Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

Bron: Past and Present

August 12, 2017

Bron looked out over the town and took it in. Even this far above, he could see people bustling around. People sat near shop fronts. He saw two children chasing each other near what must have been there home. Bron had slept outside most of his life, the thought of sleeping inside made him nervous. It seemed so easy. Too easy. Bron almost never sought out the easy way to do things. If he did, he would definitely not receive so many injuries from the orcs that should have been proud to have him around. Instead, he raised his chin and dared them to hit again.

A blow landed on the side of his jaw that shocked him from his simple thoughts. It was Lorgar, one of the orcs Bron’s age who was less abusive. Bron found himself growling and reaching for his axe. He had taken the axe on a raid and he had refused to give it up to the rest of the tribe. The tribe took everything but this one thing belonged to Bron and Bron alone. A long shadow came over Bron and Lorgar and they both looked up. It was Korak. He was standing on a rock above them, sparks from his ever-burning staff drifted into Bron’s eyes but Bron did not dare take his eyes off the Warlock.

“Get angry, Bron,” Korak said. “That town is ours. The humans cannot have what they cannot keep from us.”

“Too easy,” Bron said. “There is no challenge down there.”

“If you do not go down to there,” Korak said. “I will burn you to ash. One body part at a time.”

Bron glared but did not doubt that Korak could do just as he promised. Korak had promised himself to a demon, a thing Bron had never seen. The demon’s power was clearly powerful as it had given Korak spells to do great harm. Korak used these spells against the enemies of the tribe but also as punishment against the tribe itself. He was deeply unpopular but feared so the tribe let him lead. As for Bron, he thought it was all too easy. Submitting yourself to some thing instead of your own strength was stupid. It was like how the tribe submitted to the god Grummsh. Too easy, too boring.

Korak gave the order and the raiding party ran down the hills toward the town. Bron ran, his great axe held high. He let his anger at the constant annoyances, the injustices, the stupidity flood his body and he felt the rage flow through his body. He growled and yelled incoherent things and then he was swinging his axe. He clashed with several guards. He felt their spears and swords and arrows pierce his flesh but he did not care.

In the end, nothing would stop him. He was inevitable. He was the oncoming storm and anyone who did not take shelter would be washed away in a sea of blood. These were not the thoughts he had because thought was a limited resource in that state. He saw red and in that red, there were targets, trifles, and allies. How easy it would be for those so-called allies to become targets in the heat of the moment. Not a single one cared about him and yet they pushed him to attack to feed the tribe.

What had the tribe ever done for him besides tolerate his presence? That was the best case scenario. A lot of the time they just abused him. They poked him so much that he could not remember not being angry. The people fleeing in terror around him had been happy a moment ago. One day Bron would be happy when he had dominion over his tribe. They would have to do as he said instead of some Warlock taking the easy way out. It was a clear path. If he became the strongest, he would inevitably be in charge.

* * *

It had seemed such a clear path before his death. Now, Bron did not feel so sure of it. The tribe had turned on him. Although, this was not the correct word. You cannot betray what you never accepted in the first place. Bron idly wondered if his own mother had been killed too. She had only been his mother biologically. There was no bond between them. His original idea was to get stronger and go back there and dominate the tribe, grind it under his heel. Now, it all seemed so pointless.

The Witch had said that there were bigger things out there. It had been too long in coming. He got used to working in that tavern in Neverwinter. Some great challenges drank there and drink made them want to fight. Bron had been happy to oblige. Bron rarely actually got paid. His pay was docked for all sorts of stupid things. He kept damaging the door, either by taking it off its hinges or ‘forgetting’ to open the door before throwing defeated, drunken customers out of the tavern. He also had acquired a taste for the ale that stupid dwarf sold which was taken out of his pay in advance. Also, the dwarf just did not like Bron and the feeling was mutual.

Now Bron had a lot of gold and it meant next to nothing to Bron. He had no armor to buy, no weapons to acquire. He laughed at creature comforts. He could hunt his own food, track down his own water. He had lost a javelin in a cave but he had obtained two more by pulling them from his own flesh after defeating the Bugbears that had thrown them. He wanted nothing but new challenges and following the current party he was paired with brought those challenges. He could even take the abuse from the human girl. It almost felt familiar, like the words of the orcs she detested so much.

Bron did not know what the future held. He lived in the present, not worrying about where the path led. He knew the others respected his power. He knew that they could not help but respect it. They backed him up in combat though he hardly needed it. The human girl even healed Bron despite her hate for him. Bron was starting to think that maybe this party could be his new tribe. They may have mocked him sometimes but they respected what he could do. In that way, it was much better than the past.

But what had the witch planned? Was it this? Did it matter? Probably not. Bron did not believe in fate, in fortune tellers. He would make his own fate. If she pulled at his strings too much, he would pull back.

Magical Earth Defenders Pt. 10

August 5, 2017

The girls looked around the alleyway and saw that suddenly the whole place was clear of any damage or debris from the brief fight. They walked around as if to make sure and then there was the sound of a siren and all the girls froze. In the chaos, they had not thought about the authorities.

“The police!” Natia said, her voice a little louder than it should have been with her sudden nervousness.

“How were we supposed to get back?” Maya asked.

“Arafina, we need to return now, please,” Margaret said softly. The ground around them started to glow with a soft light. The cops rounded the corner, there were two of them.

“Who are you?” One of the cops asked.

“We’re the Defenders,” Kelsey said. “We’re here to save the world.” She posed heroically for effect.

As soon as the words left her mouth, the girls were suddenly back in the castle courtyard. They adjusted to the sudden change of scenery for a moment. Margaret in particular thought she felt nauseous for a moment but it passed. Arafina walked up to them an expectant look on her face.

“So,” She said. “I gather it went well?”

“The police saw us!” Natia shouted.

