The End Of A Long Journey

This is my latest entry into Chuck Wendigs’ Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. I had to come up with  a for the prompt The End Of A Long Journey and this is what I came up with. Enjoy!

Holbrook came home to die.
His quest was finished and his enemies bested. Now, maybe, he could be at peace.
Agatha was struggling to support his weight as she practically dragged him up the lonely hill, back to his shack where this had all started. She was trying to hold one arm around his waist whilst using her other hand to try and stop his other arm from slipping from her shoulders. If it did, she knew she would drop him and she didn’t think she had the strength to pick him back up.
Eventually, after stopping several times to adjust Holbrook’s weight, Agatha made it to the shack, kicking the frail, wooden door open and letting Holbrook slip from her shoulders onto the floor, where using what little strength he had left, he managed to crawl to the bedstead in the corner of the room. His breathing was heavy, shallow and ragged. The wounds on his back had reopened and wine stains of blood were seeping through his dirty yellowing shirt.
After taking a moment to stand with her hands on her knees and catch her breath, Agatha gingerly stepped into the shack turning her head left and right to take in her surroundings, anything to delay having to take another look at Holbrook’s withering, slowly dying body.
The shack was dark apart from where the door lay broken open on its hinges from the force of Agatha’s kick. There, golden late afternoon light made a cut through the darkness. Particles of dust and old age gently floated in the beam. Where the light stopped and rested on Holbrook’s meager possessions, there was a thick layer of pale dust. It was only now she realised how long they had been gone.
There was something else, though. Not everything had been undisturbed and as they had been left. On some of the shelfs and the work table, boxes and cans had been over turned or knocked to the floor. In the dust that carpeted the floor there was a broken trail, like something had been dragged through it. In these tracks there were dark stains and Agatha’s nose twitched at the unmistakeable, iron filled smell of blood.
Her eyes followed the tracks in dust to a pile of dead rats. On the top of the pile, there lay one, large, live one. Its body twitched and convulsed. In its neck were three puncture wounds and from these wounds trailed three greased stain wires. Now, Agatha’s head to turned to follow these wires to what she knew sat waiting in the far corner of the shack.
The cyborg was nearly dead. Its humanoid form sat slumped in the corner. Its head hung from a broken neck and where it settled, a sharp, broken, chin had pierced the thin metal of its chest that was now rusting and crumbling away to expose the circuitry underneath. Its claw handed arms were splayed out at its sides and each time the half dead rat twitched, so did the cyborg.
Without even really thinking about it, Agatha flicked the button on her holster, drew her gun an levelled it at the cyborg. Her finger was just tightening around the trigger when she heard Holbrook’s whispering, almost gone voice from behind her.
‘D-don’t,’ he said, ‘there’s been enough of this, don’t you think? It- it’s nearly gone anyway. Not m-much ju-juice from a rat.’
Agatha knew he was right. There had been enough killing, enough destruction. She holstered her weapon and carefully stepped towards the cyborg. She reached around the back of its neck, her fingers searching for the particular node that would shut it down. As her finger came to rest on it, she paused. With her other hand she lifted the cyborg’s head and looked into the barely glowing holes it had as a substitue for eyes.
“I wonder if you’re the last of them.” She said to nobody in particular.
The cyborg didn’t respond. It’s eyes glowed slightly brighter for a second. Agatha wondered if it was trying to smile then pushed the thought away and pressed the node, the light went out and the cyborg stopped twitching.                                                         
Agatha sat there for a moment, hoping that this was indeed the last one. There had been so many along the way. They had been people once, downloaded into mechanical bodies to extend their life, only for that fucking virus to come along and turn them into killers. How many lives had actually been cut short because of the virus? Agatha felt herself physically shudder at the thought. It hadn’t even been that many for her. Even with how far they had gone, how many she herself had taken out. Compared to Holbrook, it was barely a handful. For him, it had been his entire life.
She looked now to where he lay on the rickety bed. He was on his side, propped up on his elbow. His whole body shook as he hacked up a cough and was rewarded with bloody spittle. Agatha’s eyes filled with tears as she looked at his thin, frail, frame fighting to get control of himself. ‘He was always fighting,’ she thought as we went to him and took his hand in hers. His skin felt like old paper, brittle and thin. He wouldn’t have to fight much longer. The Hero of the Hub would soon be able to rest.
She let her hand rest on his feverish forehead for moment before slowly brushing it backwards, letting his own sweat slick back the hair from his eyes, and gave him her most gentle smile.
“Its done?” he asked, voice barely audible.
Agatha nodded. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she did. “All done.” She said.
Holbrook nodded. His eyelids drooping. Not long now. “A-am I, am I a good man?”
Again Agatha nodded, she tried to reply but no words would come. They stuck in her throat and she thought for a moment that she might choke on them. She looked away from Holbrook, not wanting him to see the dismay on her face. His whole life, his whole damned life he’d fought them, wracking himself with guilt, convinced he was some kind of murderer because of what they were before the virus. THEY WEREN’T HUMAN! she wanted to scream at him, THEY WERE FREAKS TO START WITH!
Instead she took a deep swallow and wiped the tears from her face with the heel of her hand and looked back to him.
“Yes,” she whispered to him. “You are a good man. You’re probably the best of us.” And with that she leant down and kissed him on his cheek. It was cold. She leaned back with a gasp, his eyes were glazed over and staring into nothingness. He was gone.

