Flash Fiction: Go In Disguise

Today’s story is inspired by Know. Your. Fear. by Stéphane (Wootha) Richard.

His vision was blurred. Droplets were on his forehead and when they slide down past his eyes he could see the red of them. There was the sound of something large scrapping along stone. It pulled something from the wall and the sound of metal chains clashed against stone.

If you go down to the woods today…

The thing clasped his feet together with the chains. The cold metal actually felt good against his skin. It beat the thrumming in his head, and the sound of blood in his ears. The large thing started to move away, and the chains rustled as it took a light step.

You’re sure of a big surprise…

He grunted in surprise when the shackles went taunt and the chain started to drag him away from the wall. Arms flailed to grab purchase on the stone but every time he pressed against the ground the thing moved again, throwing him off balance.

If you go down to the woods today…

There was no use trying to scream. They had tied the collar so tied around his neck and the cage around his jaw held him mouth shut. Only guttural grunts of panic and fear while he kept trying to claw at the ground. His fingers were starting to bleed while his legs and back scrapped across the stone.

You’d better go in disguise…

There were more bodies here, where the thing had taken him. Some small, some large, most staring at him. He had wiped the blood from his face when he had given up trying to push himself off the ground, and his vision was slowly returning. Sunlight poured into the stone halls from cracks and boarded up windows, and the occasional torch lit the area in dancing shadows.

For every bear that ever there was…

He could make out their shapes now. They were made of cotton and yarn. Some had no ears, some had large round fluffy things. All of them had eyes of some sort; some buttons, some marbles, and some ripped out. Almost all of them had mouths, but those seemed like after thoughts. Dirty nasty gashes like someone had taken a knife to the fabric.

Will gather there for certain…

They pulled him into a large chamber. So many of them had gathered in the chamber, and lined the walls until there was a circle for them to bring him. He could see the light pouring from a hole in the ceiling, and it was burning his eyes.

Because today’s the day the…

His feet touched something wet and he looked down to see the scattered pieces of others. Not the stuffed things that closed ranks behind him. Arms and legs and pieces of people. There were skulls, but some still had faces, still had eyes he recognized. Faces that had gone missing months ago. Faces the school had put posters up about. They lay strewn about a pool of coagulating blood.

Teddy Bears have their picnic…

She was there, in the middle of them. The large bear that had dragged him into the room had given the chain to her. She was pale, with pointy features, and ripped flesh. Where there were claw marks and gashes across her body there were stiches of twine and chains. He couldn’t see her face behind the heavy mask she wore, but the sound coming from her wasn’t human. Blood coated her feet and legs as she kneeled in the blood, and between them rested on the crimson stones was a knife. She yanked the chain to pull him closer while reaching down.

I recommend reading while listening to the below:

Flash Fiction: A Slayer To Come

Today’s story is inspired by Dragon Empress by Michelle Monique.

“You came all this way to see me?” She said. She called herself serpent queen, but she bore no dragon blood. I knew such things; I could sense it. Though she commanded the wyrms, they didn’t do so out of respect. The truth lied in the orb before her thorn.

She was a gile, something like a humanoid reptile. Her skin was scaled and horned, but she bore the features of mammals, with an armored bosom covered only by a leather corset and gown. The leather looked bovine, but I could see where strips of draconic skin had been used for seams and wyrm gut for stitching. Her attire was smart. I’ll give her that. The gut and skin would lend her power, but if the entire dress was made of the draconic flesh she would be their pawn instead. The throne she sat on was also covered in cow leather, although wyrm knuckles made up the arms and a pair of collar bones supported the back. The entire display was setup to channel dragon energy without it consuming her.

“Tell me, dragon-slayer. Are you here to kill me, or just my children?”

“Both,” I said. “Your dragons defile the land, and your will is the cause. But more than anything, I’m going to destroy that rock of yours.”

The orb was sitting on a pedestal the queen could reach by leaning forward enough in her chair. It rested on a velvet cushion, a red nearly identical to the tone of the underside of the queen’s gown. The orb wasn’t smooth or polished, but it was refined. Were it a perfected orb the fight to come would not likely go in my favor. These hearts were powerful and they lent energy to the dragons effected by them. The more it was perfected the better the results, but it took a skilled hand to smooth the stone without shattering it. This serpent queen did not have such a skilled craftsman, thankfully.

