Pretend there's a line down the leftmost column. Took some liberties but idgaf
Echo Cian fucked around with this message at 03:37 on Dec 5, 2014
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 17:02|
|# ? May 24, 2022 03:43|
The cursor blinked in an empty terminal window, a lone white square in a sea of black. He observed the steady rhythm, unable to stop it. The chassis had been ready for weeks, and all other code had completed testing. The last thing left to program was the mind: thoughts, feelings, personality. When it came to women, he had no idea what to write. Instead he watched the lonely square, and felt his heart beat to the rhythm.
He found the number on the forums. “6 pm,” the agency promised; too much time to prepare. He tried to fill the last few hours by tinkering with his hand. It was futile; his eyes were entrapped by the clock. His heart jumped when the alert appeared on the screen, excitement and fear boiling over at once. She was here.
He checked the camera feed for the front entrance. Even in the dark and the rain, her blonde hair was radiant. Staring into the lens were two emerald eyes, vibrant and full of energy. Her skin reminded him of the ads that played on the subway: soft, smooth, Summerfield. Patiently, she waited for him to open the door.
It whirred twice: once up, once down. The event that had consumed him for hours was over in moments. He could see now what the camera had hidden: her dark, black heels; her striking, red dress; her exquisite umbrella. Their eyes locked and his body froze.
She smiled. “Hi.”
He looked away. “Hi.”
With the flip of a switch, the translucent, red field disappeared and the ribs of the umbrella folded inwards. He studied the grace of her movements as she hung it on the rack. She turned towards him and the words streamed out of his mouth.
“I didn’t know what you like, so I got a bunch of stuff - so you’d feel comfortable. I got beer, wine, scotch, um, there’s cigarettes on the table.” He pointed behind himself to a coffee table in between two couches. “I put the credits on the counter - I mean, that’s what they -”
“Woah! Slow down!”
“I’m sorry.” He quickly sat down on the nearer couch and fiddled with the hologram of Metropolis that rested on the table. “That’s what the forums said to do.” Aimlessly, he spun the purple image of the city.
She sat across from him on the opposite couch. “Hey.” A pouty look of concern had washed over her face. Their eyes locked again. “Don’t be nervous. I’d love a cigarette, thank you.” Wispy smoke danced towards the ceiling. “What are you looking for tonight?” She cocked her head and grinned. “What else did the forums say to do?”
The heat rushed to his face. It’s her smile, he thought as his gaze dived to the floor.
“I wanted to talk.”
“I mean - if it’s alright…”
“Of course!” She kept her smile small, careful not to frighten him.
The usual topics didn’t work. Regardless of what subject she chose, she couldn’t get more than a few remarks out of him. Her eyes dimmed and her smiles receded. She reached for the cigarettes with increasing frequency, pulling the thin, grey smoke out of them one at a time. He could see her losing interest, so he took a gamble.
“I like your hand.”
She held up her left hand. The polished steel plates glowed where the light struck them, but the intricate carvings remained dark and visible.
“Oh, thank you! Yours is lovely too.”
He clenched and unclenched his right fist. The dark metal was dull under any light, but he could see the tendons move through the glass.
“Thanks… I designed it myself...”
Her smile reappeared. “You design body mods?”
Her eyes sparkled as they gazed upon the schematics, sketches that only he had seen. She asked questions faster than he could answer, but as she did his courage grew. The room echoed with once-private stories of successful designs and laughable failures. He looked into her eyes and smiled back as he opened her hand to show her how it worked.
She ran out of questions and he ran out of stories, but it didn’t matter. They talked about their favourite ads, and how it always rained in Metropolis. His ears tickled when she laughed, as if he were listening to his favourite song. Each sensation burned into his memory: the smell of tobacco and sweet perfume, the lines framing her smile, the cool comfort of her hand in his.
“I’m just gonna close my eyes.” He put his feet up on the couch. “Please, keep talking.”
He woke up alone. The pack of cigarettes was gone, and so was the stack of credits.
“Sorry, we don’t give out info about the girls,” the agency told him. “If you’re feeling lonely, we can send another one ‘round tonight.”
He did feel lonely, but knew he wouldn’t much longer. He sat and watched the blinking cursor for the final time. When it came to women, he’d had no clue what to write. Now he knew where to start.
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 17:08|
Here's my bingo criteria
edit: just noticed the rules saying you can't edit the post you post your story in. Whoops, I edited in the bingo card, I'll post the story into a new untouched post.
Ausmund fucked around with this message at 18:42 on Jul 20, 2014
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 17:37|
POWER OF SEX
"I'm not giving them an ethnic name", said Natalie to Stu. "People get the wrong idea." Stu never said anything about an ethnic name and didn't understand why Natalie brought it up. The family was waiting in the hospital lobby. Natalie was sitting in a plastic chair next to an air conditioning vent coming up from the floor. The air was especially hot and dry. The inside of her nose burned.
Natalie didn't particularly like being around her family, she never felt comfortable around them and had a hard time relating to them. Natalie was studying mathematics and enjoyed things like puzzles, solving equations, Rubik's cubes, chess, hardcore Sudoku, that dumb triangle game you can play at Cracker Barrel while you wait for your food. This bore the rest of the family, who were usually into things like sports and celebrity gossip.
Well actually Natalie didn't really know what they were into, she wasn't thoughtful enough to ever ask. The only thing close to a relationship she had was with her little brother, Stu. "How much longer do you think we have to wait?" Stu asked Natalie "We haven't seen the doctor in a while, I hope Paul is doing okay."
Natalie had seldom been to a hospital before. She couldn't remember why she came along. Her family faded around her and she was lost in her own mind. She flashed back to the time she broke her nose playing softball. Her nose poured like a red waterfall. Everyone in the audience heard the crack of the ball impacting her now crooked nose. She dropped to her knees. She didn't need to cry, but this pain was in her sinuses she got up and walked to the dugout where her teammates and coach were concerned. Natalie's then sister came by and
explained to the concerned patrons that she was prone to nose bleeds somehow not taking into account that she was just hit in the loving face with a pop fly. The sun had gotten into her eyes. Wearing her cap backwards trying to look cool had foiled her. Her sister and uncle rushed her to the emergency room. Natalie was still in pain, but she couldn't get over her sister's ridiculously stupid comment. "Well she's prone to nose bleeds."
Natalie drifted back to the present. She had been to the hospital that one time, but she didn't remember it specifically. She must of been what? Thirteen? She had been sitting in this barren lobby for so long. Natalie wanted to attempt to socialize with her family to kill the boredom. She was trying to think of something practical and relatable. She didn't want to give her family the wrong idea, even though she didn't like their company anyhow.
Why oh why did she leave her notebook at home? What was going through her head? Natalie lost interest in time. She lost interest in her puzzles and her art. Natalie lost interest in everything. The whole world seemed timeless and she was just existing in it. She wasn't tired but felt like she needed sleep. She began to ponder, "Was this a bad feeling or a good feeling? I could be in pain or sick so this must be a good feeling then? Is there something wrong with me? I wish there was someone in my family I could talk to. I can't seem to depend on anyone."
"Hey Stu" Natalie tried to form a smile, "Something's bothering me, is it okay if I talk to you about it? You don't have to if you don't want t-"
"No, no that's fine, you can talk to me about anything." Stu replied trying his best to put on an approachable concerned face.
"Do you enjoy this? Do you enjoy family gatherings like this? I know we're at the hospital but do you like being around the family like this?"
"Of course I do" Stuart said, puzzled but not trying to show it, "who doesn't?"
"If I don't like being around my own family, what does that say about me?" Natalie argued.
"Well we've been trying to get you to fly up here for the past couple of months, even buying you plane tickets. I don't understand why being around family makes you so uncomfortable."
"Well, uncomfortable and just... well boring. I feel like I wasted a whole week of my paid vacation being here. I made a huge mistake and I'm never coming up here again." Natalie's Uncle Rob was eaves dropping and intervened, "You really need to lighten up and actually have some fun. Everyone is getting sick of your whining."
"I'm not whining about anything. I'm having a private conversation with my brother, this has nothing to do with you."
"Just make an effort. Actions speak louder than words. It's your demeanor. You're like a five year old that doesn't want to go to kindergarten. You're a grown rear end women and you can't spend time with family?"
"I don't have to do anything I don't want to. And there's nothing wrong with that."
"Why won't you go to Uncle Paul's wedding? Who doesn't like going to weddings? Especially a girl! Just be a normal member of the family just for once."
"I said I don't want to go."
"Because I don't want to."
"But why???? They're consenting adults! Everyone deserves to get married! You have a lot of growing up to do, you act like a spoiled teenager. You have everything in life. Don't listen to the propaganda a-"
Aunt Cleopatra intervened, "Rob stop yelling, the cafeteria is right out that door, get something to eat and cool down." Rob gave Natalie a dirty look, mumbled what sound like "oval office" and slowly paced out of the lobby hall.
Cleopatra turned to Stu, "Please go with me and help me deal with your Uncle, he really looks up to you, ever since he was ten years old."
The rest of the family began engaging in conversation with each other when Paul walked out from the doctor's office looking distressed, "Okay time to go, now!" he said clearly shaken up.
"Something go wrong with the blood test?" Aunt Michelle inquired, "They aren't suppose to look at genes, just for toxins and diseases."
"Isn't that like, uh, unconstitutional?" Uncle Sylvester blurted out trying to sound
intelligent and topical.
"Does anyone here actually understand how testing blood actually works?" Natalie asked the group.
Suddenly, the doctor marched into the waiting room looking extremely angry, scolding the group, "Absolutely disgusting. I can't believe what I'm seeing! Absolutely despicable. To take advantage of a device meant to help premature newborns in order to launder age and genes... I'm going to loving vomit."
Uncle Sylvester, Aunt Michelle, Aunt Cleopatra got up from there seats and looked at the doctor antagonistically. Uncle Rob returned to the lobby hearing the commotion from the cafeteria.
"We don't want to be like you!" Aunt Michelle said aggressively to the doctor.
Uncle Sylvester attempted to back up Aunt Michelle, "This here clan isn't taking part in this fondu-melting pot bullshit. We don't need other cheeses, we want to stay cheddar cheese, EXTRA SHARP EXTRA WHITE!!!
Aunt Michelle began stroking her hair, taunting the good doctor "I love my blonde straight hair, I don't need that nappy dark yarn crap you call a head of hair."
Natalie, standing behind Aunt Michelle, noticed she was forming a bald spot on the top back of her head.
Uncle Rob began groping Aunt Cleopatra, much to her delight, "And you can't get a pair of hooters like this anywhere else but in this tree! Honk Honk!" Aunt Cleopatra giggled.
Uncle Sylvester started spouting his terrible opinion as well, "I remember a time when this country used to have multiple races, just like certain breed of dogs, but then that loving shitwave of goddamned-motherfucking-cocksucking-french speaking Haitians had to come in and ruin it all for everyone."
Natalie and Stu glanced at each other. Stu couldn't hid his disdain from Natalie anymore. They each understood each other's embarrassment, and felt the shame of their origins. Disgusting monsters not meant to be. They could want something more, but there genetics can't be changed, not even with this high tech aging acceleration-ma-jig. A living logical contradiction. A paradox.
Aunt Cleopatra pushed back her bangs from her unwashed beehive hair and pointed at her eyes "I love my emerald green eyes" Aunt Cleopatra said, accidentally spouting a little spit.
The doctor spoke up, "I'm calling the police." and stormed out of the lobby.
Paul, still shaken up and panicky barked orders once again, "Guys, we need to get out of here now. Family fun-time is over, let's go, let's go! Come on! Come on!".
The family left the lobby room one by one. Rob was holding the door open for everyone else who was walking out single file. Uncle Rob noticed Natalie staring at a poster of a happy couple with a baby.
"Natalie, Natalie! Come on! No time for your mopey garbage!"
The AC cut back on, stronger and louder than ever. Dry air hit Natalie in the face as she was standing over the vent. She could feel her nose beginning to tickle.
Drops fell onto her upper lip. "Please be a runny nose please be a runny nose." She examined the liquid on her right index finger. Figures, it was blood.
"Ahahah" laughed Uncle Rob "Cooze face is having her period again, AHAHAHAHA! I thought you weren't supposed to get periods anymore AHAHAAHA." Uncle Rob walked outside still laughing like an rear end.
A drop of blood hung from Natalie's index finger and landed on her white blouse.
"Motherfucker..." she muttered.
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 18:45|
Coyote - 762 words
In the Singing Times, when the earth was new and the grass was thick and the buffalo roamed in endless herds across the plains, Coyote met a dog on the trail through the woods. He was broad and bold and handsome, and he carried his tail most prettily, and they quickly became playmates, scuffling and rolling through the leaves.
