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Jun 13, 11 at 11:15pm ^A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
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I'm going to be posting them here as soon as they're done, no proofreading, no editing, as that defeats the purpose of the exercise. I'm perfectly willing to accept more prompts as I go through this, to extend the challenge; I only plan to stop once I run out. Equally, feel free to suggest a random number for me to do next. I currently have 35 prompts to choose from.
So! Thoughts and comments of course appreciated, let's get rolling.
Well, one a day sort of failed after a while, but I'm still doing the challenge! I now have 42 prompts, and will be adding short pieces from other things to the thread, too.
And I'd still love comments :3
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42.
Day One: 24. After a tragic infection which wipes out everybody above the age of ten, the world is rebuilt by children.
Day Two: 28. An argumentative British gentleman enters a high-class clothes, accessory and jewellery retailer and attempts to pay for his goods with plain coins of twenty-four carat gold, the sum of which (he assures the equally argumentative store clerk) equates to seventy-five thousand great, British pounds.
Day Three: 12. A time travelling cat (only travels a max of 30 mins in either direction) and has absolutely no control over it.
Day Four: 21. Between series five and six, before Pond was kidnapped, she, the Doctor and Rory end up within an old, decaying castle. Unbeknownst to them there is a type of gas life-form which is taking residence in the castle that they barely notice, but which they are slowly killing. In self-defence this gas ventures into the castle's crypt and the graveyard just outside and, as the Doctor disappears to seek out just why Sexy took them there, Amy and Rory are attacked by skeletal soldiers. Escaping, they find that their only option is to barricade themselves into the closest room... which turns out to be the armoury. Knowing that the wooden door and small barricade wouldn't hold back the hordes for long, The Last Centurion takes up a short-sword in place of his gladius and faces their attackers.
Day Five: 15. A poisonous toad that can turn into a human.
Day Six: 3. Civilized, moustachioed, top hat wearing chaps Tiger of Wu and Knightmare Chaotix playing croquet.
Day Seven: 17. I caught a ride with a trickster in a travelling band, to a town down by the sea.
Day Eight: 5. A man buys a muffin from a mysterious store. He quickly realized that every bite of the muffin he takes gives him a random super power. How can he use this to his full advantage before the muffin runs out?
Day Ten: 23. Daddy or chips.
Day Eleven: 1. Kung fu crickets that fight crime.
Day Twelve: 16. Just call the main character Dave.
Day Thirteen: 19. There's a fork in my shoe ._.
Day Fourteen: 14. A tap-dancing horse.
Day Fifteen: 9. A town destroyed, a monster made.
Day Sixteen: 2. You are out shopping and you bump into Ion. What happens next?
Day Seventeen: 41. A Nigerian Prince turns up on the doorstep, saying that he has a suitcase full of money for you if you'll help him.
Day I've Lost Track: 6. There's a blind man named Jeremy who pumps gas for a living, and he is visited by an alien who has a habit of making strange soul-sucking sounds. You can write as either one of these characters or from a third-person perspective.
42. The sky breaks open as a long, black scar stretches across it, covering not just the planet, but the entire universe. What happens?
37. A difference engine AI is controlling all of (modern day?) London, powered by water flow through the sewers.
40. Write for 10 minutes using "I used to think" as your starter.
7. "Tonight, a thousand angels fall."
33. "Toys, assemble! Thanks to the recon of Gizmo and the Mogwai we have discerned where Billy and Timmy live. They have bullied our Kathy for long enough; tonight, we strike back!"
11. One track mind?
39. Do a 5-minute freewrite with the phrase "anger suffers as grief withdraws" as your guide.
25. Write a piece based on "a blur of ego".
1. Countdown. Altair, from Assassin's Creed, has to kill his way out of a group of guards. No speech was allowed in this exercise.
2. Plan B. Three people in 1920s London have a play to stop. It's harder than you might expect.
3. Metempsychosis. È perché io sono l'eletto di Dio, che questo fuoco non mi toccano.
4. The Castle on the Hill. A dead city tried to breathe.
5. Out of the Dark. He wanted to tell himself he'd done it all for her. But he hadn't.
6. The Rose of Versailles. He let the painting do the talking.
7. Masquerade. A Shade, immortal watcher of souls, is destroyed by a pretender at immortality.
8. Pi(π). 3.14159...
9. Untitled. "Don't be stupid. I'm happy here."
10. State of Mind. There are one thousand, eight hundred and sixty steps from the street level to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. It took only one to get back to street level.
11. Last Ride Out. One shot, clean. Problem solved.
12. Smoke. You smile crookedly as he exhales smoke.
13. Red. We’ll pretend.
14. Seven Silver Serpents. Tick. Tock.
15. Cobblestones. It was just as grotesque as the stories described.
16. Rites. He'd been missing for too long.
17. Road Trip. "Where would we go?" - "Anywhere. Everywhere."
You may also wish to try some of my longer works:
Dreaming the Sky. Two young men, one human, one not, attempt to save both their country and themselves from a dangerous rebellion.
The Writers' War. Keep a tight hold on what's reality. [Taken down/put on hold for edits]
Spiders & Worms. Five people, chosen for a dark fate. One, a young drow, skirts closer to the darkness than others. [D&D3.5, Greyhawk]
Legacy of the Ancients (written with Sventhecrusader). War has come again to Gaia. And Gaia is not ready.
7-9-2-5 (written with LillieBeeXD). With his dying breath, the necromancer spoke the words written in blood upon the castle wall, and the children began to change.
Or take a look at my plot-generating flashcards, or check out my Neo-Duelist League writing
[color=#666666]This message was edited on 2012-07-21T05:11:14-07:00.
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Jun 13, 11 at 11:17pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
24: After a tragic infection which wipes out everybody above the age of ten, the world is rebuilt by children.
“You can’t have it.”
