Tag Archives: terribleminds

Moonrise CH41 – To Forbidden Passengers

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[1150 words | Prompts: TerribleMinds, #3WW, Sunday Scribblings 2, The Writing Reader]

Joaquin jumped down from his pallet spy tower. He rubbed his knuckles against his eyes and willed the bleeding white stars away, an after effect from the super power he’d witnessed in secret. With the world now returned to its colors, objects took healthier shapes, outlines and details became solid, Joaquin found his way back to the red door with crimson light seeping into the night. He rapped the signal against the decaying dented surface. Rust flaked off of it where his fist landed urgently.

After a palm-sweating moment a man’s face appeared through the opening of the door swung ajar. His face was pinched, and his eyes narrowed. Joaquin made sure he was first to speak spitting his thoughts out fast.

“Do you have room for one more bruh?”

The man in the door chewed on his bottom lip sizing up Joaquin. He saw crusted blood over Joaquin’s brow, torn clothes and bullet holes without matching wounds. Joaquin was a circus attraction, a sight to behold, but a deep plea in his eyes still watery from the impossibly fast transition from light to no light spoke a powerful enough tale to the man guarding the door. He stepped aside and let Joaquin enter.

Joaquin felt the man grab him above the elbow and lead him through the pitch black. It was like walking blindfolded and no matter how much he blinked Joaquin couldn’t detect any shapes. He followed the directions blindly, allowing the man to steer him by the elbow. A lit barrel emerged instantly from nothingness. Glowing embers faded as they launched on fragrant wisps of smoke. The scene reminded Joaquin of some space sci-fi movie. That’s how he felt too, stepping into seemingly thin air approaching a circle of light supported by nothing, surrounded by nothing. It just floated there ominously. But he heard – proof of a solid plane under his feet and of reality. There were people and sounds that they made that were too audible for his ears. Did the oppressing darkness heighten other senses? Joaquin would never know.

The people in a circle around the barrel emerged from nothingness; they were all quiet waiting for Joaquin to enter the halo of light and reveal his face. A woman in her mid-thirties stood up first from her red plastic chair. “We won’t turn you back now that you’re here but-” she paused and met each of her companions’ eyes, “how did you find this place?”

Joaquin took in the sight of them. They appeared to be ordinary people. Even his former guard was behind him toying with the keys on his belt. It was such a common thing to do. The one playing with his keys was the short one; the tall man had his hands in his pockets but his eyes were dark and sharp like the knife tattooed on his left cheek. The woman had the look of a kindly kindergarten teacher as she nervously pushed her glasses back up her nose. A pimply teenager somewhat younger than Joaquin kicked his backpack further under the red plastic chair and stared at Joaquin with wide eyes.

Completely ignoring the woman’s question, Joaquin’s laugh echoed off the tall roof of the warehouse. “You guys have powers!”

The quartet looked at each other.

“Are you fuckin’ retarded esé? Isn’t that why you’re here?” The tall man with the knife tattoo chuckled rubbing the back of his head.
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Moonrise CH40 – All Flags Fall

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[1234 words – prompts: Inspiration Monday, Terribleminds, #3WW, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2]

Betty left the dimly lit corridor and went back through the bland looking door leading to Andy’s secret hospital room. The nurse busied herself with his painkillers and soaked bandages, replacing them with clean ones. He was half drifting to sleep; half-awake asking questions about the fire, about someone named Anne, about Joaquin, but mostly about himself. All questions Betty couldn’t answer. She was given scarce information in the heat of the moment, rushed to the hospital in the dead of night to keep new secrets away from people who desperately wanted to know them. But she was given enough to know something was amiss with the Jensen case, with Major Globe. Massey’s warning had been brief and hurried – she couldn’t trust anyone right now. The world was turning upside down, friends became foes and vice versa.

Betty shivered in her thin jacket; the weight of her service weapon pulled her down. She looked to Andy near motionless in his drug-induced haze. He’d got hurt on account of supers but he was still eager to help. Was it some shared insanity driving everyone to do crazy shit and risk their lives? Or was it a duty of care that they couldn’t turn away from? Did they just crave adrenalin?

