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Friday Fiction: The Best Gift

Prompt comes courtesy of my good friend and fellow author/blogger, Rachel Poli:

Write about a character who gets something special they’ve always wanted.

The Best Gift

Words: 596


The idea of a Secret Santa may as well be as old as the very concept of merry ol’ St. Nicholas. St. Dominic’s Primary School became the haven of such a tradition in its truest form since the school’s conception in 1895, when Sister Ignatius placed square, brown-paper packages within the 85 desks of her students prior the last day of school. The following day was followed by a chorus of joyous squeals as boys and girls ripped through paper and tape to find within the objects of their uttermost desire. The best gift.

As tradition wore on through the years, even when money seemed hard to come by, there happened to be one particular child with an almost unattainable desire. One that could not be wrapped save for in prayer. Furtive supplications cast to the Almighty in hopes of repairing broken families, sick fathers and mothers, dying brothers and sisters, and on more than enough occasion, for death’s repeal.

Where these gifts could not be attained, it was their next appealed desire wrapped and placed with the more modern school desks. The School Governing Body, with now over 300 students within the expanded bricked building, would question how such a tradition could be continued, and as with every Principal that had followed Sister Ignatius’ example would proclaim to those who questioned the gifts,

“The Lord provides.”

And truly, each year, He did.

As corporate and government and school slowly intertwined with the passing of time, and the education system turned into a business venture rather than a place of tutelage, the nuns of previous generations were replaced with CEOs and businessmen toting degrees and masters in Business Management. They did not, however, truly possess the spiritual depth and leadership of their predecessors. And yet, despite all of this, every year, the students of St. Dominic’s Primary School, received their annual gifts out of miraculous providence.

In the year 1995, on the last day of school following the newly elected Principal, as the muted excitement, and muffled bubbles of laughter echoed across the span of the school, there came a single ear-splitting scream. The school fell into utter silence. As though the wind itself had ceased to exist, the trees shaken to quiet, and the hum of traffic come to a standstill. Hairs on napes rose. Flowing blood seemingly turned to ice and coursed through each student and teacher alike as a virus through a body.

Young Francis had opened his package with frenzied anticipation, his particular gift sizable in comparison to his peers, and decidedly oddly shaped in almost rotund oblong contours. As the paper ripped between his fingers, he was struck by an odd smell. One that reminded him of his lunch tin when he had left it in the playground for a week and opened the lid to find the festering green and white mould growing within. Only this smell seemed different. There was also a sticky liquid trailing along the inside and staining his palms scarlet. By now the entire classroom had turned to see what he’d received. Curiousity emblazoned on rapt young eyes, lips parting in awe and wonder. At last Francis ripped the entire wrapping off, arms rising as expanded energy threw them upwards. For a moment he could only stare at the thing rolling out from the paper to stare up at him with glazed eye sockets and a gaping abyss marking misshapen ebony dentures. Only he couldn’t deny the jade green orbs gazing past and through him. For there sitting on his desk… was the head of his father.


Word to the wise: Don’t read The King in Yellow, and expect your mind to remain the same. See the true face of horror.

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Friday Fiction: The Dance of Death

Prompt courtesy of Chasing Dreams Publishing – Monday Writing Prompt

Prompt: They danced through the stars

Word Limit: 250 words


They danced through the stars. Moonlit wisps coiling through vast expanse as amber-scarlet flares belched stagnant pale tendrils into the gaping abyss.

“Engine failure. Engine Failure” Droned the monotony of the ship’s A.I.

Red blossomed across the deck in incessant flashes as wailing sirens echoed off the walls. The control panel shimmered with lights, illuminating the captain’s chair and halo of gold-red-gold tresses pressed against cheek and forehead, the captain sweating against pulsing lights.

“Estimated crash time?” She asked quietly into the attached headset.

“At this rate I’d say a steady seventeen minutes and… about 23 seconds. Unless you get some balancé Cap.” The voice replied with just a hint of smile in its gruffness.

“Just keep those cannons ready.” The captain replied, a ghost of smile touching her lips.

“Better bring this crash-ballet to its finale.”

As though summoned by the remark, the emptiness of space shimmered in colossal prism-tinged glare. Then they were wholly and completely surrounded.

Allegro, captain. Allegro.”

Trails of fire followed the diving ship as streaks of light boomed from the surrounding angular prisms of enemy forces. With as much elegance and grace a blazing ship could afford, the captain pirouetted through interminable fire,

“Fouetté!”

The ship spiralled, cannon extending outwards in explosive bursts of successive fire, tucking in to reload and extend once more for a repeat performance.

