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

Prompt Short Story: Cake

Angeline absently shimmied her hips in time with the music as she moved through the groups of milling invitees. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. After some light introductions, various different groups had managed to get talking together, and at least two of her potential love matches were hitting it off. Feeling like her job as a hostess had been well accomplished for the moment, Angeline shimmied her way past the lavish, and mostly demolished, buffet, into the kitchen, where the final treat of the evening sat, covered by a large silver tureen.

Smiling and rubbing her hands together, Angeline removed the tureen to reveal a huge cake, shaped like a sewing mannequin – to suit the fashion design degree she was about to begin – with her face printed on the head. She got herself a knife, a dessert fork, and a plate, and cut herself a satisfyingly large slice.

It was delicious. Coconut cream and white chocolate, and a sponge as light as a feather. She cut a second slice and began to eat. 

“Dude! You cannot eat that entire thing all by yourself!” Skylar draped a hand around her shoulder, breathing alcohol and weed fumes into her face.

She shrugged him off, “Dude. I am going to eat this entire cake, all by myself.  Because I am an adult now.”

“But what about everyone at your party?”

“That’s why I bought – or had mum and dad buy – a second cake,” Angeline motioned to another large tureen, which Skylar removed to see an identical cake, “Of which I will eat all the leftovers.”

“You…are so spoiled,” Skylar laughed.

Angeline nodded through another mouthful of cake, “Yep. Now bugger off before anyone else gets ideas. I need to finish this before the other cake is wheeled out.”

Skylar shook her head and sauntered out, looking for another drink, or another hit, they didn’t really mind which.

Angeline closed the kitchen door and continued to eat her solo cake. Best 18th birthday ever.

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:

The Fake Redhead’s Writing Prompts. Kathryn’s birthday prompts number two. “I am going to eat this entire cake, all by myself. Because I am an adult now.” “But what about everyone at YOUR party?” “That’s why I bought a second cake. Of which I will eat all the leftovers.” TheFakeRedhead.com

Prompt Short Story: Excavation

Tensae carefully brushed the dirt and dust of ages off the rectangular object one of the volunteers had excavated from the dig. Anthony, another of the volunteers, watched her closely,  excited as ever.

“Wait, an iPhone?” He exclaimed, comparing it to various data and matching the correct one. “One of those old things? Does it still work, d’you think?”

Tensae shook her head slightly, “Unlikely. We’ll test it, sometimes we can get them to hold power, but these things weren’t exactly built to last.”

Anthony looked disappointed but nodded, “Can I be there when you try?”

“Sure. But right now I need you back out on the site, we’re behind schedule on section 7.”

“Right you are, boss, off I go.”

Tensae watched him bounce off in the generally correct direction and set the old phone aside for tomorrow, when she would spend a day back in the lab in the city – apparently with Anthony for company.

They were finding valuable things here. Things that told the story of why the human race had collapsed. The weight of their own hubris, their selfish ways, so much power given to those least inclined to use it for good, manipulation of the population to direct their ire to the wrong places.

She looked out of the tent, appraising her volunteers, a mix of Stanisthesians and humans – heavily modified by her own species to survive on the planet they destroyed – and nodded in satisfaction. It would all make for excellent lessons back on her home planet.

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:

“An iPhone! That old thing. I haven’t seen one of these in agss. Does it still w9rk?”

Prompt Short Story: An Unusual Couple

Cheers from the battlements echoed around the hills as the flag bearer came into view over the distant rise, armour glinting in the full moon. Sylva Ironhocks waved the banner in greeting and spurred forwards, ahead of the main force.

As she rode into the courtyard to the creak of the opening gates, she sought around for the orc she was to deliver the King’s message to.

He pushed through the tribe and knocked her sideways with a blow to the shoulder. 

She laughed and knocked him back into the crowd, “Abehg! I bring the King’s greetings and a message! Raiding was a success, we return with many riches with which to trade and build further. But the richest jewel of all accompanies our King! His wife to be approaches, with the remains of her own tribe. They will become one with us, as she becomes our Queen. We are to prepare for a feast in three days time, where they will wed, and our tribe will grow even stronger!”

