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February 26, 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Four-Part Story Part Three

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , — Eva Therese @ 12:33 pm

This is third part of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Four Part Story. This week I’ve written third part of Bart Luther, Freelance Exorcist. First part by Josh Loomis here. Second part by Pavowski here. You should go read those first. I’ll wait here.


I knocked on the door. Ed retreated back towards the stairs like he was expecting something to blow up, but the door simply swung open without a sound.

The room was a mess, even worse than downstairs; books, clothes and other belongings strewn everywhere. But except for that, it was as typical of a teenage girl’s room, as to almost look like a set piece. Posters of the latest boyband on the walls, although half of them were torn to shreds; a vanity decorated with string lights, the mirror cracked.

Samantha herself was sitting on the bed, on the quilted bed cover with the rose motif which looked handmade under the filth. She had her hands folded in her lap and was looking at us, unblinking. Her breathing was loud and erratic, but other than that she was sitting perfectly still. A grimy, blue sundress, one strap slipped from the shoulder, a mix of girlish innocence and womanly allure.

At a casual glance she might have looked like any other girl, except she looked pale and her skin was glistening, dark curls clinging to her forehead. I remembered asking Father O’Donnell, if it was possible she was just running a fever. But there was something in her eyes. Literally, something in her eyes. Her pupils were enlarged, not just to catch the rather dim light, but as if something or someone inside her head wanted a better view and had thrown the shutters wide open.

Dry, cracked lips contorted into a smile, as if to tell me that she knew that I knew and it didn’t worry her at all.

“Hello, Samantha,” I said. “Are you alright?”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” Her voice was perfectly light and charming.

I took a step into the room. The smell of sulphur made my noise itch. I had to fight the urge to scratch it.

“You seem a bit pale. Unwell.”

“Do I?” An innocent tone laced with mock surprise.

I took another step into the room, allowing Nora to enter behind me.

“So you father wanted us to check up on you.”

“Did he now?” Her face was expressionless as a mask, but there was a hint of disapproval in her voice. From outside on the stairs, I heard a small gasp.

I took another step towards her.

“Tell me, priest, is that a bible in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

“I’m not a priest.”

A frown, the first hint of real emotion, I had seen on the girl’s face and it was gone in an instance. “I see the past, the present, the future. If I say that you are a priest, then that is what you are and what you yourself think is of no consequence.”

I started to run through the catalogue of demons in my head. Quite a few would have the knowledge that this demon claimed to possess and all of them were prideful fuckers, but it did still narrow it down.

“At least you’re right about the bible,” I said and took it out.

She didn’t even flinch. “I’m not some squatter, whom you can just kick out. I took a lease on this place.” It ran Samantha’s hands up and down her body, a sensual motion.

I frowned. If what the demon said was true – and I had never come across one who was able to lie about these things – the possession of the girl wasn’t just pure bad luck, but rather something had drawn it in, given it a foot in the door to the household so to speak. But surely the girl’s father would have …

Beside me, I heard Nora ask: “Her mother? She had an affair, something like that?”

Yes, of course. I let out a quiet breath. She hadn’t left because she couldn’t deal; it had been guilt. She had known, at least on a subconscious level, that she was to blame.

The demon gave a loud screech of mirth, making us all jump, and clapped her hands in an exaggerated motion. “Very good. Very, very good, priest’s daughter. And now you see why you don’t scare me. You have no power here.”

I bit my lip. She was right; I didn’t have any advantage over her. Unless … I went through my mental list again. Knowledge of the past and future, connections to Lust, both narrowed it down, but there was still too many. I sent up a wordless but heartfelt prayer before making what I would like to think of as an educated guess.

“Are you sure about that, Vual?”

The demon’s lips formed a pout, the very image of teenage sulkiness. “That’s Duke Vual to you.” It narrowed its eyes as if in a belated attempt to hide its true nature. “Much good it will do you.”

I gripped my bible tighter, the leather worn soft and warm from my touch; it almost felt like living skin. I held it in front of me. “Exorcizo te, omnis spiritus immunde, in nomine …” I began. Then everything happened at once.