“Inbound photon torpedo.” A.I notified them. Hands and hearts froze. Silence pervaded.

“It’s been a pleasure dancing with you Cap.”

“Always Jarvis.” Tears trickling down, “Always.”


 

Friday Fiction: Sarah Smiles

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I had never seen Sarah smile. Not even when Mr. Roderick cracked one of his classic classroom jokes that had everyone in stitches. Instead I’d catch sight of her rolling eyes, one corner of the thin lips pulled up as though she’d heard them all; perhaps she had. So when the school lunch bell had rung and the school reverberated with cacophony of basketballs, skip ropes, laughter and chatter, I was surprised to find her tucked away in a corner next to the stairs leading up to the lockers. And she was smiling into a book. I hesitated on my way up, fighting against the High School status-quo to just let her be and do my own thing, rather than interrupt her. But there was the rarest of smiles I had ever seen on her face.

“Must be a good book.” I said to her finally as I approached cautiously. She looked up, her smile fading.

“It is.” And then just as quickly the smile was gone.  Now that I had started the conversation, I didn’t know where to take it. Should I ask her what the book is about or just leave? From the blankness of her face I decided that the latter would be best, so I took note of the book and author then offered my own smile,

“Well enjoy.”

“Thanks.” She turned back to her book, but her eyes darted up to see if I was still there. Taking that as my cue, I ascended the stairs and left her to the book. As I ambled past the grey metal lockers, I made up my mind to see if I could get her to smile again. It seemed like such a childish ambition, typical schoolboy intentions, and yet she looked so alive when she was smiling how could I not?

*

I was nervous. Butterflies tingled in my gut as I sat in class, barely hearing what Mr. Roderick was saying. I probably missed another of his jokes as I tried not to stare at Sarah. Eventually we had to take our books out from the flip-up desks we each had, and I took that opportunity to pretend I couldn’t find my book. I moved the softcover notebooks around – the one I needed sitting right at the top – only taking it out would mean seeing if Sarah had found my gift. Suddenly it seemed like a stupid idea. So what if she doesn’t smile in class or around the school? Maybe she’s got  issues and here I am trying to be selfish just to see her smile. Disheartened with my chest feeling heavy, I took the book out and shut my desk.

She was looking at me. Her eyebrows were knit together. I tried to smile but she rolled her eyes at me and faced forward. I felt like even more of an idiot. I don’t even remember what happened for the rest of class as I imagined her telling her friends what I’d done. What would they say? Did she even have friends now that I thought about it? Nonetheless I decided to ignore her from then on and avoid her even outside of school. If I could bash my head against my desk for my idiocy, I would have.

*

I stood by my locker, head placed on the top shelf lost in my thoughts. Eventually I pulled my head out and shut the locker and there she was beside me.

“Greg.”

“Hi Sarah.”

“Is this from you?” She held out the book. Her face was emotionless,

“Yeah I… well I saw you reading the last one and…” I felt my shoulders shrug as I dropped my eyes. Was she going to give it back to me? Slap me? Hate me? Laugh at me?

“Thank you.” She said instead. I lifted my eyes and noticed that she was smiling.

“Oh… do you like it?”

“Actually I haven’t read this one yet. It was on my to read list so you saved me buying it myself.”

“I’m glad.” And glad I was. It seemed all my doubts had been for nothing. “I’m not much of a reader though.” I added, in case I was setting her up for some disappointment. But her smile didn’t fade,

“Maybe not yet.” She whirled around and left. And although I wasn’t sure what she was thinking at that moment, she told me much later on what had been running through her mind when she walked away; she couldn’t wait to see me again.


Time To Write: Sentence Starter 12

I’ve been spending a lot of time on my Patreon projects, and finally catching up on my reading (I’m only one book behind from 3!) And I’ve been spending much of the writing in dark gloomy Fantasy/Sci-Fi realms, so I decided for something light for today. Hope you enjoyed it!

Friday Fiction: Quirks

Everyone has their own quirks; common or bizarre. Our characters in our story are no different.

Write a quick short story about something odd your character does, but something that makes them them.

Time to Write: Quirks


 

“Well. It’s about time you showed up!” I smile. I feel my lips involuntarily curl up into a knowing smile. An evil smile. I keep my hands behind my back.

“What is the meaning of this you fiend!?”

“Weellll…” I shrug my shoulders excessively. I have no idea why I do it, it’s just so natural whenever my evil plots come to fruition.

“That shrug really annoys me.”

“Meh. That’s part of being a villain. I have a unique quirk, and you despise it with your entire justice-saturated being.”