She stood in front of the entrance to the house, four feet and three inches of angry righteousness. Martin blinked in surprise as she held up a finger, affecting a know-it-all pose. “It’s mine. My house. Got here firstest and all.” Martin looked up at the house. It was an end terrace, bricks a little blackened on the outside. Facing the road, not that it mattered. Only one of the windows was broken, too.
“Can’t you share?” he protested, pouting. She folded her arms, huffing irritably.
“No. ‘S mine,” she repeated. She was determined, he’d give her that. “You can have the next one.” Martin looked over at that one. Middle terrace, bricks very blackened on the outside on account of the fire that had gutted all but the house she was stood in front of right now.
“I can do stuff in the garden,” he offered. His mum had called it something. Bribery. Earning. Something, he didn’t know. Tit for tat. “Cut the grass, and stuff.” She peered at him, sizing him up.
“Isn’t no electrics,” she reminded him. He shrugged.
“Can plant stuff, then. Or use the shears. C’mon,” he protested. It was cold out, and he hadn’t been able to get into any of the other houses, except the ones that were full of ash, and that one that’d had the corpses in. “’S gonna rain. Just share a little bit?” She frowned, then relented.
“Fine,” she decided. “Still mine, though.” He nodded quickly, eager to appease.
“Martin,” he added, sticking out a hand awkwardly. She didn’t shake it, the look on her face implying he might have something horrible, like the plague.
“Isabel,” she admitted reluctantly. “C’mon in, then.”
The two boys lifted the fallen sign with twin grunts of effort. It was taller than them, and practically too much for them to manage on their own. The small boy they’d rescued, sporting a gash across his head and with one hand wrapped in three different gloves, pointed to the corner of the shop window.
“That’s where ‘s weakest,” he told them, and they smashed the edge of the sign into it. Safety glass frosted over with cracks, and the second heave sent it crashing to the floor, shattered into thousands of pieces.
“Score,” the first boy gloated, rubbing his hands together. The second nodded to their rescue with a grin.
“C’mon, you can ‘ave first dibs,” he offered. The boy’s face lit up with delight, his thin frame painfully obvious through his threadbare clothes, and he stepped through the hole in the glass carefully as the first boy brushed the worst of the shards away with his foot.
On the top of a hill, two boys and a girl were sat. The girl was ten years old, the eldest of the three; the boys were five and seven. In the distance, a hollow, empty city could be seen.
“Daddy said the angels would come save us,” the older boy mumbled, hugging his knees. Part of the city was smoking softly, a recent fire put out by the downpour that had followed it. Even now, dark clouds were clustering in the distance, threatening more rain. Only the youngest boy had a waterproof coat.
“Mummy said there was no god,” the girl replied. The wind blew her hair to one side, her once well-kept locks now tangled and dirty. The younger boy sniffed softly, not speaking.
“...I miss them,” the older boy managed, his voice choked like he was close to tears. The girl manoeuvred herself between them, dropping the mucky toy dog she was holding to put one arm around each of their shoulders. The younger boy picked up the dog in dirty fingers, not saying anything still. With a rustle of old waterproofs and another sniff, the dog was hugged to his chest.
“We need to find a new house,” she told them, her voice quiet. She didn’t want to be in charge. She didn’t think she knew how to be in charge, but somehow she’d picked up the brothers and now they followed her like she was their leader. Maybe if she could find a big house, or somewhere they wouldn’t have to scavenge for food, it would be ok.
The youngest boy pointed out down into the city, at a block of houses in the middle that looked relatively undamaged. The girl nodded.
“Good idea,” she congratulated. “Come on. Let’s go.”
Martin looked through the letterbox when a knock sounded on the door. Outside stood three boys, one of whom looked like he was about to lose his right hand in cloth.
“Hey. Can you let us in?” the biggest one asked, sounding desperate. “We can give you food.” The middle one held up a bag full of what was definitely food, and good food at that. Martin’s stomach rumbled just at the thought of it.
“Who is it?” Isabel demanded. Martin straightened up, letting go of the letterbox.
“Boys. They got food,” he called back to her. There was a pause as she considered it.
“Tell them it’s mine,” she compromised, and Martin drew back the chain and opened the door.
“It’s Isabel’s house,” he informed them dutifully. A grateful smile broke on the two large boys’ faces.
“Thanks,” the second one told him, passing over the food. The first boy took the skinny one by the non-gloved hand, ushering him in carefully. He was shivering, even though it wasn’t all that cold.
“...We got blankets,” Martin added, feeling like this was the appropriate thing to say.
“Thank you,” the small boy whispered, his voice barely there. He was practically a ghost.
“They’re my blankets,” Isabel added, walking in with a pile too large for her to properly hold in her arms, “but you can borrow them.”
The small boy with a dog toy in his hand looked up at the door in front of him, and jumped. Then he jumped again. On the fifth jump, he managed to press the doorbell. Nothing happened, so he reached up with his empty fist and knocked on the door. It was opened, slowly.
“Hi,” the boy whispered. He didn’t appear to have one hand. The little boy looked up at him, dog toy clutched carefully in one hand, before digging into his pocket and pulling out a note, which he held out to the ghost-boy. He took it; opened it. Squinted.
“Stay there,” he suggested, voice still faint, before disappearing back into the house. The boy stayed still obediently, hugging the dog with the matted fur, until a much less ghostly boy appeared. He wore a long-suffering expression.
“Hey,” he greeted. “I’m Martin. Who’re you?” The boy held up the dog, pointing to the name on the tag. “Russel. Nice to meet you, Russel. Did you write that note?” The boy shook his head carefully, pointing out to a big house just visible on the horizon. Martin looked up at it, thinking about it. “This is Isabel’s house,” he told him carefully, dithering over the words, “but we’ll come pay you a visit, ‘kay? I can plant things.” Russel nodded, the motion still slow and careful. Martin reached out and patted him on the shoulder uncertainly. “Kyle’ll go back with you, yeah?” A taller boy appeared behind Martin and grinned at Russel.