***

The sun was starting to set when Agatha patted the last of the soil down with the back of the shovel. She placed it upright and leant against it whilst she caught her breath after the physical exertion of burying Holbrook.
Whilst she waited for her breath to slow and the trickle of sweat to find its cool way down her spine, she looked out to the west. On the horizon she could see the lights of the city starting to come on; little yellow pinpricks that seem to flicker into existence in a programmed sequence. In front of that, she could see the fields that Holbrook had been tilling before they had left. Their long journey had meant that the fields had become overgrown and neglected. It also looked as though something had been digging in there. Moles most likely.
Agatha stood back and stretched, pushing the base of her back with her hands. She then took the shovel and headed back to the tool shed. As she leant it against the wall and closed the shed door, she looked back to the city on the horizon, back to the neglected fields and thought to herself, ‘I can carry this on. I can resow the fields and make a go of this place.’
Even though the act of burying her best friend had been a sorrowful one, the work of the digging had been good for her. She felt tired but alive, and ready to keep living. She owed it to all those who had been lost as a result of the virus. She owed it to Holbrook.
The sun had now all but disappeared behind the horizon, a thin orange line was all that was left to prove it had ever been there and now the city lights cast a vivid glow into the ink blue sky. Agatha couldn’t help but smile.
‘In that city, the human race is starting again and if they can,’ she thought  as she placed a hand on her stomach, feeling a wave of joy at the movement of the new life inside her. ‘So can I’.

Thanks for reading,
Tim.

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Permanence.

This is my latest entry into Chuck Wendigs’ Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. I had to choose a one word title from the list he published and write a story for it. I chose Permanence and this is what I came up with. Enjoy!

 

She watched from behind the glass. Everyday they came to look at her, to sing, chant, leave gifts, plead and pray to her. Everyday; hundreds of faces, hands and mouths.

They started, these faces, hands and mouths, coming to her as children. Over time, though she could not say how long, children became teenagers, then adults and then old and infirm. And then they didn’t come at all.

The room that she looked at from behind the glass became empty. It changed, only in small ways, dust growing on things, paint peeling, glass cracking and stones falling. But it was always changing. The light changed regularly. Sometimes the empty room was filled with golden sunlight that would shine through the floating flecks of dust and she would imagine that the room was filled flocks of fairies flying around her, performing tricks in the air just for her. At other times, the room was dark for long stretches of time, the only light was a pale blue that came from a crack in the ceiling that illuminated a thin line across the floor. Then it was gone. But then the light would come back and so would the dust fairies, but this time of light was growing shorter.

Soon the dark took over completely. She hadn’t been expecting it. There had been a cacophony of noise, and everything shook and broke as if the whole world was falling in on itself. Then there was only darkness. Not even the small knife cut of blue light shone through from the ceiling. There was nothing. And she sat there in the nothing. Staring out from behind the glass into nothing.

Sometimes she slept. At least she thought it was sleep. When she closed her eyes she saw things that she hadn’t seen in a long time. Things from before the glass when she had walked through streets and towns and rooms like the one she now sat in. She remembered the mothers, the lessons they would teach her about the glass and how one day when a thousand years had passed, she would sit behind the glass and the people would come to her, and oh how they would love her. They would come to her and look and sing, and chant, and leave gifts, and plead and pray to her. And she would live forever.

Sometimes when she slept, she saw the time when she was ready to go behind the glass. She would see the knives and the needles. She would feel the flames as they pushed into her veins and she entered another kind of darkness. A darkness so terrible that it was all she could do not to die. Then she opened her eyes again and she was behind the glass and the people were there as the mothers said they would be.

She slept and saw these things again and again but every time she opened her eyes there was still just darkness. She thought that would never see anything else. But then there was something. Something moved in the darkness accompanied by a scraping noise. It went on and on until then there was light. Just a small pinprick at first but then there was more and more until the darkness crumbled away revealing a hole in the wall of the room that had been her prison.

Into this hole of light came two shadows, looming over the glass and they held up small lights of their own. She saw their faces, unlike any she had ever seen before and she rejoiced. The faces spoke, both quickly and at the same time to each other and not to her but about her. Then more faces appeared and more speech was made about her but not to her. The darkness crumbled away to reveal more faces. Not only faces but huge machines. And these new faces, and machines spoke not to her but about her.