“Calm down, Natia,” Kelsey said.

“She has a point,” Lennon said. “What if they recognize us around town?”

“That’s not possible,” Arafina said. “The magic of the transformation charms hides your identities to protect your loved ones.”

Natia waved her hand over her face. “We don’t have masks.”

“And you do not need them, your faces will appear differently to outsiders magically,” Arafina said.

“Well, that’s comforting,” Margaret said. All of the girls nodded and vocalized their agreement.

“I’m finally a superhero,” Natia said. “It’s about time.”

“To answer your earlier question,” Kelsey said. “We demolished all of our targets and we met one of the things pulling the strings of those monsters. It did not give us its name.”

“It looked like a clown, though,” Maya said.

“A clown?” Arafina asked.

“Big nose. Exaggerated features. Goofy.” Lennon said, closing her eyes to picture the thing.

Maya waved her hand and a large hand bag appeared out of thin air. She rummaged through it and pulled out a pencil and a pad of paper and started to sketch. After a few moments, she had a pretty good drawing of what the clown had looked like. She held it up for everyone to see.

“Like this, right?” She asked.

“Exactly!” Kelsey said.

“Oh dear,” Arafina said. “He was at the vanguard of the invasion of my world. If he is showing his face, so to speak, then the true invasion is not too far off.”

“How far off?” Lennon asked. “I mean, I know that there are a lot of variables but how long do you think?”

“I am not sure but no more than one year,” Arafina said. “Of course, they will now want to eliminate you before they make true landfall. You are the cog in their machine.”

“Good,” Kelsey said. “We worked really well together today. We can only get better.”

“Wait,” Margaret said. “Who put you in charge?”

“I must have missed that vote before I officially joined the team,” Maya said. She put her sketch book away.

Kelsey shrugged. “I’m used to it. I am the lacrosse team captain back at school.”

“I’m fine with it,” Maya said with a shrug of her own. “I do say that we should each get a voice on this team.”

“I agree,” Margaret said. “We vote on important things and we should talk to each other.”

“Communication is key,” Lennon said.

“Good because I can’t keep my mouth shut sometimes,” Natia said. Everybody laughed.

“Right,” Kelsey said. “And I’m going to rely on your skills to help me help you. Lennon, you have the fire and the brains. Natia, you’ll bring the noise and the creativity. Margaret, we need your light and your strength. Maya, lend us your shadows and your magic. We’ll learn from each other.” They all nodded at that.

“Speaking of learning,” Lennon said. “We have a lot of studying to do to figure all of this out.”

“True,” Kelsey said. “and speaking of studying, Natia you have to come back to school with us.”

“Wait, what?” Natia asked. “I don’t really want to.”

“You’re our teammate now,” Kelsey said. “We have to look out for each other and it’s best if we stay close.”

Before Natia could object again, Maya spoke up. “No, that’s a good idea. Things are about to get crazy for us. Embracing normal as much as possible will help us, right?”

“I’m glad you said that,” Kelsey said. “You’re coming to school with us too.”

“But, I don’t have anywhere to live,” Maya said.

“You can live here,” Arafina said. “There is plenty of space and I can transport you to school in the morning.” Maya nodded, the witchy, gothic girl suddenly looking even paler than usual.

“What about you, Margaret?” Kelsey asked. “What’s your story?”

“My name is Margaret Washington and go to <> Academy.”

“Ooh, very fancy, Washi,” Natia said. “I guess you’re covered.”

“Wait,” Lennon said. “You’re part of that Washington family?”

“Yes,” Margaret said. “I don’t like making a big deal of it. I love my family and I’m proud of them, though.”

“It’s cool,” Kelsey said. “You seem like a good person to me.”

“I try,” Margaret said with a smile.

Natia yawned. “Is it safe to go home now? I’m tired.”

“Yes,” Arafina said. “Your charms will now protect you from being tracked. They will also transport you back and forth from this castle. You are free to go, of course.”

“And we’ll see each other in the morning,” Kelsey said. “Let’s get some rest, we’ll need it.”

They all focused on their charms and they transformed again. This time it was just a simple flash of light and they were back to their street clothes. Lennon landed in her wheelchair and she looked disappointed for a moment but much happier than she had that morning. The forms of Kelsey, Lennon, and Natia flickered and disappeared. Margaret turned toward Maya with a smile.

“If you need anything, I’ll be happy to help you out,” Margaret said. “I know you’ve had a really rough time of it.”

“Thank you,” Maya said. “I’m OK for now though.”

Margaret nodded and smiled. “See you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow,” Maya said. Margaret’s form flickered and disappeared.

“Now, let’s get you fed and pick you a bedroom,” Arafina said. “Follow me.” Maya followed her into the castle.

Magical Earth Defenders Pt. 9

July 29, 2017

Curtains

The five teenage girls appeared back in the alleyway they had disappeared from, now in their brand new armor. When they looked at each other, they could all see the same nervous excitement in each other’s eyes. They were supposed to be Earth’s new super heroes but they were new at this and there was no telling what would happen. Kelsey stepped forward first.

“Come on, we have some streets to clean up, girls!” She shouted.

They took off in a run because they could not stand to walk and running felt so good. Each one of them felt much faster and more energetic than they ever had before. Especially Lennon who felt an exhilaration in running much faster than her wheelchair could ever go. At some point, Maya took the lead since she was the only one of them present at the scene of the crime and Kelsey slowed a little to let her have the lead. They skidded to a stop in the alleyway.

“They were right here!” Maya yelled.

They looked around and there was nothing there, not even scorch marks. Of course, there were also no bystanders around either. They were probably startled by the craziness that had ensued earlier, running off to see who would believe them. However, in the very center of this alleyway was a dog-eared copy of a script.

“Look at this,” Lennon said and bent down to pick the script up.