“You know it’s funny how the world suddenly depends on a street thug, a sociopathic woman, a crazy old detective and a small time hacker,” Andy croaked from his bed. Betty sat on the edge of his bed. “You’d think that among all these people with powers there would be someone, anyone who would, I don’t know, put a cape on and fight crime and corruption. You know, the cliché. Instead, people are proving that prick right.” He tried to look at her but Betty knew his mind was muddied, thoughts ricocheting madly, pain and helplessness and adrenaline jolting his mind awake when it should be asleep, resting. Andy was committed to his emotion exchange, so she listened.

“Once you let fear in it’s pretty much over. I mean I’ve seen the bad and the ugly on the supers side and I’ve seen them on this side, our side. Am I making sense? The pills are kicking in mighty fast. Officer, can you imagine genocide based on something unsubstantial? So many lies were told but people buy them. It’s so easy once you let fear in. These days I guess it’s only common. But we’ll get an uprising. Do you think we’ll pull it off? Save the city? The world?”

Andy’s voice was hoarse now fading away as he was lulled to an unconscious sleep by the morphine that the nurse was injecting. But he did make sense. He summarized the ludicrousness of the situation. A situation that Betty now invested in the outcome.

She rested her hand on his bare arm. “I don’t know buddy. I guess we’re about to find out.” Right now she could believe just about anything.

Without a uniform she felt like a person overstepping the law wielding guns in desolate hospital wings, protecting people she barely knew prophesizing about a world ending and caped crusaders. True, she had her badge uncomfortably biting into her leg inside her pocket, but she was still incognito. So when her personal cell vibrated on the small table in Andy’s room, Betty jumped nearly pointing her gun at it. She mustered all the control she had to pick it up and leave the room to the sleeping and the injured.

“Felix, what do you want? Do you know what time it is?”

“Massey just got arrested! I’m at the station filling out a shit ton of paperwork and that agent what’s his name-”
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Moonrise CH38 – Noise Mirage

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[1040 words, prompts: Inspiration Monday, Terribleminds, Sunday Scribblings2, #SoCs, #3WW]

Massey descended the steps of the hospital building and dialed Anne’s burner. The call went straight to voicemail. This was nothing unusual. After all, Anne had to tread carefully with Major Globe.

Massey sighed and started to record his message. “Anne, I’m going to Harlow Island. I think our mutual friend might have gone there. I’ll explain when…” The ratcheted slide of a pistol was audible enough to make Massey pause.

He heard falling footsteps, heavy boots on cement. The static of a police radio overrode the white noise that was his city trying to slumber. The noise was a mirage replacing common sense. Their flashlights awoke the night, basking it in a cruel bluish light. It was a light that blinded him for a moment, and then he blinked, bringing the beams back into focus. Black, glinting riot visors glared at him. Their eyes were hidden to prevent him from gauging their resolve. Black rifles aimed at him, ensuring no confusion at who they were after.

One of them spoke his voice muffled by the mask. “Detective Frank Massey of the Seattle Police Department! You are under arrest for harboring a dangerous super, withholding and interfering with private information belonging to The Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Massey dropped the phone and smashed it with his boot before kneeling on the ground with his hands behind his head. He doubted his efforts to conceal his secret communication would survive even the most cursory inspections. He hoped that Anne had the sense to dispose of her own burner.

* * *

At the entrance to the hospital, Silas pulled Anne back. “Wait. And… Watch,” he told her. A scandalous wink betrayed his lust for showmanship.

He leaned against a wooden telephone pole. His eyes narrowed at the scene unfolding a few yards away. Time began to bend when he clicked his fingers, but it didn’t stop completely. It slowed down, so all surrounding movement was a prolonged explosion of colors and distorted sounds. People’s voices still carried in the space between, ricocheting and overlapping. The cacophony was beautiful as it was horrifying.

Silas took Anne by the hand through the cluster of sight and sound and led her up the steps. She caught sight of her friend as he left the hospital. His footsteps fell lazily, the look on his face content. Anne understood what Silas had wanted to show her. The hidden observers were quiet as shadows of ten men fell upon Massey. The time bubble caused the images to jump like snapshots from an instant camera coated with a filter of high contrast and exposure. People moved like ghosts, but they were so very much real only Anne couldn’t reach out and touch, nor warn. She watched a progression of heavily armed men glitch through Silas’s volatile world of living mannequins. One black-clad image left behind a trail of slowly fading copies. At the final stage of action the ghosts coalesced into a solid image.

