Flash Fiction Prompt- Location: This Illustration By Deviantart user Bejzar! | Object: Some glass beads. [Link to post.]
“This is one of the smaller markets,” Jake said. He guided Ms. Carlson, a prospective business partner, through the crowd of digital people.
“It feels so real,” Ms. Carlson said as strangers bumped her shoulders left and right. She inhaled deeply. “I smell meat cooking.” Jake stopped walking to turn and smile at her.
“You can eat it too. Like most games you’ll get a food buff,” he said. “But in the AlterNet you can also savor the flavor and texture.” Jake turned forward and kept leading Ms. Carlson through dense forest of people, pushing NPCs out of his way. Like trees, they only moved when you forced them to. He led her to a clearing. The booths were still manned, but the meandering crowd seemed to avoid the small area. Ms. Carlson found Jake stopped in front of a young purple headed girl’s booth.
The young girl seemed in charge of the booth. She sat on a high wooden stool overlooking a short wooden table. Barrels on the table held mounds of glass beads in different shapes and colors.
“Hi,” Jake said to the girl.
“Oh an adventurer! If you’re interested in some beads how about a trade? The goblin prince stole my lucky glass bead, if you bring it back to me, I’ll reward you handsomely.” Jake nodded, then turned to face Ms. Carlson.
“Now I’ll show you how combat and quests work,” Jake said. He waded through the crowd towards the exit.
“Hey, you hear that? I made an excellent choice,” Ricky said. He looked at the other occupants of the small room. His best friend, Hector, and two people he met six months ago for the first time. A short man with a tall blue mohawk who called himself Vegas, and a woman with short spikey black hair and golden arms named Jenny.
“It’s a recording. It says that no matter what you pick,” Jenny said. Hector chuckled
“Yeah man,” he said while still laughing. “Besides, you don’t even know what universe you picked. You just pressed buttons randomly.”
“Traversing in 3,” the console began a countdown. The lights dimmed, then Ricky and Hector took a step closer to Vegas and Jenny.
“Why are we using this? I thought you guys could do it without the equipment?” Hector asked. Over the past 6 months since Ricky and Hector met Vegas and Jenny, the strangers taught them a lot, and revealed some of their secrets.
“Jenny can,” Vegas said. “But it’s important for you to know how to use this, because we’re not always going to be around.” Vegas idly rolled a poker chip along the top of his fingers while they waited.
“1. Traversing,” the console said. The lights went out completely for several seconds, then they reignited. They still stood in the same small room.
“Everything still looks the same,” Ricky complained to Hector.
“Of course it does,” Jenny said. She took a step forward toward the door they came in through. “You guys are still *in the elevator*, you know? C’mon out and take a look.” Jenny opened the door and the fluorescent lights of the confining room were drowned out by red sunlight. She quickly shut the door again, and locked it.
“Nope, bad choice Ricky,” Jenny chuckled and back to the console. “Just a second, let me update this, then we can try again.” Jenny began typing on the console.
“What happened? Hector asked.
“This universe isn’t safe anymore, so it’s gotta be blocked outta the system,” Vegas explained.
“That can happen?” Ricky asked. “How?” Vegas shrugged and went quiet. He made an effort to study the bare walls while Jenny worked on the console.
“Usually it happens naturally. Some universes are really old, and we’ll know ahead of time that it’s going to die. Sometimes someone conquers a universe.
“There’s someone out there with that kind of power?” Ricky asked. Jenny nodded without taking her eyes off her work.
“Tons of someones. Remember, there’s infinite universes out there, and tons of [Unique Souls](http://hserratafun.blogspot.com/2017/11/hugoverse-guidebook.html). Not all of them are good,” Jenny said. “There, that should do it.” She took her golden hands off the keyboard and hit a button.
“Access to this universe has been restricted. Reason: Ballisea. Traversing in 3,” the console said.
“What’s a Ballisea?” Hector asked.
“A Unique. But, not a good one,” Jenny said.
“She was powerful enough to conquer a universe?” Ricky asked with awe in his voice. Vegas chuckled.
“Kid, you don’t know the half of it. Hey, what’s the biggest, definite number you can think of. Not infinity, it needs to be a hard quantity.”
“A one with a trillion zeroes behind it,” Hector answered.
“A one with a trillion *TRILLION* zeroes behind it,” Ricky gave his answer. Vegas nodded at both of them.