Then the room moved. It dropped slightly below her then started moving past her and she realised that it wasn’t the room moving but the glass. It was she who was moving. Then something fell over the glass and it was dark again. She could still hear all the faces and the machines, but she saw only darkness. And she wept.

Then, the new darkness was lifted and she found herself in another room, full of light and all around her were hundreds of people. They were clapping and smiling, raising glasses in her direction. Some of them pointed boxes at her. Boxes with round glass in the middle that flashed blinding light at her so that she was soon seeing coloured circles. They filed past her one by one, peering closely, pressing there faces right up to the glass. Some even tapped it. Some of them even spoke to her but most spoke about her. She didn’t mind. This was better than what the mothers had promised her.

Then after they had filed past her, and drained their glasses which had been refilled several times, they left. The light was dimmed and a silence fall over her. She hoped the people would come again. All that time, alone in the darkness had been unbearable and she couldn’t suffer it again.

She was just drifting off to sleep again, just starting to dream of knives and needles and the mothers again, when something in the room moved. She opened her eyes and there was a new face in front of her. It was old, even older than the faces of those which had been children had grown to be. It was smiling and then it spoke to her and her only.

“My love,” it said. “The time has come. The Mothers said you would live forever and so you shall.”

Then old, frail hands opened the glass. She didn’t even know that it could open. The hands reached inside and she left the room. She never looked from behind the glass again.

Thanks for reading,

Tim

 

The Darkling Wakes

In the centre of the chamber there stood something that Derren assumed must be kind of a canister. It’s narrow rhomboid shape stood three feet off the ground at its tallest point. It was covered in engravings that resembled no shapes or writing that Derren had ever seen before. At the top, running around the edge, was a crack emitting a pale blue light. It’s positioning in the centre of the chamber matched up exactly to the location of the orange circle on the map.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Derren muttered to himself.

Ka, already on his knees and running his hands over the canister, must have heard him for he turned to face Ka flashing him that enthusiastic puppy grin.

“Come on, Cap, stop with the downer. This is what we came for. I bet this thing is worth a fortune,” with that he turned his attention back to the canister.

Derren watched whilst Ka continued to grope the canister, shuffling around to the back of it and to the front again. When he had made a couple of circuits of the canister, he turned his attention to its top, poking his fingers into the crack from where the blue glow came.

“I think this might be some sort of lid,” Ka reported back to Derren, “Get over here and help me try and get it off?”

Once more, Derren let out a deep sigh, and knelt next to Ka. He pushed his fingers into the crack surprised to find he could feel a sort of static electricity – not unlike pins and needles – even through the thickness of his spacesuit gloves. Derren looked to Ka to see his reaction to this sensation, but if he also felt it, Derren couldn’t tell. Derren didn’t like it.

“So, how do you want to do this?” he said to Ka.

“I guess we just get our fingers underneath and push,” replied Ka, eyes fixated on the blue glow. It seemed to Derren as though Ka was becoming hypnotised by it. Once again, he felt a shudder travel down his spine.

Seeing Ka start to push, Derren also started to push on the lid. At first there was no movement whatsoever but after a few minutes of hard shoving, filled with the sounds of both Derren and Ka groaning with exertion, the lid made a cracking noise and shifted.

“Did, you feel that? It moved,” Shouted out Ka, now shaking with either excitement. “Come on, one last effort and I reckon we’ll have it.”

Derren could feel the strain of the last lot of pushing all through his body. Every muscle was singing out in pain, protesting at even the slightest movement. The gravity, masked by the dampeners in their boots, must have been really high in here. Regardless, Derren didn’t want to let Ka down. He pushed his thumbs back into the crack, once again feeling the static through his gloves and clamped his fingers down on top of the lid. He looked to Ka who nodded and with a yell of effort they both pushed as hard as they could. Derren jammed a knee into the base of the canister to gain some extra stability. The two continued to push, still yelling as though the noise would give them extra leverage.

From what must have been the depths of the canister came a loud shrieking noise, the kind of noise Derren had never heard before. It sounded as though as thousand dogs were all screaming out in agony at the same time.

As the shrieking started, the lid gave way under Derren and Ka’s combined weight. It flew backwards, smacking into and shattering against the wall behind the canister. Almost immediately afterwards, blue light shot into air flaring out and washing the room in it’s pallid glow. The shrieking continued getting louder and more piercing; at the same time as the lid had flown off and the light exploded from within, Derren was thrown across the room, his back hitting the wall behind him hard. His vision went black and silence engulfed him.

Derren couldn’t say how long he had been unconscious for. When he came round, his head was spinning, the bottom of his helmet was filled with vomit, the acidic taste and smell filled his nose and mouth. For a moment, he couldn’t move his limbs but when they did move, his entire body flooded with pain.

As his vision cleared and focussed again, Derren could see that there was no longer any light coming from the canister but there was still the shrieking sound. Now louder and higher. Derren could also see Ka kneeling in front of the canister.

