Tag Archives: Starfall

Wrong Place Wrong Time (FFC2018)

I was inspired recently. Cindy and I are gearing up to write the third book in the Sixteen Sunsets Saga. Here’s a little short to whet your appetite. I’ve included prompts by Chuck Wendig & Bree Salyer.

They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Joaquin and Quake picked their way through the debris left in the demolition of Globe Tower. They both wore backpacks stuffed with bottled water, air filtration masks, and first aid supplies. Joaquin wanted them both to be armed in the brave new world that they fought against, but their leader, Anne Henderson, insisted that although Major Globe was dead, his legacy of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred lived on. As a couple of college-age kids picking through the debris, they were at most, trespassing. Armed, they were insurgents. Terrorists. Criminals.

The two didn’t speak. It wasn’t that the masks they wore made it difficult; it was the devastation all around them. Their mood was somber. Neither of them knew what sights their little excursion would bring. Their destination was the unknown. They’d left the safety of their hideout in the dark hours. It was the only time that people with superpowers could travel. Their movements went unnoticed, the Seattle Police tried to enforce curfew, but they were spread thin due to daily rioting.

The riots were getting worse. Those with super powers tried to defend their right to exist. The Superhub was in shambles. Andy still hadn’t recovered from his experience at the base of Globe Tower. His ramblings of a phantom self only served to fuel the image of an unstable young man. No one at the hideout had stopped them. Anne seemed to ignore anything not directly involved with tracking down Kristof. It didn’t mean that she was unaware of their nightly romp through the disaster area. She likely had eyes everywhere. Joaquin was certain that having an immortal super in their midst was an asset, but there were those that remembered Anne’s previous affiliation, albeit a forced one, with Major Globe.

It felt good for Joaquin to do something. The losses were staggering. Frank Massey’s daughter did her best to keep their outfit running. Her eyes were always puffy. With their numbers dwindled, it was not hard to hear her crying in the wee hours. Inside the warehouse, sound carried with no concern to snores, the sounds of sex, of a grieving daughter over her hero father.


Detective Frank Massey was a hero. Even before the disaster, the city had been in chaos. Their covert underground railway orchestrated by Massey’s partner, Betty Patterson, smuggled many supers out of Seattle. The police presence before Globe Tower fell was one thing – now, Seattle was a police state. The streets were crawling with armed soldiers, the Army National Guard called in to assist getting the populace under control. Something Joaquin knew that Frank Massey would’ve rallied against. For a hero cop, the old man wasn’t half bad.

The duo had been out every night searching for their family. Neither of them had a biological family. Quake was cast out by his parents fearing that his emerging superpowers would bring unwanted scrutiny to their family. This was before the “supers crisis,” initiated by a confused super-powered Miles Jensen, dubbed The Madison Park Butcher, and the machinations of an egomaniacal kingpin by the name of Jacob Globe. Now… Quake’s story played out again and again as worried people lashed out against those that were different. Co-workers “outed” supers living as if they had no powers.

Parents against children.

Husbands against wives.

Neighbors against neighbors.
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Starfall CH16 – CoNcLuSiOn

[4000 words]Andy sat behind the wheel in the van going deaf and crazy at the awful sound of silence in his earpiece. His friends were an unknown inside the looming tower, Schrodinger proud at them being both dead and alive at the same time. His uselessness after the breach was crushing, his hands itched for him to do something, help somehow. But like he’d told them, they were on their own. Globe controlled his tower manually locking him out permanently.

Andy climbed out slamming the door behind him. He paced outside the van matching the worried glances the onlookers were giving. News crews like hungry hyenas probed at the constraints raised by the police while Nightprowlers filled the plaza ready to plow inside Globe tower with its spinning red “G” mounted on the roof. Andy abandoned the van surrounded by orange cones and started toward the tower.

wHAt are YOU DOIng?

“What does it look like? I’m going to…help. Somehow.” Andy bit himself for answering the voice.

As he was looking at the skyscraper he thought he saw it split apart and implode, collapsing like a giant on top of the world it threw a shadow across. Then the image was gone, a delusion born and dead in the same instant.


“Saw what? What are you talking about? I’m just going crazy, that’s all.”


“How do you know that?” Andy lowered his voice weary of eavesdroppers.


“So how do I stop it from toppling down? How do I get them out of there on time?”

yOu cAn’T sTop the COLLAPSE…BuT tHerE mIGHt be A WAY to SaVE thEM.

“Like what, teleport up there and warn them?”

