Prompt Short Story: Remembering (Lawkeepers #3)

Patterson shifted in their sleep, the cot in the back of the van creaking as they sought a comfortable position. Shia looked back in concern as they gave a whimper. And then another.

With a sharp intake of breath, Patterson woke, one arm flailing to escape the blanket. They looked around, their soft brown eyes wide, taking deep breaths as they brought themselves back to the here and now.

In the apartment. Across from a large, empty, rundown building. Another stakeout, a long one this time, information gathering rather than taking action. It meant downtime, time to think, time to dream. Time to remember.

Losing the witch again had triggered a flood that Patterson had long been holding back. There had been no sign of her since, and the captive they’d taken was unable to tell them anything about her whereabouts, as he had only ever seen her as a projection. As far as Patterson was concerned, the other information he was spouting in hopes of making a deal could be dealt with by someone else. And yet, here they were, following up a lead from the guy.

A slavers market was apparently going to take place here. People with powers, or gifts, or some sort, captured by any number of schemes – from fake refugee transport to catfishing, vulnerable people of all kinds were sold to the highest bidder, to do with as they pleased. And while the exact date and location remained unspecified until the market was actually on, buyers were put on alert, and help – including their recent captive – was hired for setup.

Patterson sat up, and pulled the hair tie off their wrist, pulling back their long auburn tresses into a loose ponytail and sliding into their chair beside Shia, who took one glance at their pale, drawn face, and looked back at the monitors.

“Hey,” Patterson said, eventually.

“Hey,” Shia returned. “Nothing new to report.”

“Yeah. We figured it wouldn’t be today, looks like we were right.”

“My money’s still on the day after tomorrow.”

“You might be right, actually. They need some setup to run an operation like this and we’ve seen nothing.”

Patterson sat back and sighed.

“You had another nightmare.”

“I know.”

“You want to talk about it yet? If you refuse to see the therapist the Chief keeps offering, you can at least talk to me.”

“That would involve knowing where the hell to begin…”

“Tell me about the witch.”

“Justinia…I can’t start with her, that’d be bringing you in halfway through the story. But…I can start a bit earlier. Back to when I was human. It’s a long one, but I’ll try to cut out the boring bits and the gruesome bits for you.”

Shia shifted, getting comfortable in her seat, “I’m listening.”

“I was turned when I was 27, but that was a lot of years ago. It was 1839, and I was just the youngest child of a blacksmith. My older brother and sister were going to inherit the forge and the business, and they were already 13 and 16, and working towards that when, surprise! I showed up. I wasn’t expected, and I wasn’t wanted, and when it became clear that I wasn’t like other people, I was cast out of the family. Soot was drawn across my brow, my parents spat at my feet, and I was given a small bundle with a change of clothes, some bread and cheese and a flask of water, and told never to darken their door again.

“So I left the township and I travelled across the country. I ate berries, stolen bread, even grass when I was starved enough. I slept in fields, empty barns, in the shelter of trees. I occasionally found work, as a serving boy or messenger, but I always had to move on. I refused to state my gender, or dress as one or the other consistently. I had to be me, you know? All I had was my sense of self, I couldn’t bear to conceal it, not for any reason – even my own best interests. So. The whispers would start. Or some boy or girl would get a crush. Something would start it up, and I’d leave in the night carrying whatever I could scrounge, and be long gone by the time anyone noticed.

“I did this until I was about 20. I was hardened by then. I thought nothing and nobody could touch me.

“One day, walking down one of the lanes. a carriage stopped by me and the passenger invited me aboard. I accepted the ride, and quickly found out three things. One: the passenger was like me. Two: they had been looking for me since one of their people had seen me a while back and found out everything they could. And three: they had a job they wished to offer me.

“When I say the passenger was like me, I mean they dressed like I would if I had only had the money. On the day we met, they wore a flowing skirt and jacket with tails, heeled boots and a corset, makeup and jewellery. To me, they looked like a dream. I fell in love instantly – so quickly that I asked no questions about the spy, the job, the blackout curtains over the windows, their pale face beneath the blush, or the thick red liquid they poured for themselves, whilst offering me simple tea.

“They called themselves Liliane. No title or surname, just…Liliane. I travelled with them for two days, staying in fine hotels, dining on food so rich it made my stomach hurt, sleeping in beds so soft I would panic on waking, wondering if I’d died and lay on a cloud. They treated me kindly, and told me that I would be taken to a tailor, to be clothed exactly as I desired. They told me I was not only not alone, but ought to be revered, as through all the hardships and closed mindedness, I’d never allowed anything or anyone to change or challenge who I was. They treated me as if I were special, and for the very first time, I felt like I…was normal. More than normal, perhaps even…superior.

“Their home was an old house, refurbished to be modern, containing 3 wings full of rooms, art, and people. It was miles from anywhere else – my new patron explained that they enjoyed the privacy. I saw that many of the people there, both guests and staff, were, if not quite the same as me, clearly not the same as everyone else, either. Though I wouldn’t have the right words to describe it all for some time to come, I realised that this was a haven for people of all genders and sexualities, all races and differences. Any who were prejudiced against, or unable to be their true selves, elsewhere, were welcome here. It was like a dream.

“And still I failed to notice the signs. Until I walked into my patron’s room one day. My job varied wildly, but mostly I was there to attend to them as they required. This day, an urgent message had arrived, demanding that it be looked at immediately. I obeyed, knocked, thought I heard an invitation to enter, and did so. I found Liliane naked, in bed with one of the other guests. That itself wasn’t unusual, but this? She was drinking blood directly from their wrist.

“She looked up at me, and for the first time I saw her vampire face. Grey and veined, mouth wide and fanged, eyes glowing coals beneath an overhung brow. I know now that every vampire, over a number of years, can form their vampire face how they choose, and if they don’t, it will remain essentially the same as their human face, with some minor changes to accommodate the extra teeth. To be truthful, that knowledge makes this worse. I know now that she chose that look. Back then, it was simply the most horrifying thing I’d ever seen.

“I’d heard about vampires, and other extranatural creatures, of course, but like most humans who haven’t met one in person, I dismissed them as simple tales. I took in that face, the act I’d interrupted, I realised the tales were true, and in an instant, I knew what to do.

“I took a step forward, even as Liliane and her guest hurried to clean themselves up. ‘Make me like you’, I whispered. Pleaded, really. The sudden, desperate need to be like her threw everything else into a pale shadow. This was it. This was what I was destined for.

“So when she dismissed her guest, sat me down, and gently told me no, I was stunned. I begged, on my knees, to be changed, but she told me no, and threatened to eject me from her house if I told anyone else, or refused to drop the subject. I asked her why, and she shook her head, said I didn’t know what it was I asked for. She would wish immortality, and dependence on blood, upon nobody.

“After that, my job became less about attending to her, and more about attending to her guests. I obeyed, silently hoping she would relent, or provide me an opportunity to ask again, to show her I was serious. But she put me further and further away from her.

