Zero Hero

You’re a normal villager in a fantasy town and the main hero has just moved in next door after completing his quest. [Link to post.]

“We’re going to take him this tray of pastries, welcome him to the town, and thank him for saving the world. We’re going to be *neighborly*.” My wife’s tone cautioned me against making any more disagreeable comments. Sure, the guy killed an evil sorcerer hell bent on conquering and/or destroying the world; he was never really clear on what his goal was. Yeah he saved the world, but he was just so smug about it. We walked next door and my wife knocked while I held the tray of bread. My wife’s introduction began the moment his blond hair appeared at the door.

“Hi! We’re from next door. We wanted to come by and welcome you to the town.” At this point her elbow encouraged me to step forward to show off the tray sweets.

“Thank you! Please come in.” He opened the door wider, then stood aside. My wife walked in and I followed behind her with the tray.

His home was a lot like ours when we first bought it. Fairly spartan with a bed on one side of large common room. The kitchen and dinner table on the other side, along with a small door leading somewhere.

“First we absolutely have to thank you, you know, for saving the world,” my wife said. I knew she was just being personable, but it still made me smile to see her trying.

“It was easy, besides, I live on this planet too!” he laughed, and my wife giggled along with him. “Besides, I’m the chosen one. The only one that could have defeated Bellamy,” I stood up and my wife squeezed my hand. I turned to her and smiled. It was just coincidence that I stood up when he said that.

“May I use your restroom?” I asked him. He nodded and his thumb pointed over his shoulder at the small door by the kitchen. I took my time in the restroom. I hoped my wife would be satisfied with the short visit.

While I adjusted my tunic I accidentally knocked over a flowerpot from its perch on the window sill. It spilled money onto the floor when it shattered.

“That’s a weird place to keep money,” I mused. I cleaned up the mess and picked up the money, then walked back into the common room. He jumped slightly when I approached, taking a couple of steps back away from my wife. I met her eyes and saw a familiar twinkle. I loved that twinkle, it meant she was going to let loose soon.

“The handsome hero here was just telling me about how Bellamy wasn’t even the strongest sorcerer he’s killed,” my wife said. Handsome? Whatever happened while I was in the restroom, she was over him. We’d be out of here soon, so I took the opportunity to give him the money.

“Hey, sorry. I accidentally knocked over the flowerpot in your restroom. This money fell out, and here’s some extra to replace the flowerpot.” I handed him the money.  He laughed at me.

“What a chicken! You were going to steal from me, but then you heard I beat two powerful wizards and you chicken right out. Alright, I won’t give you a hard time about it this time, beause I’m a good guy. But don’t steal from me again.” He said while he grabbed the money from me. He made a point of looking at me while he counted through it. Twice.

“Wow, projecting much?” I asked with a laugh. My wife smiled at me. “So then who’s the other powerful wizard?” I grabbed my wife’s hand and tried moving toward the door. She refused to move with me.

“Bellamy’s teacher, Ballisea. I took her out years ago, I didn’t know she had an understudy. So, now I’ve saved the world twice!” he said.

“Oh.” That was all I could say.  “C’mon love, let’s leave him to his pastries.” I pulled at my wife’s hand again, and she still refused to move. I gave up. “Alright, well I’m going to head home, catch up when you’ve had your fun,” I said. I kissed her on the forehead and she winked at me.

“Oh, hey. An understanding husband! That’s what I like to see,” the hero said. He stepped closer to my wife and put his arm around her. “She’ll have lots of fun, I promise.” I nodded at him and walked to the door.

“Oh wow, I’m sorry. I never realized how rude we were being, we didn’t even introduce ourselves. I’m Allister, used to be an adventurer like you until I met my wife. Ballisea.” His head whipped around to her and she smiled at him.

“But Ballisea is dead!” He said, panicked. He ran towards his gear, but never reached it. A brittle bone hand reached out of a black hole on the floor and grabbed his ankle to trip him.

“She was dead until you grabbed her ass, then completely disrespected the love of her life. Go on home, dear. I’ll catch up.”

“Finally!” I said. Happy to go home, I opened the door. I turned to give one final message before I left.  Two skeletons were holding the hero down execution style.

“Don’t forget to get my money back.”

Wedblock


[WP] You are determined to propose to your partner for 3 years. Nothing can stop you. Well, maybe one thing… [Link to post.]


Allister woke before dawn and got dressed for the day. He went over a scribbled list several times to make sure everything was perfect, then went to start breakfast as the first orange light of the day poured in through his window. 


“Today,” he said to himself with a smile. He cracked open two eggs, but a knock at the door distracted him before he put them over the fire. Allister sighed, left the eggs, then answered the door. 


“Allister? The King requests your presence.” An elegantly dressed man wearing a purple tunic and velvety beret addressed him the moment he opened the door. Allister shook his head.


“Not today.” He moved to close the door, but the messenger placed his foot in the way. Two armed guards loudly approached with weapons drawn. They stood behind the messenger. 


“The King insists. The kingdom is in danger,” The messenger said.


“So send those guys, they’re ready for a fight,” Allister pointed at the guards. The messenger chuckled.


“They’re just here for show, we both know they can’t subdue you. Look, my life is on the line here if I don’t come back with you. That’s it, just show up and I get to live. You can tell the King yourself, if  you’re not interested.” Allister sighed, he knew it wasn’t a bluff. The king did have a short temper when things didn’t go his way. He nodded at the messenger. 


“Let me get my gear,” he said. The trip was half an hour by wagon, then the guards escorted Allister into the King’s throne room. The King sat on an ornate throne of gold and silver. He ruled alone, with Queen or throne next to him. Allister approached the throne, and gave his own form of respect to the king by giving him a slight nod. 


