Tag Archives: the writing reader

Moonrise CH41 – To Forbidden Passengers

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[1150 words | Prompts: TerribleMinds, #3WW, Sunday Scribblings 2, The Writing Reader]

Joaquin jumped down from his pallet spy tower. He rubbed his knuckles against his eyes and willed the bleeding white stars away, an after effect from the super power he’d witnessed in secret. With the world now returned to its colors, objects took healthier shapes, outlines and details became solid, Joaquin found his way back to the red door with crimson light seeping into the night. He rapped the signal against the decaying dented surface. Rust flaked off of it where his fist landed urgently.

After a palm-sweating moment a man’s face appeared through the opening of the door swung ajar. His face was pinched, and his eyes narrowed. Joaquin made sure he was first to speak spitting his thoughts out fast.

“Do you have room for one more bruh?”

The man in the door chewed on his bottom lip sizing up Joaquin. He saw crusted blood over Joaquin’s brow, torn clothes and bullet holes without matching wounds. Joaquin was a circus attraction, a sight to behold, but a deep plea in his eyes still watery from the impossibly fast transition from light to no light spoke a powerful enough tale to the man guarding the door. He stepped aside and let Joaquin enter.

Joaquin felt the man grab him above the elbow and lead him through the pitch black. It was like walking blindfolded and no matter how much he blinked Joaquin couldn’t detect any shapes. He followed the directions blindly, allowing the man to steer him by the elbow. A lit barrel emerged instantly from nothingness. Glowing embers faded as they launched on fragrant wisps of smoke. The scene reminded Joaquin of some space sci-fi movie. That’s how he felt too, stepping into seemingly thin air approaching a circle of light supported by nothing, surrounded by nothing. It just floated there ominously. But he heard – proof of a solid plane under his feet and of reality. There were people and sounds that they made that were too audible for his ears. Did the oppressing darkness heighten other senses? Joaquin would never know.

The people in a circle around the barrel emerged from nothingness; they were all quiet waiting for Joaquin to enter the halo of light and reveal his face. A woman in her mid-thirties stood up first from her red plastic chair. “We won’t turn you back now that you’re here but-” she paused and met each of her companions’ eyes, “how did you find this place?”

Joaquin took in the sight of them. They appeared to be ordinary people. Even his former guard was behind him toying with the keys on his belt. It was such a common thing to do. The one playing with his keys was the short one; the tall man had his hands in his pockets but his eyes were dark and sharp like the knife tattooed on his left cheek. The woman had the look of a kindly kindergarten teacher as she nervously pushed her glasses back up her nose. A pimply teenager somewhat younger than Joaquin kicked his backpack further under the red plastic chair and stared at Joaquin with wide eyes.

Completely ignoring the woman’s question, Joaquin’s laugh echoed off the tall roof of the warehouse. “You guys have powers!”

The quartet looked at each other.

“Are you fuckin’ retarded esé? Isn’t that why you’re here?” The tall man with the knife tattoo chuckled rubbing the back of his head.
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Moonrise CH40 – All Flags Fall

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[1234 words – prompts: Inspiration Monday, Terribleminds, #3WW, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2]

Betty left the dimly lit corridor and went back through the bland looking door leading to Andy’s secret hospital room. The nurse busied herself with his painkillers and soaked bandages, replacing them with clean ones. He was half drifting to sleep; half-awake asking questions about the fire, about someone named Anne, about Joaquin, but mostly about himself. All questions Betty couldn’t answer. She was given scarce information in the heat of the moment, rushed to the hospital in the dead of night to keep new secrets away from people who desperately wanted to know them. But she was given enough to know something was amiss with the Jensen case, with Major Globe. Massey’s warning had been brief and hurried – she couldn’t trust anyone right now. The world was turning upside down, friends became foes and vice versa.

Betty shivered in her thin jacket; the weight of her service weapon pulled her down. She looked to Andy near motionless in his drug-induced haze. He’d got hurt on account of supers but he was still eager to help. Was it some shared insanity driving everyone to do crazy shit and risk their lives? Or was it a duty of care that they couldn’t turn away from? Did they just crave adrenalin?

