Valhalla does not discriminate against the kind of fight you lost. Did you lose the battle with cancer? Maybe you died in a fist fight. Even facing addiction. After taking a deep drink from his flagon, Odin slams his cup down and asks for the glorious tale of your demise!
Author’s note: It’s not the tale of his demise, but I think it adhered to the spirit of the prompt. Close enough.
In life, I never drank. In death, it was merriment and partying, and there was no work or reputation to worry about. I drank experimentally at first, then more freely. Soon I was drunker than I’d ever been, though that didn’t say much. Then the man at the head of the table – after all I’d seen, was it possible he was truly Odin? – slammed his cup down, making me jump.
“I look at our newest member, and I don’t see a warrior!” His voice carried down the hall of Valhalla, resonant and booming. “I see a paper-pusher! A functionary!” He spat the word as if it were a curse.
Continue reading “Defense Rests.”
You live in a world where you have three names printed on your wrist – your one true friend, one true love, and one true enemy. But only one name is printed on your wrist.
“Tess? Tess, if you’re in here, let me know you’re okay.”
I looked around, cautious, each step setting me drifting a good foot in the light gravity. Someone had fired a set of boosters to slow the station’s rotation; the final firing sequence had begun, and I couldn’t afford any loose ends at this point. I moved through the station compartment by compartment, always leading with my taser. The little weapon was dialed up to quite a lethal voltage but would be safe to fire on the station.
“Malcolm. I’m in here.”
I lowered the taser and moved into the compartment. “Thank god. Tess, are you okay? Did you see anybody?”
The kick hit me square in the chest, and in the low gravity, I tumbled straight through the inner door of the airlock. Tess flew backward against a wall, then leaped off the wall back toward the airlock controls. I scrambled forward, but I wasn’t fast enough. The door was built to cut off explosive decompression, and it slammed shut before I’d gotten an inch.
This is the first story in what I call the ‘Soul’ series, based on artwork by Kleg.(DeviantArt)
Artwork: City Lights, by Kleg. (DeviantArt)
I picked up speed down the gentle incline, leaning into the wind as the skateboard carried me faster and faster. At his hour there were few pedestrians out, and I slalomed back and forth, weaving past them. A shout, a curse, a whimpery gasp of fear as I whipped by pedestrians. I ignored them.
My hair streamed in the wind. The air tasted like freedom. And my mastery over the board under my feet, the hard-won affinity for this extension of my body, that tasted even better.
Then I was there. I pivoted my board and slid until I reached a full stop. I kicked the nose up and lifted it, slipped it through the cargo netting on my pack. My other hand raised the camera from my hip, holding it before me.
I took a moment and absorbed my surroundings. Behind me, cars whizzed up and down the overpass. The sun was setting, and I stood in the single place from which I could see the entire city. From this angle, I could see fragments of the city beyond and around every high-rise and office building.
Headlights crawled up and down the roads, and the building lights shone, turning on and off. There was not a single cloud, and the wind off the mountain had swept away the smog, leaving only a faint halo around each bright city light. I was not going to get a better shot.
Continue reading “Expression”
You are an assassin. A little girl has just come up to you, handed you all her pocket money and asked you to kill her abusive relative.
“Kid . . . how did you find me?”
She looked up at me, eyes wide and intent, never once lowering the fistful of bills. She wore a blue dress and sandals with Miss Piggy printed on them. A seashell hung on a thong around her neck. She had a black eye, and bruises on her neck and arms. On one shoulder I could read the shape of a belt buckle in the bruising. She couldn’t have been more than twelve.
“My dad has a book of names. Your name was circled AND underlined under ‘cleaner.’ ”
“You didn’t locate me with just a name.”
“Welllll . . . there was another name that said ‘finder.’ She was good at finding you.”
I put a hand over my face. Marigold would take an assignment from anybody. This kid would be dog meat when her dad got the bill. Continue reading “Ripped Off”
Um, no. How about we don’t, and say we did…
Artwork by Tomislav Jagnjic (ArtStation)
I stared up at the living mountain before us. We rode atop a ridge, and we could look at the spiral emblem on its ‘face’ without craning our necks too far. When we got close, we’d have to climb its body just to attack the top of its toe.
“So . . . that’s the thing, huh?”
Jamon looked on with me, nodding once. “Yup.”
Continue reading “Retirement Plans”
In the year 2017, all guns stopped functioning. Any ranged weapons much more advanced than crossbows simply fall apart upon completion. 200 years later nothing has changed. Describe the arsenal of the futuristic knight, and what a battle might look like.
An editorial note: This is going to get a little technical. I focused on the arsenal, not the battle, not adhering strictly to the prompt. There’s little story here, except the story of a craftsman excelling in his field. This is my indulgence in engineering weirdness.
Some people will enjoy that – others will find this entry mired in useless detail. Both of these readers would be correct.
I turned the last screw again until the seam vanished and the chamber was sealed. I picked up the empty magazine and began loading cartridges in. The explosive charge was a little more intense than the guns of ages past would be. The chamber of this weapon was robust enough to withstand it. Instead of a bullet, each cartridge was merely crimped to contain the charge. Finally, I loaded the last cartridge and slid the magazine into the port. It slid into a slot carved into the back of the hammer until the back and bottom of the magazine laid flush. I pulled the slide on the top of the warhammer back, chambering the first round.
Continue reading “Hammer and Blade”
How does the grim reaper react to the zombie apocalypse?
I looked over the world with frustration and resignation.
I didn’t really look, of course. I observed from every eye, heard through every ear. Every insect and squirrel, even from the eyes of every human alive, I watched the world. I tasted the soil from the roots of every tree and scented the water from the nares of every fish. Secrets were not safe from me unless they were safe from life itself. Or . . . unlife.
Continue reading “Grim Garden”