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?”

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? ”

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.”

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.