"The entrance elevator door has had a stern talking to, and should no longer lock people inside."
|# ¿ Jan 5, 2016 04:44|
|# ¿ Jan 30, 2023 08:24|
Thanks to Broenheim and Entenzahn for the crits by the way.
|# ¿ Jan 5, 2016 22:11|
Locked Elevator Puzzle (1990 words)
Manny cursed and smacked the DOOR OPEN button. The elevator doors stayed shut. He turned and glared up at the blinking red light of the camera above. Why did he decide to work so late tonight?
"Kay, do you want RR to get on your back again?"
No reply. Manny continued, "There'll be another three-hour lecture from IT. And a full code scan. Maybe they'll start thinking about a replacement."
He stumbled as the whole elevator shuddered, grabbing at the rails protruding from the narrow walls. Encouraged, he kept speaking. "Nobody here wants that, right? So just take me back down to the lobby, I can go home, and we're all happy."
He flashed a smile at the camera. An unamused beep was the only response, and Manny restrained himself from bashing his head against the doors. Curse his manager's refusal to upgrade Kay's auditory capabilities. He'd take robotic words over old-fashioned, 'charming' beeps any day. Words you could at least argue with.
Maybe a different approach would help.
It took a surprising amount of effort, but Manny managed to school his face into a jovial expression and keep his voice playful. "Wow, Kay. Really? I know I'm easy on the optical sensors, but -"
Ignoring Kay's low snort of a buzz, Manny spread his arms and continued, "-I only know seven jokes. Four of them are knock-knock, and the rest are puns. Sure you want to take the next step? How about we sleep on it, and talk about it in the morning?"
A short, low beep. Nothing else.
"Goddrat it, Kay!" Manny yelled, kicking the door. "Either take me down to the first floor or let me use the stairs, you dumb robot!"
This time, the jolt knocked him off his feet. He narrowed his eyes at the camera light overhead from where he was sprawled on the floor. It blinked at him as if to say, fuckyou too, Manny .
Talk clearly wasn't going to work. Manny patted down his pockets, but all he found was his wallet. He'd left his phone charging at his desk again.
"Hey, Kay. I forgot my phone. Could I go back and get it?" And take the stairs down to the lobby and get home?
The only response was a series of beeps Manny couldn't help but interpret as incredulous laughter.
He slumped against the wall. Maybe he should just sleep here. Work started around six, so that'd be about a five-hour wait. That wouldn't be so bad, right? Just five hours of sleep on a worn carpet floor soaked with years of gods-know-what and bright elevator lights shining down from overhead and -
Manny got up and walked up to the doors. He stuck his fingers into the crack where they met, braced himself, and -
Bashed his head against the doors as another jolt shook the elevator.
Five minutes later, the elevator speaker emitted a long, impressed whistle. Evidently, Kay had never heard such a long, dense string of profanities before. Instead of stamping his foot, Manny settled for grinding his teeth. While he did so, he took stock of the situation.
Well, prying the door open wasn't an option while Kay was active. For obvious reasons, he didn't have the fire service override key. He looked up. There was a gray, metal hatch embedded in the ceiling's corner.
He looked over at the blinking camera, and pleaded, "Kay, please. Let me out."
A stubborn beep. Manny sighed, and picked up his briefcase. He leaned back, judging the distance, and then chucked the entire thing up at the corner where Kay's camera was dangling.
Both briefcase and camera crashed onto the ground, and Manny clapped his hands over his ears at Kay's screech of protest. This was going to be hard to explain to his boss.
When Manny could uncover his ears without his head feeling like it was splitting open, he hoisted himself up onto the elevator rails, keeping his body as flat as possible against the walls as possible. As he made his way over to the hatch and began working it open, he did his best to ignore the mournful, drooping beeps from the speaker.
Finally, the hatch lid fell open, and Manny's moment of triumph was interrupted by another wailing screech.
He tumbled to the ground again, cursed whoever had decided to put sensors in the hatch, and began waiting Kay's tantrum out.
It didn't end. Manny had counted up to two hundred in his mind, and Kay was still emitting that hideous beep. When he reached four hundred, Manny decided he'd risk a trip to the otolaryngologist, and pulled his hands away from his ears.
It was all he could do to not cover them again. Manny pulled himself upright, slowly, and gradually began making his way up to the hatch again. By the time he managed to stand upright on the rails, he found the noise almost bearable. That was vaguely alarming.
He looked over at the hatch. He might be able to brush his fingers against the edge, but that'd be it. He thought for a second longer, then before he could talk himself out of it, he leaped.
It was a pathetic, tiny thing - three inches in height if one was generous - but it was enough. His finger joints added their voice to Kay's scream of protest, but Manny ignored them, and in a desperate burst of energy, managed to make his way out onto the elevator roof. Up here, the noise was much reduced, and he breathed out a short-lived sigh of relief.
The elevator began rising, and Manny desperately looked around. In the dim, reflected light from the hatch, he could see a slew of toggle switches sticking out of the elevator. He crawled over and squinted at it. There was RUN/STOP, INSPECTION/NORMAL, OPEN/CLOSE, and UP/DOWN. He flipped the first switch to STOP, and breathed a sigh of relief into the sudden stillness. After a moment's thought, he flipped the second one to INSPECTION, and the screech from below stopped as well.
This time, his sigh of relief wasn't interrupted. He reached out and flipped the fourth switch to DOWN. The elevator began descending at a steady clip, until it finally ground to a halt.
He peered down through the hatch. The doors were still closed, so he tried flipping the third toggle to OPEN. A soft ding sounded from below, and a quick check below showed the elevator doors sliding open.
Manny dropped back down into the elevator proper. The outer doors were still closed, but without Kay's distractions, forcing them open was relatively easy.
