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October 26, 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Subgenre Smash-And-Grab

This weeks flash fiction challenge, as always, courtesy of Chuck Wendig and can be found here.

Random number generating gave me Slasher Horror and Zombies. And all in good time for Halloween.
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Here in the basement, the banging on the door and the screeching of the zombies were distant and muffled by several barriers. In the relative silence, other sounds could be heard. Quick, frightened intakes of breath and quiet whimpers, not all of them coming from children. The survivors all huddled close together, watching the entrance to the stairs.
They were pushing up against the back wall as if they were hoping to melt into it when the zombies broke down the door. And they would break it down and smash through the makeshift barriers as they had done with everything else that had been put in their way, dead or alive. Especially alive. It was unclear whether the zombies actually ate the humans they killed, but they seemed to have an intense hatred of the living, wanting nothing more than to kill them or convert them into their own kind.
The whole basement reeked of sweat.
A soft voice spoke. “Hush, sweetie. Everything will be alright.”
The enormity of this lie made several people turn their heads and peer through the dim light at the speaker. She was a young woman, holding a little boy, a son or perhaps a younger brother. She met their looks with a stubborn glare of her own, as if daring them, any of them, to contradict her. No-one did.
A man’s voice sounded from out of the darkness in a corner of the cellar. “You might want to consider releasing me.” It was a voice dark and cool and smooth like black silk.
A short stocky man spoke up. “Want your chance to kill us before the zombies get here? A couple of last murders before your time is up? Or do you imagine that they will welcome you as one of their own?” He spat on the floor.
“Compared to what I’ve heard that the zombies do to people,” the voice answered, “I would consider myself almost merciful. A quick, clean death is suddenly not such a bad prospect for yourself and your loved ones.”
There was a heavy silence, broken only by small whimpers as several parents realized that they had actually, for a moment, consider his suggestion for their children.
The woman who had spoken before was not one of them. She stared in the direction of the voice, as if her gaze could penetrate the darkness. “If we release you,” she asked, ignoring the gasps around her, “what will you do?”
“Have a go at the zombies, of course.”
The stocky man spat again. “What kind of idiots do you take us for!? Why should you help us?”
“Well, you were kind enough to not hand me over to the police. Even if it was only because you wanted to keep me here and hand out your own kind of justice.” The voice sounded remarkably cheerful at this thought. “Also, I have never tried to kill something that was already dead. I wonder how that feels.”
Several people shuddered.
The woman let go of the little boy’s shoulders and took a small step towards the darkness. A man grabbed her arm. “What are you doing?! He’ll kill us all!”
“Look at it this way,” came the voice again. “You can release me in the hope that I will leave you alone and go after the zombies. Or you can wait for the zombies, hoping that they will take me and leave you alone.”
The woman yanked her arm free. “What choice do we have?”
From above came the sickening sound of splintering wood. The screeching grew more audible.
“Very true,” said the voice softly. “What choice do you have? Anyway,” it grew cheerful again, “it sounds to me like you have about five minutes to make up your minds. No rush.”
The woman took a couple of tentative steps into the darkness. No-one followed her, but no-one tried to stop her either. She could just make out a figure in the corner, tied up and unceremoniously dumped. Her nose wrinkled automatically as she caught the stench of urine. Then the figure lifted its head and looked straight at her and she gave a small gasp and stepped back. What made her recoil was the fact that he looked nice and friendly, like someone you would want to talk to, be friends with, maybe even take home after a few drinks. The realization that it could have been her among his victims, almost made her turn back. Instead she forced herself to kneel down and began to work the ropes.
After a few minutes, in which she tried to ignore the sounds from above, she realized that it was fruitless. The ropes were thick and the knots had been bound tightly by someone much stronger than her. She was about to turn around and ask one of the others to come and help her, when the killer said: “I think you need a knife for that. You can borrow one of mine.”
“Borrow one of yours?” she repeated, stupidly. Then she realized what he meant and felt sick.
“They’re right over there.” He nodded to give a direction. “And better hurry up,” he added in a conspiratorial whisper.
She got up and managed to stay up, even through a rush of faintness. There was a table and on it lay two knives, a chef’s knife and a big cleaver. For a moment she wondered why the people who had brought him here, hadn’t gotten rid of them. Surely it would be dangerous to have them lying around, in case he got loose. Then it hid her and she felt sick again. She picked up the chef’s knife with a shaking hand.
“Better bring them both. I’m going to need them,” she heard him call and she picked up the cleaver as well with numb fingers, carried the knives back, knelt down and started to cut through the ropes.

October 12, 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge: Horror In Three Sentences

Filed under: flash fiction challenge, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Eva Therese @ 9:29 pm

This week’s Flash Fiction Challenge, courtesy of Chuck Wendig is ‘Horror in three sentences’. Which lends itself well to run-on sentences.