“You boast too much for my liking, slayer. But, I am generous. I know there are others like me out there in control of their own armies. To have an agent like you to assist me against them would be most beneficial, don’t you think?” She smiled, revealing two rows of razor sharp teeth. That was cosmetic. Gile have teeth like men, and while some are sharp, most are reasonable like in any animal. I hope it had hurt to do that to herself.

“Are you so blind?” I asked. “My presence alone is weakening your hold on your wyrms. Time enough and I’d drain your little stone and they’d try to consume us both.”

It was a bluff. The charms I wore were weakening the influence of the heart but never enough to break the hold she’d have. I needed her to attack me first though. That’s how my sword, Bitter, worked. It would act as a normal blade were I to attack someone first, but if someone else were to strike at me the blade hastened my movements against them. It was not a blade for someone who would sneak about.

The queen looked to her orb and the four young wyrms in the room with us. I could see her faith in the artifact fading. Now, if she just took the bait.

Her command to the wyrm might have been mental, but she nodded when she gave the command. The pressure changed around me as the large form tried to crash into where I had been standing. Bitter had already commanded me to unsheathe her, and by the time I realized she had me jump I was already coming down on the wyrm’s head. The strike was perfect, hitting between the bone just above the eye socket, where the optic nerve and the brain could be hit from a vertical attack. My blade severed the creature’s sight and its ability to breath in one stroke. I stepped off just as it’s bleeding brain screamed at its body to rise and try to gasp for air. Its head swept past my back as it moved back in a panic. The perfect blow. It would die in moments once it finished suffocating.

The queen looked terrified, and I could feel the emotions of the dragons around me wash the area with fear, confusion, and awe. I flicked the blood and brain matter from Bitter and pointed the blade at the orb.

“Now then, Serpent Queen, I must fulfill my oath.”

Not much to say about today’s fiction other than to point out how total bad-ass that photography is from the inspiration.

Flash Fiction: Golden Fields

“Where you able to find the way?”

Bryan smiled.

“Am I not here?”

Roland gave him a playful shove and the brothers laughed at their joke. It felt good to laugh, especially in these darker times. The days were full of sadness, and the loss of a great friend and leader weighed heavily on each of the brothers’ mind. They were heading west, to the great city by the coast. There they would meet with the rest of their party. Gal had suggested the gathering after the past night’s events, and each of the group travelled along the salt coast to find those who would honor the fallen and to prepare the gathering. Roland and Bryan would be the last to arrive, having spent the night in the home of their fallen leader. His parents, shadowed and heartbroken, declined to travel with them. They would honor their lost son in their own way.

“Do you believe these events are occurring, Roland?” Bryan asked.

The western sun blinded them a moment as they crested the last large hill towards the coastal city. Here the golden color stretched across fields and small hills until reaching the outskirts of the city. Clay and brick took on masks of light and shadow until the city hugged the sea and the entire body of water looked ablaze with fire.

“With the miracles I have seen, no, I have a hard time coming to grips with these days, brother.”

They paused there a moment, watching clouds pull in and dance before the sun. At first only the wind joined them but soon the sound of sandals on the pressed dirt of the road joined the soundscape. The figure coming up the hill was tall, lean, and filled the men with warmth as he was washed in the sun’s light.

“My fellows, why do you idle on the road towards the sea?” the new arrival asked.

“We pause for reflection, my friend,” Bryan said. “The evening’s beauty inverts the mirror of the darkness of these past days.”

The new arrival raised his brow.

“Darkness you say? While I see cloud I do not recall it hiding the sun or basking us in shade for more than a few minutes of leisure.”

Roland chuckled, “No. Not true darkness, but we have lost one of our great men of the world. He was taken from us, judged, punished for his light, and slain. My brother and I go to the great city to morn him.”

“It seems you walk with a shadow over you then. I would walk with you, if you’d have me. Perhaps I may grant some light over these shades.”

The brothers both nodded.

“Certainly, fellow traveler. Thought he is lost to us; his words are not. He would have you walk with him as a brother, and so join us as a brother.”

They continued down the road, towards the great coastal city and its glowing rooftops. Where two brothers walked in the shadow of loss, three walked forward in the light together.

Flash Fiction: Swarm Bonds

Today’s story is inspired by Bloop, by Ian Jun Wei Chiew

“The site is beautiful. When did it get commissioned?” Rav was moving towards the stream that ran through the site. The crisp ruby color of the water was glowing, and it illuminated many of the nearby spires.