Andy found the phantom face reflecting in the window of a parked red sedane. White, hollow eyes stared right back at him.

“Are you me from the future or something?”


“Say yes? I’m not holding you prisoner, I don’t even know what or who you are.”

Andy grimaced at the silence the phantom gave to his question. Despite his reservations he licked his lips in dry curiosity.
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Starfall CH15 – Promises

[3073 words]Globe sat back in his chair, legs propped on the edge of his desk. His tongue licked the bitter taste of the cigar he’d lit victoriously, celebrating quietly in his solitude, undisturbed and unafraid. He took a long drag, enough to cloud his mind, making him all giddy. Through heavy-lidded eyes he watched the struggle of his enemies on the screens, the failure and death on every floor. They would never get to him. The tower climb was their doom.

He’d wanted them all in one place with the delusion they could win and he had them. It made this revenge all the more rewarding.

His eyes flicked over the first screen. Joaquin’s friends on the ground floor were struggling against Duke, his strongman and although Kid Vision had wasted Tarantula’s baby spider and although Quake was doing an impressive job rising shields against the powerful bashes they weren’t going to last long. Nightwave’s shadows were already transparent, his reach short. Quake’s boulders were smaller and smaller, nothing against Duke’s strength. Globe could already see them wasted, their abilities spent while Duke had juice for yet another and another and another round. It was his peculiarity, this unwavering stamina. On the outside world the Nightprowers were preparing to step in. Globe wondered how the self-proclaimed heroes in their current conditions would do against an army wielding stun rifles. Poorly, he guessed. He would have them strapped to gurneys soon enough if they didn’t suicide themselves in their weak attempts to win time.

The second screen however was a disappointing one. The pang of anger stirred Globe out of his chair a desire to hurl something building within him. He tried to look away but Silas’s prostrate body lying in the growing pool of his own blood was burned into his eyes. Anne had somehow mustered enough skill and trickery to murder Silas executing her revenge for Justin. Globe swallowed a bitter spit of tobacco at that unexpected turn of events. He had counted on Silas, needed him to remove Anne. She was wandering many floors below barefoot in her tattered dress showing off her long bruised legs.

He wanted to go down himself and put a bullet in her head, make sure she didn’t come back to life. But he had a better idea.

“Remember how we asked whether Aunty Anne liked kitties? It turns out she doesn’t, princess.”

Globe turned at the pitter-patter of tiny feet dressed in glittering leather shoes. Bree’s face was sullen, Mister Puss tightly clutched in her hands.

“We’ll have to have a talk with Anne, won’t we now? Make sure she’s punished.” He reached out for Bree but she moved away, steps retreating.

“You are a liar. You hurt Aunty Anne.”

Globe chuckled. A distraught looking Bree watched him under tear riddled eyes. On second glance that wasn’t distraught. Those weren’t tears but a glint, the one preceding the empty stare, eyes devoid of all color, the one that frightened him.

“Bree, honey what’s going on? Why are you upset at me? Is it because it’s early and you’re not in bed?”

“You hurt her. Mr. Puss didn’t like that one bit, no he didn’t.”
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Starfall CH14 – Awake

[3296 words]Betty ventured out of the small elevator into a different world—the underground laboratory lair of the main villain. This facility was a glimpse into high-end technology, symmetrically arranged under the ventilated, cool air. Computer screens displayed running programs, complicated calculations and diagrams. In the middle of the room, two glass containers stood from floor to ceiling, and thick cables connected them to the main computer. Apparently, the screens were monitoring these tankers.

Betty stared in disbelief. A light-blue substance that looked like water circulated inside the tanks, but it was too viscous to be water. Within that liquid floated the bodies of two people Betty didn’t recognize, but her gut told her one was Kristof.

Their mouths held an oxygen apparatus that allowed them to breathe, and their faces were composed in a deep, unconscious slumber. The strange apparatus hooked to their chests pumped fluid in and out through transparent tubes sealed into the glass. What disturbed her most were their frail bodies. She could see their ribcages through their pale skin. Their fingernails were elongated, their hair thin and long. Whether they were Supers or defects, they didn’t deserve this.

Betty shivered, thinking about all the lost supers, people who had come here, hoping to be treated, fearing for their lives. Had they also been imprisoned in a glass tank? Or had they just been stripped of their power and left for dead?

“Guys, you have to see this,” she whispered, but only Andy’s voice came back in response.

“Are you in the lab? Did you make it? I lost contact with Team Joaquin, and Massey and Anne aren’t answering either. I’m freaking out here!

