Tag Archives: Word-a-Week

Tendrils of Time

clockwork-apple-new-flattened

I started writing a scene, and had a decent one done at the 500-word count, then didn’t know where to go from there. I scrapped what I wrote after reading the first six chapters and wrote these 1,025 words. I used prompts from Inspiration Monday, Word-a-Week, #3WW and SM Cadman. This is also a switch back to present tense. Do you like past tense, or present tense?

* * *

Reese’s eyes snap open at day break, and she disentangles herself from her bedfellow. She silently dresses in her cloth uniform, and her hand caresses the leather armor draped over the back of a chair.

“Sneaking off?” a voice calls from the bed.

Reese spins and takes in the view. Sky walks toward her slowly, her hands fussing with her curly blonde hair. With Reese’s help, Sky washed the blood from her hair. After their night together, Sky stood unashamed of her nakedness. A flush had risen on Reese’s cheeks, and Sky smiled at the younger woman’s embarrassment.

“As often as we bed, I would think you would be familiar with my body.” Sky winks, and retrieves her uniform from the floor.

A sharp knock on the door interrupted Reese’s response. “Enter!” Sky shouts, continuing to dress.

“Mi’Lady,” a runner speaks, his blind eyes failing to discern the potentially embarrassing scene before him. “The chamber has been located.”

Sky smiles. “Tell the elder sisters I will be there shortly.”

The runner nods, and turns to leave. Reese let out the breath she had held. “Sky…” she starts, but Sky holds up a finger to silence her.

“Speak not of it, Reese.”

“But, mother…”

“Your mother is not just your mother!” Sky shouts before regaining her composure. “The Queen has too much to worry about,” she finishes her sentence with a whisper.

Reese couldn’t meet Sky’s eyes, and they suited up in silence.

“Snow will be at the chamber,” Sky declared, grasping Reese by the shoulders. “We can talk to her then if that is what you want.”

Reese nods and follows her commander out the door, certain of the events to come. Continue reading


16 – Sleep of Ages

Cover-RM

[1000 words – Word-a-Week]Light flickered off earthen walls. The smell of charred meat filled the cavern. Kamaria watched the children gather clothing to provide beds for the youngest of them. The rest lounged in shifts, it all organized by Bree.

She fits the role of leader quite well, thought Kamaria. She saw minor cliques forming among the children from her village, but they all heeded Bree’s leadership, and ultimately Kamaria’s authority. She knew of bands of feral children, even in the capitol city. She suspected that what she witnessed in the cave had played out in cities across the land, and across time.

Kamaria had succeeded with her last arrow in securing the rope to the tree shadowing the crevasse. She was out of arrows for hunting, but she was able to pick several edible florae to augment the bats the children captured. Leaves and other castoffs filled coats and cloaks to use soften the uneven cavern floor.

Kamaria had gathered the materials to fletch arrows, but she wasn’t sure how to procure the feathers for fletching. The bones of the bats would make excellent inserts, and the larger bones could be carved into broadheads. The metal tips of her broken metal arrows provided a blade to carve, but her fingers were sore from holding such a delicate implement.

Kamaria leaned back against the cave wall, and watched the children as she allowed her cramped fingers a much-deserved rest.

* * *

Asis’s eyes snapped open and she watched a filthy boy crouch a few paces away. He stared at her, but made no move to assist her. The boy was covered from head to foot in mud. His long dark hair was braided and wrapped around his head. From a distance, she suspected it might be confused for a turban or other head gear.

“What is your name, boy?” she croaked, the sun drying her chapped lips and throat.

The boy regarded his hands, then felt over his own body. “Themba-” his voice cracked, and it appeared to startle him. He cleared his throat and began again. “My name is Themba.”

Asis stared, and waited for the Themba to continue.

He looked around, and glanced at his hands again. “Have you seen Lady Akila?”