As dusk approached, the dog told Coyote he would have to be going, and she laughed. "Go where? Stay here with me in the wild places!" But he refused, and said he was no wild thing, but a loyal friend of the people of the mud huts. "I could be a friend to the hut-people too," said Coyote, tossing her head. "I can do whatever you can do, silly dog! Just try to prove I can't!" Stung, the dog offered to take her back to the hut with him, and she agreed, skipping and nipping and romping behind him.
The hut-man wasn't at all certain he wanted a wild thing like Coyote near his home and hearth, but the dog spoke for her, and so they put a light leather collar around Coyote's neck, and showed her where to lie down near the fire, and she thought herself a very great thing indeed. "See how they fetch and carry for us!" she said to the dog, when the hut-woman brought her a chunk of meat from the kill. She curled up with the dog that night and gazed into the flames, and for that night she was content.
The work of the family went on as always, and Coyote stayed close to the dog and followed his ways, as best she could. But she was bored when keeping watch, and would pretend to herself she saw a wolf and cry the alarm, and rouse the whole family, and laugh to see them blinking and cross. She would put her nose in the milk jug and lie down on the baby's blanket, and she chased away the spiders and made friends with the flies, and tumbled the fire about anyhow so it couldn't be lit again. The family tolerated her for the sake of the dog, and for the sake of her pretty eyes and the way she would lie her chin on the woman's knee at night, but they did wish she was as well-behaved as their own dear friend.
One night in the late winter, Coyote sat up by the fire and listened to the wind across the grass. She remembered her old life, free and wild in the forests and on the plains. She woke the dog and there was something about her he found irresistible; her wild time was on her, and they ran together over the fields and far from the village, and didn't return for two days. The humans were furious, and the dog was ashamed, but Coyote ran her tongue out and grinned at him. "We came back!" she said. "What is there to be ashamed of?"
Soon she found she was heavy with pups, and she told the dog this with great pride, and he told the man, and the man threw down his work and cursed. "What would I do with half a dozen creatures as wilful and wild as this mate of yours?" he said. "Keep them under control for the sake of all of us!"
The dog took his worries to Coyote, and she laughed in his face. "Why should I care what that great ape says? I lived for myself before I knew you, and I can live for myself again."
"If you birth your cubs here," said the dog, "I will have to control them, and curb their mischief, or the man will kill them."
"I'd like to see him try," said Coyote, and she tore off her collar. "Come with me instead, to live in the wild places!"
The dog loved his family and his home and wouldn't go, so Coyote danced away into the darkness without him. She raised their cubs in the wild, and the cubs grew strong and beautiful and spread out, and multiplied all over the earth. But they never forgot that one of their fathers was a dog, and that's why wolves will have nothing to do with them and kill them where they can.
As for the dog, he kept his faith with the family, but sometimes he remembers that he has wild children, and that he once loved Coyote; he sits and howls in the night, hoping to hear her answering call.
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 19:06|
Dr. Tam said I should keep a journal. I tried to throw it out, but Dad yelled about him not paying $125 an hour for me to ignore my therapist. So here we are.
The pages are specially treated. You can’t tear them or burn them. Turns out there’s a market for crazy-person diaries.
* * * * *
We’re going camping this weekend. Dr. Tam suggested it as a father/daughter bonding thing, a chance for us to repair emotional bridges or whatever. Anyway, I’m actually excited. It’s something a normal family would do.
* * * * *
I fell asleep on the way to the campsite, so I’m not sure where exactly we are, but it’s really pretty. I’ve never seen so much… nature. I expected it to be quiet, but there’s always a song of birds and bugs in the air. I collected some pine cones for my room. I hope they always smell like this.
Dad seems to be enjoying himself, but we haven’t talked much. I’m watching him pitch the tent now. I want to help, but the only thing to do is start a fire. Maybe it’s best to stay out the way.
* * * * *
I had a dream about Mom. She tried to hold me, and I screamed for her to stay away, but she wouldn’t stop. The air around her ignited when she touched me. I could only watch as her hair curled and turned to ash, her face bubbling and oozing blood. She smelled like seared pork. I’m crying as I write this. Dr. Tam says details are important.
After the dream, I heard a sound outside our tent. Rustling. Breathing. I woke Dad quietly to tell him, but the sound had stopped. He said black bears sniff around campsites. The food is in containers, and they’ll move on. Go back to sleep.
I didn’t mention the dream.
* * * * *
After breakfast I went down to the stream. As I squatted in a bush for a pee, I looked up and saw someone watching from the tall grass on the far bank. I screamed for Dad, and as soon as he showed up, the pervert ran. I saw him better then. He was just a kid, maybe eight or nine years old and covered in wet mud, but I was still shaken. I said I wanted to go home. Dad said all little boys play in the dirt and peep at girls, and that I shouldn’t let it get to me, much less ruin our trip. He put his hand on my shoulder, gave a half-hearted smile, and suggested we go for a hike.
I couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled at me. For a moment, I forgot about Mom and the fire. It was just me and Dad. I was even able to ignore the way he hesitated before touching me.
* * * * *
We followed an old trail that led up into the hills before cutting back deeper into the pines. Along the way we found a stray dog. A Westie terrier, Dad thought. The poor thing was filthy, its white fur clumped with dirt and blood. She was terrified of us at first, but I gave her some jerky and she huddled between my legs. Her collar said “Cattie.” Dad decided some other campers must have abandoned her. We followed the trail for another mile or so, looking for a ranger station or someone else to help her.
As we passed a small stream, we found a backpack bobbing in the water. It was all ripped up, maybe by an animal who smelled food inside. I held it up to Cattie, but she didn’t seem to recognize the scent. Then Dad pointed into the woods, past the pines, to a pair of tents. We called out, but nobody answered. We took a closer look.
One of the tents was collapsed, its poles sticking out like broken bones. The fire pit was cold and there was an old station wagon parked nearby, doused in dirt and dead leaves. The other tent appeared undisturbed. Dad called out. No one answered. He told me to stay put, and unzipped the door flap to peek inside. He made a gagging sound and jerked his head back. He wouldn’t tell me what he saw. I asked again if we could just go home. He nodded. Maybe that’s a good idea.
* * * * *
We hiked back to the car, Cattie still stuck to me like a bur. We were about halfway when a woman stepped out from the trees. She was nude except for the cracked white mud plastered over her skin. We all stared at one another in shock silence, then Dad slowly asked her name, if she was alright. She cocked her head one way, then the other, like a confused dog, staring at us with unblinking eyes. When I cleared my throat she snapped her attention to me and hissed like some sort of animal. Then she bolted for the trees.
We hurried the rest of the way. Dad cursed when the campsite came into view. The tent was torn apart and the picnic table overturned, the contents of the cooler splayed across the dirt. I heard a sharp click and turned to see the mud woman in the trees. She had followed us. She stood there, just watching us. She made another clicking noise.
Men appeared from out of the woods, naked men, smeared with mud and filth. We hurried into the car and locked the doors. Cattie was terrified, and without thinking, I let her crawl into my shirt. Dad started the engine as more mud men came. Dozens of them flooded from the trees and leapt on the car, pounding, rocking us, clawing at the windows. I saw the boy from the stream, the little pervert. He gnawed absently on a severed foot. I screamed. I prayed. I don’t remember to whom.
Dad revved the engine, but the car wouldn’t budge under the press of bodies. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the wheel and screamed a litany of curses. Then he slumped back in his seat. The freaks outside rocked the car, their tongues pressed against the windows as they whooped and banged on the glass. Dad went calm suddenly and looked to me. He told me he was sorry.
He put his arms around me then, and I screamed no, no. I don’t want you to burn. Not you, too. He told me he loved me, that he always always would. That nothing could have ever changed that.
I tried to stop it. I tried to hate, to think only of the monsters clawing their way in. Dad told me it was okay. He kissed me and held me closer. As the fire came, I hugged him back. I shut my eyes tight and smelled the familiar scent of charred meat. The windows shattered, unleashing the fire into the forest, where it inspired a shrill chorus of a hundred dying screams.
When it was silent, I opened my eyes and saw only death and ash. Dad was gone. I sat there, watching the woods burn through moist, blurry eyes. A tiny warm tongue licked my cheek.
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 19:12|
Yeah, just as I suspected, I'll have to miss this one. Sorry.
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 19:25|
The dreams were relentless. Every morning I woke to sweat-drenched sheets tangled around my feet, more exhausted than the night before. Every evening I dreaded the heavy weight of sleep, fought longer to keep my eyes open, to put off the dreams for a few minutes longer.
I cower amidst the ruins of the city, familiar buildings turned to unfamiliar corpses by fire and ruin. Their empty shells are refuges I flit between like a fearful animal.
Shadows stalk through the smoke, towering figures taller than the highest building. I know them mostly by their outlines. Some are merely giants, huge and hunch-backed but human in form; others have a menagerie of heads crowning their shoulders. Others still bear not the slightest resemblance to any living creature I have ever seen.
I have caught glimpses of these things when the smoke parts and I stray too close. Once I saw what looked like manifold wings draped down a giant’s back, but where feathers should have been were just eyes staring unblinking out into the fog. I fled in terror, feeling the gaze of those terrible eyes upon my back.
In the first months, I recalled little of these dreams. Later, they became clear, and with clarity came greater dread. It took me weeks before I realised what had brought them into such terrifying clarity.
It had been an idle whim that took me into the shop, a sliver of a building sandwiched between houses in a street I rarely walked. The man behind the counter was old, back bowed even as he sat, staring intently at me from beneath thinning strands of white hair.
"Ahhh. You have the eyes of a prophet," he said when I entered his shop. It was a strange thing to say, but at the time I'd thought it no more than some mystic babble designed to gull the naive. “Do you remember your dreams?” he continued.
The question startled me. I shook my head, mumbled a negative, shuffled awkwardly down a narrow aisle. His soft, disbelieving chuckle followed me.
My idle curiosity had fled, replaced by embarrassment and confusion and a lingering sense of dread. I felt the shopkeeper’s eyes on me, and couldn’t bring myself to just turn around and leave. My mind lighted on a thought - find some cheap trinket to buy that would neverless let me escape this shop and the silently accusing stare.
I cast my eyes across the oddments in front of me until they latched on a dark shape at the back, half-hidden between worn leather books. A crucifix. Coarse, black iron, unexpectedly heavy in my hand when I picked it up. It was crudely formed, an odd ring cast around the upper arm of the cross, but it seemed innocuous enough.
“Just this,” I said, laying it down on the counter. The shopkeeper looked at it in silence for a moment, then turned his gaze up to me.
"Protection. A wise choice," he said, sibilant and hoarse. "The Ophanim dislike prophets." He laughed then, a throaty wheeze that dragged on my ears. I took my purchase and all but fled the shop.
It was late evening when that realisation struck me. I looked over at the crucifix, sitting on my dresser, tried to reason it away as mere coincidence. What could it have to do with my dreams? But exhaustion addled my mind, and desperation knows little of reason.
The crucifix was icy cold, burning my fingers where I grasped it. I wrapped it in cloth and set out into the evening fog. It was only a short walk to the docks; that late, they were empty, the fog making ghostly giants of the cranes overhead.
I didn’t bother to unwrap it, just threw it cloth and all with all my strength. The water swallowed it without a trace. I expected to feel something then - relief, perhaps - but there was nothing. I stumbled home, fog wrapping around my feet.
That night sleep came quickly and was long, deep and devoid of dreams. No sweat-drenched sheets tangled my legs come the morning. I lay in bed, awake but at peace, for a long time before I finally rose.
I threw open the curtains and windows, looked out over the city. The autumn air was crisp, the sky an icy blue from horizon to horizon. I filled my lungs, the air a bracing chill in my chest.
For a long moment the world was at peace, and then brimstone stung my nostrils. As I watched in horror, the blue sky faded to a chill grey, colour draining out of it in a wave. The distant sound of early-morning birdsong grew hollow, then faded as if I’d plunged my head underwater. I turned in fear, my familiar room now taking on the cast of an aged photo, all colour gone from it entirely.
The sill of the window pressed against my back, my hands gripping it with pale knuckles. There, hovering in the air over the dresser where I’d once kept the crucifix, was the last speck of colour in the room. A thread of searing orange hovered in the air, writhing and growing as I watched. It split, become a rent in the world from which bled darkness and the chill wind of the void.
As I stared at in terror something drifted into view beyond the gateway. The rim of some great cartwheel, cast out of black iron. Beyond the rim I could see, instead of the spokes, another wheel nestled, spinning inside its parent like a gyroscope. It dwarfed me; were it a wheel, then the vehicle it bore would have towered over even the greatest ships of the navy.
I almost laughed at the absurdity of it, this monstrous wheel of iron rolling slowly towards me, when it stopped in its motion. The rim of the wheel split in a myriad of places all around its circumference like a seed pod. A thousand eyes, each the size of a man, stared out at me, unblinking in their judgement.