“You know it’s funny how the world suddenly depends on a street thug, a sociopathic woman, a crazy old detective and a small time hacker,” Andy croaked from his bed. Betty sat on the edge of his bed. “You’d think that among all these people with powers there would be someone, anyone who would, I don’t know, put a cape on and fight crime and corruption. You know, the cliché. Instead, people are proving that prick right.” He tried to look at her but Betty knew his mind was muddied, thoughts ricocheting madly, pain and helplessness and adrenaline jolting his mind awake when it should be asleep, resting. Andy was committed to his emotion exchange, so she listened.

“Once you let fear in it’s pretty much over. I mean I’ve seen the bad and the ugly on the supers side and I’ve seen them on this side, our side. Am I making sense? The pills are kicking in mighty fast. Officer, can you imagine genocide based on something unsubstantial? So many lies were told but people buy them. It’s so easy once you let fear in. These days I guess it’s only common. But we’ll get an uprising. Do you think we’ll pull it off? Save the city? The world?”

Andy’s voice was hoarse now fading away as he was lulled to an unconscious sleep by the morphine that the nurse was injecting. But he did make sense. He summarized the ludicrousness of the situation. A situation that Betty now invested in the outcome.

She rested her hand on his bare arm. “I don’t know buddy. I guess we’re about to find out.” Right now she could believe just about anything.

Without a uniform she felt like a person overstepping the law wielding guns in desolate hospital wings, protecting people she barely knew prophesizing about a world ending and caped crusaders. True, she had her badge uncomfortably biting into her leg inside her pocket, but she was still incognito. So when her personal cell vibrated on the small table in Andy’s room, Betty jumped nearly pointing her gun at it. She mustered all the control she had to pick it up and leave the room to the sleeping and the injured.

“Felix, what do you want? Do you know what time it is?”

“Massey just got arrested! I’m at the station filling out a shit ton of paperwork and that agent what’s his name-”
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Moonrise CH37 – Puppet Army

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[1195 words – Prompts: Terribleminds, Inspiration Monday, Sunday Photo Fiction, Sunday Scribblings 2, The Writing Reader]

Joaquin’s eyes scanned the street. He knew if Globe’s men found him, it would be his end. The way that Anne and Frank talked about the man, he was a genocidal maniac. A well-connected genocidal maniac. The FBI was in Globe’s pocket. They were his puppet army. The local police wouldn’t trust a young black man with a rap sheet as impressive as his. His only ally, Detective Frank Massey, seemed to only trust him with unimportant tasks. He only clutched the package to his chest because everything turned to shit today. Even if he were to get the proof to someone outside of Globe’s influence, he doubted that they would listen to him.

His enemies were everywhere. It was a hopeless situation. But, he reminded himself, Andy’s good people. Betty’s eyes softened when she looked at him. She didn’t see a thug; a carjacker; a purse-snatcher. She seemed to see beyond his past. She saw the same future that Peter saw. Joaquin sighed, remembering the firefight at the cabin in the Canadian wilderness. He cursed himself for running away from the team of mercenaries took down Peter and Kristof. He flinched as the crack of a handgun echoed in his memory.

Globe’s men took Peter alive. Anne told them as much. Frank and Andy worked to expose Globe for the villain that he was. Joaquin could only hope that everything would turn out the way Frank and Anne planned. But still, he would never forget her cackle and the blood smeared across her face as Anne murdered the Seventh Street Kings. He wondered if she was any better than Globe.

Joaquin took a deep breath and stepped off the curb. He would see his task completed. He had hope that some higher power would set things right. Joaquin allowed a smarmy grin. And if that power decided not to, well then, Joaquin would do his damnedest to do it instead. He squared his shoulders and walked confidently onto the seedy Seattle street. He had hope in the face of hopelessness. He had righteousness in the face of wickedness. He had to stop Globe at any cost.

He wondered if that was enough to make him a hero.

