Tag Archives: Writerish Ramblings

Moonrise CH34 – Literature Detective

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[1050 words – Inspiration Monday, #3WW, Write Anything, #SoCS, Sunday Scribblings 2, Sunday Photo Fiction]

The first thing Massey did was watch Anne’s hair flow in the brief wind, the color catching light from the street lamps and turning auburn. She was buzzing with anger. Globe had called. She smiled when she realized she messed up again. The Major wanted Joaquin found and brought to him. For what reason Anne didn’t elaborate, and Massey didn’t inquire. They had things under control. There was reassurance, a plan set to be executed. So they went their separate ways, each with their own role to play. The next thing Massey did was to spur into action without thinking, dodging traffic to reach Andy’s place, praying to whatever totem brought luck to cops that Anne had enough strategy to stall Globe’s lackey and slow down the search. Then they’d be good. Then they could start their attack against Globe’s rising power. He tried to call Andy’s phone a dozen times, but no one picked up. A feeling of dread settled in Massey’s gut. The windows on the street were all ablaze. They cast brilliant white stars on doors and windows overlooking the street. Flashing reds and blues confirmed his fears as he turned onto the street where Andy’s apartment was.

A fire truck was parked horizontally blocking the street. The hose wiggled on the asphalt like a python struggling in the heat of the still smoldering air. Once released the water rained like silver crystals against the black skyline full of smoke and desperation. The night-lights were gone, choked in the background of the death curtain. Massey stepped out of his cruiser, hand pressed against his mouth to cut out the smoke from entering his nostrils. By instinct, his dry mouth tried hungrily to inhale the ashes floating in the air. He recognized the apartment that was the sole attention of the crisis. The charred shape on the façade reminded him of a giant moth, a nuclear shadow imprinted on the side of the building. The notion made him dizzy, one monstrosity atop another. He elbowed through a small but growing crowd of odd-lookers. They stood around, mouths agape in their bedclothes, tightly hugging large frames and small frames in robes both tattered and luxurious. No one seemed to care how he or she looked or even who they were. They just wanted to see the dead and burned, the destruction that always followed the flames.

Outside of the crowd and into the danger zone Massey quickened his pace and ducked under yet another yellow police tape. His pace turned to a near jog to the ambulance and the body being loaded into it.

“Is he going to live?” Massey heard himself ask looking down at Andy’s bleeding face. He didn’t dare look around for a second body, his mind instantly questioning whether Joaquin was impervious enough to survive a fire, or an explosion, but then he recalled that duplex fire that was the source of him tracking the youth. He allowed himself a small sigh. If Joaquin hadn’t tried to carjack him, he would be one of the sheep bleating to the favor of Major Jacob Globe.

The paramedic pulled himself into the back of the ambulance grabbing for the doors. “He has sustained a few more serious injuries, but he’ll live. He was lucky your colleague pulled him out before he suffocated.” A gesture of the head made Massey swivel.

He stared at a middle-aged man standing by one of the police cruisers covered with a blanket to scatter away his shock. He measured how much bloodied and bruised his face was. The blanket slipped and uncovered his black jacket emblazoned with the yellow FBI letters. Massey breathed in deep ignoring the warmth in the air close to sweltering in the proximity, close to catching a swift drive down his throat. He had to get away before the agent saw him.
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Moonrise CH29 – Forced Awake

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[1073 words – Prompts: Inspiration Monday, #3WW, Sunday Photo Fiction, Sunday Scribblings 2, Write Anything Wednesday, #SoCS]

Andy puffed on a cigarette. It was burning between his thin fingers, ash gathering at the tip threatening to tip over. He crushed it inside the ashtray.

“Well, what do you know?”

Joaquin looked up. The screen displayed six videos, and when Andy played the first, Joaquin quickly found Jensen among the crowd of people and saw how he slipped away into a dark alley pulling at his clothes and falling to his knees, his hands buried in his hair. Then there was a flash of something bright distorting the camera and when it regained focus a large spot on the ground and on the walls of the opposing buildings were covered in glistening pristine ice. The camera flipped sideways and after a few shaky seconds and curses from its owner it switched off.

“That was Jensen alright. Seemingly unable to contain and control his power. Let’s see video number two.”

The second video was much worse. Its quality was bad as it was filmed from under a table as far as Joaquin could see. The audio crackled and the picture was blurry when the phone moved in someone’s sweaty hands, but it was clear that the target of the video was Jensen. He was wearing the same outfit, pacing back and forth in a coffee shop, fuming at the end of the line. He exchanged a few loud and harsh words with an oafish man in front of him and then after a display on machismo, that man pushed him, he put his hands on the man’s chest and pushed back. The man fell to the ground, kicking and screaming, and Jensen ran away driving apart the growing crowd. Joaquin could see the white fumes swirling from the victim’s body and when he ripped his shirt open the thin crust of ice covering his chest.

