Tag Archives: #WOW555

The Rocks Above

Brass Automaton cover - version4

I wasn’t kidding – my comment on part XII has been set up, but only in such a way if Paul runs with it. I reviewed the previous twelve parts, and I noticed that some of them are written in the present tense, and some are in the past tense. We’ll need to figure that out during the rewrite. I incorporated prompts from #WOW555, Inspiration Monday, #3WW & although I didn’t use one of SM Cadman’s prompts, I was inspired by the photo she used in her prompt post. I also turned yesterday’s prompt from The Writing Reader. Finally, I used Dustin Miller’s line from Chuck Wendig’s title challenge. Here’s chapter thirteen of Brass Automaton at 1050 words:

* * *

“I cannot…”

The guard rushed to the barred wall, and examined the scene within.

“Please…”

Ceridwen writhed on the dusty floor, her hands clawing at her throat. Her gasps for breath and help were not lost on the guard, but he had been warned that the old crone was not to be trifled with.

“Help…”

Her bulging eyes, and lips of blue convinced the guard that she was not faking her injury. He withdrew a brass key, and placed it slowly into the receptacle. When the door was opened, Ceridwen gasped her last, and lie still at his feet. He withdrew his cutlass, and prodded her limp form. When he received no reaction, he lifted her frail body gently with his arms and supported her head with his shoulder.

Her woozy eyes opened slowly, and she spoke. “Save me,” she coughed.

The guard’s eyes widened with the realization that when the crone spoke, her lips made no movement. He laid her on the bed, and his fingers probed her withered jaw. His fingertips found purchase, but his eyes couldn’t reconcile the difference his fingers felt.

“Magick…” he whispered, and took a step back, thoughtless to the potential danger.

He watched her chest rise and fall in ragged breaths. He only considered his actions for a moment, before procuring a talisman hidden in the folds of his tunic. He held it aloft, and passed the chained crystal over the sleeping Ceridwen. The magick aura waned as the crystal showed the guard her true form.
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Governed by Time

Beginnings Project

I did this stream-of-consciousness like I seem to do with each iteration I write for The Beginnings Project. These 2,000 words were written as chapter eleven, but after re-reading it, I suspect it could also be an epilogue. When we finish the first draft and start editing, we’ll need to figure that out. I did prompts from Weekend Write-In, Inspiration Monday, #3WW, The Writing Reader, Sunday Photo Fiction, #WOW555, and Word-a-Week.

* * *

My breath was caught in my throat. My reflection caught in the silver mask. It wasn’t the reflection of my face distorted in the folds of his mask, but the background. I could see clearly my head and shoulders framed by a brilliant red door. Something about the door troubled me.

The man turned to his hooligan cohorts. “King Abraham of Siddim has no response.” He laughed, and his minions followed suit.

I closed my eyes, and the laughter subsumed to gurgling.

“My liege, spare my life.”

I opened my eyes, and the four brutes were withering, frozen in their previous positions of joviality. Their forms coalesced into haphazard pillars of lava, and sunk into the parched and razed ground. I’d seen this before when I stared into Jezebel’s eyes.

The silver-masked man stood in defiance to my power, his arms crossed over his barrel chest. “I see you have some semblance of your previous power,” he spoke, an almost bored lilt to his voice.

I must admit to displaying a touch of arrogance. He laughed at my display. “You have much to learn, King Abraham.”

“I wish you all would stop saying that,” I retorted, as I felt the humidity absorb from the air and coat my arms and hands.

“Waterstrike?” He chuckled from behind his mask. “You’re unworthy of the power you’ve been gifted.”

I released the water, and it dripped and sizzled on the broken ground, noxious fumes billowing from where the drops struck. “I’ve already been to Old Siddim; this does not impress me.”

“Fool,” he hissed, “you know nothing!” He performed labored movements with his hands, and earth primeval rose in four columns. I gasped as the columns formed skeletons of rock. Lava congealed as musculature, and rocks formed cracked skin. Three of the four faces were exact replicas of his companions on the journey.
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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.