“Alright the biggest number, a trillion trillion zeroes. Even if we *doubled* that number, it would still be less than the amount of universes Ballisea has conquered,” Vegas said solemnly.
“That number is just for the Earths. The amount of lives she’s taken is staggeringly unimaginable,” Jenny added.
“Isn’t there anyone that can stop her?” Jenny and Vegas both lightly shook their heads.
“No single person can, but there is someone with a plan. His name is Regal, and you’ll meet him when you start school. He’s the principal at Toku-High,” Jenny said.
“NOBODY MOVE! THIS IS A ROBBERY!” the guy that yelled held his shotgun up in the air. He wore a woman’s stocking over his face, and a heavy dark green trench coat. I looked around at the exits of the bank; three other shotguns appeared in the air guarding the doors. I hit the ground along with the rest of the line when the robber made his announcement. None of them knew I was Placebo Man.
It took me over a decade, but I figured out the nuances of my powers. They worked on belief, but my own belief wasn’t enough. I needed a small crowd to do anything useful, luckily it looked like the line I was in had enough people. I needed to get all of them to believe something helpful. Something that I could do without having to reveal my identity to them.
“Since we’re here, toss out your wallets too.” The gunman said. I assumed he was the leader since he was the one giving orders. “The boys’ll come around and collect them.” I tossed my wallet into the pile and smiled at the older man next to me.
“I wish Placebo Man were here. He has the power to put these guys to sleep, no problem. He wouldn’t even have to touch them and they’d never see it coming.”
“Well isn’t that something? I never knew that about him.” I nodded frantically. I needed them to believe it.
“Yep. Hey if you didn’t know maybe others don’t either. Pass it on, maybe he’ll show up if we talk about him.” He nodded and turned to whisper to the young lady next to him. While the robbers emptied out the cash register I watched the information work its way up to the front of the line. Finally when the man at the head of the line got the message I felt the power. Tingles tickled the back of my neck, and that meant I had enough belief nearby. I needed to do some misdirection, but I made it work.
“Hey it’s Placebo Man!” I yelled and pointed at nothing. Their belief spiked and I triggered my ability. The gunmen fell over snoring.
“I didn’t see him.” I heard a young girl complain.
“I guess he didn’t need to do much but put them to sleep,” I said. We had the crooks all tied up by the time the cops arrived. After they took my statement I left. I felt my ability get weaker as I got further away from the group of believers. Being a hero had gotten kind of boring, but after today I decided to try it a new way. I realized the less people saw Placebo Man, the more mysterious he would become.
I decided to be a plainclothes hero to try and see how many people I could save without Placebo Man being seen.
[WP] An expert hypnotist can manipulate people to do whatever he/she wants. But this time, the hypnotist unknowingly tries to manipulate someone with a split personality. [Link to post.]
He didn’t know I was there. My brothers Jimmy, Johnny, and Jamie dragged me to the hypnotist’s booth while we strolled through the circus. I loved the circus and took in a big whiff of kettle corn and turkey legs every chance I could. They all wanted to take turns with the hypnotist even though I tried talking them out of it.
“Guys, think about Jamie. What if this guy is real?” They all laughed at me, even Jamie. Despite his burden, he never let it make him cautious. I was glad for that. He was the youngest and we’ve always looked out for him. But, after the accident us older kids needed to step up in ways we never expected.
“C’mon Jessie, it’s just foolin’. We all get our turn to bark like a dog a few times and have a laugh,” Johnny said. He was the oldest brother at 24, but still younger than me. He tended to be the main line of communication between the boys and I because we all trusted him.
“I’m not gonna take a turn, you guys have fun,” I said after they convinced me. It’s not that they needed me to agree to go, but the accident left us all pretty shaken. These days we all go out of our way to respect each other as much as possible. The doctor said Jamie was at a lucky age. 14 was young enough to completely recover, but old enough to survive a lightning strike. I didn’t think his age had anything to do with it, he was lucky the rest of us were around him. My theory was we helped distribute the current running through him. Jamie got to go first. He walked into the tent and we all watched quietly.
We expected him to pull out a gold watch or something, but all he did was snap his fingers. A flash of blue light came from his hand and Jamie’s eyes dulled. Suddenly everything felt wrong. I heard Jamie’s voice call Jimmy and Johnny. It sounded the same way it did that night we got hit by lightning. He was sad and lonely, so his brothers and I gathered around him for a group hug. That lightning bolt couldn’t have had worse timing.