“Hah! The King finally found himself an heir-bearer. Excellent!” Abehg replied. “And such a wedding feast we will throw!”

Sylva motioned for Abehg to step aside, lowering her voice, “I fear for this wedding, Abehg. The bride is not what you are expecting. She is Bindrk Thrice-Gored, a warrior,  true, and mighty, but human, and with no plans to sit and mother babes when there is fighting to be done. I fear the humans will bring war to us over this, they are unreasonable as ever, and fought us, calling us kidnappers, even as she voluntarily joined our army.”

“And when the humans war, it spills out to everyone. It always does. And we orcs always suffer the most wrath,” Abehg growled, clenching his fist. “Step back when the King arrives, Sylva. I will challenge him.”

Sylva nodded and melted into the waiting crowd.

Soon enough, King Redtusk arrived with the rest of his army, orcs of varying colours, dotted with pale human faces. At his side sat a human whose face and neck were deeply scarred, and who looked around fiercely, as if their walled city were hers by right.

Abehg waited.

Redtusk slid off his horse, raced to the central speaking area in the agora, and leapt onto a platform to address his people. Bindrk followed, standing next to him as he spoke into the grumbles. 

“I see you have noticed my bride! Yes she is human but see her scars. Thrice-gored is her name, from a battle in her youth where she fought a rabid dire boar to its doom, to protect her village. The other humans you see are all that remains of her tribe, and you will welcome both her, and them, as if they were our own, because they now are! I will wed my love in three days, and we will feast. Then we will trade our riches for materials to expand our city. We will use the expertise of the humans to farm our own food, and we will make allies of the neighbours that will agree, and destroy those that won’t, replacing them with our own. Change is at hand, my family! I know a human is not the wife you hoped I’d choose, and a warrior at that. There will be time for children, for bearing pure orc and half-breed, and we will use the skills of both of our kind to become even stronger! Trust me, as you always have!”

Abehg gave a loud snort and stepped forward, arms folded, “You bring humans to our tribe and tell us to water ourselves down by breeding? You tell us to make allies and farms? You present a Queen that will give us half-breeds, if she doesn’t die fighting first? You’ve lost your mind, Redtusk! And the humans will not let this go. They will war against us, and others will join! The world will come down on us, and none of them will believe she came here of her own will, not when the excuse to finally wipe us out is so easy.”

The King stepped to the edge of the platform and glared down at Abehg, “I see my second in command enjoyed his power too much. What say you, water-blood?”

Abehg growled and drew his greataxe from the holster on his back, throwing it down on the ground, “I say fight me. Prove yourself worthy and I will follow you. But if my axe, and our Gods, say otherwise, yield or die. I will kill the humans, and we will raid our neighbours until they are nothing but ash!”

The King opened his mouth to speak, but Bindrk leapt from the platform, landing smoothly as she pulled her dual war axes from her waist, “Your problem is with me and mine? So be it. Fight me. I have never hid behind any man, and I won’t start now.” She looked him up and down, her lip curling in a sneer, “Tell me your name, so I may shout it to your Gods and mine as I apologise for the pathetic sacrifice I’m about to offer.”

“I am Abehg of the Bloodstained Axe,” he picked up his greataxe and proudly showed off the stains of blood along the leather-wrapped handle, the blade gleaming in the moonlight. “And I will send you to your tiny human gods in pieces.”

Abehg charged with a bellow, his axe raised high over his right shoulder. 

Bindrk laughed as she sidestepped his charge, deftly slapping him on the rear with the flat of one of her blades.

Stumbling, Abehg caught himself on the platform by the King’s feet and spun around. He circled, growling through his tusks.

Bindrk smiled and bared her teeth at him, doing a two-step jig and twirling her axes by their handles, “C’mon boy, you can do better than that.”

Being called  ‘boy’ by a human did exactly what it was intended to do. Abehg’s mind clouded with rage and he lowered his head for a second charge, aiming his shoulder at Bindrk’s stomach.

