The Synner’s Rival

“Something churns beneath those dark tides.”

The soldier sleeps.

“Worse than the war?”

It is not his time to wake.

“Much worse. Something is coming that will rival the war in its destruction.”

The timer is running low, though.

“How do you know?”

Soon it will run out.

“Can’t you feel it? You are young, yet. When you are older you will feel the Desolate more.”

Soon he will awaken.

“I feel something, but it’s like a mother’s love.”

My soldier will awaken.

“A mother’s love is dangerous. You sense the pure and think it good. There is more to the Desolate than you can yet sense.”

My child is coming.

“What more is there to sense? How can love be evil?”

My little Death.

“Every soldier had a loving mother, and look where that got us.”

The Grim Reaper grows beneath the waves.

“And now there is a destructive love churning in those dark tides.”

Azrael sleeps no more.

Advertisements

I am Dead

Prompt: “I am dead.”

I am dead. That might sound strange, but it’s not. Not really. Everyone dies. In fact, there are far more dead than there are living. I suppose the real strange part is that I’m writing this message to you. That’s not strange. A lot of dead people leave messages; you just don’t interpret them correctly.

You see, dreams are the messages from the dead. Your psychiatrists and psychologists think it’s from your unconscious, at least those that believe Freud. They’re wrong. I’m sorry, but they are. We, the dead, send messages through Limbo which we interpret as dreams. And nightmares. Very good nightmares.

Anyway, back to me being dead. I touched something I shouldn’t have. It didn’t kill me directly, but it turned on. It shouldn’t have turned on. In order for it to be on, I needed to die. I don’t know if it caused my death, but whoever touches it dies soon after.

In my case, I was riding on a plane and carrying it. Someone had given it to me to bring to Chicago. I wouldn’t usually do such a thing, but I needed the money, so I agreed. I suspect it was the basis for Pandora’s box, because curiosity got the better of me. I opened it, and I touched it. Then the plane crashed.

Now I am dead. I am its puppet. I am Tur. It is Ki. We are Kitur. Dead man. False name. We cause the Collapse. We have no remorse. Dead name. False man. I am dead, and I do not exist.

Silvano Demetrius Winston and the Portal to the Shatterscape

Prompt: Your best friend knocks on your door one afternoon. You open it and he is dressed in a strange costume. Before you can say anything, your friend hands you a sword and says, “I need your help. Your family’s life depends on it.” Just then, your friend opens what looks to be a portal to another dimension, grabs your hand and jumps through.

“What the hell, Silvano?” I wasn’t so interested in the portal he’d pulled me through, even though it was a swirling mass of rainbows and glitter. I figured that was about on par with the rest of what I knew of him. I was more interested in why my family’s life depended on me coming with him.

“It’s all very wonderful, the elves told me about this one. You see, it all started with the war of ’39-”

“World War II?”

“No! The War for Elven Rights in 1439. A bloody mess, but it set in motion the gnomic rebellions in 1502, and then the dwarven Shatterscape of the eastlands.”

See? About on par. Silvano was a bit of a wacko. A lovable wacko, but still a wacko. He’s a writer, so madness is to be expected, but he went a bit overboard with it. He seemed to be waiting for a response, so I asked, “Shatterscape?”

“They broke a mountain! Shattered it, really. All that hammering that they do, that’s my theory. Anyway, that nearly killed Cassius Germanus, you know him, right?”

Sure, you’re hallucinated writer friend? I didn’t say that, of course. Instead, I said, “Yes, vaguely.”

“Yes, well, he came to me and told me about it, and I started to connect the dots. You know the earthquake we had seventeen years ago?”

We live in California, which one was he possibly referring to?

Apparently he wasn’t waiting for a response, though, as he continued shortly after. “The Shatterscape caused it retroactively. See, the Shaman understands. Time is all wibbly wobbly. One thing may cause the other even when the first came after the second.”

“But you’re saying that the Shatterscape caused the earthquake. Didn’t the Shatterscape happen in 1439?” You learn quickly to go along with whatever Silvano is saying. You don’t get very far arguing with him. Besides, I was floating through a rainbow and glitter tunnel, who was I to say what was real and what wasn’t?

“Yes, but not yet, and hopefully not ever. We need to go back and stop the dwarves from shattering the mountain. If we don’t, the next earthquake will cause your family’s death.”

I couldn’t exactly argue, seeing as how I was stuck in the portal. “Ok, sure. How?”

