Flash Fiction: Honkey-Bot Beatdown (1200 words)

 

So for Chuck’s challenge this week, he asked up to create our own “punk.” Inspired by my move and locating some old gear from the kung-fu days… and of course, our two swords, which we have strategically placed in the house… I decided to write some “Blacksploitation Punk.” This also features my first ever fight scene. I’m very pleased! 

 

 

 

“Damn, girl, they gonna send their best shit to take you out? That’s just cold,” the high pitched comment of the 9-11 dispatcher came through loud and clear, though Gloria’s ear was nowhere near the phone.

“What you got in that house? You know, protection?” Gloria crawled into the nursery where her two sons slept. There hadn’t been any noise in the house over the last five minutes, but she knew that the intruder was still there. She quickly locked the door behind her and walked to the closet.

“In this room? A short sword and a short staff,” Gloria whispered, opening the door and taking them from a hidden ledge.

“Damn, that ain’t enough,” the dispatcher mocked.

“No shit, sweetie,” Gloria quipped. That, she said a little too loudly and the children stirred. Another few steps were taken below her. “My husband done took my favorite kanas with him…How much longer?”

“Given the type of unit that is probably there, we need to send more than the usual amount of force. Unfortunately, there are four other intruder incidents happening in the city…”

Gloria unsheathed the long sword and crouched into a defensive stance. A draft went up under her chemise, reminding her once again that she shouldn’t sleep so under-dressed when her husband wasn’t home. The steps stopped and started in intervals, accompanied by the rustling of papers or the slide of furniture. It was all a front, though. Gloria knew she was being baited to come downstairs.

“Less excuses. I need a time,” Gloria whispered sternly.

The clicking of long acrylic nails onto a keyboard came over the phone along with a sucking of teeth and clucking of the tongue, “Bitch, you lucky some turkey-ass assassin ‘bout to walk through your door, otherwise—“

“After I’m done killin’ this bot, I’m comin’ down there to get you too, bitch.”

“Yeah, you a badass, but is you bad enough to kill that honkey-bot downstairs?”

Gloria crouched into a low horse stance, “Tell the blue that I’m in here fightin’ when they decide they gonna come out.” She hung up before the dispatcher could give more excuses. There was no way any simple uniformed officers were coming to her door.

Her eldest son rolled. Gloria didn’t flinch, knowing that he wouldn’t wake up fully. She couldn’t invite the honkey-bot in here. Kissing each boy on the forehead, she said a little prayer before returning to her weapons. The sword could slice through the still-human parts of the bot, but not the powerful metal portions. She was faster with the short-staff anyhow, and it would damage all parts without risk of getting stuck. She picked up the solid and light wood, placing it at her side before sliding through the door.

The small landing and balcony of the second floor revealed no clues. The staircase of the row-home hugged the wall, and it felt cold through her thin chemise as she descended. There were no sounds coming from her kitchen and living room.

“I know you’re there, bot,” Gloria ventured above a whisper.

No reply. Not even a shuffle. Placing feet on the wood floor of the entrance hallway, she put herself in bow stance, her back facing her locked front entrance, her staff ready to strike in her right hand. Her eyes were used to the dark, yet she could see nothing.

“Gloria White,” a deep male voice echoed from the darkness. Human, so this really was a top-of-the-line intruder. “Your non-husband is dead.”

Gloria frowned in the darkness but felt no pain. She didn’t expect him to live very long. She didn’t expect for any of this to last.

“Gloria White,” the charges continued, “you are harboring citizens of the Majority. This is a capital offense.”

“The Sanctuary City of Baltimore allows for mixed-race children of citizens to—“

“The United Majority of America does not recognize dual citizenship with rebellion territories,” The bot dismissed flatly.

“There are plenty of little high-yellow babies in this city—“

“You have five minutes to comply with the directive.”

Gloria used her left hand to turn on the hallway light. Honkey bots always stood at six-foot five, as this was a primary requirement for the infusion. The still-human skin was bronzed and scared—he’d seen a lot of combat. The muscular build was not surprising, nor the massive hands balled in fists. It was the red and unflinching eyes that were always unnerving. She wondered for a brief moment, observing the bot’s short blonde hair, if at one point he had the oh-so-rare blue eyes that the Majority was trying to return to the population.

Lowering into her stance, she twirling her weapon as to prepare her wrist for combat, Gloria growled at the unhuman red eye. “You’ve got five more minutes to function, jive motherfucker.”

Mechanically and yet swiftly, the man flexed and drew the long sword from behind his back. He kept the gun holstered—no need to alert the neighbors.

