Tag Archives: the writing reader

Isolation

1100 words for this installment of Mental State. Prompts this week from #FFC2018, The Writing Reader, #SoCS, and The Daily Prompt.

* * *

The trio of teenagers gathered at the bus stop, Leonard laughed loudly, patting Steven on the back, who couldn’t help but smile. Ruby winked at him and he felt himself blush. The cacophony of footfalls ceased suddenly with David running up to them, out of breath. They stared at him, surprised, but ready to take action if needed. “About time you guys stopped,” he said, trying to catch his breath. “I’ve been chasing you forever.”

Leonard stepped forward and was the first to speak. “Why are you chasing us?”

David caught his breath and straightened. It was now David, Steven noticed, who looked extremely awkward; he was shuffling his feet and seemed unsure of what to say. Steven could guess what was coming. “Steven…” David began, but Steven surprised everyone, including himself by holding up his hand with his palm facing the newcomer.

“It’s okay, David.” David’s eyes were wide with shock; Leonard and Ruby watched Steven very closely. “I know you’re sorry. It’s all right. I just want us to be friends again.” David’s eyes widened. Steven felt a tightness swell in his throat. What was he doing? he thought.

David smiled. “Well, that was easier than I thought!”

Steven laughed. “Makes you wonder why you didn’t do it before, right?” he asked. He couldn’t help but smile. Having his friends back, even if only a few, was too good to ruin with past feelings. If they could let the past be the past, so could he.

* * *

Robert  watched the group step onto the bus together from the window of the now vacant classroom. He watched helpless as the door closed behind them. He swore, the volume of his outburst echoing off the high ceiling. He felt anger boil up inside of him and he bit his tongue. He tasted blood, then turned around and stormed to his desk and slammed his fists on it. What was happening? he thought, a morose wave of emotion flowed over him. Why was everyone turning back to being friends with Steven? Why were they forgiving him for what he did to Lindsay?

A little voice he barely recognized from before Lindsay’s death whispered in his head that maybe Steven didn’t do it, that maybe he was innocent. He couldn’t be; it wasn’t possible. Robert looked up with tears forming in his eyes. Shouldn’t he patch things up with Steven? Surely he should be friends with him again? Robert threw a chair aside, its clattering the next sound that echoed in the vacant space. Why was this happening?

Make Steven pay for what he has done, said another voice, one he had never heard before.

Robert spun around at the voice. “Hello?” he said, looking around, but no one was there. Had someone been watching him? But he hadn’t actually spoken, so how could they know what he had been thinking about? He glanced around the room and gathered his things, Robert left the empty classroom feeling disoriented.
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Turnabout

1150 words this week. I finally submitted my pirate story to Queen of Swords. There’s still four weeks left if you want to submit something. Today’s story is brought to you by prompts by Chuck Wendig, Liz Shaw, Linda G. Hill, The Daily Post, and Tara Roberts. I couldn’t work in Bree Salyer‘s prompt, but you all should participate in that too.

Steven’s next few days were surreal. After his talk with Ruby, he had come to one simple conclusion, and not even the voice could return to tell him he was wrong:

Ruby wasn’t lying. She really does believe me!

By day he did his schoolwork, usually with Ruby chatting at his side. Not a word was spoken regarding their talk and the kiss on the forehead; all Steven knew was that since then, the voice had made fewer appearances.

Everyone in the class still seemed to think Ruby was crazy, or that Steven had done something to her, but as time went on, Steven found he noticed – and cared – less and less. He couldn’t explain it. He didn’t know whether it was because of Ruby, luck, or if maybe he had just finally gotten over everything that had happened.

All he knew was that the voice was dying, he had stopped caring what people thought of him, and in an small way, he was… happy. There was no other word for it. He was beginning to feel happy. He was smiling slightly, and was feeling less depressed.

But how could that happen? Surely he couldn’t recover because one person was speaking to him? Then again, he knew that if Robert hadn’t gone against him, he would have never fallen into a depression. He’d suspected that the fact that he was all alone was the main reason he fell so far. Maybe one person really couldmake a difference.

Having Ruby as a friend made him feel almost normal again. They didn’t fight, and Ruby didn’t stare at him with accusing eyes the way everyone else did. It was almost as if, in some way, the old Lindsay – the one he had known before they started bickering and she admitted to hearing the voice – had come back into his life. She’d never replace Lindsay, that was impossible, but for the first time in a very long time, he felt a glimmer of hope for the future.