Timeless

The Afflicted

410 words for Wendy’s #WOW555 prompt this week:

* * *

Long ago, Quentin told me that time flow is relative to each person. Its speed doesn’t remain constant throughout a life. I never understood what he meant by that, but I started to when we were on assignment in Germany. He would use himself as the example when I asked him. He’d sometimes tell me that time slowed down drastically for him in the 80s, but sped up in the 90s.

This, he said, was because he lost his sense of purpose, only to find it not long before we were paired. I never asked him for the details, to ask would’ve gone against the most sacred rules a soldier must obey – not that anyone ever sat me down and told me this rule, I had to learn it the hard way. Besides, why would I ask about the past? Soldiers must live in the present, each day divided into minutes and seconds. Those thin slices of time are what we care about.

This particular second is just a piece of the greater minutes I’ve been staring through my scope, hidden from time eternal, waiting for my next tango. His words seem to haunt me. They were, like many of the things he told me, the absolute, undeniable truth. I find myself in one of those slow-times right now. Time has not only slowed, it seems to stop with me perched on a roof staring down an unmarked door in a nondescript building. This time dilation seems to leave me with too much time to reminisce on the past. I try to ignore it, after all, as a soldier, I must live in the now…

I’m not alone, trapped in timelessness. Looking through my scope, I see that it’s in a state of timeless meandering, just a tiny part of an unending and unchanging cycle. Wars are still fought with entire nations trapped in a cycle of poverty. The world constructed a cage long ago and has been trapped in it ever since. I’ve become trapped in the same cage. Barless, brickless, even timeless. Death is my only escape.

Since Quentin left, I’ve been called a lone wolf. I am a wolf. The most basic instincts rule over me: the urge to hunt and the urge to be independent. Each time I carry out the hunt, I eliminate my target with precision, but I still wait for the favor to be reciprocated.

To be freed from my cage…


The Wait

The Afflicted

Here are 500 words for the #WOW555 prompt this week:

* * *

Ashlee leaps over a slight depression in the snow. When she lands, her foot sinks and she tries flailing her arms to maintain balance and forward momentum. Flailing wasn’t an option, however, she hugs a CheyTac M-200 tight against her chest, cursing herself for being in a situation best left to amateurs. This was a race across a field of white, but in this race, the loser dies.

“Damn it, cue ball, where’s my air support?” Ashlee yells.

The static in her ear reminds her that she’s far out of her operational authority. There’s a delay in Quentin’s response – a response she doesn’t hear as branches of a pine tree shudder and drop their accumulated snow. The crack of a rifle soon follows.

“If I survive this mission, cue ball,” she hisses as she flops into a snow bank, “we gonna have a conversation about intelligence gathering.”

She feels the impact on her body armor before hearing the shot. The ChayTac is torn from her grip as opposing forces spin her body. She lands, and slides on her stomach down a soft slope.

“I’ve got.” She breathes in deep, trying to compartmentalize the pain.

“Eyes on the.” Another stab of pain, following a terse intake of mountain air.

“Target,” she finishes with a grunt as she lands after launching off a mogul.

Her right arm is numb from fingertip to shoulder. I’ll need to finish this with my off hand, she thinks as her target stares, mouth agape at the madwoman sliding toward him.

Her right shoulder impacts the man in the mouth, droplets of blood staining the packed snow. Fueled by training and reflex, she brings her knees up and they land with her crouched on his chest.

She reaches across her body for her KA-BAR, but the sheath is positioned for right-handed retrieval. The man slams both his fists on the sides of her head.

Everything goes quiet as Ashlee staggers back from the impact. Quentin is saying something, but she only feels the vibration from her earpiece. His excited chattering means nothing in her sensory-deprived state.

She crabwalks back and staggers to her feet. The man is built like a heavyweight boxer – all arms and shoulders. His face and ears pink from frigid exposure. His eyes focus on her as he draws a pistol and aims.

Ashlee watches helplessly as she senses the slight depression of a trigger. Despite the ringing in her ears, she hears the bark of a pistol. It’s familiar, like the embrace of a lover.

The man falls back, rapidly expanding red just below his hairline. Ashlee looks down to her right hand and sees her Beretta, gasses escaping the end of its barrel.