How had he not been thrown backwards? There had been enough force to push a room full of people back.

Derren called to Ka, through the helmet comms but there was no response, only that damned shrieking that just would not stop and sounded ten times worse through the crackling static of the comms.

With every last bit of effort he had left, Derren pushed himself up onto his feet and staggered towards Ka, dropping to his knees beside his motionless body. Ka was still in the same position he had been in when they pushed the lid off, only now his head and arms were now hanging into the now dark canister. Derren took him by the shoulder and shook him, still calling his name through the helmet comms. Ka did not move. The only response through the comms was the shrieking.

By now Derren, was almost crying. His vision was blurring thanks to the tears welling up in his eyes. He grabbed Ka’s shoulder in both hands and pulled as hard as he could. Ka flopped backwards from the canister and lay face up on the floor. Derren leant over him and almost straight away jumped back, screaming.

Kal’s face was not his own. It contorted into a shape of agony that looked far beyond any pain that a human could endure. His mouth hung open at a strange right angle. His eyes were so wide open as it was though he had no eyelids, only his eyeballs were not there. Instead, there was only the same blue light that had come from the canister. It was also coming from his mouth. Around him, like a shadow hung a black aura that seemed to be pulsating and growing.

Derren shook his head; refusing to believe what he saw . He called Ka’s name again but again, the only response was the shrieking sound coming through his helmet comms. And that was when he realised. That shrieking sound, that terrible, mournful, anguish filled howl hadn’t been coming from the canister at all. It was coming from Ka; he was screaming.

Derren, still crying, sat there shaking his head refusing to believe what he could see. Questions crashed around his head, what had happened?

He closed his eyes tight, trying to figure out what to do next but when he opened them again, he found he was backing quickly out of the chamber, his stare fixed on Ka’s body. It moved almost lifelessly, as if it hung at the end of half broken puppet strings. It limped and shuffled towards Derren, blue eyes still flaring, broken mouth still screaming.

Derren leapt to his feet, turning and running down the corridor. His hands banging away at the keyboard on his forearm to make the map reappear on his visor only this time in reverse. Derren then realised he was now running down the corridors. His mind was still racing and he couldn’t make sense of what was happening. This must be, he somehow supposed, the flight part of the fight or flight response. Now he found himself sprinting across the chamber, the servos in the anti-gravity boots whining in protest.

It was only when he found himself in the command seat of the Fury, activating the launch commands did the full weight of what had just happened and what he had just done hit him. The canister had released something that infected Ka, and Derren, rather than act like the Captain he was supposed to be and help Ka, had ran. He hadn’t even thought of going back for him, he hadn’t thought at all. He had been too wracked in shock and fear. His shoulders slumped and his face dropped into his hands as he started sobbing uncontrollably.

By the time he stopped crying, Derren realised that he had put the ship into hyper-light upon take off and was now too far away to do anything. That wasn’t entirely true. He could easily drop the ship into normal space, turn around and head back to the derelict but the truth was he scared. Not just scared, lost completely in the absolute unyielding grip of blind terror. So, Derren did not turn back, he maintained his course and ran. He could still hear Ka’s blood curdling shriek.

 

This story is and extract from my current work in progress and also,  my entry to Chuck Wendig’s latest Flash Fiction, Short Story Challenge. Details of which you can find here

Hope that you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading,

Tim

 

An extract of a story I’m currently working on.

I’ve been working on this story for a while. This is an extract of the first draft. I just thought I’d give you a preview as I haven’t posted anything for a long while. Also, I’m testing something in WordPress for for work, so you have to put up with it for now. I’ll post the finished thing soon, enjoy!…