“About two weeks ago. Architect designed it on a dare from the Second High Magistrate.” Wess was the escort for the sortie, and had brought Rav here to review the work the Crafters had completed several hours ago. “They worked through the weekend and I must inform you, they used your swarms.”

Rav paused, taking his vision away from the rounded metal hills and floating spires around the site. He pointed to himself and Wess nodded.

“You’re joking! Mine? The Second High Magistrate’s private crafters used my swarms to make this?” He cheered and looked at the site again in deeper admiration. “This is a dream. I just know it. I’m in my holo-suite with a downloaded dream.”

Wess laughed.

“No. No, little Hatcher, you’re not. The life you brought to existence has proven its worth.”

Rav had fallen to his knees, and was looking at the bank of the water. The ground was a glass like material. From a distance it looked smooth but up close he could see it was crumpled into multiple little hexagon shaped tiles. This gave the surface grip while near-perfectly reflecting the ruby light of the glowing stream.

“Look! Here,” he said. “There’s my markings! How did I not see that earlier?” He was indicating a small chip in each of the hexagons. It was a series of bumps that would be missed by the naked eye, but all Hatchers programed their swarms with some signature. Rav choose the world pattern lines where a thread of his genetic imprint could be found.

“Perfection, my pupil. Truly. The Second High Magistrate is pleased. Not just with the Architect’s quick design or his Crafter’s work, but with the stability of your swarm. The Architects are already working on another project for her, and they are working closely with the Crafters. They also want to work closely with you.”

Rav gasped, and looked to his guide.

“Wess, I. They want me for another project? So soon? I thought they preferred to source many swarms.”

“Of course they do. But the Second High Magistrate is more conservative. She likes to work with what has proven to work. Which is why you are officially informed of your promotion to chief Hatcher of Triforn-Three.”

That was it. Rav felt consciousness escape him a moment and nearly fell flat on the ground before the swarm lifted up and caught him. The ground curved and then lifted until he was in a seated position when Wess came over to him, laughing.

“Are you okay?” Wess said between chuckles.

“Chief Hatcher of an entire planet? Wess. Wess, I don’t know if I’m ready.”

“You are, my pupil. You are. You’ve earned this. I’ve seen your swarm. I’m standing on the fruits of it as we speak. Your creations are ready to do more than just design a beautiful garden that will be torn down the next time some official gets bored. They’re ready to take part in building an entire world.”

He looked at Rav and smiled, then leaned in and gave him a kiss on the forehead.

“You have come so far since I first met you as a little birth. My pupil, I am so happy of you. From the small little world we come from, you now move to design a giant. I couldn’t ask for more. I couldn’t be more proud.”

The swarm helped Rav lift up and as he caught his bearings he looked around once more. The design of this garden wasn’t his. The exact building wasn’t either, but the heart of the works belongs to the strength of his creation. His sigil was on every stream bank, every plant, every standing spire. It was a fraction of what was to come, of a world built by the labors of his brain. He looked to Wess and beamed. He could do it. He knew it now. It was time for him to prove his worth.

Flash Fiction: Setting The Sails

Today’s story was inspired by photography by Gary Clutterbuck. Like most inspiration for flash fiction, I found the original inspiration picture on Deviant Art.

The smile wasn’t fueled by knowing she was right. That helped, but it wasn’t the heart of the happiness. It was also being supporting by the magistrate. After ten years of sky calling, they had finally chosen Delia to be their spear. Today they had granted her captain status of The Anvil, the fastest combat vessel for the entire magistrate fleet, and she’d need that speed in the task assigned to her. In four hours The Anvil would be sent off to locate and find the rogue caller, Arana Forge, her sister.

“Captain on deck,” a young ensign said as she approached the birthing pod for The Anvil. The group of sailors pulling themselves into ranks and stood at attention, awaiting her approach. Their uniforms were sleek and black things, worn for armor protection but to also channel each of their natural abilities to manipulate gravity around them. The uniforms shared the same material of the hull of the magistrate’s ships, allowing a crew to keep a vessel aloft for days at a time if needed. Her own dress was informal, and designed more like the uniforms worn back in the day ships like The Anvil were designed. More elegant and wavy and less pressed and military. The style wasn’t preferred by the magistrate’s navy, but it helped her channel far more than the simple standardized uniforms.

“At ease,” she said, her voice carrying over the sounds of the maintenance and crews beyond the berth they stood in. Her crew lowered their arms and folded them behind their back in one quick motion. “Good,” she thought, “a seasoned crew.”