* * *

“It was somewhere near Whidbey Island, but I don’t know where. I don’t know if Joaquin even went there. Shit, detective… it was my idea. After we had found out Miles Jensen might be innocent, I suggested to Joaquin that we go and search for more proof. I told him it would be best we don’t call you right away.”

Massey pulled the blinds aside and squinted to see the traffic. He searched for black dots with flashing blue and red lights, but there were none. The bad guys would arrive incognito. Sighing, he pulled away from the window and sat on the chair beside Andy’s bed. “It’s alright Andy. You couldn’t have known things would go sideways so quickly.”

Andy nodded his good eye filling with tears. “Detective, are you sure this Anne can be trusted? I know what you said about the plan and all, but…” He blinked his eye several times to clear the moisture.
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Moonrise CH28 – Phantom Moon

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[1058 words – Prompts: Inspiration Monday, #3WW, The Writing Reader, Write Anything Wednesday, #SoCS, Sunday Photo Fiction]

Joaquin jogged through the stalled traffic, the overcast evening getting cold. He appreciated the comfortable numbness. Light shone brilliantly from behind the clouds. The phantom moon pulled at his inner tide. He allowed the celestial influence guide him toward Andy’s apartment in Chinatown. No one called it that anymore – now it was the International District. Joaquin had expected Andy to be living in a house with a white picket fence, but instead he and Massey found the hacker in a small apartment above an Asian Travel agency, and Moe’s Exotic Herbs.

As Joaquin walked by, an Asian man lackadaisical sweeping the floor inside Moe’s Exotic Herbs eyed him. His motions became more deliberate, the grip on the broom tightening. He feigned concentration at his task, but Joaquin caught the pull of the lip, saw the wrinkles piling on the ancient cheeks, saw the barely showing but present snarl. A thought slowly crept into his mind that the man wasn’t judging him by appearance, but by the fact that he was one of them, one of the super powered people they were showing on the TV all day. The media painted them as killers, so why would some ordinary man see it otherwise? Joaquin felt like he was suddenly transparent to the man, his freak DNA imprinted on his skin. He rushed past the glint of the window. Behind him, the man flipped the “Closed” sign and turned off the lights.

Joaquin found the stairs to the side of the building. He climbed them two at a time, and when he snuck inside the narrow corridor, he quickly found Andy’s black painted door. His banged his fist on it. When Andy didn’t answer, he hammered at it again feeling it shift slightly under the pressure of his impatience and frustration. “Yo man open up. It’s Joaquin.”

He heard the muffled sounds of feet rushing on wood, the throwing off something heavier, the drop of coins and the light swear. Then the door cranked open obstructed by the rusted chain.

“Slide that shit open homie and let me in.”

Andy slicked back his hair and craned his neck to look past Joaquin.

“Where’s Detective Massey?”

“Busy,” Joaquin squeezed through teeth. “I got the stuff instead. So. Move. Over.”

Andy yanked the chain free and stepped aside allowing Joaquin’s large frame access.

“The hell were you doin’ makin’ me wait and shit? I thought you was trippin’ or somethin’.” Joaquin looked around the apartment. It wasn’t difficult to figure out Andy had rushed to make it look more hospitable, cleaning papers and clothes, which were in a heap on the bed. Despite his effort, the small living room was like a disposal area, food, clothing, cables, cameras, CDs all in a mess that Andy probably called order.

Andy shook his head. “I don’t partake in drug usage. So, Golden Boy, let me see what you brought.”

Joaquin handed him the backpack. “Don’t call me that.”
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Moonrise CH27 – Bizarre Mundanity

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[1000 words – Prompts: Inspiration Monday, #3WW, Sunday Scribblings 2, #SoCS, Write Anything]

* * *

Joaquin lingered in the threshold of Frank Massey’s apartment even after Betty’s silhouette faded into the distance of a bustling city street. Joaquin closed and locked the front door, tossed the envelopes in his backpack, left via the back door and made his way to the bus stop perched at the end of the long lane. He didn’t see the black SUV creeping up from anywhere, and he wondered whether it hadn’t been waiting on Betty. He didn’t know if his self-reassurance was far-fetched and lamented the fact that he just didn’t know what was going on. Before he had super powers, it was easy to know who he had to watch out for. Now, he just didn’t know.