“Kneel before the King!” One of the guards shoved Allister forward. Allister stumbled forward but remained on his feet. He turned to face the guard.


“Don’t kill him, he’s new!” The King shouted. He dismissed the guard with a wave of his hand. The guard quickly retreated from the throne room. Allister turned back to face the King.


“Your Highness summoned me?” Allister said. The king nodded, his golden crown wobbled forward and back on his head as he did. 


“Allister, the kingdom needs your help. Of course, you shall be greatly rewarded if you rid us of this menace.” Allister considered the reward, it would definitely make life easier after she said yes. If she said yes.


“Does it have to be today?” Allister asked. 


“Of course! Ballisea‘s been spotted in the forest.”


“Ballisea? She hasn’t made a move in years,” Allister asked. If someone spotted Ballisea he knew he would have to accept the King’s request. He glanced out the window, the morning sun was still rising to its perch in the sky. “I can make this short. I will propose to her today,” he reaffirmed himself. 


“Yes, and I expect it to stay that way. Put that sorcerous witch down for good, and you shall inherit the kingdom from me,” the King said. Allister chuckled at the thought.


“I’ll do it, your Highness. For the Kingdom, of course. I’ll need access to your armory,” Allister said. The King nodded and waved his hand dismissively. 


“Of course, take anything you need. Godspeed.” Allister nodded then left the throne room. He departed toward the forest as the sun reached its apex. He took a single horse and a single backpack full of supplies. None of the guards volunteered to ride with him, but he did not find that surprising. While he rode he kept reminding himself of his goal. 


I will propose to her todayI need to know her feelingsNothing will stop me.” He reached the outskirts of the forest a couple of hours later. He left his horse tied to a tree, grabbed his supplies and headed towards the area someone saw the witch. He remained on his guard, though the forest felt like a second home to him. He moved with purpose toward a fresh pool he knew of. If Ballisea was seen in the forest, he guessed she would be near the small lake. 


He reached the lake clearing in time to see Ballisea stepping out of the water and drying herself off. He admired her naked form, mostly hidden by long straight black hair that reached the back of her knees. He only watched for a second before hiding behind a tree trunk in order to let her continue dressing in private. He did not feel comfortable making his move against a naked woman. 


“I know you’re there.” Ballisea’s soft voice entered his mind. Enchantment was her magic of choice; her voice seemed coated in warm, welcoming sunlight as it echoed through his brain. He reached to his pack while he steeled his will. This was not the first time Allister felt her gentle magic touch tickling his brain, but his inner strength protected him from her enchantment before and would again. 


TodayI will not fail her.” He took several deep breaths while focusing on his goal. He looked up at the sky, the sun rested on the tips of the treetops. “I can do this.” 


“What’s wrong? You’re not afraid of me, are you?” Ballisea’s voice whispered a trail of tingles down the back of Allister’s neck. “I’m waiting for you, ….. Allister.” The sound of her calling his name drove him to action. He stood straight up, then marched out from behind the tree toward the clearing. 


Nothing can stop meI’m prepared for anything.” He clenched the item in his hand. He noticed Ballisea was still naked, though her long black hair covered her front to give her a sense of decency. She smiled at him as only an enchantress could.


I will propose todayNothing will stop me.” He walked to Ballisea without saying a word. His coffee brown eyes locked on to her translucent violet eyes. 


“The King has sent me to kill you,” Allister said. He projected as much confidence and authority as he could manage. Allister knew Ballisea was weak without her enchanting tricks. He stood firm, his knuckles clenched white. Ballisea chuckled then looked around the forest.


“He sent you all alone?” she asked. She took a single step forward. “Your King is an idiot.” She took another step. 


“Stop!” Allister yelled. His hands began to tremble. “Today,” he reminded himself.  Ballisea shook her head and closed the distance between them. 


“You’re not going to kill me, Allister.”  Her lips moved, but her voice sounded like it came from inside his head. “And I’ll tell you why.” Allister felt butterflies in his stomach. His nerves threatened to turn him into a coward, but he stood his ground. Ballisea knelt infront of him, their eyes still locked.


NoNothing can stop me today.” he tried to strengthen his resolve. 


“Because,” Ballisea whispered. “I want you as my husband. Will you marry me, Allister?” The corners of her lips pulled upward into a coy smile. 


Nothing…. except that.” Allister sighed. 


“Damnit Balli! I was gonna ask you first!” He opened his palm and showed her the golden ring he took from the King’s treasury. 


“Well too bad. I asked first.” Ballisea pulled him down to the ground with her and they kissed.

Petty Plant (6-21-18)


[WP]: ”Well, this may shock you,” your patient says. You don’t expect to be shocked, people come to you with the strangest ailments. He reaches to touch the fake plant on your desk. It withers and dies.
[Link to post.]

“So, that’s why I’m here. Can you help me?” the patient, Arnold Millwort, asked the doctor. After killing the fake plant he wrapped his arms around himself as if frightened of burly orderlies bursting through the door to lock him away for the rest of his life. Doctor Ellis looked from the withered plastic plant to Arnold several times. Her mouth hung slack, her green eyes grew wide with disbelief. Without taking her eyes off of Arnold her hand pushed the intercom button.

“Grace, can you step in here for a second please?” the doctor asked. Arnold heard the door open behind him, though his fear and unease kept him facing the doctor. He stiffened as he felt someone brush by him to get to the desk. It was a young girl with short blond hair wearing baby blue scrubs. Doctor Ellis lifted the dead plant from the desk and handed it to Grace. “Please check if Murphy can do anything to salvage this?” The blonde nodded, took the plant, then walked out of the room. Dr. Ellis gestured for Arnold to take a seat. 

