FlashFic: The Gift

A man fighting for survival finds himself face to face with an other-worldly creature.

So cold.

He didn’t know how long he’d been walking. He started at first light. The last light was rapidly giving way to night, now. The skeletal trees stretched their bare limbs to the skies as if reaching for the last bit of warmth.

The snow was several inches deep, even in the wood. His legs burned with every step. His feet felt nothing. They grew numb hours ago. He paid it no heed. What good are warm feet if the rest of him is dead?

It was no good. He dropped to his knees. His hands sunk deep into the wet snow. It burned his fingers. The sensation served to help clear his dampened mind. Good.

Light began to creep back across the blanket of snow. He suddenly felt warmer than before. No… That’s not right. He sat back on his ankles and stuck his hands into his armpits.

His grandfather taught him long ago that the worst thing you could do is feel warm in such a situation. He’d told him that he’d seen men smiling at their new-found warmth even as they lay dying. But there was something else.

There was the light.

Grandfather had never mentioned this. Was he dying? Hallucinating? He looked up. Hallucinating, then. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen stood before him.

Her body glimmered in a vivid blue-white light. Her eyes shone pure white. An angel? “Yes, an angel.” The woman responded to his thought. “I’ve come to guide you.”

His father had warned him of false prophets, as well. “How can I trust you, spirit?” His voice was a ragged whisper. He coughed crimson onto the pure snow before him.

“How can you not?” The spirit raised an eyebrow and her right hand. She offered it to the fallen traveler. He reluctantly took it.

Half a day’s walk away, a young woman of similar beauty but normal radiance watched the events unfolding in an ornate scrying mirror. “He trusts her!”

The woman beside her, perhaps twenty years her senior, smiled gently as she held a gnarled wooden wand before the mirror. “Does he? Or does he trust that he’ll die otherwise?”

The man found it startlingly easy to stand. The warmth he felt was slowly worming its way into his body like tendrils. The sensation was both welcome and somehow disgusting to him.

The spirit woman’s eyes opened wide, the light within them bathing his face. He squinted his own. Cold tears ran from them. “Please guide me.”

“As you wish.” She gently placed her other hand on his cheek and caressed it. The last thing he saw was the white glow of her eyes turn blood red.

The serene look on her face turned to one of malice, contorting her features into a demonic mask. The hands holding him became twisted claws. The man did not resist even as she grasped his head and pulled him closer.

She closed her eyes and leaned forward, as if to kiss him. Instead, a thin white mist began to pour from his mouth. She drew it into her own, allowing his lifeless body to drop to the ground. Her features returned to normal as she stepped back.

“That was amazing.” The young woman looked at the witch with a mixture of awe and fear.

“It’s a gift.” She began to smile. “It’s one you possess. Would you like to learn how to wield it, child?”

Something dark and hungry laid just behind the woman’s widening eyes. “Yes, please.”

FlashFic: Dark Skies, Cold Hearts

A mysterious sight in the night sky takes a treacherous turn.

“What is it, grandpa?”

The old man stepped out onto the porch and looked up at the night sky. “Looks like a shooting star!” The bright blue object did not fade, though the man’s smile did. “No, that ain’t right…”

The boy’s father stepped out of the house. “What is it, Pop? Meteor shower?”

“I don’t know.” The object had tripled in size and brightness. The sky started to rumble. He shielded his eyes.

“Jesus…” The younger man squinted. “That’s not a meteor, is it?”

“No…” The grandfather took a step back. “That’s an aircraft, or something.”

“I bet it’s a space ship!” The boy ran off into the front yard.

“Danny, no!” His father ran after him.

A screaming sound accompanied the rumbling. The object gleamed in the sky. It was triangular, with three brilliant blue circles beneath it. “I told you! It’s a space ship!”

The boy began waving at the UFO. Danny’s father grabbed him and started pulling him backward. “No, Danny! We don’t know if they’re friendly…”

A beam of pure white energy zapped from the spacecraft and struck the father in the chest, knocking him backward. “GAH!” A brown scorch-mark graced his sky-blue dress-shirt. “I can’t move…”

A second beam, much wider and violet-white, engulfed the boy before he could run to his father. “Dad!” The man watched helplessly as his son lifted off the ground. “Dad! I feel…”

The boy disintegrated before the man’s eyes. The individual bits of matter pulled apart and shot up the beam into the ship. “DANNY! NOOO!”

