one hand. The man jabbed something into my neck, and everything went dark again.

I woke up in a poorly lit cellar, lying face-down on a table. Some surgical tools lay on a tray next to me. Something shifted inside of me at the sight of them, then there was an uncoiling sensation around my spine.

"He's's trying to leave!" That familiar voice again, an edge of panic to it now.

"Kill it already!" The man said, "Before it..."

I felt a coldness in my neck, and grew sleepy again.

"Too late, the poison, he's...” I heard tears in her voice, “Oh God, Jack..."

Jack? Yes, Jack. My name.

"Just kill it!"

I felt something rip itself free. The dim light cast tentacle-like shadows, and the woman screamed.

Blood splashed across the table.


The last things I heard were the man’s shouts and gunfire, and then all I knew was silence and darkness.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenge - Fatherly Concern

My first attempt at one of Chuck Wendig's weekly flash fiction challenges. You can find the challenge here.


The moment she stepped into the kitchen, Violet knew something was wrong. It was something about the stiffness of her father's shoulders as he leaned into the bread bin in the fridge, and the way he hoisted the wholemeal loaf out and dumped it on the counter, before snatching up the butter from the shelf in his right hand and batting the fridge door shut with it. Of course, her father could be a bit heavy-handed with things sometimes, but this was a bit more than that. He was annoyed about something. For a moment, she considered just taking a peek inside his head to find out what, but that would be rude.

He must have felt her eyes on him, or heard her breathing or something because he seemed to deflate slightly, forced himself to calm down as he worked at the tangle of tape sealing the bread in its wrapper, and glanced over his shoulder as he did so. His eyes flicked from her, to something on the table, then back as he smiled at her in a strained, sickly manner, "Good morning Violet."

As he returned to the task of unwrapping the bread, Violet looked down at the table to see what he had been looking at. It was the morning edition of the local daily newspaper, the Worleigh Times. The front page story bore the headline 'Mentalista Rescues Trapped Tenants'. Next to the article was a photograph of a costumed girl her own age, floating in the air, waving to fire-fighters on the ground, a blackened building in the background. Violet kept her expression controlled, but inside it felt as if the bottom had just dropped out of her stomach. She looked back over to her dad, smiling as she replied, "Morning dad."

"Overslept again?" He said as he unwrapped the bread, and flopped two brown slices onto the cutting board, pulling a butter knife out of the drawer.

"Yeah." Violet grinned, trying to stay casual as she crossed over to the counter and took a couple of slices, moving around to the other side and loading them into the toaster.

"Another late night?" He flipped the lid off the butter, and started scooping some out with the edge of his knife.

She shoved the lever down on the toaster, "Yeah. Just working on my homework assignments."

"Homework, huh?" The surface of the bread tore ever so slightly, as he spread the butter a bit too thick. He grimaced, but she wasn't sure it was because of the bread.

Maybe it won’t hurt just to take a peek? She thought as she picked up a mug and started filling it from the coffee jug.

'God, I hope that's true, but...'

Violet was so distracted reading his mind that she almost overfilled her mug. She shook herself and stopped pouring.

Her father noticed this and shook his head. Maybe he thought she was just overtired. She knew he suspected something, though. He stretched across to open the fridge and pull out the bag of turkey slices. "Sometimes, I worry that you work yourself too hard."

She sighed, turning around to lean against the counter, glancing sideways at him as he laid some strips of turkey on one of the slices. "You know, most fathers would be proud of their kids for working hard."

'Yeah...well, that depends on what their kids are working hard at.'

He shrugged, turning away to get some lettuce from the fridge. "I just worry about you, that's all."

"Okay. Come on. Something's got you worked up, what is it?"

Her father dumped the lettuce onto the counter, his eyes flicking over to the newspaper again. When she followed his gaze this time, she pretended it was the first time she'd seen the paper, and walked over to give it a look. "Wow. That Mentalista's really brave, huh?"

"She's the same age as you, Violet." Her father said as he started chopping bits of lettuce on the cutting board,

"She's just a kid."

'And she has your smile.'

Violet glanced at the picture; there was a smile on her face. But he couldn't possibly recognise her just from that, could he? Weird. She set the paper aside, shrugging her shoulders, taking a sip of her coffee, "So?"

"So," He set the knife down and looked over at her, "she should be enjoying her life, not flying around saving people."

"At least she's doing some good." Violet said, getting a bit defensive now, "Most of the new metas have decided it's more fun to use their powers for profit or some twisted notion of fun!" She shuddered just thinking about some of the ones she'd fought. "So right now this town needs all the heroes it can get!"

Her toast popped out of the toaster, but she didn't move, pinned by her father’s measuring gaze. He was certain now; she didn't even need telepathy to be able to tell. There was something else in that look though. He seemed to nod to himself and sigh. He put the chopped lettuce on the bread and covered it with the other slice, before cutting it down the middle.

"I suppose you have a point, it still doesn't seem right though."

"No.” She agreed tiredly, “There's nothing right about it."

Her father placed the sandwich slices in a small plastic box, along with some yoghurt and an apple, sliding it across the counter, "You'd better get moving. You're going to be late."

