Choices Choices (3-21-18)

[WP] Technically, I’m a dragon. [Link to post.]

Felix sat in the corner of his darkened cell and waited. No matter how comfortable he felt sitting on the large bed, he was a prisoner. They treated him well. Instead of bars, a clear wall with air holes kept him in the pleasant prison. No torture or interrogation. Delicious food or drink any time he wanted, he only needed to ask. After the first day he assumed they were trying to starve him until he asked why he hadn’t been fed yet. 

“You didn’t ask,” his guard said. He learned her name, Flutter, the first time they met. The giant woman stood at least seven feet tall. Her pale skin made the coppery red hair atop her head even more fiery. She kept her hair in a long red braid that hung straight down her back. The first time she fed him she brought him a simple brown wooden bowl filled with a sickly white paste. The smell made him hold his breath, the taste made him retch. 

“You call this food?” Felix asked Flutter sarcastically. He emptied it into the toilet. The woman shrugged, and gave a half smirk. 

“You asked for food, I brought you food. Next time be specific.” She sat down outside his cell, put her feet up on her desk and thumbed through a book. Felix sat down on his own bed to wait for the next time. Five minutes later his stomach growled and it occurred to him that next time could be now. 

“Hey, Flutter?” He asked, using her name cautiously for the first time. She sat up quickly and looked at him through the clear divide. “What are my options?” She smiled broadly and stood up. 

“Now you’re getting it, shortstack. Anything you want, we can get,” she said. Flutter leaned against the partition with her arms crossed, waiting. Felix longed to be home. The day he met Flutter he left some taproot stew simmering in the kettle.

“How bout some taproot stew?” Felix asked. Flutter’s face lost all composure, and heavy, heaving laughs flowed from her mouth. Her body doubled over as she held her abdomen. 

“Taproot stew??!” She continued to laugh. Despite being a prisoner, Felix still somehow found his feelings could be hurt. Taproot stew was delicious, especially if he added some meat. “Talk about backwater. Kid, I’m gonna do you the biggest favor anyone will ever do for you. I’ll be back.” The giant woman turned and walked out of the room. 

A while later she returned holding two flattened square boxes stacked on top of each other. She stood at the invisible barrier, grabbed the top box then pushed it through. On the other side Felix grabbed the box and set it on his bed. Unsure what to do next, nor what Flutter’s favor actually was. She smiled at him and opened the remaining box. Inside the box Felix saw steam rising from a golden disc. The edges of the disc looked like toasted bread; bright red dots decorated the inner portion. 

“This is pizza,” Flutter said. She grabbed a toasted edge and pulled a triangle from the golden circle. She put the point in her mouth and bit. “Go ahead. Careful, it’s hot.” Felix followed her lead. He opened the box and peered in. He grabbed a toasted edge and pulled a triangle free. He never saw any food that looked like this, but it smelled amazing. He bit into it and the ecstasy forced his eyes shut. A sound he’d never made before welled up from somewhere inside him. 

“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….” he chewed the magical food. “I love you, Flutter.” Felix said while chewing. She giggled while eating her second slice. 

“You’re too young for me kid, but you’re pretty cool,” Flutter said. Felix wanted to know more about her. Even as she kidnapped him she treated him kinder than any kidnapper would be expected to. As his guard she remained friendly and helpful towards him. 

“How’d you get so big?” Felix asked while he pulled a second slice from the box. 

“Technically, I’m a dragon,” Flutter said. She smiled, but kept eating. Only a single slice remained in her box. 

“No you’re not! I’ve seen dragons. They’re HUGE!” Felix spread his arms wide, to emphasize how huge dragons were. Flutter stood and wiped her hands on her red silk shirt as she walked to the cell. 

“Watch,” she said. Felix watched. Felix stared at Flutter’s black eyes, but noticed a change on her forehead. The smooth, pale skin of her face began to change. Thin lines formed a pattern on her face, and it seemed her skin grew thicker around the lines. Her creamy white skin turned to gold. Her blemish free face was overtaken by rough, jagged layers. She lifted her shirt to show her stomach to Felix. He looked down and saw more golden scales covering her stomach, her arms, everywhere. 

“Whoa. You ARE a dragon!” Felix smiled, then cocked his head to the right slightly.

“How’d you get so small?” He asked. Flutter chuckled. 

“Technically, I’m a fairy.” Flutter turned around and lifted the back of her shirt completely, revealing more golden scales. Two sets of translucent, veiny dragonfly wings popped out of her back and fluttered frantically. 

“I wondered why your name was Flutter,” Felix asked with a chuckle. Flutter let her shirt fall and turned around. 

“There you go.” Over the next week Felix asked for pizza regularly, and Flutter was happy to deliver. But, he was still a prisoner. 

He sat in the corner of his darkened cell and waited. Flutter was due with lunch soon, something she called Chinese, but Felix didn’t want to be a prisoner anymore. Despite asking for food, it did not occur to him to ask to be let out. He decided he would try today. Flutter returned with two white bags. 

“Hey halfpint. Ready to chow down?” Flutter asked. She pushed a bag through the clear wall, but Felix did not rush to grab it like he normally did. 

“I’m ready to leave,” Felix said. He straightened his back to give himself a boost of confidence.  Flutter dropped the bag on the inside of his cell and pulled her hand out. 

“Finally. You’ve got two choices. Join Ballisea or join Ballisea.” Flutter sat down at her desk and pulled out several small white and red boxes from the bag, one after the other. 