She stepped aside again, this time lashing out with a foot to send him face first into the dirt floor, “Yield, Abehg. One chance. Yield.”

Abehg spat dust and blood, and leapt to his feet, his judgement entirely erased.

As he put all of his strength into a dive, hoping to bring Bindrk down where he could use his orc strength and size to gain leverage, she narrowed her eyes, dropped her left axe, grasped at his collar, and swung him headfirst into the stone wall surrounding the speaking area. As he rebounded, his skull crushed, she swept up with her right axe, and took off his head on the downswing. 

As promised, she then held his head high, and spoke, “Gods both orc and human, I send to you Abehg of the Bloodstained axe. A traitor to his own King, and a pathetic morsel for your greatness. I swear I will find a better sacrifice once I am wed, to bring both pantheons together. But for now please accept this worm as a token of my fealty.”

She turned to the King, kicking the body over to the platform and then leaping up and placing the head at his feet. She tore open the front of his tunic and placed a bloody handprint in the centre of his chest, then smeared more blood across her face, grasped the single plaited loc at the back of his head, and kissed him roughly.

First the humans, then the orcs, broke out into cheers, and soon both tribes were slapping each other on the back in greeting.

Sylva stepped into the empty space by the body, “What of Abehg, my King and Queen? And the war that surely comes?”

The King grasped Bindrk firmly by her rump before letting go and releasing himself from her lips, “As to war? Let them come. We built this place to hold firm, and we can persuade them by blood and word that my Queen is here by her own choice. I have faith in our mixed tribes, in myself, and in my Queen, as should you. As to Abehg…”

The King grabbed the head and threw it to an orc wearing a leather apron, “I wish this to be made into a lamp, for our bedroom.”

“But his body will be separated from his head in the afterlife!” Sylva exclaimed, “How will he fight? How will he earn us honour?”

Redtusk jumped down and kicked the headless body, “He can serve as a footrest for a tired warrior, perhaps. Or a table for a cold ale!”

Laughter echoed around the agora.

“And before I die, I will burn his head and reunite it with his body, so on my arrival he can bend his knee and apologise for his foolishness.”

The laughter continued, and Bindrk stepped down to speak in Redtusk’s ear, “Unless you wish this to happen before all of our people, my love, take me to the castle, and show me where I might do whatever I please to you.”

Redtusk grinned and pointed to a nearby human and orc, “You two, Alas of Greythorn and Pariba Wolfsfriend. I appoint you both second in command. We will require one of each to ensure our tribes gel together. Keep the peace. Find all a bed and a job. Begin plans for a feast and a siege. We will call for you both tomorrow.”

Orders given, they left their tribe to plan the feast, clear up the body, and settle into getting used to each other. The road was being built, the journey just begun, but it would lead them to greatness. Together.

 Behind them, in the agora, Sylva smiled. That wasn’t quite what she had expected, but it would do.

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

The king had madeher his queen, knowing this would start a world wide war. HollowaysHideaway.com

Prompt Short Story: Touched – The Test

Tanice automatically checked the spare magazines as she slotted them into the holders at the sides of her belt. The rounds, etched with magic, glowed faintly red. Next, the guns. She tested the bolt slide, the firing action, the grip. She knew these guns as well as – perhaps even better than – the back of her own hand.  She could strip, oil, and assemble them with her eyes closed. And she did. Often. But today was too important for that. Today wasn’t a day for tricks and gimmicks. Today was her first mission.

She held still as she heard faint footsteps enter the room. She knew that step. “Mother.”

“Daughter,” came the reply.

Tanice turned, sliding her guns smoothly into their holsters, and looked into a face that was the spitting image of her own. Dark eyes, surrounded by smooth dark skin. A mouth, overfull, with the hint of a smile always in one corner. The biggest difference between them were the scars. Her mother held the results of many battles, including the raking claws of a shapeshifter across one sculpted cheekbone.

 Her mother sighed, and Tanice braced herself.

“How I wish we didn’t do this. You’re so young. Too young. You’re a child, still. Children shouldn’t play with guns.”