“Nice dog,” he told him, sounding sincere. “Let’s go for a walk, hey?”
Slowly, Russel nodded, a ghost of a smile on his face.
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Jun 14, 11 at 9:20pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
28: An argumentative British gentleman enters a high-class clothes, accessory and jewellery retailer and attempts to pay for his goods with plain coins of twenty-four carat gold, the sum of which (he assures the equally argumentative store clerk) equates to seventy-five thousand great, British pounds.
His name, which he would happily give away upon asking, was Lord Archibald Jeremiah Edmund Farnsworth. He was the Sixth Earl of some little backwater part of England nobody really cared about any more – nor, apparently, had they cared much when it was founded, given how few Earls there had been.
He dressed the part aptly – his jacket was perfectly ironed, buttoned at the waist, and had tails that trailed down to the length of his knees. Naturally, it was black as pitch. He wore a white shirt, buttoned to the neck, around which rested an immaculately-tied bowtie. The crease in his trousers looked sharp enough to cut, his shoes were shined until a reflection could be seen, and upon his head was a top hat of exactly the right height. Naturally, he had done none of this work himself.
He was watched by the workers as he walked through the store, his bearing and dress eclectically upper-class even by the standards of that place. He drifted through the floors with a lofty sense of purpose, occasionally directing a demurely-dressed maid to place items without price tags into a basket. Of course there were no price tags – this was not the sort of establishment for those who needed to keep a careful eye on their budget, after all.
“Good afternoon, sir!” a cheerful till girl greeted as the basket was placed upon her desk, and she began to scan barcodes, or occasionally put in a unique code. “How will sir be paying?”
“With these,” he informed her, looking like it was beneath him to even speak to her. From the pocket of his waistcoat he withdrew a small leather pouch, and, delicately, he took out a round, gold coin. He placed the pouch onto the desk with exaggerated care, and held out the coin with the tips of his fingers. The cashier took it, confused.
“I’m afraid we only accept English currency,” she informed him apologetically. He bristled.
“Young lady, I will have you know that the coin you are holding is 100% pure 24-carat gold,” he told her stuffily. “Indeed, the value of the coins in that pouch comes to a grand total of seventy-five thousand of our fine British pounds.” The woman’s eyes widened, and she held it up to the light. “You test the purity by biting it,” he informed her in a long-suffering voice. Unsurprisingly, she did not try.
“I’m afraid I’ll have the call the manager,” she apologised. “I’m not sure we can accept this, no matter how pure it is.” Lord Archie rolled his eyes, affecting the posture of the hard-done by.
“I regret to inform you, madam, that it is entirely legal tender and you are required by law to accept it,” he remarked, turning up his nose at her. “And if you do not wish to allow me to make a perfectly legitimate purchase, I may have to take my business elsewhere.”
“J-just let me speak to the manager about it,” the girl compromised, looking rather desperate. “H-he’ll know how to test if it’s real gold. If you’ll just wait a few minutes, sir-”
“My time is precious, little girl. Precious,” he cut in, with emphasis on every word. He leaned down slightly so that he was looking into her eyes from her level. “I would advise you not to waste it.” She made a slightly terrified noise, halfway between a squeak and a yelp.
“N-no offence, sir, but it could cost me my job,” she managed, her voice small. Lord Archie straightened up, the look on his face speaking of indescribable disgust for those who actually had to work for their income.
“I tire of your pointless charade,” he decided, sweeping his coin from the cashier’s hand without actually touching her and replacing it tenderly in his bag, which he picked up. “Beatrice, be a dear and deal with this distraction. We have places to be.” The maid curtsied obediently, the cashier frowning.
“So... you don’t want this after all?” she assumed. The Lord’s brow twitched slightly, and he watched as his maid picked up the basket and placed it on the floor, out of the way.
“Of course I do, you unfortunate common thing,” he responded haughtily. “I simply do not wish to have to deal with your... bickering.” The girl opened her mouth to argue, then stopped, a look of terror spreading on her face.
Beatrice’s fingers were stretching, the bones clicking audibly as her nails extended and her fingers curled up into claws. Her nose turned up to a point as her eyes narrowed to slits, her teeth lengthening and sharpening as she snarled. Her legs bent backwards and out of place, her foot tearing upwards until it resembled that of a bat more than a human, her skin taking on a deathly gray pallor as it did so.
The girl on the till shrieked as Beatrice, or whatever she had become, cleared the desk with a single leap and knocked her to the floor. Lord Archie watched dispassionately, brushing a fleck of blood from his jacket with a weary sigh.
Beatrice got to her feet, her features sinking back into those of a normal human being once more, and wiped the blood from her face with a handkerchief before bending to pick up the basket. Lord Archie nodded once, approvingly.
“Let us be off, Beatrice,” he suggested, turning with enough force to make his coat-tails swish.
He’d been the Earl of that backwater part of England for a very long time. It was very hard to get decent interest on accounts stocked with gold bullion in this day and age.
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Jun 15, 11 at 10:35pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
12: A time travelling cat (only travels a max of 30 mins in either direction) and has absolutely no control over it.
A few years ago, there was a cat. Female. Tabby. Mongrel. The general consensus seemed to be that her name was Molly.
Molly. Yes, a few years ago, there was Molly.
Molly was a troubled cat. Sometimes things didn’t quite work for her.
Molly had a place where she liked to sit. In the centre of the big sofa in the lounge, a big, red sofa with cat hairs in the middle, was where she sat. The people would sit around her, and stroke her while they talked, sometimes. Sometimes they shouted, and blink, Molly was gone.
No people. Empty sofa. More cat. She didn’t like it very much.
Molly couldn’t make it stop.
Exactly thirty minutes.
It had started happening when she was a kitten. When she’d first been taken to the big house with the red sofa, and handed to the little girl with the wide, bright eyes and the small hands that kept stroking her. She was fine when she was content, mostly. She could sit for hours and nothing would happen, but when things were disturbed...