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February 17, 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Four-Part Story Part Two

Filed under: flash fiction challenge, Uncategorized — Tags: , — Eva Therese @ 5:18 pm

This week’s flash fiction challenge is the second part of a four-part story. First part – which you should go read first – is here, written by Addy and it is part of the challenge, so I’m allowed to continue it.


Weir didn’t have time to fire, but her training kicked in. She swung her riffle and it smashed into the husk’s face with a wet crunch and enough force to send it flying back and make her hands go numb for a second.

“Run!” she yelled as the husks closed in on them. She started down the street, jumping over rubble and when a screeching husk jumped in front of her, she blew a hole though its chest.

A few hundred meters away, the central tower loomed. As they neared it, one of the mounted turrets turned towards them and the husks.

Weir’s sensed something wrong. “Duck!” she yelled and threw herself behind the fallen remains of a buildings facade, the rest of the team at her heels.

A shot blasted through the space she had occupied not a moment ago, but at least, she noted with grim satisfaction, it hit one of the husks coming after her. It would seem nobody was controlling the turrets, so they were just shooting at everything that moved.

The husks were behind them and they were unable to get closer to the tower. The bullets sprouting from the turrets were keeping the husks back, but it wouldn’t be long before they would find a way to their hiding spot.

Weir dared a look out and almost had her head blasted off. The central tower was so close, but might as well have been on another planet. There was no way past those turrets. But maybe they could go beneath them.

With a few punches on her wrist, Weir brought up a 3D map of this part of the city. They were in luck; the street they were on had a subway line running under it.

“Get ready to move,” said Weir and grabbed a shell from her belt, a small explosive charge designed to clear inaccessible areas. She looped it over her head, down the street and a moment later there was a sharp crack, more like the sound of thunder than an explosion and small pieces of debris rained down over them.

The blast had punched a neat hole in the ground leading down to the subway tunnel.

“Move!” she shouted and began running, the turrets firing, bullets spraying up concrete all around her,

She jumped into the hole and took a roll as she landed, her squad following. She heard a sharp yell from Danny, looked up and saw Sara grabbing his arm, dragging him the last few feet, before she dumped him unceremoniously into the hole and jumping in after him. They both landed heavily on the ground. Danny giving a grunt of pain.

Weir bent over him to asses the damage. The shot had gone straight into his upper arm, tearing his suit.

“You’ve been exposed,” said Weir quietly. “I’m sorry.” She aimed her riffle at him.

“Wait! I … Just wait,” he said.

She hesitated, but didn’t lower her weapon.

“Just let me … Not like this. Let me die fighting. The husks are going to follow us any moment. I can delay them.”

Weir thought, but only for a moment, before nodding. “Good man,” she said.

She turned to look at the rest of the squad. “Keep moving!” she ordered and they all started running.

A few moments later they heard the first shots behind them. It went on, getting dimmer as they moved away. Then there was the sound of a scream, cut mercifully short.

They reached the subway station right underneath the tower, so far still free of husks. The doors to the building were sealed, but this was why Weir had brought the explosives and it took only a few moments to blast a hole in the door big enough to push through.

Weir went in first, then the rest with Sally last. The large hall they were in was untouched by the destruction raging in the rest of the city. Neither were there any sign of husks.

“Should we seal the doors?” asked Felix.

“Leave them,” answered Weir. “We’ll never get it done properly before the husks get here. We’ll have to get to the control room and secure that, then we can …”

She turned at the sound of a noise, her riffle up and ready to fire, but it was not a husk coming through the door, only a woman wearing the clothes of an office worker. Weir studied the figure carefully but saw no signs of the virus. Maybe she had gotten lucky and the tower had sealed itself before the contamination had gotten inside. But if that was the case, her luck had just run out. Weir shot a glance at the doors they had blasted open and felt a pang of regret. Still, with the city about to be wiped put, it didn’t really make a difference.