“Seeing as how we can’t let the dwarves shatter the mountain, and we need Cassius to nearly die from the mountain shattering, there’s really only one thing we can do.”

“But we can’t let the mountain shatter, and it needs to shatter. How can we change that?”

“I only said we couldn’t let the dwarves shatter it. So we’ll shatter it.”

The Olympian Violinist

Prompt: It sounded like violin music, and it was coming from the basement…

 

There was a strange sound in the house today. It sounded like violin music, and it was coming from the basement. Julia had only just gotten home from her job, but it was clear someone else was in the house, or had been. She didn’t have any electronics in the basement that could go haywire; she only owned a laptop and iPhone, and she had taken those to work. She did, however, have a violin.

She quietly set her bag down and scanned the living room for signs of disturbance, even though it seemed unlikely any burglar would bother with the living room once they realized there was nothing of value in it. Everything was as she had left it, though, so she tiptoed into the closet and opened a small, hidden cupboard and took out the gun she kept there.

Julia wasn’t particularly worried about getting into a fight, considering she had trained under half a dozen martial arts, but it would be simpler to just scare off whoever was down there. As she started down the stairs to the basement, she heard a meow behind her. She turned and saw a small, black cat. It looked at her curiously, and then ran down the stairs. The cat turned back and meowed before going around the corner.

Julia didn’t know what kind of burglar, or home invader, for that matter, would bring their cat. Of course, playing the Chaconne all the way through, as it seemed this one was doing, was also very strange. No one could be smart enough to play that and mess up a burglary so poorly. No one normal, anyway.

As she came around the corner, she was surprised to see not only the cat, but also a finely dressed old man and a young girl in a Victorian style dress who was playing Julian violin. “Ah,” exclaimed the man, “Do come and join us, Miss Julia. We were starting to think something had interfered with your arrival.”

“What the hell are you doing in my house?” Julia asked.

“Is a girl not allowed a bit of fun?” asked the girl. Her accent fit her attire. She gestured to a table behind the pair and continued. “We were only trying to have a tea party.”

The table was set up with a fancy tablecloth, as well as three places set with teacups and fine chairs. Julia knew she owned none of it, which meant these two must have hauled it all in while she was at work, but she hadn’t seen any cars out of the ordinary. Perhaps they had an accomplice? But for what end goal?

Julia raised her gun up and pointed it at the man. She still didn’t have the heart to threaten a girl that looked to be only about sixteen. “What kind of game is this?” she demanded.

“No game, miss,” replied the man. “Just tea and talk.”

“And put the piece away,” said the girl as she began the final part of the Chaconne. “I wouldn’t want to laugh and mess up now.”

Julia furrowed her brow but remained motionless. The girl couldn’t seriously be implying the gun was laughable, could she? Then again, she wasn’t exactly reacting to it as one might expect, and neither was the man, who just walked around the far chair at the table and sat down.

“Do you take sugar or milk?” he asked politely.

“What? I’m not having tea with home invaders!”

“Suit yourself,” he replied with a shrug. “But it would have been easier this way.”

“Please, Robert,” said the girl as she finished the song, “I actually quite like this violin. Could we maybe try doing this without proving the point?”

“Oh fine,” Robert sighed as he got back up from the table. “I suppose we can try that.”

He suddenly flipped over the table, sending tea and fine China everywhere. Julia stepped back, and then noticed what was on the underside of the table. It looked exactly like every movie bomb every; a small display with wires going from it to tubes of dynamite lookalikes. It only scared Julia in that it always took so long to recover from explosives.

The girl finished playing the violin and said triumphantly, “And that’s what I just saved you the trouble of going through.”

“Yes, for now at least. Since Alice here doesn’t want me blowing up your violin, I’ll just have to speak plainly. Everyone in this house right now would be absolutely fine if this bomb went off.”

Julia suddenly realized what was going on, halfway. “Everyone?”

Alice nodded and said, “I would tell you to shoot one of us to find out, but that would ruin these nice clothes.”

“Yes,” agreed Robert. “Because we can’t possibly get more.”

Julia didn’t know if she liked where this was going, on the one hand, there may be more than just herself, but on the other hand, they seemed to have some sort of agenda. “Are you saying you can’t die?”

“You see, Alice?” said Robert, throwing up his arms in frustration. “This is why I kill them, and then talk to them.”

“I apologize for Robert,” said Alice as Robert began pacing back and forth next to the bomb. “His methods are a bit crude for dealing with most of our kind. He’s just not the right gender, nor does he have the age necessary for negotiations.”