The soldier cracked a can of beer from the plastic ring that held the six-pack together. He offered it to the other soldier who was sat a few feet away. His companion didn’t reach for the can, he just eyed up the soldier suspiciously. “C’mon, have a beer with me” pleaded the soldier, shaking the beer in the air “It’s not armed or anything. The only weapon round here is that one.” He pointed to where the gun lay in the road between them. A thin film of dust had gathered over its carbon-resin casing, turning it from jet black to a brownish-grey colour. On its side a circular green light throbbed intermittently, indicating that its ammo charge was low but not depleted. The second soldier didn’t move or say anything. He just carried on glaring at the soldier offering him a drink. The first soldier shrugged, placed the can on the floor and opened one for him-self. “Fine” he said. “Have it your way. I’m just gonna leave it here on the floor and drink one myself. If you want it, you can have it. If not, that’s your call.” He took another can from the ring, cracked it open and took long pull from it. As he did so, he looked at his counterpart examining carefully. It’s funny he mused. If it wasn’t for the fact that their armours had different insignias on them, you would swear that they were on the same side. However that wasn’t the case. In reality they were technically the worst of enemies, members of opposite armies that, it seemed, had been fighting a turf war for this planet, a war that had been so bloody, so fierce and raged for so long that they were now the last two soldiers left from either side. “My side won you know.” His enemy croaked in a low, cracked voice that sounded dry with thirst. “Come again?” The soldier replied in surprise with an incredulous tone. Was this guy nuts? How could he think that there had been any winners in this farce of a war? Everyone, well nearly everyone, who had fought was dead. Now they were stranded, forgotten about by their superiors on their respective home worlds who had washed their hands of the whole sorry affair. “Well, technically we won. Until you put a plasma bolt through his head, there had only been you, me and Riley left. Two against one so, ya know, technically we won.” The other soldiers face remained deadly serious as he spoke. “By the way, my name’s Thompson. What’s yours?” The soldier felt a big grin slide across his face and then before he could help himself, he let out a loud, long burst of laughter. His whole body was shaking and his eyes were watering by the time he was able to compose himself. “Are you kidding me? Seriously?” It was all he could do not to burst out laughing again. “Buddy, I don’t think anyone can claim to be a winner in this mess. My names Ward if you must know, Sargeant. You want of these beers now?” Thompson nodded and took one of the cans Ward was now shaking at him. He opened it and took a long, slow drink. His eyes were shut tight as he savoured the slightly warm yet still refreshing beer. He kept swallowing until the can was empty then let out a long satisfied sigh. “You might wanna slow down there, buddy. This shit will go straight to your head.” Said Ward laughing “plus, we’ve only got four of these bad boys left. Best we try and make ’em last.” Ward was no longer laughing by the time he finished. Neither was Thompson. They both knew that once the beer was gone, their was nothing else between them. Nothing but that gun with it’s pulsing green light, telling them it was low on ammo. The two soldiers sat there in silence, staring at the gun for what seemed like an eternity. Ward knew that light meant there was probably only a couple of shots left in it, three at the most. Not that it mattered. Once one of them had it, they’d only need the one. With that on his mind, Ward started to find the silence unbearable. He took another can and rolled it to where Thompson sat, his eyes fixed on the gun. Surprisingly it was Thompson who broke the silence. “Do you think they know what happened here?” He muttered, his gaze slowly moving to Ward “You think they even remember that we’re out here?” Ward didn’t need to ask who Thompson was talking about. He had been wondering the same thing. Before the last battle, the scuttle butt around Ward’s camp had been that there hadn’t been any contact with their home world in years and that it had been pretty much the same on Thompson’s side. At least he thought that was right. In truth, the battle had gone on for so long and been so fierce that Ward was having a bit of trouble remembering anything before it. In fact, his memories of the actual battle had been pretty damn fuzzy. He figured it must have been the beer clouding his mind. It had been a long time since he’d had any alcohol and it had started to make his head spin whilst he was still on the first can. Ward turned to look down the road he and Thompson were sitting by. In a vast expanse of golden desert, the road was invasive strip of primitive concrete. If he shut his eyes, Ward could imagine the race that once called this world home, speeding along it in one of those four wheeled steel contraptions that he had seen thousands of wrecks of in the ruins of city he had patrolled. Now, there was nothing but desolation. As far as Ward could see all round him was the scattered debris of both his and Thompson’s armies. Smoking wrecks of fighter craft mingled with the bodies of fallen comrades creating an atmosphere that to Ward was somewhere between a bonfire and a meat strewn barbeque. And amongst it all, in between he and Thompson lay the gun. The green ammo light on it’s side pulsing to let them there was only a few shots left. A cracking noise from over his shoulder broke Ward from his reverie. He flicked his head round to see Thompson tossing the ring pull from another can of beer. The one Ward had passed him only a moment ago lay empty and crushed next to Thompson’s feet.
“Thirsty, huh?”
Thompson didn’t reply, just chugged the beer down, wiped his mouth on his sleeve, crushed the can and tossed it into the middle of the road. His actions were almost mechanical.
Ward stared in disbelief. He’d never seen anyone drink like that, or maybe he had, he couldnt remember.
He jumped forward as Thompson reached for another can, snatching back protectively.
Thompson sat back, raising his palms in a gesture of peace, an easy smile on his face.
“Relax, Ward. I was getting one for you. No need to get jumpy.”
Ward knew Thompson was right. Out here there was just them and some beers but still Ward felt uneasy. He knew there was something not quite right. He just couldnt place hus finger on it. Maybe it was the gun, sitting there between them, its green light pulsing to tell them that there were only a few shots left.

The Shooter Says Goodbye To His Love.

This is my entry to Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction, Short Story Challenge. Details of which you can find here

The challenge was to come up with a 1000 word story based on a choice from a selection of sentences he posted on his blog. The sentence I chose is the one I have used for the title of this story. Enjoy!

The Shooter Says Goodbye To His Love.