Despite the pain, Asis made the proper hand gestures of respect. “You have seen her?” she asked.
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Etching Gullies

Brass Automaton cover - version3

[1025 words | Word-A-Week]

“Who has eaten my bread?”

“Those are my vegetables, wench!”

Odc picked up his displaced brass mug. “Boys,” he said to the rabble stomping around the room. When no one heeded his words, he bellowed, “boys!”

His six companions looked to their leader. “The oracle has foretold this moment.” Odc looked to the young woman peeking out from behind an immense wardrobe. “Come out, girl.”

Seven pairs of eyes followed Snow as she stepped away from the wardrobe. She smoothed the front of her dress and curtseyed to the gathered faithful. The silence was palatable, and could’ve used a side dish. Unfortunately, Snow ate the hoarded bread and vegetables.

“Master dwarf,” Snow knelt at Odc’s feet.

“The Tenyks are advancing on us, Highness.”

Snow blinked at the words that didn’t belong. “Master dwarf?” she asked.

“Snow,” an urgent voice penetrated her dream.

Snow woke with a start, and her grip tightened on the lance that lay across her lap.

“They’re almost upon us,” Sky hissed in her ear.

Snow peeked out from her hidden vantage, the dream faded into the recesses of her memory. “Now!” shouted Sky as the roof of their hiding spot sprang open and the sisters followed.

Sky rebounded off the hatch, her twin brass scimitars brandished with the tips brushing her elegant elbows. Her strike with the pommel missed her first target, only to have the scimitar slash across the throat of the missed target as her fist struck home against the Tenyk beside. A fountain of blood erupted from the first Tenyk, and it drenched the tips of Sky’s blond hair strawberry.

Willow rose high enough for her clockwork crossbow to clear the blind. The twang of the brass line was a language only she knew. Recoiling, the stock reset and a brass cylinder rotated another bolt, knocked into position. Steam hissed from her matching brass forearm braces as each bow loosed death into the advancing horde. She waded into the bodies, her braided hair swung to and fro with each duck and weave.
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The Nightmare in Blue

I tried and tried to keep the word count down. I edited it down to 555 words, which is apropos for #WOW555. I also worked in Inspiration Monday, Word-a-Week, and the Writing Reader.

* * *

Her wrath resulted in a world broken and dead. It was devoid of life; of color; of humanity. Everything that made our world unique was destroyed as our oceans, once a testament to the awesome spectacle that was our little blue marble, were boiled away. Our atmosphere, formerly indigo, was replaced with the desolation of blackness. A blackness that tries my soul, for in that blackness is the memory of glorious sunsets, puffy clouds, and birds a myriad of colors and species.

Everything’s dead.

The vitriolic rain that fell dissolved anything it touched. Cities once thought beautiful, and hailed the pinnacle of mankind, were reduced to rubble. The world is now a replica of our lifeless moon: cratered, and without an atmosphere. When I close my eyes, and feel the edge of tomorrow, my dreams wail into the night. Thrashing with hope, my human brain defies the Nightmare in Blue.

I call her the Nightmare in Blue, when I’m sure she’s not watching, not because she’s clad in the color, but because she emits a pale blue glow when she bends me to her will. The glow is darkest around her cold dead eyes. Her mouth turned down in a perpetual frown. Never have I been so terrified of a child.

“Wake up, silly.”

The corners of my lips turn up. I expect to see my wife, her jovial smile easing me into the day. My beautiful Rosie with lips to match her moniker. I used to tease her because she preferred lavender perfume to her namesake. My eyes open, and if I weren’t strapped firmly to my couch, I might’ve jerked upright.

“I’ve got a surprise for you.”

I glance past the nightmare. I can see my dead world rotating below. I fight back the tears because I’ve ended my servitude to her so many times. She refuses to let me go. I thought for sure breaching the airlock would be the end. I hungrily consumed the vacuum. Sweet oblivion took only seconds after pressing the button on the cracked panel.