“That’s not much of a choice,” Felix said. Flutter nodded.

“May not seem like it, but it’s important which one you choose. One is willingly the other is…less willingly, more painful.” 

“Which did you choose?” Felix asked. Flutter stared toward the other end of the room, and answered Felix with a cold, sad tone.

“It hurts. A lot.” Felix looked down at the dark cobblestone floor of his cell. He felt bad for his friend. 

Made for Walking (3-20-18)

[WP] “You know what sucks? Being right.” [Link to post.]

“I caught something!” Jeff leapt up from the grassy canal bank yelling in excitement, his camping chair fell backward. He fought to keep the fishing rod up, though whatever he hooked threatened to snap the rod or line at any moment. “Help me!” His head whipped toward Matt, who sat next to him holding his own fishing rod. Matt shrugged.

“It’s probably just a boot, man,” Matt said, then reached into the ice chest for another soda. Jeff kept fighting against the unseen opponent, thankful that his rod remained intact. 

“Are you crazy?! Look how much it’s fighting!” To make his point Jeff relaxed his grip to show that he wasn’t fighting *nothing*. The rod almost flew out of his hands. He tightened his hands again, and the rod almost pulled him in with it. He stumbled a couple of feet forward before he found his footing. “HELP ME, IDIOT!” Jeff yelled behind him. Then, he felt Matt’s shoulders next to him. Matt grabbed the rod and they both pulled back. 

“It’s probably a weird current or something. It’s definitely junk, my money’s on a boot.” 

“Oh, then you wanna bet?” Jeff grunted as they pulled on the rod together. Through the few short years of their friendship Matt’s “money” became his goto phrase for a bet, even though they never wagered money. Matt nodded, his face red with strain. 

“Alright. If it’s a boot I’ll wear it until we get home. *IF* it fits me.” Jeff said. 

“If it’s not, I’ll walk home barefoot,” Matt added his terms, something comparable. “Good?” he asked for Jeff’s verbal handshake. 

“Deal,” Jeff agreed. They wrestled with the rod longer than either of them expected, and both were surprised the rod survived the encounter. After 15 minutes Jeff sat in his camping chair slipping on a wet, muddy, green and brown cowboy boot on his right foot. Matt laughed hysterically, his white shirt picked up grass stains as he rolled on the ground. 

Matt’s laughter continued the entire 30 minute walk to Jeff’s home, but by the time they reached his door Jeff could not help but join in. The situation was just too ridiculous. 

“You know what sucks?” Jeff asked once he and Matt were in his room. He took the boot off the moment they got in the door, then tossed it in the bathtub. The thing was filthy, but all things considered seemed to be well made. Although it was caked in mud, it seemed almost brand new. He guessed it did not spend much time in the canal before he caught it. 

“What?” Matt asked, relaxing on the big queen sized bed in Jeff’s room. 

“There’s only one. I’m gonna clean it up tomorrow, and see how it looks. Ignoring the goop that I had to pour out of it, it felt pretty comfortable.” Jeff cleaned off his foot, then the two friends enjoyed the rest of the sleepover watching movies and playing games. Around noon the next day, Jeff woke to take a shower and eyed the mud covered boot laying in the tub. The boot was made from thick, sturdy, brown leather. The tread consisted of a hexagonal pattern with the number [22]( in the center. He rinsed off the green algae while he showered, then left it on the window sill to dry.

“It cleaned up pretty nice,” Jeff said to a groggy Matt standing next to him. 

“Probably cursed or something. Breakfast?” Matt said, then walked out of the room toward Jeff’s kitchen. An hour later Jeff happened by the spot and noticed the boot looked completely dry, sooner than he expected. He grabbed it and stuck his hand inside to check for moisture, but found none. The interior felt soft to the touch and he decided he needed to feel that on his foot. 

Jeff let himself fall on the bed and took off his right sock, he hardly ever wore shoes around the house. He slipped his foot in. The cool interior seemed to mold itself around his foot, top and bottom. It felt like a thick sock. 

“Whoooooaaa.” Jeff fell backward on the bed and relaxed; his mind flashed to the number on the bottom of the tread. “You’re amazing 22,” he said. Once he said the number out loud he felt a tingling sensation on his left foot, then it felt just as comfortable as his right. He bolted upright and stared at his feet. He now wore a matching pair of brown leather cowboy boots. “What?!” 

“Whoa!” Matt said. He dashed to the bedside from the other end of the room when he saw it happen. Jeff reached down to his left boot to try and take it off, but it seemed intangible.

“Try and grab it!” He encouraged Matt. They could see the boot. His foot felt comfortable and well protected, but neither of them could seem to grip it to pull it off. Changing tactics he tried pulling off the right boot. It came right off, then the left boot disappeared from his foot. 

“You know what sucks? Being right.” Matt said. 

School Dreams (3-19-18)

[WP] You are a girl inside a research facility. Whenever you see someones face, the person dies. One day, a person wearing a golden mask comes to visit you. [Link to post.]

“Goodnight, Eury. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Dr. Argyris said into a camera. She spoke to Eury from a large screen display mounted on a wall in the girl’s secure room. “I love you.”