Smoke, perfume, sweat, the faint burning that comes with laser fire. These scents, toxic in my nose, mixed with what my other senses were trying to take in; flashes of green and red laser fire preventing my eyes from adjusting to the dark, the metallic taste on the tip of my tongue as I breathed in smoke tightened my chest, a sensory assault that made my head swim.

I shook my head and squinted down the barrel of the gun, down at her as she sat, back against the wall in the dark corner she thought would make for better cover than it had. She was shaking and breathing heavily. I couldn’t tell if it was from the exertion of battle or just from good, old-fashioned fear.

“I warned you,” I sneered at her “I told you not to go up against me, that I couldn’t be beaten. But you had to try didn’t you? You had to be cocky about it, didn’t you?”

She looked up at me through the damp hair, plastered to her forehead and laughed.

“I’m cocky you say? Really? You’re the one stood over me gloating when you should just be taking the kill shot? I don’t think you appreciate your own arrogance.”

She was still laughing as she replied. I felt anger boiling up from somewhere deep inside of me as she did. I hate being laughed at and she knew it. I also knew that I should just take the bloody shot and get this over with. I had her cornered; it would be an easy win.

But she was right. I was too damn arrogant for my own good. Hell, I was stood there, pointing the gun right in her face, in a prime position to finish this whole thing. Instead, I was trying to think of something witty and clever to say. I wanted to leave her with something memorable as I took her out. I wanted to draw this out, savour the moment, make this victory last. Maybe then it wouldn’t be such a shallow one.

It hit me all of a sudden, the perfect thing to say. But before I could make a sound there was a racket behind me, a door burst open and there was one of her squad. He stood there for a moment, looking as surprised as we were, caught in our little stand-off he had just stumbled in on. Then his face changed as the penny dropped. I knew what was about to happen and before he could level his weapon, I spun on my heel, dropping to one knee and firing rapidly. All my shots hit him in the chest and he fell back through the door in a blaze of laser fire.

I stayed in that position for a few moments, as if I thought that he was going to come back. My breathing was shallow and quick. I stayed that way for a moment longer, waiting for the adrenalin to stop pumping. Once I had composed myself, I turned my attention back to her.

She was still laughing. Either that or she had started laughing again.

“What are you laughing at now?” I snapped at her. She couldn’t answer me as she was now laughing so hard she couldn’t even look at me.

Damn, she’s pretty when she laughs, I thought. God knows where that thought came from. This was neither the time nor the place, also, right now, she was the enemy. But it was true. She is pretty when she laughs and I loved her, STILL love her, actually. She also had a way of getting right under my skin.

“Alright, enough of this bullshit,” I declared, hoping that I sounded tough, in command. I didn’t. I sounded weak and pathetic. Maybe it was down to exhaustion from the battle. Maybe it was because of her. “This ends now. You’re right, I am arrogant but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re stuck in that corner, with one shot left and I’m stood here with this gun pointed right at your head. This ends now. There’s no way you can win. Goodbye, my love” And with that I placed my finger on the trigger.

This just made her laugh even harder. So hard that she dropped her own gun and put her head in her hands, her whole body shaking with the convulsions of laughter. The sound rang off the walls. Then I heard her say something through the giggles and guffaws. She repeated it a couple of times. I knelt towards her to try and make out what she was saying. Then I heard it. “Check your ammo.”

“What?” I asked, making sure I had heard her properly.

Suddenly she stopped laughing and looked up at me with dark, sharp eyes that were deadly serious.

“I said ‘check your ammo’, dumbass.”

I looked down to my gun. The ammunition meter was flashing a red light at me. I felt my stomach turn. Zero, it said, charge weapon.

I looked back at her, my stomach doing yet another flip. How could I have been so stupid? I had been so intent on making a point with that idiot who burst in on us that I had gone and used up all my remaining shots.

She now had her gun pointed at me. “So, Mr ‘You Can’t Beat Me’ it would seem that I have one shot left but you have none. Oh well.”

It was her turn to sneer, and sneer she did. She dropped her gun an inch and pulled the trigger. The laser bolt hit me. I fell back, too shocked to do anything else.

“H-how could you?” I stuttered as she stood over me, sneer turning to a wide grin. “I-I’d won that’s not fair.”

“Oh, Sweetie,” she replied. “Life’s not fair, and neither is Laser Tag.”

She held out a hand to me and grinned. “Now, let’s go home. It’s your turn to make dinner.”

The Morningstar Plays The Devastation Suite in D Minor.

As I may have mentioned already, I’ve been sorting through some old files and have dug out some of my old short stories. This is another of those stories, one of my earliest. Looking back, it’s a bit on the pretentious side but overall I’m pretty happy with it. If nothing else, it is a bit of a curio, good for seeing how much my writing has changed. It also has a slightly biblical theme but I think that was to do with the theme of the competition it was entered into (I think it may have won but can’t be sure as it was a very long time ago). Anyway, take a look, enjoy and let me know what you think of it.