“Did your friend drop it?” Margaret asked.

“Yeah, I mean, we weren’t exactly friends anymore but we used to live next to each other,” Kelsey said. “She got into drama big time after her family moved.”

“I remember seeing her in shows,” Lennon said and shivered. “She looked happy up there.”

“I remember that too, actually,” Natia said. She did not remember as much from the previous year but she did remember any excuse not to go to class and Daffney had been in drama previews during assembly.

“They left it behind deliberately,” Maya said angrily. The other girls nodded.

“There’s something written across this page,” Lennon said and she held up the script so they could all see. The word “CURTAINS” was written in jagged pink letters across the page. Lennon could have sworn the word had not been there when she picked the script up.

“Curtains?” Margaret asked. “What does that mean?”

“It means it’s curtains for you, little girls!” A disembodied voice yelled out.

“What? Who said that?” Natia asked as all of the girls looked around.

“Show yourself!” Kelsey yelled.

On the wall near them, a face started to form on the brick. It was wicked looking, sort of a cruel parody of a clown. It grinned wickedly with far too many teeth and everybody gasped.

“Not yet,” the thing said. “We are not ready to step into your world.”

“Cowards,” Margaret said, her eyes narrowed.

“What did you say!?” The thing yelled, seemingly shocked by the words.

“She’s right,” Maya said. “You are a coward. I know what that’s like but I am done running.”

“We all are!” Natia shouted, slinging her guitar off of her shoulder.

“Well good for you,” the wall thing said sarcastically. “Very well, let’s play!”

Monsters began to form from the brick walls and the blacktop once again. The girls backed off a bit, making space to fight. The things were slow to form. Kelsey started calling out targets and nobody argued.

“Aqua Shot!” Kelsey called out. She focused on her hand and thought of playing softball with Daffney and the other neighborhood kids when she was little. She felt a large amount of water form and she threw it as hard as she could. She watched the water slam into one of the constructs. It tried to stand for a moment, putting its hand first into the water but the impact knocked it back into the wall where the thing shattered on impact. The girls cheered.

“Sonic Rush!” Natia called out. She thought of the thrill of performing and her love of being loud and strummed her guitar hard. Green waves and a rush of sound rocketed out of the guitar and slammed into one of the constructs. It started to panic as its body vibrated, it fell to its knees as it fell apart. Natia strummed on her guitar for good measure.

“Inferno Rocket!” Lennon called out. She raised her hand and pointed her palm at one of the constructs. She focused on all of the weekends she had spent building model rockets in her family’s garage and firing them off with her dad. She poured all of the flames of her anger, her disappointment, and her desire to destroy all of the obstacles in her way into that rocket. She let the thing fly and a burning fireball shot into one of the constructs.

“Shadow Chain!” Maya called out. She closed her eyes and thought of all the dark corners she had hidden in, the darkness she had embraced to survive and she let it out. She felt it form itself into a chain made of solid shadow. She felt that chain snake around her body, floating through the air. She opened her eyes and pointed at one of the constructs and the chain shot out towards it, it wound around the construct and then Maya squeezed her hand and the chain constricted and the thing was crushed into pieces.

“Bright Arrow!” Margaret called out. She remembered all of the archery lessons her parents had bought her since it was such a noble sport. She reached behind her back and pulled an arrow made of light from thin air. In her other hand, a bow made of light formed and she strung the bow, drew it back and there was a bright flash as she let the arrow go. It streamed toward the last construct and pierced right through it. It came out of the other side of the construct and hit the wall, right in the middle of the clown face. It frowned and faded away just as the construct exploded in a shower of sparks.

Magical Earth Defenders Pt. 8

July 22, 2017

The Team

It was too late, Maya had already invoked the charm and whatever happened would happen. The charm did not glow and no light enveloped Maya but instead, the charm seemed to absorb nearby light and the marks on Maya’s body seemed to get darker. Her shadow under her grew and stretched around her on the ground until it was a perfect square with her in the middle. At that point, the square started to grow off of the ground into a shadow cube around Maya. Maya was worried at this point because Arafina had seemed scared. The girls had rushed the cube but they could not reach in and get her as the shadows actively pushed them away.

Inside the cube, Maya watched as Arafina and the girls faded into darkness. It was so dark inside the cube and soundless but she felt that darkness moving around her, changing her. For so long the darkness had been a tool and an ally but she had worried about the toll it might be taking on her soul. She felt her dirty clothes change and she was eager to see what was happening now that she realized she was not getting ripped apart. As the cube faded away, she stood in a mix between a long black dress and leather armor. The dress part had a slit in it to allow her movement. She looked down and noticed that the runes on her body that she could see had changed.

Kelsie put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you alright?”

Maya looked up from studying her arms, a bewildered look in her eyes. “What happened to me?”

“It looks like you’re one of us, after all,” Lennon said. The other girls vocalized their agreement at once.

“What?” Maya asked. “I thought I corrupted the charm when I took it from your friend.”

“It seems the opposite has happened,” Arafina said. “The charm has become the source of your power and has scrubbed away the darkness in your soul. It seems that somebody who has walked through the darkness and could still think of other people is worthy to be on this team. I was wrong for judging you.”

Maya shook her head and smiled. “I have no grudge,” She said. “I have a clean slate and for the first time in a long time my heart feels lighter.”

Kelsie was the closest so she was the first one to hug Maya. “You couldn’t have saved Daffney,” she added which made Maya tear up. The other girls moved to hug her too at that, Natia being especially enthusiastic about it. Maya was caught off guard but soon found herself hugging back. She had needed this. She had almost forgotten what a hug felt like and she savored such positive human contact. There was a long silence as a breeze blew across the courtyard and Arafina watched her team bond.