He bent down, picked up his briefcase, walked out - and then found himself face-to-face with a three-eyed face with plenty of teeth. They stared at each other for a second, then Manny felt a sharp prick in his shoulder. He turned his head to look at it. It was a dart, and as his mind began connecting the dots, his vision grew dark and his legs gave out from underneath him.
Maybe he should've just stayed in that stupid elevator.
|# ¿ Jan 11, 2016 05:01|
|# ¿ Jan 19, 2016 01:32|
Hindsight Is 20/05 (1290 words)
(+100 words; thanks, jon joe!)
It was her final race as a Mountain View High cross-country runner, and Andrea was already gasping. She grimaced and slowed her pace. Cramping up here would make beating Sandra's time impossible, since Andrea couldn't even see the course's colossal climb of a halfway point.
It was a simple bet, proposed and shook on in a single rash moment. Andrea couldn't even remember the circumstances of its creation, but at least the wager was only ten bucks. Anyways, Sandra had managed a clean 20:05 in the sophomore race. If that time was for twelve laps around a flat track, Andrea wouldn't have much trouble beating it. Here, on the other hand...
She glanced around. Ahead of her were two runners, pulling further and further ahead of her. To the left and the right was an impenetrable mass of shrubbery, broken up by the occasional crooked tree. In the distance, she could see the small cluster of front-runners, almost an entire half-mile ahead at this point.
The two in front of her disappeared around a bend to the left, which meant that just a little further was what the varsity runners affectionately termed “Backbreaker's Bump”.
She resisted the urge to look behind her to see if anybody was gaining on her - she didn't fancy twisting her ankle. Instead, she stepped out a little faster, a little farther. She did not want to lose this bet - if Sandra got any smugger, then Andrea would be able to count her nostril hairs.
Honestly, what was Sandra's deal? The girl seemed to have it out for her from the moment they met - there’d been literal hair-pulling on the first day of practice, for god's sake.
She shook her head and looked ahead. There it was - the charred stump that marked the beginning of the trail’s climb. Andrea sucked in a breath - as much of one she could manage - and began her ascent. In her mind she could hear the coach telling her to keep a steady pace, and more importantly, to save some energy for the top.
Soon enough, the path before her twisted to the left, then leveled out. Andrea refused to be fooled. Just ahead, the trail would duck behind a convenient clump of pines and begin another dizzying climb, longer and steeper than the previous one. So she kept up a steady rhythm, and tried to ignore the faint, insistent nagging from her right side. Just a handful more minutes and she'd be at the top.
She took this slope a little slower, mindful of the increasingly louder complaints from her side. But soon, she heard someone behind her. Again, she had to fight off the urge to look back. She settled instead for watching out the corner of her eye as someone wearing a purple-white uniform slowly drew level with her, then began eking a lead out by inches.
The top was only fifty feet away. Another person passed her. Andrea gritted her teeth and kept a steady pace.
Twenty feet away. She took another glance around, and a corner of her mind said, This is probably the last time I'll see this view. Forests and mountainsides, gray cities and packed suburbs stretched out in front of her, and in the distance, there was the faint glimmer of ocean waters. She might've slowed down, if the opposite corner of her mind hadn't replied, I think I hear footsteps.
This time, Andrea's head began turning before she stopped herself. She bit her lip and told herself to focus on reaching the top.
Five feet away. Then finally, the trail leveled out and the strain on her legs eased. An urge to slow down washed over her, but she forced herself to pump her arms faster, and as a result, her legs followed suit.
Coach's advice paid off. Everybody who’d passed her on the way up had slowed after reaching the peak. By the time the trail began descending, she'd regained her former position. And by the third switchback on the way down, she managed to do one better. There was one last person in front of her, but she was far enough ahead that Andrea would just tire herself out trying to catch up.
From here on out, it was flat ground, even if there was still a half-mile to endure. This section was a retreading of the beginning of the course, so the starting line was also the finish line. In the distance, she could see that runners handing over their tags to the organizers past the finish line. Also visible was the silhouette of the large digital clock that the organizers used to mark time, but from this position, all she could see was its back.
Bystander's faces were a blur as Andrea passed them. This close to the finish line, cheering filled the air. Andrea heard her name shouted as she continued running, stepping up her pace ever-so-slightly. The back of the clock grew closer, and closer; when she finally passed it, Andrea almost stumbled trying to see the time. As she righted herself, she forcibly reminded herself that another minute and she'd be able to see her time without risking injury.
As Andrea drew closer to the U-turn ahead, she became aware of someone behind her - and whoever it was, she was catching up fast. She began sprinting.
Said bend passed in a loud, screaming blur. The person from earlier was still behind her - Andrea could practically feel her breathing on her shoulder.
The clock ahead read 19:17. Andrea pushed away the urge to glance back. The finish line rushed towards them, but it wasn't fast enough.
19:31. Her arms refused to swing any faster. Sweat rolled down her cheeks.
19:40. She still felt someone behind her, no matter how much she pushed herself.
19:44. Andrea couldn't take it anymore. Her head began to turn - but before she could see anything, her right foot landed on its edge instead of its sole, and her leg collapsed.
The whole world turned to a blur. When it finally settled, Andrea was sprawled in the dirt.
Her mouth worked, but she couldn't breathe. One, two runners passed by her as she struggled to push herself back up. She'd almost managed it when she made the mistake of putting weight on her right foot - her ankle's scream of protest forced tears to her eyes.
Suddenly, someone was in front of her. She took the hand they'd offered, and with their support, she managed to stand back up. When she looked at who'd helped her up, Andrea let out a choked giggle.
"Stop laughing, start walking!" Sandra snapped. Andrea followed orders, taking slow, painful steps towards the finish line.