She sighed, her throat parched. She thirsted for action but was forced to play her role. Silas’ display was unexpected and inconvenient though perhaps she should have considered it was happening since Globe had been so furious on the phone. He couldn’t blame himself for neglecting obvious clues. It annoyed him to be foolish. So he took it out on Massey and put him in the spotlight of a political and federal scandal. Discredit was a tool to divert focus from more than just a rebellious detective and his motley crew of misfits and fringers. No, Anne thought, misinformation was weaponized long before today.
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Moonrise CH37 – Puppet Army

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[1195 words – Prompts: Terribleminds, Inspiration Monday, Sunday Photo Fiction, Sunday Scribblings 2, The Writing Reader]

Joaquin’s eyes scanned the street. He knew if Globe’s men found him, it would be his end. The way that Anne and Frank talked about the man, he was a genocidal maniac. A well-connected genocidal maniac. The FBI was in Globe’s pocket. They were his puppet army. The local police wouldn’t trust a young black man with a rap sheet as impressive as his. His only ally, Detective Frank Massey, seemed to only trust him with unimportant tasks. He only clutched the package to his chest because everything turned to shit today. Even if he were to get the proof to someone outside of Globe’s influence, he doubted that they would listen to him.

His enemies were everywhere. It was a hopeless situation. But, he reminded himself, Andy’s good people. Betty’s eyes softened when she looked at him. She didn’t see a thug; a carjacker; a purse-snatcher. She seemed to see beyond his past. She saw the same future that Peter saw. Joaquin sighed, remembering the firefight at the cabin in the Canadian wilderness. He cursed himself for running away from the team of mercenaries took down Peter and Kristof. He flinched as the crack of a handgun echoed in his memory.

Globe’s men took Peter alive. Anne told them as much. Frank and Andy worked to expose Globe for the villain that he was. Joaquin could only hope that everything would turn out the way Frank and Anne planned. But still, he would never forget her cackle and the blood smeared across her face as Anne murdered the Seventh Street Kings. He wondered if she was any better than Globe.

Joaquin took a deep breath and stepped off the curb. He would see his task completed. He had hope that some higher power would set things right. Joaquin allowed a smarmy grin. And if that power decided not to, well then, Joaquin would do his damnedest to do it instead. He squared his shoulders and walked confidently onto the seedy Seattle street. He had hope in the face of hopelessness. He had righteousness in the face of wickedness. He had to stop Globe at any cost.

He wondered if that was enough to make him a hero.

* * *

“It was somewhere near Whidbey Island, but I don’t know where. I don’t know if Joaquin even went there. Shit, detective… it was my idea. After we had found out Miles Jensen might be innocent, I suggested to Joaquin that we go and search for more proof. I told him it would be best we don’t call you right away.”

Massey pulled the blinds aside and squinted to see the traffic. He searched for black dots with flashing blue and red lights, but there were none. The bad guys would arrive incognito. Sighing, he pulled away from the window and sat on the chair beside Andy’s bed. “It’s alright Andy. You couldn’t have known things would go sideways so quickly.”

Andy nodded his good eye filling with tears. “Detective, are you sure this Anne can be trusted? I know what you said about the plan and all, but…” He blinked his eye several times to clear the moisture.
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Moonrise CH14 – Crime Scene Investigations

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[1035 words – Inspiration Monday | #3WW | Sunday Scribblings2 | Terribleminds]

Detective Frank Massey reckoned this was his slowest walk toward a crime scene. He dabbed his forehead from the icky sweat building on his skin. The last of the ambulances were just rolling away down the street. Massey respectfully waited until their sirens died away within the traffic. He sighed he steeled himself to what was to come. Up front, cameras flashed as the crime scene investigators took photos of the site of the massacre. Massey refused to call it the Madison Park Massacre, but he had no doubt that that title would live in infamy until some other scandal rallied the attention of the sheeple. Flashes of light from the screaming bunch of reporters coalesced with the CSI ones making Massey walk through a white-lighted field of blindness.

Things had happened fast: the massacre, the news spreading, and the closing of the crime scene. Massey felt as if he was arriving at something done and over. Massey had baggage and a few nasty ones under his belt, but this tipped the lavish carriage into the ditch. Just minutes after Major Globe’s concerned and heartfelt speech, this had happened. It proved his point, he thought, and Massey wondered whether the major himself hadn’t set it up. But his optimistic soul refused to believe that there could be someone so cruel. He silenced the nagging voice in the back of him mind that laughed at his naiveté.

