Category Archives: fiction

13 Week Streak: 02

[500 Words]Thain in Vain teamed up with Drafty Devil to bring us the 13-Week Streak flash fiction challenge. Here’s the next challenge:

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Timelines are just what you’d think they are: Destinies realized when our path diverges. The illusion of that choice has confounded philosophers through the centuries. How can I choose one path over another? What happens to the timeline in the discarded choice? Timelines collapse when I take the right fork over the left. There are those that believe that the unchosen path continues in an alternate universe. But, if these choices are realized in alternate versions of ourselves and timelines, then is choice even relevant? Still, some believe that destiny is self-correcting. If I choose left over right, and right was my destined fork, will fate conspire to bring me back to the right path?

It would be easy to make a decision if there were a map that indicated all the important decisions to be made in life. But even if there were such a map, would this decision even be on it? I think that in the grand scheme of destiny that this decision is inconsequential. Perhaps it is but whimsy of a fickle deity in an uncaring universe. After all, if this forked path is unimportant enough to be marked on a map, what value does it truly have on my reality?

But what is destiny? Is it the culmination of endless minor decisions? A lifetime of unmarked and unimportant forked paths is no life that I care to live. What would that mean to my life thus far? But then again, what about the multitudinal universe? What of all those unrealized decisions littered along the path I’ve trodden? If each path has been conquered, then all decisions are worthless.

Maybe I was a hero along a different forked path. But, if that’s true, then so should the opposite be true: I could’ve been a villain. But how do these unrealized realities affect this reality? If I could break through from one reality to another, what would I learn about myself? Would these new versions of myself even be me?

It’s easy to say that I’d still be me in the scope of a short path. Here, an hour from camp can only have a finite number of divergent paths. I think that those iterations of myself are me. But what about a forked path two hours ago? Two weeks ago? The exponential diversification of reality can’t be properly understood by a mere mortal. Would something I did a lifetime ago result in a different person?

“This is not one of those times,” an exasperated voice intones. I turn to see my companions waiting patiently for my decision.

I see her face beaming and shyly peeking over the wickered basket clutched to her breast. A basket patiently awaiting the fruits of our journey. Waiting for my decision. For her, I make these decisions without regret.

“I think the orchard is this way,” I declare with false confidence. We follow the right path, but a part of me begs to question what reality lurks down the unchosen path.


13 Week Streak: 01

[500 Words]Thain in Vain teamed up with Drafty Devil to bring us the 13-Week Streak flash fiction challenge. Here’s the first challenge:

* * *

“I feel like we’re not supposed to be doing this.”

Matt turned to Victoria with a mischievous grin. “We aren’t!”

“Aren’t?” Victoria inquired.

“Doing this,” Matt declared.

Victoria forced a smile. Her eyes darted to the proximity indicator. Matt and Eric “borrowed” the shuttle from Steven’s father’s yard. Steven called it a yard, but the six low-orbit shuttles that constituted “the fleet” were ramshackle at best. More patchwork than shuttle, and no one would miss this one. It would be sold for scrap after the long weekend. Eric was a wizard with all things transport, so the three youths fixed up the shuttle for their weekend getaway.

Matt took her silent musings for acceptance. “Besides,” he continued, “the ‘Captain’ thinks we’re still in dock around Europa.”

The proximity warning bellowed it presence into the tiny cockpit. The comms burst into life with Eric’s excited voice. “We’ve got a whale!”

Matt smiled, leaned over the control panel, and entered a sequence. The gray featureless walls quickly subsumed to transparent. Victoria looked over her shoulder and met Charlotte’s eyes. She snuggled closer to Steven, her eyes wide in anticipation. Eric and Stephanie’s chattering from the rear compartment droned on over the comms. The ‘captain’ sat dark and impotent, light reflecting off its smooth surface.

Victoria gripped the armrests of the navigation chair. They were less than an hour into their adventure and they were about to see their first whale. The weeks of planning for a trip that would last only a few hours had finally reached fruition.

“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Matt whispered next to her. “Too close!” His face paled as energy discharge danced along the hull.