Halfway to the finish line, one of the organizers arrived and took over for Sandra, guiding her the rest of the way to the hanging pennants. As Andrea passed the clock, she glanced over at it. 21:44.
As she tore off her runner's tag and handed it over, she glanced back. Sandra was there, watching Andrea with an inscrutable expression as people cheered around her. Andrea waved, but all Sandra did was turn and walk away.
When Andrea finally escaped the first-aid tent and asked about Sandra, she learned Sandra had left early.
The rest of the meet - the award ceremony, the coach’s final speech - passed in a blur. After Andrea helped roll up the tarp the team used, she opened her backpack, just to make sure she hadn't forgot anything. She looked inside, and froze.
Right on top of her scrunched-up sweater was a ten-dollar bill.
|# ¿ Jan 25, 2016 05:57|
Thanks for the crit, Wher!
Also, I'm a drama king. Fuckin' bow, assholes.
|# ¿ Jan 27, 2016 01:20|
Thanks for the crit, sebmojo!
|# ¿ Feb 8, 2016 23:51|
Also for my failure last week.
7) A man's jealousy leads him to murder his lover.
|# ¿ Feb 9, 2016 07:22|
An Envelope of Bills(1300 words)
A mere week ago, we'd gathered for our usual meeting - but from the moment I saw him, I knew something was wrong. When I asked what the matter was, he blurted out that he hadn't seen my sister for two full days - not since she'd stayed behind at the office they both worked at, determined to finish the last bits of paperwork for her client. He sounded strained then - even more so when I asked if they'd argued.
"What exactly would we have fought about?" he'd demanded. I didn't reply.
Finally, he broke the silence, talking about going to the constables tomorrow - and my response was immediate, vehement. He grabbed my hand then, pleading, and I relented - but only after he promised not to mention me.
We parted soon after that - he slipped the envelope to me, and I slipped it into my coat. I'd count out the bills back at my apartment.
Three days later, I opened my door to find my landlady and a constable waiting outside.
"There you go, officer." My landlady's words were respectful, but the glare she shot me was anything but. It promised a lengthy 'discussion' of about bringing the law to her front door.
"Much appreciated, madam." The officer stepped through the doorway, and I stepped back to make room for her. A haughty sniff, and the landlady left the two of us alone.
"I'm here to talk to you about your sister, Mrs.-"
"I know." Fortunately, she didn't seem offended about being cut off. I waved her over to the chair by my desk.
She asked about our relationship. I told her the truth. She'd gone to college while I stayed behind, and after our mother died nearly a year ago, I moved here, to be a little closer. No, we didn't talk much.
"We live in very different circles," I said. My interviewer looked at me, waiting. I refused to say anything more. She didn't need to know about the way my sister looked at me the first time we'd met since she left for university, or anything more about the stranger who had replaced the girl I'd pretended to be whales with, when we'd dreamed of traveling the world together.
She finally scribbled something down and moved on. "Could you tell me about her fiance?"
"He works at the same office she does, and was assigned to be her workplace mentor. They were already together when I moved here, and he proposed about four months ago."
Her firm had thrown a dinner party that day, and she'd managed to get me in. I'd loitered in the corners that night, conscious of my shabbiness - but after her superiors had announced her promotion to senior manager, I'd dashed up and hugged her. She'd laughed, somewhat awkwardly, but she squeezed me back before ending the embrace.
He'd been the next one to give a congratulatory embrace. Then he'd bent down on one knee. Everybody had cheered.
"No. We don't talk much."
She nods, and moved on to the next question. "He claimed to be on sick leave from work the last day he saw her. Is this true?"
I froze. He'd mentioned leaving the office early during our meeting, hadn't he? I hedged, "What does the office say?"
"They've lost the records."
I looked down at my hands. They were red and rough from last night's work. "I'm sorry, I don't know."
That'd been four days ago. Now, I'm drumming my fingers on a table, taking another sip of water.
Just a couple hours before, I'd had another visit from the same constable - this time, to inform me that my sister's body had been found, and that the department suspected foul play.
She'd asked me if I suspected anyone.
I remembered how he'd said my sister had stayed behind at the office that last day he'd saw her.
And I remembered how he'd looked after her promotion was announced. He'd covered it up soon enough, but there had been something dark in that handsome face.
I opened my mouth - and doubt swept me. He hadn't been happy, yes, but murder?
Finally, I'd said, "I don't know. Like I said, we move in very different circles".
"Hey." His voice brings me back to the present. I look up as he slides into the opposite seat. I open my mouth, but he holds up a hand.
We sit there in silence for a while. Right before I work up the nerve to ask him about the last time he'd saw her, he says, "I need you to do something for me."
I ask, "What is it?"
Five minutes later, I manage to get out, "You want me to what?"
"Look. When people get in trouble, it's not always their fault, right?" He stares straight at me.
I stare at him as he continues, "And when that's the case, sometimes they need some outside help to get out of it, right?"
At my silence, his eyes narrows, and he repeats - a little more loudly, a little more insistently - "Right".
Finally, he sighs and begins getting up. I remember that only half of Mother's debt has been paid off, and visions of jail flash through my mind. I'm already working ten hours a day, and I barely make rent, and - I grab his hand.
He looks down at my hand, then up at me. When he speaks again, his voice is toneless. "Well?"
I don't know what I say, only that it's good enough. He hands me the envelope, and we part ways.
Back in the apartment, I pry it open, and start counting bills. It only contains half of what I need, and when I turn the envelope upside down, a slip of paper falls out.
It reads, *You'll get the rest after my trial*.
The next day, I swallow and meet firm brown eyes. "Officer."