“Mr. Millwort, I appreciate the emotions you must be going through; but, I assure you such demonstrations are unnecessary… My grandmother gave that plant to my mother, who gave it to me. They’ve both passed on now, and it’s one of the few keepsakes I planned to pass on to my daughter.” Red flush filled Arnold’s face, and he became uneasy in his seat. Dr. Ellis held a hand up to calm him down. 

“What’s done is done, but please don’t “demonstrate” on anything else, okay?” she gave him a friendly smile and he calmed down.

“Okay. No problem,” he nodded. “Sorry.” 

“Do you have any other symptoms?” Dr. Ellis used her pen to point at the empty spot on her desk. “Aside from killing inanimate objects?” Arnold shook his head.

“Sorry,” he apologized again. “No other symptoms. But you’re not shocked? This isn’t normal, is it?” 

“It’s not normal, but it’s starting to be. You’re not the first,” Dr. Ellis stood from her desk and walked to a filing cabinet behind Arnold. He stared at the white tile floor in front of his seat. “Times are changing, I guess,” she continued to talk while her hands flicked through the files. “Humans are changing.” After a few minutes, Dr. Ellis walked back to her desk, handing Arnold a clipboard and a pen on her way back. Then she sat down behind her desk and addressed Arnold. 

“I’m sure you’re aware, but I’m obligated to remind you that this is not a hospital. This is a privately owned treatment center, and we can only accept you if you admit yourself.” She nodded at the white sheet of paper on the clipboard. “If you agree, just fill that out and we’ll learn all we can about you.” She smiled. 

“So you’ve seen my particular thing before?” he asked. He scratched the pen across the paper, filling in every box without reading. Dr. Ellis nodded.

“Earlier I mentioned Murphy? He’s like you. It’s why I sent him the plant that you killed. Hopefully, he can reverse the damage. He’s been working with us for a while now, and has a decent handle on his abilities.”

“Sorry,” Arnold apologized again and handed over the clipboard and pen. Dr. Ellis looked it over to make sure everything was filled out correctly, then smiled at Arnold.  She pressed the intercom button.

“Grace. Please make sure we have a room available. Mr. Millwort has agreed to participate in the study.” She said. 

“Study?” Arnold asked while sweat gathered on his brow. 

“As much as we know, there’s always more to learn. Though I guess ‘Study’ sounds kind of scary doesn’t it?” she asked with a friendly smile. She stood from her desk and walked around it to comfort him. He nodded in response to her question. “‘Observation’ would probably sound less scary.” She said while she placed a hand on his shoulder. 

“Yeah, it does. Observation just sounds like you’re gonna watch me sleep, heh.” he chuckled to himself. “Ow!” he felt a pinprick to the back of his neck. 

“Don’t worry, this is just a sedative to help you relax,” She pulled an empty syringe from behind Arnold to show him. “It’s funny. The cure for your condition is a simple injection too.” Arnold heard the door open behind him, but the room began to spin around. 

“If you hadn’t killed my plant, you’d be on your way home by now.” she walked in front of him, then lowered her face in front of his and showed him a giant smile. “But, I’m petty.” Two burly orderlies lifted Arnold and strapped him to a wheelchair. 

Heckin’ Opportunity (6-20-18)


[WP] You have a shoulder angel and a shoulder devil. This is somewhat unusual, but what makes it worse is that everyone else can see and talk to them. [Link to post.]

“I have an appointment with Mr. Johnston,” Michael explained his presence to the short-haired secretary. He stood in front of her desk wearing his nicest suit, and his light brown hair combed as neatly as he could manage it. 

“If you take a seat, he’ll be right with you,” she said as she pointed toward the row of colorful, plastic stiff back chairs on the other side of a small coffee table. Michael nodded, then sat in a red chair. He grabbed one of the dozens of Acting magazines spread on the coffee table. He mumbled to himself while he flipped through the magazine.

“This is a bad idea,” he said. Then he felt the familiar weight of a tiny angel on his right shoulder. Righty wasted no time in encouraging Michael.

“That’s just fear talking. This is a great opportunity, it might even change your life.” Right said. 

“I’m with Mike on this. Bad idea,” Lefty said. He appeared on Michael’s left shoulder along with a small puff of sulfur. Michael was already used to the smell however, he noticed the secretary discreetly trying to cover her nose.

“Go back to sleep, Lefty. You said I could have him to myself today,” Right complained. Lefty shrugged.

“I was just agreeing with him. Don’t worry, you’ve still got your special day. I’m just here to watch everything crash and burn.” Lefty chuckled to himself. 

“Don’t let his negativity sway you, Michael.” 

“Michael? Mr. Johnston will see you now,” the receptionist called out. She pointed to a door down the hall. Michael stood, thanked her and moved down the hall.

“Lefty, no trouble okay? Let’s just do what we’re here to do and get out of here. I don’t want you accidentally prolonging it in any way,” Michael spoke to his left shoulder. The tiny red demon gave a mock salute and disappeared in another puff of sulfur. “yeah, thanks for doing that before we get in the room.” Michael was never clear if Lefty and Righty could hear him if they were not in earshot. Sometimes it seemed they could, and other times not. His best guess was that they could, but Lefty tended to have “selective hearing”.

“You too, Righty,” Michael added. The small angel touched a hand to Michael’s cheek.

“Don’t be nervous!” Righty said, then disappeared. His heavenly smoke left no foul smell behind. Michael chuckled to himself. 

“I’m not,” he said. After taking a deep breath he knocked on the door while staring at the golden nameplate. “Daryl Johnston” in big letters. “Talent Agent,” his title in smaller letters under his name.