“Are you here to save us?” The woman was young, as far as Weir could see. She was trembling slightly, but her voice was steady.

“No,” said Weir, “we’re here to collect data. Where’s the control room?”

“It’s two floors up. You’ll have to take the stairs; there’s no power. Anyway, you can’t get in.”

“Leave that to us. Can you take us there?”

The woman nodded.

“Let’s go,” said Weir, with a final look at the opening behind them.

“I’m Lyra,” said the young woman as they started up the stairs.

“Weir. Are there other survivors?”

“About twenty of us. We’re holed up in the room next to the control room. It’s the safest part of the building.”

She wasn’t lying. As they reached the floor the control room was on, Weir saw a glass wall and behind it a group of frightened civilians huddled, among them two small children.

“Blast the staircase,” she told Felix. “We won’t be coming that way again and it will slow down the husks.”


Third part by ToniJ here.
Fourth part by CJ here.

February 12, 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge – The Four Part Story Part One

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , , — Eva Therese @ 10:23 am

The is the first part of a story, written for a flash fiction challenge courtesy of Chuck Wendig.


 

The smell hit her while she was still in the hallway. Thick, sickly-sweet, but without the note of iron usually associated with blood. Rather this had a hint of something sharp, maybe alcohol. It smelled, she decided, as cough syrup tasted.

Evelyn ducked under the yellow tape and entered the hotel room. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the bright green spatter on the otherwise pristine bedcover.

She walked around the bed and took in the crime scene, the body lying on the carpet. The back of the head was smashed in, but the face was undamaged. It was a decidedly ugly face. It put Evelyn in mind of Dopey from Snow White if he’d had skin like wrinkly parchment and really ugly teeth.

She looked up and met the gaze of Andrew. His large hands were holding a small pair of tweezers which he was using with surprisingly delicacy to examine the damage.

“What have you got for me?” asked Evelyn.

“Dead for around four hours.” Andrew had lived in Aliceville for the better part of fifteen years, but still retained a hint of a Jamaican accent.

Evelyn nodded. “Fits. Officer Young filled me in. The night porter says he saw the fairy return to the hotel around five in the morning, but didn’t see or hear anything else until half an hour ago, when he heard the cleaning guy scream his head off. I’ll get a full statement later, but I don’t expect much.”

“Cause of death is a single blow to the back of the head. Fairies have more brittle bones than humans, but it would still have taken some force. They haven’t found the murder weapon yet, but I’m thinking a wrench, something like that. Iron of course.”

“Not something normally found in a hotel room, which indicates premeditated.” Evelyn scratched her nose, then snapped on a pair of rubber gloves. She knelt beside the victim and started going through the pockets. The second one yielded a wallet and she pulled out an ID-card. Next to the name ‘Tierny Belenus’ there were two pictures. One of them was a photograph showing the ugly face on the body. The other was a small scan of a rendered drawing of how the fairy would have chosen to look to any humans, while he had still been alive to uphold a glamour. It shoved an eerily beautiful young man with silver hair and striking green eyes.

Evelyn showed the picture to Andrew.

“Hot,” he commented. “You’re thinking crime of passion?”

“Too early to say. But it’s interesting to note that he wasn’t trying to blend in. Apparently, he wasn’t worried about hate crimes.”

“Which means he must have been powerful and thus high up in the hierarchy,” Andrew finished for her.

She nodded and bagged the wallet and the ID-card before getting up to have a look around. She looked in the garbage can and fished out a take-away coffee cup.

“It would seem our fairy had a visitor,” said Andrew and got up from the floor with a grunt.

“Really? How do you know it isn’t his?” asked Evelyn.

“Fairies like sweet things. Coffee is bitter.”

“Oh.” Evelyn turned the cup over. There was a name scrawled on the side. “Rowan,” she read.

“Fake, but still significant. Twigs and branches from rowan trees can be used to ward off evil, including fairies.”

“It could be someone who sees themselves as a weapon against fairies. But all fairies in general or just this one?” A notion struck Evelyn and she looked at Andrew thoughtfully.