Patrol officers struggled to keep the crowd further away, but they were in no viewing distance to the playground, so Massey was thankful for that. He hated being shown Facebook posts and Twitter messages with photos from the scene, and he had developed real hatred toward people who tagged themselves not present at the scene. It was all fake condolences and pretend concern these days and Massey couldn’t help but think that that simulation of care was the leading epidemic of modern society. Perhaps that they couldn’t let a crisis go by without making a statement, or without being a part of it. Tragedy was the new mortal gods. Posting how sorry they were didn’t help anyone; it only made them feel better about themselves.

Maybe the years on the force had turned him into a cynic. He shook his head; maybe he was just old fashioned and didn’t understand what a comment section on a social media platform could do for the dead. It only served to turn them into virtual ghosts. No doubt, tomorrow these children would be the poster faces for Jacob Globe’s mayoral campaign. If that had truly been Globe’s idea, to begin with, Massey couldn’t wait to prop a gun to his forehead and watch him being cuffed.

Returning to the present, Massey took a steady breath of the humid air to calm jitters he thought he vanquished years prior and rushed the rest of the distance. Nearing the murder floor he noted that the area was a few degrees lower, casting a chill upon him that prickled his skin. Massey bit his lower lip. The report he glanced at did confirm that Miles Jensen possessed the ability to temper with ice, but the ground surrounding the epicenter of the event didn’t feel just cold… It gave him the notion of something still, stopped, paused. Massey knelt for a closer inspection. There were no blood stains, not a drop anywhere. Usually, when there were this many casualties, the scene was painted with the blood of the victims. The scene he encountered was pristine, and he doubted they’d find DNA evidence different than the victims. There were no peculiar smells either, just the faint scent of fading feminine perfumes. The crime scene guys always debated when and what an olfactory sampling of the air yielded. Not at this crime scene. Massey traced a latex-gloved hand on the ground. There was noticeable discoloration on the entire playground, an almost bluish imprint where the bodies had been. He brushed his finger against it and lifted light-blue residue. He stood up and asked the CSI team whether they had taken samples of it. He wanted to know as soon as possible what it was.
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THEY FIGHT CRIME!

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I decided to give Mental State a break this week. Instead, I jumped into Chuck Wendig’s THEY FIGHT CRIME! prompt with both feet. There wasn’t a way to link directly to the output of the Movie Idea Generator, so I screen cap’d it, and for those of you reading in the text-only thing that wordpress does, my “Movie Idea” is “He’s a sharp-shooting war veteran who don’t take no shit from nobody. She’s a fast-talking museum curator haunted by the brutal murder of her family. Together, they fight crime!” You all know that I like to buck the status quo and interpret prompts however I like, so I wrote the aftermath of them fighting that crime that they fight. These 1700 words also have prompts from Three Word Wednesday, Inspiration Monday, Sunday Scribblings 2 and The Writing Reader.

* * *

Kimberly’s head popped out over a partition. She saw Caroline in Tupper’s arms, starting to move. Caroline’s eyes fluttered open, and immediately she winced in pain. Kimberly walked cautiously over, her eyes darting from one FBI agent to the next.

“Did you do this?” Tupper demanded of Kimberly. He scowled when he felt Caroline sag.

Kimberly rolled her eyes. “You must know how much I cherish activating an alarm system.”

Caroline’s shoulders lazily lifted, and sagged, followed by a wince. Her good hand came around to cup her injured wrist. “We needed a distraction…” she started, before her remaining words were swallowed by the cacophony of alarms that still blared.

The sound of an ambulance siren was barely able to penetrate the din. “Can’t you do something about this neural thunder?” Tupper shouted, waving his free hand toward the ceiling.

“Please, Kimberly,” Caroline babbled.

“Of course,” Kimberly shrieked, throwing her hands in the air. “Turn on the alarms, turn off the alarms.” She still muttered when she disappeared around a corner.

Moments later, the group emitted a collective sigh of relief as the gallery fell silent.

Caroline’s eyes focused on the floor, and Tupper looked over his shoulder to see Agent Braxton had pulled “Lady by the Window” away from the wall and rummaged behind it.

“Found it,” Braxton declared as he lifted up a plastic baggie with an SD card inside. He beamed like a toddler who had just pooped in the potty.

“You’d better not give Hicks a deal,” Tupper complained, but couldn’t help but match Braxton’s grin.