“Enter,” a deep voice replied from within the room. Michael pushed the door open and stepped through. Mr. Johnston’s office was barely decorated. A single red flower vase held a bouquet of purple tulips. Every other surface in the room was either white, metal, or clear glass. Michael walked to the desk and offered Mr. Johnston a handshake, but the stern man waved him toward a chair. 
“Well,” Mr. Johnston looked Michael up and down. “You’re not ugly kid, that’s a step in the right direction. What’s your name?”

“Michael Einburger,” Michael said. “But,” he began to speak, but Daryl shushed him with a handwave.

“Hold on, we need to change that right now.” Daryl stood from behind his desk then walked around the front to appraise Michael. “Michael… Micha.. Mike… Mick. Mick!  Mick..” he continued walking around the seated young man. “Ein… no. Burg.. burn.  Mick Burner! That’s your new name. Alright stand up and let’s see you if you can act any, Mick.” Daryl pulled Michael to his feet, though he needed to exert some force.

“Wait, I need to explain something,” Michael said. He gently pulled Daryl’s hand off his arm, so as not to offend.

“I’m here about a specific posting,” Michael said. He reached into his pocket to pull out a flyer, then held it up to show Daryl. The agent grabbed the wrinkled paper from Michael’s hand and looked it over.

“Oh yeah, CloudSoft. Sorry kid, the part’s cast already. But I like your look,” Daryl walked back around his desk and began rifling through the mess of papers.

“Oh, okay, thanks anyway.” Michael turned towards the door.

“Hey hold on a second. You’re gonna need to toughen up that thin skin if you’re gonna make it big. Now look, I got just the thing for you,” he found the folder he’d been searching for, then marched around the front of the desk to show Michael.  Michael shook his head.

“No thanks.” Michael kept walking, but Daryl stopped him with an arm around the shoulder. The agent then turned him around until Michael found himself sitting again.

“Forget CloudSoft kid, fabric softener commercials won’t get you anywhere. All you gotta do is wear a robe and pretend to be an angel.” Daryl wrapped his hands in front of himself in mock prayer and cast his eyes upward. “Any idiot can do that.” He opened the folder and handed a sheet to Michael. “This’ll really let you ACT, you know?” Michael read the sheet, then looked up at Daryl with a shrug.

“It’s a stain remover. Isn’t that the same as a fabric softener?” he asked. Daryl shook his head.

“You’re looking at the wrong thing. It ain’t the product, it’s the part. CloudSoft just wanted someone to stand around, but…” Daryl lifted the sheet for effect. “…Heckin’ Good Stain Remover, they want someone to act like a devil. They want someone that looks like they’re having fun.”

“I’ll do it!” Lefty appeared on Michael’s shoulder. Daryl made a face and stepped back at the smell of sulfur. After a moment he stepped forward to appraise Lefty. “On one condition,” Lefty added while the agent eyed him from every angle.

“Kid, if I’m not high right now, you’ve got a very bright future.” Michael shrugged.

“I’m just along for the ride. He’s your client.” He pointed to the tiny demon.

“Alright. So you’ll do it?” Daryl smiled at Lefty.

“One condition,” he repeated.

“Name it. You let me represent you, and you can have anything your little red heart desires.”

“We’re a set.” Left pointed to Michael’s right shoulder. “I’ll do the Stain Remover commercial if you let my good friend do the CloudSoft commercial. C’mon out and introduce yourself, Righty. It’s why we’re here, right?” Righty appeared next to Lefty on Michael’s shoulder.

“I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP,” he grumbled at the demon, then wrapped his arms around him in a hug. “But, thank you.”

Quality Time (6-19-18)


[WP] The Legendary Hero and his “A” team of adventurers (a knight, a wizard and a ninja) have been captured by the Dark Lord and now it’s up to his “B” team (a bard, a thief and jester) all lead by the Hero’s mom to rescue them and defeat the lord of darkness once and for all. [Link to post.]


“Mrs. Guzman, can we take a break?” Mario, the clown, asked. He stopped walking and lingered behind the rest of the group. “I can’t travel as fast as the rest of you,” he added. The rest of the group halted, and the tall woman that led them turned around to face the clown. 

“My name is Willa in here,” she made eye contact with Brad the bard, and Ralph the thief to remind them also. “We can take a short break here, but you’re specced wrong if you can’t keep up.”

“Yeah, I know,” Mario grumbled to himself while he sat on a log. “I just figured out that I’m an Agility tank, not at Defense tank. Haven’t been able to respec yet.” Willa, the tall human cleric, place a hand on the boy’s shoulder. He looked up at her, then she handed him a handful of gold coins. 

“Do it now. I need you at your best when we face the Dark Lord.” Mario’s face lit up, he eagerly accepted the coins. 

“I won’t say no, but how come you don’t just,…” Mario’s question was interrupted by a hard slap to the back from Willa. 

“We need to beat him. It’s the only way to get my son back,” she said.

“Okay, let me respec. Be right back.” Nanos gathered in the air around Mario. They collected into a white bubble that enveloped the clown completely.