The grandfather burst back out of the front door with an old service rifle just as the purple beam dissipated. “DON’T YOU TAKE MY GRANDSON, YOU SONS OF BITCHES!” The old man took aim and opened fire.

The shots plinked uselessly off of the spacecraft. The father turned his head towards the grandfather and shouted. “Dad, no!”

There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “Hell YES!” He emptied the gun into the spacecraft. The last round caused sparks to shoot out of the front of the UFO.

A third light beam, this one blood red, shot from the spacecraft and into the old man’s chest. “DAD!” The old man’s body was silhouetted in glowing orange light. It disintegrated like the boy’s body had, but the particulates fell to the ground, burning ash blown in the wind from the UFO’s wake.

The spacecraft turned. It rocketed up into the air at an impossible rate. A wash of blue energy blew backwards into the old farmhouse, setting it ablaze. The still-paralyzed father slipped into the cold black hole of unconsciousness.

He awoke sometime later. Several dark figures stood around him. He cried out and flailed his way backwards. “He’s awake.” The voice was distant and quiet to him.

“Shit,” another voice said. “Grab him.” Two pairs of strong hands grabbed the father’s arms and held him fast. They propped him up on his feet and let go.

One of the figures stepped forward, slowly coming into focus. It was a man in US Army fatigues. The father began to cry. “Please! My son…”

The Army man held up a hand. “We know what happened. Did you call anyone? Call for help?”

The father shook his head. “No… I didn’t have time. They took my…”

“We know.” The man took out a pistol. “Too bad they killed you and whoever that ash pile is.” He aimed it at the father’s head and pulled the trigger.

The father let out a single piercing screech and fell dead to the ground. The man put the gun away. “Secure the area.” He turned and walked back into the shadows.

FlashFic: The Storyteller

A simple scribe weaves an epic tale for a too-proud hero.

“Are you ready to venture forth, scribe Belvedere?”

“Quite! Quite…” A small, balding man emerged from Zoran the Brave’s domicile. His large, flat feet were wrapped in sandals that constantly threatened to capture his flowing brown robe.

Zoran frowned. “You are certain you are up for this venture? I heard you are the best scribe available.”

“And so I am! Shall we begin?” The scribe removed a leather-bound journal and a golden quill from inside his robe.

“So we shall!”

“Let’s see… Zoran the Brave stood facing the unknown…” The golden quill glowed brightly as he wrote. “The wind blew his long hair back behind him. His loincloth…”

“Loincloth…” Zoran looked down. He yelped, discovering that he was indeed now only wearing a loincloth. “Oh, my!”

“Is that a problem, sire?”

“You! That… loincloth!”

“Well, you did say you were going for a ‘sword and sandals’ vibe…” The scribe shrugged. “Okay then, how about: Zoran the Brave stood facing the unknown, his armor gleaming in the sunlight.”

Certainly enough, Zoran found himself donned in shining silver armor. He lifted his visor. “Can we drop the helmet? I liked the hair thing.”

Belvedere smirked. “Of course, sire. Ahem… His hair flowed in the blowing winds as he faced his perilously long journey.”

Zoran looked at the quill. “Um… Brief journey.”

“Okay… His brief journey.”

“And he had a large sword.”

“He wielded a beautiful longsword…”

“And he had a beautiful maiden…”

Belvedere narrowed his eyes. “You’re quite the piece of work, aren’t you? Look… I can help here and there, but don’t you think your story should at least be plausible?”

Zoran grumbled. “Don’t think a beautiful maiden would have me, do you? Well… What if I faced great peril!”

The scribe grinned and cracked his knuckles. “Grand idea! Zoran the Brave turned to face the approaching dragon…”

“Now just a minute, scribe. I think…”

“The immense, fire-breathing dragon swooped down at the mighty hero…”

“Scribe! I really don’t think…” Zoran turned to see a large dragon descending from the skies, indeed blowing fire from its open maw.