"Here's your subpoena." A little more gently, she adds, "The trial's next week at -"
"I can read." This time, her face tightens. I mumble an apology.
A couple more seconds pass, and she sighs.
"I didn't come here just to serve you papers. There was something else I thought you might like."
She pulls out a small, waxed envelope from her pocket, and holds it out. "These are technically evidence, but the prosecution doesn't believes they'll be of any use. You might want them."
I upend the contents into my hand. At first glance, it's a glimmering jumble. But at second glance, I gasp.
Heart pounding, I slowly lift up one of the two necklaces. It's a simple design - a silver charm dangling from a delicate chain.
I raise the necklace higher, so the gleaming whale tail swings right before my eyes.
"Why didn't you give these to him?"
"Your name's on the back. I figured it was for you."
A short pause as I examine the finely engraved letters, and she asks, "Is it a birthday present?"
"I turn twenty-five in a week." I swallow, and say, "Thank you."
"No problem." She smiles, and turns to leave.
She looks back, and I stammer, "I-I think you should look at this."
A part of my brain is shrieking obscenities at me, but I pull out the envelope from yesterday - I'd been just about to visit Mother's lenders when she'd come in - and I thrust it at her.
She looks up at me, down at the envelope, then finally takes it. Her eyes widen at its contents, and soon enough, she's reading the note.
I flush with shame, but when she speaks, there's no hint of censure. "I think you should come down to the station."
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2016 08:01|
I will probably (definitely) regret this, but I crashed and burned the first time this prompt came around. Time for a second try!
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2016 22:46|
In with a
|# ¿ Mar 22, 2016 00:48|
Dismas locked an arm around her neck. It was strange - Sophie had been choked to death six times so far, but she still hadn't shook the instinctive, desperate clawing at her throat.
"Sorry. Nothing personal." He'd said that every time, too.
Sophie finally pushed down her panic long enough to get out, "Liar."
"Oh?" Dismas' tone was infuriatingly casual, as if he currently wasn't keeping her in a sleeper hold - but the fact she was still conscious spoke volumes. Air crept back into her lungs.
Sophie considered her options. Last time, she'd started with, *I know about James*. It hadn't ended well - which is to say, it ended up with her waking up last Sunday for the seventh time, gulping air through a raw throat. So she tried, "I know why you stopped working for the mayor."
"And I know why you're working for him again."
"Get to the point." He tightened his hold, just a little, and another wave of dizziness rolled over her. But she was still conscious.
"I-I know where they're keeping him." In a burst of panic, she got out, "I can help!"
Finally, finally, she could breathe. He still had his arms wrapped around her neck, though.
A brief silence, then he asked, "How?"
Sophie didn't know how to respond. She'd never gotten this far before. "Well, I could give you the address. And then you can go rescue him."
It sounded bad, even to her.
Dismas snorted. "How would I get in? How would I get us both out?"
The truth was, Sophie hadn't thought of that. It'd taken her two cycles to even figure out where the mayor had been hiding him.
And now she'd been silent for too long. Dismas sighed, and Sophia closed her eyes.
Which is why she shrieked - just a little - when he let her go. "Tell me where he is."
She gave him the address. He nodded, then froze. "Someone's coming."
"Someone's here." A deep voice spoke from behind them.
They both spun around, and Sophia's stomach dropped out from underneath her.
"Mayor Breke. How nice to see you again." She tried grinning, she had the distinct feeling she was grimacing instead.
If it had been only him, Dismas might've taken him down. But as good as he was, Sophia didn't think he could handle three of Breke's goons at once.
"I can't say the feeling is mutual. If I was feeling curious, I would ask how you uncovered that address." He smiled at her, and produced a slim, single-button remote from his pocket. "But I'm not curious today."
He pressed, and held the button. A hoarse scream emanated from hidden, tinny speakers - and Sophia could feel Dismas flinch.
"I'll stop when she's dead." He looked over at Dismas, and after a couple seconds, Dismas nodded.
She turned to run, but Dismas had already grabbed her arm.
Sophie woke up Saturday morning, and pressed trembling fingers to her throat.
James forced himself upright, leaning on the wall for support. Dismas glanced back at him, then doubled back. James smiled at him as Dismas propped him up, and then continued on, just a couple paces behind the woman who'd helped Dismas come rescue him. The lamp she carried cast uneven light on the walls.
It had been a pretty miserable week - sleeping on the hard concrete of the basement Breke had thrown him into had left his back painfully stiff, and James swore he could feel the beginnings of a dehydration headache.
"So who did you say your name was?"
She didn't look back at him. "Sophie."
James raised an eyebrow at Dismas. He shrugged, then asked in a low tone, "Can you move any faster?"
"I don't think so." James winced. He'd never been the most athletic of people, but feeling this weak was unnerving.
Dismas squeezed his shoulder, then stiffened. James found himself sprawled out over the floor, with Dismas draped over him - usually a mutually enjoyable positiom, but definitely not now. Especially because his ears were still ringing with the crack of a gunshot.
"Dismas!" He was still breathing, which was good. What wasn't good was that gurgling he could hear from him.
"Goddamn it." Sophie glared off into the darkness. "Breke, you bastard."
"What can I say? You've forced my hand. Now, let me ask you -"
"I am not going through this asinine conversation again!"
As James stared at her, Sophie put the pistol she was holding to her forehead.
"What are you doi-"
Dismas gingerly made his way up to where Sophie stood by Breke's corpse. There was very little left that was recognizable.
He still didn't trust her. How could he? No journalist should be able to move or fight like that - but there she was. It was bizarre, and he had no idea how she'd managed to acquire those skills.
But still. He owed her a favor.
He told her this, and she laughed, wiping the blood from her cheeks. "Don't worry about it. Just go back to James."