“We’re almost there, are you guys ready?” Willa asked Ralph and Brad. They each nodded at her.
“Thanks for coming with me. I would have come alone, but I know it’ll mean something to David if he sees his friends too.” The white bubble disappeared with an audible pop. 
“Ready,” Mario said. He gave a thumbs-up gesture to the group.
“Then let’s keep moving,” Willa said. She began walking without another word, the three boys needed to rush in order to catch up to her. After several more miles, they stood in a large wheat field. Willa pointed at a dark castle standing beyond the edge of the field. “Now’s the time to raise your guard,” she said. Willa cast a golden spell to boost her party’s Def and HP. The thief vanished, but Willa’s buff gave him a golden outline visible to the rest of the party. 
They made it into the castle without incident, thought a pair of guards on the second floor tested their teamwork. Mario used the opportunity to test out his new skills. Switching his points to agility instead of defense helped him be a more effective tank. He dodged every single strike launched against him by one of the guards; holding his attention while the rest of the group assaulted the other guard. He continued to taunt the guard even when the rest of the team joined in, and the guard’s attention did not leave Mario.
“Nice job, Mario,” Willa said with a smile.
“They’re just NPCs,” Brad said. “They’re easy to taunt.”
“Uhuh. Are you forgetting the dozens of NPCs he couldn’t taunt before he respecced?” Willa asked as she walked by the bard toward the next room. 
“Oh, right. Nice job, Mario.” Brad followed Willa, then Mario and Ralph’s golden outline followed Brad. The group reached the Dark Lord’s throne room without any other incidents, but upon entering the Dark Lord’s presence, they discovered why. Every other guard in the castle stood in the throne room, ready to greet the guests. Willa’s son, David, sat in a throne next to the Dark Lord. His three friends, Gabrel the knight, Ellis the Wizard, and Ghost the Ninja stood behind him, all four kids wore smiles on their faces, but Willa’s entrance drew David’s attention. 
“Mom? What’s going on?” David stood from the elegant golden throne and pointed at the three guys that arrived with Willa.”How come they’re here?”
“I miss you,” Willa said. She stepped forward and spread her arms wide to indicate the whole time. “We all miss you. Come home.” David’s gaze alternated between his mom and the Dark Lord to his left, then he sat down in his throne again. 
“I can’t. Dad won’t let me,” he said. As he spoke the three boys behind his throne scooted to the side to stand behind the Dark Lord’s throne. 
“That’s why we’re here,” Willa said. After she reassured David she turned her attention to the Dark Lord. “It’s time for that rematch, Daniel. Four on four.” The Dark Lord stood from his throne and smiled at Willa. 
“Happy to, dear.” 

Thumbs Down (6-18-18)


[WP] You are an immortal truck driver whose Sisyphean task is to drive until a hitchhiker kills you. No matter how insane the hitchhikers look, you can’t seem to get them to do it. [Link to post.]

“…roger that. This is Easy Pickin’s signing out.” Paulie ‘Easy Pickin’ ‘ Ramone draped the curly black CB wire on a hook affixed to the dash. Then he turned to properly greet his new passenger. “Sorry ’bout that.” He tilted his head toward the CB. “Weekly report, and let me tell you…” Paulie dragged the back of his hand across his brow to wipe away imaginary sweat. “Whew! That’s what I love about this job, no micro-managing, you know? But, don’t think it’s all good. No sir.” Paulie’s attention swung between the road and the tan woman with sun-bleached hair he met at the gas station. Her shorts ended well above her knee, but the bulging black backpack she carried on her lap blocked most of his lecherous attempts. “Sorry. I mean, ‘no ma’am’. You are definitely all woman,” he forced his eyes to linger on her cleavage before moving on to appreciate the rest of her body.

“I was saying,” Paulie continued. “It’s a dangerous job too. They ain’t expectin’ to hear me holler at ’em for seven days yet. Something happens to me? Ain’t no one gonna know ’bout it for a long while, it’ll take ’em at least another week just to realize they ain’t heard from me,” he chuckled to himself. 

“Nothing’ll happen to you as long as I’m tagging along,” the woman said. Paulie caught a flirting smile in his peripheral vision. “You’re Easy Pickin’, I never thought I’d get a chance to ride with you.” Paulie glanced off the road for a moment and locked onto her crystal blue eyes. 

“Heard of me?” He asked, then returned his gaze to the road. The woman scooted closer to him. 

“You’re the single most important reason that hitchhiking is becoming popular again.” She rested her hand on his thigh, palm down. “Just knowing that someone out there is willing to trust strangers encouraged more people to do it. I don’t think you realize that you’ve started a movement. You’re such a sensitive man. You have to be to have that much trust in your heart.” Her hand began to caress up and down his thigh. “I love sensitive men.” Paulie glanced at the clock on the radio. 5:39p.m.

“I hope you don’t much mind. I got me a habit, ritual almost, that I do every week after my report. I quit early, find the nearest motel, and just relax for the rest of the day.” He pointed to a bright orange and yellow “MOTEL” sign. “Like that one,” he said. Paulie changed lanes to get on the right side of the road. “Now, you’re more than welcome to join me, but you’re just as welcome to move along on your own if you like.” He lifted his hands in front of him with the palms facing outward and shrugged. “Never let it be said that Easy Pickin’ wants to collect favors.” The woman turned her head to kiss Paulie’s check, then she turned more to line her lips up with his ear. 

“I’d love to stay with you,” she whispered in his ear. The alarm clock on the short bedside table displayed 5:50p.m. when Paulie and the woman walked in the door. The woman dropped her backpack, then walked towards the bathroom at the back of the run-down room. 

“I need a shower. Why don’t you warm up the bed,” she said over her shoulder as she pulled her t-shirt off, then dropped it to the floor. She reached the bathroom naked, leaving a trail of clothing behind her on the maroon carpet. 

“Can do!” Paulie said. In seconds he stretched out fully on the bed, enjoying the feel of the sheets against his naked skin. “She could be the one!” he cheered to himself with a smile. “Please let her be the one.” He did not realize that he drifted off to sleep until he woke with a start. He felt restricted, and after taking stock of his body he realized his hands were handcuffed to the headboard while his feet were cuffed to the other end. 

“I’m sorry, Easy.” The woman stood next to the bed fully dressed and pointing a gun at Paulie. “It’s nothing personal, I do respect you. But, someone rich wants you dead, and I like money.” Paulie’s body slumped to the bed. He sighed heavily.