To this day, I cannot say if the movement that spilled me over the sill and out the open window behind me was an intentional one. All I can remember is the all-seeing gaze, the great eyes from which I could not look away, their judgement and the utter, cold certainty that I had been found wanting. Then I was falling, the world spinning around me.
When I came to, lying battered amidst the shrubbery beneath my window, the world was as it should be. The sky a pale blue, the birds chirping in the trees, the wind gusting and catching at my clothes. I never returned to my room, though the police and then the doctors assured me it was just as it should be.
I don’t sleep any more. The injections bring not rest but black oblivion, devoid of dreams, but I know what visions sleep would hold for me if I let it.
They are waiting, the ophanim and all their monstrous brethren. Waiting, and judging, till the day they cast the world into the flames.
We have all been found wanting.
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 20:30|
Aria kicked the door open and, careful not to get stuck with her wings, carried a delirious Clarissa sideways through the door frame. Clothes, papers, empty snack bags and bottles and sundry items lay all over the floor. Aria grunted as she put Clarissa on the unmade bed. The sheets were probably last washed during St. Jude’s time.
“Best pardyyyy like everrrr…” Clarissa slurred. She drifted off.
Aria plucked a piece of booze-soaked fruit from her wings that must have gotten there when some jackass had thrown a baseball into the punch. There was vomit on her white garb, suspiciously close to where Clarissa’s head had just been. She turned the sleeping Clarissa to her side. Then she locked the room, closed her eyes and focused on the above.
In heaven, Faith sat behind her desk, concentrating on a paper she wrote. She was probably doing crosswords.
“I want to quit,” Aria said.
Faith didn’t look up from her desk. “I know.”
“I’m serious this time. I’ve more than fulfilled my quota with her.”
“There is no quota.”
“This girl is a mess. She spends her entire life with her eyes glued to her smartphone and her lips glued to a vodka bottle.”
Faith put her pen aside, folded her hands and looked at Clarissa with a dishonest smile. “And if you weren’t there to look out for her, what else do you think she’d wrap those lips of hers around?”
“How is that my problem?”
“Her parents are very influential members of the church. We are under an obligation to make sure their daughter wanders the path of the righteous. It’s our problem, so it’s yours.” She went back to her paper. “Good day.”
“Good day,” Faith said, more sternly this time, and Aria was pulled back to Earth.
“It’s not fair,” Aria said. “We fought Azrael’s army at the gates. We should be out there hunting with the others, not babysit these brats.”
“I know how you feel,” Michael said. He nodded over to a table full of jocks. One of them had just put a condom over his head and inflated it through his nose to the laughter of others.
“Kid of some rich bishop. I used to try to keep him chaste. Now I just try to keep him alive.” He pulled two cigarettes out of his garment and offered one to Aria.
“poo poo,” she said. She took the cigarette and stared at it intently until the tip burst to flames. She dragged on it and puffed a cloud of smoke into the air. The people in the cafeteria still ignored them. “We never used to do this before. Why now?”
Michael shrugged. “The sheep are leaving the herd. We’re already behind the muzzies. Gotta keep the faithful happy.”
Clarissa was two tables away from Michael’s jock. She’d looked up from her smartphone only now, wearing sunglasses inside like she’d never been hungover before. She noticed condom boy’s antics and snickered.
“So we’re selling out now?”
“If you don’t like it you can always quit.”
“I can’t. I’ve asked.”
“Well I’m sure you can get fired.”
He’d been joking, but Aria thought this was actually kind of a good idea. She grinned.
“Oh Lord, Aria, no,” he said. “Don’t.”
“Sure, no, I’d never.”
He stared at her and she raised her hands in defense.
“Nope,” she said.
“Jesus Christ,” Michael muttered under his breath, looked back at the table and moaned. His jock was about to suffocate inside a condom. He flicked the burning cigarette in his direction and when the hot tip touched the thin rubber skin of the condom, it popped.
Two tables down, Clarissa almost pissed herself laughing. Then she moaned and rubbed her sinuses.
Aria’s chance came soon enough: Clarissa was in her dorm room with her dumb friend Jenna, who had smuggled a bottle of whiskey onto the premises. As soon as she pulled it out, Aria left the room, picked up the phone on the hallway and called the dorm reception with her mortal voice. She reported a drinking binge in room 128.
When she returned, the bottle was still closed.
“Did you hear about Claire?” Clarissa said.
“Nah, what about her?”
“There was a party in Phi Beta Gamma, and she was, like, totally drunk and stuff? And she says she doesn’t remember anything but Taylor totally bragged about, you knowing, them doing IT.”
“What a dick.”
“And now she’s pregnant.”
“Oh my gosh! You were at that party too.”
“I know, right? And, like, I totally passed out I was so drunk. But then next day, I woke up in my room. And everything was fine, you know. It was so freaky. Like, literally I thought I had a guardian angel or something.”
“Ooooh.” Jenna made big eyes and nodded enthusiastically.
“So now I think, if there’s, like, someone watching out for me, I should probably not make it so hard for them. So I try to lay off on the booze. Maybe my parents were right about all this church stuff, you know? Like, how do we know what’s out there.”
Aria was startled. She stood there for a good minute and watched in disbelief as the girls started playing cards and chatting about boys like the most harmless teenagers in the world, ignoring the whiskey bottle between them.
There was a knock on the door.
“Clarissa, this is Miss Carter,” a woman’s muffled voice came through the door. “I heard there was drinking in this room. Please open the door.”
“Crap,” Jenna hissed.
“Just a second, we’re… uhhh… naked!” Clarissa said.
“I am not kidding. Open the door!” the housekeeper said.
The girls panicked. “What do we do?” Clarissa sobbed.
“The drain. Flush it down the drain,” Aria said, but nobody heard her.
“They catch us with the booze and it’s all o-ho-hover.”
“THE TOILET YOU BIMBO!”
The knocking grew louder, before it stopped abruptly. There was a clinging sound of small metal pieces hitting each other, followed by a rustle on the door.
Aria folded in her wings and revealed herself.
She walked over to the two girls and wordlessly picked up the bottle. She didn’t wait for their reaction. She only heard two faint gasps as she drank the whiskey. All of it.
The housekeeper entered the room when Aria was about halfway through, and only when she was done did she pretend to notice the old hag.
“Oh poo poo, it’s the fun police!” she yelled.
Aria had the worst hangover. They had grilled her in the dorm office for an eternity, and when it turned out that she wasn’t even registered, and nobody had known her, the police had gotten involved. Once she was on the station, she’d just shrouded and left.
Faith was waiting for her outside, clipboard in hand. She didn’t greet Aria. She just started reading off it.
“Drunk on the job. Revealed herself to her charge. Involved with mortal bureaucracy. Aria, what the heck? Are you trying to get fired?”
“No,” said Aria. “I’m doing my job.”
“I was under the impression you didn’t want it.”
“People change,” she said. “So do I.”
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 21:04|
You guys really stepped up your bingo card colouring game
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 21:26|
I might have to fail on this one. We'll see what time work lets me go.
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 21:45|
Questions and Answers
It was early evening when the faerie came to talk to her. Mother had taken the truck into town for the day, and Elsa was just tucking little Marie into her cot when there was a knock at the front door. The sky was mottled purple and grey, the fields gold. The air was warm and cloying. It would rain again soon.
The faerie was waiting under the porch when Elsa opened the door. She was tall, and very beautiful. Her hair was the colour of sunlight and her dress was like a shadow cast by a cloud.
"Hello," said Elsa, because that was what you said to visitors.
The faerie crouched down until her face was level with Elsa's. She smiled with her mouth. "Hello," she said, and then she made a noise like the wind rustling through leaves. "You are looking well. Is Mother here?"
"No," said Elsa.
"May I come in?"
"I thought Mother told you to go away."
"She told me I wasn't supposed to talk to you outside."
"I thought she would."
"What will you do if I say you can't come in?"
"Why," said the faerie, "then I will go away, and never ask you to let me in again. That is how questions work."
Elsa thought about that.
"Just for a bit, then," she said.
The faerie had first visited the day before. It had been a long day. Marie wasn't sleeping well, and Mother had been tired and angrier than usual. Elsa had tried her best to help all day, but sometimes she just couldn't do what Mother wanted, and that was just how things were.
The faerie was waiting for them by the house. She looked like a magical princess, Elsa thought.
"Your crops look healthy," she said.
"What do you want?" Mother's voice was low and quiet, like it usually was before she started shouting.
"I have come to speak with you."
"Have you now? And here I thought..." For a moment Mother had forgotten that Elsa was with her. She caught herself when she realised. "Go inside, girl. Check on Marie for me."
Marie was asleep, for once. Elsa stayed with her a little while, listening to the sound of footsteps and doors slamming from downstairs. Marie didn't stir. It must have been nice to be so peaceful.
Mother and the faerie were in the dining room when Elsa tiptoed back downstairs. Their voices were soft and muted through the keyhole.
"She seems well." The faerie. Every sentence she spoke was a song. "Is she happy?"
"She drat well ought to be."
"I would like to talk to her."
"Not a god-drat chance. No."
"It is not a question. I am not asking you."
"Well, you should. You never said anything about coming back! I take care of her, you give me my seven years. That was it."
"I remember. Your farm has prospered."
"And now you want her back? Is that what this is?"
"You have a second daughter."
There was a long silence. Elsa pulled away from the door, heart thumping. Why weren't they saying anything? Had they realised she was listening?
"Get out." Mother's voice.
"I would like to --"
"I don't care. Whatever you want -- whatever you're going to ask this time -- the answer is no, and you can go --"
"No." The faerie's voice was stern, disapproving. "I have not yet asked my question. You cannot answer it until I have. That is how questions work."
"Then spit it out."
"I would like your daughter to know her sister. I will take her. In exchange I offer you good fortune and strong harvests for a further seven years. I will replace her, of course."
There was another pause. Elsa wondered if Mother was thinking about the offer, or if she was just waiting for something.
"D'you know what I see when I look at that girl?"
"I see a hole where my Elsa should be. I see that... that thing you put there to take her place. I thought one daughter would be like any other, but she's not mine and it's not her fault and I hate her for it anyway. So go on, ask me."
"I shall. When this is done you will not see me again. This I swear. Do you accept this exchange?"
"Get out of my house."
The rain fell like sheets that night. Flashes of lightning lit up the fields, and with every one Elsa saw the faerie standing in the rain, looking up at her window. She must have been very wet.
"Don't you pay that witch any attention," Mother said, drawing the curtains sharply. She was smoking again. She did that a lot when she was upset. "Ignore her and she'll go away. And don't you dare talk to her when you're outside."
"Okay," said Elsa.
Elsa and the faerie stood side by side at Marie's cot. She was already asleep.
"She is lovely," said the faerie, resting one hand on the wood. "What is her name?"
"Marie," said Elsa.
The faerie nodded, as if she'd known this already. "And what does Mother call you?"
The faerie turned from the cot and knelt down beside Elsa. "My name is," and then she said something that smelled of oranges and sounded like two pebbles clacking together. "For how long have you known that she is not your sister?"
"Since yesterday," said Elsa. "I was listening. Sorry."
"Not before then?"
"Not really," Elsa admitted, "but I have thought about it."
"Some evenings Mother tells me that she wishes I was really hers," Elsa said. "When she gets thirsty. But she never says that about Marie."
"She dislikes you because you are not her daughter. It is not her fault."
"I know. It's okay."
The faerie gave her a strange look. "Are you happy here?"
Elsa thought about this. "I think so."
The faerie nodded. "I came here to take this girl away," she said, as if it were the most normal thing in the world for someone to do. "I would have given Mother health and prosperity, and a new daughter to take her place. I had thought this would make her happy. I was wrong."
"I don't think that would be a good idea."
"Why is that?"
"She likes Marie," said Elsa. "Can't you give her health and... and that other thing anyway?"
"That is not how this works."
They looked at each other in silence for a long while.
"Could you take me instead?" Elsa said eventually.
"I could." The faerie fixed her with a stare. "Do you want that?"
"I think it might help."
"That is not an answer."
"I don't really want it," Elsa admitted, "but could you give Mother her things if you did take me?"
"Then I think that's okay."
The faerie nodded, slowly. "Then ask."
"Okay." Elsa took a deep breath. "Will you take me with you?"
The faerie's lips curved into a smile.
"I will," she said. "Come home with me, little one."
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 22:54|
Can I make a request?
Someone print out their bingo card and dab your spots with one of those bright colored bingo markers.
It won't make your story blow less chunks, sure, but it will make me smile.
|# ? Jul 20, 2014 23:24|
Cage (1128 words)
Atla lay in the home palliative care unit. Lazy tendrils of smoke drifted in the half-light, curling into the apartment's air purifier. Her airways were blocked by the tubes supporting her barely-functioning lungs, but still she could smell the menthol of Inge's cigarette. Even now.