“So I made a new plan. I studied the guests until I was certain I had found a vampire with loose enough morals to change me, and as I attended him one evening, I asked if he were, indeed, a vampire. He told me he was, showed me his fangs in a handsome, pointed face, as pale as moonlight. I asked him to turn me, and he told me he would, but that I must first leave with him on the morrow because Liliane would never forgive him, or me. His name was Celius, and we ran away together that night. We travelled over the weekend to his cottage in the northern mountains, and the night we arrived, he stripped us both bare, and gave me my first taste of sex. It was the most wonderful thing I had ever experienced, and in the afterglow, he stroked my hair and pulled me close, draining my blood, before giving me his.

“I slept the Sleep, and awoke a vampire, still in his bed, with him naked next to me, crooning softly. He fed me blood from a flask, then another, until I was sated, assuring me it was animal blood, that no human need ever die for me to eat – though many would volunteer themselves as a meal. He told me the secrets of our kind, and he took me to places of pleasure I had never imagined before. I thought myself in heaven.

“Then I met her. Justinia. A week after my change she came to visit, wanting to meet Celius’ new pet, as she called me. It was clear she was jealous – an ex lover, of course, not pleased to be sharing the man she thought of as her own. But I sat back and smiled, trusting in my new love to protect me, and assuming, foolishly, that he had the same ideas about he and I, as I did.

“I was wrong. He and the witch, despite her jealousy, had been looking for a person like me. Gullible. Blind. Foolish. They drugged my blood and the next time I woke, it was in a basement laboratory.

“You ask about my nightmares. That’s where they come from. You see, both of them wanted to know what made a vampire tick. How are we immortal? How does our body change to use blood as our sustenance? How do we do the various and varied magics we learn over time, and what dictates who learns what? How far can one be hurt and still recover? And so on. It was torture disguised as research, and I’ll never describe those days to anyone. But I escaped. I barely remember how, just that one day they were careless, they didn’t lock everything back up properly when they left me for the night, and I worked my way out and ran. 

“They thought I’d forget. They thought I drank the blood they gave me, with its forgetting spell. But I could sense the spell and I starved, pouring it away rather than drink it. So I remembered. Everything. I don’t know how much longer I could have resisted, and I don’t know how I kept going that night. By dawn, I was close enough to a farm that I could hide in their barn. I buried myself in the hayloft and slept. When I woke that night, I found a new power was developing. I called, and rats came. They offered themselves to me as food, and I drank it directly through their filthy, flea-ridden fur.

“I called again when I felt stronger, and the farm cat came. It was big and strong, well groomed and fed. It offered itself to me, but I told it to run home. I wouldn’t take someone’s love from them, animal or otherwise. With the strength from the rats, I made it to the woods, and called wild animals, who again offered themselves to me. Those I drank, as it did no more harm than if I’d hunted them for their meat.

“It was a long time before I felt myself secure enough to do anything but run and hide. I don’t know how they reacted to my disappearance, but I swore I would hunt them one day and ensure they couldn’t harm anyone else. I got him some years back, before I became a Lawkeeper. I won’t tell you what I did to him, you might feel the need to arrest me,” Patterson gave her a tired smile. “But that’s why the witch is so important. That’s why the nightmares. That’s why…so many things.”

Shia reached out and squeezed Patterson’s hand in hers. 

They squeezed back for a moment, then let go.

“Thank you for telling me. We’ll get her, Pat. I swear to you we will.”

Patterson nodded, and turned back to the screens, “Why don’t you get some sleep. I wouldn’t mind some quiet time, after sharing that.”

“Sounds good to me,” Shia stood, stretched, and carefully arranged herself on the cot, staring at the ceiling. She was glad they’d finally opened up, but that was way worse than she’d been expecting. Fucking witch. She wouldn’t be out there much longer, Shia swore that to herself. They’d find her. Soon. And she would be lucky to make it as far as an arrest, if Shia had anything to say about it. 

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

They thought I’d forget. But I remembered. Everything. TomiAyademi.com

Prompt Short Story: Stakeout (Lawkeepers 2)

Patterson stretched in the back of the black van, their eyes never leaving the monitors showing feeds of the front and back of the house.

Shia yawned and slumped further down in her chair, I. Am. So. Bored!”

Patterson shrugged, “Sometimes that’s the job. You want be a Lawkeeper, you have to take the fun with the…less fun.”

“Sitting in a van, drinking coffee-laced blood, staring at screens where nothing is happening. Definitely the less fun.”

Patterson leaned back in their chair, “My first long stakeout was watching the entrance to a cave lair – there were more of those back then, houses were still the place where humans lived, only the fanciest of extranaturals dared join the natural world. We’d been tipped off that this was where a particularly nasty creature was taking young men from nearby towns. We didn’t know what creature it was, so we had to watch and find out. Anyway, me and my mentor, Xulien, sat for three days, in a hastily constructed tree blind, waiting for something to happen. Eventually, it came out to get its next meal. Turned out to be a rather large and especially ugly Manticore.”

“A what?”

“Look it up in the library later, but they’re hybrids of various creatures. This one was a mix of bat, mantis, and beetle, and it had a very nasty poison which it could seep from its pores – so we couldn’t fight it close up, we had to stay at range. And of course we didn’t have such useful weapons, back then, all we had were crossbows and some gunpowder. We wound up trapping the treeline near us in case of a fight, and waited, getting ready to confront it and request entry to its cave to look for proof. But when it came back with a young lad tied up and struggling to escape, that was all the proof we needed! We hopped down to arrest it and free the lad – even a Manticore deserves the chance to come quietly, after all. But, the tying just dropped the lad and attacked. So, we shot it and lured it into the traps. Fortunately the lad had the brains to run away as soon as we freed him, and by the time he’d brought half his village up with torches and pitchforks, we were cleaned up and long gone.”

“Torches and pitchforks. Really.” Shia huffed dryly as she took a swig from her thermos.

“Well, maybe not all pitchforks, but you get the idea,” Patterson gave her one of their rare smiles. 

“So, did you, like, exercise your right as a vampire Lawkeeper to drink the blood of a vanquished Lawbreaker, blah blah.”

Patterson grimaced, “I did. Xulien told me I’d earned the first drink, because the traps had been my idea – always go in hoping for a peaceful resolution, but prepared for a fight, and all. It was so disgusting I was vomiting for an hour. And Xulien nearly made himself sick laughing.”

Shia frowned. “Charming.”

“Anyway, that reminds me – I thought a lot on what you said the other day about me not having a sense of humour.”

“I said that?”

“You said that.”

“Then I stand by it. Why?”

“Will you tell me a joke? I’ve been reading up on how to find humour in things.”

Shia laughed, “Only you would try to read a book on how to find things funny. Alright, fiiiine.”

Patterson sat up straighter, cleared their throat, and loosened their neck, “Ahem. OK. I’m ready.”

Shia shook her head in despair, “Alright, let’s start with a simple, classic style joke.”

On the screen showing the back of the house, something moved.

