#BlogBattle: Moon

#BlogBattle: Moon

Guys! BlogBattle is back!

And, better yet, it’s back to the classic rules, all except for the fact that, instead of a weekly thing, it’s now monthly. Which should make it much easier to do it every time. 😀

The difference with how I’m participating in it this time, is that all the flash fictions I do are going to be separate—no more continuing stories. I feel like this’ll make it much easier to keep up, because if I want to switch up the genre or something, I can. Also, there won’t be any pressure to continue doing it when I burn out.

The randomly chosen word for August was moon. I started this story more than once, but finally settled on this version.

So. For now, here’s the first story!

Genre: Sci-fi

Word Count: 561



blogbattle--moon



I’ve always been a little insane. So if it weren’t for the fact that my other crewmate, Davids, is also gaping at the girl, I wouldn’t have believed my eyes.

Air. Air is important.

And yet…

She’s just standing there. Without a helmet.

Well, to clarify, she has a helmet, it’s just shoved under her arm instead of on her head.

“Please tell me I’m hallucinating, Davids.” I mutter into my helmet comm.

He looks over at me, wide-eyed. “If y’are, I’m havin’ the same hallucination.”

She’s dressed in one of our suits. An older model, based on air pressure rather than compression suits, but definitely from Earth. Her helmet has a name on it, but I can’t make it out at the awkward angle.

She smiles. It’s not the creepy smile one would expect from a young lady strolling around on a moon without a helmet. It’s more… Awkward. And then she crouches down and starts drawing in the dust.

“Um. Are you getting this on video?” I ask Davids.

“Trying, but somethin’s wrong with it.” He mutters.

Ah, well. If I’m going to get violently murdered by a space banshee, at least it won’t be on video for every embarrassing detail to be analized later.

I give a little shove off the ground, drifting over to her. She flashes me a quick smile before returning to her drawing.

Or, as it turns out, writing.

“Sorry.” It reads, “Suit is dead. Can’t use comms.”

I blink. That’s her first thought? That we’re confused because she’s not talking?

She continues writing. “They left me behind. When I took my helmet off.”

At this angle, I can read the name printed on her helmet. JACKSON, MOON. It sounds familiar, but I can’t place it.

She’s focused on me now, so I slowly mouth my words, hoping she can understand. “How… are you… still… alive?”

Her gaze flicks downward. Her toes scuff the dusty words out. In a few seconds, she’s traced out, “My gift. Alive in void.”

It’s the most illogical thing I’ve ever heard. Even if she could somehow survive in space, there’s no moisture on this moon, much less plant or animal life. She’d have nothing to eat or drink.

“Food?” I mouth, raising my eyebrows at her.

“From… Friends.” She writes out. Was that a wince?

My comms system beeps out every last one of Davids’ words. I turn around, and I’m pretty sure my brain shorts out.

Because behind him, hovering a couple feet off the dusty surface of the moon, is an actual UFO. Round. Flat-ish. Silver. Is that a door opening?

I feel pressure on my arm and turn toward Moon Jackson.

And, yep, she’s got a knife. Very near to… Well, me.

I glance down at the new writing in the moon’s dust.

“Sorry. They want a human, and I’m apparently… not.”

Oh. Wait. Wait just one minute.

I remember where I’d heard the name Moon Jackson before.

It was the kid who’d gone to space back a few decades ago. The one who had a councilor come out later saying she was quite insane.

That she’d gone out there to find the aliens who spoke to her. In her mind.

Man, I always liked that story. Made me think insane people could really get somewhere in life.

Except, well.

Apparently she wasn’t insane.

Bummer.

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Penprints Flash Fiction Dash: Human Error

Penprints Flash Fiction Dash: Human Error

Hey, y’all! Today I’m going to be participating in Rosalie Valentine’s Flash Fiction Dash. The challenge was to write a 1k or less flash fiction from a prompt. We had the option of picking an image prompt or a sentence prompt, but I couldn’t decide which I wanted, so Rosalie gave me both.

I wrote a story with the picture prompt and was quite pleased with it. Wrote it really far in advance, in fact. But it was also half again as long as the limit, and I couldn’t bear to cut out so many words.

And so. In about an hour, edging into the early hours of the morning, I wrote a different story, using the word prompt.

This was the prompt I was given:



faith-song-line-png



And, I must say, this is worlds away from any type of thing I’ve ever written, but… Well, you know. At least it’s within the word limit. Also note: It’s largely unedited, so if you see any typos, or have any critiques, I would greatly appreciate a comment.

title: HUMAN ERROR

word count: 722



“Of course I’m an android.” I say, motors humming ever so slightly as I tilt my head up to look at him.

The Captain looks down at me. His hand is resting on his gun.

“That was a very… human error.”

I resist the urge to shrug, even though these shoulders have the proper mobility. Too human of a gesture.