“Whoa!” Joaquin sat back. “He froze that dude for no reason! Play the next one.”

But Andy wasn’t moving. He continued to stare at the screen. Slowly, he declared, “Something isn’t right.”

“Yeah, no shit. Jensen is guilty that’s for sure, homie.” Joaquin felt his fingers tighten into a fist. He remembered how he wanted to beat Jensen into a bloody pulp, serving justice the harsh way.

“No, something isn’t right with the videos. Look – they were all uploaded two days before the attack in Madison Park. It seems… too easy.”

Joaquin shrugged. “I don’t know man, I see what is before me, and that’s Jensen goin’ crazy on some dude’s ass. Ain’t that enough evidence to predict him capable of blasting those kids earlier?”

Andy played the other videos. They showed a progression in Jensen’s violent behavior and growth in his power. He wasn’t just freezing small areas; he was turning himself into ice, a single touch away from making everything freeze. One video even showed reflections in glass – clouds obscured the sun, and Jensen staggered past a blue-framed window, the cityscape pristine in the background. In others, he displayed violent fits and body alteration, limbs gaining misshapen extensions constructed from ice and “firing” ice spikes, the impact lodged them in solid concrete. It was inhuman. Joaquin was speechless, both impressed and terrified.
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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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02 – The Shielding Tide

newYAprojectOkay. I had so much fun writing The Burning Seas. Thaddeus Howze declared that the flash I wrote this morning was insufficient, and demanded more. Thaddeus Howze is a newcomer to the musings and writings of one Mark Gardner, and unaware of the depths of my depravity. I have granted Thaddeus Howze more of the story, but in a fashion you regular readers have come to know, love and fear. Here is a second tale to Chuck’s prompt, and I’ve worked in another Inspiration Monday prompt as well as Sunday Scribblings 2 and S.M. Cadman’s Margaret Atwood prompt. I chose a line on page three of Oryx and Crake. Here’s another 1000 words for all parties interested:

SHIELD: THE PRESENT

A burst of bubbles raced to the surface, disturbing a freshly shucked body. The hollow carapace was placed there as a warning to all other crustaceans. Death awaits those that… Shield sighed and released a bubble of air. He was so bored. Nothing ever happened since…

It’s been a year, he thought. No one could’ve seen it coming.

He tried to suppress the thoughts, but he might as well tried to hold back the tide. He should’ve recognized the signs. Granted, he didn’t train as long as a Joy or a Don, but he walked his own beat by the time he was fifteen. He doubted any of his childhood friends would recognize him now. His training under the Don was rigorous. He gained muscle mass in those two years.

He and the other Shields wrestled sea life to demonstrate their prowess. He was proud to have risen in the ranks. The Don had singled him out for this assignment. It wasn’t special treatment, but recognition of his skills. In three more years, his accomplishments would put him in an enviable place for attracting a mate.

Shield’s head popped out from the silt, and his translucent arm lashed out and seized a crustacean scuttling about. I’m the master of all I survey, he thought as he examined the crustacean in the low light. The multiple armored legs writhed, attempting to find purchase on Shield’s arm.

His other hand came out of the silt, the debris falling and forming what looked like a veil of mud. He wiped the silt stubbornly clinging to his arm on his chest and returned his attention to his prey. The rock came down on his dinner with precision, and the crustacean was cleaved.

Shield spent no time sucking the contents from the armored legs. He crushed the carapace between two rocks. His molars were perfect for grinding, but the baleen that occupied the front of his mouth was worthless.

Only the Shield of the Protectorate was allowed to kill lower species for sustenance. It was a taboo that Shield flaunted, his arrogance befitting a warrior of his position. Don had frowned when Shield gobbled up some invertebrate under the great arch.

Shield’s hand brushed the scars left by the invertebrate’s tentacles left as it tried to escape death. No one had believed he could do it, but he choked down the slimy tissue. Arch patrons were horrified by the violence and the fine mist of red diluted in the water around Shield’s face. Wispy tendrils of red followed Shield as he found the closest Healer.

Shield shook his head and focused on the movement of the water. Even as deep as he was, he could feel the tug of the moon. Not that he’d ever seen the moon. Just as his privilege of eating lesser species instead of straining krill or eating from the vast kelp and seaweed fields, only Joys and Dons ever swam to the surface. He felt the tide ebb and flow. Back and forth, back and forth. It cycled the same rhythm as his heartbeat.

The ebb and flow had been a constant in their great city. Sadness overcame Shield. He looked off to where the great city still stood abandoned.

It’s only been a year.
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01 – The Burning Seas

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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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Introspection

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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:

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“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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