As they broke away, Kelsie walked over to Arafina and stroked her head. Arafina forgot herself for a moment and purred and then looked confused. Kelsie quickly withdrew her hand and ran it through her own blue-streaked hair awkwardly.

“Sorry,” Kelsie said. “I just wanted you to be included but I forgot that you’re not really a pet.”

“It’s alright,” Arafina said. “Thank you for the sentiment. It has been an adjustment.” She sighed.

“I can’t imagine it’s been easy,” Lennon said. After all, she knew all about living with limitations and that was not forgotten in five minutes of walking around again.

“It has not,” Arafina said adding a tiny nod. This was obviously a sore subject and everyone could sense that. Arafina spoke up to try to defuse the tension. “At least I still have my spells and I can still open books with my paws. It does take time. It is hard to write with a pen in my teeth…”

“I could help with that,” Lennon said. “I would love to learn this stuff.”

“So would I, actually,” Maya said. “I need to learn about your system of magic and how this charm changed me.”

“We can study together,” Lennon said with a smile. Few of her friends had ever been interested in that.

“We all need to do some studying,” Margaret said. “We’re far too ignorant to tackle the challenge ahead.”

“I hate studying,” Natia said, plucking gently at the strings of her guitar.

“Suck it up, buttercup!” Kelsie said with a smile and Natia sighed but could not help but smile. “

“So, back to our magical powers,” Margaret said. “How do they work?”

“Well, obviously we have some control over a classic element or basic physical force that we can use offensively,” Lennon said.

“Obviously,” Margaret said.

“Yes,” Arafina said. “Lennon has fire, Margaret has light, Kelsie has water, Natia has sound and Maya has Darkness. The use of these powers was meant to be left up to the charm wielder. Use your experiences and visualize your attacks as something you know how to manage. Form the attack with your mind and words and then let loose.”

“Something we can manage like my guitar?” Natia asked.

“Yes,” Arafina said. “I suppose you subconsciously adapted to that mechanic ahead of instruction.”

“Here that?” Natia said with a grin. “I’m advanced! I’ve never been advanced.”

“You still have to study,” Kelsie said.

“Crap!” Natia said and folded her arms. Everybody laughed and after a moment Natia joined in too.

“We should go back down there and test these new powers out on those things that killed your friend, Daffney,” Maya said.

“Wait,” Margaret said. “Should we be going down to confront these things without practicing?”

“Actually, those beings are the weakest of what you might be facing,” Arafina said. “It would be a good test of your powers but it is not without danger.”

“Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty,” Lennon said.

“Let’s watch each others’ backs, Defenders,” Kelsie said. “Right?”

“Right!” They all answered. They were a new to being a team but Daffney had been somebody half the team knew and it was the right thing to do to eliminate the danger if it was still there.

Magical Earth Defenders Pt. 7

July 15, 2017

Transformation

“I’ll go first,” Margaret said. She took a few steps away from the group. None of them knew what to suspect so it was better to be cautious when unleashing these new magical powers.

“Why do you get to go first?” Natia asked.

“I don’t have to,” Margaret said. “I just thought if anybody was nervous I would go first.”

“We’re all nervous, or at least I am,” Lennon said.

“I’m going first,” Kelsie said with force.

“Why you?” Natia asked.

“Because I am,” Kelsie said with a smile and a wink. “Deal with it.” She stepped out to where Margaret was and Margaret rejoined the group. Kelsie was used to being the leader and it showed. She did not mean anything by it and that came out in her forceful yet excited tone.

“How does this work, Arafina?” Lennon asked. They all looked down at their de facto advisor, a talking furry animal.

Arafina dragged a paw across her face, smoothing a bit of fur. I guess if you spent enough time transformed into something close to a cat, you start to take on animal behavior. “Simply raise the charm high and call out ‘Magical Defender Transform” and surrender yourself to the magical energies. The charm will do the rest.”

“Ok, here goes,” Kelsie said as she raised the charm over her head. “Magical Defender Transform!” Her shout seemed to transcend a simple human shout, almost as if it was amplified by a microphone. The charm lit up with a bright blue light that spread over her body. In a flash, a geyser of water shot out of the charm and then snaked around and surrounded Kelsie in what looked like a bubble of water. It hid her from sight.

Inside the bubble, Kelsie struggled for a half a moment before remembering that she was supposed to trust the magic. She stayed in place as the water swirled around her. A few moments later and the water bubble popped, sending a mist of water spraying everywhere but curiously nothing got wet. Kelsie was standing there in what looked like blue leather armor with a flourish that looked like a skirt. She smiled and looked down at herself. “Refreshing!” She said.

The other girls oohed and aahed and clapped. “Well done!” Arafina said. “The power of water is yours to command. Next?”

Natia ran over and high-fived Kelsie. “Me next!” She waited until Kelsie was clear and then called out “Magical Defender Transform!” as she held up her charm. Again, it was louder than any human could shout, even a noisy girl like Natia. The charm lit up with a green light that spread over her body. Suddenly, there was a roar of sound around her that mixed with the green light and made her extremely blurry to the girls.

Natia was excited as the transformation took place. The bass of the sound waves rattled her body but it did not hurt, it felt great. Suddenly, her brother’s guitar appeared in front of her and she reached out and grabbed it. As she did, the sound waves and the green light fell away. She was standing there in what looked like a mix between punk rock gear and armor. The guitar had transformed into a sturdier thing and Natia hugged it in excitement. “Rock on!” She shouted.

“What?!” Arafina shouted. “Where did that guitar come from?”

“I rarely go anywhere without it,” Natia said with a shrug and stepped back towards the group, admiring her new gear.

“I’ll go now,” Margaret said as she stepped out to the exact spot the other two had stood to transform. “Magical Defender Transform!” It was an even more authoritative shout than the usual Washington tone. She held the charm aloft and hers shone with a bright white light. The light flashed and shone and the girls had to look away.