One day, he smiled at his mirror only to have his reflection not smile back. Maybe he could have smashed the mirror or maybe he could have run away, but he just stood, gaping, while his unsmiling counterpart reached out towards him and drew him in. Trapped in the cold void behind the glass, he screams unheard as the reflection walks around in his place, living his life, always smiling.

October 5, 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge – The Orichalcum Sailor

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: — Eva Therese @ 4:10 pm

Aaaannnddd I’m back from holidays and stuff. *looks around* Huh, it’s been longer than I thought. *writes her name in the dust on the mantelpiece*
So I did a flash fiction challenge, as always courtesy of Chuck Wendig. It can be found here and my randomly generated title was Orichalcum Sailor. I had much fun with it, even if I did manage to depress myself a little bit.
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In the absolute quiet of the fog, the sounds of the airship seem deafening. Every creak of the ropes a scream, every groan of the planks an explosion. The sailor can see dark shadows moving in the fog; judging from their size they are air-born whales; harmless, although so large that they sometimes cause accidents. But there are other things lurking in the shadows. Like the small green swallows, no bigger than a mans hand, who sometimes join together in flocks counting millions and blacken the sky and devour everything on their way, even the whales. And then there are less tangible threats.
It is so quiet that the sailor can hear even the faint humming of the oirchalcum in the hold. It is the most precious metal on the planet, perhaps on any planet. It is both strong and beautiful, making it sought after by weapon makers and jewellers alike, but it is valued most of all for its other qualities. It enhances psionic abilities and there isn’t a second-rate telepath on the planet who wouldn’t sell her own grandfather for just a splinter of the metal. The amount in the cargo is worth more money than the sailor will see his entire life. To ensure his loyalty, the mining company is holding his daughter hostage. If even a gram of the metal is missing when he gets to port and unload, they will cut off one of her fingertips. If two grams are missing, they will take the whole finger. More than that …
The sailor shakes his head to clear it. Why did he start thinking about that? He needs to focus on getting himself and the cargo home safely. The company is hard but fair and as long as he does his job, they won’t harm his little girl. On the contrary, right now she will be safe and warm and fed and looked after. He did the right thing by taking this job. If he hadn’t, they would both have starved to death. He shakes his head again. The soft humming from the orichalcum seemed to have grown louder, but it is only because his hearing is straining against the silence around them. Still, he can hear it clearer now, it is less like a humming and more like an actual sound, but very soft and low and he can’t make it out.
Maybe he shouldn’t have agreed to a carry a bigger load this time around. Orichalcum can only be transported in very small amounts; too much of it in one place and it gains critical mass and wipes out everything. That is why the company is always hiring people willing to leave a child behind and set out to transport a small amount of the metal from the skymines, through the foggy cloudsea and down to land.
He doesn’t mind for his own sake that it’s dangerous work, but he does for his daughter’s. The thought of what will happen to her if he one day doesn’t come home, torments him every day and sometimes it keeps him awake at night. He wants to save up enough money to quit and set up a shop, but the wager is low and it will be a long time before he can make it. So this time he agreed to carry a bigger load. It is still well below the critical mass, but even this amount can do peculiar things to a man.
Maybe that is why his concentration is slipping, he thinks, as he shakes his head once again. He once heard that orichalcum only affects psions. The sailor have never shown any signs of having any kind of psionic abilities, but they can be dormant. Just his luck, that he has something in his brain that has never been useful in any way, but is now letting the metal mess with him. He promises himself that the next time, he will just take the usual load, the money be damned. If he can’t keep his wits about him, there’s a much bigger risk that something will happen and he won’t get home and then his daughter …
He shakes his head again. He can hear the orichalcum clearly now. It’s singing to him, a wordless song, repeated over and over and over, more beautiful every time, until it feels like his heart will break from it. He leaves the rudder and goes to the cargo hatch. He hesitates only a moment before opening it and kneeling by the edge. The song flows around him, so powerful that it feels like he should be able to touch the sound waves. He can see the metal bars, black, but gleaming with every colour of the rainbow, like an oil spill.
It’s alive. He is neither surprised not frightened by this realisation. It seems very natural. The orichalcum is not unlike the flocks of green birds, who can become something terrible, a force of nature when there are enough of them.
Like it has heard his thoughts and waited for just this realisation, the song stops. It feels like his heart should stop with it. Tears stings his eyes as he starts to cry over the loss. “Sing again, please,” he whisper.
You must help. The thought appears in his brain like he has thought it himself, but he know he hasn’t.
“What do you want?” he asks.
The answer is longer, more complicated. It consists of a series of images, combined with emotions. There are words, but they are few and far between.
When it is finished, he nods once and gets up. He goes back to the rudder and changes course. A few degrees widdershins and up. Behind him, the orichalcum starts to sing its strange, beautiful song again.
He looks down, through the plate of glass set in the bottom of the hull. He can faintly see the lights of Rambura, the city he was on his way to. He frowns. There was something there he was supposed to do, some reason to go there, but if he can’t remember what it was, it can’t have been very important. The music washes over him again and he shakes his head to clear it from the unwanted thoughts and focus on listening.

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