She brought me back, I think bitterly. Plastic grating against flesh was an easy fix for her. Drinking caustic chemicals was painful, but she brought me back again and again. Even the nothing of space was her domain.

She pulls the Velcro straps off, and my body drifts away from the couch. I cling to the thought of my Rosie. The lingering memory of her smile was just as desirable as the fine lines at the corners of her eyes from a lifetime of smiling.

“Now for your surprise,” the nightmare says in her child-like voice.

“Jorge?” The voice is unmistakable. My Rosie floats there in a smart business suit. She twists her long brown hair over trembling fingers.

“I’ve brought you someone to play with,” the nightmare replies, a smile eerily displayed on her cherub face.

“Can you bring back anyone?” I ask, my eyes never leaving my wife.

“Of course, silly.”

I nod and push off of my couch, my aim true. Rosie’s embrace is… well; I can’t describe the joyous rapture I feel after missing her for all these years. A plan forms as I squeeze my one true love. A plan that if successful, could restore the human race, and erase my years of servitude. Only if I can best the Nightmare in Blue.


12 – Discovery

Cover-RM

[1000 words – #3WW | Word-a-Week | The Writing Reader]Jahan followed the cobblestone road out of the City of Dawn, thinking of her future. She would matriculate soon, and she could study philosophy, but the councilman’s conversation with her brother hung in the air.

“Hello!” someone shouted from the Gates of Dawn. “Where are you going this early, Jahan?”

“Just gathering herbs,” Jahan lied to the guard.

The guard squinted. “Are you armed?”

Jahan grabbed her golden sword from its sheath and waved it over her head. The long curved blade glinted in the torches lining the Dawn Road.

The guard waved his hand, and the gate creaked open, allowing Jahan to pass through. “Stay within sight of the wall in case you need help,” he called out. “Good luck, Jahan!”

Jahan nodded and walked down the Dawn Road, moving as quickly as she could without attracting attention from the gregarious guards. The stale air she’d breathed in the city cleared, and the addictive cool air of an early spring morning greeted her. It was welcome, she felt refreshed and ready for whatever the Dawn Road brought her.

* * *

That morning Jahan followed the Dawn Road through the Dawn Consortium. As her city faded into the distance, she followed the river instead of the road. She knew the ever-increasing cliffs to the sides of the river gave traveling bandits an advantage over her, but she suspected they, like the Denizens of Dawn would sleep most of the morning.

The river proper allowed her to avoid anyone traveling the road. She saw fish swim defiantly upstream against the current. They made the smallest of progress and Jahan knew her breakfast was only a splash away. There was a wide flat area ahead, where the river thinned and she knew she could build a fire from driftwood. Her mouth watered at the promise of breakfast.

As she got closer to the clearing, she saw something lying at the edge of the Dawn River. She withdrew her sword and gripped it with both hands, the blade curving downward. Her brother had taught her well, and his patient instruction flowed into her as she cautiously advanced on what appeared to be a body half in the shallow water.

She used the end of her sword to poke the filthy body, and when a feminine moan released, she rushed to the girl and rolled her out of the water.

The girl sucked in a breath slowly, and tried to reach up to wipe away sand and other river debris, but her arms seemed to disobey. Jahan reached and wiped her face, arranging the wet hair clinging to her cheeks and neck to get a better look at the girl. The girl smiled, and winced in pain.
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The Settlement

Cover-EB

Another 500 words to Victorious Maiden written to Adan Ramie’s Word-A-Week prompt. I think I’ll write some more of it tomorrow.

* * *

Octavius has spent the last month deep in prayer. He didn’t venture far from the stained glass depiction of Goddess Kanoni. In his venerated position as the leader of his religious order, no one would begrudge his time of contemplation and prayer. His obsession with Goddess Kanoni after the dismissal of Rashid, and the disturbing dreams that haunt him; he has become a recluse.