“‘Night, mom. Love you too,” Eury said. She stared at the screen through watery eyes. She only saw her mother’s face for a few seconds every night through the TV, just enough to say goodnight. Even though the use of technology helped minimize Eury’s ability, that tiny amount of time added up over the years. Eury knew her mother was only 35 years old, but she appeared to be much, much older. She carried the wrinkles of a 90 year old woman on her face, and what remained of her hair looked like a stringy nest of silver and white. The TV shut off, then Eury lay down in her large bed, hugged her pillow tight, and cried.

Every day her mother looked older, but not once did she complain or lash out at the young girl. Eury knew her mom already arranged plans to insure Eury would be looked after once she died. Probably within the next couple of months. The rest of the staff in the lab were nice enough, but everyone was too afraid to say goodnight. Eury was prohibited from watching movies because even pre-recorded images somehow triggered her ability. She tried to binge watch a show once, but only made it to the second episode before her mother made her stop. The entire cast of the show was hospitalized that day. Eury knew that once her mother died, the staff would stick to pre-recorded audio only, and leave her as a very well cared for prisoner.

“Hello, Eury,” a female voice said. Eury rolled over from facing the wall to look at the center of the room. The owner of the voice was a woman wearing a long black dress with slits cut on both sides that carried up to her hips. She wore white stockings, and black high heels. Eury scooted herself back into a corner on her bed where two walls met, while keeping her eyes on the shiny heels. “It’s okay, you can look up.” The voice said again. Eury shook her head anxiously, then pulled her knees up to her chest while staring at the ground. “Trust me.” The voice said again. Eury looked up, and gasped.

A golden mask, like a stylized sun, covered most of the woman’s face, leaving only her mouth visible. Pointed sun rays surrounded the rest of the mask. Behind them Eury also noticed a pair of bone-white, curling ram horns on the woman’s head. Eury kept quiet, but stared at the golden mask.

“See? I know all about you Eury, and I want to help you,” the woman said. Now that she had Eury’s attention she took a step toward the young girl’s bed.

“Stop!” Eury blurted out. “What do you want?” Eury’s hand moved to the bed and slipped under her pillow to find the emergency phone her mother left her. It was not a smart phone, just a simple one button kid’s phone that allowed her to call one person. It looked a lot like the one the masked woman waggled in her hand.

“You won’t need this, I’m not here to hurt you. Like I said, I want to help you.” The woman tossed the device to the side. Instead of landing on the floor it fell into small, impossibly dark hole. After it went through the hole disappeared.

“How?” Eury asked.

“By teaching you how to control your power. Don’t you want to watch movies, or go out and meet people? Watch people play and have fun. Don’t you want to go to school?” The woman said, her visible mouth turned up into a soft smile. School. That was what Eury wanted more than anything. Her mother let her go through old yearbooks she picked up at garage sales, after making sure everyone in the book was already dead. The kids looked so happy, and there were so many people! Eury moved an inch on the bed, toward the woman.

“How?” Eury asked again. An entirely different question this time. The woman’s smile grew broader.

“How what, dear?” The woman stepped closer.

“How…” Eury thought for a second, then changed her phrasing. “I want to go to school,” Eury said. The top points of the woman’s golden mask came forward a tiny bit as the woman nodded.

“My name is Ballisea.” Ballisea made a gesture with her hand and a larger black hole appeared in the air next to her. It was as big as the tall woman, from shiny black heel to bone-white horn. “Come with me and I promise you’ll be in school in a few months.” Eury bolted off the bed, but stopped when she saw the TV monitor behind Ballisea.

“My mom?”

“Is dying,” Ballisea said, keeping her tone flat. “You have a lot to learn about your powers, but I’ll tell you this much. The only reason she’s at death’s door is because she sees you every night. You’re very powerful, and right now your power is always on. Your mother is constantly being affected by it. Now that she won’t be seeing you every night, she can get better.” Eury didn’t need anymore reasons. She’d get to go to school and save her mother’s life. She jumped into the black portal without another word.

Logging Lesson (3-18-18)

[WP] Sunday Free Write [Link to post.]

“Go ahead and take off,” [Jake]( said to the pale boy. They talked in a dim cave while the sounds of battle echoed from up ahead. “We need to finish up the demo, [Eva](’s probably bored out of her mind by now.” Jake’s mention of Eva caused [Oren]( to giggle. 

“She’s gonna smack you for taking so long already,” Oren said. The boy’s form dissipated into red glowing dust, his high pitched glee continued to echo off the stone walls even after he disappeared. Jake walked toward the cave’s exit, and caught up with [Elle]( Jake noted the last of the goblins from the fourth ambush disintegrating into dust. 

“Where’s Oren?” She asked Jake when she noticed him approach.

“He got bored,” Jake said with a shrug. 

“Don’t we need him to fight the boss?” Elle asked. She sheathed both her daggers, anticipating a wait.

“Nah, it’ll be fine.” Jake waved his hand dismissively. “There’s some other things I wanted to show you anyway, this is a great opportunity,” he added. “Let’s go fight the boss and get out of here.” Jake walked past Elle, the back hem of his red wizard robes dragged in the dirt behind him leaving a smooth streak. He led her forward about 50 feet, then stopped. 

“Boss ambush up ahead. We’ll try the original plan we had before Oren showed up. The champion spawns with two elite guards, so stealth up. I’ll distract them, and you take them out from behind. Okay?” Elle nodded and disappeared. Her body seemed to empty out like liquid out of a leaking jug, leaving a thin black outline around her form that only Jake could see. “One more thing. The goblin champion, Screampig, is immune to backstab. Save him for last,” Jake said. The top of the empty form moved slightly, Jake assumed she nodded. He walked forward and triggered the scripted ambush. 