"What are you going to do now?"
"I have honestly no idea." She'd laughed again, and shooed him off. "It's Sunday, right?"
"It should be."
"Good, good." She'd looked down at her hands, and wiped them clean on her jeans. "I'm good."
Then she shooed him off, giving him a fairly ineffectual shove to help him along.
He didn't see her again.
|# ¿ Mar 28, 2016 04:11|
Trying to get the last word is not a particularly admirable trait.
On that note, I'm in for this week.
|# ¿ Apr 1, 2016 15:37|
Night. (500 words)
The bedroom door slammed shut behind his wife. Richard glanced over, but Victor only crossed his arms and looked away.
Richard ground out, “I’d never guessed you were so selfish.”
“Selfish?” Victor stared at him, wide-eyed. “How am I being selfish?”
“Look at what you’ve done!” Richard jabbed a finger at the closed bedroom door. “Your mother is in our bedroom, crying of a broken heart.”
His voice lowered to a hiss. “You did that. You broke her heart.”
Victor was gaping. “But all I did was-”
Richard cut him off. “She would die for you. And you just walk in and say you’ve decided that - that-”
“It’s not a decision!” Victor protested. “It’s who I-”
“I don’t want to hear it!” Richard roared.
A brief pause, then he said, “You know what Aunt Riza told us the other day?”
Victor didn’t respond.
“A week ago, her uncle and his cousin were walking though Golden Gate Park. It was raining, so they shared an umbrella.”
Richard stared at Victor.
“A man walked up and spit at their feet. Just- he walked up and spat. In San Francisco.” Richard’s voice trembled. “They weren’t even a couple! You could be beaten to death, like in - that movie we saw, and we wouldn’t even know-”
“That movie was set in the sixties!” Victor put his chin up, but his legs were shaking.
“But people haven’t changed.”
“What do you mean?”
Richard asked, “Do you know how your English teacher reacted when I told her that we watched Brokeback Mountain during our last parent-teacher conference?”
A pause, and then Victor asked, “Did Mrs. Shu like it?”
“She was revolted that we’d even seen it.”
“I-” Victor stared down at the carpet, then squared his shoulders. “Well, she doesn’t matter. I’ll be fine.”
“And I’m telling you, you’re being selfish!” Richard bellowed. “It’s not always about you! Have you ever thought about what this might do to you? What it might do to us?”
“So the hell do you want me to do?” Victor screamed back.
“Victor, I don’t want to fight.” Richard pinched his nose. “How can you be so sure about this? Enough to run around and tell people?”
“I already told you about that - dream.” Victor was shame-faced, teary-eyed. “Dad, please - I know who I am.”
“You don’t even know what you want to be when you grow up!” Richard snapped back. “Christ, you don’t even know what you want to major in, and you’re going to college in the fall! How could you possibly know enough to make a decision like this?”
Finally, he said, “You have piano lessons tomorrow morning. Go to bed.”
“Okay,” his son whispered. “Good night.”
He stepped closer, arms outstretched for a hug - and Richard jerked away, gaze focused on the clock on the wall.
“Dad?” His son’s arms were still up, hovering in the air.
“Look, just - go, all right?”
Richard watched the clock until his son left the room.
|# ¿ Apr 4, 2016 04:01|
|# ¿ Apr 12, 2016 01:36|
Like Recipes for Love (1190 words)
Aditi stared at Michael. “You’re kidding me.”
Instead of waiting for a reply, she stepped over and put a crumbly piece of Rey’s birthday cake in her mouth. Almost immediately, her heart began to pound. Her cheeks warmed, and the most revoltingly gooey feelings washed over her. They were rather familiar, since she’d felt them while sliding the cake pans into the oven.
Oh, gods. Talk about being ‘baked with love’.
“You didn’t know.” His words were rather flat, but after living with him over year, Aditi could discern his surprise. It also had the distinct flavor of you’ve got to be kidding me. “You, with all the baking you do?”
“I’ve been busy, alright? The last time I baked for anyone else was for the potluck!” She pressed her fists to her forehead. “And all anyone said then were that I must’ve been really happy while baking them!”
“Oh. Then I guess it’s because they weren’t just for her back then.” Michael brushed cake crumbs off his fingers. “Also, you weren’t so embarrassingly infatuated then.”
Aditi’s only response was a glare and then a long, drawn out groan.
Finally Michael said, “Maybe you could just tell her? It’s very good ca-”
Michael held his palms in front of him and backed up against the kitchen counter. “Okay. So you don’t want to tell her. Maybe I could help you bake another cake?”
Aditi glanced at the clock and resisted the urge to yank her hair out. “There’s not enough time for that! I’ll need to frost it, and that means I have to let it cool first!”
“Okay.” Michael paused for a second before he said, “So you’re going to tell her, then.”
“I just found out! How can I just tell her?” Aditi paced around the kitchen.
“Just let her eat it.” Michael smiled faintly. “Believe me, she’ll know.”
“In front of everyone?”
Michael sighed a sigh that said, you are severely trying my patience. “Aditi. There’s only three people invited to her birthday party, and that’s including you and me.”
Aditi flushed. “Well, I don’t care. she is not eating that cake!”
“So when everybody else comes over, you’re going to pretend that there isn’t anything on your kitchen counter and there’s nothing to eat?” Michael looked out the window, and a smirk tugged at the edges of his lips. “Ha, I can imagine it right now.”
Aditi was going to drown him in the sink one of these days. Him and that stupid smarmy smirk.
“I’ll think of something, just -” Aditi stopped.
Something about the quality of her silence caught his attention, and he swung his head around to look at her.
“Aditi. I don’t like the look on your face.”