Inside, Margaret found the light pleasing. She felt it reach the core of her being and it was just what she had needed, the power to change the world. She found herself smiling for the first time in what felt like a long time like she was basking in the sunshine. She surrendered to that feeling and when the light fell away she was wearing a white feathered dress complete with wings protruding from her back. She smiled and found herself posing. “Wow!” She said and hurried over to the others.

“You were supposed to have Natia’s power, the power of sound,” Arafina said. “Lennon was supposed to have your power of light. I can only assume that Lennon has the power of -“

“Spoilers!” Natia shouted.

Lennon rolled away from the group. “I guess, I am next.” She took a deep breath and looked down at her wheelchair, not expecting much. “Magical Defender Transform!” She shouted. The sound was the loudest thing that ever came out of the mousy scholar. Immediately a red light emanated from her charm and it stretched over her body and the wheelchair. When the glow had touched everything, flames erupted from everywhere. The flames hid Lennon from sight and the girls instinctually moved to save her but Arafina cut them off and they were reminded that this sort of thing was supposed to happen.

Inside the flames, Lennon felt warm and light. She actually thought that feeling might be touching the parts of her that had been so depressed since she had been confined to the wheelchair. Wait, where was the wheelchair? She realized she was floating in the flames but she felt at peace with that. She knew she would land in her chair. The fire disappeared and she did not land on the chair. She landed gently on her own two feet. She looked down and saw a pair of giant metal braces on her legs and red armor on her body. Happy tears rolled down her cheeks and Kelsie was there to give her a hug. There was a long silence as everybody appreciated what had just happened.

“While transformed, the braces will allow you to walk, run, jump and perform athletic feats,” Arafina said. “When you transform back, you must return to the wheelchair. I cannot cure your medical condition.”

Lennon was smiling, really smiling. “I understand. Neither can the doctors. One day I’ll solve it.”

“I trust you will,” Arafina said. “In the meantime, enjoy the limited mobility.”

While everyone was distracted, Maya stepped forward and shouted. “Magical Defender Transform!”

“No!” Arafina shouted.

The Story Pt. 4

July 1, 2017

The felt cold against my temple and let out a distinctive click. I had seen enough movies to imagine a bullet entering the chamber, ready to pierce my skull and end any more of my thoughts. Imagination is a hell of a thing. The woman was as still as a statue, confident and used to holding a gun. That meant she was unlikely to give me an opening to escape but she was also not likely to make any fatal mistakes. A true professional. I had never been in trouble before. I did not deal with that kind of professional.

“Freeze!” She ordered. “Don’t move a muscle.”

“I’m frozen,” I said. I was almost afraid to talk.

“On your feet,” She said. “Slowly. And keep your hands visible.”

“Any other instructions?” I asked.

“Watch what you say,” She said. There was a small smirk showing just at the corner of her mouth.

“Can I ask what I did? Or actually what you think I did?” I had a hunch who she might be but the library had been shot up and several cars had been detonated. Who knew what alphabet soup organization could have shown up.

“You know what you did,” She said. “You’re one of them now.” Her voice was calm but her voice was clearly accusatory.

“So, you must be an editor,” I said as gently as possible.

“A derogatory term,” She replied. “But yes, that’s why I need to take you in.”

“I said no,” I looked her in the eye, looking past the gun in her hand. I needed her to believe me. “I turned down Wonderland’s offer. I’m still a free agent. I’m still normal.”

“I don’t believe you,” She said. I let out a defeated breath. “Nobody ever turns down real magic.” There was disgust in her voice.

“It seemed like they were using it irresponsibly,” I said. “If you don’t believe me, please at least tell me your name and rank? I need to know how to address you since I have no choice but to go with you.”

“That’s not how we do things,” She said with a smile. I thought for a moment that she would just execute me but she brought out a pair of handcuffs. They were machine-etched with what looked like Nordic runes and other symbols that I did not recognize. These people probably know exactly what they were dealing with when it came to magic. “If you don’t mind.” She gave a little smile and held the cuffs out. I had a feeling that if those handcuffs went on, I would never see the sun or the moon again. I had no choice. I held my wrists out.

That was when the black horse rode onto the scene. On the horse’s back was a man who looked more like a shadow of a man if it crawled off the ground and escaped its owner. There were no pleasantries, the man was immediately yelling in a voice that sounded like death.

“Die!” Was the simple message and I jumped to get out of the way of his swinging sword as he rode directly toward my captor. She rolled out of the way while I dove face first into the grass. She even kept a firm hold of her gun

The horse circled around and the man jumped down from the horse. He advanced on me with his sword while the horse walked menacingly toward the editor. I watched as the horse started to change into a dragon-like creature, snapping its jaws at its target but not catching her yet.

See You On the Other Side

June 24, 2017

I stood on the threshold of the portal. The surface of it was shiny like a mirror dusted with glitter. I could see strange neon-bright circuitry creeping over the walls next to the portal. Pretty soon, the invading technology would be advanced enough to grow a defense of the portal from that strange circuitry moss. Laser grids, grenade launchers, machine guns, sonic pulse emitters and anything else the stuff could think of. It was only a matter of when not if. We had to hurry.

I touched the communications button under my ear gingerly. I was a little wary of being watched in that hallway. “Marianne,” I said into the implanted microphone. “Timing is crucial. Are you going to get here in time?” There was a three-second pause that lasted an eternity.

“Yeah,” Marianne said as she rounded the corner a few feet away. “Hold your horses. It took a bit longer to get through security. This is getting even crazier than I thought.” She spotted the portal and her eyes went wide. “Much crazier.”