“At ten-hundred hours, The Anvil and crew will be departing Port Saint Georgette. We aim for the maelstrom colonies, southern coast. Our mission is the retrieval of the rogue clipper, His Open Trust. This ship is crewed by the rogue caller, Arana Forge. And yes, before any of you ask, that is my sister. We will aim to take her alive, but in the interest of the magistrate, her navy, and her people we will not settle for an escape of this rogue agent even if that means Arana’s death. Are we understood?”

“Yes sir,” the crew said in unison.

“Good. I want this ship sky worthy within two hours. Ensign?”

The same young man took a step forward then twisted on his heel to the gathered sailors.

“Crew, dismissed!”

The sailors broke ranks and moved back to their work posts. The ensign turned back to his captain.

“Captain, Ensign Karn Flown, we should have no problem having her sky worthy within the hour. Are you hoping to depart early, sir?”

“No,” Delia said. “I want the crew ready to go but I want us to share a meal before we go.”

“Sir?” the ensign said. Delia looked to his uniform.

“Consider it a family tradition handed to me from my parents. Before a long journey or an important event, they always fed us to comfort us. As this will be this crew’s first time hunting what was once a friendly vessel and possibly friends and for me family, it will be both a hard journey and a hard task to complete. Besides, warm food on a morning like this wouldn’t hurt, wouldn’t you say, Ensign Flown?”

The ensign was writing something down but nodded. He looked up when he realized he was expected to answer.

“Oh, yes Captain Forge. Of course, sir.”

“What are you writing down?”

“Orders for the cook, sir. I assume you’re looking to have something a little special compared to our normal chow, so I’m preparing him an order for stock to pull from our berth’s store.”

“Ah, a sailor who thinks on the move and the future contents of his stomach. Excellent. Carry on then, I’ll be in my quarters. Dismissed.”

Ensign Flown saluted Delia, and hurried to a few men and women gathering supplies near the rear of the ship. The captain watched as they took and read the orders from the Ensign. From this distance it looked like they chuckled. She let it go and headed towards the boarding rope for the ship.

The Anvil rested in its berth, wings and arms held up by the large iron and steel beams of the warehouse. The ship was a sleek clipper, built to catch the wind while having her sky callers direct her. Most ships consisted of a set of large wings built to the sides of the vessel, and sails on the top and bottom of the vessel to catch the wind and help the callers on board guide the ship gently through the air. The anvil was different. She was built in segmented cones, each ending in a wide sail that could be fanned out to catch the wind but quickly pulled back under light armored plating. She wouldn’t be able to handle a heavy barrage, but she was designed to be fast enough to not have to. The weave of sky stone in her hull would let a team of skilled sky callers press her forward at incredible paces, although she could see immediately that long battles would be hard in the ship. It would demand much from her crew in combat, and require long periods of rest afterwards.

She took the boarding rope in hand and focused on her dress. The sky stone built into it begin to glow lightly as her natural talents fueled them. Escaping gravity, she used the rope to pull herself up. Traditional ships like her previous vessel, The Promise of Dawn, were decked ships, meaning they had large areas on the top or bottom of the ship that sailors could stand in the open air. The Anvil didn’t have such a space, at least not in the front or on the bulk of the ship. It was a sealed ship, with its hull coating all sides of the ship space and the only access points being hatches built every one-hundred-and-twenty degrees. The boarding rope was attached to one of these panels, and Captain Delia entered her new vessel for the first time.

I’m toying with this story. Unlike most of the flash fiction here, this piece has ended up in my serial fiction folder. The concept of the story sort of took off (pun intended), and I’d like to see what Captain Delia Forge does in the hunt for her rogue sister. I wonder if she can actually carry through with killing her or if family will win out over national loyalty. We’ll see. If I do end up exploring her fate, I’ll update this and future stories in the series as official serial fiction.

Flash Fiction: Rainbow

“Are you kidding me?” Ace said over the comms. We were travelling as quickly as the blades would let us, but the winged suits just couldn’t match the speed of the target. “How is it going so fast?”

“Something other than traditional propulsion?” Jeevan offered. “We’re going pretty fast ourselves.”

“Yes, but you’re wearing the latest in Iconica, Alpha-1,” Leoncio said back at the tower. “I’m not reading anything radioactive besides you three, so it’s not Praeter Hominum. Nothing tech either.”

“Don’t say it,” Ace said.