“Deal?” Braxton scoffed, as he stepped toward Tupper and Caroline. “Why would I offer that damned piece of…” Braxton’s voice trailed off as he realized the gallery was teeming with agents. His eyes returned to Tupper. “No deal,” he said emphatically. When his eyes met Caroline’s, he tensed. “Collins…” his mouth formed several words, but they were all apparitions. After a few moments of severe jaw wrangling, Braxton knelt beside Caroline and thrust out his hand.
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The Rocks Above

Brass Automaton cover - version4

I wasn’t kidding – my comment on part XII has been set up, but only in such a way if Paul runs with it. I reviewed the previous twelve parts, and I noticed that some of them are written in the present tense, and some are in the past tense. We’ll need to figure that out during the rewrite. I incorporated prompts from #WOW555, Inspiration Monday, #3WW & although I didn’t use one of SM Cadman’s prompts, I was inspired by the photo she used in her prompt post. I also turned yesterday’s prompt from The Writing Reader. Finally, I used Dustin Miller’s line from Chuck Wendig’s title challenge. Here’s chapter thirteen of Brass Automaton at 1050 words:

* * *

“I cannot…”

The guard rushed to the barred wall, and examined the scene within.

“Please…”

Ceridwen writhed on the dusty floor, her hands clawing at her throat. Her gasps for breath and help were not lost on the guard, but he had been warned that the old crone was not to be trifled with.

“Help…”

Her bulging eyes, and lips of blue convinced the guard that she was not faking her injury. He withdrew a brass key, and placed it slowly into the receptacle. When the door was opened, Ceridwen gasped her last, and lie still at his feet. He withdrew his cutlass, and prodded her limp form. When he received no reaction, he lifted her frail body gently with his arms and supported her head with his shoulder.

Her woozy eyes opened slowly, and she spoke. “Save me,” she coughed.

The guard’s eyes widened with the realization that when the crone spoke, her lips made no movement. He laid her on the bed, and his fingers probed her withered jaw. His fingertips found purchase, but his eyes couldn’t reconcile the difference his fingers felt.

“Magick…” he whispered, and took a step back, thoughtless to the potential danger.

He watched her chest rise and fall in ragged breaths. He only considered his actions for a moment, before procuring a talisman hidden in the folds of his tunic. He held it aloft, and passed the chained crystal over the sleeping Ceridwen. The magick aura waned as the crystal showed the guard her true form.
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17 – Muffled Silence

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Chuck has us using a title from the prompt last week. I chose Mozette’s title for this iteration of Victorious Maiden. I’ve collaborated with her in the past, and you should check out her site. Here are a 1000 words:

* * *

Jahan saw the glint off of a spying glass. The armored figure atop an armored steed was instantly recognizable, even without his flag-bearer.

“Wait here,” she spoke to the young boy, and her rabble of boys flopped to the ground, several of them pushing each other for the best view. Jahan heard the whispers from the boys… they were all afraid of the Marquis of Dawn.

Jahan raised her arm in greeting, and called to her brother. “Greetings, Ejaz, Marquis of the Denizens of Dawn.”

Ejaz dismounted, and returned the greeting. “You as well, Jahan.” He smiled and continued. “Leader of what? The downtrodden? A gang of miscreants and deserters?”

Jahan frowned, and advanced on her brother. He had removed his helm, and rested it against the hilt of his sword. When Jahan was within reach, she lashed out and struck Ejaz with her balled fist. Ejaz staggered back and dropped his helm. “What’re you doing, Jahan?” he hissed.

Jahan grinned widely, and perceptually looked over her shoulder. Ejaz nodded and looked over her to the rabble that leaned forward to see the confrontation play out. “You may tell Councilman Fahd; I have found my own army.”

Ejaz blinked twice, and regarded the boys watching from a respectable distance. “These…” he began, but Jahan inturupted.

“You and Fahd are not as discreet as you might think.”

Ejaz stepped back, and nearly tripped over his helm. A cheer erupted over Jahan’s shoulder.

“Jahan…” Ejaz hissed.

Jahan turned her back to her brother, and marched back to her “army.”

“Jahan!” he called out.

She turned and with another wicked smile, quipped, “You may join me, Ejaz. I still need a second-in-command.”