The hallway did not leave a lot of room for maneuvering, so when the bot charged toward her, Gloria’s only move was to block. Twisting her legs and tightening her body, she placed all of her energy into holding a strong and tight staff, deflecting the mighty overhead blow. Screaming, she lifted her entire body, knocking the machine off balance and allowing for one swift strike to the face before slipping to the right and running into the larger space of the living room.

The blow had done nothing to slow the bot, who pivoted and chased, but with more room now, Gloria was given confidence. He answered with a swift swipe to the face, cutting above her brow. The bot was quick with the sword, but Gloria was faster with the staff. Powerful slices gave opportunities for quick, disabling strikes. Cutting contact and powerful slams took the air out of Gloria, though the will to fight remained. Frustration brought harder hits, taking out functionality of an arm and reducing functionality of a leg. Wordless and soundless, the bot yielded little. Pivot, parry, slice. Pivot, parry, charge.

Chemise tattered, sliced and bleeding from head to toe, Gloria found herself cornered in the hallway again, her heavy breathing made the only sound in the room. She sat in a deep cat stance, all of her weight on her back leg, her staff still at the ready. The bot towered above her, bruised and broken in places, yet still powerful and functional.

“Surrender the citizens,” The bot commanded.

Gloria spat a bloody wad at her opponent, “ain’t nobody gonna walk out of here with my babies.”

Sword arm still functional, the bot raised it one last time, “Gloria White, you have committed a capital crime again the United Majority of America.”

Gloria licked her lips and smiled. As the hammer came down, her leg flashed in front of her, a mighty circular kick deflecting the blow and knocking the bot off balance. Using both hands, she brought her staff down for the hardest strike she could manage on his temple. He dropped like lead before her.

Screaming, she kicked the bot in the chest three times, letting out the last of her anger. The metal infused body did not yield as flesh would, shooting pain through her, yet she didn’t care. The screams, of course, woke the children, who began to cry above her.

Getting down on her knees, she picked up the bot’s head, looking into still functioning red eyes.

“Tell the Speaker that if he wants my babies, he better come get them himself,” She growled at the dying machine before slamming his head on the floor.

 

Flash Fiction: Putnam Priorities (1,000 words)

 

This is my work for Chuck’s Last Lines First challenge. I used Squishy’s line: “That plan didn’t fly, superhero, and now we’re short a bazooka.”

and this is what I came up with.

 

“That plan didn’t fly, superhero, and now we’re short a bazooka,” Carolyn was on her third appletini and Charles knew that the sarcasm had only just begun.

“The photos were supposed to embarrass his people and make them call this whole thing off!” He’d growled into his neat bourbon. James had simply placed the bottle of Blue Label on the bar and walked away. It was good to be a regular.

Carolyn laughed at her husband’s stupidity, slapping the bar in her revelry. The politely dressed diners in the upscale restaurant were beginning to turn their attention toward the bar. “You had naked pictures of your own daughter leaked to every tabloid in the country. She can’t stand the look of you, yet you blame her fiancé’s family?”

Charles sneered. They’d be on Page 6 again in the morning.

“It just goes to show that they aren’t proper people. Not the kind of people we should be mixing families with. What would you have me do, Carol?”

Carolyn shrugged, “I say let the girl get married.”

Charles downed the entirety of his drink and filled it again to the brim. “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

His wife shrugged again, “Crazier things have happened. The board doesn’t approve of the match and they won’t trust the man that she’s chosen, so they won’t vote her in as CEO when the time comes. You get what you want in the long run. Your son ascends to the throne.” She took a long drag of her own drink and winked at James to signal for another. Charles watched the bartender’s head drop. If he denied her, they both knew that she’d make a scene.

“It’s not always about the money, Carol,” Charles whispered.

Carolyn rolled her eyes before she blew a kiss at James as he replaced her empty glass with a full one. “Last one, Carol,” James said smoothly. Carolyn rolled her eyes again.

“That Julian character isn’t right for her. He doesn’t know anything about honest money.”

“He knows how to make her happy,” Carolyn quipped, playing with the apple rind instead of downing the drink.

“You know he’s a drug lord. I’ve got pictures—“

“Of a boy in Harlem with baggy pants on. You had your cop friends stop and frisk him at least six times in as many weeks and they found less than nothing on him.” There was nothing more embarrassing than seeing a photo of your daughter’s fiancé being frisked against a storefront in the front section of the newspaper.

“He’s going to take Linda off to Columbia or whatever—“

“The Dominican Republic?”

“And she’s going to be part of a drug family!”

“Charles, you’re an idiot.”

“You’re just going to let that boy take her off to the Caribbean, where we’ll never see or hear from her again?”

Carolyn looked her husband dead in the eyes, sober as if she’d never taken a sip that evening. “Yes.”

She turned her body in search for James, and signaled for him to come over. James was taking care of another couple, but he acknowledged her need.

Charles stared at the back of his wife’s head with increasing rage.