They were sweeping across the landscapes of central Yzamire. The land was uninhabited for the most part, and served as the wing’s current training and testing grounds. It was during one of these routine tests that Marina spotted the rainbow pattern in the distance. Leoncio confirmed the radar hit, but couldn’t confirm what it was. By then the three of them, Marina, Jeevan, and Ace, were in pursuit.

“Can you get the locals to scramble something our way?” Marina asked.

“Negative. They don’t want anything to do with our territory. Something about the feedback from you three screwing up their jets. Unless this thing started to become a problem to their citizens, they won’t touch it near us.”

“Great, ‘I’m sorry we took too long to help you, we figured the super heroes could handle something insane.’ That makes me feel comfortable,” Ace said. “I’m going to try to increase my burn. Jeevan, got my left?”

“I’ve got your left, Ace.”

“Ugh, I really wish you wouldn’t say super heroes,” Marina said. She had moved to the rear of them. Ace’s maneuver should bolt him forward as he pushed his energies into the wing suit. Jeevan’s projection would help with sling shooting him forward. It was the maneuver they had been practicing all week.

“Oh, get off it, Marina. They think anyone with powers is some sort of costume wearing idiot. Ours just happens to be para-military. Adjusting, now.”

Ace’s metal wings flared as his energy surged through the wings. Jeevan’s sleek form dived in behind him and a radiant shield started to form around her. Ace tilted, and the shield streaked out small tendrils of power against his wings. Both projections flared and the flying man zipped ahead.

“Alright, I’m gaining on the target. Leon, you have my feed?”

“Confirm, Alpha-2. I do. But you don’t want to hear what I’m reading, remember?” Leoncio said.

“I hate magic,” Marina said. “So unpredictable.”

The rainbow colored form grew larger as Ace approached it. They had already observed from a distance the object wasn’t flying right, but now Ace struggled to understand it’s flight at all. It wasn’t moving constantly, rather it was stopping then moving like a video that was buffering. It would stay still for a second then fling itself forward at an incredible pace. Its body wasn’t built for flight either, lacking wings, propeller, turbines, or anything else that enabled human flight. It was like it didn’t care that it should be falling.

“This thing is hurting my head,” Ace said.

“Alpha-2, let’s not approach any further,” Leoncio said. “If that’s something mystical, I’d want to get the Corporal on it.”

“The kid? You want the kid near this thing? I don’t think so,” Marina said.

“Can it, Marina. Leoncio, confirmed. I agree with your assessment. Ace, pull back.” Jeevan said.

“Sure thing, once you tell it to let me go.” He had felt the tug once he could see the strange square box properly. It was a flying a brick, with arcane carvings all over the surface. This was the source of the radiant light as most of the sigils glowed in different colors so bright they were visible in the mid-day sun. Its jaunts were getting slower and he could feel it pulling him too it faster and faster.

“Come again, Alpha-2?”

“I’ve been trying to slow down but my readings show I’m accelerating. I’m only putting enough energy into my wings to keep me aloft. I think the box is curious about me too.”

“Can you dive?” Jeevan asked.

“Let me try.”

It was like moving against a thick syrup. He shifted his wings down and pushed with as much energy as he could project into the wings. They flared as the lights on the ship also flared. An emotion of frustration and annoyance washed over him before he felt himself jerking away from the vessel. It accelerated it’s spacial skipping pace as he broke away. By the time he recovered, it was already a spec on the horizon.

“You okay?” Marina asked, flying close to him.

“Yeah, I am. I just wish I knew what they wanted with me.”

“Well, get ready, Alpha-2,” Leoncia said. “My readings show it’s turning around.”

Flash Fiction: Crashing

“I hope you’re right about this plan, Erik,” Ariel said.

“What? The Boxelites don’t like downing a two billion credit bird?” Erik said over the comm.

Ariel took a few still of the crash before heading towards the brush. The Weibs Schiff Class H Explorer, a “WeChe,” was shattered over the field below her. The WeChe had brought her here for the recon run Boxelites core wanted on Dunderite, but EI Division had already confirmed the Dunderites knew the recon was coming. Erik, her CO, knew any runner sent to scan the system was going to be shot down. This was their alternative plan.

“I’m still not sure they’re going to believe that flash body,” Ariel said.

“That’s only if they get the head,” Erik said. “Look, we put enough explosives into the cockpit and into the clone’s skull that they won’t get jack. Besides, the body belonged to a dead lady anyway. Even if they do clone her again to figure out who was on board that WeChe, it will take them at least a month.”

