Torella glanced around as she slipped her picks into the lock, closing her eyes as she felt for the pin. The soft click came and the cage door swung open.
The chittering of the crystalline creatures grew as she reached in a hand, loading them into a specially-lined sack.
“Shh…” she whispered at them, hurrying back through the building.
Once outside, she reactivated the building’s security and drove her van calmly home, heart finally slowing its heightened patter as she reached her underground parking spot.
Closing her apartment door behind her, she took deep breaths, steadying her post-adrenaline shakes before upending the sack into the specially-built biome that took up the entirety of one of her spare rooms, and had cost no small amount of her fortune to have built – and that was before the cost of the bribes for silence from all involved.
She was exhausted, but now was not the time for sleep. She retied her fair hair into its low ponytail, brown eyes glinting in the glow of the biome’s special lighting, and changed quickly into something more comfortable. A low collar and rolled-up sleeves revealed tattoos, covering her pale skin, and criss-crosses of old scar tissue, the gaining of which still invited occasional nightmares.
Looking into the biome, Torella remembered the day the rip opened and the crystalline balls appeared.
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Rip”
The assassin hooked their fingers around the windowsill, testing the strength of the treated synwood, their other fingers and bare toes pressed firmly into the smooth wall, attached by no more than a thin instaweld mesh.
Carefully they moved their weight up, calculations flying at light-speed through the tech in their head, transferring to their limbs faster than the speed of thought, as the second hand joined the first and shifted their body to the left of the window, balancing as they removed a toolkit from their belt.
They opened the kit with a quick tug of their teeth, letting it dangle from their mouth as their right hand reached in and removed a small, thin stick, topped by a chip barely visible to the naked eye.
The assassin pressed this against the window, on the exact spot where the magitech lock held the window closed on the inside.
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Touched – Cold”
“Open it,” Morgan nudged his best friend, dirty blonde hair flopping over his muddy brown eyes.
“You open it,” Salima responded, nudging him back, dreads swaying with the movement.
“I found it,” Morgan retorted.
“So the honour should be yours,” Salima grinned, passing over the crowbar.
Morgan glared at her, “Dammit, fine.”
He took some steadying breaths and looked again at the lid of the stone seat.
They had stumbled, way off the paths in the woods, into an old mausoleum, clearly long abandoned and forgotten, and decided to force open the thick iron gate and make their way inside.
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Freedom”
“CHEERS!” The slightly drunken cry came from the four customers at the table in the back corner, and not for the first time that night.
The bar, out of the centre of town and tucked away down some back streets, was never a favourite of University students even during term-time, and was mostly empty during a weeknight in the summer break.
The decor had gone through an upgrade since the last time these friends had been there. The dark oak had been treated with a lighter woodstain, and the tacky gold leaf had been replaced with a more sedate copper to match.
“This place changed about as much as we all did,” the fair-skinned woman in the blue summer dress said as she took a gulp of her beer.
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Cheers!”
I can’t forget the moment. It still replays in my head. Along with all the others. They fight to be the memory that fucks me up that day.
This one is the accident. A rainy day, just turning to twilight, streetlamps just being lit, bouncing their light off of raindrops. The street smells like wet horse and smoke from the stacks across the river.
I’m walking, looping my way home from a visit to a friend via the park, dripping wet and slightly grumpy that my favourite hat and jacket are likely ruined. I don’t see the carriage, don’t even hear it until it’s too late. The driver, blinded by the dusk and the rain, doesn’t see me in time. They swerve, but it’s too late. I get slammed and thrown aside, and they crunch into a lamppost.
They’re ok, mostly, some whiplash and some bruises from being thrown off, but that’s all, and the carriage was fortunately empty.
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: If Only”
You can’t always see the big ones coming. The days where everything changes, for better or for worse. Sometimes you get a hint, a clue, an idea, even just a hunch. Other times? Zip.
She was just one of many, in the beginning. We get taught distancing techniques, mental exercises to keep us from getting invested, from caring about our subjects. Our instructor used to tell me I was good at them – “Jessica, you’re a natural, just keep up those guards!” – and I’d smile and nod and know I would be great.
And for the first few years, I was. But while I was on alert for the obvious signs we’d been taught to expect, the others snuck up on me. It was just a job. Three years watching her, and all the others, through that machine. And without me realising it, maybe a little part of me fell in love with her, because I wished she knew who I was. Until she did.
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Anniversary”
Kelsey ducked under an overhang at the edge of the cave, “Left or right, Goober?”
Her twin sister, Ana, looked between the two options and shrugged, “Right!”
Checking the GPS to ensure they were still being properly tracked, Kelsey led the way down the narrow passageway, the light from her powerful headlamp tripping over the striated walls.
“Remind me again why we’re trekking an uncharted set of caves in the middle of the fucking tundra, sis?” Ana said, innocently, “Oh, that’s right, you have a crush on your professor!”
Continue reading “Prompt Story: Speleology”
“The coordinates are wrong! Taking fire.”
“Shit! Beta team! Check in! Beta team!”
There was no response, just a hollow emptiness where even a quiet set of comms should have given a small hiss of white noise to show they remained active.
Bailey swore loudly. It was a setup and she’d fallen for it like the noob she was. She pulled off her headset, momentarily ignoring the cries from Alpha and Gamma teams, and took a long drink, from the nutrient tube that ran into her pod.
Fresh out of a promotion to Field Team Leader and her first mission was a shitshow. This wouldn’t stand. She couldn’t let it. Those were her people, and some of them had their real bodies on the line out there.
She activated her field ‘droid, smashing it out of its box and nodding to the salutes from the humans on Alpha team as she began issuing orders and moving forward with them: 3 warm bodies, 3 drones, and now her.
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Duty”
He woke up and looked around, not recognising where he was. Jolting to his feet, he whooped with joy.
It worked! The time machine worked! Either that or he was having one hell of a hallucination…
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Tomorrow”
It’s always a little quiet here when one of us is fading. We always fade, you see, but we don’t always come back, or sometimes it’s just a long time before we do, and even then the chances of winding up in the same district isn’t super high.
The Agency assigns us based on some complicated algorithms, and if the numbers don’t land on you, well, you stay in the closet, so to speak. At least we’re dormant while we’re not in use, I can’t imagine passing all that time still awake and thinking.
Anyways, when one of us is on their way back to the closet, we gather around whoever it is, and we hear stories of their kid – from the first day they became their Friend, to the day they realised the kid was growing out of them.
Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Mothball City”