Tanice gritted her teeth,  “Who says I’m playing?”

Mother sighed, “I’m sorry, daughter, that wasn’t what I meant. I know you’re trained, and I know you’re good,and I know you believe in what we do here. I just… You’re still my little girl, and I worry for you. Going out in the field for the first time…no training matches it. You can never truly know if you’re capable of this until you get to that moment where you must kill, and even 100 missions in, you still run the risk. Better people than me or you have frozen at the wrong second and never come home again.”

Mother absently touched a deep, puckered scar that ran up her left arm and disappeared beneath her shirt.

Tanice debated for a moment. She had pulled together a slideshow of child soldiers in the human world, prepared herself to snark her way through this moment. But seeing the flash of memory, the vulnerability in her Mother’s eyes, she swallowed her pride and rested her hands on her Mother’s shoulders. 

“I know. I can never take away the pain of what happened to Father, and I know I can’t say anything to make this easier. But I’m coming home, ma. If only so I can tell you and your worries to suck it,” Tanice grinned.

 Mother snorted laughter and pulled her into a hug, “Alright, alright. You get home in one piece, and I might even let you without kicking your butt. Come on, I was told to bring you to the briefing.”

Tanice lit up, “Yes! Lemme just grab my sword and stuff…” she turned back to her rack and picked out the hilt she had carved her name into, years ago when she had begun her training, back in the days when she couldn’t even lift the blade when it emerged. She focused her will, and a blade formed, made of her own magical will, and etched in glowing red runes. For the millionth time she wondered how the magic worked – those lessons had always been more philosophy than action, and thus not her strong point – then defocused so the blade could dematerialise, leaving just her hilt to slot into its hip holster. After adding two dagger hilts to straps on her inner wrists, a magical lockpick, and a small book containing hand-drawn, ready-for-use spells, she was ready.

The briefing was no different to those she had sat in for her training, except that this time one of the participants named was herself. She would accompany two older practitioners, one a pure mage named Madrigal, the other a pure fighter named Ackson. This was the standard arrangement for this type of mission – a smash and kill, with a newbie in tow.

The plan was simple, at least. A den of lesser demonic creatures. Two ways in. Tanice and Madrigal, with her particular brand of mixed attack and defense magic, would guard one, wait until Ackson smashed their way through the other entrance, then kill anything that came their way.

As the three of them drove to the location, Tanice promised herself the older fighters would have no cause to wish they hadn’t been chosen to babysit. And also that she’d remember this feeling,  for when it was her turn to do so.

Parking a short distance away, she and Madrigal snuck around to a filthy back alley, on a street of old houses either deserted, or used as squats. Magic took them through a locked fence, then muffled their footsteps as they approached the backyard.

Tanice went to open the back gate and froze as Madrigal hissed at her.

“No. Wait.”

A small line of magic shot from her to the gate and she whispered in Tanice’s ear, “Quiet spell, stops any squeals or creaks.”

Tanice mentally kicked herself as she slid the gate open, the lack of even incidental sound slightly jarring.

 Madrigal performed the same quiet spell on the back door, and motioned to Tanice to pick the lock.

Tanice knew she was being tested. She knew Madrigal could open it with barely a thought. But it was her first teaching mission, and so she must be taught and tested.

She brought out her magical lockpick, a small black stick with a red rune etched into one flattened end, and pressed it against the lock, bending her will towards the tumblers.

With the silencing spell, on the door, she couldn’t hear the opening click she was used to, but she felt them move, and nodded to Madrigal. 

The mage held up her hands, signalling stillness. They would enter and guard the door the moment they heard Ackson burst in. He, meanwhile, awaited their ready signal.

Madrigal closed her eyes and created a slightly shimmering bubble of glamour around the house, ensuring nobody else on the street would see or hear the fighting.

Tanice pulled out her book of spells, and cast speed, night sight, and strength onto herself. To her own sight, she now glowed gently red, and would for the next few hours, but only those blessed with magic would see it.

Madrigal nodded her approval as she cast shields on them both, and prepared more spells to cast mid-fight.