It was getting dark, earlier than usual, a nasty trick of the month. Joaquin measured the sky, saw how it darkened inch by inch, a layer of blue melting away to add purples and reds and oranges until it went indigo. He caught the bus by the tail and loaded himself. As it pulled from its stop, Joaquin looked around, but he didn’t spot anyone acting suspicious or spending too much time with their eyes glued to him.

He sighed. He was overwhelmed, and every shadow or invisible threat spooked him. Joaquin thought that that was pretty stupid for a guy who couldn’t get hurt, but still… It was like the paranoia Massey and Betty carried had transferred onto him and was now crawling up his spine making him nervous. Even those glorious days in the Canadian wilderness with Peter seemed somehow less dangerous. Joaquin rested his head rest against the bus window, watching humanity stroll by on the sidewalks, gather in front of bars, and seat-dance in their cars.

The curved glass of the window distorted the night sky injecting fast growing city lights into the mix. Red streaks broke into his view, the color crashing into his peripheral vision. Joaquin blinked at his reflection, hollow eyes twinkling with that dreadful color. The intruding shade disappeared as the bus gained speed. Joaquin pulled his hood tighter over his head and disappeared into the anonymity he used to take for granted.

When the bus groaned to a halt ten stops later, Joaquin jumped out of its bleak interior dismissing anyone staring at him from the steamy windows. He kicked up his pace, hands in pockets, eyes set firmly in one direction. The city lights were full in their illumination of the night now, neon greens, yellows, blues and pinks erupting from every commercial corner, selling booze, selling smokes, dealing drugs, dealing porn. They gave away some sort of warmth and comfort, and Joaquin felt more at home as he rushed down the curb, dodging people, avoiding eyes. His ears picked out music, but it died out in the cacophony of a city gearing up for the nightlife and was too scant to be identified or remembered. The halting thump-thump of dance music blared out of a few open doors. Blues, country, and rock also competed for his attention. He could make out brief snippets of conversation. They were small words from smirking mouths. He relished the slang and accents constructing one giant jibber-jabber in front of food carts. He smelled the curbside popcorn, gamy kebabs, hot dogs and ice cream right by weed smokers exchanging signs and currency. Hard drinkers crushed brown paper bags between calloused fingers. They watched him with watery eyes from hollow sandpaper faces. He knew them all, their nature, their tricks. He felt like he could breathe again alone and assured in the bizarre mundanity of the Seattle urban sprawl.
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Moonrise CH26 – Error

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[1010 words – Inspiration Monday, #3WW, Sunday Scribblings 2, The Writing Reader, #SoCS]A harsh red light in the laboratory blinded him when stepped through the doors as he rushed past lab assistants, engineers, and other personnel. Major Globe was on the precipice of a dire failure he feared could happen yet hoped he would be able to avoid. He closed his eyes and tried to calm his frayed nerves, but the erratic throbbing building in his temples only increased. The flicker of the alert light turned his skin hotter than it already was and he ground his teeth feeling the pressure of tooth on tooth scratch at his skull.

“Will someone turn that off?” he demanded to no one in particular.

The clinical calm typically present in the lab returned. Globe’s workers tried to compose themselves. The low-frequency sound disappeared with a soft buzz. Globe opened his eyes blinking at the blue-white light that returned to calm his heated head.

Globe glared at the transparent tube where Peter motionlessly floated. What normally illuminated the super within was now eerily dark. The data on the screen in front of him flashed, “alert,” “system down,” and “reboot unavailable.” It had been working like a clock, timed and measured to tick in a precise rhythm that promised to deliver outstanding results within weeks. Now it had suffered a step back and not a small one. He tried to calculate the new timetable. His gaze was unfocused, and he looked nowhere, in particular, lost in thought while his fingers clenched into fists. He needed time to understand whether the experiment had suffered a recoverable overdose on the cocktail of drugs designed to keep Peter alive. Perhaps the substance had been muddied, weakened, even. He needed to know if this project was completely lost or just halted.

