Category Archives: fiction

Moonrise CH55 – Hold Still

[2283 words]12 floors below…

Joaquin carried out the unfinished motion his body had started dragging him two steps into an empty space where a second ago Anne had stood. He looked around confused.

“Did what I think just happen?” Kid asked, waving his hands up and down in the air testing to see if they were in slow-mo.

“That Silas guy, that was his thing, manipulating time. Dos mio…” Nightwave ran his fingers across his chest.

“He took Anne! Sonofabitch!” Joaquin swore kicking a trash bin to spill its contents. He could hear footsteps outside; see black clothed shadows move around. “We got Prowlers outside. Shit, how did this happen, yo? We was so close!”

“Apparently we weren’t. We fell right into the trap.” Quake shook his head in disbelief.

“Andy, can you hear me? Andy?” Joaquin touched his ear not finding the alien host previously safely tucked there. “He took our earpieces out.”

“Holy crap!” Kid exclaimed. Joaquin was about to no shit him when he saw that Kid wasn’t talking about the earpiece. He was looking at the elevator. It was coming down.

“Guys…” Kid called, voice trembling.

Nightwave and Quake saw the point of interest.

“Something’s coming,” Joaquin observed not liking the turn of events, Anne taken away, Betty alone, Massey racing with time. They were too divided.

“It’s more than one thing. It’s a lot more,” Kid blurted.

Through his eyes a hundred tiny objects were moving above their heads spiraling down the insides of the walls. If they listened closely they could hear some metallic clicking becoming louder with the decrease of floors.

The elevator doors opened with a “ding” revealing three figures. A black clothed woman stepped forth first, black nailed hands holding her sleeveless long coat tightly closed. She blew them a kiss before throwing the coat open relishing at the shock Joaquin and his team showed.

Two dozens of small robotic tarantulas with red beady eyes sprinted toward the four, tiny metal claws clinking on the floor, crooked metallic fangs snapping tirelessly at their ankles. Identical metallic creatures spilled down the stairs in a wave, slipping and regaining balance, hoping over one another and back on their sharp legs.

Kid pulled his baseball bat out swinging at the jumping critters, bashing them to spare parts but more kept coming trying to dig their eight claws into his shoe. He somersaulted to a clear spot and kick-flipped the nearest incoming spider, lifting it into the air and battering it. The ones that he broke apart reassembled themselves back up.

“They’re too many!” He screamed while swinging madly.
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Moonrise CH54 – Critical Error

[3196 words]Anne shut the door to the server room behind her. She walked over the cables that snaked across the floor, heading toward the scrawny girl sitting in the chair. She flinched at the sight of cables running in and out of the girl’s skin. This abuse was intolerable. Globe’s grasp over the poor girl was absolute. The silent super couldn’t resist, and she submitted to Globe’s every whim, turning on her own people.

The girl’s voice came from her host in breathy whispers, boosted by the digitalized sound system. Her on-screen avatar’s lips moved in sync with the words.

Anne froze.

“I know he thinks I should die. I heard. When he thinks I sleep, I listen. Don’t…shut… Me…down.”

Anne looked up at the central monitor and saw the super in her natural world. A glitch ran across his worried 3D face.

“Why do you think he wants you dead?” Anne demanded. “It wouldn’t benefit him.”

“He…talked the night before. I am to be…sacrificed. For…You.”

Anne’s lips turned to thin red lines, and her brows furrowed at the hacker girl’s cryptic words. She sighed deeply. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I can’t let you live, as much as I hate going along with Globe’s decisions. I can’t let him exploit you.”

“I won’t…tell,” Sindi pleaded.

Anne grabbed the thick black cable hooked to the side of Sindi’s head and pulled hard, popping it out of the hole, canceling the connection to the girl’s brain. She gathered the cables constricting Sindi’s body and yanked them free too. The central computer system crashed, going to a blue screen, and lines of binary code raced madly across the sister screens. Could those be Sindi’s last words?

Sindi sat limp in her chair. Anne was done here. She slipped from the dimly lit room, wincing at the stink of burnt cables, and stepped into the white corridor.

Quake’s first shock wave hit the building. Even though the building was reinforced against earthquakes, she felt the tremors through the soles of her feet. She jumped into the elevator and pressed the button for the foyer. From her red purse she pulled out the earpiece and placed it in her ear.

“The hacker is down. Coming your way. How is Team Joaquin doing?”

“Quake is doing his thing to scare the crowd off,” Massey explained.

“While I’m in the elevator, perfect,” she joked as the doors closed. “Andy?” she asked, waiting for the reply.