She still can’t hear Quentin, but she speaks aloud anyway. “Tango down. Get me the fuck outta here.”

She walks to a clearing and sits on the powdery ground, awaiting extraction. Her right hand still grips her Beretta, fatigue threatening to supplant consciousness, and she waits.

Next: A Million Birthdays


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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The Timekeeper, Part 5

Okay, I rolled double sixes on my spin-down D20 for Chuck Wendig’s FFC this week. According to his chart, that nets me a title of “Distant Testmaker.” I remember a collaborative challenge of Chuck’s from the month of February, so I tracked down all the parts and decided to continue it. I also worked in prompts from Adan Ramie’s Word-A-Week, Stephanie’s Orges’ Inspiration Monday, Wendy Strain’s #WOW555, and Thom Gabrukiewicz’s #3WW. I finished at 893 words, and you should participate in all the prompts mentioned. They have wonderful communities with great feedback.

Here are links to the first for parts:
The Timekeeper, Part One, by Mark Gardner
The Timekeeper, Part Two, by Mozette
The Timekeeper, Part Three, by Angela Cavanaugh
The Timekeeper, Part Four, by Carolyn Astfalk

The Time Keeper, Part Five – Distant Testmaker

Ice cream with Jordan was the most fun I’d had in years. When I paid for our ice cream, I had a strange feeling of déjà vu. The banknote seemed to be the exactly the same as when I paid for the steak and mushrooms. My stomach churned at what I had witnessed, but I ate and asked Jordan about his school, his sister, and anything else I could get from the little boy.

The last ten years had been eerily similar for him and Tricia, but without me. I spent the day seeing the sights with Jordan. Everything was similar, but there were subtleties that I picked up on. We ran into Tricia only a few blocks from her house, and I relinquished Jordan back into her care. From the stories Jordan told me, Tricia was doing better than she had when I was her friend. As she led her little brother toward home, and I watched them recede into the distance, I wondered how our meeting and friendship had been changed.

I turned, and had the sudden feeling like I was on a roller coaster. My vision blurred momentarily, and I found myself in a familiar place – around the corner of a coffee shop. A coffee shop that would change my life so much in only ten years from the meeting with Tricia and Jordan.

I sucked in my breath as I watched a figure pause in front of the coffee shop. I would’ve recognized myself wearing the identical clothing I had on, but my actions solidified the recognition: Me, that was the me from… Hell, I don’t know… The me that tried to sell the watch. I was starting to understand what the hirsute pawnshop owner meant by trying to keep a grip on reality.

The earlier me peered across the street at the hours of operation, and she stepped into the coffee shop, a frantic gait as she peered into her purse. I pulled my timepiece out of my pocket and marveled at its reversion to the dull piece I had tried to sell. It’s meaning was lost on me, but I supposed this is what on-the-job training was all about.

“You got that right.”

I spun, frantic, at the sound of a familiar gravely voice. “Did I…”

He raised his hand to silence me. “Time is a fickle thing,” he declared.

I rolled my eyes, but issued the proper response. “But, it forever heeds its will to the timekeeper.”

He nodded. “I had to make sure you were the right you.”

The statement would’ve been bizarre in any other situation, but now?
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Introspection

inMonster-badge

Since my salacious piece from last week violated Stephanie’s link discretion policy, I had to go all-out InMonster this week and use all five prompts. In these 500 words, I also worked in prompts from #Wow555, #3WW, Word-a-Week, Writerish Ramblings, Sunday Photo Fiction, and Sunday Scribblings 2:

* * *

“I got nothing,” he said, spreading his hands, a pair of anchors adorning each beefy arm.

I shook my head as a proper response failed to coalesce. In the many years of my life, I had come to appreciate an educated vocabulary. The spoken word is a marvelous thing with subtle implications. Allusions to what happens below the surface of the speaker live in wonderful flavors of intimation. It’s like the perfect chocolate dessert melting on the tongue – a chocolate that sooths the pain of living in an uncouth world.

Words are the musical blueprint of communication. An amateur makes a respectable showing, but true artists paint words from a palette unavailable to mere mortals. They command speech with a depth of meaning – sometimes so profound, that conflict begins and ends with the utterance of a few simple words. Lives lived and lives lost, as a testament to the power of words over love, hate, fear, misery, bigotry and privilege.