“Apologies, Captain.” I say. “Perhaps it’s an error of my programming. Should I have myself checked out?”

He waves his hand dismissively as he turns away. “That won’t be neccesary, 115.”

I follow him, looking at the floor and monitering him out of my peripheral vision. He’s less interesting than the floor. Metal. My feet are metal.

Metal on metal.

Clank. Clank. Clank.

I don’t like this body’s hearing. Everthing is amplified.

“—can have your programming examined after the meeting.” The Captain is saying. I focus on his voice. “For now, wait outside the door.”

“Affirmative.” I say, planting my feet.

The door opens and then closes after he’s gone through.

Swish. Clink.

I look down the corridor, my camera’s focus adjusting to the long passageway.

Click-shh. Click-shh.

Footsteps with a limp. Where are they coming from?

I blink back into a neutral focus as he rounds the corner of a branching hall.

Click-shh.

He looks up at me. Smiles. Brushes back his red hair.

I’m glad he was delayed. The few minutes the Captain and I were paused in the hallway, due to my, ah, distraction, could have gotten him caught.

He limps up to me. “Have you got it?”

I rotate open my arm compartment. Cli-cli-click.

“The Captain is suspicious.” I say, as he delicately removes the computer chip from my arm.

He looks up at me. I can hear the chip slide into his pocket. “What did you do?”

I tilt my head up. Lock my gaze on the ceiling. “I made an un-android noise. As an ambassador’s family went past.”

He glances at his watch. Not much time left out here before another official arrives. “Why?”

I picture it. Tiny. White. Big, moist, black eyes. Yap-yap. Yap-yap.

“No reason.” I say, pulling my face into what I hope passes for a smile in this strange form. “But I’ll disconnect before programming is scanned.”

He nods, and I close my eyes, settling into hibernate mode. Motors slow. Senses shut off one at a time. I can’t see where he goes, after all. Just in case.

A ting-ting pulls me out of low-power as the Captain steps out of the door. I check the time. It’s been an hour and a half.

Polite conversation is too human, so I walk beside him to his chambers. He goes in. The door locks.

Shk.

As an android, I can only obey the last order given, which was to get my programming checked, so I walk that way, imputing the order into my mainframe.

The droid in charge of the unit downloads the clip of the Captain’s order and lets me through, light glinting off her plastic-looking exoskeleton. Primitive model.

Six other androids rest in alcoves, screens flickering with their programming beside them.

I sit. Thunk.

Settle my arms into the ports. Chink.

And disconnect.

Maybe it was a human error, but that puppy was adorable. Could I be blamed if I squealed?

I come back to myself. Sounds fade. Sensations rise.

I can feel my hands on my wheelchair armrests.

My lips are chapped.

Can’t lift these arms, though. I’ll have to wait for a real droid to notice. I’m not a puppy; they’re allowed to notice me.

A doctor notices my eyes squinting open. He holds up the bottle of medication.

I imagine it dripping into the cup. Drip. Drip. Drip.

When he puts it in my mouth, I swallow. One of the few movements I have left.

I can feel my heart rate now. It feels like thump thump thump.

“I don’t need medicine.” I say. “I’m an android.”

He smiles at me. It’s a pitying smile. “I believe you, your Highness,” I can imagine him saying, though my hearing is still stored with my current droid.

But he doesn’t believe me. Since most of my systems shut down after the failed editing session, no one does.

After all, I’m not really an android.

I’m just a human error.

#BlogBattle 70 — Derelict

#BlogBattle 70 — Derelict

Derelict.png

Hi, y’all! If you are terribly unobservant, you didn’t notice that I’m doing the #BlogBattle again. But since you aren’t, I won’t mention it (shh).

Maybe it’s getting monotonous seeing battle after battle on here, with no posts in between… I need to find something else to do, as well, but for now, another blogbattle post awaits! This week’s was difficult. In fact, I didn’t even start writing it until Saturday, so it’s probably not very good. HOWEVER. I had to write it, because I made the picture for the post, and I loved it, so I couldn’t let it go to waste. xP

I don’t know if I’ll continue with this story in future weeks, or even if I’ll continue doing it weekly (I didn’t expect to when I started), but I think I’ll try to bring this story to a close if I’m going to abandon it. xP

So, well, here y’go.


 

Derelict

 

An eagle’s wings are his pride. Not only that, they are, generally speaking, the way he can escape from danger.

Derek had learned long ago that this was not true for an eagle in captivity. He could try all he could to escape, but his wings weren’t of much use to him in this state.

The wolf—Netra— was staring at him as if she expected him to fly her out of here, or fight to the death. Apparently she didn’t understand much about the menagerie.

Derek averted his gaze, and Netra grabbed his arm, with an expression that said, “you’re not backing out now.

Oh, the wolfish determination.