Two more blue flashes and I knew the other two boys were dazed like Jamie had been. I panicked and waited for them to say my name but they didn’t. I smiled to myself when I realized they were protecting me, that’s why Jamie called his brothers. I knew he was smart, but now I thought he was a genius. He used his brothers as a distraction, and he knew they wouldn’t say anything about me.
“Jamie!” I whisper-yelled. He didn’t make a move. The hypnotist was talking to Jimmy. That wasn’t a surprise, Jimmy was the charmer of the group. He’ll talk to anyone about anything and change their opinion.
“JAMIE!” I yelled. That startled him.
“Jess?” He asked, unsure.
“Quick, let’s get Johnny before he takes another turn,” I said. The hypnotist didn’t know I was there, but I was able to save my brothers. We rescued Johnny before he took a turn controlling Jamie’s body and when the hypnotist called him back out, Johnny laid him out.
We were always a close family, but when that lightning hit Jamie we were all touching our heads together. Now we’re as close as anyone can be.
[WP] You have super-human beginner’s luck, the first time you try something you’re the best at it. But only the first time. [Link to post.]
“I know it sounds crazy when you hear it,” I stared out at the gathered crowd while I spoke. “But I can prove it.” The crowd of strangers stared up at me, and they hung on my every word. It was my first time speaking publicly, and I needed to make it count. I’d been planning this for almost a year now, and here I stood in the park on a public stage. I didn’t pre-write my speech though. My luck always worked better if I flew by the seat of my pants.
“A couple of weeks ago I asked for suggestions to demonstrate, and a lot of you voted on them. I picked out the top three that I’d never done, and will demonstrate today.” I pulled some note cards from the inside of my suit jacket and looked through them. I looked at a note card and then spoke to the crowd. It’d grown larger in the last few minutes.
“Larry Johnson? C’mon up here Larry.” The crowd cheered and an older man with grey hair approached the stage. Once he climbed the stage he joined me at the podium, giving me a nervous smile. I shook his hand then addressed the crowd again.
“Now, I know most of you here know him. But, for the folks watching at home let me introduce him properly. Mr. Johnson here is known as the best banjo player on this side of the Mississippi. Reminder for everyone watching abroad, we’re on the big side here.” The audience applauded their local celebrity.
“Mr. Johnson has challenged me to a duel, and I can safely say this is my first time dueling banjos. It should be a piece of cake.” I smiled while a crew member rolled out a cart. Two beautiful banjos rested on the cart facing the audience. One white, one black. Mr. Johnson rolled up his plaid sleeves and waved at the audience. I took off my navy suit coat, then hung it over a corner of the podium. I rolled up my sleeves too. Larry had already chosen the white banjo by the time I was ready, and he began tuning it. I picked up the black banjo and held it at the ready. Idly strumming while tuning it would count as “playing it”. Mr. Johnson looked at me, and I nodded that I was ready.
“Start us off, Larry!” I said. The crowd clapped as he started off slow with a single strum. I followed suit, then he went again. We went back and forth a bit, he got faster each time. Within seconds we were both strumming our banjos relentlessly. He was faster than me, but then it felt like he began to slow down. My fingers moved like arced lightning across the strings, then Larry fumbled. He tried to find his groove again, but he couldn’t find a spot to jump in. After a few more seconds he stopped completely and applauded me. The rest of the crowd cheered, and I stopped playing. I could practice for the rest of my life, but I’d never play that well again.
“Mr. Johnson, thank you for being here with us today. As a token of gratitude, I insist that you please keep both of these beautiful, one of a kind banjos.” The crowd chuckled. It was a small, simple joke; everyone knew both banjos were his. He made his way off stage with the rolling cart.
“You guys believe me yet, or do we need another demonstration?” I asked. They cheered for another.
I lifted the cards from the podium and moved to the next one. “Leah Green? C’mon up Ms. Green.” I spotted her short spiked green hair moving through the crowd, before I saw the rest of her. The crowd parted to let her approach the stage. She climbed the stage and walked to stand next to me. I turned to the audience, the crowd appeared to have doubled from when I started with Mr. Johnson.