Jahan left Ejaz, mouth agape, and returned to the boisterous cheers of her crew. They moved as an amateur force, many taunting, and making obscene gestures at the Marquis of Dawn. Ejaz watched in muffled silence as Jahan and her crew marched toward the Dawn River.
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War of the Worlds: Retaliation Excerpt

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Chucks’s prompt this week is a perfect excuse to tease you with more from War of the Worlds: Retaliation. I’m a little heavy at 1500 words:

“Finally, we’re prepared for you.” A grin slowly formed on Admiral Beatty’s face. He leaned back in his chair, staring at the large ebb screen in King Edward VII’s battle management center, heart pumping quicker as the four hundred sixty dots representing the Martian fleet closed with the ASEF ships. This would not be like slaughter of his gunboat fleet in the Sudan. This time, they’d fight the bloody squids on equal footing.

Fight and win. Beatty closed his eyes. The faces of the young lads from his gunboats floated through his mind. A slight shudder went through him as he recalled the heat of the explosions, the screams of the wounded, the sight of men vaporized.

A lump formed in Beatty’s throat. I’ll make them pay. I swear it to all of you.

“They’re splitting up.” Captain Gibbons pointed at the screen. “Looks as though they’re sending most of their bigger ships to hit our flanks.”

Beatty nodded, watching large groups of dots break off and make for different parts of the ASEF fleet.

“Leftenant Porter,” he said to the combat coordination officer. “Have US Task Force Forty-Four and the German Eighth Fleet reinforce our left flank. he British Third Fleet and French Sixth Fleet will reinforce the right flank. US Task Force Thirty-Four, the Brazilian First Fleet and the Norwegian Third Flotilla will reinforce our rear.”

“Aye, sir.” Porter repeated the order to the appropriate fleet commanders.

“Also,” Beatty held up a finger, “move up the Canadian Second Flotilla, the Spanish First Fleet, and the Italian Second Fleet to protect the transports and support ships.”

“Aye, sir.” Porter relayed that order as well.

Anticipation grew within Beatty. He yearned to give the order to fire. He looked around the BMC, thought of the thousands of human ships at his command, all built from the technology the Martian invaders left behind when they died.

Technology about to be turned against you monsters. Oh, the delicious irony. Perhaps he’d pen a poem about it one day.

“Lower projection screens. I want complete three hundred sixty degree coverage of the battle area.”

“Aye, sir,” replied Porter. “Lowering projection screens.”
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The Brass Automaton

Brass Automaton cover - version1

Heh. Chuck is doing another X meets Y pop culture challenge. I got Snow White meets The Terminator. I also worked in a little something for #WOW555. Here’s 1085 words:

* * *

“Sire, may I see it?”

“The automaton?” The king sighs. “You’ve seen it before, Jarvis.”

“Yes Mi’Lord, I ask only to allow a young artisan to sketch it. We may learn to augment the infirm.”

The king rises from his desk, turning his attention to Jarvis. “Do you think that wise?”

“Mi’Lord, she destroyed the automaton.”

“Where is Snow?”

“Mi’Lady is supervising construction of an orphanage in the northern reach of the kingdom.”

“She is not to know about it. Ensure your artisan knows the penalty for defying me.”

Jarvis nods first to the king, and then to a royal guard. The guard opens one of the ornate doors, and a young woman enters. The trio walk to a stone wall off of the the throne room. The king withdraws an apple made of solid gold and places it in an ornamental set of scales on a pedestal prominently displayed against the wall. Its purpose is to be a symbol of the king’s fairness when resolving conflicts among his people.

The artisan’s eyes grow as the apple weighted one side and as the tray sank, an audible click echoed off the tall ceiling. A section of wall slides aside, brass wheels squeaking as they reveal earthen steps leading down into the mountain the castle was built from.

After Jarvis and the artisan disappear down the steps, the king removes the apple, and watches as the wall restore itself. He returns to his desk, and removes a fragment of glass from a hidden drawer. He holds the broken glass fragment up, staring at his reflection, the edges rough as if it had been smashed from a larger piece.

“Magic mirror in my hand…”

The fragment’s reflection begins to cloud, and a blurry face materializes. “Master?” it responds.

“Let me know when Snow returns to the castle.”

“It is done.”

“Show me the automaton’s chamber.”

The face fades and the king’s reflection morphs into a view of an earthen chamber. The chamber is blocked from view by the artisan’s pale features. Her lips move, but no sound comes from the glass fragment. The king leans the fragment against a leather-bound book and his eyes repeatedly dart to it as he tries to complete paperwork.
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