Hazel was standing nearby, with a cocked head and a worried expression.

Derek could barely believe that the child had stood up to the Keeper. Especially after what had happened with Arthur.

Shaking his head, Derek pulled away from Netra. “Come on,” he said, “I’ll show you what’s keeping us in.”

He folded his wings back and headed toward the trees.

Unbelievably, his spirits lifted as he walked. Maybe it was the scent of the fresh grass, or the way the trees danced in the slight breeze. He could almost, if he tried, think he was free.

After a few minutes, he realized that Hazel was following them.

He turned back, raising his eyebrows. “What are you doing?”

Hazel flashed her easy smile. “Following you. You’re going to try and get out, aren’t you?”

Derek hesitated. Netra seemed to think so. There were a few others they might meet in the woods who might join, though most of them knew how impossible it was.

He shrugged, gesturing toward Netra wordlessly, and started to turn away.

Hazel shifted into her reptilian form, sitting up with her ears perked. “I’m in.”

Derek froze. “You’re—”

Hazel snorted a puff of smoke. “We can try. Keeper won’t know unless we succeed, right?”

He hadn’t thought of that.

Shaking his head and trying to ignore the wry smile creeping into his expression, he turned and continued. Netra followed along like an obedient dog, but every ounce of her being was focused, in a smooth way. What was she, an aristocratic hunter?

Maybe. Who knew where she came from, since she couldn’t tell him.

Pausing just under the shade of the trees, he glanced back. Well. She could, but not without a bit of effort from him.

Derek shook his head and gestured forward. “There we go.”

Netra moved forward, pushing dark hair out of equally dark eyes, and squinted up at the wall.

Derek knew what she was seeing, even though he didn’t look. It was a tall but broken down wall, sagging as if it had been abandoned.

Derelict. The word entered his mind and immediately made him cringe. It was what the Keeper had called him when they first met. “Aren’t you a little derelict, eagle?”

He shook his head, shaking off the memory, and met Netra’s skeptical gaze. She gestured over his shoulder.

Derek folded his wings closer behind him, taking a deep breath.

Hazel stepped forward, no doubt to explain, but Derek waved her off with one hand. She didn’t look happy, but she obeyed.

A moment passed in silence, and then Derek spread one wing, running his fingers along the feathers at the edge.

“They’re clipped.” He said simply.

Netra’s whole body tensed, as if she was suddenly angry. She met his gaze, eyes burning brighter than Hazel’s fire.

“It’s not permanent.” Derek said. “Only the feathers are cut, not the actual wing, but the Keeper does it regularly. If he only didn’t do it for a few months…” He trailed off, giving her a sad smile. Maybe she saw now that they couldn’t get out.

Spinning on her heel, she marched toward the wall, reaching to climb on the uneven stone.

His breath catching in his throat, he let a moment pass. Maybe…?

Then he grabbed her wrist, pulling her back. “Don’t touch it.” He said softly. “It’ll burn—”

She glared at him.

What? He had just saved her from pain worse than the Keeper’s drain. Why was she mad?

Netra jerked her hand away, growling, and reached for the wall.

Derek’s breath hitched.

An instant before she touched it, there was a spark, and she was thrown backward, crashing against the ground.

She instantly curled into a fetal position.

Hazel reached her before Derek did, grabbing her unburned hand. “Netra!”

Derek crouched beside her. “She’ll be fine,” he murmured, “in a little while.”

Netra found her breath and pulled in a ragged gasp, hugging her hand to her chest.

Derek pushed Hazel’s hand away from Netra. “Leave her alone for a moment.”

After a second, Netra pushed herself up into a sitting position. Black dirt stuck to her clothes.

She looked at him, jaw set and tears gathering in her eyes.

He took a deep breath, standing, and held out a hand to help her to her feet. She hesitated, then took it, tossing her short hair out of her face as she stood.

“I’m sorry.” Derek said. “I tried to warn you.”

She uncurled her fist, examining the burn, then looked up at him, eyes widening.

Derek shrugged a little bit. “I know.”

Hazel swished her tail through the grass. “You know what?”

She shifted to girl form, standing on her tiptoes to peer at the instant scar on Netra’s palm.

Her gaze darted to Derek’s own scar, which curled up his arm quite unlike the flat scar Netra now had, but somehow the same.

They probably thought he had tried to escape through the wall.

“Let’s get back to the menagerie.” Derek said, turning away.

Netra didn’t follow, but instead shifted and crouched, staring intently at the wall.

Derek growled under his breath, feeling more like an animal than ever. “Netra, you’re going to kill yourself if you jump at that. You can’t get through it.”

She glared at him, challenging him. He slowly inched in on her thoughts. “How does he know?” Her thoughts challenged.