“Knock, knock.”

Patterson smiled, they knew this one, “Who’s there? Ow!” Patterson’s hand flew to their jaw and they looked at Shia, hurt in their eyes, “Why did you punch me in the face?”

“There’s something happening, look,” she pointed to the screen where a figure was walking towards the back of the house, strolling across the untidy garden.

“OK, but, why did you hit me?”

“I needed your attention, and it…seemed like a good idea at the time.” Shia looked sheepish, “Sorry, I guess I panicked a bit.”

“It’s fine, we’ll work on your instinctual reactions later. At least you’re too weak to actually hurt me.”

Shia gave them a side eye, “Was that a joke?”

“I was trying for sarcasm. Did it work?”

Shia nodded, “It did, well done. So now what? With the stakeout, I mean, not your terrible sense of humour.”

Patterson leaned in, studying the screen, “I don’t think that’s our woman. Look. Too short, too broad in the shoulders. I’m reluctant to enter without her there, if she gets scared off we might not find her for years. I’ll give it another couple of hours, then we can’t wait any longer, we need something to show the boss or he’ll pull us off this and onto another case.”

Shia nodded, checking her watch. She could wait another couple of hours. As long as Patterson didn’t keep insisting on displaying their ability to find things funny.

***

Patterson had proven far too busy staring at the screen and muttering to themselves to continue showing off their research. When two hours had passed, they shoved their chair back from the desk and turned to the kit hanging on the other side of the van, pulling out various bits of hardware for themselves and Shia.

Between them, they carried several magazines of hollow point bullets, loaded with a poison specifically created to destroy the central nervous system of a human, leaving them temporarily paralysed but able to speak. They didn’t know who or what the other figure had been, but this should put them down as well as the witch they hunted, should she be there or show up. For safety, they also carried a magazine of silver and hardwood bullets, plus a set of tranquiliser darts with a lightweight dartgun, containing enough to put down any humanoid creatures they might encounter. On top of this, they carried knives made of mixed alloys, including silver and iron. Over their clothes, they slid on and tightened specially made kevlar vests, with high collars and face masks.

Fully kitted out, they checked their own, and then each other’s, getup, and exited the van.

They were parked around a corner, a street down from the house they had been watching. Silently, keeping to the shadows Patterson pulled in and swirled around them, they made their way to the house.

Pausing at the front, Shia closed her eyes and concentrated. The air over the front door and windows hummed and shimmered gently, before settling back.

“That’ll hold for about 20 minutes,” Shia said, panting slightly and wiping sweat from her face.

“Good job,” Patterson nodded, and they moved off, down the side of the house and to the back door.

Opening it quietly, the two vampires slid inside, the only sound the buzzing of the lock being sealed by Patterson. That plus the forcefield at the front would keep anyone inside contained for a while.

The kitchen felt cold and empty, as if unused for months, if not years. Nothing sat on the counters, and the only thing in the sink was a caked-on water line.

They moved around the rickety table in the centre – no chairs sat waiting for occupants, just a lopsided surface with a layer of dust – and to the door beyond, which led to the living room.

Peering through the door, Patterson saw another disused room. Two plump sofas, losing stuffing, and a coffee table with its glass surface missing. An old-style CRT TV sat on an ugly metal stand, a dvd/vcr machine on a shelf below. Video tapes filled a set of shelves on the wall, dust floating in the dim moonlight coming through a crack in the mismatched curtains. The mantelpiece was empty, save for a single, long dead, flower of indeterminate species.

A murmur reached their ears, coming from above, and they moved, making no more than a whisper of a sound, through to the open doorway leading to the front door, and the stairs.

The stairs were bare wood, chipped and splintering. There was no way that walking up them could be done silently. Patterson guessed it was meant to act as a warning system for whoever was up there. But they hadn’t counted on them.

Teeth glinting in the night, Patterson reached out and pulled Shia close.

Responding to her confusion, they raised a finger and pointed upwards.

Patterson held Shia firmly around the waist, and slowly their feet left the ground, levitating silently up the stairs.

Shia’s eyes grew wide, this was a Power she didn’t know Patterson possessed.

Setting them down gently outside the one closed door upstairs, they each took up a position, one on either side.

Some form of magic was muffling the sounds within, they could be heard but not clearly enough to understand. One of the Powers the witch possessed. At least they now knew for sure she was here.

Counting down on their fingers, Patterson reached zero and booted the door off its hinges, gun raised in one hand, knife held blade-down in the other.

“Stay exactly where you are, you’re both under arrest.”

The room contained only two facing armchairs, on which sat the witch, and the person they had seen entering earlier. 

As they shouted, the witch rolled her eyes, flickered, and vanished. 

Patterson swore and turned their attention to the other person.

The actually present person sighed, “Vampires?”

Shia nodded and bared her teeth.

“You can’t drink me if I come quiet!”

Shia visibly sighed and Patterson shrugged at their new captive.

“She’s eager. Shia, please cuff the gentleman. Looks like Justinia is more cautious than we thought, and I wasn’t aware that was a Power she had. Still, I’m sure our new friend here will have something to tell us.”

Shia pulled a strip of paper from her pocket, reciting a string of words under her breath as she had been taught. Once finished, the paper grew, stretched, and flew over to hogtie the target, who had sat back in defeat once cornered.

Patterson made a call and they both stood guard until a team of mixed extranaturals showed up to take custody of their prisoner.

“Thanks folks. Keep him in lockdown until tomorrow, one of the cells with a decent bed and a privacy screen for the toilet. Food and drink is fine for now, too, he’s not yet pissed me off,” Patterson turned to the prisoner, “And if you continue to be good by giving me information, I’ll have a deal to offer you when we’re done. Piss me off though, and I’ll be less generous.”

Shia followed Patterson back to their van, where they removed their kit, and Patterson buckled themselves into the passenger seat, indicating that she could drive.

“We’ll get her, boss,” Shia assured them. 

“We will,” Patterson’s face grew pale, their eye teeth growing, eyes glowing red at their core, “And when we do…no questions. No prison. I’m having an execution order drawn up in the morning.”

She nodded. Patterson hadn’t exactly been forthcoming about their history with Justinia, but it was clear there was something bad there. Something that ate away at them. She hoped they would feel ready to tell her soon, but she could hold her peace until then.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

“Knock knock. “Who’s there?–OW! Why’d you punch me in the face?” “Seemed like a good idea at the time.” NumawokCreative.com

Prompt Short Story: Lawkeepers

Pattinson straightened their suit jacket as they got out of their car. Sniffing the air, they sighed as the scent of blood permeated the miscellaneous smells of a quiet neighbourhood. She never waited for them. Always eager, always running in ahead.

Opening the front door of the house they had spent most of the last 3 days watching, they stared at the bodies on the ground, at the girl covered in blood.

Her eyes narrowed as she stood up, “You’re late.”

“You’re overeager.”

She snorted, licking blood from her fingers, tongue darting quickly between her extended fangs.