“Protect the ‘captain’,” Steven’s excited voice sounded out over the comms.

Matt’s fingers danced over the beveled glass. Victoria felt the acceleration as he rotated their shuttle so that the pod, dubbed “the captain,” was rotated away from the breach.

“We’ve got another one!”

Eric’s voice was no longer lilted with excitement. Now it was a resigned dread.

The hues of blues and purples crackled at Victoria’s feet. When the whale burst from the portal, the leading edge materialized and sheered the captain from its moorings.

The quick trip to watch celestial phenomenon was looking more like a death sentence. Alarms and warnings shrieked and flashed with intensity that the situation required.

“We’re caught in their wake!”

Victoria thought that Eric’s voice was starting to grate on her nerves.

The shuttle tumbled end over end and as they cleared Jupiter’s atmosphere, Europa came into view. Jupiter, then Europa. It repeated again and again.

“Boaty McBoatface.” A new voice intoned over the comms. “Do you require assistance?”

Victoria slammed her hand on the panel in front of her. “Yes! We’ve lost our drive pod!”

“Understood, Boaty McBoatface.” The panels in the cockpit turned blue as their rescuer took control of their shuttle. Bursts of compressed gas righted their spin and they prepared for the trip back to Europa to face the consequences of their soirée.


Scandalous Contradiction

This is a continuation of Permanence, but if you missed it, you can still read this. Both parts are still not an official part of Days Until Home. But, and you have to imagine me leaning in close and whispering conspiratorially, there could be an announcement this summer about that… Anyway, these 1,487 words are from the following prompts: Terrible Minds, Inspiration Monday, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2, #3WW, & #SoCS.

* * *

Adelaide was eager to disembark the Juniper Jumper. Even with no advance notice, information brokers found their way into tickets for the short hop from Earth to Luna Station. Some were able to purchase their passage on the atmospheric jumper by purchasing their tickets on the exchange. Those that were tardy ended up paying a premium on the secondary market. At least one information broker stood with her equipment at the boarding gate and simply offered each patron before they boarded triple and quadruple the going rate for tickets. To the young couple who intended to vacation on Luna, a delay of only twelve hours was worth is for the exorbitant profit they would make reselling. Even after paying the taxes on their windfall, they still would have enough to upgrade their accommodations and tuck a little away for the next tax season. She wondered how many ticket holders were re-accommodated to later flights. Adelaide frowned at the euphemism often employed by the corporations. It was an offense to language that they would hide their true actions behind innocent words like that. The flagrant disregard for, and the lengths to which they go to violate an individual’s rights was almost an anticlimax when she saw it in person.

Adelaide did her best to keep out of the digital eye of the brokers. Paparazzi, she remembered the archaic term for the ambush journalists. They were like bitches in heat, their tongues wagging and doing everything to catch her eye. They knew that with Adelaide and Erika traveling together, something was going on. Even a year after their return to Earth and six months after the Kerwood Nine stood trial for the destruction of the mining ship they were still newsworthy. Those that cared about such things knew that there were at lease two other Kerwood survivors living on Luna Station, plus both Jeremy and Old Vicky found their way on board regularly.

Erika complained constantly about the intrusion into their privacy. Adelaide shrugged and shared a knowing and sympathetic smile with the flight crew. At least they kept themselves professional, she thought. The same couldn’t be said for the information brokers.

Adelaide’s years of spacefaring allowed her to know the exact moment that they switched from the fractional gravity aboard the Juniper Jumper to the full-G of Luna Station. Most people knew that something was up when their stomachs lurched from aft to “down” as the jumper aligned itself with the station’s rotation.

As an engineer, Adelaide appreciated the complex mechanism that allowed the station to rotate around the space elevator that tethered the monstrosity of steel and Lexan to Luna. Adelaide would never admit it to anyone, but she felt the pull of Luna. It was as if she was coming home after a particularly long contract.

Adelaide saw one of the flight crew poke her head into the first class cabin and lock gazes with her. Her reaction was slight, and the crewmember nodded and retreated to the cockpit.