“[THAT’S MINE!]( DIE!!!” a squealing, high pitched voice yelled. Three goblins appeared in front of Jake while Elle’s ghost moved along the wall without making a sound. She left no footprints as she positioned herself behind them. They resembled a trio of homeless, emaciated, short men. Their sickly green skin almost looked like it was stretched too tight over their bones. The outline of every bone and joint was clearly visible. A mishmash of chain, leather and cloth scraps protected them. The middle one with the name “Screampig” over his head stood several inches taller than the other two, and appeared to be better fed. His potbelly hung over a leather belt, contrasting the rest of his bony body. The goblins charged toward Jake, the only intruder they could see. The wizard lifted his heavy wooden staff. 

“Alright Elle,” Jake shouted past the oncoming goblins. He knew they wouldn’t care who he was talking to, they were not programmed to be that aware. “First thing you have to learn about is friendly fire.” The tip of Jake’s staff glowed with bright orange light. “Blazing Rain.” He said flatly. A shower of glowing, molten sparks began falling in a large area around the goblins, including Elle. The super-heated drops burned anything they touched. 

“OW! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” Elle shouted. The damage she took from the sparks revealed her. Without stealth the goblins noticed her, but their focus remained on Jake because he was the only one to cause them any damage so far. They continued moving toward him. 

“Second thing you have to learn is how to logout,” Jake said with a smile. He tapped his staff on the ground, and remained still. His bright red robe dulled and transitioned into a dark grey color. The features on his face melded together as his tan skin also shifted to grey. Within seconds a simple dark grey mannequin stood in Jake’s place, then it dissolved into grey ash dispersed by a breeze that Elle did not feel. 

“JAKE!!!” Elle yelled, grabbing the attention of the goblins. All three turned and charged toward her. 

Green, Eggs, and Slams (3-17-18)

[WP] A horror story usually has a focus for the audience’s fear, clowns, spiders, serial killers, and so on. Write a short horror story about eggs. [Link to post.]

“MOM!!!!” Mikey ran into the house, the smack of the screen door slamming against the wooden door frame followed him in. The young boy ran to the kitchen and found his mother standing by the stove. She dumped potato cubes from a solid wooden cutting board into a pot of water. “I finished my chores, can I go to Bobby’s now?” The woman placed the cutting board on the counter next to the gas range, then turned around to open a cupboard. 

“Did you already pack your clothes, *INCLUDING* underwear and socks? I will not have the Millers thinking my son is filthy enough to wear the same underwear two days in a row. And your toothbrush?” She spoke to her son from the other side of a cupboard door that blocked their view of each other. She smiled herself behind the door, knowing how hard her son rolled his eyes at that moment. She could hear it in his voice. It was his first sleep over, and she was just as excited for it as he was. She and her husband were looking forward to a romantic night alone. 

“Yes, ma’am. I’ve got everything! Change of clothes, undies, socks, toothbrush, phone charger,” Mikey said. The traces of annoyance in his voice were almost unnoticeable thanks to his excitement. Mrs. Brown shut the cupboard door, having retrieved nothing. Then she reached to the side of the counter to grab the egg basket from its hook. 

“One more thing, dear. Grab me a dozen eggs, your father forgot to this morning before he headed out. I need them for the salad,” she nodded at the pot of potatoes. “Then you can go.” Mike grinned his nine year old bucktooth smile, then disappeared out the door. Helen heard the screen door slam before she realized he stole the small wicker basket from her hands. 

In less than three minutes the screen door alerted Helen to turn around. She almost tripped over Mikey standing behind her with a basket of eggs in one hand and his burlap shoulder bag in the other. He handed her the basket, and she noticed how wide his eyes were.

“I saw a meteor!” Mike bounced in place, barely containing his excitement. Helen looked out a nearby window to see the bright blue, cloudless sky. 

“Mikey, it’s 11:00a.m. No way you saw a meteor with that kind of sunlight out there.”

“I did! It was flying low, and it looked green. Flew right over the coop headed towards the Johnson’s,” Mikey said. He was a fanciful boy, just like his father. Helen knew she had two choices. Humor him or argue with him until he confessed about lying. The argument might lead to a grounding which might ruin her romantic night. She sighed and realized the reason she loved her husband so much was *because* he tended to be fanciful. Nothing wrong with a little magic now and then, she thought. 

“Well, I’ll keep an eye on the news tonight to see if they say anything,” she said. Mikey nodded and continued to bounce in place. He was a good boy and she felt good about her decision to not argue with him. Even though she already gave permission, he waited for a final okay to leave the house. 

“Go on, shoo. Have fun,” Helen said. Mikey kissed the air and ran out of the kitchen toward the front door.

“Bye mom! Love you! See you tomorrow!”

“CALL ME IF YOU NE-” She tried yelling after him, but the sound of the front door shutting interrupted her. “Yep. Just like his father,” she mused and set the basket of eggs on the counter. She continued to work around the kitchen. The landline rang while she added salt to the boiling potatoes. She walked to the wall and grabbed the receiver of the old avocado green rotary phone. 


“Helen, I’m sorry love. I’m gonna miss lunch, and there’s a chance I might miss dinner too.” Helen sighed, but she understood. In their 15 years together Grant’s never given her reason to doubt his word, and never disappointed her like this without an especially good reason.