She hummed to herself, tapping her foot. Then she looked up. “Michael.”
“Yes?” came the wary response.
“Do you need directions to Baxter’s Pastries?” She very carefully did not make eye contact.
“Aditi.” he said, clearly appalled. “You’re kidding me. What are you going to do with the cake you already have? Eat it by yourself, alongside a pound tub of ice cream and Adele’s greatest hits? Where are you even going to hide it? You just went shopping!”
Pasting a sunny smile on her face, Aditi jabbed at the front door and said, “Look, Mikey. If you don’t get going in the next five minutes, I’m telling Rey who swiped her hard cider the other night.”
Michael crossed his arms and glared at her, pure indignation writ across her face. “Do you think it’s that easy to sway me?”
“Also, I’m telling your boyfriend why his copy of Darkest Souls has been missing for the last week.”
A muttered curse, a flipped bird, and ten seconds later, the front door swung shut behind Michael. Aditi smirked, but that slid off her face when she turned back to the half-frosted cake on the counter. She wandered over to it, and sniffed at the air. Lemons and love. How did she notice it while it was in the oven?
She nearly shrieked at the knock from the front door.
“Coming!” she called. It was probably Michael, back to ask for directions.
It was not Michael.
She nearly slammed the door shut as soon as she saw who was at her doorstep.
Rey smiled at her, and fire rushed up Aditi’s spine and into her cheeks. “Hey, Aditi.”
“R-Rey! You’re early! Very much so!” The last word came out on a squeak
Rey looked slightly disconcerted. “Are you all right?”
At Aditi’s frantic nodding, she continued, “Well, I didn’t have much else to do right now, so I figured we could just catch up on that show while we waited for everybody else to arrive. You know, ‘Prodigy Prosecutor’?”
Then she hesitated. “Or is this not a good time? I mean, if you’re still busy with the cake, I can help you with it.” Rey waggled her eyebrows at Aditi, wicked spark dancing in her eyes. “There might be pieces missing by the time we’re done, if you catch my drift.”
“No!” It was out before she realized it, and it was an effort to keep from clapping her hands over her mouth.
“Um. Okay.” After an awkward pause, Rey rubbed at the back of her neck, and shot her a weak smile. “I’ll just come back later, then.”
She turned to go, and then she froze. “Aditi? What is it?”
Aditi glared at the fingers curled into Rey’s palm. Traitorous hands. Then she looked up at Rey, fearful but resigned, and found the other girl staring down at their joined fingertips.
They remained like that for a little while, and then Rey coughed. “Er, Aditi. I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a long time, but -”
“Michael’s already taken.” Traitorous mouth. Aditi looked off to the side and mumbled, “Just in case you were going to ask about that.”
“Actually, I was going ask something more along the lines of whether you were taken.”
Aditi shot a startled glance up at Rey, who smiled wryly and said, “Well, if I’m being completely honest here, whether you would be interested…”
“Interested?” she prompted, more automatically than not.
“Interested with going out to the movies sometime. Or to the ice rink, or anywhere, really.”
Aditi’s mouth opened. Aditi’s mouth closed. Finally, she tugged the other girl inside the apartment and over to the half-frosted sponge on the counter.
“Just break off a piece and eat it.” Aditi snapped out, face hot enough to bake another cake.
Rey followed Aditi’s instructions, looking slightly confused while she did so. Aditi very carefully didn’t make eye contact.
A couple seconds later, she heard Rey say, “Oh.”
And a couple seconds after that, she was bent back over the kitchen counter.
A couple hours later, at the actual party time, Michael arrived - with his boyfriend and very noticeably without an extra cake. His gentle aura of smug omniscience upon seeing Aditi’s arm draped over Rey disappeared as soon as he realized that half of the cake was gone.
Rey and Aditi just grinned at him.
|# ¿ Apr 18, 2016 06:57|
In for this week. ( I will def regret this)
|# ¿ Apr 30, 2016 03:16|
I'll take 1913 New York.
|# ¿ May 11, 2016 03:44|
1913 New York
Letters! (1005 words)
The file cabinet slid open, and I fought down the urge to glance behind me at the door again. All this time, and I still didn't trust what my own ears were telling me - nobody else was here this late at night. A glance over the tabs poking up in front of me, and I sighed. If I was Tom, I'd just up and run at this point. But then again, I didn't have a husband and two children I'd need to drag along.
Fifteen minutes later, I rubbed my eyes as I slid the drawer shut, and wearily stood up. Considering what I'd already filched from the police department, the letters I'd found were incriminating enough, but I wanted rock-solid proof of Tom's innocence. Looking around the office, I started ticking items off my mental checklist. I'd examined the desk, the secret compartment in the back of the desk, the bookshelf, the secret safe behind the bookshelf, the grandfather clock, the secret safe in the base of the grandfather clock, and the file cabinet. I looked wearily at the file cabinet, which sat there in all its heavy metal glory. I sighed, and crouched down so I could work my fingers in between its base and the patterned carpet it rested on.
"Don't move." The voice was mellow, and much, much too close.
I froze, and my stomach plunged somewhere beneath my toes. This wasn't possible.
"Hands up, where I can see them."
I slowly raised my arms, dreading what I was going to see when he asked me to-
"Turn around. Slowly."
I did so, and looked up into eyes I hadn't seen for five decades. And just like I'd feared, he looked the same as ever. No spark of recognition lit his features.
Seconds passed, and he asked calmly, slowly - which was just *wrong*, by the way - "Who are you, and what are you doing here?"
"Me? Well - "
Nice to know that he still possessed the ability to send my voice up three octaves. My mouth started moving on its own, spinning some wild tale about a letter and a lost cat and the fire department - giving me precious moments to figure out just what I was going to do.