“Ms. Green had an interesting suggestion, and I’ve never done it before. She has a spectacular fire-eating act that she does.” I turned back to her. The crew had already set her up, and she held her torch ready to go. “She’s gonna show us what she can do.” I clapped and the crowd followed suit. Ms. Green did her act for about five minutes, then the crowd cheered.
“I’ve never done fire-eating before. For my first attempt I’ll try to do her act better than she did.” The crowd roared. I chose this stunt specifically for the cool factor. It was my first day on the campaign trail, and I needed to make as big a spectacle as I could. It was my first time running for president, so I knew I had it in the bag. Even though I didn’t really have a platform other than, “I’ve never been president before.” I knew this would get more eyes on me. I grabbed the thin torch, then the lighter. Ms. Green began to give me some safety tips, but I turned to her and winked.
“Don’t worry, It’s my first time.” I performed the act flawlessly. Her big finale was to breathe fire, and I was ready. I took a big swig of the alcohol. For a second I forgot myself and thought I was taking a shot. I caught myself before I swallowed it completely and ended up coughing the rest out over myself. Habit forced me to use the back of my right hand, where I held a lit torch, to wipe up the flammable liquid dripping down my chin. Panic forced me to forget that my other hand held the alcohol. It was not the bottle of water I thought it was when I poured it over my face to put out the small fire on my chin.
While I screamed I had a fleeting thought. This was going to be the first time I burn to death.
[WP] “Make sure you lock your bedroom door tonight.” My mother said. “It’s that time of the month again.” [Link to post.]
“Make sure you lock your bedroom door tonight.” My mother said. “It’s that time of the month again.” We stood in my darkened room, with my mom staring out the window at the night sky. The sun already set, and I was getting ready for bed when she reminded me. A small lamp on my bedside table was the only light in the room. She tussled my short blond hair, and bent down to kiss my cheek. I hugged her tight and breathed in her perfume. She smelled like sugar cookies, my favorite scent.
“I’m scared,” I said. It was barely a whisper, but I knew she’d hear me. She always did.
“Ooohhhh honey, don’t be scared.” Her arms squeezed me while her words comforted me. “It’s nothing to be scared of, completely normal.” I was 14. I knew better by now.
“That’s not what my friends said,” I regretted it the instant I said it. In an instant I was staring into her hard green eyes as she lifted my chin toward her face.
“You *TOLD* someone?” Her voice sounded sharp, I heard my full name in every word. I urgently shook the top part of my head. My chin would not move a centimeter in her grip.
“No mom! I talked around it though. I asked if they’d ever seen a were-” her hand covered my mouth. She held it there while she turned to look up at the ceiling and take several deep breaths. I saw a glimmer run down her check. She looked back down at me, with warm hazel eyes.
“Lisa, you’re right. I’m so sorry, but you’re right. We should have talked about this a long time ago, but I just kept putting it off. Ignoring it. It’s unfair to you,.. to both of us.” She turned her wrist to check the time.
“It’s getting too late now, but I promise we’ll talk tomorrow. After.” She leaned down to kiss my forehead. “Time to lock up honey.” She pulled away from me and walked out of the room while keeping her eyes on me. Tears flowing the whole time. “I’m sorry it has to be like this, but we’ll talk about it tomorrow.” I nodded and forced my face into something that would pass for a smile.
“Tomorrow,” I repeated. She pulled the metal bedroom door closed, peeking at me through it until I only saw a single sad, soft brown eye.
“Lock the door,” She whispered, then pulled it closed. I heard the latch click, and sighed. I walked to the other side of the room and worked the knobs that controlled the braces. Three knobs, three thick metal bars reinforcing the door. As I turned each knob, another bar slid into place.
“That’ll keep me safe,” I said aloud. I always tried to trick myself, but I never *felt* safe. I grabbed my comforter and pillow, then walked into the bathroom. After a really bad night a few months ago I started sleeping in the bathtub during that these nights. Usually it was only about three nights a month, but things were always normal the next day. Mom always had breakfast waiting for me the mornings after. Hot oatmeal, loaded with sugar and apple slices. Mom was head chef at a major high class restaurant, and she often teased me about making something as simple as oatmeal. But she always had a smile and steaming hot bowl waiting for me. After.
I closed the bathroom door, and tossed my bedding into the bathtub. I turned around to flip the lights off, but caught my reflection in the mirror. A long strand of pink hair ran down the side of my face, standing out from the rest of my short, spiky blond hair. I reached over to the light switch, but hesitated. I stared at my own light blue eyes in the mirror.