“Everything okay?” She asked. 

“No. Dan Johnson called in some help. Something wrecked his chicken coop, so me and the boys are gonna help round up the ones that are still alive and help put up another one. Depending on who shows up to help it shouldn’t take too long,” Grant said. “Any chance Mikey wants to come lend a hand too?” 

“I’m sure he’d love to chase those hens around, but he already headed out to the Miller’s for his sleep over. You could try his phone,” Helen said, then she registered what Grant said. “Did you say Dan Johnson?” 

“Yeah he-” The rest of Grant’s reply was interrupted by loud screaming. “Oh god,” he said, followed by a sharp sound against Helen’s ear, as if he let the phone fall. 

“Grant? Is everything okay?” Helen asked.  He did not answer, but the screaming continued, and it seemed to grow louder, as if more people were screaming. Then she heard heaving breathing on the line, and Grant’s voice.

“HELEN! Stay away from the eggs! DON’T LET THEM TOUCH YOU! I’M COMING AS SOON AS I CAN BUT DON’T TOUCH THE EGGS!” He yelled, then the line went dead. Helen stood in place and stared blankly at the numbered rotary on the phone. 

“Grant?” she asked, but knew no one would answer. A loud pop made her jump. She screamed, threw the phone down and turned around to face the noise. There on the floor was a single broken egg. Its white shell shattered and embedded in the viscous clear yolk surrounding the bright yellow center. She took a single step backward, not taking her eyes off the egg. She was so focused she screamed again when a second egg landed on the floor next to the first with another loud pop. She looked up toward the basket on the counter and saw the basket turned over. It lay on its side, and a single egg rolled forward from the rest. 

It rolled itself to the counter, then fell off. She followed it down until she heard the pop, then realized it should have landed next to the other two already on the floor, but it didn’t. It landed directly below the counter, but she realized the first two eggs were sliding across the hardwood floors toward her. They moved slowly, like slugs, leaving traces of slime behind them. 

Helen screamed and knocked over a nearby chair to land in their path. One of the animated yolks reached the chair. It climbed up and over the obstacle without any change in its speed as it moved towards Helen. A loud pop to her right made her whip her head around and she saw an egg yolk sliding down the wall next to her. It just missed her head. Then, a flash of white made her duck. She heard a pop behind her. She realized they were surrounding her. She turned to run past the one behind her, but she felt a hard smack against her back. She felt gooey wetness soaking into her clothes, followed by an intense burning. Another egg hit her thigh, and began to burn her like acid. 

Dark Night. Hot Pizza. (3-16-18)

[WP]You wake up in a deserted mall with no recollection of the past 48 hours. As you’re standing up, a man in a suit walks over to you and congratulates you for saving humanity yet again. [Link to post.]

My eyes fluttered open, and bright, but soft fluorescent light filled my vision. The first thing I saw was the fake wood table my head rested on. I straightened my back to sit up, then looked around at the empty food court. Confused, I looked up through the skylights in the ceiling and saw a dark starless sky, then back around the mall. I didn’t remember coming to the mall, but at night it was usually packed. I stood from my chair, my legs pushing it backward as I rose. The sharp sound of the chair legs scrapping against the imperfections of the stone floor sound echoed around the empty, wide open space.

“Whoa, keep it down.” I heard a male voice say, followed by a soft chuckle. I turned toward the sound and saw someone new. Someone that I did not see leaning against the counter of the Great American Cookie Company when I woke up. A pale man wearing a dark suit and a chestnut crew cut left the counter and walked toward me.

“What’s going on? Where is everyone?” I asked. Obviously I was in an unusual situation, so this man probably had answers. Unless, “Am I dreaming?” The man stopped walking. His head tilted to his left and right a couple of times as if he was weighing options.

“No.” He resumed walking toward me until he reached the table I stood by. He quietly pulled out a chair and sat down in it, then gestured for me to retake my seat. I sat, not having any better ideas.

“First of all, congratulations James. On behalf of the entire human race,” he leaned forward in his seat, giving a ghost of a bow. “Thank you for saving us. Again.”

“Whahuh? You’re gonna have to fill me in Mr….  Uh?” I gestured toward him with my hand. His light brown eyes sparkled, but he did not offer up a name. Fine. “Uh, Sir. Two days ago I was kayaking with my buddies, then I wake up here.” He nodded.

“Memory quirks happen occasionally, but it’s probably for the best this time. You don’t want to remember the things you endured, trust me.” He reached down to the floor and placed a large black leather briefcase on the table between us. I saw no sign of the briefcase before he put it on the table, but I was quickly growing numb to surprises.

“Why should I trust you if you won’t even tell me your name?” I asked. He nodded again.

“Two reasons. First, you have no other choice if you want out of here. Second,” He pointed behind me. I turned in my chair and saw two officers, dressed completely in S.W.A.T. gear with guns pointed at me. I turned back around to face the stranger.

“Kill me any time you want, I get it.” I rested my hands on the table and slumped in my seat.

“Now, as I’ve said you’re a hero.” he flipped the latches and turned the front toward me, lifting the lid in the same movement. The interior of the briefcase was lined with red velvet, but otherwise sat empty. Then he closed it. “In this briefcase is your reward.

“So for saving humanity I get nothing,” I gestured at the briefcase with my hand, “and my life threatened?” I used the same hand to point my thumb behind me. He smiled, showing me his perfect white teeth.