They tried to put her in the water, blink, the cat was gone, back when there was nothing wet. A passing dog barked violently at the window, blink, the cat jumped forwards to when the dog was gone. The people did not understand it. Sometimes they shouted for her, and she ran towards the voices, ecstatic, and blink.
Sometimes it happened several times in a row. An iteration of fearful things. Blink, blink, blink. For Molly there were a lot of fearful things. She didn’t like it, but, of course, when she didn’t- blink.
She fluttered back and forth between the now and the then and the coming with no hold on it. Sometimes she didn’t know which of the times she walked in was the now. Sometimes she didn’t know if there was a now, or just a collection of thens for her to hop between. Jump between. Blink.
It became more than just bathwater. The big woman with the hands that didn’t stroke her at all would begin to shout, and then the man would shout back, and the girl would cry. Shouting, stamping, blink. Nobody bothered to look for Molly. Nobody wanted to look for Molly. Nobody cared about Molly.
The girl was crying; Molly rubbed her head against her hands. The girl liked Molly, but not when she was jumping about all over the place. Sometimes the girl came to find Molly, when there was shouting in the house, but there would be no Molly there. Blink.
The big woman tried to kick at Molly, blink.
She was hungry, and there was no food in the bowl, blink.
The shouting man knocked at her as he gesticulated wildly with his big hands, blink.
Molly wanted to be with the crying girl, to make her stop crying so her hands would stroke her fur, but she couldn’t, because...
There were too many angry words in the big house. Even when she blinked, she ended up amidst more shouting, more words, more violence.
Molly the cat was lost. Lost. She wanted the girl with her hands that stroked her to come back. She saw her and her face was covered with bruises; the big man was covered in bruises too, cowering and no longer so big. The angry woman took away her bowl. Molly was lost in a sea of flickering backwards and forwards.
No rest for Molly.
No peace for the house.
Molly stumbled in a sea of long, tangled grass. She was hungry. She did not know where... when she was. There was no shouting, though. That was good.
Molly went into the house. The big house. Outside the door was a bowl, full of cat biscuits. Hungry, Molly ate. Nobody else was eating them. She was not scared.
Molly went through the cat flap.
There was a big woman there, with a little boy, who squealed with delight and ran a pudgy hand down Molly’s fur. She purred. The big woman said something, but her voice wasn’t angry like the other big woman. Molly didn’t understand the human sounds, but there was no violence in the way she bent to pick her up. Molly saw big, blue eyes with a brightness in them, albeit dulled. The big woman smiled and, putting her on the table, began to stroke her.
Molly felt ok.
A big man walked into the room; he smiled faintly at Molly. A different big man to before, this one not cowed or angry. Just ordinary. Something ordinary. Peaceful for Molly.
The big woman fiddled with her tags until she could see them properly, then went pale. Molly mewled, annoyed that she had stopped stroking her, and with a weak laugh, the big woman carried on.
“I used to have a cat called Molly. My mother said she killed her.”
There is Molly.
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Jun 16, 11 at 9:43pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
21: Between series five and six, before Pond was kidnapped, she, the Doctor and Rory end up within an old, decaying castle. Unbeknownst to them there is a type of gas life-form which is taking residence in the castle that they barely notice, but which they are slowly killing. In self-defence this gas ventures into the castle's crypt and the graveyard just outside and, as the Doctor disappears to seek out just why Sexy took them there, Amy and Rory are attacked by skeletal soldiers. Escaping, they find that their only option is to barricade themselves into the closest room... which turns out to be the armoury. Knowing that the wooden door and small barricade wouldn't hold back the hordes for long, The Last Centurion takes up a short-sword in place of his gladius and faces their attackers.
They’d not been to a castle before, but going by Rory’s current track record of adventures with the Doctor, it was going to end badly. Well, perhaps not end badly, but there would certainly be a large middle section that would comprise largely of him running away as fast as he could and wondering how long it would take for the Doctor to get him and Amy killed, in his case again. It wasn’t that the Doctor attracted trouble... more that he was attracted to it. Usually it was the dangerous kind of trouble. No, it always was.
Rory was sat on the base of a large stone statue, which was weathered beyond recognition. He was keeping an eye on Amy, who was keeping an eye on the Doctor, the latter of which dancing about the room like it was give-away time at the sweet shop. As he began to critically examine a plaque on the wall, Amy walked back over to Rory.
“He’s nuts,” Rory decided as Amy hopped up beside him on the pedestal. She exhaled sharply, looking decidedly fed up.
“He’s convinced it’s the site of an ancient battle or something,” she muttered. “Or possibly the fall of a civilisation.”
“He’s making it up,” Rory offered with a shrug. Amy made a face.
“No kidding,” she agreed. Both of them watched, bemused, as the Doctor ran his sonic screwdriver over every surface in his near vicinity, then tapped it as though it was on the fritz. They did not find themselves even a little bit surprised when he began talking to it, or when he started smacking it against the wall. Eventually, after a fair amount of percussive maintanence, he held it up with a grin on his face.
“Bingo!” he declared. “You two stay there, I’ll be back in two minutes!” He ran backwards, gesticulating at them with one hand with wild inaccuracy as he kept the screwdriver held up in the air, his eyes on it.
“No way, mister,” Amy protested, getting to his feet, but the Doctor danced up the stairs and locked the heavy doors behind him with a thunk, the persistent noise of the screwdriver accompanying it. Amy, halfway up the stairs, crossed her arms huffily. Rory cringed inwardly as she began tapping her foot.
“We’re not going after him,” he started, just as Amy suggested the same. “We’re staying here,” he added, in tandem with Amy’s endorsement of leaving. She stormed back down the stairs again, looking angry, and grabbed Rory by the wrist with a ‘come on’ that implied that her word was very much the end of the matter.
Rory consoled himself with the knowledge that at least he’d tried to argue.
“Do you hear that?”