“Relax, Andy. I’m sure they’re fine. Hold on, someone’s coming.”

Betty ducked behind the console just in time. Two men in white lab coats and gas masks emerged from the far end of the basement, pushing carts loaded with cuvettes filled with a blue substance. Betty crouched down and watched. They drove the carts to a ramp that ended at a bolted door. This must be the extra outside exit Anne had mentioned.

When the lab assistants left, Betty crept toward the containers, looking for a way to disconnect them that wouldn’t require shooting at the console board or the containers themselves. She discovered the console’s keyboard was no use. It required a fingerprint scan.

“I wish you could see all this Andy. I can’t make sense of it.”

“Talk me through it.”

“The data written on the monitor shows a 99.9% chance of success in the “Generation 0” experiment. It says Stage 1 is complete. The uh test subjects administered with a “Genome Push” are a hundred, Jesus…they have a varying percentage of survival ranging from 0.2% to 99.9%! There are these calculations predicting—I think if I’m reading it right—a total of thirty test subjects to survive the first test, fifteen the second, and only seven the third, comprising Stage 1. Those numbers are addressed as “Batch 1.0”. What does that mean?”

Betty pulled back from the monitor.

“It means we were too late to stop the first stage of the experiment. Globe succeeded, at least in some way.”
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Starfall CH13 – Hold Still

[2283 words]12 floors below…

Joaquin carried out the unfinished motion his body had started dragging him two steps into an empty space where a second ago Anne had stood. He looked around confused.

“Did what I think just happen?” Kid asked, waving his hands up and down in the air testing to see if they were in slow-mo.

“That Silas guy, that was his thing, manipulating time. Dos mio…” Nightwave ran his fingers across his chest.

“He took Anne! Sonofabitch!” Joaquin swore kicking a trash bin to spill its contents. He could hear footsteps outside; see black clothed shadows move around. “We got Prowlers outside. Shit, how did this happen, yo? We was so close!”

“Apparently we weren’t. We fell right into the trap.” Quake shook his head in disbelief.

“Andy, can you hear me? Andy?” Joaquin touched his ear not finding the alien host previously safely tucked there. “He took our earpieces out.”

“Holy crap!” Kid exclaimed. Joaquin was about to no shit him when he saw that Kid wasn’t talking about the earpiece. He was looking at the elevator. It was coming down.

“Guys…” Kid called, voice trembling.

Nightwave and Quake saw the point of interest.

“Something’s coming,” Joaquin observed not liking the turn of events, Anne taken away, Betty alone, Massey racing with time. They were too divided.

“It’s more than one thing. It’s a lot more,” Kid blurted.

Through his eyes a hundred tiny objects were moving above their heads spiraling down the insides of the walls. If they listened closely they could hear some metallic clicking becoming louder with the decrease of floors.

The elevator doors opened with a “ding” revealing three figures. A black clothed woman stepped forth first, black nailed hands holding her sleeveless long coat tightly closed. She blew them a kiss before throwing the coat open relishing at the shock Joaquin and his team showed.

Two dozens of small robotic tarantulas with red beady eyes sprinted toward the four, tiny metal claws clinking on the floor, crooked metallic fangs snapping tirelessly at their ankles. Identical metallic creatures spilled down the stairs in a wave, slipping and regaining balance, hoping over one another and back on their sharp legs.

Kid pulled his baseball bat out swinging at the jumping critters, bashing them to spare parts but more kept coming trying to dig their eight claws into his shoe. He somersaulted to a clear spot and kick-flipped the nearest incoming spider, lifting it into the air and battering it. The ones that he broke apart reassembled themselves back up.

“They’re too many!” He screamed while swinging madly.
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Starfall CH12 – Critical Error

[3196 words]Anne shut the door to the server room behind her. She walked over the cables that snaked across the floor, heading toward the scrawny girl sitting in the chair. She flinched at the sight of cables running in and out of the girl’s skin. This abuse was intolerable. Globe’s grasp over the poor girl was absolute. The silent super couldn’t resist, and she submitted to Globe’s every whim, turning on her own people.

The girl’s voice came from her host in breathy whispers, boosted by the digitalized sound system. Her on-screen avatar’s lips moved in sync with the words.

Anne froze.

“I know he thinks I should die. I heard. When he thinks I sleep, I listen. Don’t…shut… Me…down.”

Anne looked up at the central monitor and saw the super in her natural world. A glitch ran across his worried 3D face.