“Took a minute longer than expected to persuade the Council of our findings. Fortunately for you, they agreed to the execution order.”

“Of course they die, these ghouls were killing people for their parts. They knew the laws, they broke them, they paid. Drink up while it’s still warm, then you can take me somewhere nice before you do the boring paperwork.”

Patterson rolled their eyes, but picked up one of the bodies with one hand, holding it against the wall as they bit into the dead ghoul’s shoulder. Not exactly the tastiest meal, but it was enough to keep them going, and one of the benefits of being a Lawkeeper.

“Alright,” they said, wiping the blood from their mouth. “I’ll call in the cleanup on the way. Where do you want to go?”

Shia grinned, “Tenders, obviously. You can get us in, right?”

Patterson sighed inwardly. They hated clubs, but, a night of dancing might calm Shia enough for a serious talk at sundown tomorrow. Patterson knew she had run out of chances. Another incident, and they would be forced to hand her to the Council for their more invasive techniques. 

So, they nodded, “Always. Let’s go.”

Patterson led Shia out to the car and checked his face in the rearview mirror, ensuring no traces of blood remained. Satisfied, they slid the car into gear and out onto the road, heading for the exclusive lounge bar.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

He stared at the bodies on the ground, at the girl coverer in blood. Her eyes narrowed as she stood up. “You’re late.” TomiAdeyemi.com

Prompt Short Story: The Plan

Pru frowned into her rearview as the banging from the trunk became louder. No way that was just stuff rolling around, and besides she never left things free in the trunk, everything was always secured.

She pulled into a layby, drawing the zipper up her jacket as she climbed out, looking around at the deserted road. Shivering slightly, the night eerily silent even with the soft hum of her idling engine, she made her way around to the back.

The banging had stopped, replaced instead by a muffled…cry? There was a person in her trunk?!

Pru ran back around to the front and fumbled her keys, dropping them to the ground in her panic. She rescued them and hit the trunk release as she ran back again.

She lifted the hood of the trunk, bracing herself for the horror that would come. Her face turned white as the hoarse voice whispered, “Just let me explain”.

“Jimmy?!” Pru glared at her ex as he sat up, bringing his legs over the edge and rubbing feeling back into them. His face was bloody, like someone had laid a few punches into him, and Pru suppressed the urge to ask who he’d borrowed money from this time.

Pru continued to glare at him until he looked up, wearing that sheepish “I done wrong but ain’t I cute enough to forgive’ expression she once loved, then came to loathe. Now, a year or so down the line from the day she’d finally walked out, all it brought her was indifference, and mild annoyance.

“What the fuck are you doing in my trunk?”

.”Uh… Thanks for letting me out. There’s a super good explanation, maybe we could grab a coffee and talk?”

“No. I want to hear your explanation, and then I want you to get back out of my life. Or, I’m calling the police. You still have a restraining order, or did you forget about that?” Pru grabbed her phone from the pocket of her jacket and raised her eyebrows at him.

Jimmy sighed and hung his head, his typical pose for when he was called out on his shit, but he seemed to realise his tricks weren’t going to work, and shrugged instead, “I miss you. I thought maybe if something bad happened to me, you’d realise you missed me too and come back to me. So I paid some guys to pretend to beat me up and leave me near your car, so you’d find me, but it’d look like a coincidence. Only, they took my money, beat me up, and decided to stuff me in your trunk instead…”

Pru rolled her eyes, “That is the most ridiculous fucking thing I have ever heard, and that’s saying something given the shit you used to try and tell me. Get off my car, Jimmy.”

Jimmy slid off, wincing as his cramped legs complained about carrying him,”Can I at least get a ride? They stole my phone and my wallet.”

Pru snorted laughter, “Fuck off, Jimmy. It’s only a few miles back to civilisation, enjoy the walk. If you pull any shit again, I’m calling the police first, and you’re on your last warning with them. I don’t particularly want to see you go to prison, but I also don’t particularly care if you do. Stay the fuck away from me.”

Jimmy glared at her, his dark eyes glinting in the moonlight, “Fucking bitch.”

Pru laughed, getting back into her car, “And don’t you forget it!”

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

She lifted the hood of the trunk, bracing herself for the horror that would come. Her face turned white as the hoarse voice whispered, “Just let me explain”.

Prompt Short Story: Imaginary

It started off so simple. A kid’s imagination begins younger than you might expect, I discovered, but it’s small things. I’d feel the urge to go cuddle her, and wouldn’t be able to resist, but that’s just normal parent stuff, right? Well how about more pudding appearing out of nowhere? More block toys? An extra stuffed toy shaped like no creature on this earth?

I mean, I denied it, of course. The human mind has an almost infinite ability to explain away the inexplicable, and what can’t be explained, it just works around. Rebecca was a normal child, so what if abnormal things sometimes happened around her? That was my mantra, followed by denial.

But eventually something happened that no amount of excuses could ignore. That was the day Jenika appeared.

It started off simple. Rebecca was 2, and she would do something she shouldn’t, or she’d be chatting to thin air while she played. And when I asked, she’d tell us Jenika suggested it, or Jenika was playing with her.

She told me Jenika was an invisible alien, and after a chat to her paediatrician who said it was in line with her development, and should fade as she got older, but in the meantime it was fine to play along, I did just that.

Jenika got a seat at the table, and I ignored how her food would somehow disappear. I ignored the depression in the bed where she lay with Rebecca at bedtime. I even ignored now, when I pretended to kiss her goodnight, it felt like an actual head was there.

One day I was doing some cleaning chores downstairs. Rebecca should have been playing in her room, but instead I found her in my room, playing dress-up with my wardrobe. I didn’t mind the dress-up, though we’d have had a chat about using other people’s stuff without permission.  No. It was the second set of clothes dancing around without anyone in them that stopped me in my tracks.

Rebecca asked Jenika to show themselves to me, and they did. They were about 3 feet tall, bright green, with antennae and a head like an ant, but more rounded.

Rebecca told me that one day she was playing and she wanted someone to play with. I was busy, and we didn’t have any outings scheduled for that day, so she made up a friend. Jenika appeared, and she was real.

I was lost. I couldn’t tell anyone about this without either sounding insane, or risking my child – or, children, at this point, as Jenika was clearly part of my household now – being taken away. But I had to do something to make sure whatever this thing was that Rebecca could do, she kept it secret, and she never used it to hurt anyone.

I had to make her grow up so fast. How do you teach a 2 year old moral and ethical philosophy? Well I had to figure that out, and the answer is: with a lot of trial and error, and examples that make sense to them.

Not that it all went smoothly. She might have learned about how she shouldn’t use her power but that didn’t mean she didn’t misuse it. Have you ever tried convincing a tantruming toddler not to shake the room til everything fell over? Or a teenager that they couldn’t just magic up whatever they wanted? Or take revenge on someone who was mean to them? In case you wonder, that’s hard to do. Sometimes impossible.

And did she hate me at times? So much. I found myself in timeout a lot over the years. She never hurt me, but lock me away? Stop me moving? Take away my voice when she didn’t want to hear me? Sure.