“No,” he said. “Absolutely no.”

“We don’t have a fairy-related crime division; we don’t have anyone to handle public relations. We have to investigate the murder of a high-ranking fairy and you’re the only expert we have on the subject.”

“And as an expert, my opinion on the subject is, that it’s a horrible idea. Fairies don’t like halfbreeds,” he pause for a moment before adding, “either. Especially not those high up. They’ll see my inclusion as an insult.”

“We won’t tell them, obviously.”

Andrew just gave her an exasperated look.

“Okay. Maybe that won’t work. But look, this is what I’m talking about. I’m flying blind here; I don’t know anything.”

Andrew sighed and rubbed a big hand over his forehead. “Okay. I’ll go with you. But you do all the talking; I’ll just stand in the background and take notes and, I dunno, look pretty, I guess.”

“Very pretty.”

“Shut up.”

 

The night porter hadn’t had anything to add to his explanation and trying to track down whoever had bought the coffee, had given them nothing more than a description of a nondescript black woman in her late thirties, early forties.

If they wanted information, they needed to know about the victim and this was why Evelyn and Andrew were right now standing outside a nightclub which was currently closed. It was named Dunluce Castle and Andrew had reluctantly told her that it was the place to be and be seen for fairies and their hang arounds. If Mr. Belenus stayed out till five, this was the likeliest place.

Evelyn knocked at the door, waited a moment and when nobody answered, she pounded on it with her fist.

There was a sound of incoherent muttering and then the door was unlocked and opened just a crack. A pale woman peered out at them, blinking owlishly in the sharp midday light.

“Homicide,” said Evelyn and flashed her badge. “We need to speak to you and anyone who was working here last night.”

“About what?” The voice was beautiful, melodic, making the two words sound like a poem. Behind her, Evelyn heard Andrew clear his throat loudly.

She unfolded a scan of Mr. Belenus’ ID-card and showed it to the woman. “Was he here last night?”

The woman’s eyes went wide and she made a jerk as if to slam the door, but then changed her mind. “Better come in,” she said.

February 5, 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge: The SubGenre Blender

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: — Eva Therese @ 1:37 pm

The weeks Flash Fiction Challenge, courtesy of Chuck Wendig, is a mash-up of two genres and the random number generator gave me Conspiracy Thriller and Wild West. I chose to interpret Wild West as a more general settlers/frontier setting in an undefined placed since that gave me some creative freedom.


The silence was enough to give her goose bumps. There should have be voices and children playing and the noises of work being done; another frontier village being built and expanded, creaking and groaning with growing pains.

There was nothing but the blowing of the wind, the soft hiss of sand being displaced and their own footsteps.

Sheriff Jackie Trainor was going from door to door looking for … for what? Survivors? Bodies? A bleeding clue as to what had happened?

Carver’s Creek was not her jurisdiction, but since the village’s sheriff was one of the missing people and her village, Whitepond, was the closest, she had set out to investigate. With her, she had Whitepond’s doctor. She had figured it would be a good idea to bring a medical professional in case there were any bodies that needed to be examined, but right now it was looking like a waste. Still, it was nice to have someone to talk to, to say things out loud rather than mulling them over in her head.

“No bodies,” Trainor began, then silently congratulated herself on her ability to state the obvious. “No signs of them leaving voluntarily – everything’s still here – but no signs of violence and struggle either. It looks as if everyone got up and went to look at something interesting and then never returned.” She sighed and rubbed the back of her head. This made no sense.

The Borderlands, as the frontier area was known, was a dangerous place. There were wild beasts and freak weather and horrifying diseases and, of course, outlaws. In the five years since Trainor had been sent to Whitepond to be their first sheriff, she had seen all of that and more. But she had never come across anything, which could make a whole village just vanish into thin air.

“We’ll have to bring more people. Do a proper search of the area.”

“Are you sure that’s wise?” asked the doctor. “We could lose more people that way.”

Trainor looked at her blankly. “We have to know what happened or it could happen to us, to Whitepond as well.”