“Hey,” Erika pouted when Adelaide grabbed her by the elbow and moved down the narrow aisle.

“We don’t have time for a show,” Adelaide hissed to her companion.
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Moonrise CH58 – CoNcLuSiOn

[4000 words]Andy sat behind the wheel in the van going deaf and crazy at the awful sound of silence in his earpiece. His friends were an unknown inside the looming tower, Schrodinger proud at them being both dead and alive at the same time. His uselessness after the breach was crushing, his hands itched for him to do something, help somehow. But like he’d told them, they were on their own. Globe controlled his tower manually locking him out permanently.

Andy climbed out slamming the door behind him. He paced outside the van matching the worried glances the onlookers were giving. News crews like hungry hyenas probed at the constraints raised by the police while Nightprowlers filled the plaza ready to plow inside Globe tower with its spinning red “G” mounted on the roof. Andy abandoned the van surrounded by orange cones and started toward the tower.

wHAt are YOU DOIng?

“What does it look like? I’m going to…help. Somehow.” Andy bit himself for answering the voice.

As he was looking at the skyscraper he thought he saw it split apart and implode, collapsing like a giant on top of the world it threw a shadow across. Then the image was gone, a delusion born and dead in the same instant.

yOU saW THAT, RIGHt?

“Saw what? What are you talking about? I’m just going crazy, that’s all.”

tHAT TOWEr is GOING to COME CRUSHING DOwn LIKE A WEDDING cake. jOAQUIN AND aNNE AND ALL THE REST are goiNG tO DIE.

“How do you know that?” Andy lowered his voice weary of eavesdroppers.

tRUST ME, i’Ve SEEN IT.

“So how do I stop it from toppling down? How do I get them out of there on time?”

yOu cAn’T sTop the COLLAPSE…BuT tHerE mIGHt be A WAY to SaVE thEM.

“Like what, teleport up there and warn them?”

Andy found the phantom face reflecting in the window of a parked red sedane. White, hollow eyes stared right back at him.

“Are you me from the future or something?”

nOT EXACTLY. bUT i CAN GET INSIDE That Tower withOUT Getting CAUGHT AND KILLED. iF YOU ALLOW ME, i CAN WARN THEM. BuT i GotTa FLY SOLO. AnD i cAN’t unTILL yoU SAY YES.

“Say yes? I’m not holding you prisoner, I don’t even know what or who you are.”

Andy grimaced at the silence the phantom gave to his question. Despite his reservations he licked his lips in dry curiosity.
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Moonrise CH57 – Promises

[3073 words]Globe sat back in his chair, legs propped on the edge of his desk. His tongue licked the bitter taste of the cigar he’d lit victoriously, celebrating quietly in his solitude, undisturbed and unafraid. He took a long drag, enough to cloud his mind, making him all giddy. Through heavy-lidded eyes he watched the struggle of his enemies on the screens, the failure and death on every floor. They would never get to him. The tower climb was their doom.

He’d wanted them all in one place with the delusion they could win and he had them. It made this revenge all the more rewarding.

His eyes flicked over the first screen. Joaquin’s friends on the ground floor were struggling against Duke, his strongman and although Kid Vision had wasted Tarantula’s baby spider and although Quake was doing an impressive job rising shields against the powerful bashes they weren’t going to last long. Nightwave’s shadows were already transparent, his reach short. Quake’s boulders were smaller and smaller, nothing against Duke’s strength. Globe could already see them wasted, their abilities spent while Duke had juice for yet another and another and another round. It was his peculiarity, this unwavering stamina. On the outside world the Nightprowers were preparing to step in. Globe wondered how the self-proclaimed heroes in their current conditions would do against an army wielding stun rifles. Poorly, he guessed. He would have them strapped to gurneys soon enough if they didn’t suicide themselves in their weak attempts to win time.