“I’m coming up on the ridge overwatch.” Dunderite was lower gravity, 0.85 earth normal, so she was made good time. “I’ve got at least two hot spots on scope. A scattering of bodies on the ground too.”

The base below was cloaked in darkness and without a moon to reflect ambient primary light from her low light scope was nearly useless too. Only thermal was showing anything, but her own heat might give her away as she approached. The suit concealed much of her heat, but the coils wrapped down her legs into her shoes was making her legs start to sweat. The cool ground she was crouched over was helping, but the suit could only compensate so much at once.

The base lit up as a third vehicle kicked to life. Several of the soldiers climbed inside and it and one of the original vehicles launched from the base towards her. She rolled to the side under some underbrush.

“They’re investigating. I’m heading down,” Ariel said

Flash Fiction: Homebound

I could only hear the groans of the building. Whatever those things were they had given up trying to get to me. It had been four days. Four days of them pounding on the doors, hitting the walls, crawling over each of the boarded up windows but I had stuck it out. I guess that’s why the rest of the town had emptied out. They couldn’t handle it. I’ll admit there were times I almost opened the front door too, if for nothing else than to end the noise.

Nat had called them zombies but I don’t know if that was right. Zombies looked like decaying corpses right? These were different. They were dead, but not dead. Like something else was riding them. Some were bleeding, yeah, but they never seemed to stop. Just an endless spout of blood trailing in the streets.

That had been the first sign when we came into town, the streaks of blood. Nat, Otto, and me had come back from the campsite over on Dayton Point. We’d only been gone a week but the radio had stopped picking up signals not long after we got to the camp. Otto said it was the ridges but they had never blocked the signal before. We had to deal with seven days of DJ Nat on his god forsaken Apple. But the signal didn’t come back after we left the park. Didn’t see another vehicle either until we got near town and all of those were abandoned. Then we saw the streaks.

It looked like Mah Kali. I still think it had been her, at least before it became that. It was walking along the streets near the cinema, bare naked but covered in lesions. Otto had hooted at the nude flesh but screamed when he saw the blood pouring from her legs. We stopped, thinking the woman had been injured. She might have been but help isn’t what she wanted from us.

She killed Otto. It was so fast. He jumped from the truck and ran to her, touching her shoulder to halt her walking. She spun on him and sank her teeth into his neck before we had even got out of the truck. Nat said she had fangs, but I didn’t see them. I just pull my rifle and opened up on her. On it. Didn’t matter. It screamed at us and ran on all fours away, grabbing the side of the cinema’s building and hoisting itself over the roof.

Otto didn’t have a chance. Nat had checked him while I chased that thing off.

“She bit his head off,” he had said. Near as I could tell, he was right. “What are you doing?”

“Calling the police,” I said. I had pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911 but there was never a ring. Just a hiss that seemed to be getting louder.

“Paul?” Nat said.

“Hold on. Trying to figure out what the heck is going on with this thing.”

“Paulie!” Nat said, slapping my arm.

“What?” I said and looked up. He pointed to the cinema’s roof and I felt cold streak down to my jewels.

Whatever that thing was that looked like Mah Kali, there was more of it. I don’t mean more people that were injured and stripped like her. I mean her. There were at least seven of them, all looking like seventy-year-old ladies out of their skivvies with strong as a buck looking muscles bulging from their arms. Some were missing large sections of skin but they didn’t seem to mind. They looked at us with a hunger no living thing should have. I’ve been stalked by a cougar before. I’d rather have a pack of those staring at me than whatever these things were.

We ran. We ran as hard and as fast as we could. I don’t know if they got Nat. So many buildings were boarded up, I just looked for the first one I could find that had a front door that wasn’t blocked. That’s how I ended up in this place. They had found me quick enough, and started in on every door and window. I didn’t check the name on the outside but whoever the home belonged to had boarded her up quite well. I was safe, thankful for that, for now.

Four days later and they stopped banging. My phone still isn’t working but it’s still charged. Shouldn’t be. Normally I’d hook it to the flashlight crank back in my truck but it’s still kicking nearly a week since it’s last charge. Power in the house still working too, and there’s food. Waters an issue though. There was a full tub of tap water, but now anything coming through the pipes is black as tar. I don’t want to risk it.