On the other hand she also grew up generous. As far as anyone was concerned we were rich, because she would make the number in the bank accounts go up so I could buy a house, and never need to work. She’d create items to give as gifts, whatever someone wanted, they could have. And she’s never seen someone in need without helping them.

She’s learned limits over the years. Like when to stop, before it becomes too much. Like she can’t buy affection from others by giving them things – that was a hard one, lots of heartbreak.

She’s a good kid. Adult, now. She doesn’t know I’m dying. I’ve kept it from her as best I could, but she’s going to notice soon. We see each other for dinner every week, so it’s been gradual, for her, I think it would have been more obvious if we didn’t, but I’m about to reach a point where I can’t hide it anymore. 

I know she’ll want to take it away. And I know she can. But I don’t want that. I’ve raised a good daughter, who for whatever reason was born with an incredible gift. I’ve taught her to use it well. I’ve taught her to be a good person. What more could a parent ask?

But the universe has decided this is my time, and I’m at peace with that. I did the best I could, and I’m so proud of her. She needs to let me go, and I know she will, even if she hates me for it for a while.

But I raised another child, too, and Jenika – they look human these days, so they can exist in the world – will help her. I raised an imaginary alien and they turned out pretty good, they help people every day.

And what else can a parent ask, than to die knowing how much good their children will give to the world?

Mine might be extra-special in some ways, but they’re also still just my kids, and I’m so proud of them both. I hope they continue to help people, after I’m gone.

I’ve kept these diaries for so many years, ever since the day Jenika showed themselves to me for the first time. They contain all my hopes, my frustrations, my doubts, and my pride.

My dears, if you’re reading this, know that you are everything I could ever have wished for. Comfort each other, and know how much I love you. Keep changing the world for the better. It’s not any kind of power that lets you do that, it’s your hearts.

I love you both, more than you can ever know.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used

A child is born with an imagination so strong it leaks into reality.

Prompt Short Story: Soulsong

“It’s ridiculous! But we’re not allowed to say that aloud! They program us, before birth, with that ‘soulsong’. Then they tell us over and over and over that it shows us our soulmate. They tell us until we forget that it’s they who programmed it in the first place. They who chose for us. Their breeding programmes create us, and their scientists decide who we will be with, and then they drop us into the world at adulthood with a pretense of free will! Well not here! Not in this place! This community rejects their programming!”

Zeke spoke powerfully. He always did. Swaying those who questioned, making those who still believed into questioners. Sanaya clung to his words, daily reciting them as she learned his lectures by heart from her recordings, overlaying the programming that she no longer believed in.

He was right to ridicule the soulsong system. How could they know, before birth, what personalities people would forge? They didn’t, that was the problem, according to Zeke. It wasn’t about who made a good fit, it was about their eugenics system, always breeding towards their ideal of a ‘better’ human. Instead of letting people choose, they created the myth of the soulsong to control who woul be with whom, then controlled who could get pregnant and when, then submitted everyone to programming in the womb, to insert the song of their chosen mate. And the job of each adult was to find that mate, and wait for their turns to breed.

A few years ago, rebel historians unearthed the truth – how humans used to choose their own mate, usually getting it wrong a few times, but wanting only to be happy and in love, breeding how and when they chose, with no soulsong to guide them. Some humans didn’t mate at all. Others mated but didn’t have children. All things that were implicitly forbidden, in the brainwashing.

Of course, those rebels were hunted and most killed. But not before ensuring their message would continue. Zeke was one of their preachers, and by far the most popular. Sanaya didn’t know what the long term plan was, or if there even was one, but she would not be restrained by the brainwashing anymore.

Zeke had promised her a better life at the secret commune, set up by a growing number of rebels. Revolution was still far in the future, but for now, freedom could come to those who were brave enough to reach for it. Sanaya was ready. Tomorrow she would pack a bag and leave her home forever, taken to a secret location, and on from there to her new life.

She made her way home, walking along streets cleaned until they sparkled under LED lights, dreamily playing back Zeke’s words. She thoughtfully hummed a few notes of her soulsong. It was a nice song. It just wasn’t what they said it was.

Keeping to the shadows, a figure followed her home, dropping back as she entered her apartment, a one bedroom flat in a townhouse long ago divided into separate living spaces. They watched, standing perfectly still, as her light went on, then off. A while afterwards, they moved to the front door, picking the old lock easily and sliding inside.

Inside, the figure slipped quietly up the unlit staircase and paused at Sanaya’s door, listening carefully for movement inside. Hearing nothing, they produced their lockpicks again.

The deadlock on the door of the apartment was no more difficult to open, but the risk of a creaking door in such an old building was high, and the figure paused with the door open a mere crack to oil the hinges. Waiting a few moments for the oil to work, the figure then entered, closing the door quietly behind them.

Walking carefully, they made their way to the bedroom, stopping in the doorway to study the sleeper. Satisfied, the figure moved quickly, removing a syringe from a black pouch and injecting it into Sanaya’s neck. 

She gasped once, and then subsided as the sedative worked.

When she came around, she was tied firmly to one of her two dining chairs, the other occupied by a man she didn’t recognise.

He smiled and offered her water from a glass.

Realising how dry her mouth was, Sanaya drank, swooshing the liquid around until her tongue felt less thick.

“Alright. Now you can talk, so let’s talk. You’re Sanaya, and you’re about to go join Zeke’s little band of followers because you think that means freedom. I’m here to disabuse you of that notion, and ask you to help me find out where that place is.”

Sanaya stared at him defiantly.

He shrugged, “You will talk soon, it’s just about how much you’ll endure first. The pain will end when you’ve told me everything you know. If you’re cooperative, you might even get to live beyond this moment. Please, take a few minutes to consider this, I understand it’s a difficult decision.”

Sanaya thought hard. She didn’t know where the location was, only where to meet an unknown person who, after she gave the right call and response signals, would take her, whilst blindfolded, to a second location, where they would exchange a call and response she didn’t know, and there she would be passed on to make the rest of the journey – this time without a blindfold. As far as she could gather, from questioning Zeke, nobody knew who anybody was, only the call and response. She could send this guy there with the wrong signals, and hope they had a process for that, then throw herself at Zeke’s mercy and hope he understood, and could get her there safely before anyone else came to hurt her. Or she could say nothing and probably die here and now.”

As Sanaya thought, she looked over at the man. He was wandering slowly around her apartment, looking at her decorations, her bookshelf, humming to himself. She frowned.

He was humming her soulsong.

“Hey. How do you know that song?”

He turned and smiled, “It’s my soulsong. I haven’t met my other half yet, but I’m hoping to soon. My work doesn’t let me get out much, socially.”

Sanaya shakily began humming the same song, her voice steadying as the man’s face went slack with surprise.

“You? You’re my soulmate? How? What the…” he groaned and dropped into the chair opposite her. “Well that puts a new spin on things.”