“Team Andy, it’s only fair. It’s getting empty outside, people are heading to safety, but there’s serious Prowler movement.”

“Alright, keep me posted.”

Anne stepped into the lobby cautiously, pulling her red revolver from the concealed holster under her dress. The mosaic floor in whites and greys, spelling a capital elegant “G,” glittered with broken glass from the expensive chandelier that had crashed during the quake. Some amount of evacuation had taken place; there were no civilians here, no receptionist or security personnel. The entry floor was eerily quiet.
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Moonrise CH53 – Undiscovered Perfection

[2970 words]When Joaquin’s eyes unglued from the half-assed sleep he had, awkward dreams dissolving into smoke as he awoke, he found Andy staring down at him. He groaned, unready for the two of them to go mano-a-mano about the night of the fire.

“Shit man, why are you up so early?” Joaquin mumbled sleep slurred, looking at Andy’s watch, the glowing digits showing 7 AM.

“I can’t really sleep when I’m nervous or excited.”

Joaquin propped himself up on his elbow, hand massaging his stiff neck. The bar was slowly coming to life, gentle stirs in the far end, dark silhouettes gliding soundlessly between hushed words. He ran a hand over his short-cropped hair.

“Listen man, I know you’s mad at me for leaving you and runnin’ off but-”

“I’m not mad at you, Joaquin. You did what you had to and besides if you’d stayed you would have been caught and paraded before Globe. Your friends would’ve never come this far, probably wouldn’t have stayed alive for long either. This here would have never existed. I’m envious of you. You got to be what I’ve always dreamed of. A hero. You did well.”

Joaquin was speechless. “Am I Hero Number One now on that list of yours?”

Andy gave a cheeky smirk remembering the little tease they’d shared when they first met. “You are. Top of my list. C’mon get your ass in gear.”

Joaquin found the old detective sitting at the bar chatting with Dante. By the dark circles under his eyes he could tell Massey hadn’t slept. The nervousness and sleep deprivation had spread over to Quake, Nightwave and Kid, faces sullen on the nearby sofa. Only Betty shared the glimmer of excitement Joaquin and Andy had.

“Did you get your police buddies to join in on the fun?” Andy asked.

“Felix, er Officer Wallas will be waiting with some of the guys. He vouches for them. I think nearly gave him a heart attack when I called. Probably owe him two dates and a dinner by now.”

Joaquin noted she was in better shape today, some or other prospect of fulfillment and closure clearing her mind off inner demons.

“Let’s go kill Globe,” Joaquin said rising them up to their feet.

* * *

In the early morning the air was thin, a breathtaking chill filtering through their nostrils bringing in the dust scented rain vapors. The imprint of the tremulous weather muddied and clouded over the city stretched above their heads, a 360 giving them the sense of scale between their hunched figures throwing morning o’clock shadows against grey buildings, drying off their facades and the ominous tower across the city. Its windows absorbed the weak sunrays bursting through the grey dome to make them appear as if they were just catching fire, waiting for the wind to blow and carry it to consume all.

“What a day to die,” Quake cast his eyes up to the gloom.
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Moonrise CH52 – Death at Breakfast

[3100 words]Massey turned to Anne sensing she was about to start this whole thing and there was no stopping it back. “I have to get Denisha out of there. I’m not risking her life.”

Joaquin watched the exchange between Anne and Massey, saw pity in her eyes, a base emotion she never offered to anyone.

“She’ll be there, she’s always there by his side day and night.” Anne bit on the last part frowning at the suggestion it made. Massey was tight lipped. “You’ll call her tomorrow and tell her to leave before we engage.”

“Wait…tomorrow?” Quake looked over to Joaquin then back to Anne.

“Yes. Is it inconvenient for you Mr. Quake? Since we’re talking now, all eager to sink our teeth into the problem I figured we use the closest opportunity. Forgive us for talking this over before we came. Frank, Andy and I came up with a little plan.”

“Tomorrow there will be a conference right in front of Globe’s doorstep. He’s fond of those. There will be a lot of people, supporters and haters in equal dosage, but a big crowd nonetheless. If you do your thing and stir things up, Anne can secure a way in,” Massey explained.

Anne picked the back pocket of her jeans and fished out a piece of paper. On it she had drawn a close representation of the tower and its levels. “Forgive the crude drawing I did it in the car on the way here. Much easier with makeup. Anyways, Globe sits at the top, that’s where his control room is, where he sleeps, eats and shits. He’s protected there, secure. We’ll need to dismantle him step by step to get there. The tricky part is there’s a detection system mounted on the front door of the building, no unregistered super goes in or out without that thing alerting the FBI and therefore the Nightprowlers. The entire tower goes into lockdown within 60 seconds. However, I’m authorized to switch that alarm off. If Quake can create a 30 second distraction and Nightwave another 30 seconds of blackout, I’ll be able to turn it off and pretend it’s misbehaving on account of your peculiar abilities. Globe will be able to restart it manually from his control room but once you’re inside it won’t matter. The building will go into lockdown after another 15 seconds.”