Pain washed over her, and she tensed, then relaxed as the HPCU microdosed her with morphine, dulling the pain to a barely-manageable throb. The sterile grey of the apartment, the hum and whirr of medical machinery, the drowning feeling in her lungs were too much. With Herculean effort, Atla moved a finger to the activation button of the HPCU's dissociation array. Goggles, earpieces and electrodes slid into place, and the room slipped away.
The HPCU provided a bucolic scene from a Sweden that no longer was. Deer browsed in a meadow. In the deep woods around, a forest cat prowled. Downhill, golden fields of rapeseed stretched to an island-filled sea. But the perspective felt wrong, and the grass voxellated when she looked closer.The Folketshabitat spared little, even for the dying.
Although she lacked the strength for keyboard control, she tried moving with the subvocal interface. But the skewing trees left her nauseous. So Atla stood in place, and watched.
She had seen real trees, once, when she was much younger. For days she had begged and pleaded with Inge until she agreed to take her to the park at the habitat's core. For hours they had ridden the Habståget, elbows jammed against strangers and sweat trickling down their backs. At the central station, they wove their way through jostling multitudes filling the widest corridors Atla had ever seen, to the queues outside the park. Another hour, and they were inside.
Atla had only seen its like in pictures. Sunlight flooded in through vast plate glass windows. A knot of children ran and played on a green amid yews and birch. Atla started towards them, but Inge marched her straight to the hazy interior of the smokers' cage, where, with trembling fingers, she had lit a cigarette.
"Morsan, I want to go out into the fields and play with the children," Atla had said.
Back then, she'd still granted Inge the right to be called her mother.
"You, young lady, will stay by my side!", said Inge, between drags. "It's dangerous out there, full of perverts and heathens."
"No buts. You stay there and be good or I will take away your network privileges."
So Atla had slumped, trying to glimpse the greenery through the grey haze burning her eyes and the dirty glass of the smokers cage. She had clenched her fists, resolved to break free, at least from some of her cages.
Her thoughts returned to the now. She was stuck in yet more cages -- her body's broken shell and the HPCU's tawdry simulation. But she was no longer a helpless child. Escape from digital cages was easy. Through the clumsy subvoc interface, through her body's ache and the morphine clouding her mind, Atla worked. With skill born of years of circumventing parental locks, she suborned the dissociation array. She coded up a breaker program to run in its place, and tasked it with brute-forcing the HPCU's main security system.
The simulation jerked and faded, leaving her in a silent void. If her lungs had permitted, she would have hummed to fill it with some faint music. Before long, her mind -- and the morphine -- obliged. In the darkness came the echoing strains of churchsong.
Church had been a weekly respite from the grey bleakness of the apartment. The sun streamed in through stained glass, bathing the choir in red and blue and gold, as they filled the space with song. For those moments she could survive the rest of the service -- the barely-comprehended rituals and the pastor's litany of sins: fornication, pornography, abortion, euthanasia.
Her breaker chimed that it had completed its task. She was into the HPCU's central controller. She quickly broke into the easier subunits, gathering more processor cycles. She turned the strengthened breaker to the harder security around the morphine administrator.
A fresh wave of pain crashed over Atla, sweeping her into an opiate nightmare. She flashed through the months of her illness. The first pains in her chest and having to beg Inge to take her to a doctor. Missed appointments and anxiety. Waiting, forlorn, at the medcentre after chemotherapy treatments, for Inge to pick her up. Doctors admonishing Inge to stop smoking, and, days later, the choking confirmation that Inge's will had failed. The final pronouncement that she had no hope. Inge's refusal to let her die.
Her consciousness resurfaced. She checked the breaker's progress. She had control of the morphine.
She accessed the network connection to the apartment's systems. Riddled with backdoors from earlier exploits, they were easy to break. She brought up the feed from the parentview spycam in her bedroom.
Atla had the eerie experience of observing herself from above. Her head was hairless, cheeks sunken, skin stretched taught over bone. Her body was mottled with lumps where the cancer had spread. Months of pain gone by, and months more to come, were mapped out in cadaverous detail. If she had the strength, she would have shuddered.
Atla started the morphine.
She switched the view to the camera feed in the common room. Inge was entertaining the pastor. An ashtray matching the tea set was filled with cigarette ends. An idea struck, and she patched the subvoc into the apartment's sound system.
"Inge, oh Inge, those things will kill you", said Atla.
Her voice, a morphine-addled inner monologue processed through systems never intended for the purpose, grated and crackled from the room's speakers. Inge and the pastor jumped.
"Atla? What sinful nonsense are you up to now? And address your mother properly!" said Inge.
Atla laughed, a cacophony of pops and static.
"No, Inge, you lost that right long ago", said Atla. "But I'm not here to argue. I'm here to say goodbye."
"What are you talking about, my child?" said the pastor.
"You shut up. I don't have much time," said Atla. "Inge, sometimes you tried, but you were a terrible mother."
"My dearest daughter, everything I have done was for your own good."
"Keeping me alive through this ... hell?" said Atla.
Concentration was becoming difficult.
"I -- no, you know what? It doesn't matter now. I forgive you. Goodbye Inge."
From the other room, she heard the HPCU gently pinging in alarm. Through a narrowing tunnel she saw Inge and the pastor stand and run. Then, there was darkness.
In the darkness, the pinging gained a melody and swelled into the fullness of a choir, as rainbow light streamed down. She was free.
I think I hit about five others in the process.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 00:18|
It won't make your story blow less chunks, sure, but it will make me smile.
It won't make your story blow fewer chunks. It might make less sense to waste time doing so or Phobia might have less talent as a writer than a cat walking across a keyboard.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 00:44|
The Timber Hall 1201 words
Slake lumbered down my longhall and a boy trotted behind him. Gleaming steel flashed in the firelight as the squat bastard dipped his greatspear underneath each high rafter. The floor planks creaked beneath his bulk. He rumbled out, “Got a job in these parts, Kerf.” He and the boy had the same ruddy skin, black hair.
“Thirteen years since I left and that’s what you say to me. This your son?” He nodded. The boy snapped to attention, stripping his gaze from the myriad grisly trophies adorning the walls. I stumped over to the lad and inspected him. None of his old man’s bulk, but tall like his mother. A sword was buckled around his waist. “Got a name?”
His eyes darted down. “No. Not yet.”
Slake reached out a hand to me. “Garsnap in the area. Big reward. Come help my boy earn his name, you tall son of a whore.”
We clasped. The spearman’s brows knuckled together as he contemplated the wooden end of my left leg. “I’ll put you up, but the only time I use an axe now is on firewood.”
Every day, the head of his wooden axe clacked against my practice spear in front of the warrior’s longhall. Boys named at age ten and weaned on the blood of beasts entered on invitation while we sweated nameless before the shut doors. My tall friend refused to beg an apprenticeship and mocked me for spending two days a week at a woodcarver’s in hopes of earning a name as a tradesman.
We listened to sea stories of the valtyrs with their scaled wings and mandibled visages, traded labor for food scraps and merchants’ tales of the chitin-armored stogmites of the red sands. Fatherless boys, we only had each other, and the danger and glory held powerful allure.
“The doors will open for us. We’ll have real teachers. Armor and weapons. Close your eyes and hear it, a warrior angel naming you. We just need to train harder, practice more,” he’d say.
I gave up my days at the woodcarver’s. Bruises and black eyes from mock battles made spare and muscled boys of us. Twice a week we crossed the city to attend services at the temple. A statue of the Warrior stared grimly over our heads as we prayed. The chiseled words below were cut into our hearts:
A Warrior’s name is earned in battle.
Valor is the key to the Timber Hall.
The snows piled high and each year other fatherless boys died black and hard. Summers passed. We stalked the city like predators. Merchants offered to hire us as guards, a hundred exotic lands awaited our footsteps, and still we waited for the longhall doors to unbar.
But they never opened, so one day I turned to him and said,
“You make your own fortune.”
“Then let’s go make one,” I finished the old words. Slake slapped me on the back. We drank tots of applejack while the boy goggled at a lifetime of hunting trophies. “Except, I’ve got everything I need right here.” I settled back into the scirvit pelt lining my chair.
“Do it for me, then. We need your help.”
I slammed my fist down on the table. “No! I have no leg, Slake!” I shook the peg at him, a stylized tree carven of ash.
He held up his hands. “Becalm your storm, old friend. I won’t ask again.”
“How is Weft?” The old wounds ached at her name, physical and otherwise.
“Dead three years past.”
“Is that it?” the boy interjected.
I followed his rapt gaze up, to the crescent of my axe. “That’s it, the axe of Kerf.” The words tasted bitter.
“Yeah, but it’s no more famous than my spear,” I replied. Kerf wore new, silver-tooled boots and wouldn’t shut up while we hunted a garsnap rumored to be the size of three oxen.
It caught us unprepared. The lizard dropped from the trees and knocked him over. One conical eye swiveled toward me. I lifted my greatspear overhead and lunged, sinking it to the crossguard, even as the creature uncurled its tail and wrapped it around my chest.
The garsnap unfurled its tongue in a jab and the fleshy end stuck to Kerf’s left foot. I stabbed again, straining against its tail. The tongue yanked back, dragging Kerf with it. “No!” The snap of its crooked, terrible jaws garbled all thought for a moment, then I broke free with a yell and drove my spear through its neck.
The garsnap shuddered and champed in its death throes. Kerf screamed a thin, piteous whine. “Hold on.” I cut the tendons holding the ragged ends of his severed leg together and cinched a belt on the stump. Settling his lanky frame over my shoulders, I raced to town.
Weft earned her name saving lives in the hospital and shined with inner light when she moved. She called for her assistants and I lost Kerf as they carted him off to the chirurgeons.
Kerf slept under the influence of Weft’s potions for a week while the stitched end of his left leg healed. I spent every moment not at his bedside in the intoxicating circle of her arms. Kerf didn’t wake when the potions stopped, and the week turned to months.
“We’re getting married, old friend, having a baby. It’s a son, I know it. He won’t starve in the gutters, grow up fatherless. Wake up and we’ll raise him together. Wake up.”
I found Slake’s body in the forest, a mess of red whorls and torn flesh. “Oh gods, wake up,” I begged.
“Uncle Kerf?” The boy stepped from behind a pine. He held Slake’s spearhead by its broken shaft, gore dripping from the tip. His swordsheath was empty. “It was too strong, too fast.” He collapsed, bleeding from three deep gashes in his side.
I took him home, bandaged him up. He fell into a fevered sleep while I slung bundles of rope and my woodcutting axe over my shoulder. I was no warrior, not anymore, but these were my woods. I set the trap, used myself as bait, and when the beast landed on me I brought two tons of timber crashing down on both of us. Our bodies broke like twigs.
Crackling sounded from the brush. The boy. He staggered from the woods, one hand to the bandage on his side and the other hefting my axe. The garsnap focused its slitted visage. "Look out!"
He rolled beneath the lightning snap of its tongue and swung the axe in a silvery arc, severing the appendage in a welter of gore. The keening of the garsnap deafened me as it thrashed. "Do it." He lifted the battleaxe overhead, then crashed it down, severing the beast's head.
The sun shining through the foliage haloed his dark hair. The light, so bright. Hands reached down to me. I grabbed hold and stood. "A moment, warrior." The angel laid hands of radiance on the lad's head in benediction and spoke: "I name you Haggen."
Slake was waiting for me. "We made our own fortune, Kerf." That day, the doors opened for us.
angels, main character dies at the end, flashbacks, gritty realism, high fantasy
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 01:05|
i expect the bingo cards to get fancier and fancier, so if you're going to post your 5 things in spoilers you might as well not even bother.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 01:12|
Song (I used a couple lines from it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QY3KCjDlTY
Word Count: 1084
Malinalxochitl grabbed her sword and walked out into the dark city. The sky had grown dark for days, and not even the stars shined. The city felt dead in the darkness, besides the few women who awaited the return of their husbands. Malinalxochitl followed the path lit up by lantern.
An elderly woman stopped Malinalxochitl. “Where are you going?” The woman asked.
Malinalxochitl looked at the road leading to the arena.
“No, no, no. You are not allowed there. That is for men alone.”
Malinalxochitl pushed the woman aside and said, “That is a place for warriors. That is where I belong.”
Ahuitzotl stood in the center of the arena surrounded by the corpses of his many opponents, the arena barely lit up by the torches. At first, there was silence. Then, a loud cheer echoed through the area. Ahuitzotl wiped the blood off his sword.
“Who else wishes to face me?” He shouted. The crowd stirred in anticipation.