 Both now prepared, Madrigal sent a silent Go signal to Ackson.

A moment later, they heard the front door splinter, as Ackson roared his way in.

Madrigal nodded for Tanice to enter, and she did, sword in her right hand, one of her guns in the left. She felt Madrigal just behind her, placed perfectly out of reach so Tanice had room to move.

Red magical light flashed as Madrigal set traps in the kitchen doorway and across the floor.

The first demon to escape flashed red once and disintegrated. 

The next two did likewise.

In the other room, there was nothing but the sound of growling, roaring and crashing.

Then everything went quiet for a moment, and Tanice had just enough time to see the traps blink out of existence, before a demon came racing towards her.

It was tall, but slender, wielding a bone blade in one hand. Its teeth gnashed as it came for her, and a pink tongue lashed out, hitting her face and leaving a burning pain behind.

Tanice raised her blade, focusing the demon on that, then shot three rounds into its chest, and one into its head.

It was dead before it even realised it had been tricked.

Tanice, panting heavily with adrenalin, turned to ask Madrigal what the fuck she was doing, letting the traps go, but stopped with her mouth wide open as she realised. She had to be given the chance to kill or her test was unfinished. She had followed orders, used magic to unlock and buff, and taken up her position correctly. But without a kill, the lesson remained incomplete, so they ensured a kill came her way.

Instead of her original words, Tanice bowed to both Madrigal and, as they entered, covered in demon ichor, Ackson, “Thank you for facilitating my test, and my first blood. Did I pass?”

Ackson shrugged, “I missed it all, can’t pass you.”

Madrigal rolled her eyes at him, “I did, can, and do. You’ll move to the next level of training and missions now. I have a whole report to fill out and give and you’ll be properly debriefed, but aside from the gate thing, you performed perfectly. And the gate thing is good, because I have to include something teachable, and it’s a minor error, so nothing to fret over. You picked the lock quickly, you chose your battle spells well, and that distraction trick, was, honestly, very fuckin funny.”

“And when we get back, we’ll have a drink with you,” Ackson nudged the dead demon with one foot, “But first, cleanup. Having a mage makes this easier. I know you’re using mostly fighting magic, but you could stand to learn these ones.”

Tanice nodded, “Cleanup spells. Will do.”

Madrigal smiled and closed her eyes, holding out her palms, facing each other, a few inches apart. As she focused, a ball of pulsing red magic formed, grew, and became concentrated. After a few minutes, she breathed a command word, and the ball exploded, disintegrating the demon, removing the blood, and cleansing the entire house of any hint of magical or demonic activity.

Sweating from the exertion, Madrigal nodded, “Done.”

“Then let’s go!” Ackson smiled, “We’ve got a newbie to get drunk!”

I hope you enjoyed the story! If you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a message, 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:

“Children shouldn’t play with guns.” “Who said I was playing?”

Prompt Short Story: Evolution

04/07, 4th AF

I woke up this morning after a dream about the time before the fall. Goddess, it was so real. Waking up felt like losing everything all over again. My inner therapist tells me I should write down dreams, thoughts, that stuff, so I figure now’s a good time to start. Let’s pretend you, dear reader who doesn’t exist, are an archaeologist from way in the future, and you want to know what happened. Well, let me tell you a little about it.

The world was slowly dying. Between late stage capitalism, selfish assholes, and the easily manipulated gullible (who then turned into the selfish assholes), we were killing everything. The air sucked, we melted the ice caps,  the weather patterns alone were enough to kill hundreds of thousands every year. But hey it was cool, cos the 1% that had all the money just shrugged and plugged money into keeping themselves safe (sarcasm still exists, right?). They established a moon colony and moved themselves and their  “staff” (more like slaves at this point) in. The rest of us got left behind. But we were plebs, so fuck us, right? If we wanted to survive we shoulda just not been so damned poor.

About 8 years ago, the extinctions began in earnest. It was like Mother Earth just went “fuck it”, hit the reboot button, and everything started shutting down. Before we knew it we were knee deep in dead-fucking-everything. Mammals, fish, lizards, insects, birds, you couldn’t throw a rock without it bouncing over a dozen corpses.