“I’m safe. I’m safe. I’m safe.” I repeated. “I’m in control.” I’d never watched the change before, but I decided to tonight. As long as I was myself, I wanted to see it happen.
I blinked. I didn’t feel anything, but after my blink I saw a long purple strand of hair next to the pink one. Then I saw it happen. Orange colored light pulsed from the top of my head, and flowed down my hair. It stretched my hair until an long orange strand sat in front of the pink one. After another pulse of colored light a pink streak ran down the other side of my head, then I felt the familiar tingling. I knew I would black out soon. I stared at myself in the mirror. The color of my eyes cycled through a rainbow over and over. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, then back to red again. The tingling grew stronger and I stared at my forehead. A white light began to glow in the center, it was the source of the tingling I felt.
“I can’t believe the guys at school never even heard of a were-unicorn,” I said with a smile. Now that I saw how beautiful I was becoming, I wasn’t scared anymore.
[WP] You and your arch-rival have the power of reincarnation. You have been finding and killing each other over and over since the dawn of pre-historic man, until modern times. [Link to post.]
“Yeah, I’m totally looking forward to it!” Mary’s face lit up as she chatted with Fiona. She sat in her office with the door closed talking on her cell phone. Her dark brown eyes twinkled thinking about the night ahead. “Uhuh, okay. I’ll see you at seven. Bye gorgeous.” She hung up the phone. Mary found Fiona through a dating app, and they seemed very compatible. It turned out they were both very busy women, and in the month she’s spent getting to know Fiona they did not have time to meet. Tonight was finally the night. They texted and video chatted constantly, somehow Mary felt comfortable with Fiona. As if she’d known her all her life.
She gathered her things and walked out of her office. Mary borderline frolicked through the empty halls towards the exit, unable to remember the last time she was this excited to meet someone. It was 5:30, and she knew everyone else bolted at five on the dot. Unfortunately that was not one of her luxuries as boss. Still, she cut out earlier than usual. It was Friday night, and she barely had time to get ready for her big date.
Mary arrived at the upscale restaurant 10 minutes early, and found Fiona waving at her from a table with a giant smile on her face. Fiona’s black hair was cut short, framing her delicate face perfectly. Mary almost lost herself in Fiona’s light coffee colored eyes. Mary approached the table and Fiona stood to hug her. Mary walked toward her, but appreciated the way the black dress wrapped around Fiona like plastic wrap. She felt almost dumpy in her own favorite “little black dress”. Her anxiousness melted away instantly the moment Fiona wrapped her arms around her. It seemed liked her date knew all the right things to say.
“You look *amazing*,” Fiona whispered in her ear. They’d shared some intimacy online, but it still came as a welcome surprise when Fiona nibbled her ear after the compliment. Mary kissed Fiona’s cheek in return.
“Thanks. That’s a big compliment coming from someone as beautiful as you,” Mary said. They sat down, and within seconds a handsome older waiter appeared at their table. She felt unease again when she realized the waiter’s uniform was nicer than most of her wardrobe. He seemed unable to take his eyes off of Fiona, a sentiment that Mary understood completely. Fiona ordered wine for them, which Mary appreciated. She knew nothing about wine, but knew from their chats that Fiona was a bit of a connoisseur. The waiter nodded and smiled at Fiona, then left the table. They made comfortable small talk while holding hands, then after a few minutes Fiona excused herself to the restroom. While she was gone the waiter returned with the wine and began to pour.
“This is a great wine your date chose,” he said. Mary shrugged.
“If you don’t mind my saying, you two make a beautiful couple,” The waiter said with a bit of a grin.
“Thanks,” Mary smiled. “We’re not a couple yet, but I’m hopeful.” She took a big gulp of wine.
“Oh? Haven’t known her long, then?” The waiter finished pouring Fiona’s glass and turned to top off Mary’s glass.
“Technically no, but there’s something there. It feels like I’ve known her forever.” The waiter nodded while refilling Mary’s glass each time she took a sip.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. I’ve got someone like that too.” The waiter smiled. “I’ll come back for your orders in a bit.” He left the bottle at the table and disappeared into the kitchen. Fiona returned to the table and took a sip of wine.
“What’d I miss?” Fiona asked.