“You do know it’s all bullshit, right? They decide who they want us to breed with, convince us its fate, then leave us to do the rest of the work for them.”

The man sighed, “Yeah I know that, I just figured…like…they know best, right? Big scientist brains and all that.”

“Well they don’t. They don’t care if people are compatible, or if they even like each other. They just want the right babies for their genetic experiments. People are miserable in the couples they force together, surely you’ve seen that. How many are truly happy with each other and not just getting along as best they can. That’s not how people are supposed to live!”

“I know. My parents were miserable. They hated each other, and they hated me and my sister for being the reason they were forced together.”

“So why do this?”

“You know they don’t take kindly to refusal. This is the skillset I was bred for, and I was taught I could never say no.”

“Well say no now. We don’t need to pretend to fall in love, get married, have kids, live out our lives under their lies. We can go to this place, and never speak again if we don’t want to. Or you could just let me go, tell them you killed me and I gave you nothing. Not everyone finds their soulmate, right? A job like yours, I bet you have a way lower success rate. Just please, let me go, let me be free.”

The man sighed, then reached out and quickly sliced through the ties holding Sanaya to the chair, “Pack whatever you’re taking. I’ll get you safely to the rendezvous. And then I’ll…decide what I want to do.”

Sanaya threw clothes and essentials into her travelling bag, and they waited in tense silence until it was time to leave.

Sanaya drove them out of town, left the car in a layby, and they walked the next few miles.

Eventually they reached a crossroads, where an SUV sat to one side of the road, by an abandoned, boarded up, old bar.

“That’s it. You know I can’t let you hear the signals if you’re not coming. So. What do you want to do?”

The man gave her a grim smile and shook his head, “You’re braver than I am. I can’t.”

Sanaya nodded, “If you change your mind, go to Zeke.”

The man held out his hand, and they shook. He clapped her on the shoulder as she turned, then watched the brief conversation, waving as the truck drove away.

Once it was out of sight, he reached into a pocket and took out his phone, hitting a speed dial and waiting for an answer. 

“Sir, Sanaya took the bait. The tracker is on and she should lead us right to them. I’m in the middle of nowhere, so an extraction at my phone coordinates would be appreciated. Thank you, sir. Oh, and sir? Giving me her song to sing was a stroke of genius, she didn’t ask any questions after that.”

The man ended the call and smiled to himself as he strolled over to the abandoned building and used the wall to slide down to the ground, awaiting a pick up. He hoped he would be allowed to join the team going to take down the rebel commune, if only to see Sanaya’s face as she realised what she’d done. Right before she joined the queue for the firing squad.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

When people are born, they are assigned a soulmate. They have an original song in their head that only them and their soulmate know. A person just broke into your house and you’re pretty sure they’re here to murder you. They’re humming your song under their breath.

Prompt Short Story: Lifetimes

Standing on the terrace, they thought about the first time it changed. All they remembered now was a rainy day, a moment of terror, the feeling of something solid hitting their chest and stomach, and a second of excruciating pain. Then there was darkness, and waking up, focusing on the first thing they could see. Their right wrist, with their birthmark in the shape of the number 9. Only now it was shaped like the number 8.

They smiled, looking out from their house, across the beach and to the ocean beyond, almost as if they could see all the way over to the opposite continent where that moment had happened. The moment that changed their…lives.

They adjusted their robe slightly, draping the material more comfortably down across their shoulders, flowing with the breeze around their ankles, and turned back inside.

Introspective, they turned more shadowy memories over. Crippling pain in their stomach, rushing through their body, being raced under flourescent lights and put to sleep. A laser shot to the head, the violent seizures that came before blessed darkness. Lying on a bed, surrounded by machines breathing for them, nodding for the breathing machine to be unplugged and hearing their own death rattle as the world shifted out of focus, and went black.

They looked at their wrist, escaping further 1u90 and bringing themselves back to now. The number read 3, these days, and they kept very much to themselves. The world might have changed over those lifetimes, but people stayed very much the same. Always looking for a way to tread on someone to get ahead, or just to make themselves feel better. For someone to blame. For someone to gain power from – or remove it from.

They had resisted the transhumanist movement that had taken over the world, giving people longer life, better bodies, repairing things that didn’t need repairing, and they remained fully flesh. It made them something of a pariah to all except the fringe groups that swore the metal people were destined for some form of doom, and those groups were, as far as they were concerned, much worse than those that filled their bodies with technology.

Because most people didn’t get extra lives. They were forgivable because they only got that one attempt.

Still. At least until their next lifetime, they preferred solitude. Next time they reset, perhaps it would change; they found their wants varied each time.

Sipping a whiskey almost as old as they were, they drifted into a reverie. The night came on, and they slept, dreaming of all of their lifetimes. Perhaps the next one would see them out in the world again. But for now, the silence suited them.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

You were born with a birthmark the shape of a “9”on your wrist, one day you get in a fatal car accident. You wake up in a strange room and the first thing you notice is the 9 has changed to an 8.

Prompt Short Story: When Assassins Call

Ariana yawned, stretched, and mentally checked off a list of the tasks, chores, and homework she had to do so far that week, before weekend fun could begin. Starting this in a boring Monday afternoon class and continuing it through the week, as she added to and checked things off the list, made things feel less overwhelming. It was easy to get overwhelmed. For her, anyway. She supposed it was the same for others, but then, who talked about that stuff? Not teenagers. And certainly not to each other.

Except to Marcos. They didn’t talk about much, she barely knew anything about them, but somehow she always wound up telling them everything. And they’d give her that easy smile and tell her she could do it, tell her how smart and special she was, and how she’d do great things. And suddenly everything would seem alright for a while. Til her drunken mother would break her restraining order and try to ‘visit’ her at 3am. Til she’d miss a chore or drop to a 7 on some test or other piece of schoolwork and get that disappointed look from her da. Til she’d visit her grams, and look at that shrunken face, staring out in terror at a world she knew she should recognise, hearing how she’d misbehave, and hearing her da huff as he misunderstood her reasons. Ariana understood them. So did Marcos.

They weren’t dating or anything, Marcos had told her pretty firmly a while back that however much they wanted to, they couldn’t, and they couldn’t explain why, but they wanted her to know that if they could, they would have asked her out the first day they met. But they’re happy they’re friends, they don’t get to have many of those.

Ariana was fine with it. A relationship would add so much more complication to everything. When Marcos had told her all that she’d laughed a little, and told them she’d have loved to go out with them but everything was already too much. A healthy friendship was the best she could manage anyway.

It was awkward after that. For about 2 minutes. Then they moved on.

Most kids looked at Marcos like he was the weirdo in their midst, and he kind of was. Even in a school uniform they always somehow looked like they would be ready, at a moment’s notice, to spring into action and save the world. Or at least the immediate vicinity. For all Ariana knew, that was even true. It would explain, well, everything.