She took a look at her watch and groaned, setting her mug on the table, grabbing the dry toast from the toaster and the lunchbox from the counter before darting for the door. She held the toast in her mouth as she slung on her jacket and backpack, then opened the door.

"Gotta fly, see you later!" She yelled.

"Bye...and take care."

"Will do!" And then, after checking that no one could see, she flew.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

#DearValentine challenge fic #3: Dream Logic

"Transform!" I yelled, my voice echoing in the emptiness of the fairground as I waved my wand at the pellet gun from the duck shooting stall. Nothing happened. I frowned at it, but it remained unchanged. I tried again, poking the wand at the gun in a stabbing motion, "I said 'Transform'!"

Still nothing. There I was, dressed like some sort of stage magician, in a tight-fitting tuxedo and fishnet tights, and I couldn't even perform magic. I cast a tired look over my shoulder at the client, shifting on his feet, looking awkward. He was the Dreamer, he was the one granting me power while I was here. So I asked him, "How do I make this work?"

"You have to say it backwards." He shrugged, as if the answer had been obvious. Of course it was. Dream logic. I sighed, and turned my gaze back to the gun, then I waved my wand again, image fixed in my mind, squinting in concentration as I worked out how to say, "Mrof...snart!"

In a cartoonish puff of smoke, the pellet gun was replaced with the AK 47 I'd been picturing. I picked it up and tossed it to the client. He caught it, looking at it like it might explode or something.

"Now what?" He asked.

"Now we take a ride." I said, nodding towards the Tunnel of Love. A rumbling sound echoed from within, like the growling of some beast.

He gulped. "Couldn't we go for coffee instead?"

"I'm afraid not." I shook my head, smirking, then gestured towards the tunnel, encouraging him onward. He reluctantly crept over to the entrance and stepped inside.

"Um...etanimulli." I muttered, my wand lighting up like a torch as I followed him inside, my lips tugging upward in a smile of grim anticipation.

All this trouble just to cure a phobia.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

#DearValentine challenge fic #2: Deceptive Appearances

As she stared over the north side of the observation deck down at the Palais De Chaillot, gripping the railing with both hands, a pair of strong arms wrapped themselves around her waist. Her fists tightened around the railling as she shuddered, not with the thrill of his touch, but in revulsion. She forced herself to play along though, pretend he was her lover meeting with her at the top of the Eiffel Tower for a romantic rendeazvous on Valentine's Day. She felt his breath on her neck, sending a chill down her spine, as he whispered in her ear. She forced herself to smile, to giggle as though he were whispering sweet nothings to her, as people watching no doubt expected.

When he released her from his embrace, which she felt he had enjoyed far too much, she turned around and accepted the package from him. A box of chocolates in the shape of a heart. But there was nothing sweet about what it contained, just as what he had been whispering in her ear were not sweet nothings, but cold, clinical instructions delivered with a false smile and a purr of sadistic glee.

They shared a taxi in silence, continuing the charade of a loving couple, so content with one another's presence that they didn't need any words. After he kissed her goodnight she raced up the steps of her apartment building, perhaps a little too quickly, but she didn't care. She hung up her coat as she entered and crossed to the table, setting down the box and removing its contents. Some plane tickets to New York, and a photograph of the target, with instructions on the back. He said this would be her last job, then she would be free. But he had said that before.

Friday, February 3, 2012

#DearValentine challenge fic #1: A Reason to Fight

DISCLAIMER: This story is a character piece set in the Ashen Stars RPG universe, created by Robin D. Laws, and published by Pelgrane Press.

WARNING: Andrew, David (@keltic_dave) and Angela (@blissfulblues), do NOT read this, as it contains spoilers for the Ashen Stars campaign.

A Reason to Fight

The Eris-II rig was a clunky old rust bucket, but this was the perfect camouflage right now, hiding in the ruins of a building, reactor powered down to cut out EM emissions. The ground shook with the movement of the other two rigs, ganging up to put the declining star of the mech arena in his place.

Shin Ika breathed raggedly. He knew he could win this easily, if he let himself. If he gave in to the Bliss. But he didn’t want to do that. Didn’t want to risk another incident.

He looked to an old-fashioned photograph that he had stuck to his control board. In it, he stood next to a blonde girl. They looked happy, both barely ten in the photo. It had come the previous day, with a message on the back: ‘Glad to see you’re out of the freezer. We should meet up. I’ll be at the Masalt docks, on the planet Ashima. Palatine cluster. February 14th, at noon. See you there!’

Freezer. The word conjured memories. Cold. The rubbery smell of breathing through a ventilator. Eyes behind spacesuit visors staring at him through a frosty glass window. Those were his first memories. This girl. Who was she? Did she know who he was? Could she tell him what the Bliss was that frightened him so? He had to know. He had to meet her. But he needed creds to get there.

He had to fight. So he shut his eyes, and let the Bliss take over.

Shin’s manager Harl Torr grinned as he watched the Eris-II explode from the building through his headset/tether combo. He’d have to thank Petyr the next time he saw him. That phony photo was just the motivator his boy had needed to get back in the game.