“God Damnit. You fucked everything up, just let me out of here.” Paulie said.

“Nice try. Goodnight Mr. Paycheck,” the woman leaned forward and placed the gun on Paulie’s balding forehead. He shook his head.

“Won’t work,” Paulie said.*BANG* the blonde pulled the trigger. Blood splattered the headboard and wall. She looked down at the large hole she created, but then she saw it shrinking before her eyes. She watched the bullet rise to the surface and get pushed out of Paulie’s skull, then new skull grew to cover the hole, followed by fresh skin. “Like I said. You fucked everything up, now let me out of here. 

“What just happened?” she asked. Though luckily she had the presence of mind to uncuff Paulie as she waited for an answer. 

“You weren’t supposed to say someone hired you!” Paulie replied with a voice full of frustration. “Because if someone hired you, then you’re not a hitchhiker! ARRRGGGHHH” Paulie growled and rubbed the soreness in his wrists. She freed both his hands then moved to free his feet. 

“You want to get killed?” she asked. 

“Yeah. Long story, but I can only be killed by a hitchhiker. Which I thought you were until you said anything.” Paulie glared at her, then stood from the bed once his feet were free.

“Sorry,” she said. She bit her lip and locked eyes with Paulie. “I guess I can’t kill you, but we can still spend the night, right?” she asked. Paulie shook his head, then aimed the woman’s black gun at her. 

“Sorry, I’m busy. I’ve got to find your replacement,” he said, then fired the gun.

Zero Cool (6-17-18)

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


Dirge stepped into the quaint, bright shop. Her black and orange lolita style skirt disturbed the still air as she crossed the threshold and the resulting breeze encouraged motes of dust to play in the sunbeams. Hundreds of specs flowed through bright yellow light to collect upon the various guitars, lutes, and other stringed instruments that lined the walls. Dirge’s eyes eventually roamed to the center of the room and she noticed a large wooden table. It displayed several wind and percussion instruments organized by type. A tall, wispy woman appeared in Dirge’s peripheral vision. She approached the raven-haired girl with a friendly smile and a golden halo hovering above her head. The gleaming ring seemed affixed to a specific spot above her messy green bun, its bounce matched every bob of her head as she walked.


“Welcome! Can I help you find something?” the woman asked. She stopped at a respectable distance from Dirge, afraid of intimidating the short girl with her height.


“I need an instrument,” Dirge said. Her focus drifted back to the table. “How do I pick?” The woman considered Dirge for a moment.


“You’re a Unique?” she asked. Dirge’s gaze zoomed back to meet the woman’s eyes, then she nodded.


“#14 La Muerte. What are you?” she replied. The woman’s smile straightened and her face became noticeably less welcoming.


“I’m just a ‘Zero’,” she said while staring down at the young girl. “Uniques need Unique equipment,” the woman said. Without warning, she turned her back to Dirge and walked away. Dirge noticed the woman’s chainmail armor jostling with the movement, but the rings made no sound. “We keep them in the back,” the woman added without turning around. Dirge took several large steps to catch up. The woman walked around the table, then turned into an open doorway next to a section of displayed mandolins.


The next room mirrored the front of the shop, though with a smaller selection of instruments. Several skylights in the ceiling poured sunlight into the cozy room. Seconds after stepping into the room, a high pitched ringing sound filled Dirge’s ears.


“Ow!” She flinched from the pain. It felt like someone shoved sharp needles into her eardrums.


“Of course it was easy,” the woman sighed to herself, then gestured to the table with her arm. “Alright, go walk around the table until you find it.” Dirge stepped toward a broadside of the table. As she neared, the pain in her right ear grew while her left ear felt more at ease. She turned right and followed the piercing sound. The volume of the ringing remained constant despite the pain increasing with each step toward the head of the table. A bright twinkle caught her eye and she turned toward it. Another twinkle reflected off the surface of a brilliant handbell. Dirge leaned closer to get a better look at the bell. An inch thin black leather strap, decorated by an engraved skull logo repeated across its surface, looped out of the end of the chrome portion. She reached forward, and the ringing pain in her ears stopped the moment she touched the bell.


“I’ll take it, how much?” Dirge asked. She held the bell up and smiled at the wispy shopkeep. The woman laughed in return.


“Can’t buy those with nanos,” she said, then a broad smile took over her face. “We game for it, I hope you’ve got something to bet. I’ll even let you pick the game, kid.”


“Orrrrrr,” Dirge’s eyes rolled up and backward, “I can just take it. If you really think about it any other way makes,…” she formed a “0” using both hands to touch her own fingertips in front of her chest. “Zero sense.” she winked an eye at the woman.


“Even you aren’t that lucky, kid. Shop rules. What’s your bet?” She pulled the bell from Dirge’s hand, then walked toward a door on the opposite side of the room. “My name’s Glory. Angel Bard, with Angel Oversoul,” she said. After she introduced herself a game invitation popped up at the edge of Dirge’s vision. It displayed the bell under the woman’s picture. She jiggled her wrist, and her white umbrella appeared under a picture of Dirge.


“I’m Dirge. Fairy Bard with Unicorn Oversoul. I’ll bet my #5 El Paraguas for that bell.” Glory burst into laughter, doubling over with obvious exaggeration.


“HA HA HAHA!” She forced laughter for several seconds before slowing down to an occasional chuckle. She shook her head. “I’m going to accept because I really really want to, but the bell is 100 times worth your umbrella. Easily,” Glory reached for the silver chain around her neck, then tugged on it until she fished out a small silver cross. She brought it to her lips for a gentle kiss to mark her agreement to start game negotiations. She pulled the door inward and gestured Dirge through it. “Take a look at the arena, pick your game.”  