I wasted ten of them studying Raymond Lin's face, and quickly came to the conclusion it was only my shock that made me think he hadn't changed at all. There was a sterner look in his eyes, a grimmer turn of his lips - the reckless dreamer I'd danced with in 1913 had disappeared, and a distinctly more intimidating man had taken his place.
Five more seconds, and he cut me off with a shake of his head. The threads of an escape plan began forming in my mind - pepper spray in my left pocket, smoke grenade in my right - but that gun was still pointing at my face, and while it wouldn't kill me, it would definitely hurt.
Of course, he didn't know that. I figured it best not to prove him wrong.
I stepped back, hands still up in the air, and tried for terrified.
"Please don't hurt me," I said, doing my best to sound like I was about to burst into tears. "If you let me go, I promise I'll never do this again."
I ended on a quaver I was personally quite proud of.
"Oh my loving god, I can't take this anymore."
That expletive had come out on an exasperated breath, instead of the too-casual smoothness of before.
"What?" I said, overshooting 'tearful' and ending up on 'squeaky'.
"Sharon, do you honestly think I didn't recognize you the minute you turned around?"
And just like that, it felt like Ray was back. I crossed my arms and tossed my hair. Unfortunately, it was tied up into a solid bun, so the effect was somewhat muted. "What can I say? You've gotten better at acting."
He shrugged. "Necessity is the mother of everything."
After a brief silence, I said, "I don't suppose you could stop pointing that gun at me?"
Another sigh of exasperation. "Because I'm working for the mayor, that's why."
He scratched the back of his head and looked sheepish. "Well, we have an arrangement. I do some things for him, he does more things for me. Like increase the amount of funding that goes to municipal education."
"That sounds one-sided."
Another pause. "Well, I'm also blackmailing him."
I look at him askance. "Should you be telling me all this?"
"Probably not, but - I just - " He shook his head. "I hate the facade enough when I'm talking to humans, so why should I bother when I don't have to?"
"So..." I drew the word out and looked off to the side. "You know?"
"You knew too, didn't you? The first moment you saw me."
"Well, yes, but I've been like this from the -"
"- the very beginning, right? Yeah, yeah." He looks down at the ground, and I see a chance. Sure, we could have a long chat about the fifty years past, but I needed to take these letters somewhere.
Pwumf, went the smoke bomb. Raymond's coughs filled the air. A second later, the sound of the fire sprinklers going off joined them.
Ah, breathing. It took me sixty years to unlearn that habit. Muscle memory becomes surprisingly stubborn when one's muscles aren't exactly alive anymore.
Well, I got the letters, even if they were a little soggy from the sprinklers. All I had to do was go through my usual channels, and Tom's name would be cleared.
And, well, Ray. I'm not sure what to think about him. He's probably going to pissed about the smoke - and the rain - and him having to explain the wet carpet to the mayor, so maybe I should skip town for a bit.
But just for a little bit. It'll be nice to catch up, once he calms down. Hopefully he doesn't hold grudges for as long anymore.
|# ¿ May 16, 2016 07:15|
|# ¿ May 23, 2016 23:42|
In with Silicon Valley Gothic
|# ¿ Oct 14, 2016 23:36|
I'm prob going to end up submitting after the deadline fyi, but my story will probably be up before 2 pst at the latest
|# ¿ Oct 17, 2016 02:20|
The chain-link fence loomed over Emma, and gleamed a dull gray in the moonlight. A blue sign with white lettering proclaimed that beyond was the property of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and that no trespassing was allowed. She looked past it at the concrete ditch past the fence. Whenever it rained, water would flow through it and into the dark entrance to her left, underneath the road.
Emma checked her watch again. Ana should be arriving any minute now. In truth, they’d planned to meet at eight, but her friend had decided to do some last-minute review for thequiz tomorrow. Baffling, considering that she’d aced the last one about derivatives.
Emma had barely managed to scrape a B. In any other household, she might’ve even gotten praise for that.
Em turned, and tried not to sound too accusatory. “Thought you’d never get here.”
Ana winced. “Yeah, sorry about that. It’s just that I thought I had it for the last quiz, but I got a-”
“It’s fine. You brought a flashlight, right?”
A second later, Emma whipped her hand up in front of her face. “Jesus!”
Ana giggled. “I stole it from my dad’s closet. Bright, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. Wow.” While Ana flicked it on and off, Emma turned and looked at the shadowy archway below. Then she reached into her own pocket and switched on her own flashlight. “Ready?”
* * *
Scaling the fence had been easier than Emma expected it to be - the only scare she’d received was a car screeching by, moving at what was at least 20 miles-per-hour over the speed limit.
Glass crunched underneath their feet as the moonlit entrance behind them receded, but Emma couldn’t hear anybody other than Ana and her. Looks like heading in here a couple days before Halloween was a good idea, after all.
Ana lagged behind, shining her light over the wall and the words spray-painted there, letting out small exclamations over the flourishes, curves, and paint dribbles someone had left.
As Emma examined a small patch of silvery light coming from overhead, Ana jogged up to her and asked, “You said that there’s more graffiti up ahead, right?”
“Right. Just around that bend -” Emma gestured with her flashlight, casting the corner up ahead in stark shadow. “- the whole place opens up. You can tell that the artists needed a ladder for some of this stuff.”
“C’mon, then!” Ana grabbed Emma’s arm.
“Wait!” Emma pulled away, and when Ana turned back, she said, “You’ll make me trip.”
“Oh. Right.” Ana waved her flashlight over the ground, and winced when she saw the glittering shards of glass sprinkled across the damp concrete. “Sorry about that.”* * *One could just feel the change in atmosphere. Emma shone her light up at the ceiling, now at least ten feet over their heads instead of just five, while Ana let out a whoop at the sight of a stylized giraffe painted across the wall in front of them.