The age? Julia decided then that they were either. Dry good actors, or telling the truth, but she decided to test them further. “What ‘negotiations’ are you talking about?”

“We would like to extend an invitation to you, Miss Julia. Meet us on New Year’s Day on Mount Olympus, and you will meet many more Immortals like us. Some are new to it, and need guidance. Others are veterans that have learned how to deal with it. I suspect a few have lived far longer than you or I.”

“How am I supposed to get there?” Julia asked. “I’m not exactly a mountain climber.”

“That’s not our concern. Maybe carpool with other Immortals. Break a few rules. Live free for once; with purpose.”

Robert knelt down and picked up the bomb. “Well said, Alice, but I still prefer my way. Goodbye, Miss Julia, perhaps we shall meet again come New Year’s.”

Alice put the violin back up on the shelf where Julia kept it. “I do hope we shall, and, if we do, bring the violin.”

And they walked right past Julia without hindrance. The last to leave was the cat, who pawed at the pantry door before following the two Immortals up and out of the house. Julia had a strange feeling about it, but walked to the pantry and opened it anyway. Inside was a scrapbook that contained newspaper articles, pictures, and book passages with her in them, ranging from when she began in 1209, to her latest incident last year.

You are a Gentleman and a Scholar

Prompt: Tell this story-“As a scholar of arcane symbols and ancient mythology, it is my professional opinion that…”

 

I was acting as a professor of mythology at the time. I became known for my knowledge of the paranormal, although I told the rest of the faculty that it was mostly to get the kids interested. I spend much of my time in my classroom, regardless of whether there is a class or not. I don’t need to worry about disturbing the class if I ever need to leave after all.

One day, a kid who had heard of my knowledge was looking to learn about ghosts came in. There wasn’t a class going on, which was just as well, nor was Samuel busy with anyone. The student first told me of what he thought ghosts were, but I soon set him straight.

“As a scholar of arcane histories and ancient mythology,” I started, “It is my professional opinion that ghosts, as you have described them, do not exist.”

“Then what would they be like?” asked the student.

“Well, let’s address your misconceptions first,” I replied. “First, your idea that ghosts ‘haunt’ either their home or their place of death.”

Samuel had arrived. The student looked a bit confused. I suppose the fact that Samuel had neither been in the room nor had he come through the door was bothering him. Samuel said, “Yes, it’s a bit limiting, don’t you think?”

While the student was looking at Samuel, I existed at the windows and pulled the blinds down as I said, “Real ghosts have no desire to remain where they are, especially after a so many years.”

The student looked back, surprised at my sudden change in location.

“They leave fairly soon after death,” added Samuel. He had gone and existed at our desk while the student was distracted. “They go wherever they please then.”

I existed at the next window, not caring if the student saw me do it. I think he must have, for he gave a quick start and remained firmly in his chair, gripping it with white knuckles. I continued to close the blinds and explain, “And why should they go floating about so slowly? Wouldn’t it be easier to just decide to be somewhere, and be there?”

His face was white then.

Samuel chimed in from the back of the class room, “And on the matter of ghosts killing people: why would they?”

“Yes, a very good point,” I said as I closed the last blind. “The only reason I can think of would be for entertainment. After all, it can get rather boring after so long.”

That did the trick. The student bolted for the door. Unfortunately for his nerves, upon opening the door he found only a brick wall.

“It’s a bit cliché, I know,” Samuel said, “But it works well.”

“You really shouldn’t go asking about ghosts all alone. Don’t you know the rules? Travel in pairs, yes?”

He went for the windows next. I think he may have been surprised to see that the campus was an extra few miles below us.

“I’m a bit more creative than my colleague,” I said. “Brick walls are so last year. Great heights, on the other hand…”

He was pretty frantic. He backed himself into the corner and curled up into a ball. Samuel left, so I got to deal with him. I got rid of the brick wall and great height, but the student didn’t notice. I was pretty tired with the college, so I left him there until the next class. When the students started filing in and asked about him, I simply shrugged and said he must’ve seen a ghost.

Samuel’s Freedom

Prompt: You’re walking to grab lunch when you see a crowd gathered around a building. You look up and see that someone is standing on the ledge, looking to jump. You hear a police office close to you mention that the person is about to commit suicide. He also mentions the person’s name: and it’s someone you know! Write a scene where you attempt to stop the jumper from jumping. (I may not have followed it exactly.)

