The request for this prompt was merely “define this character”. I decided that her outward appearance of strength would not be what defined her.
I peeked through the tent flap and caught a glimpse of movement in the distance. A lookout. I shrank back to wait, then peeked out again. They would not stop me, of course, but neither would they leave me to myself. Finally, the way seemed clear. I rushed into the shelter of trees and darkness to the holy spring, the only place that was mine. Any other would be driven mad to walk here, they said. Perhaps it was true.
I looked into the water and beheld myself, painted in the patterns that marked me as the God-Chosen. I did not feel God-Chosen. Paint stained the water as I touched the surface, and it was like it washed the strangeness out of me. Suddenly I had to be clean. I scooped water, scrubbing the paint away. I rubbed my face and neck until my skin felt raw, and the paint bloomed into the water, carried away by the spring’s flow.
Finally, I saw my face reflected in the moonlight. This young girl, who was she? Not the God-Chosen of a tribe. The elder God-Chosen — my mother — said that the gods spoke to me through the spill of runes from my hands. But did they? My hands felt like a girl’s hands, clumsy and unsure. I heard no voices, and I made no promises as she had done. Perhaps it was for the best. The gods were capricious, and had used false words to toy with her before.
I touched the water as if laying my hand upon a friend’s brow, addressing my words to the reflected moon in the night sky. “My name is not Hesralta God-Chosen. I am Sryilla Tusfelt. I am a girl. And I am lonely.”
“Your mother was not lonely, at your age.” Continue reading “The Choosing of the Gods”
Explore a character’s moral dilemma – either he gets a million dollars, and someone he doesn’t know dies, or someone else gets a million dollars, and he dies.
“A million dollars?”
“Very well. It’s mundane, so I’ll grant it. But . . . let’s make it interesting. I’ll also kill someone.” The genie that had sprung from the antique lamp pointed out my window, and in the window across the way a woman was dusting; she looked like a cleaning lady. “Her. I’ll kill her.”
“What!? No! That is nowhere in the wish I made! I didn’t ask for anything like that!”
To be fair, I had kind of been surprised when a human form billowed out of the lamp. It was like a silly fairy tale. But after I spent half an hour crawling around my kitchen counter as a cockroach, I was ready to believe. It was either that, or risk some new torment.
“Who cares? The terms of your wish are fulfilled.” Continue reading “Deadly Wish”
This is the third story in what I call the ‘Soul’ series, based on artwork by Klegs.
Artwork: Night Diner, by Klegs (DeviantArt)
“Man, that was great!” Sarah was excited, animated, all the things that set me on edge. But she wasn’t like most people. I knew that she needed to just talk. I was content to listen, and she didn’t take offense.
“It was just me! I mean, the bar was a hole in the wall, but I wasn’t just opening for someone, either. They wanted me! They even applauded!” Continue reading “Unarmored”
When you make eye contact with someone who’s death is near, their life flashes before your eyes.
I walked into the metal room, and the steel door swung shut behind me. The voice was raw, exhausted, accented, muffled beneath a black bag over his head.
“Who is there?”
In silence, I walked to the single chair as the door locked, and locked, and locked again. My shoes clicked on the floor as I circled him. His shirt was bloodied, torn. The bloodstains were pale pink, evidence that they had tried waterboarding, too. His teeth and nails were unmarred, but if they’d had time to exhaust every avenue, they wouldn’t have called me. Continue reading “Intimate Moments”
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”
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”
Your main character is a Tree. An oak, if you are undecided, otherwise, your choice.
For centuries I’d stood in close company with many others like me. My companions made many demands. I had taken root in rocky soil, and they all wanted to drink from the earth. It was not easy to live with so many hungry companions, some much taller, reaching much deeper than I.
After the Infestation, times were not so lean. The others were fewer, and the land thus richer. It was the first time I had been thankful for woodpeckers; they dug into my flesh, but they also ate the pests that threatened me. For a long time after that, I drank from the earth and spread my arms to the sun. Though the children of the lost grew and crowded once more, I was already tall and broad. My leaves spread wide, and my roots spread deep, breaking the rock apart beneath me to reach deeper, richer sources.
Continue reading “Until the World Changes Again”
Your life, if you’d decided differently.
“Faster!” Fists flew, a pivot, then my heel pierced the air like a spear. Since I was fourteen I’d honed these same movements, harder and faster and more graceful.
“Again. From the start.” I set my feet, taking note of where I stood, and began. I lunged, punched, kicked, and then with the pivot from that kick, stomped. The movements etched the motions into my mind and muscle. Now, using them in these flowing combinations was second nature.
Continue reading “Alternate Universes”
A psychopathic serial killer falls in love with a beautiful, sexy mind reader
Soon I would have to struggle home from work. It was the hardest part, the walk home. My job kept me alone in front of a dozen monitors, watching empty halls at night. It was a lonely job, but it kept me safe, insulated from the abrasive buzzing of humanity.
There were my coworkers, of course. My relief would arrive soon. Funny word, that. ‘Relief’. Those hours alone, they were the purest, most relaxing hours of my day. Then Josh showed up. His mind was full of whatever woman he was wooing at the time. Lust whined constantly, and his pride was like the squeak of a thumb on a clean plate, never ending. He’d made progress with someone if it was this loud.
He’d never actually told me of his conquests. He was actually something of a gentleman in that regard. It should seem odd that someone so consumed with sex and the pursuit of sex should be a gentleman in any way, but I knew human nature too intimately to be surprised. When you understood people well enough, you came to realize that the contradictions within a human are what made them…human.
Continue reading “Deadly Lens”