Anyway, she had gotten off track. One of her jobs this week was to make Marcos some sort of birthday present. They hated when she bought them stuff, but seemed to enjoy the handmade gifts she’d made. Last year it had been a vase she’d handmade at a workshop and painted with a landscape. She had to figure out how to beat that. Could she make some fake flowers to go in it? She bet they’d never thought to add any decoration, so that might be nice.

The class bell went and she filed out with the rest, headed for the last one of the day.

Marcos slid in beside her and slipped an arm through hers, tugging her urgently, but subtly, in a different direction. 

“Marcos, what-“

“Shh, I’m sorry, but you have to come with me, we’re both in danger.”

Ariana looked over, beginning to protest again, but on seeing Marcos’ face, she allowed herself to be moved to an empty classroom. 

Marcos closed the blinds and held a finger to their lips as the last of the stragglers moved past the door to their classes. Only when everything was silent did they speak.

“Ariana I am so sorry. I should never have let us become friends. I’m in danger, which means you’re in danger, and that’s my fault.”

Ariana frowned. For the first time, she detected an accent in Marcos’ voice. She’d never thought about it before, but they were usually perfectly English, no accent at all. But now there was a trace of…she couldn’t place it, but definitely something.

Marcos tapped at their phone, frowned, tapped again, and sighed, “We have about fifteen minutes before a secure vehicle can get here. Fuck. I don’t know if we’re safe in here, or if we should move, get outside ready maybe?”

They weren’t talking to her but Ariana answered anyway, “Who are you afraid of? Who’s sending a secure vehicle? What does that even mean? And why do you suddenly have an accent?”

Marcos wiped their face with their hands, smoothing back their dark hair. They reached into their pocket and pulled something out, “Do you trust me, Ariana?”

The 16 year old looked at her friend closely. The smooth mask was gone. They were terrified. She wasn’t sure what was happening, or what was about to be revealed, but this was still Marcos. She trusted them like she would her own self. She nodded.

“Good! That’s good. Use this,” Marcos handed her a hair tie.

Ariana tied back her hair, the bleached streak standing clearly out against the black. 

“Now you gotta listen to me,” Marcos’ head snapped around at the tread of boots outside, and they grimaced, “I promise I’ll tell you everything. Even the bits I’m not supposed to. But first you have to do everything I say, without hesitation, without question, and nothing you might be about to see can get in the way of you doing that, or we could die. We might anyway, but hesitating will definitely make it happen. We have…” Marcos checked their phone, “11 minutes til the van gets here. Once it arrives and they see us, we’re safe. Until then, follow me, do exactly as I say, and…I’m sorry that your opinion of me might change because of this, but, don’t interfere with anything I do.”

“I trust you,” Ariana nodded, quickly stretching out to be ready for any movement.

Marcos was testing one of the windows. They had brought them both to the front of the school, presumably for easy access to the road, but there was either a corridor and a 300 meter run to get there, or, Ariana supposed, a window and a 300 meter run.

But the boots came closer, and as Marcos looked out, they both saw an incoming platoon of booted, masked, and heavily armed people heading across the fields to either side.

“Not very subtle, are they?” Ariana whispered. 

Marcos snickered, “Never. They prefer to storm in and leave someone else to cover up their mess. Ok, we gotta go through the window but I don’t know how to get this thing open without making noise, look, it’s nailed shut.”

Ariana shook her head, “I don’t have a crowbar on me, sorry.”

“Oh!” Marcos looked back at her and grinned, perfect teeth flashing. They reached into their backpack and removed a small multitool, opening up something small and sharp, they began to dig around the nails. “If I can just get the wood away to get a grip on them, I can pull them out.”

“Uh. Marcos… Small flaw in the plan…” Ariana pulled them down as a shout went up, and a rattle of fire went off, hitting the wall they hid behind and breaking the window above.

“Well I guess sneaking’s out, but at least the window’s open!” Marcos opened their bag again and pulled out a pair of what looked like cycling gloves. Except these had metal spikes on the knuckles.

As Ariana gaped, they also pulled out a telescopic baton, testing it with a swish before closing and holstering it in their belt.

“OK. They probably won’t try to hurt you if they think they can get me, but if you get within their reach, or I get too annoying, they will. They’ll be aiming to capture me at first so we hopefully have time for the van to get here in…6 minutes, before they get pissed enough to stop trying to get me alive. So stick to me, stay down so I can fight, and use this if anyone gets close to you.”

Marcos handed over a small box with two antenna and a button on the side.

“A taser?!”

“Yeah, and this one’s voltage level is illegal, so it’ll drop even their enhanced fighters. I’ll also explain that later.”

The sound of boots was close now. 

“4 minutes. Let’s go!”

Marcos leapt through the window in a single, swift movement. Ariana climbed through behind them and looked up, ensuring she was still within inches of Marcos, the taser gripped tightly in both sweaty hands.

She saw Marcos lash out at the unprotected leg of one of the attackers with their baton, and saw the attacker go down. Marcos tore off their helmet and socked them once in the face, letting them drop as more closed in.

“Moving now!” Marcos shouted, glancing back to ensure Ariana was behind them. 

She nodded, mostly to confirm to herself that she was ready, and followed close behind.

She fixed her gaze on Marcos’ back, trying to block out the sound of fighting. As long as Marcos remained standing, she was safe, and she would follow them.

It felt like an eternity before Marcos spoke again. Like the distance to the road would never be covered. Like time would never pass to make the van arrive. Like this was her entire existence now. The sounds of kicks and punches, the cracking of bones, the occasional gunshot, the cries and shouts and grunts of exertion. But suddenly the eternity was over.

“Van’s here! Run!” Marcos turned back and pulled her up, keeping hold of her hand as they ran.

Ariana sprinted blindly, her head down, the gravel rushing past, heart hammering in her ears. She heard Marcos give a grunt of pain, and felt them stagger, but their weight was lifted and she looked up, ready to hit someone with her taser.

“No! No! Friend!” the face said, looking slightly panicked.

Marcos’ voice came, “Down, Ariana, we’re safe.”

The shouts from behind her grew more distant as she dropped her hand. Unsure what to do with her adrenaline, she laughed, slightly delirious, “Is this a normal Monday for you?”

“No. The assassins usually try to kill me on Tuesday.” Marcos grinned, then grunted as they lifted their shirt and removed a bullet from the vest beneath it.

“Is that sarcasm?”

“Yes, gormless. Now get in the van before they see you’re still out there and decide to take a potshot.”

Ariana obeyed, suddenly incredibly tired. She sat by Marcos, who pulled themselves upright and touched her hand.

The van set off at a leisurely speed as the handful of people around them settled down.

“Thanks Ariana,” Marcos said, “Let me figure out how to explain all this to you, and I promise you’ll know everything.”

“But sir!” a woman sitting by them protested.

Marcos gave her a stern look, “She wound up involved, and put in danger. She gets to know. Everything.”

The woman nodded, chastised.

Ariana raised her eyebrows at Marcos.

“I’ll explain! Just…give me a couple of hours.”

“Fine. But It better be good.