At first, he tells his brothers in faith about the disturbing imagery, but as the nightmares became more frequent, he started to retreat from those he considered more than friends.

“I’m worried about Brother Octavius,” Bacchus states as he leans back in his wooden chair.

Brother Celsus was the first to respond. “I know dreams of Marquis Oya and his former pupil Rashid haunt him, but he has forsaken his duty to the order.”

A few murmurs of assent make their way around the table.

“What does he expect of Goddess Kanoni?” When Dorus asks the question, there is a slight pause as each man sitting around the table venerate Goddess Kanoni in his own way.

Gavius returns his attention to Bacchus. “Octavius has been your friend far longer than we, what should we do?”

“Should we do anything at all?”

Dosus closes his eyes before responding. “He needs to bathe.” Nods ripple around the table.

“It’s not just the stench of filth, he eats only what we bring him.” Celsus leans forward. “Even his breath is fetid.”

Bacchus brings his hands up in a placating manner. “I will head to the temple myself, and attempt to bring Octavius back to sanity.”

It is insanity that the brethren fear. With the world on the brink of war, they hope Goddess Kanoni would remain neutral, but the visions that Brother Octavius reported in the early days of his voluntary exile, were telling of a world of endless war, fear, and so much death. And to think a member of their small order would be instrumental in the chaos to come was unthinkable.

The notion that Marquis Oya could corrupt the young Rashid reveals a flaw in the selection process. If all they knew couldn’t prevent someone as pure of heart as Rashid from falling, was there hope for any of them?

Certainly, Bacchus thought as he stares at water a vitreous cerulean. In the craggy arid region they lived, the wide river was the only source of drinking water, swift transportation, and irrigation. He turns and examines the cluster of brick buildings in a lazy crook of the river. Chimneys poke out from dark stone roofs.

The proliferation of brick and stone thin as the distance to the water increases. On the horizon, only the dry mountainous lives they live in solitude lay. Most of the caves that litter the region are abandoned, just as this settlement was. But a secret cave containes the brethren’s only tangible evidence that the ancient Legend of Kanoni was true: a piece of her clockwork wings.

Bacchus bids the settlement farewell, and starts the long trek back to his friend and his home.

Next: Sacrifice


04 – Tyrant

Adan Ramie’s word-a-week prompt wraps up this Body Rentals prologue. I worked in both the word and the photo she posted. These 684 words bring the total of the Tyrant up to 3,088.

* * *

“I, James Colin Hudson, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

John waved to the gathered faithful and smiled to boisterous cheers. He had done it; he had successfully stolen the presidency of the United States. He made appropriate dismissals of staff members and appointed enough to keep up the appearance of cleaning house and set into the motions of being president.

* * *

Several months after the inauguration, Teresa attended a private dinner with former president John Michaels. She was writing a story about what retired presidents did with their time. It was a puff piece, and she knew it, but John made sure she was at the top of the list of press invitees, and he was happy to have her around.

“Tim’s gonna be so upset that he didn’t get invited to shoot some video.”

John chuckled, “You and Tim can be there for my next great adventure, whatever President Hudson wants me to do.”

Something clicked in the back of Teresa’s mind. She viewed the whirlwind campaign with a detached perspective that she was unable to do when she was close to the story. It was the diaspora of a dandelion – each seed fluttering in the wind was a piece of the puzzle. She excused herself and went into the hall to make a phone call.

Her call was answered on the second ring; her brother was nothing if not predictable. “Tim,” she whispered after he got his greeting out of the way.

“What is it?”

“Do you have any video of any of the candidates together or with President Michaels?”

“I can look, but other than election night, nothing comes to mind.”

“Right,” she hissed, her voice getting louder with excitement. “There weren’t any Vice presidential candidate debates, either! Something doesn’t add up!”