His eyes glance towards the woman tied to the chair, her eyes have rolled back in their sockets

“She’s not dead.”

“Let her go!”

“You’re starting to sound more and more like the Dark Knight himself…” I moved away from the woman, teasing him to come get her, waiting to activate my trap the moment he does… or doesn’t

“Why don’t you come get her then?” My shoulders jerked up and down again as I attempted to suppress my laugh.

“Your little quirk gives you away, why don’t you bring her to me?”

“Now that’s not how the game works. You know how this goes. I call you out, we do the dance, you rescue the hostage yada yada, I try again the next time.”

“So why do we keep dancing, if we know how it ends?”

“Because – ” I stepped up to him. He cautiously moved back. “The dance is why we put our feet forward in the first place!” I pull out the remote control from behind my back, my shoulders once reverberate as a knowing expression etches across my rivals face.

“Perhaps it’s time we did our final dance.”

Triple Friday Fiction #2: October

October.

He shoved his hands into the pockets of his blood red hoodie, the moonlight dragging his shadow beside him, though the black silhouette barely followed its master’s footsteps. His sneakers barely made a sound on the glistening tarmac, where the smell of rain hung heavily in the air.

October.

His name rustled with the leaves, skittered with the street granules, murmured in the wind. He pulled his hands out long enough to pull his hoodie further over his head, long enough to reveal the gnarled, crimson fingers of his pale left hand etched with what looked like the number 8.

October… run.

He shoved his hands back into his pockets, feeling the air around him thicken as though the oxygen in the atmosphere was solidifying, making it hard to breath. His legs pulled forward slowly, his gait slacking considerably while his shadow edged on swiftly across the puddles master-less.

OCTOBER!

He turned suddenly, emerald eyes ablaze as they stared into the darkness, twisted hands clenching and un-clenching at his sides, the tattooed emblem of the number eight on his hand throbbing emerald in the darkness. His shadow flitted back to him, facing the opposite direction.

“This ain’t good maaaan, this ain’t good!” The shadow spoke. A sound like two saw blades grating against each other.

“Why aint you running Octy? Why. Aint. You. Running!”

October opened his hands as far as they could, letting off a slow breath. His eyes dimmed. The tattoo softened and dimmed until it was nothing more than an ink mark. The darkness revealed nothing.

“Listen, Octy, we been on this damn road for too long and where you be heading aint nowhere I wanna be. But I’m bound to you like a fetus to its mother with this umbilical cord we call your soul.”

October sighed irritably.

“So how bout we git. Just git! I won’t question your manliness, won’t question your pride. Aint nothing wrong with running Octy, and I’m ready. Sneaky like Ezio. Assassins Creed escape maaaaan!”

“Shut up!” October hissed, a soft boyish voice that carried in the wind. His name echoed back in the quiet flapping of wins. He shook his hands, the fingers crackling in the silent night, straightening, darkening in colour as they reformed fully and completely. His body shimmered, grew taller, his nose expanding wider and fuller, lips thicker as the hoodie sizzled and bubbled on his body until he was in a business suit and completely bald; a completely new person.

“Ah damn son you be looking like Samuel L Jackson fused with a Samoan wrestler, I dig it! So we gonna run now?” the shadow flitted to the other side.

“Absolutely.”

“Thatssss ma boy! Better move cos them freaks be close. Can you hear em in the wind?” October could. The beating wings were drawing closer.

“We’ll travel through the shadows ayt?” The shadow continued, “But not too far, I can’t handle your aura no more since that tattoo incident. You got some baaaad vibes in your system.”

“Do your thing then!” October hissed, which came out as a deep growl. The darkness around October’s feet pulsed and stretched, expanding wider until it was a gaping hole below the large burly fellow October had become. October felt his feet sink into the ground, slowly at first then picking up speed as he heard his name rustle louder and faster in the darkness, carrying across the night sky with the flutter of bats passing overhead. His eyes fell on the largest bat, eyes staring into him as he descended the last of the hole that his shadow had created. The bleak white eyes stared deeply into him, familiar in a rancid, cool, calculated kind of way. He shivered at the sight of the bat.

Nihil; his mentor.


Prompt 2: Introductions

Introduce a brand new character as though you’re beginning a new novel. We don’t need to know any plot or premise of the story, just introduce the main character.

Time to Write: Introductions

Triple Friday Fiction #1: Greyscale

I don’t know what happened to my weekends but these last two Fridays flew by before I could even lift my head. Both Fridays were exceptionally well spent so no regrets, but to make up for it, here is a triple whammy Friday Fiction, and the first post prompts are:

Prompt 1 – From Nicky

If purple is the colour of royalty, what is the colour of beggars, and what happens when a virus renders everyone colourblind.