Dirge stepped outside into the sunlight and saw a full sized Derby pit. A 100-foot square pit filled with blank, translucent nanos. It resembled a swimming pool filled with still, milky white water. The arena sat alone in a large field, with nothing useful nearby. Dirge stared at the pit for several dozen seconds before a brilliant idea sparkled in her orange eyes. She turned her wrist up to access her Node. She touched and swiped at the small clear rectangle until a black hovering scoreboard rose out of the center of the solid pool.


“Tic-Tac-Toe,” A deep male voice sounded from the scoreboard. Large five-foot blue cubes rose out of the pool at each of the four corners, as well as all the halfway points between them. Nine cubes locked into position to form the shape of a single giant cube, with approximately 50 feet between each. A single cube hovered in the center between the other eight. “Plus Derby,” the scoreboard added. White tracks formed to connect all the cubes together.


“Fun choice!” The woman patted Dirge on the back as she walked past her towards the arena. “This one is easy to drag out.”

***
Previous Dirge & Dread story: Tutorial Start
Next Dirge & Dread story: Bearly Immovable

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness (6-16-18)


[WP] You wake up at a supposedly haunted and abandoned asylum closed for its atrocities. Its walls and floors, previously covered with white tiles, were now turned green with mold and black with scum. You are a cleaning obsessed janitor. [Link to post.]

“HELLO??!” Carl Pinney woke on a cold metal table. He sat up and searched the dark room he woke up in for any sign of someone else. He glanced upward and noticed the lights were on, despite the darkness of the room. Black grime soiled the ceiling lights, and the walls seemed to be covered with variations of the same black scum dotted with dark green spots. He swung his legs off the table to stand, but the slippery floor made it difficult to find his footing. He did not realize he was barefoot, and the lack of footwear prompted him to check the rest of his clothing. He patted down the white hospital gown. It felt unfamiliar, but he failed to recall anything before he woke up in the room. 

“Damn floor needs a scrubbin'” Carl mumbled to himself as he took cautious steps towards the only exit in the windowless room. He reached the door, then stepped out into a long hallway illuminated as poorly as the room he left. Carl noticed brighter light to his right and turned to see the Information Desk illuminated under bright fluorescent lights. He walked towards the desk and felt the floor under his feet become smoother as he walked. The grime and slime faded away at every step. The floor around the Information Desk gleamed clean white. The brilliant floor distracted him so much he nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a male voice.

“Hello, Carl. Glad to see you up and about.” Carl discovered a pale man in a dark suit with a chestnut crewcut sitting in an office chair behind the Information Desk.

“What’s going on, where am I?” Carl asked the stranger. “And why is everything so dirty?”

“I’ll start with the last question because I know that’s what’s really bothering you.” The man stood from the chair silently and turned to walk around the desk. “Let’s take a walk.” He led Carl back down the hall he came from; however, when he stepped into the dark corridor the lights grew brighter to illuminate the black, dirty hallway. Carl appraised the dirt caked walls and floors, working out in the back of his mind what cleaners he would use to get the job done.

“Recently management has changed hands. As you can see, they didn’t seem too concerned with the upkeep,” the stranger said while they walked. He took a left turn when they reached an intersection, and Carl followed.

“Is this a job interview?” Carl asked. He smoothed the wrinkles out of his hospital gown, hoping to make a better impression.

“More of an orientation at this point. The boss knows your work history, it’s your job if you want it.” The stranger stopped at a door and opened it. The clean smell of chemicals made Carl smile; he’d recognize a janitor’s closet anywhere. “Assuming you accept the position, this’ll be your closet. Although, this is just a starting position. You won’t need to worry about ordering supplies or anything like that. The only thing you have to do is clean.” Carl eyed the shelves full of cleaners with a goofy half-smile pulling up one side of his mouth.

“I gotta tell you, that sounds pretty nice. 20 years of haggling with suppliers is more than enough of that life. I miss being able to show up and just work, you know? There’s something relaxing about putting a shine on things again,” Carl said, then followed up with a question. “What about the rest of the crew?” The stranger stepped into the dim closet. He reached into a box, then handed a bundle of clothing to Carl.

“This’ll be your uniform. There’s no one else.” Carl took the clothes but stared at the stranger through big eyes.

“No other cleaning crew? How big is this place?” Carl took a step back and looked to his left and right to gauge the size.

“It’s quite large, but honestly the boss doesn’t trust anyone else with this particular task. He knows it’s a big job, so you’re authorized to take all the time you need. We won’t open for business until you finish. Another perk is you get to make your own schedule. Start when you want, take a break when you want,” the stranger shrugged. “It’s kind of a freeform thing as long as it gets done.”

“You mean…” Carl stroked his grey beard. “…I get to clean this whole place…” he glanced up and down the halls again. “… and no one’s gonna bother me? And I can take all the time I need?”

“You won’t see another soul until you’re done,” the stranger said with a friendly smile.

“Mr. I’ll take the job, where do I sign?” Carl said with faint glee. The man in the dark suit nodded at Carl, then stepped out of the Janitor’s closet and closed the door. Carl noticed something on new on the door that wasn’t there the first time. A golden plaque with his name, “Carl Pinney” engraved in it.

“All you needed to do was accept.” The stranger pulled a dark navy hat from the air and placed it on his head with a slight nod at Carl. “I’ll leave you to it then.” He turned to walk away, but Carl tapped his shoulder.

“Hey, you never told me where I am. What’s the name of this place?” He asked.

“Oh, I apologize. You’d know this place as the Belle Institute of Mental Health.” He tipped his hat, then turn and walked away.

“The loony bin? Hey, isn’t this place haunted?” Carl yelled at the man as he approached a corner. The stranger waved his hand dismissively and disappeared around the bend. Carl heard the faint answer in the distance.