Alarm bells began to ring in Rory’s head as soon as Amy began to speak in that tone. She’d said it now. Sure, he hadn’t actually heard anything, but he’d be willing to put his life savings on that being his ears at fault, not Amy’s. Those words always came before lots of running, without fail. Always.
“Hear what?” he asked, his heart sinking.
“Like... A rattling,” Amy elaborated, pausing. “There it goes, listen.” Rory listened obediently. Something was certainly making noise, but he wouldn’t have called it rattling. Clicking, maybe. Or grinding.
“I think now might be a good time to go in the other direction,” he offered tentatively, but Amy – as always – was contrary and pulled open the door.
Outside, there were skeletons. Lots and lots of skeletons, some of them still trailing organic matter. Predictably, they were all armed with things that were far too spiky for Rory’s liking.
Amy slammed the door.
“Run,” she suggested. Rory wasn’t about to waste his breath arguing that he’d proposed the exact same thing before she’d opened the door.
They’d barely taken five paces before the door behind them exploded in a shower of wooden splinters, settling in a cloud as the first skeleton stepped through the hole. Clacking, that was the word. Rory was concerned that his brain was still finding time to devote to the riddle while arrows were skimming past his head.
“In here!” he shouted, pulling Amy inside the nearest room and heaving the door closed with all his strength, before pulling up the nearest available heavy object against it, something that looked like an empty weapons rack. Nervously, Amy pulled a torch from her belt and turned it on. Spinning it around the room, Rory could see weapons – lots and lots of weapons. What he couldn’t see, and what he’d in fact kind of hoped for, was an alternative exit.
“Damn,” Amy muttered, both of them flinching as something thudded against the door. Rory was thankful that this one was far more resistant to blows, but even so it wouldn’t last forever.
“We should have stayed in the room with the TARDIS,” he decided wearily, Amy punching him in the shoulder. The thunk of something heavy impacting something resistant sounded once more.
“This was your idea,” she reminded him cheekily.
“Oh, yes, my idea, after you decided to go running off after the Doctor rather than staying put,” he grumbled, looking around the room. There were weapons. Lots of weapons. Not much else.
A third thud made the door groan.
Face twisting into a grimace, Rory picked up a short sword, testing the weight in his hands. Something about a sword felt familiar; a false memory from a him that didn’t really exist. A him that wasn’t real, had never been real... But that he remembered.
Two thousand years.
“What’re you doing?” Amy asked, her worry evident by the lack of slightly insulting nickname.
“Stay back,” Rory told her, taking up a defensive stance in front of the door. “I’ll hold them off for as long as I can.” She started to protest, but he gave her a look. She met his eyes, seeing the grim determination there, and fell silent.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured, her voice soft. Rory smiled faintly at her.
“Don’t be,” he replied, kicking the barricade from in front of the door and quickly ducking back. It exploded open, the skeletons using far too much force for the little resistance that remained, and in the few, brief moments of their disorientation, the Last Centurion was on them.
It was just like breathing. The hesitance; the uncertainty was gone. Amy was in danger, and he was the only one there who could protect her. The sword’s hilt fitted naturally in his hand. Reflexive, instinctive, he moved without even thinking about it.
He spun on his heel to take the first skeleton out at the knees, the crunch of breaking, falling bones not even registering in his ears. He parried a Morningstar, the force almost tearing the sword from his grasp, not to mention his arm from the shoulder socket, then kicked out with as much force as he could muster to send the skeleton skidding backwards into its allies. Block, thrust, parry, turn, spin, riposte; his teeth were gritted and sweat was beading on his forehead but he tried to block it out. He heard Amy swear at the skeletons as an arrow embedded itself in his arm with a bright flare of pain, and with renewed vigour he sliced the head from an already-dead enemy. He was looking at the skeletons, his feet breaking bones and his sword an extension of his arms, but he wasn’t seeing anything. He could hear his breath, ragged and harsh. Swing, hack, slice. The blade was dulling, scratched and bent from cutting through bone. Blood ran down his arm, heat on sweat. He was running on adrenaline, the pain no longer affecting him.
Amy. For Amy. To protect her.
He slipped, bone rolling under his shoes and setting him off-balance, and the sword went flying to the side as he lost his grip. He could hear the blood pounding in his ears; every beat of his heart. Above him, powered solely by rage, Amy flew forwards and swung a mace in the general direction of his attacker, the sharp, heavy metal bludgeoning its way through ribs and spine before becoming embedded in the floor inches from Rory’s feet. Amy staggered, overwhelmed by the weight, and the remaining skeletons moved forwards.
Time slowed down.
Rory pushed himself to his feet and forced Amy backwards. He had no shield, no sword, no protection to offer her but his own body. Seconds before he expected to feel the bite of the spear’s tip, he heard a clacking.
“What the bloody hell is going on?” Amy demanded. Rory opened his eyes tentatively, to see skeletons on the floor, entirely inanimate like the dead things they were.
“I...” Rory began, before it finally hit him that he had been about to die. Although the various nicks and cuts in his skin and the arrow in his arm still didn’t hurt – although they would – he still turned to the side and grasped at the wall, feeling like he was about to be sick. “I... Hate castles,” he finished, breathing in and out deeply. Behind them, the achingly familiar grinding noise of the TARDIS transporting began to sound, the room lighting up with blue as it materialised. The Doctor poked his head out, looking somewhat confused.
“You’re about fifteen minutes too late,” Amy protested.
“Oh, er... Sorry about that,” he apologised, stepping gingerly out into the room. “I found out what was wrong with it, though, gas life-form, disrupted by our exhaled breath... very nasty. Turns out it was trapped in here, so I offered to give it a lift if it stopped messing around...” He held up a jar with a translucent gas in it, that seemed to be glowing a faint yellow colour. “...What’s going on, by the way?” Amy glared daggers at him.
“I... I think I’m going to be sick,” Rory managed.
It was not even the slightest bit comforting to know that his prediction of events had been entirely correct.