“It’s like you haven’t even been paying attention. This is not your reward, just a demonstration.” He opened the case again and inside it sat the most beautiful pizza I’d ever seen. Steam billowed from the top layer of golden-white cheese, and I saw the delicious grease pooling in the concave pepperoni slices. “Go ahead,” he said. I grabbed a slice and eagerly bit into it. Then, I opened my mouth again to let the piece tumble out followed by several strands of drool. I immediately pursed my lips and sucked in air to try and cool my tongue. “Careful, it’s hot,” he said.

“Thanks. Have you always been this helpful, or is it part of the job?” I noticed movement to my left and turned to see the S.W.A.T. member placing a cardboard cup with a long green straw on the table. “Thank you,” I said to unknown man. His face was completely covered by a helmet, and I wondered for a second if the gear was occupied at all. I sucked at the drink and recognized the taste of my favorite soda. “Hey, thanks.” I lifted the cup slightly in his direction. He nodded.

“Now about your reward,” he closed the lid of the briefcase again. I took a bite of the single slice in my hand. “it’s your choice.” I understood.

“Oh, so I can ask for anything that fits in that briefcase?” He nodded.

“But, there are some rules.”

“Rules? I saved the human race.”

“You did. Great job. Do you want to follow the rules to get *something* or just complain and get nothing?” He asked with a straight face. It didn’t matter to him either way.

“Alright, what are the rules?” I asked. I tried to keep my voice as level as possible, but there was no way he missed the traces of annoyance. He held up his hand and extended two fingers.

“Two rules. First, whatever reward you choose, it’s not for you. Second,”

“Wait! How is it my reward, if it’s not for me?” I asked. I dropped the half slice on the table and crossed my arms. I knew I was behaving like a spoiled child, but apparently I have a habit of saving humanity. It’d be nice to get some sort of reward. He ignored my outburst completely.

“Second. You do get choose who it is for, but you can’t choose yourself.” He said. I sat quiet for several minutes until he looked at his watch. Then, he sighed. “Fine. I’m not supposed to do this, but I already know you can wait me out if you wanted. I don’t have time, I’ve got other appointments to get to. Here’s the abridged version. Remember, I’m doing this to speed things along. No questions, I will not elaborate. I’m giving you beyond the maximum information I’m allowed to.” He stopped talking, and stared at me. I realized he was waiting for me to agree to the terms and nodded. It sounded good so I reached for the half eaten pizza slice but it was gone. “Focus,” he said. He took a deep breath.

“You don’t know it, but you’re the Earth’s strongest super hero. When you black out he takes over and saves the world. Aliens invaded while you were kayaking and you got right to work. However they were stronger than you thought and they captured you. They tortured you, non-stop, on live TV around the world. However, despite being invaders, they did seem to have some sort of honor code,” the stranger shrugged. “Or maybe they just didn’t want to deal much longer. The point is you took all that torture, and you outlasted them. Whether they were impressed with your willpower or frightened of what other surprises the Earth had for them, they dropped you out of a ship and left. As much as we would like to reward you, your body had been abused so much you died on impact. After we sort out this reward, you’re moving on to the afterlife.”

Dog. Eat dog. (3-15-18)

[WP] As a dog, you had always wished that you could be a human. Then, one day, after peeing on magical fire hydrant, your wish came true! Instant regret. [Link to post.]

“What the hell’s going on here?” I heard a gruff voice behind me and turned around. I didn’t understand what he said, but I knew what annoyance looked like in humans. I noticed a sparkle under his thick blue jacket, but then my attention was pulled away when he waved a black stick at me. 

“Ruuuohhhaawww.” I didn’t know any human words, but I hoped he wanted to play.

“Ohhh, a loony eh?” His eyes turned softer and he put away his stick. He must have really loved that stick, he had a fancy loop on his belt just for it. I guess he didn’t want to play after all. He put his hands out in front of him and walked toward me slowly.

“Whatcha doing out here naked and peeing on a fire hydrant for, guy? Everything’s gonna be okay, let’s get you somewhere we can find out who you are,” He stepped close enough to me that I leaned forward to smell his hands. Chili! I licked his fingers but didn’t find anything tasty. 

“You’re a piece of work. Seem friendly enough though.” He took off his jacket and handed it to me. Wrap this around your waist, so we can hide your bits. There’s kids around,” he said and smiled at me. I smiled back at him and put my arm in the sleeve, then the other one. Now I had a thick blue jacket, it was warm. “Mother, mercy,” he said. “Your WAIST! Your dingaling’s hanging out like snake hanging out of a sock.” He stepped closer to me, with annoyance in his eyes. I stepped back, but he grabbed the jacket firmly and pulled it off me. I looked down in disappointment that he took away my nice jacket, and noticed something different on myself. I reached down but the man put his jacket around my waist, with the back of it blocking my front. He walked behind me and tied the jacket with the arms on my back. He put his arm on my shoulder and pushed me forward slightly in a definite direction. 

“C’mon. Let’s get you sorted.” He gave me a nice coat so I let him guide me where he wanted to go. We ended up standing next to a blue and white car with bars on the window. I’d seen bars on cars before, and any stray that got picked up by them were never seen again. He opened the door and put his hand on my head. I wiggled my head hoping for pets, but he put pressure on me and pushed me towards the inside of the car. I braced myself. 