“It is now.”


***

Thank you for reading! I’m responding to prompts every day in 2018, this is #166. You can find them collected on my blog.

Blood and Magic (6-15-18)


[WP] The prisoner is lead on the platform. The crowd is unusually quiet. As the noose is placed around the neck, a tear drops from the executioners eye. With a muffled “Thank you”, only meant to be heard by the condemned, he pulls the lever to open the trapdoor. [Link to post.]

“Change has come to our kingdom,” King Willen addressed the gathered citizens. “I brought change to our Kingdom.” He held a hand up to the sky; it glowed with brilliant red light. “I know many of you will find it difficult to adapt, but let me reassure you that while the transition may be difficult, I am doing this for the future prosperity of our kingdom.” The glow dissipated from his hand, then he pointed toward the swinging corpse. “It’s time to let the past die.” The king retreated to his chambers to the sound of silence. No applause followed his speech.

The executioner pointed to a man at the front of the crowd, the man stepped forward to grab the hanging corpse. Two other men from the crowd also stepped forward under the wooden platform. The executioner looked down the trapdoor, and released the rope when they held the body. The three men supported the body over their heads and carried it through the crowd. Each citizen knelt before the men as they passed, then joined the procession after they walked by. 

The front of the line reached the cemetery atop the hill before the people at the back left the outskirts of town. As everyone reached the cemetery they gathered around the man’s corpse. The three men carefully placed the man’s body in a marble sarcophagus then stepped back and knelt. Many other citizen’s knelt, and those that did not bowed their heads to wait. After an hour, a priest wearing black robes emerged from the crowd.

“King Willen has spoken, and the time of change is upon us.” The priest looked around at all the bowed heads in the crowd. “But change, like death is a natural part of life.” He gestured at the coffin. “Even an unnatural death,” the priest turned to point at the king’s castle in the distance. “Even unnatural change. However, our people are strong. We have been graced with a wise, loving, strong king. He taught us not to fear change.” The priest made a fist. “He taught us that together we are stronger than any one man.” The priest nodded toward an armored man in the crowd that stepped forward. 

“King Willen wields powerful dark magic that we were not able to combat,” The knight paced a circle around the marble sarcophagus as he addressed the crowd. “Yet,” he added. “In his infinite wisdom, King Edward,” the knight kissed his own hand then touched the edge of the open coffin. “knew magic would threaten us one day, and he began preparations.”The first priest approached the former king’s casket while the knight spoke, and several other robed priests followed. The priests formed a circle around the night and the coffin. 

“King Edward studied magic, though Willen enacted his plan sooner than anticipated,” The knight said. The priests began chanting. “However, we all know what kind of man King Edward was,” the knight smiled. Nods and smiles spread throughout the crowd. “He was never one to be caught unaware.” A golden glow became visible from within the coffin, and the priests chanted louder. The knight knelt in front of the coffin. He leaned forward to touch his forehead to the white marble and his hands reached into the coffin. The lead priest stopped chanting and broke from the rest while the knight prayed to himself. The priest reached into his robe and retrieved a small silver and gold dagger. He knelt across from the knight and reached into the coffin with the dagger ready.

“Brave Sir Peter,” the priest jammed the dagger into the coffin, then his arm made a broad movement from left to right using all his strength. “Wash your hands of mortality and receive the gift of magic that may only be granted by consecrated royal blood. May your hands lead us to victory and prosperity.” The knight lifted his moist, red hands from the coffin and held them high up to show the gathered crowd. The priests continued to chant and the blood on Sir Peter’s hands began to glow with golden light.

“I accept this magic in the name of King Edward. His legacy will not be forgotten.”

Summer Story (6-14-18)


[WP] an essay written by a fantasy student [Link to post.]

What I did on my Summer Vacation
by Crag Blackgut

This summer vacation was the best ever. My dad works the dragon stables at the castle and he let me go to work with him some days to feed and take care of the dragons. Other days I helped my older sister study for her entrance exam. She wants to be a cleric, and she said she needed to practice a lot of healing. It was a busy summer but I still found time to hang out with my friends too. This was a great summer and I feel like I learned a lot to help me start off the school year on the right foot. 

Like everyone else, I’ve seen dragons at festivals. But, seeing them up close is very different. My dad did not let me get near the big ones, but he let me train with one of the young ones. A lot of people don’t realize that the stable hands, like my dad, teach the dragons how to fight. He let me put some armor on then he put me in a training pit with a white baby dragon. The babies do not have their breath yet, but they’re still dangerous. Well, dangerous for anyone that’s not an orc like me. I beat it up pretty easily. 

My sister, Hilda, always wanted to cleric even though my mom wanted her to be a shaman like she was. Cleric and shaman spells are different, and my mom taught Hilda shaman spells. So Hilda asked if she could practice on me. I told her yes if she did my chores for the whole summer and she agreed. I think she just liked cutting me, but I don’t mind because I didn’t have to do any chores. She needed a lot of practice, but I think she’s ready for the test. 

I also spent time playing with my friends, Kamx the minotaur and Alin the goblin. We explored the forest and found a fairy village. They didn’t know what hit them. Kamx used his axe to split the tree open, and Alin used his lightning spells to stun them. He’s training to be a storm mage, and his lightning spells are really good. We killed all the fairies and sold their wings, then we divided the money to upgrade our equipment. Kamx got his axe enchanted, Alin got a new robe and I bought a new sword. 

I had so much fun this summer, and learned so much from everyone. Fighting the dragon was really great, and I decided that I want to be a dragon rider. I got to taste fairy, but I didn’t like it much. I’m really looking forward to see what I learn during the school year, and I’m happy that Kamx and Alin are in my class. I hope we all have a great year.