“Won’t that draw too much attention? A supers attack at a rally?”

Anne smiled at Betty. “The people in the crowd will be fine and they will get to go home with some fright in their system and a story to tell. Besides we’re aiming for the cameras.”

“Why?”

“Massey did say you were born to be a cop, Officer Patterson. Always with the questions. It’s because they need to capture the moment when Globe is exposed as a fraud.”

“But won’t he be dead?” Kid joined in.
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Moonrise CH51 – Children of the Moon

[3370 words]Renewed vigor carried Joaquin through the littered streets, his body swaying with the rhythm of exhaustion mixed with unsatisfied fury. He mine swept across a rough patch of land, being watched by more eyes than he would have wanted. Betty, Nightwave, Quake, Kid, and Miles followed close.

“Trouble ahead,” Nightwave announced, pointing across the street at a convenience store’s parking lot.

A handful of smashed hoods in their twenty’s jumped a police patrol. They were chanting rhymes, rocking the car, kicking dents in its doors with their pristine white sneakers. Classic scene, Joaquin thought, adding it to the fourth position on his shit list, right after breaking and entering. In an unsuccessful attempt to drive off, the patrol car’s tires spun.

Quake sent a minor tremor their way, shaking the ground under the car with enough intensity to throw off half the hoodlums and get the others running like mad, shouting obscenities from afar. Half the block caught on the quake, car alarms lighting up the length of the street with alternating red blinking lights.

Joaquin turned away from the main street, taking a shortcut, his group still close behind. They arrived in front of a black back door, indicating no welcome or entry. Massey, Anne, and Andy were already there, trying to look less out of place than standing in some alley in the middle of the night.

“J, you never mentioned your guardian was such a good looking man,” Quake whispered into Joaquin’s ear.

“He’s on the straight and narrow fool. And he’s a cop.”

Quake pouted. “Shame. Double shame.”

Seeing them all surprised Joaquin. He reacquainted himself with their faces; long lost friends he thought he wouldn’t see again, wouldn’t need to see again. Massey’s five o’clock shadow had grown into a neatly trimmed beard riddled with greys and whites, changing his expression. His eyes were still warm and kind as they studied Joaquin. His slight grin subsided when Andy came into view. As always, Andy’s hair was messy, but his posture wasn’t that of the geeky fast-talker obsessing over supers in that dingy apartment anymore.

“You lot look like shit. Were you mauled by bears on the way here?” Anne didn’t leave a time slot for his reply. “Alright, let’s talk, or do you want to keep silently staring at each other?”

Joaquin snapped out of it, blinking the momentary relapse in memory.

“We talk inside,” he cocked his head toward the black door.

“Inside where?” Massey asked.

“A safe place,” Betty reassured. Joaquin noticed how she chose not to look Massey in the eye, like he’d know that she went berserk on a Prowler earlier.

Joaquin thundered his fist against the steel door.
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Moonrise CH50 – Gut Punched

[2930 words]The chimney missed them by bits with the larger portion of its body crashing into no mans’ land but the top of the thing slammed into the street right beside them catching wires and pulling down poles as it went. It set a cloud of dust and concrete that scattered them. On the opposite side the skeleton of the building was caving into the ground where a large lightning scar separated the street giving the foundations an unstable feeling. Iron rods from the fifth floor came tumbling down giving a ringing sound. One of them went right through a Prowler grounding him permanently where the rest of his squad tried to escape. With dust in his eyes Joaquin was flying blind. He sprinted toward where he thought the van was but it all felt the same, disorientation and darkness doing their job.

“Over here! Joaquin, this way!” Following Kid’s voice Joaquin maneuvered through the settling dust. He could hear the screech the tilting building gave threatening to collapse any second now. He was finally out of the dust cloud when he heard her voice.

“I don’t get what’s so special about you but Globe seems utterly fascinated. Still I don’t think he’ll mind if you are somewhat… damaged.”

Joaquin spun around meeting the butt of a gun to his face. He stumbled backwards.

“When I reached out to Globe and told him who I was and who I worked with he lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Cosma fired the stasis rifle, once, twice, thrice. The rounds caught him square in the chest, not harming but slowing down his reflexes.