Derek glanced at Hazel, who was giving the wall a distrustful, mildly frightened look. Derek did not want her looking at him like that, but Netra needed to know, or she might just try jumping.

“I know.” He said, softly.

She didn’t break gaze.

Derek focused, entering her thoughts again, and projected his own.

“I know,” he thought, “because I built it.”


(As a side note, check out Katie Grace’s blog! She’s doing a giveaway for her blog anniversary!

 

#BlogBattle 69 — “Hazel”

#BlogBattle 69 — “Hazel”

Hazel2.png

Good morning (or whenever), folks! I’m participating in Rachael Richley’s #BlogBattle again, and since I got the idea for another installment of the same fantasy story I did last time, I’ve continued it. You can find the first part by clicking the “#BlogBattle” category at the top of this post.

It’s less edited than last time, because I wasn’t quite as prepared, and finished late, but… Enjoy!


 

Hazel

 

The sunshine was bright and inviting, and a light breeze brushed across Hazel’s scales.

At least, she imagined it did. It always made waiting easier, so she closed her eyes and imagined as hard as she could. She had gotten pretty good at it.

Hazel pressed up against the bars, flicking the tip of her tail back and forth against her palms.

In a few minutes, she knew, the Keeper would unlock the enclosures, and she could get out. It was what happened, and Hazel always knew when to expect it, even though the sky was blocked out and she couldn’t tell the time. Somehow she always anticipated it.

Hazel glanced over at the wolf in the second to next cage, avoiding the sight of the empty cage between them.

The girl was crouched with her back to the bars, watching the door as if it was going to jump out and attack her.

Hazel tilted her head to the side, squinting, and then dropped to the ground and wriggled through the bars.

The wolf-girl heard her before she got there, and started, turning toward her. Her eyes widened.

“I know.” Hazel said, stopping just outside the bars. “I’m outta my cage.”

The girl’s eyes darted toward the Hazel’s cage.

“Nope. It’s not unlocked. I can fit through the bars. I’m like a mouse or something. Liiiittle tiny space, but I can get through.” She grinned. “Keeper hasn’t figured out yet.”

She girl was silent, but her eyes asked a question.

Hazel shrugged. “I can’t get outta the building. No spaces.” She paused. “’Sides, Keeper’d catch me again.” She took a small breath. “You’re mute, right?”

The wolf-in-girl-form nodded, cocking her head a bit.

Hazel grinned. “I was listening in on you and the Eagle. Couldn’t hear it all, but I heard that. Can you write?”

The girl nodded slowly, glancing around as if she expected to find a paper and pen lying around.

Hazel darted back to her cage and wriggled through again, rifled through her blankets, and was back in a few seconds, in girl form, with a stick of charcoal. She passed it through the bars. “Don’t break it. Took forever to get some wood to make it.”

The girl raised her eyebrows, scooting over to the charcoal and picking it up gingerly.

“To write your name.” Hazel said, “Because I’m not calling you Wolf. The Eagle’s bad enough, not telling anyone his name.”

The girl cast a quizzical look toward the Eagle, then leaned over and wrote in large, jagged letters, “Netra.”

“Ooooh.” Hazel said. “That’s a pretty name. Mine’s Hazel, even though I’m—” She stopped, straightening. Was that a noise from outside?

Hazel snatched the charcoal back, earning a snarl from Netra at her quick motion, and darted back toward her cage, barely managing to get back inside and stow the charcoal before the door opened.

She ducked her head, rubbing the black marks off her fingers and onto her blanket, and then looked up at the Keeper, ignoring Netra’s snarl.

The Keeper was a tall man in a grey coat, with dusty-gold hair and grey-blue eyes. If it weren’t for the memory of pain in the back of Hazel’s mind, and the empty cell to one side, she might have thought him dashing.

He was silent as he walked through the cages, glancing at each occupant with expressionless eyes.

Hazel stared back at him, not crouching in an almost-cower like Netra, but also not hissing like Arthur had. She just sat.

Keeper glanced over at her, and nodded the tiniest bit, almost in approval. Hazel couldn’t explain why that made a thrill go through her, but it did. Was he proud of her?

Keeper walked over to the door and opened it, letting shafts of sunlight dance on the dust motes.

Hazel stood, walking over to the gate of her cage in girl form. She didn’t touch it, though; it had burned her once, when the Keeper was there.

The gate unlatched, and then soundlessly swung open. Hazel glanced up at the Keeper, and then darted through, running at full-tilt toward the open door.

The outdoors were an explosion of color compared to the indoors. Yellow wildflowers, reddish dirt, grey rocks, brown tree trunks, and green, green, green.

Hazel dropped to the ground, cross-legged, and looked back at the door. She could see Netra’s enclosure through the opening, and though Eagle passed, and Hazel knew people were being let out from other rooms, Netra’s cage door remained shut, prompting Netra to growl.