Prompt 2 – From Rachel

Sentence starter. The prompt must begin with the following sentence:

I awoke to the sound of…


I awoke to the sound of metal scraping across brick; intermittent grating echoing across the fog of sleep. In the next moment I was up on the bed, throwing the blankets off and on my feet as the world swam in murky shades of grey and colour. In the distance I could hear the toll of the bell; a warning sign of an imminent danger. My teeth rattled at the continuous scraping that was surely coming from outside my cottage, and from the sounds of it, it was circling me. It was also then that I noticed the mismatch of colour; half the wooden door carried its aged dark brown of battered wood and the other half sagged in a dull grey. I spun around the room, watching as though through a child’s moving picture box, the world flitting from a drabby colourlessness to rich vivid colour.

“Edward!”

My name reverberated across the walls of my cottage, a familiar voice that filled my chest with dread; Thomas.

“Come now great magician, come see what your magic has wreaked upon the lands!”

The voice booms far louder than any normal man should be able to, and I shudder at the possibility that he has managed to tap into his hidden magical potential. But the continuous grating of what must be his sword against the brick walls, reveals that he is still his same brute self. An animal . I hear him move towards the door and then there is silence.

I wait.

“EDWARD!” My name is followed by banging that rattles the frame and sends dust flying.

“What is the meaning of this Thomas!” I cry at the door, though I hear the quiver in my voice. I am quite aware that I am not guilty of any magic but the man instills an irrational fear within me.

“Open up oh great and powerful magi of the third order. The king demands your audience!” His sarcasm drips from his lips like venom. I move towards the door and attempt to open it menacingly, but the large man as wide and tall as the door itself seems less likely to be intimidated by my scrawny self. His large bulk swims between colourlessness and full on ugly, scarred, muscled mass that has clearly spent too much time in the sun. His bearded face scowls at me. He steps aside and gestures at the stretching grey/green grass the extends from my cottage towards the village.  To the side is the abandoned castle, with it’s broken tower and everything looks normal. I’m not sure what he means and the grey filament over my eye is beginning to both annoy and worry me

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“What am I looking for, you giant brute.”

“Do you not see?”

“I wouldn’t be asking if I did.”

“The world! It has lost its colour.”

“The world has lost…” The grey murkiness intermingles with the vivid colour and I feel the tug of my internal system bucking against what has to be a virus of sorts; an enchantment against sickness that had been cast on me at birth. I touch a hand against the pendant on my chest and cast a healing enchantment, watching the world shimmer back to colour.

“It’s a virus. It must be.” The world immediately dulls out and disappears into bleakness completely and Thomas stares at me with a worried look.

“Is this not one of your spells gone awry?” He asks. The slight tremble in his voice makes me more anxious.

“Not at all Thomas. Not at all.”

“Well then we’re in serious trouble. The whole village has lost colour in its vision. Ma was the first to tell me. Old Lincoln in beggar grey says he’s glad we will all be equal now, that the King will no longer flourish his robes of purple and gold rings in our faces. It is this talk that has brought me here.” With his anger gone, the brute is almost a child and I feel pity for him, only for the reality of it all to sink in completely. The golden sunsets and sunrises. The purple flourish of robes. The swirl of emerald dresses. The silver sheen of dew on grass. The azure sky. All nothing but dreary monotony.

“Thomas,” I begin to say, but the words fail to form, as I imagine a colourless world.


 

Flash Fiction: Only A Theory

My weekend was a bit… hectic and I completely missed the Cracked Fiction submission deadline, but I did write the story so I figured I might as well post it.

The prompt was to use the phrase “I told you it was only a theory” and had a 300 word limit.


 

“I told you it was only a theory!” she brushed a loose strand of hair from her face, watching the back of the old man before her.

“Ah…” his tired raspy voice echoed across the dark, “Every theory has a hint of truth child.”

His hands shakily dragged across the azure gleam of the etchings on the wall; calligraphy, graven images, spread across the cave wall and disappearing into the gloom around them.

“Regardless…” her voice came out small and fearful, “This theory is, well, ludicrous.”

The old man laughed, the wisps of white hair clinging to his scalp shook,

“Do you deny the truth even as it stares you in the face?”

“The fountain of youth is a fairy-tale for demented old foo-”

The old man turned suddenly, the torch light in his hand shining across her face, making her cringe from the sudden movement and the heat. His beady eyes were dark. Intense. For a moment she feared the aged man. Even with the anger, the old man’s voice was calm. Soothing,

“Do not lose faith child, when we’re so close.” He turned back towards the glowing wall engravings, his body shook in either excitement or old age. “Today we will uncover the truth or fallacy of this supposed fairy-tale.”  he spat the last word out vehemently.