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Jun 17, 11 at 11:32pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
15: A poisonous toad that can turn into a human.
Today really was Glen’s lucky day. He’d found a kindred spirit. A person with whom he could share his woes and feel like they really understood. Someone he could speak with for hours and never run out of conversation.
Pity she wasn’t real.
Sighing, he turned away from the window of the comic book store, with the latest issues out on vibrant display in the window, and stuck his hands in the deep pockets of his jacket. Usually he wore gloves, but he got more weird looks for gloves in summer than he did for a jacket on a hot day. People were so judgemental sometimes, like he was rude for not shaking their hands on occasion. Was it so hard to believe that it could prove to be deadly?
Well, ok, maybe to them.
Glen had liked that girl in the comics because she couldn’t touch people. Not that she didn’t want to, although there were certainly some people like that around, but couldn’t. He was the same. People he touched tended to end up dead, although it was a little more delayed-action than for the comic girl. He was poisonous, see. Poisonous and apparently really popular with herons. He couldn’t get rid of the damned things. Even when he was just walking down the path they’d try and land by him and jab at his stomach until he shooed them away.
Herons wanted to eat his liver. It was like some sort of Greek mythic perversion. A Prometheus for the modern age, or at least an all-you-can-eat heron buffet. Ridiculous. Like the poison skin was ridiculous, although he guessed it came in handy when he was being Normal.
Glen hadn’t been born human. He’d been born a toad; more specifically a patch of jelly and a fertilised egg that had eventually become a toad. He was now one and a half years old. That was pretty good, as far as toads went. Not very old for a human, though. He was lucky the magic made up for that.
Magic. It was like a reverse of that fairy tale curse. (There he went, fiddling with the world’s mythos again.) Instead of a prince becoming a frog, a frog had become... well, not a prince, but human at least. And kissing women didn’t turn him into either a frog or a prince, although it did put them in hospital, so score one for the witch, he supposed. But sometimes, on a whim, he turned into a human. The only problem was the aforementioned ‘being poisonous’ deal.
He walked down the street, considering things and batting away a heron that attempted to dive-bomb him. Damned herons. He wanted to find that witch. She’d only been a girl when she’d cast the spell, but... well, she’d still be a girl. He’d grown up much faster than she had. Toad, after all. It didn’t make any sense to him when he was being a toad, though, of course, which was tricky. And every time he got close to the pond he just wanted to jump into it. Happened with most kinds of fresh water, to be fair. He’d nearly been poisoned by a swimming pool once. He was fairly certain that was ironic in some way, but it didn’t change the fact that finding the witch was hard.
He’d done some research into witchcraft, but couldn’t find anything grounded in reality other than a Wicca meeting that had proved to be a dud lead, and also a fairly trippy experience. Nothing else turned up anything about real magic, especially the kind the witch had done on him. Transmutation. On the plus side, if he was always a toad one of his vital organs would probably have been heron food by now.
He’d been looking through some less conventional kinds of magic, hence ending up at the comic book store. None of it seemed any good. Nothing was any good. He was going to be stuck as a lonely, poisonous man for the rest of his life, or being heron food. Or possibly both, assuming they gained the ability to open locks. He wouldn’t put it past them to attack him in his sleep.
He butted up against a passing girl, starting to apologise immediately, glad for the jacket that stopped her touching his arms. She waved it away, giggling to herself as he croaked. Confused, he put a hand up to his mouth, but he was still human, all human. There wasn’t any water about, either. Or herons.
He grinned to himself. She might not be his girl, but he’d certainly found himself a nice, fresh lead. The only problem would be following it without being arrested for stalking.
And, of course, he would probably end up being bombarded by herons.
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Dash the Stampede
total posts: 14416
since: Aug 2003
Jun 18, 11 at 12:31am ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
Read two stories so far going into this. 1st and 2nd one. I will outright say now 2nd one is my favorite of them so far all thanks to Fansworth. His character is win in some charming way. I wish I could grab word for it, but something about his character spoke to me in way that I have to give my thumbs up to. Right away in opening with line "which he would happily give away upon asking," I actually did smirk in response and felt got nice feel to personality right away. Way of events gone for a short story was nicely done and seeing as I'm one used to far bigger works, it's nice to see more 1 off works.
Now, as for the first story, I'm conflicted. Not a bad concept and that was great way to tackle it, yet it was something about way. I think it's because at first the way presented confused me a tad bit with how it was jumping around and it took me a second read to fully grasp what I missed there. Can say you found a really unique way to tell that story which was best. It's good enough that I may have to sometime steal it to tell something short. I will say I do wish I got to get a better grasp and understanding for characters featured outside of swift shorts (though did do nicely in what needed for quick bursts), but that's more because I'm a character person. I can still tell the short wasn't about characters and more about reaction of things in itself.
Will read remaining ones soon enough!
WARNING: This story is about a thief! Give her the chance and she'll steal your time.
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|Tiger of Wu||
Jun 18, 11 at 1:29am ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
Since you're not on MSN, I'll summarise my thoughts on 15 in here:
That is all.
No, bad Tiger, be constructive. I actually really liked it, which was a surprise to me after the combination of your slagging it off and the slow start. I suppose, though, without that slow start the rest wouldn't have worked as well; characterisation and the like (which, as usual, you've done nicely). You know I'm not a fan of animals which were originally animals gaining Human-level sentience but lolmagic always works around that. The exposition was slightly clunky but considering the conditions you wrote it under that's understandable. I found myself easily endeared to Glen's character, your writing had its usual charm which made everything smoother going down and his problem with the herons (the bastards ) was a very nice touch. The next time you say something as good as this sucks, I'm slapping you. I'm also going to be bugging you for the next year to make a full Glen the Poisonous BoyToad short story
In fact, I'm throwing in prompt 37 (if you're not beyond 36 yet): Glen the Poisonous BoyToad's story continues
I can't remember whether you've got Saturday's number, so I'll say 3 if you need it.