“Yes, too simple, isn’t it? Let’s see… The hero’s sword broken, he faced the dangerous creature with but a simple dagger…”

Zoran went white. “Forget it! Forget it all!” He ran off in the opposite direction of the quickly approaching dragon. “I’m done with heroing!”

Belvedere licked the tip of the quill, a sly smile on his face. “…And the shamed hero never returned to his disappointed village.” The scribe closed the journal and placed the book and quill back in his robe.

The sizable dragon touched down with a mighty thump near the scribe. It talked with a deep, rumbling voice. “Gods! You cleared this one in record time!”

“That I did, friend dragon. He was… more brawn than brains, to say the least. He was also quite rich!” Belvedere pointed to Zoran’s abandoned home. “We’ve a few months of gold coin to be had in there.

“It almost seems unfair, doesn’t it?” The great dragon chortled.

Belvedere shrugged his shoulders. “All I did was tell his story!”

FlashFic: Standing Tall

A team of robots face their darkest hour.

A large, gleaming, blue and gray robot stood at the base of the cliff and pointed upward. “To me, friends!” His voice boomed across the valley. “We must obtain the photon transference device quickly!”

“I am here, brother.” A red and white robot joined the first robot’s side. “As the Maker commanded, we shall serve!”

“Where’s Green?”

“She is…” Red’s shoulders slumped. “I don’t know!”

A green and gold robot rolled and tumbled into sight. She sprung to her feet dramatically and sprinted to join the others. “I am here! I was set upon by the drooling monster in the ceramic caverns.”

“You brave soul!” Red clapped green on the back with a mighty metallic thump. “But there’s no time to spare!” He looked upwards.

Green’s eyes glowed a brilliant blue. “You’ve found it? The photon transference device?”

“Indeed.” Blue stepped forward. “But we must be quick. The ancient one approaches. If the device is not secured…” Blue refused to finish the thought.

“It will be.” Red crossed his arms and considered the cliff. “But how…”

Green lifted her finger skyward. “By doing what we do best, working together!” She dropped to one knee. “Blue! Go!”

Understanding flooded Blue’s face. “Got it!” Blue ran forward and stepped lightly into Green’s cupped hands. Green propelled Blue into the air.

Blue landed gracefully on the side of the cliff. He anchored himself with one steely hand and one massive foot. “Let’s go, Red!” His other hand shot down to the waiting robot.

Red grabbed the hand, still attached to Blue by a strong titanium cable. Blue retracted the hand quickly, slingshotting the robot into the air. Rocket boosters in Red’s back propelled him up past Blue to the edge of the cliff.

The brave robot struggled for a grip. He pulled himself over the edge of the cliff with great effort, but it was all worth it. There lay the photon transference device.

The orb-like translucent device glowed dimly at its center. A striated metallic tube extended from its bottom. Red picked it up and cradled it in his massive hands with great care.

“I’ve got it! I’ve got…” There came a series of booms, as if something massive was galloping towards their location. “The cavern monster!”

A great, snarling, furry monster easily three stories tall snarled as it approached the robots. It came to a stop with a mighty roar. Drool ran from its deadly jaws, beady black eyes focused on the fearless team.

“Run!” Blue leaped from the cliff-side, shaking the earth as he touched down.

“No! Wait! We…” Red watched in horror as the photon transference device slipped from his hands. “NO!” He turned his head. “Our only hope…”

The device smashed into the ground below, shattering into a thousand pieces. The monster reared back in fright. It turned and ran in the direction from whence it came.

Green pointed towards the monster. “We are saved!”

Red shook his head. “Not for long.” He looked towards the setting sun.

A large, dark shadow fell over the desert. Blue pushed himself against the cliff. “The ancient one…”

“The ancient one?” The middle-aged human male stood by the kitchen counter, fists firmly placed on his hips. “Did the kids program you to call me that?”

Blue looked from Red to Green to the ancient one. “I uhhh…”

“We got the photon transference device like you wanted!” Red beamed.

“The light bulb is in a million pieces on the floor.” The human sighed. “You scared the hell out of Bigsby, too.”

“You mean the monster from the ceramic cavern?” Green smiled innocently.

“I mean the dog. I swear, if the kids didn’t love you three so much, I would have scrapped you by now.”