Seeing his intensity, she involuntarily took a step back as she watched the old man straggle further into the dark cave. She wondered if this was the same kind of faith that drove religious men towards ungodly acts of violence; towards seemingly righteous causes that only ended in death. As the walls continued to glow around him, she suddenly feared for her life in the presence of the old man, wondering where this step of faith would lead them.

Words: 298

Friday Fiction: Ambition

ttw-ambition

Now that we’re a week into the new year, let’s talk about our ambitions and goals.

Write a character that is full of ambition and determination to meet their dreams.

Time to Write: Ambition


The man walked into his office with a slow gait, fatigue etched into his drooping eyebrows and dark matted hair. He gingerly shut the door, the purple and swollen knuckles barely registering as he twisted the key. In the same slow manner, he shrugged the jacket off his shoulders and draped it over the coat hanger before slouching his way to his office desk. His fingers traced over the gleaming mahogany, all around until he fell into the plush leather seat. From within his desk drawer he pulled out a bottle of whiskey, along with a tumbler and set both on the empty desk.

Frankenstein. A name his enemies and work staff had come to call him, and not only because of his amazing stitch work on those who were under him; he was the elixir that gave people life; the scientist who animated the living corpses that straggled his streets.

And at the root of this… madness… well he had ambitions that ran right through the teeming streets of Jozi CBD, along the no-longer-so-dusty streets of Soweto, across the populated Sandton avenues all the way to the quiet walkways of the East Rand. His… monsters, as they referred to themselves, were with him on this ridiculously chaotic road to the top. Top of what, one might ask, and that answer would both overwhelm and seem stupidly ridiculous to the one asking.  But what was ambition if it didn’t seem impossible? Where the odds were tested every waking hour as the country fell into chaos?

He took a sip of his golden drink and grimaced, which in turn became a grin so wide it looked as though his jaws would break. He slammed the glass down on the desk, and as though not satisfied with the action, dragged it over the table and across the office to smash into the far wall.

Alone. Forsaken. Recluse. Fragile. Weak. Brittle. Incompetent. Inadequate. Useless.

He let the words roll around his tongue, spitting each word vehemently as he steeled his mind against the onslaught of doubts plaguing his thoughts. He would punch, sweet talk and stitch up as many as he had to until he was treated like the man he deserved to be; King.

But success SHALL crown my endeavours. Wherefore not? Thus far I have gone, tracing a secure way over the pathless seas, the very stars themselves being witnesses and testimonies of my triumph. Why not still proceed over the untamed yet obedient element? What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man? Robert Walton – Frankenstein

Time To Write: Sense of Smell

Prompt courtesy of Rachel Poli

Time To Write: Sense Of Smell

_

I stared up at the man in the white coat as he unwrapped the last of the bandages from my face. He was grinning maniacally. He smelled like alcohol and medicine. Underlying that was a stronger stench of death.
“What have you done to me?” I asked. The words seemed to tumbled from my numb lips as though I had not said them. The words smelled like stale egg and toast. Breakfast. Only that was eight hours ago.
“Oh this is so exciting!!” The doctor rushed to his table with incredible speed, grabbing a pen and scribbling furiously on his desk.
“Doc!” I shouted. He turned his face towards me, dark locks flicking across his face to give me a truly maniacal face.
“It’s amazing! Truly! I. Am. A. GENIUSSSS!” he threw a hand to the sky and rushed up to me.
“What have you done!?”
He turned his eyes towards me as though seeing me for the first time. His smile widened though I would have deemed it impossible.
“It’s genius, really, not sure why nobody thought of it.”
“What!? What is it!?”
He giggled like a school boy.
“You know how you were suffering from sinuses, hence why you came to me?”
I nodded slowly, still too aware of the smells the man and the room were radiating
“Well…” he patted my nose “I replaced your nose with a dog’s. Did someone say olfactory?”

Writing Prompt: Dog-gone

One always remembers something in particular about a memorable day and for me it was the sun. For a July afternoon mid-winter, the sun was rather bright and the warmth welcome. Of course it was not merely the sun that made the day memorable, this was South Africa after all. It was, rather, the incident that occurred at the corner of Rae Frankel and Hennie Alberts somewhere in Albertsdal or Alberview… it could be Alberton. That detail is  fuzzy. The smell of MacDonalds however is still clear and to this day, the smell reminds me of this incident. This… accident.

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