One of those old-time bad guys with honour and morals.
Almost one of the good guys.
None of us is a saint.
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Jun 18, 11 at 2:53pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
This prompt sucks
Tiger of Wu, thanks, and such. I shall add the continued adventuers of Glen to the prompts list. Somewhere mysterious.
Dash the Stampede, glad you liked them! I actually think #2 is my personal least favourite, mostly because I don't think I managed to execute the idea I wanted very well, but if someone likes it, I've succeeded somewhere! I'll be bearing your comments in mind for the future
I was trying to keep today's down to 500 words, but... failed, somewhat. Oh well.
3: Civilized, moustachioed, top hat wearing chaps Tiger of Wu and Knightmare Chaotix playing croquet.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are in England, in a fairly famous city known as Oxford. Picture the ancient, brick buildings, the immaculate pavements, and the over-representation of the wealthy population.
Got the picture? Good. Zoom in. Focus in particular on a large building in the centre; a large, red-bricked college with ivy climbing the walls. In the centre, in an area the building puts itself in a square around, is a large patch of neatly trimmed grass.
Zoom in again. See the sign, that reads This Lawn For Croquet Only.
On the lawn, we see two unlikely men, or fellows, perhaps. They are, of course, playing croquet. What else does one do on a croquet lawn, after all?
“I say, Tiger old chap, good shot,” one of them remarks, doffing his top hat at the other man respectfully as a blue ball is knocked through an arch. From his upper lip, a large moustache sprouts, curling its way down to be level with the bottom of his chin. It is clear that he either uses copious amounts of moustache wax, or is wearing a fake. The second man rests on his croquet mallet, his own moustache crinkling up as he grins and adjusts his monocle.
“Par for the course, old boy. Skill with a mallet is what separates one from those dreadful peasants, don’t you know,” he informs him. The first man settles into position by his own ball, yellow in colour, and gently taps it. His hit is successful; the ball rolls gracefully over the grass to settle just beside the blue one, belonging to the man known only as Tiger. Along the path, a pair of university students pass by, directing strange looks their way. Unlike the men, they are dressed casually, not a top hat or moustache in sight.
“Terrible, the way the commoners are cluttering up one’s corner of the country,” the first man remarks in a low voice once they pass, his face taking on a serious look. Tiger nods sagely, clearly understanding the gravity of the situation, and knocks his ball. It passes smoothly through the last arch, coming to rest against the ending marker with a satisfying clonck of wood on wood.
“Ah, shit,” the first man mutters, his English accent slipping momentarily. Tiger’s eyebrows raise, the monocle falling from his eye in surprise.
“I say, good sir, watch your tongue, else one’s speech will become quite positively loutish,” he informs him brusquely. The first man scratches his head with one hand, then straightens his top hat, resting the mallet on his shoulder.
“Er, quite so, old boy. Good game and whatnot,” he agreed. “Well, with the end of that I’m afraid I must be off. Can’t keep the old bird waiting, aha.” Tiger simply watches him, pulling a lens cloth from his pocket with emphasised care and beginning to clean his fallen monocle. “Tout le pip!” As the first man flees from the scene, one hand on his top hat to keep it steady, Tiger raises his mallet to the sky.
“French imposter!” he declares righteously. Briefly, he glances down at the footprints left on the main lawn at the first man’s passing. “And do try to keep one’s feet off the grass!” A short way away, a pair of students watch, thoroughly bemused. Tiger looks at them, a haughtly look appearing on his face. “Do bugger off, pip pip,” he suggests, making a shooing motion with one hand. Exchanging glances, they slowly start to walk away in the direction of the porter’s lodge, glancing behind them at the mad man sporting a top hat every so often. Slowly, Tiger shakes his head. Inbred heathens.
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|Tiger of Wu||
Jun 18, 11 at 4:23pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
Again, you're offline when I read 3. Is this a Senny-ploy to get comments your story bro?
Firstly, I'm slapping you. Secondly, my face throughout.
I can only really say that it was indeed all that one could hope for and more. Good show and all that
One of those old-time bad guys with honour and morals.
Almost one of the good guys.
None of us is a saint.
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Jun 19, 11 at 6:52am ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
I like these. MY favourite is the cat one, very inventive
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Jun 19, 11 at 11:26pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
beccyorange: Thanks! That's my favourite one too.
Tiger of Wu:
17: I caught a ride with a trickster in a travelling band, to a town down by the sea.
When I say I’ve known Innes since I was young, all I mean is that he’s been in my life. Nobody knows Innes. The closest I ever came was the knowledge that the person he showed to the world was a front. There was more to him than the grinning trickster, something beneath those bright, sea-blue eyes that glittered with mischief. I know that I wanted to find out what it was... what he was. But he was never there for long enough for me to really know.
Innes wasn’t a local. He and his family nominally lived a few villages down the long road to the capital, but they moved so often it was surprising they had a home to call their own at all. I’d first seen him when they came to our town to aid in a performance, and I was drawn to his long, dark hair and his tanned skin and his vibrant dress, despite what my parents said to me. Be careful. I was. Innes was happy to befriend me, like everyone else he spoke to, but I didn’t know him, I just... knew of him.
I waited. Waited for something to change, for him to linger long enough for me to learn who he was. He never did, so one day, once I was old enough to make my own way in the world, I took matters into my own hands.
I snuck into their caravan and hid amongst the instruments and props, covering myself with blankets in an attempt to disguise myself. They were well on the road before they discovered me, asleep in the back. And when I say they, I mean Innes.
His voice was quiet and surprised, but enough to wake me from an uncomfortable sleep. I blinked drowsily, my eyes focussing on him.
“Innes,” I returned, searching for the words of explanation I’d planned. He looked... not quite angry, not quite worried, somewhere in between. I couldn’t pin it down, just like I couldn’t pin him down at all.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Sammy?” he growled, holding out a hand and helping me out of the back of the wagon regardless, me rubbing my free hand over my eyes to try and clear the sleep from them.