“Is the kitchen still open, James?” Carolyn purred at the young bartender.

“It is, Mrs. Putnam, shall I get you a menu?”

“My husband and I will take the ahi tuna sliders and some calamari. Gotta cut this drink with some food,” she requested with a wink and the blow of a kiss.

“That’s going to be the picture on Page 6, you know,” Charles mocked.

“I’d rather that than a blurred picture of Linda’s naked body. If anyone is taking her away from us, it’s you, Charles,” his wife spat.

He slammed his fist on the bar, bringing everyone in the room to attention. The pain of it wasn’t dulled enough by the bourbon. “You should be grateful that your husband wants both the family and the family business safe!”

Carolyn pouted, cocking her head to the side and leaned into her husband’s face, “oh, thank you, husband, thank you,” she crooned.

Charles grabbed his wife’s jaw in his hand, squeezing it and looking her in the eyes, “you are the beneficiary of every single decision I’ve ever made. Don’t you dare mock me in public,” he snarled. The gasps and sounds of smartphone cameras taking pictures forced him to take his hands off his wife. James walked over.

“Mrs. Putnam, would you like—“

“My husband had a bit too much to drink. He’s not hurting me. We’re fine,” She turned to the rest of the dining room, which stared at them in suspended animation, “I’m fine everyone! Your dinner is on us!” A few claps came to this and then conversation resumed in earnest.

“$100,000 bourbon. Jesus Christ.”

“A small price to pay. You’ll never get our daughter’s dignity back.”

Charles reached for the bourbon, but James had cleared it away. Instead, the man came over with a plate of sliders and calamari. He also had a written bill with the price quote for all of the tables in the room.

“Bring me a water,” Charles contemplated how he was going to explain this charge to his accountant.

“This calamari makes me think of the club in New Haven,” Carolyn said dreamily as she dipped a ring in garlic aioli and popped it into her mouth.

“If you’re so offended by the release of those pictures, why did you have your man take them in the first place?”

“Because they were innocent, and she would have taken any amount of money for her shares without any incident. Now all of our weapons will shred apart the fiancé. Nobody is going to be happy now. His deleted tweets are disastrous.” Her smile grew with each bite.

Charles was please for the first time that evening. “What did you find?”

“The same thing I found out about you. My lawyer will be calling in the morning.”

Flash Fiction: Before Her Time (1100 words)

 

I know, I cheated, but I have written a great flash fiction for Chuck’s challenge this week. I rolled superhero, occult detective, with forbidden love and a pool of blood. This is what I got…

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“You would burn me at the stake, Gideon? You would kill me in such a crude way? The cousin of your king?” The Dutchess of Armour spat from behind old silver bars. Her usually pink and beautifully maintained hands went sheet white while gripping at the barrier between herself and Sir Gideon of Myr.

“My king values order. My king demands justice, madam!” Sir Gideon leaned forward at the bar.

“Gideon,” She licked her lips and chuckled, putting on a chiding look, “you think me a witch? A witch? I mean, really, isn’t that what poor fools think about when their crops go bad? Witchcraft is the game for twelve year-old girls. I’m a woman, Gideon. You know that.” She pressed her full body against the bar, the fullness of her bosom, barely covered by the ornate purple corset she’d been wearing, began emerging between the bars.

Her captor looked at her with a longing that flashed for only the blink of an eye. How many times had his cheek found sweet refuge upon that ample bosom? His longing turned to anger. “I can’t believe you did this to me, Alice,” He whispered.

“You cannot be serious. I saved that girl tonight. Those men would have torn her to pieces!” It was her turn to be hurt.

“How long have you been doing this? ‘Saving little girls from the lecherous hands of men?’ Flying them to safety with not so much as a wing? Moving objects with a single wave of your hand? Throwing a man thrice your size into the air?” Gideon paced the room, unwilling to look at his prisoner.

Alice put a hand to her hip, “Didn’t realize I was so powerful when you had me pinned beneath you, hm?”

“How long have you been terrorizing this community, Lady?” Gideon demanded as calmly and he could muster.

“How long have men been raping women in this kingdom and getting away with it? How long have you and other law men been looking the other way while we’ve suffered?” Alice mirrored his intensity.

“Are there other witches like you? Do you use the organs of your victims to gain your powers? The hearts and phallus of each man were missing—do you use them for rituals?”

“Oh yes, we make beautiful broaches with them. Phallic skins also make wonderful garters,” She laughed heartily.  

Gideon slammed his body against the bars, snarling, “My men have been out there searching for cannibals, Alice! Rumors of sacrifice and desecration of bodies for worship of pagan gods have been circulating for months now! We thought that if it wasn’t pagans then it was man-eating beasts! You left mangled bodies all over the woods!”