Marianne had been my client for the past month. She was the Chief Operating Officer of DOT Industries when the company started to act strangely. Strange orders started coming in and paperwork was getting fudged. When Marianne started to look into it, she had been reprimanded. When she persisted in investigating, she had been removed from her position with a healthy severance payment. She had used part of that severance to hire me. We had been digging for a month and now we had snuck into one of the buildings belonging to her former employers.

“That’s why you hired me,” I said. “I was right, by the way. We have an invasion in progress or at least that’s what it looks like.”

“So do I owe you twenty bucks?” She asked.

“I’m not really happy about it but yes,” I said. I gestured toward the portal. “Shall we?”

“We’re not going in there are we?” She asked. She had obviously been a tough executive but there was a difference between that and jumping into a strange portal. Adventuring took a different kind of guts and maybe a little stupidity.

“We have to know what is on the other side,” I said. “What did you think we were going to do?”

She pulled out a camera. “Well, take some pictures and get the word out.” She aimed the camera at the portal.

“No flash,” I said. “You might startle the moss.”

“Of course not,” Marianne replied. She snapped the picture and then two more to be safe.

“That thing doesn’t have any scanning technology, does it?” I asked. I was no scientist. I could pretty much tell the portal was stable but beyond that, I was out of my element. I would have loved a little more data.

“No,” She said. “However, it did upload to three different servers and it was sent to a friend of mine.”

I had to admire her drive and attention detail. “Well, if you’re done with the photography, we may never get another chance to see the other side of this thing.”

“How do we know we can get back?” She asked.

“I have a transponder on me that I can activate,” I said. “It will provide coordinates for our own portal. I have friends on standby too.”

“You think that will work?” She asked.

“It hasn’t failed me yet,” I said. “By the way, if that techno-organic moss is what I think it is, we should try and keep electronics close. They might be able to absorb our tech.”

“What about you?” She asked.

“What about me?” I asked, watching her watching me.

“Well, I don’t want to pry,” She said. “But don’t you have a lot of cybernetic parts?” I must have shown surprise on my face because she added. “I do my research before hiring anybody.”

“And you still hired me,” I said softly. Cybernetics and old school surgical corrections had fallen out of favor when genetic recombination and nanotechnology had advanced.

“I don’t judge,” She said. “You’re not less human to me. Just somebody who got broken and repaired the best way they knew how.”

I was surprised by the acceptance. “Um, thank you,” I said. “We really should be going, though. Anything could set off the alarms at any minute.”

“Um, can we breathe on the other side?” She asked.

“If it was dangerous over there, we would have already passed out,” I said.

“Comforting,” She said.

I nodded and drew my pistol from where it was shielded from scans, hidden in a cavity in my right hip. I ran through the portal. It felt like stepping through a curtain of falling mercury except for that right afterward you feel like you are falling. Except, you are still stepping forward in the same moment. It is incredibly disorienting which is probably why portal travel never caught on commercially. After a swirl of light and color, I came out on the other side. I stepped aside so that Marianne would not bump into me when she came through. Then I turned to look at what we had stumbled onto.

The place was absolutely covered in eye-searingly neon circuitry. The stuff had formed itself into structures either for purposes of form or function or both. It was hard to take in but it strikingly beautiful. I heard a soft rippling noise from the left of me. Then Marianne let out a soft and breathy ‘Wow’. I nodded, that was the word for it.

Magical Earth Defenders Pt. 5

June 17, 2017

The Star and the Shadow

Daff was so hyped to be heading to auditions for the Spring Musical. She had been in every school show since she was old enough to try out. However, this was the first year that she felt that she could actually get the lead. She enjoyed being in the ensemble. She enjoyed the costumes, the energy, and the camaraderie. However, she felt like she had paid her dues and it was her time to shine. She really wanted to shine.

She had wanted to be a star since she was old enough to walk. She wanted to be the one out in front in the lights and maybe even that white hot spotlight. She wanted people to look up to her like she had looked up to the stars before her. It was the cycle that show business was built on. She wanted to be part of that business for real so badly. Experience here might serve her well in the future or she might even get seen by the right people and secure her future. The possibilities were thrilling and they fed her excitement and confidence that she would pour into her audition.

Suddenly, she tripped over something. She recovered her balance at the last moment and looked around. A thing that was not a cat had been in her path.

“Hey!” Daff yelled. “You almost made me fall! I could have been hurt, you need to watch where you’re going. Oh God, I’m yelling at a cat.”

The thing looked up at her. “Daffney Sinclair, there is little time but I do apologize. We need to meet with the others. Time is short.”

“What?” Daff said. “You have to explain.”

“There is no time, Daffney. Take this charm and follow me!” The thing yelled. A charm flew through the air toward Daffney. She caught the charm in midair. It was some sort of metal with an orange crystal in the center of it. She tried to argue but it was pretty and the cat thing was gone. She needed to find it and fast.

* * *

Maya ran as fast as she could through the city streets. She knew her appearance startled all of the people she passed. Runes from various cultures decorated much of her skin in inky black. However, it was not ink. It was concentrated dark energy. It had been the only way to hide and protect herself from the strange invaders that were chasing her. It was the only way to fight back. The use of dark magic had turned her hair oily black and her skin chalky white. She looked like something out of a Japanese horror movie. She had been on the run for so long but now they were finally catching up.

She had only a little idea who they were. She knew they were called the Dark Covenant and that they controlled terrible magicks but that was about it. They had killed Maya’s parents right before her eyes. An old witch had come from nowhere and rescued Maya and took her on as an apprentice. She learned spells and runes but Maya fled when she learned of the dark nature of the spells she was learning. She did not want to fall into the darkness, even if it meant saving her life and avenging her parents.

She was on her own for the first time in her life. She drifted from place to place. When there was danger, she ran. A few days ago, she had felt the pull to come here to Drake City. She had gone immediately. She had never been there before and it was a long way from her homeland but something about it felt right. Maybe her journey could finally be over. Somehow, the creatures had made it there first and that dream was in danger again.