* * *

Ruby was getting more and more happy with her success. What was the oxymoronic expression? Cautiously optimistic. Despite that someone couldn’t be both of those words, it seemed to fit, regardless of proper English. Steven was changing before her eyes; he was getting better. She noticed he was no longer resisted her attempts at conversation, but was engaging her. She even saw him smile. It was only once, but she could tell that there were more smiles aching to be set free. Her success with Steven bolstered her resolve and gave her the courage she needed to keep facing the stares of the other students at Twin Oaks High School.

She couldn’t rely on support from her peers. Although no one said anything directly to her, neither did anyone attempt to find out what was going on. They seemed content on thinking Steven had somehow brainwashed her. She just knewthat there was no animus or malice in Steven’s heart, she just wished the others knew what she knew.

She tried to speak to a few classmates, but they all changed the subject and tried to talk about their unreasonable teachers or the latest gossip on who was dating whom. Anything but Steven.

On several occasions, Ruby tried to talk to Robert again, but he seemed so focused on ignoring Ruby and Steven. Robert was so convinced of Steven’s guilt, he was completely denying that there was any chance of innocence. He seemed sure, too, that Ruby was a lost cause. It made Ruby wonder if she could ever get Robert to consider anything other than the lies he held as truth. But like so many things out there, it was easier to hate, than to admit that he was wrong.
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Ally

I didn’t do a flash last week, since I was pushing Score of Silence out the door. So, I’m back this week with a double feature. At 2020 words, I’m kind of using Bree Salyer’s prompt from last week, but continuing Mental State with the voice instead of photographic evidence. It’s not exactly what Bree prompted, but whatever. I had started this tidbit last week, but time was not on my side. I also worked in prompts from The Writing Reader, #SoCS, and Write On Wednesday.


Steven hadn’t killed Lindsay.

Ruby grabbed her backpack and ran out of the room. Her last glimpse of Steven was of him at his desk in front of his computer with his face in his hands, crying uncontrollably. Ruby didn’t stop running until she was at the bus station. She boarded the bus, dropped into an open seat, and tried to rub the tears from her puffy, red eyes.

She was no longer crying because she was scared. She wasn’t crying because she was upset at Steven yelling, nor was she crying because she regretted speaking to him. She was now crying because she knew the truth, he truth no one else realized or bothered to take the time to find out. The truth that made her ashamed of her past actions and thoughts. The absolute and undeniable truth hit her hard and with a massive finality.

* * *

The next day, Ruby’s head was still spinning. She struggled to concentrate on her computer screen. Thoughts stacked inside her head like hundreds of cars caught in the most disorganized intersection ever built.

The thought that Steven was innocent had seemed crazy days ago, but once she had heard the truth of what really happened, Ruby knew Steven had nothing to do with Ruby’s death. He was innocent.

A larger problem loomed. How was she going to tell everyone else? Even looking around the classroom now, she could tell it was going to be difficult. Everyone still threw shade at Steven from time to time, and she could tell that many wanted to do more.

Ruby watched Robert. Although he didn’t look at Steven, his silence since the brown-haired boy’s arrival confirmed Ruby’s suspicions. Even he would be exceedingly difficult to convince, maybe the hardest of them all. She wondered how he had become so adamant in Steven’s guilt when the two of them had been friends until the days after Lindsay’s death. He told her that he saw the truth, that his friends helped him see Steven for what he was, but it sounded a lot like an excuse made by a boy who was easily led. She should know; he had been easy enough for her to play dress-up with.

Ruby glanced at Steven typing away at his computer. The only other person who seemed to have taken an interest in Steven’s actions was the teacher, who seemed happier since Steven started doing his school work again. But did the woman really believe in Steven’s innocence, or was she simply content to have a violence-free classroom again? It was a sad reality that an orderly classroom was all that the teacher really wanted. Was it any wonder that the class reacted to Steven the way that they did?

Ruby sighed heavily and turned back to her computer screen. She knew what she had to do, and it would be difficult, but she had to try. It was the right thing to do. In a world of selfishness, being selfless became a call to arms.
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The World That Was

This isn’t a sneak peak at anything from the Technophobia universe, just a little vignette in an experimental format. These 1000 words contain the following prompts:
Chuck Wendig at Terribleminds
Linda Hill at Stream of Consciousness Saturday #SoCS
Julie Duffy at Write On Wednesday
Bree Salyer at #FFC2018
 

I think that I always knew that I was different. I wasn’t like other adults that I knew. I know, it’s not something you expect someone to admit. Most people will tell you that they weren’t like other children. Me, I’m not like other adults. I’ve tried time and again to figure it out, but it always eluded me. It’s like a scene from a… Well, this is going to shock you. I can trust you, can’t I? It’s like a scene from a book, but a book that I’ve never read. Right, no one reads books, except… I see the realization behind your eyes. Yes, I’m a librarian. You know, in the world that was, that word had a completely different meaning.