“Just some appreciation from the waiter, he definitely earned a tip,” Mary replied. She picked up her menu and browsed through it. She decided on the least fancy fish meal she could find, Mary had always been a simple girl. She noticed Fiona had not looked at her menu yet.
“Already know what you’re gonna get?” Mary asked. Fiona winked at her.
“I always know what I’m gonna get,” Fiona said, and lightly licked her lips. Mary felt her cheeks grow hot, and the corners of her mouth moved upward without her permission. The waiter appeared again, ready to take their orders. Mary ordered fish, and Fiona ordered a steak.
“As raw as you’re allowed to serve it. Oh, and can you please ask the chef to toss in some apple slices and honey with the sauteed onions?” Fiona said. The waiter smiled broadly while he nodded, and Mary guessed he was entranced with Fiona’s cleavage.
“Yes, ma’am. That’s an interesting order, I don’t think I’ve heard someone ask for that before,” he said. “And it pairs exceptionally well with the wine your ordered.” Fiona shrugged.
“I’ve been ordering it for as long as I could remember,” Fiona said. The waiter pulled out a small folded square of paper out of his pocket and handed it to Fiona.
“What’s this?” Fiona asked. She began to unfold it. “Your number?” The waiter shook his head. When Fiona read the note, she sighed with disappointment.
“Damnit.” That was Fiona’s last word, followed by a loud bang. Mary did not know where it came from, but the waiter now held a smoking gun and Fiona’s body hunched over the table, blood soaking into the white linen. The waiter was already running toward the front door when Mary finally found her scream. The other patrons all ducked down to the floor afraid of more shots being fired.
The next two hours were a blur for Mary, but she cried the whole time. At some point an officer showed her the note, but it only confused her even more when she read it.
“Tag. You’re It.”
[WP] “Welcome, we are so glad you are here. We’ve been expecting you.” “What, where am I?” [Link to post.]
“Welcome, we are so glad you are here. We’ve been expecting you.” The young pale boy greeted the blonde woman in a red dress. They stood outside in a field of swaying wheat.
“What, where am I?” The woman asked. She turned around to survey the field. It looked wrong somehow. The sky was a dark shade of purple, but bright sunlight illuminated the grains. She looked up and saw a golden sun high in the sky.
“This is the AlterNet.” A deeper male voice said behind the woman. She turned around and found Jake Wilson standing behind her, next to the pale boy. She met Jake only minutes before, but he looked different. Instead of the navy blue business suit he wore to their meeting, he was now dressed in an elegant black silk shirt with golden detailing. He also wore black silk slacks, and a black cloak. She could not see his shoes due to the wheat, but she imagined they were black as well. The boy’s outfit matched Jake’s, they almost looked like father and son.
“Mr. Wilson!” She stepped over to him, happy to see someone she recognized. She ran her fingers across the tops of the wheat spikes as she walked. “Is this the demonstration? It feels so real.” Jake nodded at her.
“It is real, Ms. Carlson. That’s real wheat you’re touching.” Ms. Carlson’s forehead crinkled as she thought through the situation.
“If I understood your invention correctly,” she paused to order her thoughts. “You’re saying my body is still back at InnerTech on an alternate Earth, but my consciousness is here?”
“Really, Jake? This was your first choice?” The pale boy said. “We could’ve looked for a smarter version of her at least.” The boy left Jake’s side and walked around Ms. Carlson eyeing her up and down.
“Yes, Oren, it was. Shut it.” Jake glared at the boy.
[We have company. Behave. -Jake] He Whispered the reprimand to Oren in secret, so that Ms. Carlson could not hear.
[Fine. -Oren] Jake felt the words in his ear. Ms. Carlson looked down at her own body, then back to Jake.
“Why are you wearing different clothes, but I’m still in the same ones?”
“Because you haven’t made a character yet,” Oren said. He extended his hand and offered her a small glowing red ball.
“Character? What do you mean?” Ms. Carlson did not accept the ball, and eyed Jake instead.
[Told you she’s dumb. -Oren] Jake felt the message in his ear. He ignored it.
“This whole world is like a game,” Jake said. He lifted his hand up in the air and it glowed with bright green light. He snapped his fingers and a green fireball shot upward from his hand. “So you’ve gotta make a character to play. I’m a wizard.” Ms. Carlson looked back to Oren.
“Are you a wizard too? You’re dressed like one.” She talked down to him in her friendliest voice.