“And now you know that they were men praying on girls as they went about their washing, their errands, their worship! And yet I am about to be burned at the stake!”

“You tore a man in twine, Alice!” Gideon screamed. He grabbed at Alice’s face, gripping her jaw in his hands. “You are a monster. You left a man in pieces, in a pool of blood larger than ever seen in this city. You caused panic where there was order, fear where there was trust, and you’ve decimated my credibility as an officer, as a gentleman!”

Alice jerked her head out of the man’s grip, and spat in his face. He scowled, disgusted by such an unfeminine gesture. “It’s always about you, Gideon. You aren’t listening to me. Girls were being violated in this town. Men were hunting them for sport. I have had the power to stop the carnage and I’ve used it. We’re a safer community now!”

You, my dear lady, are a beast! You’ve desecrated the laws of man by pronouncing yourself judge, jury and executioner upon men traveling through our community. You’ve violated the laws of God by harnessing some unholy power to project yourself through the air and summon unhuman powers. If you aren’t a witch, you’re a beast, and either way, you must be expelled from this world.”

“So that’s it, then? No trial? You all are just going to kill me in the morning?”

“By the king’s command,” he pulled out the rolled paper with the royal seal and signature, presenting it with great gravitas. “You are hereby condemned to die by fire.”

“You are a man of letters, Gideon. There are laws in this kingdom. Trials!”

“You are a woman and you are a witch. There are no trials for you,” Gideon spat. “Half of the city watched you fly through town this evening. The other half saw you rip the butcher’s arm clear off of his body. There is nothing that can save you.”

Alice took a few steps back in her tiny cell. She folded her hands and placed them upon her forehead before letting out a wail that reverberated through the entire room. Gideon placed his hands over his ears, his screams for help drowned out from Alice’s continuous wailing and sobs.

Eventually, she ran out of energy, crumbling onto the floor, her back toward her captor. Her beautiful purple gown becoming instantly filthy with straw, dust and dung. She shuddered with continuing sobs.

Gideon straightened in triumph. He looked at the curvature of Alice’s body, heartbroken that he would never touch it again. He turned away without a word and strode out of the prison.

 

He half expected Alice to have escaped from her cell, but at sunrise, she was still there, waiting.

“Good morning, love,” She said with a smile.

“Prisoner, the time is now for you to face justice,” Gideon announced for the benefit of the guards around him. They tenuously stepped forward, taking the woman by the arms and marching her out of the building. The prison stood at the edge of town and so it would be a long march to her pyre.

The town square was filled with many in town. The men cheering and leering, the women silent or sobbing. Alice put up no resistance as rocks and food were thrown at her, Gideon pushing through the crowd, ever closer to her death. He tied the ropes that bound her to the stake himself. As he leaned in close to check a knot, he gave her a parting kiss on the cheek. Alice stared through him as he looked at her eyes one last time.

Gideon presented the prisoner, read the sentence and then set fire to the pyre. Alice stared at him with an unwavering power as the flames roared and the crowd jeered. When the fires finally licked at her feet, Alice looked up to the sky and let out a scream that surpassed the volume of the crowd. She struggled ever so slightly, and the ropes gave way. As she flew away, to the astonishment of the gathered crowd, Gideon allowed himself a flash of a moment of relief.

 

Flash Fiction: Leaving So Soon? (1006 Words)

 

Chuck gave an interesting challenge for this week–smash two movies together. Good thing I rolled Planet of the Apes and The Godfather, two movies that I’ve never seen. I had my father give me the gist of both movies, and this is what I came up with. 

Funny story, I totally came up with “Cornelius” on my own. Didn’t realize that the name was actually in Planet of the Apes until after someone in my writing community pointed it out. Happy coincidence! 

______________________

Cornelius Atwater the Third frowned deeply at the woman walking toward him with a beautifully tailored pink silk shirt on a hanger. She smiled sweetly at his displeasure, no longer impressed by his frown. “You want people to look at the art on the walls, not whatever ‘art’ you think that is on your body,” she scolded.

“I don’t want your damned shirt, mother,” Cornelius shot back, though not with absolute venom. He spread his sleeved arms out and allowed his mother to drape his body with it. “It doesn’t match my belt buckle.”

His mother tsked and moved to button the shirt. He slapped her hands away and did it himself, leaving the majority of his tattooed chest exposed. After rolling up the sleeves half way up his arm, he moved and tucked the shirt in a way as to make the buckle the forward ornament of his tiny waist.

“Is that how the kids in art school are dressing these days?” His mother sighed in exasperation.

“It’s how this art student dresses,” her son mimicked.

“I’m glad that your father is still in Washington. He won’t see this until after the toast. Try to stay away from the cameras before then, yeah? We don’t need the Democrats getting too much of a view of this.”