“I do!” A voice came from a hallway leading into the pit. Malinalxochitl appeared from the hallway. The crowd gasped, but Ahuitzotl stood still. She stood in the middle of the arena, underneath the dark sky. All eyes were trained on her, but her focus was on Ahuitzotl.
He sheathed his blade and turned away from his opponent. He shouted to the high priest, “You cannot allow her to fight. She is too young.”
“Do not hide behind words Ahuitzotl. We both know that the only person who can defeat you is me!” Malinalxochitl said.
“I will not raise my sword to a woman!”
“Then don’t consider me a woman. Consider me a warrior.”
The high priest slammed his staff into the ground. “Enough! If she believes herself worthy, then she shall fight.”
“That is against tradition!” Ahuitzotl said.
The high priest looked up at the blank sky and shook his head. “Times have changed Ahuitzotl. The gods have abandoned us. Survival is above tradition.”
Malinalxochitl unsheathed her blade and pointed it at Ahuitzotl. Ahuitzotl put his hand on her sword and pushed it down. “You don’t have to do this,” He whispered.
“It has to be this way,” Malinalxochitl said. She raised the blade and thrusted it at Ahuitzotl. He dashed back, avoiding the attack. He shook his head, and took out his sword.
“Are you ready to fight?” Malinalxochitl shouted and raised her arms. The crowd cheered, and Ahuitzotl nodded.
Malinalxochitl rushed at Ahuitzotl and swung wildly at his chest. He stepped back, avoiding the attack, but Malinalxochitl continued to rush him down. He avoided each attack, but each strike got closer to him, until he felt the edge of her blade scrape past his chest. His blood dripped on the dirt floor.
Malinalxochitl charged once more, and raised her blade above her head. As it fell towards Ahuitzotl’s head, he parried it. Malinalxochitl stumbled backwards, and Ahuitzotl ran towards her. His attacks were quick and smooth, but Malinalxochitl was able to parry each one with ease. Ahuitzotl’s strikes soon became slower and weaker until he ran out of energy. His earlier fights had fatigued him, and he couldn’t keep up with his assault.
Malinalxochitl walked slowly towards Ahuitzotl. Ahuitzotl threw out an attack, but Malinalxochitl blocked it. She threw out a few strikes, and Ahuitzotl parried each one, but he knew she was testing him. Malinalxochitl stepped back, and smiled. Ahuitzotl grinned back.
Malinalxochitl ran at him, kicking up dirt, and plunged her sword clean through Ahuitzotl’s chest. His sword dropped to the floor, and the clank of the steel echoed through the arena. Ahuitzotl’s mouth spit out blood, and Malinalxochitl twisted her blade.
“I guess we are just the same.”Ahuitzotl said.
Malinalxochitl pulled out her blade, and Ahuitzotl fell onto the blood stained sand. “I guess so, father.” Malinalxochitl whispered.
The crowd was silent as Malinalxochitl stared at Ahuitzotl. She looked around her, at the hundreds of eyes trained on her, and raised her blade high into the dark sky.
“I am the champion of the Aztecs! If anyone wishes to challenge me, then I will gladly strike you down!”
The crowd stirred, but no one walked up. The high priest stood up and shouted, “We have our victor! Tomorrow, the ceremony shall commence!”
The crowd cheered, and Malinalxochitl picked up her father’s body and his blade, and carried him out of the arena. He would get a proper burial.
Malinalxochitl stepped out of her home dressed in a crimson robe. Two priestess stood outside, and nodded at her as she walked by them. Lined across the road were hundreds of citizens, cheering as she walked past. She waved and smiled to each person she passed. The city felt alive again in the darkness.
The priestess led Malinalxochitl in front of a stone pyramid, where the high priest overlooked the crowd. The high priest stepped down from the pyramid, and stood across from the altar.
“Today,” the high priest shouted, “is a day of great importance. The gods have grown angry with us.” He pointed to the dark sky. “They have taken the sun from us for our misdeeds. We did not give them the penance they deserve. But, for you, Tonatiuh, we offer our greatest prize. Our finest warrior.”
Malinalxochitl laid on top of an altar. The high priest brandished a dagger. “Gods, hear our prayers and accept our offerings. Bring us the sun, so that we may bask in your glory forever.”
The dagger was plunged into Malinalxochitl chest. It stung, and she felt it slid down her chest. She could feel the hands pull apart her skin. She wanted to scream, but she held her breath. Darkness overtook her, but she could make out a figure just through the void. Ahuitzotl stood there, wielding his sword, and smiled back at her.
The next day, the sun rose bright in the sky. Farmers were preparing to plant their seeds and merchants began setting up their goods, but that day was a day of celebration. The stockpiles were opened up and a massive feast was held. The children played, and the sun beamed down on the city.
As the sun began to fall, the high priest called everyone to the temple. He gave a prayer to all of the gods, including Malinalxochitl. The people cheered at the sound of her name.
That night, the priestesses looked towards the heaven, and saw a new constellation. Two warriors, their swords clashing against each other, were forever enshrined in the night sky.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 01:33|
(Bros, Moral Authority, Ragtime, Lovecraftian, Told in a Pub)
The Groom's Reflection
“It’s not something that Yanks do.” Kate warned him. “The night before a girl’s wedding day, her friends come and kidnap her. They take her from pub to pub while the groom has to track her down.”
“That doesn’t sound like much fun for the groom.” Jack said.
“Well it gets worse,” she said with a kiss. “The groom has to pay the girls’ tab.”
“In each pub?”
“In every pub.” She winked.
Jack thought about that conversation as Roland paid the barkeep at The Cock and Hen. The Hen had always been good to Jack, good for a laugh, good for a bite. This was the place where he and Kate met, and she had always been a traditional girl. Traditional Christian wedding, traditional customs, she insisted on them from day one. So it came as a surprise to Jack when his traditional girl didn’t choose the traditional hiding spot.
Roland set a stack of bills over the bill. This is why you’re my best man, big brother.” Jack said.
“Where now?” his brother asked.
“The Blue Bench,” Jack announced, and the two were off into the bitter evening’s wind.
After a few blocks, Jack noticed a foreign window’s warm glow melting the frozen air. Jack could hear the rabble of laughter and music inside. An etched sign hung over the entrance. The Looking Glass Inn.
“Has this always been here?” Jack asked.
Roland shrugged his shoulders and held the door open and said, “a place you’ve never heard of would be a good place to hide.”
The room was awash in dark, glossy wood, bronze trim, and beautiful people. A man sat in the far corner, playing a ragtime song on an old piano. His suit was darker than even the black night outside. A massive ornamental mirror lined the bar wall, unobstructed by any bottles of spirits, while an old man fled to a back room to mix and pour the drinks.
Jack bumped into a woman on his way to the bar. Instinctively, he swung his arm around her delicate back, his other hand grabbing hers, keeping her from toppling over. Her ivory skin was flawless against the violet of her top. “Pardon me,” he said.
Jack and Roland saddled into the two seats. “Help you?” The barkeep asked.
Jack opened his wallet, flashing a picture of Kate. “I’m looking for my fiance. Have you seen her?”
The man squinted and adjusted his glasses. “I’ve seen her around.” He said. “Let me make you a drink.”
Jack stared into the mirror as he scanned the room for Kate, unable to find her in the crowd. He didn’t have time for a drink, not tonight. But the ragtime song bouncing around the room was intoxicating. Whenever his thoughts strayed to grabbing Roland, getting up, and leaving, they were lost in the springy tempo.
The man set a pint in front of Roland before doing the same for Jack. “Enjoy.”
Jack and Roland nursed their glasses as the bartender disappeared behind his station.
“Think,” Roland said, “tomorrow you will be a married man, joined in an unbreakable union before god, your friends, your family.”
“Are you trying to scare me like you used to?” Jack asked.
Roland could only smile.
Jack took a sip. “Okay, let’s go. I’ve got a bride to find,” but Roland was gone. Jack looked up just in time to see him disappear into the restroom. He got up to follow.
But there was the piano again. The man in black played a flourish on the keys before starting a new song, and Jack sat back down; there was a fresh pint in front of him. The pianist began to sing, and Jack fell back into the mirror’s gaze.
This life is very sad to me, a sorrow fills my heart
My story I will tell to you, from me my love did part
The village church bell sadly tolled, the one I loved had died
She was a treasure more than gold when she was by my side.
Jack didn’t notice the dingy film crawling over the mirror, nor did he notice the fraying of the stool underneath him, nor the change that swallowed the room entire. He only noticed her. The woman in violet. Dancing, laughing, drinking. The most beautiful woman in the world. She looked into the mirror, her eyes meeting his.
“Jack!” she called, flashing a smile of grey and rotting teeth; it was an inviting smile. He wanted to kiss it. He wanted to know her.
“I’m sorry. I think you have me mistaken for another.” The woman approached, placing her arm around his shoulder.
“Jack, you found me,” she said before leaning into his ear and whispering. “Was it really that easy?”
She leaned in, and Jack could feel her sweating through her top, a thick goo that clung to his fingers.
“I’ve missed you,” Jack said as he caressed her blemished face; he wanted to take her away to some back room. Suddenly, he heard a familiar voice squeal like a gutted pig.
Roland? Jack rose from his seat, but the violet woman grabbed and dipped him before thrusting her forked tongue into his mouth.
Good. It would be happy with Roland.
When the barman returned with another drink, Jack couldn’t wait to finish the consummation. The man held his bloody orifices over the pint glass, topping the strange drinks off. Jack wanted to let her ravage him in the pianist’s hellfire music, but the drink came first. It was the natural order. Then he’d strap himself to the lid of the piano and-
This wasn’t right.
Jack shoved the violet witch away and threw his drink to the floor. He stormed out of the pub and into the warm air, back to his barstool, and took his drink.
“Wait-” Jack declared. His violet lover sat next to him, cutting the skin of his back with her gritty black nails. He stared into the mirror again as the pianist sang.
But now she's gone beyond recall, in a silent tomb she sleeps
The one I love yet best of all has left me here to weep
Though death so ruthless stole my love, my dear and only Grace
I've yet a treasure in this world: a picture of her face.
When Jack returned to himself, all of the patrons were gone. Only the barkeep, a wrinkled featureless man with a face as smooth as an eggshell, and the pianist, still playing his song, remained.
“Yes,” the barman creaked through a lipless mouth, “I have seen your fiance.” He pointed a wrecked finger to the collapsed stairwell in the corner of the dusty room. “Right up there. She’s been waiting.” Jack looked up through the dilapidated ceiling into the violet sky. The bloodmoon hung pregnant over the world, and Jack felt it all slipping away again as he stared into the mirror.
“Sir,” the barkeep said, “Your fiance and her friends reserved a room upstairs. Congratulations. You’ve found her.”
The pub erupted in applause.
He smiled and checked the groom’s reflection in the mirror. He could hear the dirges already.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 01:36|
Softly and Tenderly
Nethilia fucked around with this message at 08:33 on Dec 4, 2014
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 01:48|
Yeah, it's not happening this time. (Something something elephants and Old Yeller and then magic happens oh look bingo).
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 01:55|
In retrospect I should have done something about drug dealing angels or old cyberpunk men drinking whisky in outer space. Oh well.
Writing the e-mail was the easy part. Two sentences, sent from a freshly registered gmail account.
I know who sent you the e-mail, and I’m not sure if they were serious or not. His name is Greg Brentano.
Hitting send was harder.
Whenever he got angry, which happened a lot, Greg would leap off of his bed and pace around the room like a caged animal. His skin would flush and he’d breathe heavily, as though being angry required physical exertion.
A month before the e-mail I’d been hanging out with Greg in his dorm room, watching him work through his latest set of frustrations.
“It’s so loving stupid,” he said. “We’ve been digging this hole for fifty loving years and her solution? Dig faster.”
“It’s a four page assignment,” I said as I set down my Xbox controller.
“It’s a mandatory class! I’m trying to get into med school and they’re making me jump through hoops for some craggy old oval office from the philosophy department.”
“Yeah, well, it is a bioethics class.”
Greg gave me the kind of look you’d normally reserve for a kid who shits themselves after they’re supposed to be toilet trained.
“That’s the point I’m trying to make. What the hell does some burned out old hippy slut know about ethics?” His breathing was a bit more even now, the flush was leaving his cheeks. Greg loved being angry, but not as much as he loved to hear himself talk. “Do you know what ethics is?”
“Yeah. Doing the right thing.”
“Conduct. Ethics is about conduct. It’s supposed to be about how you behave yourself, you know? It’s about values.”
“And the essence of all that is self control. Restraint. Being able to mold yourself into the kind of person society needs you to be.”
“Yeah,” I said, nodding. He was calming down, at least.
“So do you see how that’s a contradiction? To be advocating abortion on demand in a loving ethics class?”
“It’s a little bit off.”
“It’s hosed is what it is,” he said, flopping back onto his bed. “It’s bad enough living in this worthless country, they want us praise what a good job they’re doing while they rape the corpse of Western civilization.”