She couldn’t have known John was listening at the door. She was comfortable with John and in her excitement made a rookie mistake: Talking about a sensitive story where others could hear her.
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Stone Rain

newYAproject

Another installment of the YA project. I worked in prompts from Inspiration Monday, Word-A-Week, and #3WW. I’m breaking from writing this project. I’ve got the first 8k and the last 8k done, and I’ve passes the MS on to a trusted friend to see if she can direct me on the middle. If she gets back to me this week, I’ll have the long weekend to perhaps finish the rough draft. Anyway, enjoy another 1000 words:

SHIELD: THE PAST

Shield swam in tight circles, finding time to dwell on his actions.

He had drawn guard duty. The theater of fools. Usually he had arranged for someone else to do it for him. In the last three years as a Shield, he had amassed favors. He peddled these favors, trading two or three small ones for a larger one. A few of those larger favors, and they bought him a respite from boring guard duty.

He was quite resourceful, and he knew he’d have to do minimal guard duty in the remaining two years he had left on his apprenticeship. Or so he thought.

Shield was summoned to the Don’s chamber. He traversed the corridor calmly, thinking of how he would spend his extra free time. The favor he cashed in to avoid guard duty was a tough sell. The other Shield tried excuse after excuse to wiggle out of his obligation, but a deal was a deal. He had mentally made a note to devalue this particular Shield’s favor in the future.

As he drifted into the Don’s chamber, he was shocked to see his favor floating in front of the Don. He should be on duty, he thought, my duty.

Don of the Shield only glared as Shield floated beside the favor.

After a few terse moments of staring, the Don finally spoke: “Why do you perform guard duty?”

“To protect the city and my people,” Shield responded.

The Don leaned forward. “How can you protect your people if they don’t trust you?”

Shield ran a hand along one of the scars on his face. “They trust me,” he insisted, nervous.

“They do not!” the Don bellowed. “They see you as arrogant.” The Don floated nose to nose with Shield. “They see a malingerer, shucking his duties.”

Shield stood, his back rigid, his shoulders squared. He worked his jaw, but said nothing – a lump in his throat.

“You will perform you guard duty, and I’m moving you to protect the Light of Joy.”

“Don?” Shield, puzzled. Crystal duty was for amateurs. At least on guard duty, he would get the occasional interloper. But crystal duty?

“I have commanded it, it will be done.”

Shield cast a sneer to his favor and swam quickly out of the Don’s chambers and into the corridor. He raced to the armory to retrieve his spear, and swam to the great arch to relieve the sentry already there.
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Path and Fruition

newYAproject

As you already know I’m not writing this in chronological order. I’m gonna go with this sequence: Joy POV, Shield POV, Joy Flashback/forward, Shield Flashback/forward. I’m thinking this flash forward and the next come somewhere after the story last weekend, but before some story I’ve written, and haven’t seen yet. This’ll be the first 1k of my weekend goal of 10k. I’ve edited the other story chunks already revealed to indicate where in the sequence it falls. I’ve worked in prompts from Word-A-Week, Inspiration Monday, #3WW and went over the word count for #WOW555.

JOY: THE FUTURE

Where is he?

Joy’s head and shoulders breach the surface. She looked elegant, water lapping against her smooth skin. The scene, had anyone seen it, would’ve been serine. The sun appeared to perch on her shoulder, casting long rippled reflections on the water. The moon was just piercing the flat horizon. It was as if the sun’s reflection pointed to the sliver of the moon for any interested to behold its birth.

It may have looked serine from the surface, but below her legs kicked to maintain her position. Her fingers fluttered to keep her facing the moon. She shook her head, spraying water from her hair as she watched the moon slowly rise. She could feel the warmth of the sun wane as the two heavenly bodies performed their dance of death and birth.

The last five years were peaceful. She was able to bask in all that she and Shield had accomplished. Where is he? she thought again as her gaze shifted to the only other thing in the sky.