I don’t know what to do. I can stay here till the water or food runs out, and then dehydrate or starve to death. Or I can leave. Maybe try to get back to my truck and drive out of here. I wish I knew if Nat was alive but part of me knows he isn’t. Part of me wishes I wasn’t either.

Maybe that’s why I’m stood in front of this door. Cause I want to die. Cause I’m gonna risk a run. I think I knew where I was in town, and that I could find my truck. I just had to hope those women didn’t find me first.

Today’s story is a bit inspired by concepts of stories like Silent Hill, Night of the Living Dead, and other horror pieces like that. I don’t particularly care for writing about “normal” zombies only because those have been done to death (pun intended). But I do dig the weird style of undead you get in things like Silent Hill or other horror games where the dead don’t follow a set of rules. Instead supernatural or psychotic themes play over the monsters. Something about that makes them seem more terrifying than just the dead rising and hunting the living, because when you know something just wants to kill you can almost understand the thinking of such a monster. When you don’t know what it wants, or how it plans on getting it, that fear of the unknown is far more terrifying.

Flash Fiction: Doors

Today’s story is inspired by Going Place by BoFeng

“I forgot my shoes,” Eric said. We had slide through the door with the wolves at our back. Jennifer was right. They can’t cross over. I don’t even know if they can see the doors. We didn’t wait to check as I slammed the panel behind us as quickly as we were over.

“I need my shoes,” Eric said in a low tone. The boy was distant, unsure, and I couldn’t really blame him. We had found him four doors ago, wandering here and there in mute confusion. Jennifer asked if we could leave him but Kathy had already started to approach him. It was good we did. He’d been the one who noticed the wolves before any of us although I wish he’d have more tack than to scream about them.

We had been in the water. I had already bathed and was sitting on the dock. Kathy, a mother before she ended up here, hadn’t been shy about getting Eric cleaned up. He had seemed oblivious to the nudity but I felt weird about it and Jennifer wasn’t even comfortable with me or Kathy around when she undressed. Kathy just took care of him with a mother’s hand.

He had screamed when he saw the wolves, and it had been enough warning for me and Jennifer to gather up Kathy’s and Eric’s things. She pulled Eric to the side of the water and started to get on her cloths while I shoved Eric’s shirt over his head. We had already known where the door was and so we bolted straight to it. Between the lake and the strange world hoping frame the two of them finished getting dressed, except for the pair of shoes Eric dropped.

“I think, I think we’re okay,” Jennifer said. She had the spear in hand again, holding it towards where the door had been. We each knew a little about how they worked. Whenever someone opened a door on one world, it appeared in the destination. Before then, there’s no sign of the exit. We had learned that one when Bradly tried to hunt us. He almost had, with that spear.

I paused a second while I thought about Oscar. Most of what we knew had come from him. Originally an old professor before this place, he had seen so much and been through everything before getting dumped here. He sacrificed himself against Bradly. Bradly had stabbed him, but Oscar still managed to get close enough to cut the mad boy with a knife. After the fight we found Bradly unconscious by another door, bleeding horribly from the wound. Jennifer used her own spear to gut him. I think that’s when she went cold.

“I need my shoes,” Eric said again.

“Shut up,” Jennifer spat. “Shut up about your damn shoes. Why the hell did you scream about the wolves? We could have gotten away faster if you had just come on shore first.”

“Are you joking?” Kathy said.

“What?” Jennifer asked.

“I said are you joking? You really think anyone would have kept quiet about seeing wolves bigger than a linebacker?”

“Especially an invalid,” I said.

“Don’t you dare,” Kathy said, pointing a finger at me. “He just needs attention.”

“He’s just going to get us killed,” Jennifer said. “He’ll just pull hunters onto us instead of being one. Why don’t we just take his essence now and be done with it?”

Kathy and I both stared in horror at her.

“I didn’t mean that,” Jennifer said. She let the spear’s tip lower down to the ground. “I’m sorry.”

“We don’t do that.” My words were deliberate and hard. “Never. I don’t care what the maesters want with us. I don’t care what they’re doing with us. We don’t kill unless we have to. Only for defense.”

“Oscar killed,” Jennifer said. “Not often but you know he did.”

I did. Of course I did. I had been the one to touch him first when he was down. When he died. His essence and the sixteen boys and girls he killed entered me. Jennifer had Bradly and the boys he killed, but only because he didn’t kill girl. “I like them; I like you,” he had said when he held the three of us at the end of his spear before the fight. The essence made us stronger, faster, keener. We could see things and experience them at a pace I had never experienced in my fifty-four years. Even when I was a developing teen, as the body I was in now expressed, I could never move like I do now.