Cornelius raised his hackles, “This is my first gallery open. This is my night, mother! Not everything is politics! Not everything is Father’s!”

His mother raised her hands and averted her eyes. She didn’t want to fight with her son and, as usual, she was embarrassed by his explosion.

Before he could launch into his usual anti-political diatribe, Mrs. Vivian Atwater took her leave. She ducked under the draping that stood as an entryway between the gallery space and the dressing area, and stepped into the beautifully appointed space. It had cost them a fortune to get this tiny gallery space in the middle of Manhattan, but it was worth it. It would be incredible press for her husband, and would make a perfect fundraising space to assure a sixth term as senator from the great state of New York.

A young woman walked into the sunny and busy room, dressed in high-tops and designer capri pants that matched a vintage logo t-shirt. Passerby might think her disheveled but fashionista would envy her taste. Light skinned with a scorpion tattoo on the side of her neck, she walked the confidence and grace of an heiress. She wore her hair naturally, in beautifully manicured locs that were swept back in a messy bun under a tilted fedora. She barely looked at Vivian as she passed by, and Vivian didn’t need her to.

That night, after the speeches were given, it lifted her heart when her son started shifting through his pockets to take out a small box and turned to the young woman with a smile. “Chloe. You are the only thing in my life that’s real. You’re my anchor in the storm that is my insane family. You kept me directed toward my passion in my times of weakness and doubt. It’s been three years—“ to this he opened the box, which beheld a platinum and ruby ring—“I hate conformity, but some things should be done right. Please, Chloe, accept this ring and be my partner in this life.”

When Chloe Myers said yes and kissed her son, all of the worries in Vivian’s world lifted. She smiled a wide smile and clapped with great fervor along with the rest of the crowd.

Her son insisted on being married before the end of the summer. He also insisted that she not be involved in any planning. She shrugged it off and bit her tongue when her son asked for access to his trust fund in order to help pay for it. “Her family is paying for most of it,” He’d said icily as she signed the authorization with objection.

“Have you even met her family?” She’d asked in curiosity.

“Most of them. The people who matter to her. I’m meeting mom and dad at the rehearsal dinner. She feels about her parents the way that I feel about you,” He spat. She remembered him before he became so damned foolish. A time when they were genuinely a powerful and happy family. He could have made a great senator.

She thought that she would have to fight for their invitation, but it came in the mail without discussion. Her husband grumbled something about bowing out for a fundraiser, but she would hear none of it. The wedding website was full of glossy pictures and happy notes. The pretty girl with caramel skin, the soft long locs, the sharp eyes and looked like her mother’s. The handsome boy with the brilliant white smile made more brilliant by the warm pumpernickel coloring of his skin, the bald head, the powerful brow given to him by his father. They were a handsome couple. It was a brilliant match.

The Rehearsal Dinner was to take place at sunset in tea-light, purple fabric and flower strewn barn at an upstate winery. With a tasting menu of fine wines, cheeses and upscale cuisine, it was the perfect prelude to the big event. The handwritten invitation from her co-conspirators brought a gladness to her heart and as they walked up to the hosting mother- and father-of-the-bride, everyone was smiling.

“It’s been a long time, Cornelius,” Conrad Myers, former senator of Virginia said with a warm chuckle.

“The world is so small, Vivian,” Natalie Myers, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom laughed as she embraced her old friend.

They all nodded and smiled, so pleased with themselves. Five years of work brought them to this night and there was more to do. When her son and his fiancé stepped out of their car, there was nothing sweeter in life than the recognition that washed over her son’s face.

“I’d say ‘welcome home,’ son, but…well…” The triumphant smile on Vivian’s face wouldn’t fade for many, many days.

Flash Fiction: 20 Days of Waiting (1000 Words)

 

This week’s flash fiction challenge was to use a random fantasy character generator and write a 1000 word story about him/her. I’m not going to lie, I hated just about everything that the generator created for me, but then I got something interesting: “A forlorn farmer is searching for a legendary weapon.” 

Whoa. That’s cool. I decided then and there that the weapon would not be a sword. And this is what I came up with. Enjoy!!

 

 

“My God, you are beautiful.” The voice of my husband penetrates through the screams of the dead, their voices of pain and anguish blending together into an incomprehensible howl.

“No less than before and certainly no more now,” I strain to reply, taking away yet another precious bit of my energy. My presence here at the edge of all things is enough to hold back the riptide of souls that is in front of me, clawing at me, trying to go through and beyond me. They don’t recognize their master. My husband can’t see the danger. He sees his front yard, filled with newly plowed rows of just seeded soil. He sees his farm. He sees paradise.