[I’ll find you a smarter one. -Oren] The message tickled his inner ear.
[Please let me kill her. – Oren] Jake could not ignore that.
“I’m Oren,” Oren said. His hand still presenting the glowing red ball to the woman. She nodded at him.
“I heard your name, but what kind of character are you?” She asked. Oren stared at the woman, and his translucent grey eyes began to turn red. A red crown began to glow on his forehead. “I’m Oren,” he repeated. Jake intervened. He grabbed the red ball from Oren’s hand and stepped between them.
“Unlike you and me, Oren is actually here. He doesn’t need to make a character.” Jake held his hand out toward her, with the red ball of light resting on his palm. She reached her hand out to take it. The second she touched the ball, red energy enveloped her entire body like a cocoon. She could not be seen from outside.
“Told you she’s dumb. You didn’t give her any instructions, and now she won’t be able to figure out how to work it,” Oren said. He kicked at the wheat.
“Yes she will. If she can’t, then we need a redesign anyway. It’s supposed to be intuitive, remember? Let’s play something while we wait,” Jake said.
I stood in the castle courtyard with the bright golden sun high in the sky. I felt sweat dripping down my brow and my back, my robes were thick, making the heat almost unbearable. I stared at the young boy, my apprentice, in front of me. I felt glad his robes were made of a lighter material, I doubted he could stand this heat. His robes matched mine, red and gold. The boy looked nervous; I noticed his eyes wandering to the dozens of other people in the courtyard with us, each tending to their own business. I tried to talked to him about his nerves earlier that day.
“When we’re out there, just ignore everyone else. They all have their own things to focus on, just like you,” I told him in private before we came outside. I knew most of his insecurities were due to his youth, but he tried to keep his focus on me. I was proud of him for that. I decided to start his lesson before the distraction of the others became too much for him to ignore.
“Osdore, listen,” I said firmly. The name captured his attention, he focused on me and nodded his head eagerly. “Magic is not what you think.” I touched my hand to his chest. The material of his robe scraped against my hand like sandpaper. Though it was a more breathable fabric than my robe, it must have been itching him like crazy. He was a tough kid, I knew he would go far. “It’s what you feel. It’s an art, not a science. You can’t learn how to tap into the Ether by reading books all day, you need to live. You need experience,” I said. I placed a hand on his shoulder, then I saw tears begin to form at the corners of his eyes as if on cue.
“Now, now,” I said. I patted his back and smiled at him. “I’ll give you a few more tries today. Should you fail, just remember you can always come back and try again next year. I chose you to be my apprentice because I see your potential. It has only been a week, and I can’t teach you anything if you can’t commune with the Ether, but I see greatness growing inside of you.” I squeezed his shoulder. “It may not be ready to bloom yet, but I know it will.” That seemed to ease his frustrations a bit. He looked up at me and smiled, while using the sleeves of his robe to wipe away his tears. I saw him flinch away slightly from the harsh material. I suddenly felt bad for rubbing his back and squeezing his shoulder, but he did not complain once.
“Are you ready to try again?” I asked. I held my staff out in front of him. He nodded and took the tall, thin piece of wood from my hands. I didn’t know what kind of wood it was, but that detail was unimportant. Someone put a lot of work into decorating it with intricate lines carved into it. The lines ran up and down the length of the staff, and they were filled with what looked like gold.
He extended his arms and held the staff horizontally in front of him. His green eyes met mine and I nodded at him.
“I know you can do this,” I said with a friendly smile. “Focus on your emotions, don’t over think.”
He took a deep breath, then spoke the words he needed to say.
“Tak Dhina Dhin,” he said. Internally I cringed at his delivery. I expected him to yell the words out full of emotion, not just say them louder than usual.
“CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTTTT!!!!!” The director yelled. I sighed.
”No, it won’t work like that. You have to really mean it,” I said. The crew around us went about resetting the shot. I put my arm around his shoulder protectively as the director stormed toward us. This particular director had little patience for child actors, but this kid definitely had talent. He just needed more practice, and I planned to make sure he got that practice.
“Sorry.” The boy stared at the ground.
“No problem, buddy. No one gets the first take, we’ll try again.”
[WP] You pull the rusty knife out of your chest and watch you skin pull itself back together, “Hey not bad,” you say, “the last guy trying to win the bounty didn’t make it through the front door.” [Link to post.]