Marcos laughed and nodded, laying their head back to rest and order their tale. It would definitely be good.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

“Is this a normal Monday for you?” “No. The assassins usually try to kill me on Tuesday .” “Is that sarcasm?” “Yes, idiot, now get in the van before thry see you” [sidenote: I asked the writers who do this with me to not use the ableist tern ‘idiot’, and either replace it or rework the sentence – which we all did]

Prompt Short Story: Touched – Promises, Promises

Jenkin twirled the bottle in her flesh hand, the magnetised slide that ran out from the wrist of the other simultaneously spinning the cocktail shaker. As she slid the bottle across the barback to its home position, she upended the shaker into the iced glass, pouring with a flourish before sliding it down the bar, to stop exactly in front of the customer who had ordered the drink.

The next few drinks were mundane, and the magnetic slide returned to its home position just inside her left wrist, ready for its next use – be that the next cocktail, ensuring her safety knife couldn’t be taken from her as she walked home, or, really, anything else that she might need not to drop. Like cooking tools. That was the main reason she’d looked at the implant to begin with – hard to cook when you’re so clumsy everything winds up on the floor.

The monofibre that ran through it could be adjusted to ensure a variety of items stuck, as required. She didn’t really get how it worked, but the settings were adjustable from the eyeware that took instruction from her brain synapses, somehow. It worked, was the main point, and she had gone from scrabbling for jobs to pay rent on a oneroom where everything – kitchen, bed, toilet and stand-up shower – were in one tiny space without any doors, and which was about 8 paces wall to wall, to this job which, between pay and tips for the fancy moves, paid for a proper threeroom, meaning a bedroom, bathroom, and living room/kitchenette, all separated with doors. It was no palace, but it was hers as long as the rent was paid on time.

Jenkin snapped her mind back to her job, as another cocktail order was called, this time from a slender, masc-looking person, wearing sunglasses and a fitted monosuit beneath a plain dark t-shirt. Jenkin wondered, as she gave them the show, just how much of them was flesh, and how much tech. The expensive stuff was getting harder and harder to tell, though she guessed their eyes were of the more advanced type that still made a person look dead. Sunglasses worn inside were generally a giveaway for that.

As her shift drew towards the end and the place began to empty after last call, letting her start to clean up, she realised Sunglasses was still here. They looked up as she approached, and removed the glasses.

She inwardly noted that she’d been correct. Their eyes were a solid, pulsing, golden colour, and she suppressed a nervous shiver as they turned her way.

“Hi Jenkin.”

Their voice was a soft alto, accentless – like most who had escaped a poor beginning and reached a better, or at least richer, life.

“Hey. I know you? I’m sorry, I get a lotta folk through here.”

Their golden eyes were cold and lifeless as they stared at her, “You have no idea who I am, do you?”

“Sorry, like I said, I get a lotta-“

They began to sing. Quiet enough that nobody else would hear, but loud enough for her. The song flooded her with memories. Days spent exploring the undercity, chatting to the folk who lived down in the disused tunnels. Being grounded for it, waiting out the time, then doing it again. An unshakeable bond, a promise to get out, and to never leave the other behind. The sense of loss, of betrayal, when they left to work their own way up the ladder.

“The fuck do you want?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would take this long. I know I left, and I know I ghosted you, but I did that so I could get into a position where I could bring you with me. I knew if they caught me with you they’d judge me, and I’d lose any chance I had at getting you out.”

“You’re pretty smart, Deniel. Pretty sure you coulda gotten me one single message. Ever. To explain that. Instead you disappear for a decade, get yourself all wired and teched up, then show up just as I’m doing ok, to, what? Make yourself feel better? “

“To offer you a job. I’m starting my own firm, and I want you with me. It’s gonna be hard, and they’re gonna be pissed,and i’m gonna have to pay a shitton in severance to keep some of these implants, but it’s the only way I can be sure the entire thing isn’t prejudiced from the top down, and you’re the only person I want at my side.” They shook their head, “I can’t apologise in any way that’s acceptable, but please understand, I did do this for us, for our promise.”

Jenkin stared at them. It was quite an offer. And she knew how these firms worked – pick a talented person from the poorer districts, make them cut contact as part of their working contract, and fill them with tech they’ll never be able to afford to buy out.

But some managed it. Some with the drive to stay rooted, and not get caught up with the luxury and temptations that surrounded them.

They would catch hell for the rest of their days for not getting a message to her – at least to explain and give her hope. But maybe they were on the level. Maybe they at least deserved a hearing, if only to fulfill her side of their promise.

“Alright. Here’s my place,” she skimmed across her address, “Lemme finish up here and I’ll hear you out.”

They smiled, showing the smallest hint of the person Jenkin remembered, underneath the implants, and swallowed their drink. They gave her a staggering tip, and left the bar for, presumably, her place.

Jenkin took her time finishing up, seeing no reason not to make them wait a little, then headed home, ready to hear them out.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

Writing Prompt. His eyes were cold and lifelessas hebstared at me. “You have no idea who I am, domyou?” www.worldsmyths.com

Prompt Short Story: What’s In A Name?

“Wait. What?” David stood and pointed the – surprisingly heavy – pen at Jonathan’s chest.

Jonathan shrugged, “I did tell you. Look, you know I changed my first name because, well, it was…” Jonathan sighed, “Dreamwave. Because they named me after some ‘vision’ they had when they were tripping. Like. Thanks for all the bullying, parents. But I didn’t want to dishonor them completely, so I kept the middle name.”

“Which was ‘Danger’.”

“Right. And I did tell you that.”

The registrar shifted in their chair, sipping a coffee while they waited for this to play out. They’d seen worse arguments while signing the marriage documents, but this might do a good job of  being the weirdest.

“How was I supposed to know you were telling the truth when you said that Danger was your middle name? It sounded like a bad attempt at a Bond pickup line and I thought it was super cute. We had sex for the first time that night, if you recall! In part because of how damned cute I thought that was!”

“Ah. Well of course I recall. But now you see that was just me warning you… Oh love I’m sorry. I guess it never really came up again, so I figured you were ok with it.”

“I assumed you didn’t have one I suppose…which is a little on me.”

Jonathan sighed, “The question that’s immediately relevant is, does this change things? If this info is too much, I’ll walk away with you and we can do this all again when you’re ready.”

David laughed, spun around, and signed with a flourish, “Hah! Not a chance hubby! Just know you’re never living this down. I will be finding ways to tease you til the end of time.”

Jonathan nodded and took the pen, slipping an arm around David’s waist to kiss him on the cheek, as he finished signing, “I would expect nothing less. Maybe we should get you a daft, movie cliche middle name to match!”

“Oooh…I could be Trouble!”

Jonathan laughed, “Yep. Yep, you could.”

The registrar almost successfully snuffed out their grin as the couple signed the papers, wondering how many drinks they could get out of this story.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing Prompt #4: Danger is my middle name. “How was I supposed to know you were telling the truth when you said that Danger was your middle name? ” blueeyesgrayeyes.wordpress.com