Maya rounded the corner and ran right into a girl her age. As they both fell to the ground, Maya saw a glittering orange charm clatter to the pavement. All around them, the brick walls and blacktop formed humanoid shapes. These newly formed monsters surrounded the two young girls. Maya was instantly back on her feet, her runes pulsing with power.

“Get behind me!” Maya yelled out.

Before the other girl could move, one of the brick monsters held up its hand. What could only be described as pink flame shot out and hit the other girl. With an unearthly shriek, the girl fell back to the pavement. She was not moving but she was still burning with those strange pink flames.

“No!” Maya cried out. The brick monster turned to her but she poured will into a collection of runes on her wrist and she teleported before the pink flame could touch her. Unfortunately, the spell did not work for long distance so she was only just outside the circle of monsters. A thing that was not a cat came running from the alley. It stopped cold when it saw the burning body.

“Daffney! No, I was too late,” The thing said with a yowl. Maya reached down and picked up the charm that Daffney had dropped. She held it in her hand and watched the crystal turn black. The cat thing yowled again. “No! That’s not for you! Drop it!”

“What the hell are you?” Maya yelled. Everything was happening so fast. It was hard to concentrate on the danger when confronted with a talking animal.

“It’s too late! Bring the charm with us! Run!” The thing yelled. Maya chased after it, out of the alleyway. She needed answers. For the first time since this whole thing had begun, there was somebody besides that awful witch who might know about these monsters. The two of them sprinted down the street. Thankfully, the monsters seemed to be as slow as you would expect brick and blacktop monsters would be. Pink flame shot out of the alleyway behind them but it came just short, missing them both. Maya heard the screams of bystanders on the street. She started to turn back.

“No!” The cat thing yelled. “We can’t help them like this. I want to help them too but we need assistance first.”

“Like this? Like what?” Maya yelled back. Everything made less sense than usual.

“Run!” The cat thing commanded and Maya shut up and ran harder, feeling her own darkness pushing her forward faster. She scooped up the cat thing and kept running. “Turn right ahead!” It yelled out.

Maya hung a right and nearly ran into four startled girls, one of them in a wheelchair. The thing called something out into the gathering twilight that Maya did not hear clearly. There was a flash of light and then all of them were gone from the streets of Drake City.

Magical Earth Defenders Pt. 4

June 3, 2017

The Gravity

When Kelsie walked into the locker room, there was already a lot of shouting. It was not the good, after-game excitement shouting. It was angry shouting. Ruby and Nikki were going at it and it looked like they were about to start shoving each other. Kelsie could not tell what the fight was about but she knew it was up to her to end it. She stepped between the warring factions.

“Hey!” She yelled. “You two need to quit it and cool down. Can you do that for me, please?”

“I was just trying to change and get out of here,” Ruby said. “but she picked a fight with me.”

“You little snitch!” Nikki yelled.

“Whoa,” Kelsie said. “How about you tell me what’s wrong, Nikki? We solve problems together on this team.”

Nikki sighed and backed off of Ruby but she was pacing a little. “If Ruby had passed me the ball in that last quarter, we would have won. Instead, she passed to her girl Bailey and Bailey blew it.”

Kelsie glanced over to see Bailey blush and look down. Kelsie walked over and put a hand on Bailey’s shoulder. “Bailey did not blow it. She tried her best. I bet she gets the next one.”

“Yeah, I will,” Bailey said with a smile that warmed slowly and showed her confidence returning.

“And she’s not just Ruby’s girl,” Kelsie said. “She’s our teammate and so is Ruby and so are you, Nikki. Maybe Ruby didn’t see what you saw. We’ll get better at that through practice. We can only get better together, right?” She looked at Nikki purposefully. It was not a hard look or an unfriendly look but it was an unshakably confident look. Nikki looked down, breaking first and looking ashamed.

“Yes, Captain Kelsie,” Nikki said softly.

“I can’t hear you!” Kelsie yelled with a smile. This was directed at the whole room rather than just picking on Nikki.

“Yes, Captain Kelsie!” The girls in the locker room shouted and that included Nikki.

Kelsie beamed with pride. “Besides, what would our coach do if she saw this? I’ll tell you what she would do. She would make all of us do laps and we already just played a hard game. I don’t want to do laps, do you?”

“Okay Okay,” Nikki said with a groan. “We get it. I won’t fight anymore. I’ll play nice. I’m sorry.”

“Awesome,” Kelsie said. She held out her fist and Nikki touched her fist to it. Nikki sighed and turned to Ruby and held out her fist. The two of them touched fists together. Kelsie liked that but decided not to ruin the moment by pointing it all out. She loved the lacrosse team.

One by one, the team filtered out of the locker room. Kelsie stayed behind to tidy up a bit. Nobody on the team would dare be messy in the locker room but there were a few things to tuck away so the janitor could get everywhere with the mop. After tidying, Kelsie decided to take a shower. The loss of the game was hitting her again and it was hard to remain positive.

As the water ran over her and she breathed in the steam, she replayed the highlights of the game in her head. She thought of how they could have done things differently. She thought of how they could work to improve next practice. That was why Coach Marnie had chosen Kelsie as team captain. She was very passionate but positive about everything she did. She did her best to put a smile on her teammate’s faces and a little extra effort into their performances.

It was so quiet when she got out of the shower. She lived for the roar and rush of the game but sometimes a little quiet was good too. She felt safe there because this locker room was like a second home to her. She grabbed a towel and started to dry as she walked through the locker room. Kelsie loved to take her time after a game. The light rail would come around when she was ready. It was also Friday so homework for Monday was not exactly pressing. For the moment, she had all the time in the world.