His stare wandered to a matching tank and his brows furrowed. He knew it had come from Kristoff, the computer said as much. It was just a light stir, a brief, but weak spark. The vital signs of his reluctant hero were the source of the power surge that had transferred to Peter’s chamber and short-circuited it. They had nearly lost Peter, and now his vitals were so low it was impossible to continue the experiment. Worst than that, his power had been depleted. Globe shifted his attention to the third pod in the room. He threatened Anne into compliance so many times with it. Could it be used to fix Peter’s malfunctioning pod?

One of the lab assistants babbled at him reiterating things that Globe already knew. The assistant tried to explain how the team was taking a manual sample to test. How from the moment the accident had happened the test results had begun to decrease in purity, efficiency and strength. How they had had to temporarily disconnect Kristoff from the equation for fear his DNA structure would dominate and destroy the results. Globe’s fist came down on the table scaring the lab assistant and he pounded it until the skin on his knuckles broke and they started to bleed. He smacked the monitor and grabbed a handful of cables and pulled at them ripping them apart from whatever sockets they were attached to. He hurled the bundle of cables on the floor in a heap. In his fury, he flipped the table and kicked a rolling chair making the assistant cower and hug the tablet he held with a death grip. Everyone else present stopped and stared. Some had the sense to hide it, but not all of them.
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Moonrise CH25 – Fragile Destiny

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[1030 words | Prompts: Inspiration Monday, #3WW, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2, #SoCS]”Who are you?”

Joaquin blinked at the woman’s squinting eyes and the stern expression on her face. She shifted her hands behind her back to hide something. Joaquin allowed a wide grin and took a step back from the door. “Frank told me to wait for someone.” He paused and allowed his eyes to roam over the petite woman from head to toe. “How do I know you’re the one I’m waiting for?”

The woman sighed and brought whatever she was hiding behind her back in plain sight. “Let me guess,” she declared, an amused rise in the corner of her lips, “Frank had to step out, so you got stuck waiting for this.” She waved a thick envelope at Joaquin, and let it thump soundly on a table adorning the entryway.

“So,” she continued after glancing at Joaquin, “who’re you with? CIA, FBI, NSA, DHS? Detective Frank Massey has lots of friends in a variety of federal offices.” Her eyes focused on his right eyebrow. “He also has contacts in other organizations.” She winked. “Street organizations…”

Joaquin’s smile fell. The blonde woman nodded as if he had confirmed her suspicions. “Well, uh, I…” he stammered.

She held up a hand, palm toward Joaquin. “Save it; I don’t want to know.”

Joaquin looked over his shoulder and back to the woman. “What’s your name?” he queried.

She smiled. “Just let Frank know that all the information and ancillary content he wanted is in the package.” She gestured toward the envelope balanced precariously on the edge of the table.

“Okay, uh, Betty, er, I mean, Officer Patterson.”

She smirked and turned to exit the foyer back to the street. Her pleasant smile faded when she saw a black Ford Explorer with dark tinted windows parallel parked across the street. Joaquin followed her gaze, and he noticed the slight distortion coming from the tailpipe. Whoever it was, they left the motor running. The vehicle suddenly pulled into the street and sped away. Betty and Joaquin watched it disappear over the slight rise of the pavement, noting the government license plate.

Betty tightened her jacket and turned back into Frank’s apartment. She met Joaquin’s eyes with a cold determination that made him swallow audibly. “Tell Frank that I don’t know what he’s into, but he needs to watch his back.” She reached over and pushed the envelope further on the table. “He needs to keep me out of whatever’s going on. I want no part of an operation that has spooks watching what’s going on.”

She turned and stepped across the threshold. She looked left and then right, before another glance over her shoulder at Joaquin. She descended the stairs and headed down the sidewalk opposite from the direction the black SUV went. She looked as if she hadn’t a care in the world, but Joaquin knew better.

He was certain that his destiny and Frank’s were intertwined and so very fragile. One mistake could end them both, possibly even the world.
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