There are lots of words that existed once before, but are lost to the decay. “Gun” is one of those words. The easiest way to explain it is that that we used chemicals to launch a piece of metal at mind-staggering speeds. Right? Something like that up here? It would kill us all. Don’t look at me like that. It was an occurrence all too common in the worlds that was. People then weren’t confined to metal and plastic. They experienced endless vistas of sky and rock. So beautiful…

That’s, um. Well… That’s not to say that we don’t have beauty up here. I’ve sat for hours in the ring. Just watching. The black field with so so many points of light. Then she presents herself. The ancient Greeks called her Gaea. The equally ancient Romans called her Terra. I can only imagine what those ancient peoples saw when they looked up at the sky. But Gaea, or Terra, is just so sad now. I’ve seen images of her in books. Blue waters, green landmass, and puffy clouds of white.

What? I told you I’m a librarian. I go down to the surface all the time. Remember? I’m different from other adults. If I make you uncomfortable, you can leave. I know that you didn’t know who you were going to meet. No? Okay. Where was I? Oh, yes, the world that was. Right, how we killed Terra. Right, or Gaea. Well, those chemicals that fired hunks of metal at incredulous speeds? We kept making them bigger and faster. More chemicals, refined and shaped hunks of metal. And the chemicals? Explosions that could destroy great swaths of land and everyone on it. You can imagine, we almost caused our own extinction. We ravaged her, you know. We ravaged each other. We became so obsessed with how to hurt one another…
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Space Combat

This is sort of a reply to Linn Fergus’ recent post on space combat. My friend, Eric Larson, and I discuss a variety of things, and space combat happens to be one of them. He helped come up with this treatise. Here are the seven prompts worked into these 990 words: Terrible Minds, #SoCS, A Beautiful Mess, #52weeks52stories, The Writing Reader, Write on Wednesday, and #FFC2018. This isn’s officially part of Days Until Home, but it could be…
 

“There is a lot of space, more of it than humans can comprehend. If every person in this room had a billion children, each child could have their own area of space a billion miles wide, and we’d still have plenty of space left. So fighting for control of space is stupid. Armed conflict is most often a result of scarcity of resources, and space is a resource we have in unfathomable abundance. Why risk death, and spend resources for any piece of space, when you can just go have this other,” Jeremy Thompkins waved his hand to the side, “empty space next door?”

He leaned forward, and gripped the lectern. “What is scarce, and worth fighting for, is land. Rocky moons that we can reach are a major hassle, and we need rocky moons to make everything from space stations to underwear.” Jeremy paused as a smattering of laughter rippled through the room. “‘Hassle’ doesn’t quite cover it; these moons are like winning the lottery. These are the resources people will continue to fight over, and die for. Which brings us to the only space worth fighting for: orbital space.”

“Controlling orbital space around a moon or planet controls the resources below. From orbit you can knock out most communications, much of their surveillance of the surface, and even hamper their ability to navigate. Not to mention dropping kinetic projectiles on their infrastructure with devastating effect.” Jeremy’s knuckles turned white for a moment as he gripped the lectern. Hopefully, he thought, none of these fresh-faced contracts will experience what I did in Australia. He continued, “Sixteen days is the record that a population on the surface has held out while an embargo force controlled orbital space above. That was because the besieging force was limited, and they wanted to capture as much of the infrastructure intact as possible. No sense having to take time building new stuff if you can just use their stuff. Which was only partially successful in this case since the defenders engaged in “scorched earth” tactics – destroying or sabotaging their facilities before surrendering. This has been the last resort tactic of a retreating defender for centuries.”
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Goodbye Razor’s Reef

I’m a tad over at 1032, but the first draft was at 1500 words, so I’m done cutting. My friend, L. Fergus has written 22 books about an angelic anti-hero named Kita. Razor’s Pass is the name of one of the books in the series, and hopefully will be published soon. This rambling doesn’t have anything to do with the world of Kita, other than I stole the names of a few places in Birthright, and Razor’s Pass. This one is chock full of prompts: Terribleminds, #SoCS, The Writing Reader, and of course, Bree Salyer’s #FFC2018.

The rough-hewn wooden door creaked when she pushed it open. The creak was nothing new, and yet again, Nany wished she had paid the coin for a spell that would’ve silenced the annoying sound. But, as was all life in Razor’s Reef, her meager coin was reserved for the necessities.