“You’re being a bit dramatic here don’t you think?”
“Why do you think China builds all our poo poo now, holds all our debt? You think they hand out condoms in Chinese schools and tell their women to open their legs for every jock rear end in a top hat they can find? The Asians get it man. They reward hard work and discipline. They don’t let their kids gently caress around. And you know what really kills me? That used to be us. Fifty years ago? We’d probably be married already, and to real woman, not skanky whores. Women who could appreciate us and support us while we try to rebuild this shithole country.”
That was the thing about Greg. It might start with the unfairness of life or the downfall of civilization, but it always ended up at sex. Especially the sex everyone around us seemed to be having.
“Like, take that oval office Sarah,” Greg continued. “You’re smart, you’re driven. Five years from now you’ll be pulling six figures. But you don’t look like Brad Pitt, so she strings you along for one date and doesn’t call you back. What do you think happens to a civilization where the best and brightest get continually poo poo on like that?”
I gave him a nod that I hoped was agreeable, and picked my controller back up.
The first time I met Greg my vision was too blurry to properly make out his face. That had been eight years ago, and Matt Lisac, the terror of seventh grade gym class, had just finished making an example of me. Afterwards Greg was the only guy brave or stupid enough to come and help me look for the busted frame of my glasses.
“Looks like he got you pretty good,” Greg said after helped me to my feet.
“He hit me,” I mumbled, still shocked. I’d never exactly been popular, but at my old school you never got punched for saying somebody had bad acne.
“You shouldn’t have provoked him. Especially not when Jessica is around.”
“That blonde who was laughing. They’re all bad but she’s the worst. Matt shows off for her.”
He looked me over. “This is the poo poo you’ll need to know if you don’t wanna get your lights knocked out. I’m Greg, by the way.”
“You like Nintendo, Alex?”
Greg recognized me first. It had been five years since the end of eighth grade and the time had not been kind to him. It was the same voice, though, and the same nervous, twitchy hands.
I’d already been in and out of my dorm room by then. I’d already seen the name Greg Brenanto on the door across from mine. Somehow that connection had escaped me. I hadn’t seen Greg since Eight Grade.
I had promised myself that my arrival at college would be the start of a new era. The moment I saw Greg bounding across the quad to greet me a part of that ambition died.
“Thank God for small mercies,” he said, a few weeks later. We were hunched in front of the plasma screen in his room, discussing the immensity of the coincidence that had thrown us back together, doing our best to ignore the pounding music and drunken shouts emanating from the common room down the hall. “I’d go crazy if you weren’t here.”
“Is this what you thought it’d be like?” I asked him. “College, I mean.”
“You mean the noise, the skanks, the in-your-face feminazi bullshit?” He didn’t wait for my response. “Pretty much, yeah. My high school was the same way. Whole fuckin country is like this now.”
“You can always appeal the grade.”
“Appeal? I should sue the bitch.” Greg was fuming. A week ago he’d been telling me how his bioethics paper was going to make waves. He hadn’t considered what that meant for his GPA.
“That’s a bad idea.”
“I know man, I know. It just gets to me. I spend my whole live slaving away to be a productive member of society. I don’t drink, I don’t chase shanks, I don’t do loving drugs. What’s my reward? A loving woman telling me I’m not good enough because I challenged her world-view.”
“You could take a summer course to pull up your average.” I said.
“No. I’m done being Mr. Nice Guy.”
“I'm going to communicate through the only language someone like her understands. Here, look.” He gestured toward his computer.
I stopped reading halfway through.
“Is this a joke?”
“Liberals don’t know much, but they know how to be afraid. Nothing frightens a hedonist more than death.”
“They’ll expel you.”
“She won’t know who sent it. In fact, she won’t even report it. She’ll give everyone passing grades just like I told her to. She won’t risk finding out if I’m serious.”
“No,” I told him. “If you send this, they’ll find you, and they’ll expel you.”
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 01:55|
In retrospect I should have done something about drug dealing angels or old cyberpunk men drinking whisky in outer space. Oh well.
I hear you, thought of like 3 stories as I was posting
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:09|
Hello I got stuck in nature and also left my story for the week on a river raft. Out
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:11|
Joey expired profusely, praying for a swift end to Mandatory Daylight. Soon the Oblong Rotational Blocker would move across the sky, covering his dusty East Los Angeles neighborhood in Mandatory Night Time, but the reality was that the streets would stay lit from ambient and direct reflection from all the neon tube lights anyway.
A billboard’s auto-lights engaged, showing a gyrating man completely oblivious in his paper world to the hundred degree heat Joey endured. Even still, Joey wondered, was why advertise leather. He had even been to an Ice Lounge, when he could save a month’s wage, and he felt his leather jacket and pants just kept all the dirty sweat against his skin, which rapidly cooled him beyond the point of comfort.
A man shoved past, pushing Joey with the bulk of several dirty rags and sweatshirts all piled on top of each other. Joey opened his mouth but thought better after surveying the man’s horrible visage.
Brown streaks of dirt and grime lined the linens and cloths, Joey not sure the man wore the clothes or just tied them around his extremities. And Joey could still see skin in gashes and spaces in the attire, red and irritated, he realized the yellow discoloration the clothes had against the bare skin was from pus and discharge.
And the man stopped, as though sensing Joey’s ill thoughts. One turn and Joey ran from the transient’s gaze, that of yellow, polluted whites and scabrous brow. Thankfully Joey had turned a run long before the sinister man pulled down the hankerchief covering his face.
Ducking into his favorite watering hole for a cold-enough cerveza, which he was on his way to in the first place, he plopped down in front of his bartender Mort. Words tumbled from Joey’s mouth like what used to be called streams.
“Oh you mean the Nettle Man.”
“The Nettle Man?”
“This must have been a couple of decades ago, before you were a gleam in your—“
“Yes, yes. I’m young, I get it, you say that every time you start a story,” Joey said.
“Right, so must have been early 60s, maybe even late 50s, before all the oceans started drying up and the wind stopped and back when you could get coconut bar for a buck. A god drat buck!”
“Yeah okay, back when everything was great.”
“His name was Otto, and he was a researcher at the University. Some aquatic ven-o-mo-logical thing, but anyway, he was working on venom and how it could be good for treating diseases.”
“Huh,” Joey said. “Heard stranger, I guess.”
“So Otto has to start collecting these jellyfish, sea nettles they were called, and keeps them in this huge tank. And what he does is he gets these samples from their tentacles, but you gotta scrape them, and make the nettle sting. And they’re wearing protective clothes, but even that’s not enough. And the crazy bastard Otto doesn’t even mind it, he says it’s nothing like what the test subjects go through.”
“Oh yeah, because he’s doing this trial study, and he really thinks he’s on to something, tested it on mice, everything, and he finally gets to test it on humans. Picture this, first you’re dying from the inside, wasting away, and this German tells you he might be able to help. But everyday, he stabs you with this giant needle, and puts liquid fire into you. One by one, his patients were quitting or dying, one way or another they couldn’t take the pain. Except one. This one little girl named Sarah, tougher than anyone else.
“So she was the last one, and everyday Otto would come get samples from her in the morning, and then at night he’d come back with a new mixture. Supposed to just poison a little bit of her. But that’s not how I heard it.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Back then this place used to be a lot more popular before the Uni closed. Some lab techs, kids your age, were there the entire time, helping Otto. You’d get some kid in here with a white glaze over his eyes, lab coat still on, looking like he’d seen the devil, and you would know he had been with Otto that evening.”
“Okay, keep going,” Joey said.
“Well, her family wouldn’t let him anymore, thought he was killing her, and hell, I can’t say I disagree. But he had to make more samples to test on, so what does he do? He infects himself, with the same thing in Sarah, just, jabs that big syringe into him, shoomp!”
Mort made a wet squishing noise as he pretended to push down the plunger.
“And you know how he had to get right into them, to get the samples, before he put that stuff in himself, he was careful, his assistants said. But after, he was bewitched, just jumping into the tank without putting on any gloves or anything. He would get right up to them, and wouldn’t even flinch as they wound those tentacles around his arms.”
“An assistant told me once, he was doing a collection and slipped, one of those vile things, twisted itself around his arm and he said it was like someone got a wet piece of twine and looped it as tight as they could around your arm, and then they’d saw back and forth, tearing your skin apart each time it moved.”
Joey shuddered, feeling the weight of the imaginary twine, sawing back and forth until the bright red blood pushed out and turned deep brown against his dirty forearms.
“But it wasn’t for nothing. It finally worked, you see, Otto figured it out, but after all that time he was in his lab—Days on days, weeks, and by then he was so swollen and sore and monstrous that he got tackled by security as soon as he went into the hospital. They had no idea, you get this bloated, pus monster running into ER holding this gently caress-off needle? I’m surprised they didn’t shoot him!”
“So wait, did he get her the medicine?”
Mort’s shook his head expressionless. “You hear it different ways, the syringe gets stepped on, Otto throws it, or it just plain breaks, but whatever happened, it gets broken. It’s another day, at least, before they can get another batch ready.”
“She doesn’t make it.”
Joey exhaled like he had been holding his breath for eons.
“Wait, if it worked, why’s he still got all those stings?”
“That’s the damndest part, Otto, he, just can’t stop anymore. He gets in the tank with those loving things and lets them sting him all over again and again.”
Joey spun his stool and stared out into the street. Neon lights flickered and popped down the line of taquerias and liquor marts, the sky was a strange, deep electric purple, and the hologram of the moon sat unchanging against the backdrop of the ORB. He envisioned Otto peeling away clothes in strips, each one taking another portion of dead and irritated skin away with it, before finally descending into a tank where the tentacles would embrace him once again.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:20|
To Steal from Olympus
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:31|
LESS THAN TWENTY MINUTES.
Since Tyranno is in Hawaii so I'll be a little lenient ie closing up shop. Do not make me regret this.
Phobia fucked around with this message at 03:46 on Jul 21, 2014
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:43|
(Betrayal, Folk Stories, Cyberpunk, Set before 1990, Revenge)
It was like they knew.
The fences were electrified – they’d learned from our last break-in that barbed wire didn’t bother us much. The powerlines were strung up high, out of range of hooks and arrows; the poles were too thick for us to cut or burn down. The forest around the compound had been cleared, so they’d be able to see us from every approach.
“Is it really worth it, Lyst?” Mikz asked me.
“You know it is,” I said. “Wendigo’s in there, somewhere. And so is Axle.”
“Are you plugged in?” I asked Panth, our one controller, when we got back to base.
She didn’t look at me when she answered, “Yes.” Her eyes were glazed over as her brain moved through the Tessel, filtering information at the speed of thought.
“No. I am careful,” she said. “They will not know that I have access to their neuro-dream, but the web of connections is all I may know. If I begin searching the individual users, I may touch someone sensitive enough to know that I do not belong.”
I sat down cross-legged in front of her, the bustle of the camp outside the hexayurt making the silence within even thicker. I breathed, “Can you find him?”
I tugged on the safety pins lining the hem of my jungle vest while I waited for her to explain.
Her grey eyes blinked and refocused as she broke the connection. “I dare not look for any mind alone. The Tesselation would be too disturbed.” She replaced the tessel-blocker on the skin behind her left ear, just like mine – that one little chip, the only thing that protected us from the dreamweb that waved silently through the air. “There is a controller there, however, a very, very well-connected one. He has created a feedback loop amongst the users, both those physically located here and those distant. It is incredibly complex, yet the neuro-stream continues to flow in, as if this controller were somehow feeding off those he dreams with.”
“If we disable him, could we free Axle?”
“Yes. You could, in fact, free almost anyone. This dream is vast.”
I stood up. No time to lose, then.
My half-black, half-white hair had been his idea.
“Like life and death,” he’d said. He’d always been into symbolism like that. He even gave me my new name, “Catalyst”, the thing that starts everything else. His name had been Alexander, but Axle suited him better. The turning of things – that was what he was.
I remembered his excitement when we were growing up in the fifties and sixties, the age of globalization, the age of the new enlightenment, the creation first of the inter-web of data, and then the Tessellation of Minds. Axle had been so excited to be a part of that project, connecting one mind directly to another, rebuilding the architecture of human knowledge from the ground up.
“We’ll be the new Galileo, the new Columbus, Catie!” he’d said, using my old name. “The moon is just the beginning. We’ll leave the solar system at the speed of thought!”
As my machete hacked through the woods that had taken over while humanity went to sleep, I remembered the aftermath. Russia, the African Dreaming, the Sleeping Cities, rumors about places protected from the Tessellation deep underground or deep in the desert, jungle or mountains. They were always saying that if you could get far enough away from the signal, you could be free.
They were wrong. The only way was to kill the signal.
It was about as hard as we’d expected.