 

As I headed home, I could tell something was wrong. It wasn’t my stomach; other than the usual reasons, the dinner had been wonderful. It wasn’t my emotional state; Leah had been excellent company. I don’t know if it was the big crowd, or maybe the police cars, but something was definitely going on at the office. They were all looking up, which is usually a worthy exercise for the neck, when alternated with looking down, but in this case it was to actually see something.

It seemed to be a matter of life and death that I find out what they so desperately wanted to watch, so I joined the crowd in looking up. I honestly don’t think they could see anything; I certainly didn’t. With the aid of my trusty binoculars back home, however, I spotted a man on the edge of the office’s roof. Not only was it a man, but also a man I knew. Good old Samuel, always promoting neck-stretching.

I supposed I ought to inform him of the half-stretching dilemma, so up I went to the top of the office. It didn’t take long, just a blink in time. I think he was surprised when he noticed me up there with him—something about the doors being locked, not that I paid much attention to that. I informed him of the issue, and suggested a solution, but he seemed rather confused. He didn’t like what I said, but was going to do it anyway.

I told him to hurry up so that the people could get on with their lives, to which he agreed. Before he wrapped up the exercise, I suggested a new exercise, and then let him conclude his escapade. The people below finally got to lower their heads, slowly of course–you wouldn’t want to be too quick and pull a muscle–and some even exhaled nicely.

Samuel gave up his body beautifully. He was a wonderful example for the world of how to be free. He’s like me now.

Professor Cody is Quirky

Prompt: When you return to school for a conference, you bump into one of your old professors, who is rambling on excitedly about a new discovery. He asks you to follow him to his office—he has something he wants to show you. What is the new discovery? Why is your professor so excited? Write this scene.

 

“Medea! Is that you?” Was that Professor Cody? I turned and saw that it was. “What luck that I ran into you. Are you here for the Conference? Never mind. Come with me, I have something to show you.”

Professor Cody wasn’t quiet by a long shot, but he was being unusually talkative. It offset my taciturn attitude. He led me to his office and unlocked it, first with a key, and then a keycard. As we entered the room, he made some sort of gesture that turned the lights on.

In one corner of the room was a desk with a computer and lots of wires and electronic boxes of various kinds scattered around it. The wires snaked around the room, hugging the walls, and connected into various parts of the wall and a few into the doorframe.

“Let’s see, you just stand right here, center of the room is probably best,” he said as he went to his computer and started typing into a console. “Now, I want you to try and remain calm while I get out my little discovery.”

I wasn’t too worried about it. He was quirky, sure, but he would have to get about ten times stranger to shock me. He typed something in and hit enter. A part of the wall slid out like a filing cabinet, and a platform from inside rose up with a small orb lying on it.

It began to float. That was a bit strange, I’ll admit. He picked it up without touching it and handed it to me. It floated above my hand, but I could feel it. He looked at me expectantly. “What is it?” I asked.

“Plastic electricity,” replied quickly. “At least, that’s what the scientists are calling it. It was discovered last year at a special scientist get-together. No one got a chance to study it, and they weren’t sure how they made it, so they’ve left it alone. But I got my hands on the sample they created.”

“Got your hands on?” I asked.

He shrugged. “They weren’t using it. Anyway, I brought Silvano in to look at it. You remember Silvano, yes? He sometimes came in to help with the analysis of samples?”

“Mr. Winston?” I replied.

He nodded. “Yes, yes, Mr. Winston. He did some analysis and then hooked it up to my computer and we found the most extraordinary thing! Well, I did, he already knew it, but he didn’t say so at the time. Where was I? Oh, yes, extraordinary! Do you know what it was?”

I slowly shook my head.

“Aliens!” I stared blankly at him. “Hear me out. It puts out a signal in pulses, like Morse-Code. Translating the pulses into a visual representation produced a picture with a discernable pattern.”

“Wouldn’t it make more sense for it to be a ‘pattern’ put there by the scientists that invented it?” I asked as I handed the orb back.

“But they don’t know what it is. Silvano does, though. He’s talked to them and seen their ships. But all this is strictly confidential until they make themselves known. You didn’t hear any of this from me.”

“Sure.”

“That’s good. You can go back to your conference now. Have fun; try not to piss off any aliens!”

I was a little concerned for Professor Cody after that, but he was always a little quirky. After a while I thought nothing of it. Obviously this was all before First Contact.