A deluge of precipitation threatened to follow her into her humble dwelling. The rain seemed to have a mind of its own. Nany paused, and examined the ribbons of water pelting the pane of crystal set into the wooden door. The individual droplets coalesced into a cloud, and then formed the rough outline of a face. Damn those elementals, Nany cursed silently. The mass of droplets seemed to respond to her sour mood, and the torrent against her door intensified.

Nany closed her eyes, and drew breath in through her mouth. Holding it, she focused on a tiny rivulet that wandered down her cheek from her wet hair. The water started to vibrate, then subsume to steam. Her eyes snapped open, and the accompanying exhale focused her power. She was aware of each droplet, and its proximity to her body. Her eyes flared a subtle purple, and she willed the droplets back to the murky water.

The shriek of the elemental echoed in her head. She felt a twinge of guilt, but water elementals were notorious tricksters. This particular elemental was especially troublesome. Most would realize their place, and scurry back to the Razor’s Sea. This one decided to resist her magical command.

The elemental continued to solidify. The small eyes, and flowing hair almost looked real. A strong jaw, and feminine neck became obvious as the droplets coalesced from top to bottom. Nany centered herself, and reinforced her aura. She drew power from the wooden floor, and by extension the rocky land below. The elemental grew hazy for a moment, and the beautiful eyes showed a profound sadness.

Nany paused. The elemental’s lips curled upward, and the droplets continued their downward journey. An ample bosom formed, and Nany felt a flush rise on her cheeks. Elegant legs finally reached the ground, and the elemental stepped toward Nany’s door. The mist continued to gather, and the elemental became more and more dense. The scene behind her faded as the elemental forced light to refract through droplets, and form color. Her eyes were as blue as the sky on a clear summer day, but they reflected like an animal. Her skin was a pale brown, like the trunk of an Amara tree. A simple green tunic covered enough of her amazing body to keep her modest.
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Scandalous Contradiction

This is a continuation of Permanence, but if you missed it, you can still read this. Both parts are still not an official part of Days Until Home. But, and you have to imagine me leaning in close and whispering conspiratorially, there could be an announcement this summer about that… Anyway, these 1,487 words are from the following prompts: Terrible Minds, Inspiration Monday, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2, #3WW, & #SoCS.

* * *

Adelaide was eager to disembark the Juniper Jumper. Even with no advance notice, information brokers found their way into tickets for the short hop from Earth to Luna Station. Some were able to purchase their passage on the atmospheric jumper by purchasing their tickets on the exchange. Those that were tardy ended up paying a premium on the secondary market. At least one information broker stood with her equipment at the boarding gate and simply offered each patron before they boarded triple and quadruple the going rate for tickets. To the young couple who intended to vacation on Luna, a delay of only twelve hours was worth is for the exorbitant profit they would make reselling. Even after paying the taxes on their windfall, they still would have enough to upgrade their accommodations and tuck a little away for the next tax season. She wondered how many ticket holders were re-accommodated to later flights. Adelaide frowned at the euphemism often employed by the corporations. It was an offense to language that they would hide their true actions behind innocent words like that. The flagrant disregard for, and the lengths to which they go to violate an individual’s rights was almost an anticlimax when she saw it in person.

Adelaide did her best to keep out of the digital eye of the brokers. Paparazzi, she remembered the archaic term for the ambush journalists. They were like bitches in heat, their tongues wagging and doing everything to catch her eye. They knew that with Adelaide and Erika traveling together, something was going on. Even a year after their return to Earth and six months after the Kerwood Nine stood trial for the destruction of the mining ship they were still newsworthy. Those that cared about such things knew that there were at lease two other Kerwood survivors living on Luna Station, plus both Jeremy and Old Vicky found their way on board regularly.

Erika complained constantly about the intrusion into their privacy. Adelaide shrugged and shared a knowing and sympathetic smile with the flight crew. At least they kept themselves professional, she thought. The same couldn’t be said for the information brokers.

Adelaide’s years of spacefaring allowed her to know the exact moment that they switched from the fractional gravity aboard the Juniper Jumper to the full-G of Luna Station. Most people knew that something was up when their stomachs lurched from aft to “down” as the jumper aligned itself with the station’s rotation.

As an engineer, Adelaide appreciated the complex mechanism that allowed the station to rotate around the space elevator that tethered the monstrosity of steel and Lexan to Luna. Adelaide would never admit it to anyone, but she felt the pull of Luna. It was as if she was coming home after a particularly long contract.

Adelaide saw one of the flight crew poke her head into the first class cabin and lock gazes with her. Her reaction was slight, and the crewmember nodded and retreated to the cockpit.

“Hey,” Erika pouted when Adelaide grabbed her by the elbow and moved down the narrow aisle.

“We don’t have time for a show,” Adelaide hissed to her companion.
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