“Or we could be stirring up trouble. Go looking for problems and you’re sure to find them.” Doctor Gaynesford’s mouth was a thin line, a stubborn expression on her face, but in her eyes was lurking something like fear.

Sheriff Trainor stopped and grabbed Gaynesford’s arm, forcing her to a halt as well. “Doctor Gaynesford,” she said, trying to make her voice stern, which was difficult because she was talking to a woman who was old enough to be her grandmother and had treated the bruises she had acquired in pursuit of duty more times than she could count. “Do you know what happened here?”

“No.” The answer came straight, without hesitation, but there was a flicker in the eyes.

“But you know something, don’t you?” A thought struck her. “You’ve seen this before!”

“I’ve seen this before, yes.” Doctor Gaynesford walked over to a bench in front of a house and sat down heavily as if she suddenly felt her years.

The sheriff sat down next to her. “I’ve never heard about it. When was this?”

“It was a long time ago. I was a newly appointed doctor to a small village called Westerlake. Today it’s a proper city well inside the civilized part of the map, but back then it was right on the edge of the Borderlands.” She looked at Trainor, dark eyes twinkling. “I was quite like you back then, all bright-eyed and bushytailed and eager to do the duty.” For a moment she seemed lost in memories, then she continued.

“One day, the same thing happened as here. Everyone in the neighboring town vanished overnight. We searched high and low, but never found them, never found any trace of them. Finally we sent word to the metropolis, requesting assistance to solve the mystery and manpower to fight back against whatever could do such a thing.” She smiled sarcastically. “They sent manpower, but not the kind we had expected. The soldiers, who showed up, told us in no uncertain words to keep our mouths shut and forget about the whole thing.”

Trainor moved uncomfortably in her seat. “Are you saying that they were behind the disappearances?”

“No.” The words came out a bit hesitant. “At least I don’t think so. But they didn’t want the news to spread, since it would scare off potential settlers. So they stamped it out right at source. I still don’t know what happened to the village, but I know what they threatened would happen to Westerlake if we didn’t keep quiet and I believe they were serious.”

Trainor hesitated a moment before asking. “You can’t just stop there. What happened afterwards?”

“Nothing much. We all agreed to keep our mouths shut. I and a few other people left Westerlake to go to other frontier villages, where we only had to worry about hungry beasts and freezing winters, things you can prepare for and fight. Or maybe it was just that we could no longer bear to look each other in the eyes, knowing that we all knew, but had elected to pretend we didn’t.

Certainly nothing happened to Westerlake. The people who stayed prospered and now it’s a city with trade agreements and full privileges. Maybe the metropolis had a hand in it, as a reward for be reasonable; maybe it’s just that the kind of people who can keep a secret like that and move on like nothing happened, are more likely to prosper.” She sighed. “I don’t know. The older I get the less certain I become of everything. But now you know, why I don’t think it worth it to pursue this.”

The sheriff was quiet for a while after this story. “Do you think they know?” she asked. “Our leaders in the metropolis. Do they even know what it is they don’t want the rest of us to know about?”

Gaynesford sighed. “I’ve asked myself that many times. I think not. I believe – and I have no proof to offer, but this is something I have thought about through a long time – that the disappearances have happened even before my time and for whatever reason our leaders don’t believe we can guard against them.”

“And so they would rather bury the truth.” The sun was beating down mercilessly. Trainor ran a hand through her curls. “Well,” she said, grim and stubborn determination setting in. “We might not get any help from the metropolis, but since when is that any news? They don’t help when we are beseeched by bandits or when everybody comes down with thalevia and we manage anyway. Why should this be any different?

One thing is for sure.” She got up and gave Gaynesford a hand to help her stand. “I will not sit idly and hope for the best. I won’t let it happen, not in my village. Not on my watch.” She stood for a moment, then she deflated a little. “But even as the sheriff I can’t do it alone. Will you help me?”

Gaynesford smiled, then looked her straight in the eyes. “I will.”

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