“Charges!” Miks roared. I saw his leather trench coat vanish as he dove forward, right before I got knocked on my rear end by the shockwave.
Those still on the fence got thrown off, and most of us on the inside were lucky enough to not have been standing on any fugue mines. We lost Luis: he lay on the ground, gaping at the sky. The rest of us picked ourselves up and kept running forward.
“Door!” I shouted, pointing with my machete. We rushed it.
It wasn’t locked. Alarm bells went off in my head louder than a Dead concert.
“Stop, this can’t be right, there’s no way they’d leave the door unlocked,” I said.
“Unless they’re too deep in the Tessel. Dreamers forget things in the world, Lyst, let’s take luck where we can get it, huh?” Mikz said, jogging forward and around a corner. The others followed him.
I hung back.
“Where would you be, Wendigo?” I said. “Monsters like to hide in the dark.”
“And scare little girls.”
The voice echoed eerily off the white walls and floors. “This girl has a big stick,” I retorted.
“And big words. All just ghosts. What threat are we to you, Catalyst of the Waking?”
I tried to discern a direction of origin, and decided on the right hallway, opposite where the others had run. I walked slowly, machete held out front. “Are you the Wendigo?” I asked.
“Names are of no use… Catalyst.” I felt more confident in my choice of direction, and walked further down the empty hall, turning the corner carefully. Another white hallway, empty. I walked faster.
“The Wendigo eats human flesh. You eat human minds, and you ate my brother. Give him back to me, or I will turn your dream into a nightmare.” I started running.
“The function of the Wendigo is cautionary,” a man’s voice said. A man’s thought, a man’s memory, buried somewhere in the psyche of a dreamer and pulled out through his connection to the neuro-dream. “It was a cultural reinforcement of the taboo against cannibalism. Individuals starving to death were said to be better off starving than turning to cannibalism, else they be changed into Wendigo, half-demon creatures frequently depicted with a human body gaunt to the point of starvation with a dog’s skull for a head.”
“You’ll be wishing for cannibalism when I’m done with you!” I yelled. Turn after turn nothing, an endless maze of abandoned halls. Suddenly there was a door, and I ran for it.
I’d kill that controller if it was the last thing I did. For Axle. For every dream of his they stole.
“How’s she doing, Doctor?”
“There are no major changes to report, Alexander. Her levels are stable, nutrient intake is regular, all cognitive patterns are healthy. You’ve nothing to worry about.”
“She’s just been connected for so long.”
“There should be no long term damage. Really, she’s in very good health.”
Alexander rested his hand on top of his sleeping sister’s head. “Will she ever wake?”
“To be honest, she need never. Sustained neurological function as strong as hers, but with such a low level of consumed resources, she’ll live a hundred lives inside her mind before we finish ours, and she’ll be much less of a tax on the planet.” He turned to go, then turned back. “I hope you’re not regretting volunteering her for the Tessellation project…?”
“Not at all, Doctor Wendigo,” Alexander said. “I just miss her.”
The Doctor smiled. “She doesn’t even know you’re gone, Son.”
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:45|
Saying this now: I am going to submit late. It will be tonight, but not before the whistle blows.
I make no excuses. Disqualify me, but I will still submit.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:46|
Hello I got stuck in nature and also left my story for the week on a river raft. Out
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:51|
Nothing to see here, move along
Obliterati fucked around with this message at 01:30 on Nov 6, 2014
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:52|
The Blind Nigerian Prisoner (1043 words)
Anya's fake passport got her through check-in without any problems, and she didn't think anyone had followed her to the airport. Whether that was a sign of incompetence or apathy from her mark, she didn't know. Didn't care, either; she hadn't gotten any money out of FriendlyFac, but a clean getaway was rare enough to be cherished no matter the circumstances.
Of course, good things never came without surprises attached. Anya's neighbor on the flight would not be a stranger. It was the woman who'd called herself Ms Torres. Their eyes met – recognition, and hostility. Anya sat down, and tried to think of something to say.
Anya was mentally beating herself. I should have checked their finances, she thought. I am so not getting away with this. She had to restrain herself from biting her nails, and felt another wave of cold sweat. I really should have skipped this job. There was enough heat on her in Moscow already, but she just had to do one last con before leaving. Just had to. Stupid.
There were two other people in the conference room, though it had room for another twelve: Delaney, a FriendlyFac executive who looked as nervous as Anya felt; and Ms Torres, a highly-placed representative of some huge American corporation with a name that sounded like someone threw a bunch of consonants in a blender.
“Let me be frank,” Ms Torres said. “FriendlyFac is near bankruptcy, and I doubt it's worth saving. My company never buys someone out without my recommendation, and I see no reason to give it.”
She looked only at Delaney. So far, she hadn't even acknowledged Anya's existence. That was fine. Anya really didn't want to be the center of attention right then.
“You just got here!” Delaney said. “Don't dismiss us so quickly! I know things look bad, but...”
“My time is valuable, Mr Delaney.” Ms Torres checked her watch. “I've been here for an hour. Do you know how much an hour of my time costs?”
Delaney took a deep breath. “All right. Short version. If you buy this company, we can use your money and our connections to become the dominant cigarette brand in Russia!” He turned to Anna. “Tell Ms Torres what you told me this morning!”
Finally, the plane took off. By now, the silence was getting awkward. The hostile glances weren't helping.
“I, uh... didn't expect to see you here,” Anya said at five thousand feet. “No sale?”
Torres half-laughed, half-snorted, and held out her wrists. “Go on, cuff me. No need to play games.”
“Sorry, what? Why would I cuff you? Why would I even have handcuffs?”
“I represent... a small Cuban tobacco manufacturer,” Anya said. “We're looking to expand our markets, and...”
“Don't be modest!” Delaney said. “You're not small, you're huge! She's from El Estafar Grande. Surely you've heard of them?”
No, she hasn't, Anya thought, because that company doesn't exist beyond the fake website I whipped up yesterday.
“Of course,” Torres said. “Everyone in the business knows who they are.”
Alarms went off in Anya's head. Why would Torres go along with this? Was she a cop, looking for incriminating material? Some sort of sadist who enjoyed watching people squirm? Maybe another con artist, but then why would she offer to buy the company? Selling useless trash was a classic trick, but this...
Torres tapped her watch meaningfully. “Well?”
“We thought, since everyone knows about Cuban cigars, we could sell cigarettes with Cuban tobacco and that would... be good,” Anya said. The strategy had sounded a lot better when she had shared it with Delaney.
“Yes!” Delaney said. “And we only need to get your shipment out of customs before we can try this on a smaller scale. You see, Ms Torres? We have an ace in the hole!”
Torres sighed. “Do we have to do this? I'm wanted in fifteen countries, and you're obviously Interpol. Get it over with.”
“Huh,” Anya said. “I guess you've been doing this for a while. I'm only wanted in Spain and Brazil.”
She ripped open a bag of peanuts with her teeth. “Yeah,” she said, noticing Torres' confusion. “I'm definitely not a cop.”
Anya held out the peanuts as a peace offering. “Why would you think that?”
There was no shipment, of course. When FriendlyFac ponied up the money for customs, Anya would take it and run. It wouldn't be a big score, but the con was quick and reliable. A good way to get some extra spending money before bugging out.
“I see,” Torres said slowly. “That may be worth... something. But I'm not sure it's worth my time. Do you have any profit estimates for, say, the next quarter?”
Poking and prodding. Anya's cover was pretty flimsy, and she had no doubt she'd give herself away if Torres kept asking questions. She had to be doing it on purpose to mess with Anya.
Not worth it, Anya thought. Whatever she's doing, I'd rather not be in the middle of it.
“Of course,” she said, rising from her seat. “I just have to visit the ladies' room. Back in a minute.”
The moment she was out of sight of the conference room's glass walls, she ran, pushing past some startled office workers and out into the street. Her hotel room was only a few blocks away. She'd be on a plane to Istanbul in less than an hour.
“You went to call backup, or at least that's what I thought,” Torres said between peanuts. “I bolted as soon as you were out sight.”
“Hah! No, I was running too. Wonder what Delaney must be thinking right now,” Anya said.
Torres shrugged. “Not much. He's an idiot. E-mails, phone calls, and the meeting today... I as good as told him I'd be open to a bribe, but he just didn't get it.”
Soliciting bribes for fake under-the-table deals? Anya had to try that sometime.
“So,” Torres said, “any plans once you get to Istanbul?”
“Nope,” Anya said. “I usually just wing it. Decided to this job yesterday. Had to rush the prep work.
Torres cringed. “Reckless. But gutsy. I do have something planned for Istanbul, but it's a two-person job...”
Anya leaned in. “Tell me more.”
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:53|
Divine Dealer 1125 words.
It wasn’t the best hit of Raziel’s life. He curled his fingers inward to invite and billow smoke into both mouth and nose. The only illumination, moonlight that filtered through curtains, made shadows off the sharp features of his face. The vapor started to rise through the sparsely furnished room. The cool scent of the subconscious, those exotic emotions hit Raziel. The fear of disappointing his parents, the uncertainty of how that girl felt about him. Every twist and turn was a new feeling to Raziel.
Raziel’s middle finger and thumb pinched the bridge of his nose; his facial features scrunched. Two blinks. There was no telling the good hits from the bad beforehand, but tonight’s dreams had been especially thrilling. Those of young adults tended to be best, their imaginations were endless, untamed by the harshness of reality, but with enough information and emotional maturity to create variance between dreams. Thoughts of school and work were most common, and they rarely offered Raziel a proper high, but every so often there would be a gem. Every night now, he took all his chances on young adults, the ones that could still get him high.
Tonight was nice, not great, but nice. When it was over he floated home.
The white floor had no reaction to his steps, pillowed fluff beneath his feet. Home was comforting, but yet the door beckoned him to leave and seek dreams whenever he looked at it. He moved over to his coffee table, which had many papers scattered about. Raziel picked up the most prominent one on the top, a list of people with check marks next to their names. He had left three unchecked, which he promised himself he would take care of tomorrow. The paper was dated due three weeks ago, the date of expiration, in red, was tomorrow. He fell onto his couch and slept, his own dreams were disgusting and chaotic nightmares. Collages of his worst highs, the beatings Saint Peter gave him from letting in sinners, and the brain rotting boredom of repeating the same routine for centuries. He snored in sunlight.
Every night was the same. Wait for the people of the world to sleep, enter their bedrooms, then inhale while standing above their heads. The dream fumes would sustain him another night, keep him going, they made sure he never gave up on his miserable existence. Sometimes he would just crawl into a corner and enjoy the high there, watching the vast darkness as his mind lit on fire. But now he had to make multiple invasions. They took over his wake. Now he preyed on night workers instead of working himself. Sometimes he would sleep in attics to make his commute less time consuming. The bridge between here and home took an hour too long.
The next night he wandered into a pale green house with drought planters that hung off windowsills. A wicker rocking chair alone on the porch, it twitched in breeze. Through the door, the living room was piled with boxed magazines and furniture stacked on furniture. Trinkets of cats and useless knickknacks on every possible surface, save a twisted pathway through halls and rooms. He crept upstairs towards the first bedroom and turned the knob. The human snoring seemed especially unremarkable, a bland, tubby looking dimwit who slept in a twin bed. His room was littered with discarded building blocks, of transforming action figures. Plastic boxes piled high with old clothes and stuffed animals with ancient, dusty scents.
Raziel stepped up to the bed. The dark room was barely lit, but a small night light near the corner guided him through the ruins of a childhood.
Raziel was no monster, but listened to the one inside him. It told him to breathe the oncoming dream. It’ll be better than the last, it needs to be. He clutched his elbow and dug into skin with fingernails. He loomed further over the young man. Raziel inhaled, and he shook.
Sickness tore through his gut. The young man was clearly in a deep sleep, but gave off nothing. Fury overtook Raziel. He had never felt a dream this weak, was he even getting a high from it anymore? No, there had to be another reason. Raziel looked around the room. Within three steps, something had crunched beneath his feet. A popsicle stick. Raziel knew what was blocking the dream. Get rid of it, get the hit, and go back to work. All he had to do was guide three more innocents and forgiven, see Saint Peter, and get a new list. Scoffed at, yelled at, but he would see another month of dreams. He had another three hours. He had time. He looked around the room.
Raziel started with above the bed, taking careful consideration that it was most likely there. Nothing. He rustled the junk beneath the bed, only boxes and a lewd magazine. He searched on the desk, along all of the walls. He threw boxes around after he ripped out all of the the contents. Raziel swung open the closet door. Whatever happened to be inside was picked through and discarded into the sea of junk.
He found it, the small thing had the craftsmanship of a child. It was flimsy, barely held together by white glue. The shoddy piece of craft was held high. With an enraged swing, he smashed the dream catcher on the floor, pieces scattered. The sole of his foot ground it to splinters. “Piece of-“
The young man stared right up at him, a closed eye rubbed with one hand, he clenched his blanket with the other.