“Em, this is so cool! How come you never mentioned this place to me before?”
“I’d rather not say.” Thankfully, Ana didn’t press further - it would’ve been hard to frame “my parents got so pissed at me flunking the midterm last quarter that they threw me out of the house and I ran crying into here” in any way that didn’t scream ‘pathetic’.
Emma looked around, and flicked off her light. She called out to Ana, “Hey, help me find a good spot so we can start.”
It was a bit of effort to pry Ana away from the scowling monkey with sunglasses, but before too long, they’d managed to find a spot far enough from the entrance that was safe to sit cross-legged in.
At Emma’s gesture, Ana reluctantly turned off her light, and only the moonlight from an overhead grate kept them from being in complete darkness.
“Do you want to start?” Ana’s voice was soft, and Emma smirked.
“No! No, I’m not. I just… can’t remember any good stories right now.”
Just like that, Emma’s good mood soured. “Are you serious? You had an entire week.”
Ana turned her head away. “I was busy, all right?”
“Doing what? Studying?” Emma spat out that last word.
“Yes!” Ana snapped back.
They sat there in silence for a little longer, then Emma finally swallowed her pride and relented. “Look, I’m sorry. I’ll start, and maybe you can think of a good story while I talk.”
“All right.” Ana’s reply was sullen, and Emma took a deep breath and dug her fingernails into her palms.
She pitched her voice low, and did her best to sound mysterious, and began.
Ana could’ve been a better audience, to be honest. She gasped at all the right moments, but it was obvious she was putting on a show.
Emma finished the story, and her shoulders sagged. This hadn’t been at all like she’d thought it would be.
* * *
A cloud passed over the moon, drenching them in darkness as she asked, “So, thought of a good story yet?”
“Well…” Did Ana even care about this? Emma forged on. “I’ll tell another story, then.”
“Em?” Ana’s voice was tentative.
“Do you think we could head back now?”
Emma couldn’t help the flare of irritation. “Why are you such in a hurry to get back? Isn’t your dad out on a business trip?”
“But I’m -” Ana paused, then started again. “I have to wake up before six tomorrow for swim team practice, remember?”
“It isn’t even nine.” They hadn’t even gotten to Bloody Mary.
Ana bit her lip and looked away. “Well, I-”
“You know what? It doesn’t matter. Just go.” It was lucky neither of their flashlights were on, because Em’s eyes began to sting.
“I said go.” Emma ground out the last word, then yelped. “Jesus!”
“Em-” Ana paused as Emma brought up her hands to shield her eyes. Too late. “Em, are you alright?”
Ana stepped closer, despite Emma’s attempts to back away. “Look, Em, I’m sorry, but-”
Unable to stand another word out of that stupid mouth, Emma shoved her.
Ana gasped as she toppled backwards. Ana’s flashlight clattered to the ground, and it went out.
It was dead quiet for a couple seconds.
“Em?” Ana’s voice was shaking, and Emma found herself smirking again. “Are you still there?”
A couple more seconds passed by, and Emma could hear movement. Probably Anna pushing herself to her feet.
“Em - I, I don’t know where my flashlight is, and the moon’s not out - Em!”
Emma grinned - not that Ana could see it - and whispered, as if she were in a play, “Find your own way back. And mind the glass.”
Then she turned on her heel and walked out.
* * *
The next day, Emma looked over at Ana’s seat as Mr. Stark passed out the calculus quiz to the class. It was empty.
She smiled to herself as she scribbled her name and date down at the top of the paper.
|# ¿ Oct 17, 2016 09:41|
I'll be in as an employee.
|# ¿ Oct 17, 2016 19:30|
This is good, you are good
This was a pleasant surprise - thank you very much for the crit!
(And thanks to Jitzu for the earlier crit as well!)
|# ¿ Oct 19, 2016 22:07|
|# ¿ Oct 28, 2016 23:54|
Leftovers (249 words)
Mark brushed his thumb against his lip, and wondered if it was worth worrying about the cut getting infected. Absentmindedly, he pulled off another chunk of bread from the French loaf in his lap, and tossed it in his mouth. No sharp-beaked seagulls swooped in to snatch it this time.
Past the railing, the ocean crashed against barnacle-encrusted rock. If he’d been a little closer to the railing, he might’ve been soaked.
Francine’s first words to him had been, “Do you need my towel?”
What was he even doing here? She was probably vigorously enjoying this morning in bed.
One business trip. One. A month ago, Francine flew out to the Big Apple for business, and the next thing he knew, Manhattan was in a state of emergency because some really nasty worms wanted to turn the whole place into applesauce.
He’d began to suspect she was involved when a ridiculously theatrical stunt involving a snakeskin briefcase, a polka-dotted tie, a washed-up Navy SEAL and his jock strap taking place 70 feet above the city had been broadcasted live on national TV, followed quickly by sloppy make-outs.
Something pecked at his shoe. It was the seagull again. He could see a dash of dull red on its beak.
Mark sighed and tossed it the rest of his loaf. He glanced back as it took flight, bread in mouth, then started walking.
He should go home and rinse out his lip. It was already swollen, but better late than never.
|# ¿ Oct 31, 2016 03:02|
|# ¿ Oct 31, 2016 07:52|
|# ¿ Oct 31, 2016 17:50|
a bit late, but
Thank you very much for the crits, Kaishai! I really appreciate it.
|# ¿ Dec 22, 2016 02:32|
|# ¿ Jan 30, 2023 08:24|
Would just like to pop in to say that I love the TD recaps. Everyone in them does great work.
|# ¿ Dec 31, 2016 03:21|