There was a sinking feeling growing in Hazel’s gut. Netra had displeased the Keeper, so she wouldn’t be let out today.

Hopefully she wouldn’t continue growling and being defensive like that, or she’d eventually attack him, and then…

Hazel shivered, shaking her head. She wouldn’t think about that. It was best to not remember at all.

But try as she might, she couldn’t forget. Maybe she should have tried to protect Arthur, but it had happened so fast…

Maybe it would always happen that fast.

Hazel clenched her jaw, stood, and marched back into the room, planting herself in front of Netra’s cage—mostly because she couldn’t bring herself to get any nearer to the Keeper.

His eyebrows rose.

“I want Netra to come with me.” She said, her voice coming out much meeker than she’d anticipated.

“The wolf?” Keeper asked, tilting his head. Hazel froze. Surely something so small couldn’t get them in trouble, right? Hazel wasn’t attacking Keeper or anything.

“Why would you want that?”

Hazel paused. Why did she want that? Was it worth disappointing the Keeper?

Something brushed Hazel’s hand, and she jerked forward, snorting in surprise and tasting fire. She turned and looked back at Netra.

Netra was looking at Hazel with an intense stare that made a shiver run through her.

She chewed the edge of her lip, turning back to Keeper.

“Because we’re friends, and I don’t want her to have to stay in here. And she’ll stop growling if she can come outside, right, Netra?”

Netra ducked her head, nodding.

Hazel turned back to Keeper to find him crouching in front of her. She flinched back automatically.

“Alright. You get your way, dragoness.” He said, “She can come out.”

Dull pain briefly coursed through Hazel’s head. A threat?

Keeper stood, half-smiling as Netra’s cage door opened.

“You have an hour.” He said, for Netra’s benefit, most likely, since Hazel knew that.

Hazel breathed in, rubbing her tongue along the roof of her mouth and still tasting soot from her accidental burst of flame.

She was Keeper’s most valuable person in the whole menagerie, she was fairly certain, but would that change if she stood up to him? She wasn’t strong enough to actually fight him; she wasn’t sure anyone was.

Hazel didn’t really understand what would make the Keeper angry. Maybe she would when she was older than ten. But she wasn’t about to make him really get angry.

At least Netra was allowed outside.

Hazel hunched her shoulders and followed Netra out into the yard, letting the wind brush her skin, but ducking into the shade cast by the wall.

Netra gave her a small, grateful smile, then turned to Eagle, her mouth pressing into a determined line.

Hazel moved over to her, brushing her hands along the tops of the grass.

Netra looked at her, and Hazel froze.

There was that intensity again.

Maybe it was dragon’s intuition, but Hazel was pretty sure Netra was going to make the Keeper angry.

#BlogBattle 68 — “Menagerie”

#BlogBattle 68 — “Menagerie”

Menagerie

Shalom, haverim! Today I’m participating in the weekly #BlogBattle writing challenge, where the host, Rachael Ritchley, gives a randomly chosen one-word prompt, every week. I’ve been following along for a while now, but this is the first time I’ve actually participated, with the word, “Menagerie.” I combined this with another prompt I received somewhere else, “Broken.”

A lot of the BlogBattlers participate weekly, which I most likely will not do as that might be overwhemingly often, but we shall see if I participate again after this.

Aaaanyways. Without further ado, my fantasy flash fiction piece,

Menagerie

A rustle of feathers.

Netra opened her eyes, slowly uncurling from her place at the back of the enclosure.

The Eagle was awake in the next cage.

Folding her ears back, she moved over to the bars, glancing around quickly. The Keeper wasn’t around. Good.

Netra stopped beside the bars, letting out a low whistle to get the Eagle’s attention.

The man looked up, his wings folding down even as his eyebrows raised.

He probably thought she was threatening him. Genius.

“You’re new.” He said, his voice low.

Netra hesitated before nodding. It felt like she had been here for a very long time, but she realized, now that she thought about it, she had probably only been here for a few days.

Eagle nodded, giving her a wry smile which was much more condescending than Netra would have liked. “Welcome to the menagerie.”

Menagerie. So that was the name of this place.

“They were faster than you, mm?”

Netra sat down, crossing her legs, and shrugged.

“Got a family?” Eagle asked, moving over toward the bars that separated them.

She nodded, almost imperceptibly. She had a pack, or at least she had before she came here. Who knew what the Keeper had done with them. If Netra wasn’t fast enough, there was no way they could be.

“Cubs?”

Netra straightened, eyebrows shooting up. Did she look old enough to have cubs?

Eagle dropped into a crouch. “Okay, then. No cubs.”

Netra sighed, frustration edging in. This bird was hopeless. Did he even care that they were trapped here, in cages, no less?

“… Can you… Not speak?” Eagle asked, his voice oddly subdued.

Netra wasn’t sure how to answer the question, when it was phrased like that. She shook her head.

Eagle gave a nervous laugh. “Was that no you can, or no you can’t?”

Netra just looked at him.

He cleared his throat. “Can you speak?”

Netra shook her head, once, abruptly.

“Ah. Well. I’m sorry.”

Netra shrugged, glancing around.

There were cages lining the walls, but the one on the other side of Netra’s was empty. She could see some kind of small scaly animal past that.

“So… If you can’t introduce yourself, what am I supposed to call you? Wolf?”

Netra was somewhat amused that he had chosen that, when she was mentally calling him Eagle.

She shrugged again, studying the bars. She hadn’t gotten much of a chance to study her enclosure in the past few days—or was it weeks?—that she had been here, with the Keeper there. He was always there. She wondered why he wasn’t there now.

“If you’re looking for the Keeper, he’s not here.”

Netra shot him a glare. She could tell that much.

“He’s only constantly here when there’s a new person coming in. He had to break you.”

Netra lay down on her back. She only remembered snatches of what went on. She knew for certain, though, that the Keeper was dangerous, and he was alpha around here.

Netra was not an alpha. She had never been an alpha, and in her pack, probably never would be. Not with the competition.

But here… A delta was high enough to challenge the alpha.

Netra looked over at Eagle, and he looked back.

Eagle wasn’t broken. He didn’t seem like it, anyway.

Netra wasn’t broken. The Keeper may have tried to break her to the menagerie, but she was stronger than he thought. It took more than a few days to break a wolf.

Netra took her wolf form, pacing around the cage until she came to the door. Locked, of course.

“Wait, Wolf. I know what you’re thinking, and it won’t work. He’s too strong.”

Netra gave him such a glare that he faltered. Was he broken, really?

“You’re strong,” Eagle said, “I can tell. But he’s too strong right now. You know how I know?”

She tilted her head at him. He lifted his arm to show a long scar. “I had to be broken more forcefully than most, not counting you. I took longer, though.” He paused, “Though I guess you weren’t broken, were you?”

Netra remembered the fear. Maybe she had been broken. She had woken up in a cowering stance.

But whatever had happened, she wasn’t broken now. She knew it.

Wolf.” Eagle’s fierce tone caught her attention. She looked over at him.

“Wait, for a little while. We’re let out into the yard once a day. If you’re in, we can try and get out then. A few others will join. Okay?”

Netra growled. It wasn’t like her to wait. She didn’t like it. But if it would get her out of the menagerie, shouldn’t she go along with Eagle?

She turned toward him and nodded. She could wait.

But tomorrow, they would get out.

Netra was a delta—she wasn’t broken.

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Kid

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Kid

The Kid

Shalom, mellons! Today I’m participating in Rachelle O’Neil‘s 4th Flash Fiction Challenge.

Anna Jolene gave me this prompt:

A child or young teen is being chased through a building by government officials. Write how the chase ends.”

This is what I came up with. I edited out about 300 words from it, and it ended up (according to Google Doc’s word counter) at exactly 999 words… The limit is 1,000 words. 😛

Anyways. Without further ado, I present my Flash Fiction story, The Kid.



Short, pounding footsteps made Maxwell’s hand drift to his gun. An instant later, his training kicked in, and he recognized the length of the footsteps. A child, who limped.

The kid ducked through the door and skidded to a stop, her gaze darting between the doors, likely looking for an escape route. Her hand was clenched into a fist against her chest.

Maxwell shifted, his hand moving away from his gun holster to steady himself on the thin rafter.

The steadily growing presence of the two agents following her kept his senses peaked, but they were far enough away that he would not need his gun as of yet.

She took a small step forward, rubbing a slightly dirty hand along a scar which curved around her face.

Nervous habits.

Maxwell scanned the kid. She was around ten, obviously at least poor, if not homeless. The scar looked as if her skin had been scraped off at some point and healed poorly.

She evidently heard the agents behind her, because she started and limped toward a door.

Light from the dusty window glinted on the edge of the object she held in her clenched fist.

Maxwell glanced up at the hallway where she had come from, quickly estimating how long it would take for Wilson and Sutherland to arrive. Too soon, but it seemed he had to risk it.

Nuts.

He dropped out of the rafters, landing lightly on his feet a foot away from where the kid stood.

She jerked back, letting out a small yelp.

Maxwell grabbed her wrists. “Shh. Quiet, kid. I’m not with them. I won’t hurt you.”

Her small hands trembled. For a moment, he almost felt sorry for her.

Only almost, of course.

“What is it you took from them?”

Her fists tightened. “I-I didn’t know they were—I thought they were police after they saw me, but then they shot something at me, and I just took a—” She stopped, her voice cracking. Her voice came out as a trembling whisper. “Please don’t let them shoot me, mister.”

Maxwell slid one hand down to her clenched fist. “I’ll try not to, kid. What’s your name?”

Tears glimmered in her eyes. “D-Debbie Marcel.”

“Okay, Debbie. I’ll try to keep you from them. Let me see what you have, mm?”

Her hand slowly relaxed. Maxwell took the coin carefully. It was split in half down the middle, with a crumpled paper lodged inside one end.

His gaze snapped up to her eyes, which were wide and blue. “You read it?”

She hesitated, then nodded, trembling. “I thought it was a coin, so I just took it out of his pocket, and then it came open, and there was a paper, so I read it…” She shook her head, “And the man saw me and tried to get it, and when I ran, he tried to shoot me.” She shook her head sharply. “Th-they were going to sh-shoot—”

Maxwell scowled. “Stop it. Calm down, or I won’t be able to get you out of here.”

Debbie bit her lip and stood a little bit straighter, meeting his gaze.

The agents would be here any second.

He shoved the coin halves into his pocket, pulling Debbie through a doorway to a stairwell.

There was no way she could get down the stairs at a reasonable rate with that limp of hers. He crouched and pulled her onto his back. Her hands latched around his neck, and her legs around his waist. He pulled himself up to his feet and frowned, creeping quickly toward the iron stairs.

“What did the paper say, Debbie?” he murmured, starting down.

“A ship number.” Her grip tightened around him. “I know because D-dad was a ship pilot.”

“And the number?”

She repeated what sounded like a valid ship ID number.

So she was a liability. Fabulous.

Something clicked above him. He spun around, pulling his gun out with one hand.

Debbie cried out and slumped against him, slipping a bit without the support of his other arm.

He sensed the presence of both agents crouched behind the door frame.

This kid was way too distracting.

He adjusted his grip on Debbie and sprinted downward, firing a warning shot upward when he was halfway down.

Maxwell reached the base of the stairs and set Debbie against the wall beside the door, outside the stairwell.

He pulled the dart from the back of her collarbone and leaned out of the doorway enough to see Sutherland leaning out enough to fire. He aimed and fired in a moment, then jerked back at a sharp pain in his forearm.

He yanked out the dart and dropped it on the floor.

Despite his training, Maxwell would be unconscious within fifteen minutes, and their Interrogators would be worse than a bullet to the head. Not only for Maxwell.

He growled under his breath and scooped Debbie into his arms. No Interrogator would get the information out of either of them.

Unfortunately, with Debbie unconscious, Maxwell couldn’t reach his gun.

Maxwell tightened his hold on the street kid and sprinted out of the building.

Cole met him with a car in one of the city’s many dirty alleys. Maxwell put Debbie on the car floor and crouched beside her, below window level.

Cole drove out into the stream of traffic, chuckling under his breath. “Found a new friend, or is she ID codes in disguise?”

“A liability.” Maxwell muttered, pulling the coin out of his pocket. The paper did, indeed, have a ship ID identical to the one Debbie had recited.

The kid had a memory like an elephant.

“She saw the codes, then?”

Maxwell grunted an affirmation. “Picked their pocket.” he muttered.

“You alright, Victor?”

His mind was growing foggy. He leaned his head against the car door. “Mmmhm. Keep driving.”

“And the kid?”

Maxwell clenched his jaw against a headache. “She’ll stick around until the ship takes off.”

“Is that wise…?”

Maxwell smiled grimly. “Of course not.”



So, what do you think of the story?

Have you ever tried Flash Fiction?

Flash Fiction Challenge, March 2015 (Pain, Hope).

Flash Fiction Challenge, March 2015 (Pain, Hope).

Hey, everybody! Today I’m participating in Rachelle O-Neil‘s flash-fiction challenge. After two failed stories, I finally (yesterday) wrote a story that would work (I came up with the idea for it the day before yesterday). After grueling edits (okay, maybe not grueling), in which I edited out 206 of my precious words to come down to 1,000 words, I came up with what I have now. Critiques are welcomed. Enjoy!

This is the prompt I got for it:

Okay! Without further ado, I present my flash fiction.


Pain, Hope.

Asma tightened the scarf around her lower face, sure it would disguise her as a wealthy religious woman.

Walking on foot effectively destroyed that image.

Squinting to see in the half-light, Asma lifted the parchment closer to her face.

Her surroundings were not on the map.

    “Stay safe, Asma Fariq.”

She was doing a fine job of that.

Growling under her breath, Asma scanned the narrow street.

I’m lost.

“You need a guide?”

Asma pivoted.

It was a boy. Probably only six or seven, his shaggy blond hair nearly covered his grey eyes.

“Wh-why do you ask?”

“You look like you’re lost.” The boy shrugged, dropping from his perch on the dirty windowsill. “I know my way around the city.”

Asma slowly spoke. “Who are you? You’re not from around here.”

The boy gave a lopsided grin. “Why do you say that?”

“You’re pale.”

He nodded. “Well, yeah.”

Asma crumpled the map in one fist. “So who are you?”

“Tell me who you are first.”

Asma narrowed her eyes. “Asma.”

“No second name?”

“No second name.”

The boy shrugged. “Okay. Then I’m Asad.”

Asma turned away. “A pleasure.”

“Wait!” Asad grabbed her arm. She jerked back.

“Don’t touch me.”

“Where do you need to go? I can get you there for a copper.”

Asma looked him over. It can’t hurt anything. I can’t possibly be any more lost than I am.

“I need to get to the execution yard at the palace.”

He looked at her wide-eyed. “Ma’am! You don’t want to go there! They’re having an execution today.”

Asma’s eyes narrowed. “I know where I want to go, Asad-ali.”

He chewed on the edge of his lip, looking at her skeptically, then turned. “Keep up.” He dashed down the street. Asma had to run to keep up.

Surprisingly, they made it there in a few minutes.

Great sandstone walls towered above, but the gate was open, people and carriages streaming in.

Asad looked at the crowd briefly, then turned to her, eyes grave and breath slightly quick. “You’re sure you want to go there, Asma-ali?”

Asma nodded, breathing through her nose to hide her exertion. “I’m sure.”

He sighed. “I know a way to get in faster.”

He led her around the wall for several minutes, then crouched, gripping a cloth-wrapped iron handle half-buried in sand. Bracing his feet against the wall, he pulled.

A section of sandstone slid from the wall, leaving an opening barely big enough for Asma to crawl through.

Asad glanced up at her. “Follow me.”

He disappeared into the opening.

Asma crouched, then crawled in after him, the hot sand stinging her hands.

She reached the end after a few feet of crawling, and adjusted her scarf as she stood in the dim light.

Asad leaned down, pulling on a thick rope. The sound of rock against rock was followed by total darkness.

Asad’s work-rough hand slid into hers. Though she pulled away, he did not let go. After a second, she allowed him to lead her through the inky blackness.

After a few minutes, Asad stopped. “Close your eyes.”

Bright daylight nearly blinded her.

When Asma’s eyes adjusted, she saw they stood by a doorway in the rock.

Asad pulled her through, then closed the wooden door.

They stood behind a shed of some kind.

As Asad lead her through the outer courtyard, Asma briefly wondered how often he snuck into the palace.

They soon reached the execution sight. The smell of death made Asma’s stomach churn, even through the scarf.

The crowd stood, gathered in a circle. Asma started to shove through, but stopped at cheers from the mob.

Asad hissed. For a second, Asma saw pointed teeth. “The monsters.”

Her words came as a whisper; it was a wonder that Asad heard. “Who is being executed today?”

Asad grimaced. “Just one man. A war prisoner from Andirkh.”

Asma’s stomach twisted into a knot. “The name?”

“Fariq Akeem.”

Asma felt the blood leave her face. She stumbled a few steps backward.

She turned around, her vision blurring, though her eyes were dry. She sank to her knees.

So she was too late.

“Death to Andirkh!” The crowd called.

Too late.

Asma pulled in a shuddering breath. “No.” She whispered.

“Asma!” Her collar tightened, and she was yanked from the street, landing flat on her back. Her scarf fell from her face. A carriage rattled by.

Asad dropped to his knees beside her, hastily replacing the scarf over her scars. “I won’t tell.” He whispered, gripping her shoulders and heaving her into a sitting position. “We have to get out. I don’t think anyone saw, but…”

A murmur passed through the crowd. They froze in their departure.

“Death to the Andirkh!” Someone called, and several people stepped forward.

Asad snarled, shoving her toward the shed. “Get out, Asma-ali.”

He stood, facing the crowd. Asma stumbled toward the shed, her feet pounding in time with her heart.

She pulled the door open and fell into the passage, slamming the door behind her.

Too late.

It was several moments before Asad slipped in. His pupils were narrowed to slits, but they returned to normal almost instantly; Asma doubted she had even seen them.

Asad shut the door. It was once again dark. He slipped his hands into hers. “It’ll get better, Asma-ali.”

***

Asma pressed her back against the wall.

Asad sat beside her, but said nothing. She was grateful.

He slipped his small hand into hers, nodding toward the sky. “Look.”

Asma looked at the dull grey skyline, silent.

And then, slowly but surely, the sun rose, sending gold and pink auras across the sky.

“There is pain, Asma-ali.” Asad said, softly. “But there is still hope.”

Asma kept her eyes on the sunrise.

“Don’t pay me.” He whispered, then pulled his hands from hers. The next moment, he was gone. Probably back to the streets where he came from.

Asma rose, watching the sunrise. “There is pain.” She whispered. “But there is hope.”