But this man, this man is the epitome of my exasperation. So often I’ve encountered cretinous vocalization from those gifted in speaking, who had the potential to say so much more. Not just in the quantity of words, but in a quality that bared the depths of their intellect. But alas, these people say nothing of consequence. They open their mouths and allow vapidity to fall out and soil their shoes. Their awareness of what they could do with words is so deficient; they are wolves, hidden in darkness, baying at the moon.

The indented puns and nonsense words are human proof of the assault on my tender ears. Ears with unexplained bruises, aching for intelligence as if they were starving. A hunger, I dare say, like watching an elaborate feast with all in attendance ignoring the meticulously prepared food and the best chocolate the chef had to offer – only to fill up on tough bread. Their teeth gnashing in an attempt to gain sustenance from such commonality. The sadness is overwhelming, and an assault to my delicate sensibilities.

Like a diver breaching the surface, gasping for air as gases burn his lungs, I needed words – moreso than a dragon covets gold. Words were my life and this dolt couldn’t seem to string together more than a scant few in reply to my query. A query so ingrained in the experience, I would think the response would be commonplace. But, I suppose, even a commonplace reply from a commonplace man in a commonplace setting was just too much to hope for.

Speak! I willed the man to form the affirmative or the declarative negative. Speak and the entire world shall hear, waiting on bated breath for the conclusion of this epic discourse…
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Stirring

[504 words – Word-a-Week Inspiration Monday #3WW #WOW555 terribleminds]

“Bring Flavius to my chambers, immediately!”

“Yes, Mistress!” responded the guard before running down the corridor. Fabia sat under a pergola and awaited Flavius, luminous rays playing about the floor.

A rap sounded on the door. Fabia called out, “Enter!” She stood as Flavius entered and closed the door.

“Mistress?” He stood at attention, awaiting orders.

Fabia responded by dropping her stola to the floor, the daylight oil casting shadows across her smooth skin.

“Are we?” he started, but Fabia raised a finger to silence him.

“What are you waiting for?” she demanded.

He seized her hand and kissed her fingers, working his way up her arm to her shoulder. He bent her arm behind and she gasped. He continued kissing her, grabbing her hair and pulling her head back as he thirstily kissed and bit her neck and cheek. He groped her breast with his free hand, squeezing her nipple between his fingers. Each squeeze and bite stole her breath. She grabbed the hand squeezing her breast and lowered it between her legs. She stood on her toes to maneuver it to its destination.

Flavius moved his biting and kissing lower to her breasts and stomach. He released the arm he had pinned so he could support her entire weight with his freed arm. Fabia’s body shuddered with each thrust of his fingers. Each bite radiated warmth. A violent shudder elicited a deep moan.

“The bed!” she demanded.

Flavius picked her up, strode to the bed and deposited her with force. He took his place at the foot of her bed, and Fabia wrapped her legs around his head as he worked his magical tongue. She bit her hand and pulled his hair. She forced his head into her flesh squeezing and hitting him as she thrashed in ecstasy.

Flavius raised his head and stared into Fabia’s eyes. The smell of intimate sweat and silphium permeated. Standing, he picked her up and she wrapped her legs around his muscular chest. Lowering her, he impaled her on his member, a cry escaping her lips. Gripping his neck, she worked her legs and met each thrust with exuberance.

Flavius stumbled to a wall and Fabia felt the grain of jagged rough-hewn wood against her back. She knew there would be scrapes and bruises, but as Flavius increased each thrust in force and duration, she knew they would finish soon. At Flavius’ final thrust he let out a grunt and she a scream.

Still enjoined, Flavius walked to the bed and lie down with Fabia still clinging to him. She released her grip and fell to his side while he supported her with his arm. Tendrils of her hair spread across his chest and arm. She stirred under his touch and nestled closer, tilting her head back to look up at him. “Tomorrow, we will bring them to their knees.” She ran a finger down his chest. “No longer will they deny us.” When she reached his member, she smiled at the knowledge she wasn’t the only one stirring.