“Come inside with me. I’m leaving tomorrow.” He puts his arms around my waist and their strength and warmth go through me in a way that no mortal can ever seem to achieve. His hands, still caked with the clay of the soil that he so loves, begin to knead and prod, his chapped lips searching for curvatures to attach to. “I want to try again. Before I leave.” He hesitates. I know that my husband wants to say “just in case,” but he has never been a pessimist.

I don’t need him to be a pessimist. I just need him to have a profound sadness. I need him to have a searching and yearning soul. It wasn’t hard to cultivate. His seed is bad and this body was never meant to produce.

With the warmth spreading through me, I’m not going to resist. He is leaving tomorrow to finally retrieve what is mine. I turn to my husband and he stares into my eyes with a furrowed brow. “I’m worried about leaving you here.”

“Why? I navigate around here all day without you when you are at market.” I flash a smile. I know his house like the back of my mortal hands.

He isn’t convinced. “I’m worried about other people…”

I put a finger to his lips. I don’t need to focus to know where they are. Some things in this world I still needed to see, but most things, including these lips, I can feel.

“You’ll be sure to check twice before stepping down? And you’ll be extra careful when milking?” The fear in his voice isn’t because of me. I know that and I kiss him.

“We’ll both be careful. I’ve lived in the darkness a long time, Silas. I’ll be fine.”

He picks me up and we go to bed. He tries to put a live baby into this body but I know that one will not emerge. He knows it too, and it makes his soul all the sadder.

When we wake up before day break, he gets dressed with urgency. “The men said that only the true of heart can find it. They said that a soul of sadness but no vengeance could find it.”

“I’m sure they also told you that they don’t want to trust a negro with their lives…” I guffaw. To see what these men do to my husband every day gives me a deep longing for my blade.

Silas is not amused, but he doesn’t say anything. The men are liars and simply don’t want to put themselves in danger. The fools don’t know how close they are to the truth: Only a sad soul can reap, and thus, only a sad soul is able to find a reaping tool.

“Maybe… maybe it will heal you,” He says as if praying, “as well as stop the tremors, and the earthquake.”

We walk onto the front lawn. Vibrations come up from the ground. Another tremor leading to what they think will be the greatest earthquake known to the region. Again, they don’t know just how close they are to the truth. I am nearing the end of my strength.

“What they don’t know is what to do once I find it. The pastor doesn’t know, but he’s sent for help all the way from Rome.”

“Catholics helping Lutherans. What a world.” I chuckle. He frowns. He has never liked my humor. There is no way that he could understand all that I have seen and all that I know. I put up my hands in apology. “Just bring it back here, baby, and we’ll figure it out.”

He puts a hat on his head and tests his walking stick against the ground. Its deep thud sends a welcome ripple through my legs. It is better than the tremors that remind me of just how weak I have become. He kisses me passionately and watches me walk back up onto the porch. “I’ll watch your shadow as you leave,” I call.

“I’m giving this twenty days, Sammy. Twenty days.” He touches the ten little grave stones in our front yard, saying a prayer in front of each one of them before he walks off.

I know that he won’t die, but I worry that he that he could be unsuccessful. He’s probably the smartest man in this little town. There is no one else up for the task. This has been my first shot in nearly three hundred years, and it may be another few centuries before I can try again.

I’m standing on the edge of everything, watching the souls snap and rage. Their claws are starting to penetrate through, the sulfur seeping through the tiny scratches that they are making. They are hungry for me and for the living beyond me. Ever since the First Day, I’ve stood here at the edge of everything, delivering souls to their destinations and holding back souls who would seek to reenter the realms of the living.

The sigh of exhaustion that I let out allows for a crack to open in the earth. The escape of souls is soon upon us. I cannot perish, but I can fail.

I am forced to hold on for twenty days to find out if I do.

 

 

Flash Fiction Challenge: Blue Echoes Through The Blood (998 Words)

This week’s Flash Fiction Challenge required genre meshing. I rolled Haunted House and Weird Western. After Googleing Weird Western, I found that I got a pretty lucky roll! 

Horror isn’t really my thing, so I probably won’t expand on this idea. But I like what I came up with. It was a cool concept. 

___

The smoke from the smoldering bodies would be seen for miles and days, and the smell of them would last a few lifetimes. It permeated every last corner and fabric of the tiny new town, and there was no one now to do the work to aerate the homes and businesses. The rosewater that the wives dabbed on their lace-collared necks did nothing to alleviate their disgust. They could practically taste the burned bodies in their now ill-prepared food.

“I do hope that you have sent for more help,” Mary said the day after the massacre. She had been fanning herself in the front parlor, over exerted after a day of housework. “If we don’t get someone here soon, I fear that dust will begin to settle and my fits will start.”

“We must see to our safety first, my love,” Richard replied with a little impatience as he could. He blinked and shook his head before he drew back the lace curtains of the front window, peering out onto the deserted road. Orange and purple streaked the sky and his heart grew heavy. “We should retire for the evening.”