“Kelsie Gutierrez!” A voice called out and Kelsie yelped and dropped her towel. he bent down to retrieve it, but she looked around wildly.

“Not funny!” Kelsie yelled. “You can’t do that to a girl in a towel!” She huffed and looked around for which friend had played such a dirty trick. When she came around a group of lockers, a thing that was not a cat was sitting on a bench. Kelsie froze in confusion.

“Sorry for scaring you, Kelsie,” The thing said. “We have need of your positive spirit and unbreakable nerve.”

Kelsie nearly dropped her towel again. “W-what!? How can you be talking? What are you talking about? Aren’t you a little short for a college recruiter?”

“I am recruiting you to save the world,” the thing said. “We need you.”

“Who is we? Who are you?” Kelsie asked.

“I will explain at the meeting,” the thing said. “Bring this charm to the location on the note.” Then the thing dropped a charm and a note and ran out of the locker room, leaving Kelsie with more questions. She grabbed up the charm which turned from blue to purple.”

Magical Earth Defenders Pt. 3

May 27, 2017

The Sound

Natia sat under the bridge, clutching her guitar to her chest tightly. Usually, she would be with her friends jamming out a little bit. She loved being loud but now it was time to be quiet for once. When she had been headed to the jam space, she was sure that she had spotted the local truancy officer, Mr. Collins. She had thought that she knew how to shake them off but this one seemed especially aggressive. Natia’s usual indestructible confidence was shaken.

She pulled out her phone and texted “007” to her friends both as a warning and to psych herself up. The thought of the famously ridiculous spy made her smile. She could do this. She was better than any Bond, she was Natia Apatu. She looked around for some way to escape. Just a few feet away, there was a grate over a large pipe that looked like it might access the sewer. It was not the most pleasant way to travel but there was a sink and a hose at the jam space. She could get clean again. Mostly clean.

She pulled at the grate and, surprisingly, it came off right away. It was not even that heavy. This did not exactly inspire confidence in the municipal infrastructure. Of course, Natia and her friends regularly raged against that machine so it was not remarkable for her to criticize or expect much from the city. She loved the people but hated the man. The man did not like freedom and Natia was all about freedom.

She stepped into the pipe, ducking her head and slinging the guitar under her right arm. She reached back and pulled the grate back into place the best she could. It kind of looked exactly how it had looked before. At least, this is what Natia hoped. She doubted the officer would crawl through the sewers to catch one preteen girl who was skipping school but the paranoia was real. She quickly and carefully crawled further down the pipe.

Thankfully, the thing was dry. She had imagined it would be absolutely caked with questionable oozing substances so she was glad to be wrong. She idly hoped nobody flushed but as far as she knew, the sewer did not work like that. This was probably just a storm drain. This was going to be easier than she thought. The only worry she had was her guitar. Everything else could heal but her older brother had given her the guitar before leaving for college. It was irreplaceable.

Natia missed her brother dearly. The had been pretty close growing up, squabbling sometimes but they always had each others’ back. They often got into trouble together but Samula was also always getting Natia out of it. She missed that. She really did. After he left, school did not feel worth going to and teachers got no respect from Natia. Not when dreams of a hit record danced behind her eyes. Besides, she had made friends with a bunch of kids who were also done with school.

At the other end of the pipe, was the sewer. Natia tried to count out the distance so that she could slide under and past Mr. Collins. Once she was sure that she had gotten past the guy, he started to climb a ladder. This was so 007. She started to hum before she realized that she was humming Mission Impossible and not James Bond. She hummed one of her own compositions instead. It kept her hands steady.

The manhole at the top of the ladder was heavy. She heaved but nearly lost her balance on the ladder. Instead, she used her shoulder, grunting with the exertion. The manhole finally moved. She shoved it aside as carefully as she could and found herself in an alleyway. She leaned the guitar against the wall and gently moved the manhole back into place, trying not to make any more noise. After that, she sat next to her guitar to catch her breath and get her bearings.

The alley looked kind of familiar. On a whim, Natia clambered up some boxes and crawled into an open window. Luckily, it was the right building. She recognized the crappy wallpaper and everything. Natia sighed with relief. The rest of the gang was probably already in the room. They were a stealthy bunch and half of them usually crashed in the room anyway. They probably had not even known the officer was around.

She headed up the stairs two at a time, shouldering her guitar as she walked. There was not a spot of dirt on it and that made her proud. She started to tune it. IT felt good to be home free. Each musical tone from her guitar made her more excited, more alive. It was time for another day of rock and roll. She opened the door to absolute silence. Nobody was there.

“Where is everybody?” Natia asked the room.

“They got caught by the truant officer,” A voice said from somewhere. “They’re gone.”

“Who’s there?” Natia asked. A thing that was not a cat came out from behind a speaker.

“Natia Apatu. I will not answer that question right now,” The voice said. “But we have a need for your creative energy. It could save the world.”

“Save the world?” Natia asked. “Who is ‘we’?”

“That is not quite settled yet,” The things said. “Take this charm and meet us at the location on the note.”

The thing dropped a charm and a slip of paper jumped out of the window. Natia scrambled over and picked up the charm which went from red to green.


susanne matthews

Living the Dream

Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

(but it won't get me)

Daily (w)rite

A DAILY RITUAL OF WRITING

Wrestling Dreams

Wrestling analysis from the fans to the fans

The Empire of Carane

Where fiction comes to life

DMing With Charisma

Stories, Reviews and Opinions!

half a 1000 miles

cringeworthy (adj) -- causing feelings of awkwardness or embarrassment

kayrayiam

Adventures of a Gypsy Nurse with a Cryptic Past

Abbs Abroad

27 Months with a Maryland Girl in Senegal

Princess of Dragons

A world of imagination, writing and dragons

the eye of the beholder

(a place where beauty is found)

%d bloggers like this: