#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:



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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.

Writing Update: Graphic Novel?

Writing Update: Graphic Novel?

In October of last year, I wrote a post on this blog talking about my most recent story. I talked about how it was a major change for me, genre-wise, because, you know, it’s a historical sci-fi (in other news, I’ve decided it’s in the year 1954 exactly).

But I had no idea how big of a step it would be.

Because…

Well, because I’m writing it as a graphic novel.

I understand this might be disappointing for all y’all who aren’t into graphic novels–to tell you the truth, I don’t really read graphic novels, either, but this story is demanding to be told in a much more visual way than my other stories.

Currently I’m working through sketching out all the characters, outlining, and scripting. Since I’m doing this for Camp this year, I have a lot to do before April.

Which is in nine days.

Start Panicking Aladdin



bullet my process

I’ve been low-key developing this story since… I’d say June last year, on and off, and it’s been a very different experience than any other story I’ve worked on. For one thing, I knew the ending before I knew the beginning. For another thing… I’ve been able to visualize several scenes… but they haven’t come to me in order.

Which is why I’m now using yWriter to organize the scenes, so I can write out descriptions in any order, and then drag them to a different place.

Untitled

bullet scripting

I’m new at this. And since it’s not going to be published this way, it’s just to help with drawing the graphic novel, I’m doing it in an odd style.

Untitled

Basically I’m roleplaying with myself. 😉 I have yet to really figure out what I’m doing, so maybe when I finish the scripts, I’ll publish another post about my revised process.

bullet sketching

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I’m currently designing all the characters. These are my initial sketches for Lesley… And, yes. I know they don’t look like quite the same person. xP

I’m having trouble sketching Sylvester, so I think I’m going to skip to sketching Chareh. Once I’ve settled on a design, I’ll draw sheets with different angles and expressions, for each of the main characters. Also for a few of the main supporting characters, like Lesley’s dad, and the editor of the New Hasting’s Herald newspaper.

I’ve also sketched out a few pages of the main story. They won’t actually be like I have them (I’ve even changed dialogue in a bunch of places), but it helps me visualize what it’ll look like.

What, you mean you want to see a sample?

… Okay.

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If you click the image, it’ll bring you to a bigger version.

This isn’t how the final draft will look, certainly, but it’s what I drew when I was first trying to decide whether to do the story as a graphic novel. I’m going to have a similar layout, I think, but the style will be much less… Sketchy… 😂

Also, young Sylvester will have a face.

Just sayin’.

And that strange sentence will bring us to a close, but I have a request for y’all. I’m trying to come up with a new title for this story, as I was never really happy with the one I had—and it also sounds too similar to a different story’s title.

If you’re new to this blog and/or story, I still have the back-cover teaser on my “Works In Progress” page, so you can check it out there. But I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for a new title.



What’s your experience with graphic novels? Do you have any suggestions for titles? And last but not least, are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? Comment below!

Beautiful Books: From Stranger Worlds

Beautiful Books: From Stranger Worlds


Last year, I did this tag with Won’t Feel a Thingand it was pretty cool, so I figured, why not do it again?

For those of you who don’t know, Beautiful Books is a tag hosted by Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In.  It’s a NaNoWriMo-themed variation on their normal monthly tag, Beautiful People. Instead of asking questions of your character, Beautiful Books gives you a list of questions to answer about your NaNoWriMo story, or just any WIP. Make sure to click the graphic to read some other participating blogs.

Without any further intro (because I have a tendency to ramble in these…), here’s stuff about my novel, From Stranger Worlds!



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1

Whoo, this question has a long answer. There wasn’t any one thing that gave me the idea for FSW, it was more like a collection of events, so I’ll just go with the first one (that way you won’t be reading this through next week).

I and my siblings were watching one of the old superman movies, where the Kryptonian general, Zod, came in and wreaked havoc, then went to the President of the United States, walked right in, and gave his terms (which, incidentally, were “I’m in charge, na-nanny-boo-boo!”). That was then when I thought, “What if aliens came and quietly approached an Earth world leader to negotiate land for them to settle?” Then I got to thinking what kind of terms there would be if the leader agreed.

The story has changed a lot since then, but that was where the first idea came from.

2

I just happen to have an official (if a little rough) teaser for you.


Sylvester Lee met an alien when he was twelve years old.

The problem was, no one believed him, and the only other witness had a strange lapse of memory.

It’s been nine years since that day, and Sylvester is now an investigative reporter with one goal in mind: the aliens are living among us, and he intends to prove it.

This presents quite a problem for Leslie Hughes, his cheerful, but dreadfully nervous intern. Because what Sylvester doesn’t know is that Leslie is the alien that he met in the alley that night. Half alien, half human, all secrets, she’s monitering Sylvester to prevent him from revealing the aliens’ presence.

And she’ll do just about anything to keep her people safe.

Things are going along smoothly until they encounter Chareh, a young alien living among the humans, the girl who holds the secret that will make both worlds violently collide.

From Stranger Worlds will take you on a thrilling tour through the world of 50’s America—but it may not be the world you know.


3

For more, click the picture to visit the Pinterest board where all these came from.4866b85b0a3868fcf495ad08a16aa1d6Aesthetic words

4

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An ambitious reporter who is nineteen, cheerful, and also half alien.

 


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Another, even more ambitious reporter, who is twenty-two, and is convinced that the aliens are here—and he intends to prove it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


7

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A small, relatively weak fifteen-year-old alien who has been studied by humans for two years. She carries a deadly secret, but no one else knows she’s the one who has it.

 

 

 


 

8

Well, with my last novel (Until the Stars Fall), I basically brainstormed and wrote out, on paper in a binder, what was going to happen, “and then this person would do this, and this would happen, ect.,” and for the one before that (Won’t Feel a Thing), I did basically the same thing, more erratically, on a smaller scale, and on the computer. But I really don’t know how to prepare for From Stranger Worlds. The story has a very different feel than my previous novels. I’m kind of winging it.

9

I dunno, I’m looking forward to a lot… This is a hard choice. I can only say one thing I’m looking forward to?

Well, I have to say I’m looking forward to the setting the most. I grew up on 50’s stories, from Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and The Adventures of Superman, to Singin’ in the Rain, to The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and The Patty Duke Show.

The 50’s has to be the golden age of stories (and they’re clean!), and I’ve had a partiality to the decade for a while.

Also, I really like designing other cultures and cities, and combining the 50’s with the alien people that I’ve constructed is just really fun. 😀

10

I’m just going to go with random things. xD Because I can.

1

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Welcome to the underwater city Tehsischi! It’s a place little known by humans, but in the story, it’s hidden off the coast of Northern California, far beneath the Ocean. The huge sub-sea structure houses nearly the entire Kehrib (alien) population on Earth, and is a thriving metropolis that’s been there for generations, seen by very few humans.

2

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It’s a bit like a cat, and a bit like a weasel. The Kehrib brought them here to Earth, and somehow a few got out into New Hastings, the coastal human city. So while they’re cute, and the household pet of many Kehrib families, they’ve also become a great pest.

3

inktober_18__filthy_by_faith_song-dbr19hs

A segment (albeit a small one) of Kehrib are very superstitious, and to ward against demons and other nasty things that humans carry around, they wear charms made of bronze, clipped to bracelets and belts.

And, yes. She has multicolored hair. Their hair shows their emotions, and she’s got quite a wealth of them at this moment (you can click the picture for more information).

11

In a way, Lesley and Sylvester are in direct opposition. Sylvester wants to prove what he saw all those years ago, and Lesley wants her people to be safe. To do that, she has to keep the secret from being revealed.

Now, Chareh… Well, she’s got a secret that will blast both those goals out of the water and present a much more pressing problem.

What she wants is to not have to bear the secret any more. She wants to not be under constant pressure. And she wants to be strong.

12

Well, now, that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it?

… Actually, I don’t know. I’m less prepared for this NaNo than I have been in a long time.

13

Themes. Heh. Yeah…

So, I usually don’t figure out the theme until about halfway through the first draft. Sooo… I don’t know. I think it’ll have something to do with identity.

(Note: Last Beautiful books, I made a guess at the theme, and it did come out pretty strongly, so I guess from now on, I should just trust my guesses. 😛 What I guess is usually what a main character is working through.)

4

#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”

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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.