Seriously, like, everything was dying, except the humans. We wondered about that at first, then the rumours started. Photos, video, internet posts – was this another conspiracy theory or was it real? Turned out to be real. Humans weren’t dying. We were changing.

Scientifically, what I understand is that junk DNA – all those bits that never came to fruition, all the evolutionary paths that we didn’t go down – suddenly they started taking over. Imagine almost overnight going from brown hair and brown eyes, to pale blonde and blue eyed, because that recessive gene suddenly became dominant. It was that, but so much more fucking painful and scary. Because our entire bodies were forced to change. Within days someone would change from your standard human, into something totally new – it’d still be them, but maybe now they had talons and feathers and a beak. Or fur and all sharp teeth and eyes that could see in the dark. Or scales and a tail and a snout.I saw one guy I knew suffocate, cos we didn’t realise quick enough that he was changing into a fish thing and needed dumping in the water cos his fucking gills just grew in!

And the pain. I don’t know how to describe it. Like, your entire body was teething. Bones breaking, fusing, growing. Every bit of your skin feeling like it’s being nonstop stabbed by needles cos it’s moulting, or sprouting fur or feathers. Everything would change shape and purpose and it’d be days of nonstop agony.  Shit, just the transformations alone were enough to kill millions. Heart attacks, strokes, falls, suffocation like the fish guy, even starvation cos they didn’t know how to hunt – or didn’t want to. Suicides. So many fucking suicides, for a while it felt like sheer fucking despair would be the thing that finished the human race off.

But then, that was the thing wasn’t it? Were we still the human race? Scientists started coming up with names I still can’t spell or pronounce, for the new amalgamations – homo-whateverus and all that. I’m pretty sure that was mostly to try and persuade us all that we’re still some form of human, and I guess we are at that, we’re just not sapiens anymore.So the world fell. Or rose? I guess it’s all in how you look at it. If nothing else it convinced everyone to do something about what we’d done to our home. First we rebuilt on higher land. Architectural marvels appeared, connecting us to each other, giving us vertical farms and hydroponic power. We ate homegrown everything – even meat for the carnivores, proper synthesised meat, no more cattle farming. We began marking a new calendar – AF for After the Fall (yeah I know, boring name, but that’s scientists for you) – and we gave the finger to the rich bastards on the moon – they know not to come down here if they wanna keep their bits intact. To explain how this all happened and worked needs a better person than me – a smarter one. Besides, sitting in the position I need to type on my tablet hurts my nutrient hump after a while.

But here’s what I think. I think Mother decided that the only way we’d see and feel and realise what we were doing, and what we needed to do to fix it, was to turn us into the very things we were hurting.

Well, Mother, it worked. Some days I thank you and some days I curse you, but I can’t ever deny that it did the trick.

Hey, whaddya know, I actually feel better after writing this. I think maybe I’ll do it again. Maybe some tales from before the fall. Maybe some tales from after. I got plenty of both.

But I gotta get to work now.

You know, before all this, I worked three jobs. Bagging groceries in the day, waiting tables at night, then I sold nudes for extra cash when I wasn’t doing either of those. Honestly the last one was the best, weirdly the folk buying my body were more respectful than the customers in either the store or the restaurant. Go figure. And nobody could hold that job hostage like those fuckers did – lateness through no fault of your own or for emergencies, standing up for yourself, getting sick – everything got you a write-up and a pay dock, and then a firing, cos hey, they got a waiting list a mile long of other suckers desperate for a job to pay rent or eat.

I’m not sure anyone wants to see me naked anymore – physical attraction all got a little weird,  what with all the changes – but I only have one job now. 3 days a week I do upkeep on one of the hydroponics stations. We all get a basic money allowance, and we work for more if we want it – and 99% of us do even if it’s just because we want to contribute to this version of society. It works. We get what we need, and we get healthcare and shit, and then we make everything run ok. No more working to death just to live.