From the highest window of the highest tower, he looked down on his kingdom. He truly was the master of all he surveyed, and he hated it.
He hated all of those who roamed its streets, the lost souls, and the damned. All of them seeking redemption and finding only punishment torture and eternal agony, an agony that came from his hand, and he hated it.
How had it come to this? How had he, who had sat for so long at the feet of the one, come to this? He knew the answer, he knew who to blame and he hated himself for it. Before the fall, he had been in a position of exultation, a guiding light for those who lost their way, the voice of the one that had sang higher than all others.
Now what was he? He also knew the answer to this. He was now filth, filth to lead the filth. The one to whom all those without hope turned. When their last chance was up, he was who they came to, crying out for forgiveness and absolution and all he could give them was the cruellest of fates, he gave them more pain than they had ever experienced. When they had finished with their pitiful lives and they hoped that they would find peace in the next life, all they found was him, waiting, looking down on them from the highest window of the highest tower. His shallow stare from empty eyes, setting fire to their very souls, and he hated them for it.
Now, though, it would all be different. Now they would truly know the true meaning of the end, now they would learn the true meaning of his name and everything he wanted from before the fall would be his, the power, the glory: everything.
He picked up the plain, ivory, violin and stepped through his window and out onto the balcony. Almost immediately they all looked up to him, their silent mouths making shapes of pleading in vain. He closed his eyes and slowly pulled the bow across the strings. They made a very low mournful sound. In the streets below they still looked up but now they wept, some tears of joy and some tears of despair. He started playing faster, the pitch becoming higher; an urgent, panicked tune flowed out from the balcony.

Below, they clapped their hands to their ears; the once silent mouths now screaming out a million decibels of fear. Their cries started shaking the ground beneath their feet. As they fell to their knees, dying a second death, the buildings fell around them until only the highest tower remained, yet he did not stop playing.
In the world above, people stopped in their tracks listening to the terrible yet beautiful sound that emitted from beneath their feet. Soon they too were screaming, soon they clapped their hands to their ears, only when they fell to their knees they would only die a single death, and when their buildings fell around them he still did not stop playing. Not until he heard the voice.
He had not heard the voice in so very long. He had forgotten how majestic, how kind, how commanding, how cruel it was.
“Stop please stop” The voice said gently yet in a thunderous tone “You must, this time we will all fall. YOU MUST STOP!”
He did not stop, he merely opened his eyes and saw darkness and heard silence, and that is all there ever was.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed it. Most likely not the best thing ever written but hopefully not the worst either. Like I said above, let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading

Special Delivery: Another Short Story from Ages Ago.

So I mentioned yesterday about the short stories I had dug out from a competition I had participated in a few years ago. Yesterday was one based on a suggested title, today’s one had to feature three suggested objects: a snowflake, a digital camera and an envelope. It’s since become part of a bigger story which I may or may not post here someday. Anyway, this is what I came up with:

Special Delivery

He just sat there; eyes closed, embracing the darkness and the silence. He slowly opened his eyes and checked his watch, two thirty am, and still nothing. His joints were aching and his back had stiffened up hours ago. The file of papers on his lap felt like a dead weight, his legs going numb underneath. He sighed, rotated his neck to try and loosen up, looked back down at the file and opened it up.

He had taken the photo three days previously. She was beautiful, a petite redhead with curves in all the right places. She had the kind of smile that instantly made you feel good, the genuine kind that comes from somewhere deep inside. A genuine smile that showed that here was somebody who really cared.

“What could’ve she have ever done to deserve this” He asked himself out loud. “What on earth, could a woman like that ever do to deserve someone like me, coming into her life?” 

He sighed again and picked up the digital camera from the passenger seat. The light from the LCD was harsh and intrusive in the dark cabin of his old car; it took a moment for his eyes to adjust. He scrolled through the other photo’s he had taken of her. He was intoxicated by her. The way she walked, the way she sat, even the way that she searched the corner of her lip for stray crumbs with the tip of her tongue when she ate a sandwich. He cursed out loud and threw the camera back on the seat.
Why him? Why this way? Sure he had done this kind of job, thousands of times to thousands of different people, but it was different this time. The rest of them, they had deserved it. They were the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth. Junkies, gangbangers or pimps, people nobody would miss.

This was different though. She wasn’t any of those things. She was just a nurse. She was in the business of helping people, not hurting them. But she had made one little mistake and now it was going to cost her everything.

Then there was the message. His employer was insistent that the first thing he did, when he met her, was give her that message. It was a really nasty one too. One that would make sure she knew why he was there and who had sent him. It wasn’t necessary, it was just there to hurt and it was going to hurt a lot. He was going to do it though. He had to; it was just too much money to pass up, wasn’t it? At that moment he was shook from his reverie by the sound of an approaching car. It was her. It was time.