Raziel looked back with a low brow and tight blue eyes. Hide and sneak had ended. He recalled the orientation from Saint Peter, the indoctrination to the heavens, of what to do upon discovery. Raziel outstretched his wings far as they would go. Arms folded and his pearl white robe shifted. Intense pupils made direct contact with the young man’s own. “I apologize for waking you. I am your guardian angel,” he offered a solemn bow. His knees quaked, his gut felt as if it would pour out onto the floor below any second now.
Satisfied with the response, the young man nodded and curled back into his blanket. “Mhmm. Yeah? Sure…”
The young man dreamt the most vivid dreams of Raziel’s lifetime. The thought of his own guardian angel fueled intense swings of imagination and boundless creativity. Raziel inhaled in the corner, arms clutched around his knees. His wings started to crumble and his fingers turned to ash. He was blissful as the deadline passed for his work assignments. He was dust, lost in the filthy room. At 12:01 AM, Raziel was happy.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:58|
Jacked into our drones, Ella and I patrolled the sky. We wheeled across the Outpost’s skyline like hawks on thermals.
“Report came from the Pho shack. Deer at the dumpster.” In my peripheral vision, Ella’s drone was like a sleek black wasp, there and gone again as it ducked below me.
Deer were a problem: they could jump the Wall. Let loose on the streets, they’d spread disease, attack civilians if cornered. We put down a few a month. They never seemed to learn.
We hovered above the alley that cut behind Pho King. I ran a quick scan; nothing seemed unusual.
“I’ll check eastward,” I radioed, peeling out of formation. I skimmed above the main street then ducked into the next alley over.
From a couple dozen meters off, I spotted antlers over a midden heap. The deer was rummaging through trash.
I moved in without bothering to wait for Ella. I willed the drone to arms, readied the twin barrels of its guns, and darted toward the deer. It heard the whirr of my rotors and snapped its head up.
The thing that backed out from the midden wasn’t a deer at all.
It wasn’t quite a man, either. The emaciated creature that staggered back from my drone appeared halfway between the two. Its many-spined rack of antlers and its talon-like claws were black, the rest of it an ashen, bloodless grey. The creature lurched backward, standing at an awkward stoop. Its eyes were frenzied, open too wide, the only white on its shriveled grey face.
“Ella!” I panicked, guns forgotten, just staring.
The antlered creature rushed me with alarming speed. My world was knocked askew as it collided with my drone, bashing it from the air. My feed drowned in static. The camera’s signal faded in and out, focused on a sliver of sky over alleyway walls. I thought I could hear gunfire. Then the screen winked out for good.
Ella and I huddled in our apartment’s tiny bathroom. Normally we smoked on the balcony, but knowing that thing had been outside, we didn’t want to chance it. So we stood in the shower, its ventilation window wedged open, trying to puff our smoke out through the crack.
She looked like I felt: pale, eyes downcast, mouth clamped in a hard line. Ella was always more on top of things than I was; it wasn’t any surprise to me that she’d had the presence of mind to blow that thing full of holes.
“Your bot might be salvageable,” she said, then gusted out a lungful from her fourth cigarette since jacking out. Her voice was flat. Ella went like that sometimes.
“Yeah, could be. But there’s precisely zero chance I’m going out there to retrieve it.”
I flicked my roach out the window and snaked an arm around her torso.
“You did good.” I kissed the shell of her ear and stroked my thumb along her ribs. She leaned back into me, but I could tell her mind was elsewhere.
“Look,” I gave her a squeeze, “you killed it. Cleanup guys will figure out what it was.”
She sagged against my chest. “I think I know what it was. Didn’t you ever hear the stories when you were growing up? Wendigos?”
I hadn’t heard the word for decades, but it still got my hackles up. I shivered.
“Yeah. But it’s just something our parents’ parents made up to make kids behave.”
Wendigowak were a holdover from my grandparents’ generation, the ones who’d been alive when the bombs first dropped. Nothing grew anymore and cannibalism ran rampant in the days before the Outpost rose secure against the ruin of the outside world.
“You turn into a wendigo if you eat irradiated meat, right?”
“According to a folk tale created to stop cannibalism, yeah. But that’s all it is. A story.”
“What if it’s not, though?”
Ella hadn’t ever struck me as the superstitious type. I loved her for her level head, her methodical approach to life, her no-nonsense no-fuss manner. The Ella I knew didn’t flinch from folktale shadows like that.
“If it’s not, you killed one, because you’re amazing.”
I kissed her hairline, but for some reason, she stiffened against me as though fighting an instinct to pull away.
My dreams were dark and hungry.
I raced across a steppe dotted with sickly grass, hunting something just out of sight. The tang of its blood on the air excited me, drove me to chase it faster, and the steppe became a greyish forest became the slouched, hole-ridden structures I knew as the ruins beyond the Wall. In my dreams it was no longer a scorched wasteland.
As I neared the ruins, I caught a glimpse of myself in a sliver of broken window: russet curls fallen out in clumps, lips peeled back, face like a skull, my skin the colour of concrete. Small, fist-sized antlers curled upwards from my temples.
Behind me, a twig snapped, and I whirled to face my prey. The next few seconds were a jumbled mess: leaping, gnashing, tackling, struggling, and a sudden spray of red.
I woke, heart in my throat, and stared up at the ceiling.
Ella slept obliviously beside me, head pillowed on my chest. I twisted a hand through her hair and inhaled against her crown. Something about her always smelled like safety. I decided then and there not to tell her about my dream. She’d seemed rattled earlier. Why make it worse?
Replacing my drone would set us back a bit, so it was Outpost-issue ration packs for breakfast. Ella stirred ‘eggs’ in a pan while I made a couple packets of coffee. A speaker pinged from our ad-hoc surveillance station in the living room.
The report from Cleanup had come through on our kill: a human male, fifty-six years old, wearing the skull and pelt of a wild deer. Tests were still underway, but the preliminary autopsy suggested he’d contracted rabies from the deer he’d killed and presumably ate. Cleanup had attached photos. I scrolled through the images of the shriveled, grey-skinned man on the autopsy table, but Ella snapped a hand out and shut the monitor off.
“See, Ells.” I grabbed her hand. “Sometimes stories are just stories.”
When I looked up, tears welled in her eyes. I didn’t understand.
“No,” she croaked. “It’s not just a story. It was a wendigo. It has to be.”
“What? Ells, of course it’s not. It was just some guy--”
“Some guy that I shot to death.”
The childhood story had spooked me so much that I felt relieved it was just a man we’d killed. In my relief, I hadn’t even realised what that meant for Ella.
We picked at overcooked eggs and sipped cold coffee in uncomfortable silence. Ella shut down. Her shoulders shook. She wouldn’t look at me. She wouldn’t suffer any repercussions, of course, at least not legally. She’d just been doing her job.
For the first and only time in my life, I wished Wendigowak were real.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:58|
Dance Lessons 953 words
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 23:56 on Dec 9, 2014
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 03:59|
Bitter Yellow Flowers
*A healer and her husband learn about feminism the hard way*
I was born and she gave me the name of pain and freedom: Calendula, the bitter yellow flower.
Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 05:59 on Dec 4, 2014
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 04:02|
Except for Mercedes and DuckyB. You've got until 12:30 EST.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 04:02|
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 04:07|
Mama's Girl, 1200 words.
It was beautiful, once. Hub records indicated that this land used to be a peach tree orchard. The whole state was known for them, back before the invasion. Before they burned the South to a cinder, and left the Scar behind.
Most people didn't think about that too much anymore. Life in the Scar didn't lend too well to navel-gazing and mulling over the past. The present had enough problems. I think I knew that better than most, at this point. If my eye wasn't buzzing in all the information about this place it could find in the hub into my brain, I wouldn't have stopped to reflect on the history lesson. I was a little too focused on scaling my way up the rotting, splintered facade of the ranch house and kill any rear end in a top hat I found inside.
It took me three days to find this place. Three days wandering the Scar without transport, a plan, or even some loving supplies. I could have put a page out through the Hub, but I didn't have anything to barter with on me, and I didn't want debt on my ledger. Besides, there was something satisfying about clawing my way here on my own. It'd make getting back at the fuckers inside more enjoyable.
A quick roll through the second floor window landed me in the middle of a meth lab. poo poo I needed my kit, and I needed to figure out what the hell was going on here. My eye could only do so much on its own. I crept through the rows of lovely, scattered equipment, following the signal coded into my tools until I reached a filthy brown curtain.
Bingo. My kit.
The stairs. It wasn't safe to be in the open. The curtain fluttered as I ducked behind it, and slowly, carefully slid the large, hollow knife from it's sheath within my stolen bag.
One set of footsteps, wandering around inside the lab. They were coming closer. As soon as they passed by the curtain, my arms shot out, wrapping around the neck of a short, squat, squealing man in front of me and jamming the point under his chin.
“My name is Ramona,” I rasped dryly. “You have my kit.”
He wasn't one of the bandits that robbed me out in the wastes, though. That raised a few questions. “Where did you get it?” I whispered, teasing his neck with the tip of the blade.
“P-please, I didn't know, I didn't do anythin-”
A knee to his kidney might have helped remind him what I wanted. “The Bazaar,” he yelped, “black market, New Atlanta!”
“Do you work for them?”
“No!” I could feel him shivering in my arms. “I deal, a little, but I'm just a supplier!”
A merchant, and a lovely one. He couldn't tell me who I wanted to find, but he could give me an in. That's all I needed him for.
I drove the point up just deep enough into his skin to draw blood. “You bought my kit. That means you're smart enough to know your way around the Hub. You deal for them, so you've got to have secure vendor credentials to contact them with. I want them. Now.”
“Halycon,” he yelped, “Access one-six-two-nine-zero!”
My hand drifted around from his neck and gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Good man.” I'm sure he hardly felt the knife drive up into his throat.
While he cooled on the floor, I walked back into the dingy closet and retrieved my bag. It was time to go to work.
Halycon's access number barely scraped the surface of what the Bazaar's secure sector of the Hub. Still, I knew the name. They were a cocky bunch of loving rookies when it came to digital work, so it didn't take me long to crack in a little deeper now that I had a foot in the door. Within a couple hours, I had a full list of their contacts, recent customers, and recent acquisitions.
That last one was where they hosed up. There was a whole list of high end com-tech that was way above their usual pay-grade. Word of a score like that got around. In fact, I had a pretty drat good idea where they got it.
It was time to call Mama.
After the invasion, when everything went to poo poo and half the country got fried into the Scar, tech infrastructure was pretty low on the list of priorities. Food, water, shelter, clothes, that's what everyone wanted. Everyone except Mama Belle and her crew. They took the long-shot, batshit insane bid of rebuilding communication from the ground up, and ate up every bolt of pre-invasion communication tech, from relics to prototypes, that they could get their hands on. It was bold, to be diplomatic, and loving crazy to be realistic. Never should have worked.
Belle Communications practically owns half the Scar these days. Everything thing, from short-wave handsets to the long-distance, ever present Hub belonged to them, and nobody set up shop without their approval.
They built my eye. They built my kit. They practically built me. Mama Belle swept me in from cracking ATMs on the street, cleaned the poo poo off my clothes and the drugs outta my head, and turned me into one of her girls on the ground. An eye and an ear plugged into the Hub at all times, helping her and the company stay ahead.
Those stupid fucks had no idea who I was when they stole my poo poo and left me for dead in the wastes, but they sure as hell knew Mama. They knew Belle-Com. They'd manage to rip-off an on the sly lab in Austin and make off with a poo poo ton of Mama's new toys, and none of us had a goddamn clue about it because we kept waiting for something to surface on the market. We kept waiting for somebody to brag, or for an auction to go up, but we didn't get poo poo, because they weren't selling and they weren't talking. They were hoarding. It was such a stupid loving idea that we didn't even consider it, but they were looking to try and cut into the market. They didn't just steal Mama's property. They wanted to steal her customers.
She wasn't gonna like that. She wasn't gonna like having to wait this long to hear about them. She sure as hell wasn't gonna like hearing that they tried to kill one of her girls.
She'd like having me back, though. She'd like rallying up security and mapping out the hit. She'd like dancing on the ashes of the Bazaar with me before heading back to business.
Yep. We'd have a grand old time, Mama and I. All because of some greedy bastards on the road who couldn't leave a girl and her bag alone. Maybe we'd have never found 'em if they'd let me on without any trouble.
Call it karma. Call it fate. Call it whatever the gently caress you want. For me, it was just good old fashioned justice, served hot and ready.
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 04:28|
|# ? May 24, 2022 03:43|
THAT'S A BINGO (for real this time.)
|# ? Jul 21, 2014 04:38|