“Why do you think he wants you dead?” Anne demanded. “It wouldn’t benefit him.”

“He…talked the night before. I am to be…sacrificed. For…You.”

Anne’s lips turned to thin red lines, and her brows furrowed at the hacker girl’s cryptic words. She sighed deeply. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I can’t let you live, as much as I hate going along with Globe’s decisions. I can’t let him exploit you.”

“I won’t…tell,” Sindi pleaded.

Anne grabbed the thick black cable hooked to the side of Sindi’s head and pulled hard, popping it out of the hole, canceling the connection to the girl’s brain. She gathered the cables constricting Sindi’s body and yanked them free too. The central computer system crashed, going to a blue screen, and lines of binary code raced madly across the sister screens. Could those be Sindi’s last words?

Sindi sat limp in her chair. Anne was done here. She slipped from the dimly lit room, wincing at the stink of burnt cables, and stepped into the white corridor.

Quake’s first shock wave hit the building. Even though the building was reinforced against earthquakes, she felt the tremors through the soles of her feet. She jumped into the elevator and pressed the button for the foyer. From her red purse she pulled out the earpiece and placed it in her ear.

“The hacker is down. Coming your way. How is Team Joaquin doing?”

“Quake is doing his thing to scare the crowd off,” Massey explained.

“While I’m in the elevator, perfect,” she joked as the doors closed. “Andy?” she asked, waiting for the reply.

“Team Andy, it’s only fair. It’s getting empty outside, people are heading to safety, but there’s serious Prowler movement.”

“Alright, keep me posted.”

Anne stepped into the lobby cautiously, pulling her red revolver from the concealed holster under her dress. The mosaic floor in whites and greys, spelling a capital elegant “G,” glittered with broken glass from the expensive chandelier that had crashed during the quake. Some amount of evacuation had taken place; there were no civilians here, no receptionist or security personnel. The entry floor was eerily quiet.
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Starfall CH11 – Undiscovered Perfection

[2970 words]When Joaquin’s eyes unglued from the half-assed sleep he had, awkward dreams dissolving into smoke as he awoke, he found Andy staring down at him. He groaned, unready for the two of them to go mano-a-mano about the night of the fire.

“Shit man, why are you up so early?” Joaquin mumbled sleep slurred, looking at Andy’s watch, the glowing digits showing 7 AM.

“I can’t really sleep when I’m nervous or excited.”

Joaquin propped himself up on his elbow, hand massaging his stiff neck. The bar was slowly coming to life, gentle stirs in the far end, dark silhouettes gliding soundlessly between hushed words. He ran a hand over his short-cropped hair.

“Listen man, I know you’s mad at me for leaving you and runnin’ off but-”

“I’m not mad at you, Joaquin. You did what you had to and besides if you’d stayed you would have been caught and paraded before Globe. Your friends would’ve never come this far, probably wouldn’t have stayed alive for long either. This here would have never existed. I’m envious of you. You got to be what I’ve always dreamed of. A hero. You did well.”

Joaquin was speechless. “Am I Hero Number One now on that list of yours?”

Andy gave a cheeky smirk remembering the little tease they’d shared when they first met. “You are. Top of my list. C’mon get your ass in gear.”

Joaquin found the old detective sitting at the bar chatting with Dante. By the dark circles under his eyes he could tell Massey hadn’t slept. The nervousness and sleep deprivation had spread over to Quake, Nightwave and Kid, faces sullen on the nearby sofa. Only Betty shared the glimmer of excitement Joaquin and Andy had.

“Did you get your police buddies to join in on the fun?” Andy asked.

“Felix, er Officer Wallas will be waiting with some of the guys. He vouches for them. I think nearly gave him a heart attack when I called. Probably owe him two dates and a dinner by now.”

Joaquin noted she was in better shape today, some or other prospect of fulfillment and closure clearing her mind off inner demons.

“Let’s go kill Globe,” Joaquin said rising them up to their feet.

* * *

In the early morning the air was thin, a breathtaking chill filtering through their nostrils bringing in the dust scented rain vapors. The imprint of the tremulous weather muddied and clouded over the city stretched above their heads, a 360 giving them the sense of scale between their hunched figures throwing morning o’clock shadows against grey buildings, drying off their facades and the ominous tower across the city. Its windows absorbed the weak sunrays bursting through the grey dome to make them appear as if they were just catching fire, waiting for the wind to blow and carry it to consume all.

“What a day to die,” Quake cast his eyes up to the gloom.
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