As she got out of her car, he reached into the glove box and took out the package containing the message. He also took the revolver that was lying underneath it. He got out of the car and hurried across the street, reaching her just as she unlocked the door. He tapped her on the shoulder and said her name out loud for the first time.

“Alison” The word sounded cold and strange on his lips, it seemed to him like she turned round in slow motion. She looked up at him with a vague look of recognition in her eyes.
“This is for you” he said coldly and handed her the package.
Her hands shook as she took it from him. She already knows what it is he thought to himself and he had to stifle his heavy breath from becoming a gasp.

She opened the end of the package and shook the contents out into her other hand. As the small snowflake decoration fell into her palm she let out a gasp of her own, but it was a gasp of terror, not anticipation.
She slowly moved her head up to look at him again, as her eyes met his all she could see were his cold empty pupils staring back. And that’s when she started screaming.

There you go. As ever, let me know what you think through the usual channels. Thanks for reading.

Til next time…

A quick bit of (old) silliness. The Very Fussy Cannibal.

I’ve been going through some old pen drives and have found a couple of short stories that I wrote a few years ago. They are both from a competition on a forum that I used to frequent. The rules were simple, you were given three items or a title and a  you had to come up with a story to fit. Anyway this first of these stories I found is below. The title for the round of the contest this came from was The Very Fussy Cannibal. This is what I came up with:

“Please sweetie just eat a little bit?”
“Nuh huh, I don’t like it!”
“How do you know you don’t like it until you try it?”
This kind of coaxing had been going on for over an hour and Max was coming to the end of his tether. Katie’s mom was due home from a fortnight business trip in an hour. Max wanted her dinner finished and the precocious ten year old in bed before Emily got back, so he could spend a little ‘quality’ time with her, before he went on his business trip.
“I don’t even know what it is” whined Katie
“It’s just roast beef, you’ve had it before” Max’s patience was wearing thin.
“Well it doesn’t look like roast beef”
“It’s just a different recipe Hun, it’s, Mexican style” Max grinned, but Katie still didn’t look convinced.
“Well why didn’t Rosa cook it?” Rosa had been the family’s house maid until a few days ago. When Katie asked where she had gone, her dad had just mumbled something about a last minute holiday. Katie wasn’t happy about it at all, as Rosa had been like a second mother to her. A fact that Max hated.
“Look I told you” Max replied, trying his best not to shout “Rosa’s gone and she ain’t coming bac-” Shit he’d said too much. He hoped that Katie hadn’t caught what he said but he knew she had. She was what her teachers called “a gifted child”, which Max took to mean “too smart for her own good”. He looked down at the expression of horror on her face.
“YOU FIRED ROSA!” she yelled.
“No sweetie I didn’t, well not exactly” he garbled out.
“Not exactly? Then what did you do?” As she spat out that last question she looked down at the roast beef, because that was where Max was no looking with a pale, guilt ridden look on his face.
It hit her all at once, Rosa’s sudden disappearance, the strange looking beef that Max told her was a Mexican recipe; wasn’t Rosa from somewhere like that? She felt sick to her stomach as her eyes rose to meet his.
“Daddy” she muttered very nervously and very slowly “d-did you,” She couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth “k-k-kill Rosa and then COOK her?” She couldn’t hide the horror in her voice anymore.
Damn thought Max I always knew she was too smart for her own good.
“No baby of course not why would you think that?” As he went towards Katie, she started squirming back in her chair. “GET AWAY FROM ME!!!” She yelled moving further back, the chair started rocking backwards as well. All of a sudden the legs slipped from underneath the chair on the smooth hardwood floor. The chair slammed to the ground, smacking Katie’s head against it, she screamed and went silent. A dark crimson pool slowly emanated from the back of her skull.
“Oh Fuck!” Was all Max could manage to say, before he could react any further he heard the front door open and close, then footsteps moving up the corridor. “Hello,” Called out Emily “Anyone home?”
Max’s head appeared from around the kitchen door. “Hey Sugar, me and Katie are just finishing up in here and then I’ll put her to bed. Why don’t you go upstairs, take a shower and get into bed yourself? I’ll bring you something to eat”
“Oh that sounds good, I’m exhausted”.

Emily took a long shower and climbed into bed with her favourite book. She read until she was almost asleep. At that point Max came in with a full tray for her. “Here you go a tasty chicken sandwich” 

“Hey what took you Mister?” Emily asked hungrily as she took the sandwich from the tray and tore a huge bite from it.
“Oh you know how Katie can be when she’s over tired, it took a while to get her to go to sleep” Explained Max, relieved that Emily had no idea what had transgressed in the kitchen.
“Umm” Mumbled Emily through her first mouthful of sandwich. “Are you sure this is chicken?”
“Of course baby” Max replied “It’s just a new recipe”.

So there you go, just a silly, little something. Hope you liked it. Let me know what think in the comments below or via Facebook or Twitter.

 

Til next time…