His wife yawned and fanned a bit harder. “The night is young, dear,” She said without care.

Richard balled his fists, taking in a deep breath before relaxing and attempting again. “I should like to,” he turned and put on fresh smile, “spend time with you this evening.”

Mary’s ears perked up at this. It was the first time in weeks that he had shown any interest in her. A curl came to her lips as she thought of much needed release. “I’ll…freshen up,” she stammered. She practically tripped up the stairs toward their marriage bed.

Richard returned his focus to the window, looking to make sure that there was no one out. Henry had patrol duty tonight, requiring at least three rounds around the tiny town before sunrise. The ten remaining men had drawn straws and Henry’s was the shortest. “Fair is fair, my good man!” Henry had laughed too loudly, clapping the shaking man on the back. Richard crossed himself when he saw him go by, reigns of the horse in one hand, long rifle in the other.

He prayed no one would die tonight. The fifty deaths the morning before should have been enough.

Richard shook his head and paced away toward the kitchen in hope of a quick bite before retreating upstairs. The clean but otherwise empty kitchen filled him with dread. If only they could have kept a few trusted slaves alive. How were they going to meet their basic needs now?

It was made clear at the meeting three days before that every single one needed to die. “There were heavy chains around their legs and feet, man! It’s madness to think that anyone of them can be trusted!” Patrick had lead the meeting. It was his best friend, Colin, and his wife Loretta who had been found that morning. They had been the fourth couple to die.

“How can slaves manage to drown people in their beds, gentlemen?” Richard asked his friends, his fellow investors. “Marshalls are going to be here soon enough, and as mayor of this town, I’m going to have to tell them something.” The bodies and bed, indeed, the entirety of their bedroom, had been soaked in salt water.

There was no answer for this.

“I’ll tell you what, Richard, you said that this was an investment. That the money put into this town would set up our families for generations of wealth,” William, the richest man among them, spat in the street. “I didn’t come out to this territory to die by the hands of some rogue slave. You need to make a decision, or else Millie and I, will be leaving New Hope, Nevada at first light!”

The others nodded in agreement.

“You should never have named this town after a slaver,” Henry had concluded, gravely. “I don’t care who your grandfather was, or how you got your riches.”

Only half the group nodded at that. The others shrugged.

“You act like your money didn’t come from the same deeds. All of our money is wet, gentlemen,” Richard scowled.  “It’s settled, then. Round them up. Tell the wives as little as possible.”

The slave population was dead by nightfall, their bodies put in a pile just outside of town and burned for practical and superstitious reasons.

And yet…

William and Millie were found dead the next morning. Bound together in rusted chains with algae and plankton crusted on them, their bodies and faces contorted in want of air. The entire house smelled like the ocean.

“What have you done, Richard?” Henry had asked when he walked in to view the bodies.

“Did we miss a bastard?” Patrick had asked, flabbergasted.

“Possibly,” Richard answered, but he knew that it wasn’t true. Every slave had been accounted for.

“What now? What do we do now?” Many of the men were asking at once.

Richard went to draw straws and prayed that his wouldn’t be the shortest. “I’m putting in a post tonight for the Marshalls. Justice will be here in three days. We just need to survive until then.”

They had drawn straws. Now Henry was on his horse.

But the smell of salt was filling his nostrils. The sound of drums strumming in the distance filled his ears. He chuckled to himself as he thought about his short mayoral tenure.

Still in the kitchen, he poured himself a glass of fine bourbon and took a long swallow. He refilled it and strolled into his sitting room, where a picture of his grandfather, the captain of the doomed New Hope, stared at him in triumph. The family fortune closely tied to the burning of the cargo ship under his control.

“From the deep to the desert, Grandfather,” He said, lifting a glass in salute. “Your cago follows us wherever we go.”

The sun sank below the horizon.

Flash Fiction Challenge: Happy Anniversary (1,000 words)

 

I can’t believe I was able to pull this off. 1000 words is incredibly difficult! This is wholly different from the first draft that I wrote on Saturday and I’m much more pleased with it. With 1000 more words, I could have done so much more. But for the limits, I like what I created here… The sentence that I chose was “When does the family document the thunder?” 

 

Two colleagues dropped by Janis Meadow’s tiny windowless office to coax her out to lunch. They found her crouched under her monstrous desk, looking for a manila folder buried within one of many piles.

“Can we talk about how your office looks like a special edition of ‘Hoarders’? We really need to talk about your organization skills.” Monique spoke as she shoved at three folders that were dangling from a shelf. Kerry was not far behind her. The two of them huddled by the door, regarding the overflowing bookshelves that leaned against the walls.