“Why didn’t you turn us in sooner?”

She rolled her eyes.

“What makes you think I didn’t?”

Joaquin didn’t know at what value to take her words.

“He’s bullshiting you and you know it. Look what he’s done to people like us!”

Cosma cocked her head. “Saving them? He’s doing just that.”

“He’s hunting us like pray, experimenting on us. C’mon! You spent three months fightin’ against him.”

She just shook her head. “I’ve already been saved, given a purpose beyond this pity little game you called vigilantism. I can be a Goddess. And you can be just some test dummy labeled in a jar. I’m just sad dear old Betty isn’t here to see me wipe that smug look off your face.”

Cosma waved her hand manifesting the vacuum prison. Joaquin wiggled as it started crawling around his body, the cool black substance like jelly putting impossible weight on his limbs. The crushing strength of space encompassed him.

“Step away from him, bitch.”

Joaquin watched a bullet erupt through Cosma’s middle. She stumbled, the vacuum bubble bursting to nothingness. Her fingers clutched at her stomach, blood spilling between her fingers. Some words bubbled on her lips, incomprehensible now. She hit the ground, body curling. Then she lay still. Joaquin’s searching eyes found the shooter and he lighted up when he saw Betty trembling with her gun still raised. She helped him up.

“Looks like you guys have it all under control.” She raised an eyebrow, eyeing the destruction that surrounded them.

“Where the hell were you?”

“To see a man about a horse.”

Joaquin blinked confused.
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Moonrise CH49 – Seismic Evening

[3148 words]Joaquin tucked the semi-automatic in the waistband of his jeans preparing to leave the church. He didn’t need prayers, nor a blessing to see this mission through. His able hands flexed.

“Yo, Joaquin, ain’t we waiting for the cop?” Nightwave joined him in his stride.

“Told you she would be a no-show,” Cosma threw mockingly. “Poor baby is too scared of the Nightprowlers.”

That resulted in a snicker from Quake and an uncomfortable head scratch from Kid. The boy liked Betty and Joaquin thought it might be a little more than just a friendly thing. Joaquin’s eyes turned to slits but he remained silent. His impulsive reaction was to think Betty had ditched them, gone to Massey. The thought that made him bite his lip was that Betty had been caught. She hadn’t picked up the phone when he called, hadn’t done that the second and third time either.

Choosing to ignore the first and pursue the second thought distracted Joaquin from the task at hand. If she was in danger she could use their help but securing Miles Jensen was equally important and they had only one chance at that. Then again the prospect of Betty captured and tortured frustrated him deeply. Joaquin chased those demons away. The dome of the place weighted on him filling him with regrets and doubts. It amounted feelings atop of him, tightening his chest with the responsibility of someone’s life lying in his hands. This church was a quiet torturer itself. Joaquin set his jaw firmly waving a hand, the decision made.

“Naw, we go. We got this.”

They looked suspicious together so they moved separately through the bustling chatter of the city, its wet grimacing face stretched to sharp outlines, skyscrapers lost amidst low rolling clouds, the only things see-through – the tall glimmering lights, promises written in nostalgic neon, pop colors spilling through the old cowboy with the cigarette and down the length of the “ladies” in drag. They rejoined in the dark where there was nothing above a whisper, no color but that diluted grey that reflected their figures in dusty car windows, in pools of rainwater eagerly savored by grey dogs with yellow eyes sniffing their true purpose through their dark clothes.

At the interception location there was a sense of vastness; low buildings, modern shacks drenched in dark, concrete ambitions sprung from the ground soon to house businesses; tall smokeless chimneys loomed in the background close enough to breath in the poisonous smoke they puffed out lazily into the starless sky. Joaquin closed his eyes taking in the ambient atmosphere, the stretching night cool and quiet save for the distant rumble of the departing storm. Postcard scenery, eerie and calm drenched in the dull glow of buzzing lights. The asphalt was slick, the moist in the air still detectable, a refreshing sensation against his skin. He opened his eyes and pointed one long finger north.

“Tha’s where the van would be comin’ from. I want eyes on it before it hits that curve and comes swingin’ our way. Kid, get up on that building see if you got a clear vision.”

As Kid, with his backpack holding a baseball bat in place, began climbing up the front skeleton of an unfinished construction doing fast rounds on the makeshift pull up bars, Joaquin turned to Quake, Nightwave and Cosma.

“As soon as Kid gives the signal I wants you two ready to jump the van once Quake flips it like a pancake.” He received their nod of approval.

“No problem mijo. They’ll feel the night close to their hearts,” Nightwave sniggered.
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