“Huh? Don’t wanna get in?” He pushed harder. I pushed back even harder. “Didn’t want to do it this way, but you’re under arrest for indecent exposure. You have the right to remain silent,” He let go of my head, and his other hand let go of my arm. “Anything you say..” he continued saying words I didn’t understand, but he wasn’t holding me at all for a second. That was enough. I bolted for the alleyway. “HEY!” He shouted after me, but I didn’t hear his foot steps following me. I ran into the nearby alley safely, then jumped into the dumpster behind a restaurant to hide. 

Food! I leaned down and bit into a slice of pizza. It didn’t taste good like pizza should, so I spat it out and looked for something different to get the horrible taste out of my mouth. Spaghetti! I plunged my face into the yellow and red noodles and began chewing the pile. Then spit out the food again, and laid down in the dumpster. I felt sad, and noticed water coming out of my eyes. I’d seen humans cry sometimes, and now I knew why. Food tasted horrible to humans. I stared at the blue sky and wondered if there was a way to turn myself back. 

Rose Bro (3-14-18)

[WP] The forgotten tail of the Knight and the Snail. [Link to post.]

Cedric strolled through the King’s garden, his daily constitutional was a chance to bask in the sunlight. He stopped every so often to admire and greet a rose bush here and there. The royal landscapers took great pride in their work; as far as Cedric knew every plant was happy, and every leaf in the garden was perfect. He smiled at the giant red dragon shaped from several intricately pruned rose bushes in the center of the garden. 

“CEDRIC! HELP!” Rose’s familiar voice came from one end of the garden. Cedric bolted toward the plea. As he ran more and more voices joined in. “Help her Cedric!”   “Rose is in danger!” The urgency in their voices made him wonder if he should expect a fight. The royal garden was off limits to anyone not staying in the King’s castle, but some unsavory types arrived the previous night for an upcoming festival. As a habit he left his armor and weapons in his chambers while taking his walk. He touched his food dagger at his side and hoped that would be enough to handle the threat. He reached Rose, and his head whipped around left and right. He searched the area for any sign of trouble, but saw none. 

“HE’s EATING ME!” Rose yelled. Cedric knelt in front of the rose bush, and petted its velvety leaves. 

“What’s wrong, Rose? Who’s eating you?” Cedric asked aloud. He did not need to use his voice to speak to roses, but he also knew no one else was around to judge him for it.  

“Can’t find it. Down,” Rose said. Despite her panic Cedric chuckled at the situation. While on a bush roses were a hive mind, and that made it hard for individual flowers to identify themselves. Once cut, they had a few days of self awareness before they died. Despite the end, most roses looked forward to it. He cut roses from his favorite bushes frequently. Cedric knelt lower and started touching different stems.


“Up,” Rose said. 


“Left.” Cedric already assumed it was a caterpillar or snail; nothing else could be that small, but that dangerous to Rose. Now that he had an idea in his mind he focused his search, and found a single snail hanging upside down from the underside of one of Rose’s leaves. 

“Found it, I’m gonna pluck a leaf. Okay?” Despite the roses often reminding him it did not hurt the way humans experience pain, Cedric still felt better asking permission. 

“Please!” Rose said. The dense bush made it difficult for him to reach the leaf while wearing his gloves. He pulled back and took off his right glove. It revealed a tattoo of a rose with [the number 41]( on its petals drawn on the back of his hand. After removing the glove he reached into the forest of thorns and plucked the leaf from Rose. He stood up and smiled at Rose.

“You’re my hero, Cedric!” Rose said. “You saved me from that monster. You’re a true knight the King would be proud of.” The other roses around the garden joined in the cheer for him. He turned his attention down to the single leaf and the tiny snail. 

“Hey little guy, you’re lucky I found you. The gardeners would have smashed you by now.”

“Cedric. You can’t talk to snails,” Rose said. 

“I know, Rose. Just being friendly is all. I’m going to go set him free in a field somewhere.”

Death of a Conman (3-13-18)

[WP] You answer the knocking at your door only to see Death himself. “It is time.” he says. “For me to move in, I’m your new roommate.” [Link to post.]

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked. Death disappeared from in front of me, but I felt a chill run down my spine. I jumped out through the open door when I felt a brittle hand on my shoulder. “AAAAGGH!”

“I’m your new roommate,” Death said. He held his bony hand up and looked at it from the empty eyes of his pale skull. “Sorry, forgot,” he said, without his mouth moving. Red light emanated from within his bones, and enveloped his form. The light grew bright enough to force my eyes shut. I opened them again to see a young pale man wearing a black hoodie and black board shorts. The hood fell backward revealing his light golden blond hair. 

“Hey man, forget the whole “Death” thing. While I’m here you can call me Eddie.” Eddie reached into the front pocket of his hoodie. He pulled out a thick, bulging white envelope, then tossed it to me. “First and Last month’s rent. Haven’t decided how long I’ll be staying, but it’ll be at least two months.” I dropped the envelope to the floor.

“WAIT.” I stepped back into my house. “This is MY house, and I don’t need a roommate.” I stood clear of the doorway and gestured at the clear path for Eddie. “You can’t live in someone’s house without their permission.”  Eddie chuckled and took a step forward to shut the door.

“You can’t live without my permission. So your choices are, A) Die right now, or B) Keep living and get your rent paid for a while. I gave you the whole rent, not just my part.” He grabbed the door handle again. “If you really want me to leave, I will. And I’ll even close the door behind me, because… you know. You won’t be able to.” He made a sound like a cat coughing, closed his light green eyes, cocked his head to his left and stuck his tongue out to the right. “C’mon man! I’m a great roommate. I’ll pitch in for groceries and keep my space clean.” I turned around and grabbed my keyring from the hook, and freed the house key.