When she visited the Sky People a little more than five years ago, the spires gleamed in the sunlight. Brilliant white stonework adorned with intricate carvings astounded her. Winged people flittered from tower to the ground, and groups of young men and women fell toward the water before flying great arcs back to the floating city.

Then, she had lived with Shield not seeing it for himself. The glory of the Sky People was not something she felt he could not comprehend.

He barely accepted me, she thought. And I was only away from the Sunken City for four years.

The city she saw now made her sad. She knew the path she set in motion only five years ago had only a single conclusion. She now witnessed that path in fruition.

No longer did the towers gleam. No longer did the spires contrast, adorned with colors unseen below the surface of her world. Rust streaked the heavy chains linking the skyways from one floor to the next. Those who deigned to walk on the ground dodged a fusillade of debris. The massive base the city sprung from listed to one side. A pool, larger than the great arch, looking over the edge of the city now formed a lazy waterfall as the city continually pumped in replacement water. Hoses and other apparatus skimmed the sea replenishing the city’s water supply. The roots of the trees that decorated the city poked out of the bottom of the flotilla. It was all roots and wings, she thought, with sudden odium. It was as if the Sky People had given up. They needed the fresh influx of young women to maintain the construct, and without the promise…
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01 – The Burning Seas

newYAproject

As I was planning on writing to Chuck Wendig’s prompt, I saw a beautiful illustration by Julie Dillon on Twitter. Well, I was inspired, and worked in the rest of the prompts. Enjoy these 1000 words with prompts from #WOW555, #3WW, Inspiration Monday, Writerish Ramblings, and Word-A-Week:

JOY: THE PRESENT

Joy frowned at the scene before her. She crept into the shadows, pausing slightly before each move towards the still form of Madam Vess. Her actions felt jejune, but she pushed her former mentor with her foot, before thinking of checking for a pulse in the carotid artery.

Joy said a few silent words, and placed her cloak over a woman who had infuriated her and challenged her. The last four years since Joy’s thirteenth birthday were full of training, tasks, and study. She had felt she was ready to return to her people a year ago, but Madam Vess insisted she continue her studies.

Now, there was no Madam Vess to hold her back. There was no one, in fact, in the barren outpost she lived. Joy performed her duties for a day or two longer in preparation of her journey. The call of the sea had never really left, and without Madam Vess to constantly fill her thoughts and tasks, the pull only increased.

She could see the sparkling sea from atop her tower on one of the few islands that dotted the pristine blue sphere. Pristine from the surface, but below…

Below is not something I wish to think about.

The sudden thought palliated her place in the world. Would she really turn her back on her people? Without Madam Vess informing the protectorate, she could hide from her responsibilities. She only needed to escape them for another year, and she’d be too old for the ritual.

She shook her head and frowned. Leonard, one of her tutors, had told her that the good of the many outweighed the needs of the few. Or the one, she finished the adage, closing her eyes. No, she would return to her people. She would perform her duty. The stone stairways and arches of her home would be a welcome sight after so much time away.

Joy carefully donned her travel clothes. Her pants were as dark as the depths away from their sun. Her shirt was a tight wrap, the color of the crustaceans that frittered to and fro on the beach. She frowned at the blemish of coverings she had on her feet. Up here, they protected her as she walked.

Walking was the second most difficult thing Madam Vess taught her. Two full years she had to learn to hold up her body. A body that grew strong for the tribulations ahead. Standing erect in a world devoid of life-giving water was… Well there weren’t words to describe it. And filtering oxygen without water? She knew it was possible, but until Madam Vess held her down – her hair and translucent skin covered in sand and bits of shells… Let us just say that knowledge of a thing and experience of a thing are worlds apart. She gasped as the water dried from her body under the fiery sun. She panicked as the water evaporated from her neck gills and she tried to crawl back into the sea, but Madam Vess forced air into her mouth and started Joy’s lung. It was vestigial, and breathing air accompanied walking as her first lessons.
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