The second screen however was a disappointing one. The pang of anger stirred Globe out of his chair a desire to hurl something building within him. He tried to look away but Silas’s prostrate body lying in the growing pool of his own blood was burned into his eyes. Anne had somehow mustered enough skill and trickery to murder Silas executing her revenge for Justin. Globe swallowed a bitter spit of tobacco at that unexpected turn of events. He had counted on Silas, needed him to remove Anne. She was wandering many floors below barefoot in her tattered dress showing off her long bruised legs.

He wanted to go down himself and put a bullet in her head, make sure she didn’t come back to life. But he had a better idea.

“Remember how we asked whether Aunty Anne liked kitties? It turns out she doesn’t, princess.”

Globe turned at the pitter-patter of tiny feet dressed in glittering leather shoes. Bree’s face was sullen, Mister Puss tightly clutched in her hands.

“We’ll have to have a talk with Anne, won’t we now? Make sure she’s punished.” He reached out for Bree but she moved away, steps retreating.

“You are a liar. You hurt Aunty Anne.”

Globe chuckled. A distraught looking Bree watched him under tear riddled eyes. On second glance that wasn’t distraught. Those weren’t tears but a glint, the one preceding the empty stare, eyes devoid of all color, the one that frightened him.

“Bree, honey what’s going on? Why are you upset at me? Is it because it’s early and you’re not in bed?”

“You hurt her. Mr. Puss didn’t like that one bit, no he didn’t.”
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Moonrise CH56 – Awake

[3296 words]Betty ventured out of the small elevator into a different world—the underground laboratory lair of the main villain. This facility was a glimpse into high-end technology, symmetrically arranged under the ventilated, cool air. Computer screens displayed running programs, complicated calculations and diagrams. In the middle of the room, two glass containers stood from floor to ceiling, and thick cables connected them to the main computer. Apparently, the screens were monitoring these tankers.

Betty stared in disbelief. A light-blue substance that looked like water circulated inside the tanks, but it was too viscous to be water. Within that liquid floated the bodies of two people Betty didn’t recognize, but her gut told her one was Kristof.

Their mouths held an oxygen apparatus that allowed them to breathe, and their faces were composed in a deep, unconscious slumber. The strange apparatus hooked to their chests pumped fluid in and out through transparent tubes sealed into the glass. What disturbed her most were their frail bodies. She could see their ribcages through their pale skin. Their fingernails were elongated, their hair thin and long. Whether they were Supers or defects, they didn’t deserve this.

Betty shivered, thinking about all the lost supers, people who had come here, hoping to be treated, fearing for their lives. Had they also been imprisoned in a glass tank? Or had they just been stripped of their power and left for dead?

“Guys, you have to see this,” she whispered, but only Andy’s voice came back in response.

“Are you in the lab? Did you make it? I lost contact with Team Joaquin, and Massey and Anne aren’t answering either. I’m freaking out here!

“Relax, Andy. I’m sure they’re fine. Hold on, someone’s coming.”

Betty ducked behind the console just in time. Two men in white lab coats and gas masks emerged from the far end of the basement, pushing carts loaded with cuvettes filled with a blue substance. Betty crouched down and watched. They drove the carts to a ramp that ended at a bolted door. This must be the extra outside exit Anne had mentioned.

When the lab assistants left, Betty crept toward the containers, looking for a way to disconnect them that wouldn’t require shooting at the console board or the containers themselves. She discovered the console’s keyboard was no use. It required a fingerprint scan.

“I wish you could see all this Andy. I can’t make sense of it.”

“Talk me through it.”

“The data written on the monitor shows a 99.9% chance of success in the “Generation 0” experiment. It says Stage 1 is complete. The uh test subjects administered with a “Genome Push” are a hundred, Jesus…they have a varying percentage of survival ranging from 0.2% to 99.9%! There are these calculations predicting—I think if I’m reading it right—a total of thirty test subjects to survive the first test, fifteen the second, and only seven the third, comprising Stage 1. Those numbers are addressed as “Batch 1.0”. What does that mean?”

Betty pulled back from the monitor.

“It means we were too late to stop the first stage of the experiment. Globe succeeded, at least in some way.”
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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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