“I know where everything is in this office.” Janis grunted from the floor. Indeed, she had found the file she was looking for, but was having trouble gracefully removing it from the heavy pile. “If they gave me a bigger one, I’d have a nicer looking place.”

Kerry scoffed at this. “You need less cases, not more room.”

“We all need less cases!” Monique chuckled.

Janis emerged from under her desk and manila folder overstuffed with paper onto her office chair. She stood, adjusting her pencil skirt and matching suit jacket. Exasperated, she attempted to make room on her desk for the folder. High piles of similar looking folders edged precariously closer to the edge of her desk. Her two friends looked at them nervously. “Maybe another folder can go on the floor?” Monique suggested.

“These are all of my most active folders.” Janis dismissed with a huff.

Her friends gaped. “How many…”

“Two hundred? I haven’t really kept count. I probably get a new one each day. Aren’t you guys getting cases?”

“Not on this level,” Monique said as she stepped toward the desk and picked up a folder, “this is somethin’ else.”

“Since Linda quit three weeks ago, I’m getting all of her stuff, too.” The fatigue finally came through as she said that sentence, and the desk seemingly creaked under its weight. “Patrick just came by asking for an update on this guy.” She pointed at her newly retrieved folder.

“There goes lunch.” Kerry laughed. “Want us to go get you something?”

“That’s kind of you. I think I’ll manage.”

“I don’t know about you, but I think I’d rather stay.” Monique said with a friendly smile.

Janis returned a grateful one. “I’ll get us a pizza.” She offered, pulling up a website to make the order.

Kerry put her hands on her hips and shook her head, but decided to stay.

“So who is it?” Monique asked, crossing her arms after Janis looked up from her computer.

“Kendrick Donovan, a seventh grader in Mattapan.” Janis replied. “His father and uncle were shot on his front porch yesterday afternoon. We’d just gotten Kendrick back to school.”

“Was he present?” Kerry asked with shock.

“No. He was at school at the time. Belligerent mom came to school to yank Kendrick out. She took him home and called the school this morning saying that she wants to withdraw him permanently. These 4 months have been the longest stretch of consistent schooling that Kendrick has had since fifth grade.”

Monique shook her head. “Have you been able to talk to Kendrick directly?”

Janis rubbed her eyes in exhaustion. “No. His cell phone is off or disconnected. Mom sees our number and knows that it’s CPS, so she doesn’t want to answer. I’ve requested that the police team investigating give me access to the family, but I haven’t heard back. Patrick wants me to look through this folder for something compelling so that we can possibly go get him.”

Kerry and Monique both straightened. “Really? Go get him? And do what?” Kerry asked.

Janis shrugged. “Take him to a family member?” She leafed through the papers. “I recall an aunt who lives in Chelsea…”

“That takes him out of his district. He’ll lose his school.” Monique said and then took the folder from Janis. She flipped through the folder, looking for the family history and contact information.

As much as Janis knew that Kendrick could potentially leave his school district, she also knew that she was running out of time. “I could try to put him with a foster family…” She ventured.

Kerry shook her head vehemently, her eyes focused on the ground as she brainstormed.

Monique sucked her teeth.

“What?” Janis asked.

“The only other family within the city is actually one of my own cases.” Monique said sadly.

“Who?” Kerry asked, surprised by the connection.

“Tevin Marshal and his four brothers in Forest Hills. No room for Kendrick in that house. And…” She hesitated.

Janis tried to fill in the blanks. “Drugs?”

“No,” Monique said quickly. “Dad drinks. He’s not there all the time, but when he is, it’s like lightning strikes that house. Life is decimated for a few weeks.”

“When does the family document the thunder?” Kerry wondered out loud.

“I’ve had that family for five years. We’re giving them access to therapy. Sometimes they take it,” Monique shrugged, “sometimes, they don’t.”

Janis ran a hand through her hair in contemplation, staring off into nothing. “I need a solution.”

“Wouldn’t your energy be better spent working with mom rather than moving Kendrick out?” Kerry suggested after a few silent minutes.

“Mom is hysterical.” Janis replied. “She’s overwhelmed with grief and shock.”

“All the more reason why your energy should focus her rather than him. If he wants to be there, he’ll go, if she lets him. And the person who has that say is her.”

“Do they have insurance?” Monique chimed in.

“MassHealth.” Janis read from the folder.

“They’ve got emergency and grief counseling. We can gain priority, too. Want me to call for you? My cousin works in the scheduling office.” Monique offered.

Janis clapped her hands, grateful. “Would you please?”

Kerry moved to step out with Monique. “You’re doing a great job. Happy anniversary. You’ve done a lot with your year here.”

“Thank you,” Janis managed. “What about the pizza?”

“We’ll be back.” Kerry called with a wink and a smile.