The male reached into a cabinet above the counter and retrieved another photon transference device. He handed it to Red. “Try to get this one in the socket this time?”

“Aye, aye Mister Dave!” Red saluted sloppily.

“And you two…” Blue and Green snapped to attention. “Clean your mess, please.” Dave walked off towards the living room, shaking his head. “Ancient one…”

FlashFic: Experimental

An experiment to create a super-soldier goes awry.

“Are you comfortable?” It was a female voice.

The young soldier moved to brush a strand of hair from her face and was caught fast by her restraints. She settled for blowing at it. Good enough. “As comfortable as I’m going to be.”

“Good, though I suppose this will be the last time you’ll be concerned with physical comfort, hmm?” The doctor chuckled, stepping into view. The soldier did not share in her mirth.

The doctor looked over the notes attached to her clipboard. She arched an eyebrow. “You’re getting the experimental treatment! Oh, my but you’re lucky.”

“Am I?” The soldier looked unsure.

“You are. Usually this procedure leaves you with significantly improved strength, agility, and so forth. You lose a bit of your humanity, of course. This new experimental treatment will enhance all those abilities, while also giving you elemental control!”

“Elemental… Like lightning, or something? But it’s experimental…”

“It all is, dear. You’ll be fine.” The doctor affixed a white plastic mask to the soldier’s face, ending the conversation.

The mask had two holes for the soldier’s eyes, and nothing else. Those eyes were widening. “I can’t breathe!” Her voice was muffled.

“No worries! You won’t need to for much longer.” The doctor smiled. She stepped back, nodding to a pair of unseen assistants.

Two men in white bio-hazard containment suits stepped forward. Each had an uncomfortably large syringe. The doctor stepped behind a clear protective shield.

She pressed a button on a control panel behind the shield. The soldier’s limbs were further restrained. The sudden movement caused her to cry out. She was trembling, fighting to breathe.

“Quickly, now.” The assistants jabbed their needles into the upper arms of the soldier, who unleashed a muffled scream. She became very still.

“The apparatus! Be quick about it!” The doctor studied the mask on the soldier’s face. The faintest trace of blue light was glowing up through the eye holes. “Time is short.”

One of the assistants rolled a large white apparatus over the soldier’s head. The other assistant grabbed a disc-shaped device attached to it and stretched it down over the mask until it clicked in place. The assistant stared into the soldier’s eyes. They were now glowing a brilliant blue.

“Get him out of there!” The other assistant grabbed at the first, who shrugged him off violently. The first assistant produced a second, smaller needle and jabbed it into the second assistant.

The second man went limp in the assistant’s arms. He dragged him out of the room. The doctor shook her head. “We must work on that.”

The doctor pressed a series of buttons. The apparatus over the soldier began to hum. The doctor spoke into a recorder. “Experiment four-two-zero commencing.” She turned a dial. The light coming through the mask intensified.

The soldier began to scream. “Unusual. Did we wait too long?” The doctor pressed a large red button and held her breath.

The blue light intensified and brightened, filling the room with a blue-white light. “That’s better.” An alarm sounded from the control panel. “What’s this?”

The light continued to intensify. The doctor drew a shade to block the light, but found herself squinting at the display before her. “My god…”

The soldier began to scream again. This time she did not stop. The light began to take on a crimson hue. The soldier strained against her restraints, snapping one, then another, then another…

Soon the room was bathed in blood-red light. The soldier began to tear at her clothes. The doctor sounded a general alarm in the complex. She turned back to the soldier.

Her uniform was on the ground in tatters, the apparatus separated. Red light streamed through her mask’s eye-holes. She started tearing at her own flesh.

The doctor sighed. She flipped a clear cover up off a glowing red button and pressed it. A stream of brilliant green light particles washed over the soldier. She screamed for the last time. Her body was torn and disintegrated by the plasma beam.

“Experiment four-two-zero, rated as failure. Reason, unknown.” The doctor took a deep breath. She watched as guards poured into the room. “The threat has been neutralized.”

She stepped from behind the protective shield and approached the remains of the soldier. She was little more than blood and ash. “Very unfortunate.” She turned to one of the guards. “Are they still serving pizza in the commissary?”