“Here. Lock the front door when you leave.” I handed him the key and walked to the couch to lay down. I hoped to look natural for whoever found me. “Leave, now,” I said. If he had caught me on any other day, I might have let him bully me. It didn’t matter that I came out ahead, I refused to let anyone else walk over me like that. I let myself relax on the couch, and covered my eyes with my arm. I hoped it would look like I was napping. I heard the door open.

“Last chance buddy. Let me stay here or take your last breath.” He yelled from the entryway. In a final act of defiance I lifted my arm and flipped him the bird. 

“Are you sure? Are you REALLY sure? It’s death man, that’s bad,” he triple checked. Then, it occurred to me how childish he was behaving. I was still alive. 

“Wait!” I sat up in the couch, then stood up and rushed to him at the door. He grinned at me, but I held my hand out toward him. “Give me the key back.” He put it into my hand.

“So I can stay, right?” I walked around him to open the door, then shoved him out. “Nope. But if you could kill me you’d have done it already. I’m sure even Death has rules to follow,” then shut the door in his face.

Unique Encounter (3-12-18)

[WP] “Are you lost?” I asked the wandering man. “No, not lost,” he replied, staring past me as he spoke, “but where am I?” [Link to post.]

I noticed him when he first walked out of the bathroom. I took the day off, so I sat at the food court in the mall enjoying a pizza. Everyone was either in school or at work, leaving the majority of the mall empty. I’d been sitting there close to an hour, but did not see him go into the restroom. He came out with his eyebrows dripping, he must have washed his face. His neck turned this way and that as his eyes darted around the mall. He reached into the pocket of his blue jeans and pulled out an old style flip phone. I sighed, and knew he would need help. I closed the pizza box but left it on the table, then went to lend a hand. 

“Are you lost?” I asked the wandering man. 

“No, not lost,” he replied, staring past me as he spoke. “But, where am I?” I chuckled and extended a hand in greeting. 

“Hi, I’m Terra, what’s your name?” He timidly took my hand and looked into my eyes. His were light blue, and I knew he noticed my eye color, bright neon green. 

“Hi, I’m Quinn,” He stared into my eyes. “So, where am I?” I chuckled and led him back to my table by the hand. This was about to get fun.

“Have a seat, and we’ll get you sorted out. Help yourself to a slice, if you’re hungry.” I sat down and opened the pizza box. He sat down across from me, but gestured a ‘no thanks’.

“Alright, I think I know what’s going on with you, but I might be wrong. I’m going to ask you some questions. I promise there’s a point to all this, okay?” I asked, using my best encouraging voice. I worried it might sound patronizing, because I was used to using that voice with my third graders, but he didn’t seem offended. “Let’s do some backtracking. Question 1: Where were you before you came out of the bathroom door?” I asked. He half smiled at the obvious question, but then his eyes took on a serious look.

“I was in the bathroom,” he said flatly. Luckily he decided against being a smart ass. I nodded.

“Alright, good. Let’s take another step back where were you before you were in the restroom?” I asked.

“The mall,” he said. He looked around the food court. “Not this mall though. It looks almost the same, but there are some small differences I can’t put my finger on.” I nodded and grinned. Mystery solved.

“Is your favorite number 35 by any chance?” I asked. His eyes went wide and his neck twisted hard to his right to look at the bathroom. Next to the bathroom was a Chinese restaurant.

“THAT’S WHAT’S DIFFERENT!” He shouted, then clapped his hand over his mouth. He looked around and realized no one cared. He chuckled lightly. “Yeah, I just got a tattoo with the number 35 on it. That Chinese restaurant was a tattoo shop in my mall. So, you know what’s going on?” He reached for a slice of pizza, now that his mind wasn’t racing.

“Yep. To sum it up you are a [Unique Soul]( #35 La Estrella to be specific. You can traverse dimensions as soon as you’re Awakened. Your tattoo Awakened you, and you switched Earths while you were in the bathroom,” I said. He stopped chewing. His mouth hung open with a wad of brown and red mess threatening to fall out. His teeth clacked when he caught himself and closed his jaw. He swallowed the chewed wad.

“Can I get home?” 

“As easy as you got here,” I smiled. “You can go to any Earth you’ve been to before.”

“How do you know so much?”  He asked, then took another bite. 

“I’m Unique Soul #37, El Mundo. You can cross dimensions super easily. When I was Awakened I knew everything about Unique Souls,” I said. He smiled.

“Wow, I’m lucky I ran into you. Thanks,” He said. I shook my head.

“Not at all. Uniques are drawn to each other, we’re supposed to interact,” I explained. 

“How ’bout you come back to my place?” He asked suddenly, then his face flushed deep red. “SORRY! I meant how ’bout you come back to my Earth? Have you ever crossed dimensions?” I shook my head.

“Sorry, I can’t,” I began to explain. He nodded his head in understanding.

“Yeah, I guess we just met and all. I’m not even sure I can travel with someone.” I grabbed his hand to stop him from talking.

“No, I mean I literally can’t. Mundos can’t leave their Earth.” I took a deep breath. He looked cute enough, and he seemed nice enough. “BUT, now that you’ve been to this Earth you can visit it any time. Even this Saturday, at 7.”