Alright, definitely gotta go to work. Dear future archaeologist. I hope your world is a good one and we didn’t fuck it up again. Peace out for now.

I hope you enjoyed the story! If you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a message, 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!

Everything was dying, except tbe humans. HollowaysHideaway.com

Prompt Short Story: Balance

The knock came at her door just as Bryten settled down for a well-earned breakfast after a night spent treating one of the villages’ young men, injured trying to climb one of the harder sections of the mountain. Wanted to impress his friends, he said, eyes glazing as much from the pain as from the other pretty young man holding his hand and pressing a cold cloth to his forehead.

The youngster would be fine, her magic was strong and his breaks and wounds – inner and outer – would complete their healing over the next 24 hours. He had been left in the care of his pretty young man, and Bryten had returned home for a large breakfast before sleep.

Apparently it was not to be.

Wearily, she stumped to the door, pulling her greying hair back into a ponytail, and flung it open.

The two figures outside flinched slightly.

“Yeah? Who got hurt now?” Bryten prompted, squinting to try and recognise the villagers in the dim morning light.

“Hi Mama Bryten, do you remember me? Ami?”

Bryten smiled, one slightly crooked tooth catching on her lip as she motioned the people in, “Ami, of course I do! I remember all my little loves. Come in, tell me how you’ve been, and your young fellow – I don’t believe you’re from around here? You made it out into the wide world, then, love?”

Bryten forked out her breakfast onto two extra plates and poured herbal tea for them both, before sitting and beginning to eat.

Ami shuffled uneasily, “Well, I made it to the foothills, and a bit further. I stopped overnight in an inn and met Heper here,” she motioned to the young man who swallowed hastily.

“Soon as she walked in I asked her to stay,” he smiled. “An’ she did! We got wed last year, an’ Ami wanted to come see you.”

“So we came back, and we stopped at the village down the foot of the mountain. I’d only passed through on my way out, but coming back, it was late so we wanted to stay, then we decided to make it a couple of nights so we were well rested…”

“Well you musta set out just gone teatime to get up here this time of the morning, love, what happened?”

“Well…” Ami gulped tea and cleared her throat. “Up here we tell tales about you. How you help us and heal us, perform miracles of magic.”

Bryten nodded, frowning slightly.

“Down there, they talk about you, too. Only not as Mama Bryten. They call you – well not you, they don’t know you, but they have a…a thing they call Kilen.”

Bryten leaned forwards, “I don’t follow, love.”

Heper put a hand on Ami’s shoulder, “Yesterday, Mama, did someone hurt themselves real bad? Broke bones, inside bleedin’, lotsa wounds?”

“Well yes, a young fool. You’ll remember Mifil, Ami? He tried to climb the overhang and he fell. I was with him all night. You’ve been here waiting for me?”

“No, Mama,” Ami took over again. “We started up, risking the dark, as soon as we realised. Mama the things you heal. Where do they go? The injuries. What happens to them?”

Bryten, thoroughly confused, moved them all over to the corner she called her living space, taking her creaking armchair and giving the couple the sprung sofa, patched and in need of new upholstery.

“Ami love, I dont…magic is…well hard to explain. I do the spells, sometimes with some potions, and the wounds and illnesses they heal. It’s like making time pass at high-speed but only to that specific thing. They heal, fast, and then the injured or sick person is left to sleep off the exhaustion of the body that went through a whole healing cycle in minutes. Now tell me what you want to tell me.”

“Whenever you heal someone, Mama, it doesn’t just heal. It transfers. To the people at the foothill village. They’re terrified of people getting hurt or sick up here because it means one of them will suffer the injuries and illnesses. Last night I watched a healthy young man suddenly get broke bones and inside bleeding and open wounds, out of nowhere! Mama every time you use your spells, they suffer!”