I looked to Eric, “Eric. How did you see the wolves?”

“Shoes.”

“Right, new shoes. We’ll get you some new ones. I’d give you mine but your feet are too big for mine or any of the others.”

Eric looked down at my feet and nodded.

“Too small. Need to find new shoes.”

“I don’t know how he saw them,” Kathy said. “When he started screaming I had thought the soap had gotten into his eyes.” She rubbed her shoulder. “But he seemed to know. Just like how Oscar was nervous when Bradly was following us. Before we knew.”

“But I’ve got Oscar’s danger sense,” I said. “I didn’t feel a thing until I knew about them.”

“Maybe the beasts can take essence too,” Kathy said.

“And maybe his innate gift is, what? Ultra-danger sense?” Jennifer said. She had the spear back up but was looking around the forest we had found ourselves in.

“Well, I mean think about Oscar and me,” Kathy said. “I can see the other side of a closed door. Oscar could too but not as well. And Bradly could summon a weapon, but Jennifer, yours is far more impress of a weapon. Maybe if it’s your native gift.”

“It’s stronger. That makes sense,” I said. “Okay Eric, tell me, what do you see around us? Any shoes?”

Eric looked about the forest, and nodded.

“A bunch of shoes. Three pairs big enough for me. One pair your size, Izzy.”

“Three pairs? Four? Wait, is he saying we’re surrounded?” Jennifer asked just as my danger sense started to kick in.

Trying out some longer pieces. Not quite breaking out of Flash Fiction but getting closer.

Flash Fiction: Choices and Reactions

Today’s piece is inspired by Sarajevo: The Lonely Tram by Oleg Podzorov.

The streetcar was coming close. I couldn’t see it in the fog but buried under the sound of cars and passing buses I could hear it sliding on the greased rails. I pulled my travel bag close, feeling the weight of it brushing against my leg. It was time to go, time to run, time to not look back. The rail would take me to the college campus, and there a bus that would take me across the lake. From there, I didn’t have any plans. It was just time to leave this city, this haunted place.

Time to leave him.

I think my hose might still have blood on them. I left so quickly I didn’t bother to change them. He’d come in drunk and I could feel his hot wet breath on my neck. I was working late to finish the piece that would fund the apartment and his drinking another month. He grabbed, I screamed, he struck, I swung my sketch tablet against him, and he screamed. He tried to grab for me and I hit him again. And again. And again. I broke the tablet. I broke him.

The streetcar was visible in the fog, inching closer and closer to the platform I waited on. It looked empty except for the driver. The rest of the sounds of the city seemed to fade as I watched it approach.

In my panic I packed my travel bag in a blind rush. With what, I don’t remember. I used his phone to dial 9-1-1 and left it next to him as I left. I don’t know if he was alive, but I don’t care. I just needed to go. To leave.

It screeched a little as the streetcar stopped nearly perfectly in front of me. The driver wasn’t what I expected. He was chubby, short, and his face looked pushed in like he’d have one too many broken noses. His head tilted to look at me, and I could feel his eyes look me up and down.

“You can’t escape; you know that right?” he said. I had reached for the railing to pull myself up but paused when he said that.

“No, it’s okay. You can get on. We’ll go. But you can’t escape that blood. It’ll come back.” He turned to look ahead of the streetcar, watching the fog covered streets.

“Where’s your fare box?” I asked.

“Don’t need one,” the driver said. “It gets paid.”

I swallowed and looked past the first seat to the rest of the vehicle. There were two other passengers. One was a man with his head leaned forward just below the seat line. The other was a woman doing everything she could to look away from the front of the car. I boarded and took a seat a few rows in front of the man, and two rows ahead and on the opposite side of the woman. The driver pushed the streetcar forward, and the rails screamed in protest.

My skin prickled when the scream sounded so much like his.

I know the picture isn’t from my home town, but something about streetcars always reminds me of New Orleans. Add in the fog and willowy looking trees and I’m replacing pieces of the picture with my own memories. Imagery is a powerful thing, and when it evokes memories it also tends to spark inspiration.

On a side note, I think this is the first story on the site that didn’t involve something genre based. I don’t write much outside of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, or the multitude of micro-genres that exist within “genre” fiction. When I do, they tend to be closer to home. Seeing a picture of a foggy night enveloping a streetcar is quite the ticket to ride on that writing tram.