Bryten, a cloak of dread settling on her shoulders, sat back heavily in her chair. “I always thought…I mean, it’s what she taught me…balance is necessary but that’s the tributes. Look, I pay tribute. In grains, in meat, in prayer. That’s what I was taught by my gramma, when she showed me how to heal. She told me that’s how to keep the balance. Never that it transferred. Gods… All these years. All those people.” Bryten’s face paled and drew in on itself. “Gods…”

Ami knept by her, taking Bryten’s hand in hers, “I told them. I told them there was no way you knew. I knew you could never do that on purpose.” Ami brought a handkerchief, wiping the tears Bryten unknowingly shed.

“Please leave me,” Bryten whispered. “Go to the village below. Tell them they are free. Tell them…tell them I’m sorry.”

Ami nodded and stood,  “Then we’ll come back. OK Mama? Wait for us. We’ll come back.”

Heper placed a hand on Bryten’s shoulder, “Please, wait for us.”

Bryten turned her head away, staring at the peeling plaster on the wall by the fire, barely hearing the door close.

“All these years. Gramma…did you know? Did you tell me wrong?”

Bryten held her hands out in front of her. All the blood on them over the years. All the magic flowing through them. All the hurt and sickness taken away, and…sent somewhere else? To someone else?

She was a healer. Three generations of her family had kept this village alive, never leaving,  never turning anyone away, accepting payment in housework, repairs, donated food, and sometimes simple gratitude when the afflicted had nothing else. She had loved them, birthed them, healed them and buried them. How could she turn away those who came to her for aid, even knowing what she knew now? How could she explain it to them if she did?

Never one to linger over a decision – second guessing oneself could be the difference between life and death – she sent the options through her mind, and settled, calmly, on a solution.

She creaked to her feet, her steps heavy with the weight of all the hurt she had caused. They would be back, they said. Well they could return, indeed, but she would not be waiting for them. The village could mourn, and the couple could explain.

Quickly mixing a potion with one hand and scrawling a note with the other, Bryten prayed for mercy.

A quick swallow, and drowsiness quickly overtook her.

She lay down on her cot, allowing her eyes to close on her final tears as she said goodbye.

She would go to the Gods and explain herself. Perhaps they would understand.

I hope you enjoyed the story! If you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a message, 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’re a local healer, a good one, and your people love you. But you do not truly heal wounds, merely transfer them… The people of the valley below know you under a different name.

Prompt Short Story: Final Lesson

D is a character created and owned by myself, Alexia Harvey (aka the other half of Team Cuddles) and artist Peter Hackney. They are eventually destined for a webcomic but Peter moves at the speed of a glacier (3 yrs and one episode now aaaaaalmost finished drawing!), so I couldn’t resist the urge to write this when the prompt showed up!

Millie puttered around the kitchen, humming the minute waltz as she foraged for the ingredients to make scones to go with her lunch of salad sandwiches, made from last night’s leftovers. Listening to the coffee percolate as she kneaded, it took her a moment to realise someone had materialised in the kitchen with her.

“Ahem,” came a polite cough.

Millie spun and raised her rolling pin, ready to hit the intruder sharply until it regretted every choice that had led it to this point, then stopped short, her muddy green eyes taking in the figure before her.

“So it’s you, then,” she said, putting down her weapon and forcing some wisps of grey hair back into her bun. “Coffee? Sandwich? I can offer scones if I’ve time to finish, if not I need to turn the oven off.”

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Final Lesson”

Prompt Short Story: On Mission

Using the coffee table, Alison emptied her purse and began replacing objects within, mentally checking off her list to ensure she had everything she might need for the day. 

Behind her, padding downstairs in socks and not much else, her roommate and best friend, Denise glanced over, “Uh. Should I ask you why you have a knife in your purse?”

Alison let out a yelp. She hated when Denise wandered around in her socks, she was so damn quiet! Quickly checking the rest of the items left of the table for anything else questionable and seeing nothing, she forced herself to shrug nonchalantly. Standing the blade upright on her forefinger, she artfully balanced it as she spoke, “It’s a dagger, actually. And no, you shouldn’t. Didn’t your mother never teach you not to ask a lady about what she carried in her purse?”

Denise laughed and hit the button on the kettle, “My mother didn’t stick around long enough to teach me anything. Want a drink?”

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: On Mission”