“Going with you,” I replied, thinking it was obvious. “Since you never stay in one place long enough.” He frowned for a few seconds, his expression taking a definite shift in the angry direction, before bursting into a good-natured laugh.
“You’re an idiot, Sammy,” he told me, ruffling my hair good-naturedly. I scowled, brushing it down again once he relented, and we sat on the step up to the caravan. “You’re following me, then? You know you can’t really stay with us unless you’re helping out.” I looked to the side, bitterness spreading on my face and evident in the way I clenched my fists as they rested on my legs. He always hid, always.
“Do you need a backing singer?” I asked, weak hope in my voice. Innes smirked, then actually looked thoughtful, which surprised me.
“...To be honest, the alternative might be turning back and taking you home,” he murmured. “Ma and father won’t be too happy with it, but I might be able to wrangle you something. You got the basics with you, yeah? Some clothes... Not that yours are all that great.” He wrinkled his nose at me, and I punched him in the arm with a grumble. He chuckled, then leaned his head on his hands, considering. “Why’d you come after me?” he asked eventually. I chewed on my lip awkwardly, playing with my fingers. From further ahead, the sound of a flute being played drifted over to us.
“I wanted to find out who you are,” I admitted, deciding that honesty was the best policy, lest he change his mind and kick me out even further from home. “Because I don’t think I know you.” He was quiet for a long time, looking up at the sky.
“Don’t know me,” he repeated eventually. “Huh.” A grin crept over his face once again. “I still say you’re an idiot, Sammy.” I glowered, and he clapped me on the back.
The caravan’s destination this time was a seaside town called Andelneve. I was taken through what they were doing, after some initial ugly exchanges between Innes and his father, and informed very strictly that I wouldn’t be receiving any money. I was alright with that, which I think surprised them, and maybe warmed me to them a little bit more than they would have otherwise.
I was given a singing task. Innes attempted to train me, nobody else wanting to spare that much of their time, and so I ended up spending most of the day sat in the back of a caravan with him, practicing. He didn’t sing himself but he knew the theory, and played the lute in accompaniment to help me with the notes. It was an education, but that was all – he was my teacher, not my friend, and I felt I learned nothing of him during those long days. In the evenings it seemed like he was actively avoiding me, disappearing as soon as he could find an excuse. It was cold. I sat on my own, and wondered if I really wanted to know the real him, if what he was underneath was so harsh and icy.
I sat in a costume I’d mostly made myself, with guidance from the resident needle maestro of the caravan, on the back exit of the theatre.
“Innes,” I murmured, feeling him sit by me but not looking around.
“You did great, Sammy,” he told me, putting an arm around my shoulders. “What do you think? Worth running around after me now, hey, idiot?” I shot him a venomous look.
“You’re not funny,” I told him bluntly. He made to ruffle my hair, and I ducked, his face becoming more serious as I did so.
“I meant it. You did do great,” he assured me. “Ma says you could stay on for the rest of the circuit as unpaid training, if you like. We’ll end up back in your home eventually.”
“I don’t want to,” I muttered. Innes tilted his head in query, looking confused. “Don’t want to go back home,” I elaborated, somewhat unwillingly. “I... like it here. Even if you don’t talk to me, you know?” Innes looked away, hand falling from around my shoulders as he put a small but definite distance between us.
“You should go home,” he replied, voice low. It stung me, like any betrayal. “You... You shouldn’t be here.”
“Is it you that hates me the most out of the whole caravan, then?” I asked, attempting to be light-hearted but only partially managing it. He laughed; not his usual tricksy guffaw but a more honest laugh, and glanced at me.
“No,” he replied, a smile on his face. “That’s not why.” I raised an eyebrow, my own way of questioning his words without voicing it. “It’s...” He sighed, shaking his head softly and looking away. “You just should. You should go home. Because...” He trailed off, seeming awkward. I put one hand on his shoulder, confused, and he twitched slightly.
“Innes?” I asked, confused, and he grabbed my hand. He didn’t say anything, but I felt like I’d learned something. Like I was meeting him for the first time. His expression said anything his words could have, and more besides.
It had only taken me ten years.
“Did you hear about the new boy? Put in a surprisingly good show last night.”
“Tania said Innes trained him.”
“Really? That’s not like him.”
“That’s saying something, and all. Heard they’re friends.”
“Proper friends? Not one of Innes’ tagalongs?”
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Jun 20, 11 at 10:27pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
5: A man buys a muffin from a mysterious store. He quickly realized that every bite of the muffin he takes gives him a random super power. How can he use this to his full advantage before the muffin runs out?
Jake liked to buy confections on payday, on his way home from work. He had a shop he frequented, without missing a single day. On the first Monday of every month, Jake was in the shop, and the woman on the counter would smile and him, and ask if he wanted the usual. He would nod, and smile, and receive his cake.
Except today. Not today.
To Jake’s horror, the store was closed. Refurbishment, it said. Closing on the only day he needed it. He felt let down. Betrayed. Disappointment coloured his features, more than he’d expected. He hadn’t realised just how much he’d been looking forward to his customary payday muffin.
Surely there is another store which will sell me a cake? he wondered, casting his eyes about. True, it would not be the same, but he felt he deserved it. Entitled, somehow, to a reward for another month of work well done. And then, rising like the gates of heaven in front of the believer, he saw the front of another shop which seemed to, indeed, sell cakes. No matter that he did not recognise the name; he rarely paid attention to those shops on the streets he walked down. They were changing so often in the current climate it was hardly worth it.
The sign above the door declared that the establishment was named Curious Cakes. A bell tinkled invitingly as he walked in. Yes, this shop would do just fine for his payday cake.
“What would you like, sir?” the young girl on the counter asked, a big smile on her face.
“A muffin,” Jake responded. “Blueberry.” With a nod, a plastic glove was donned, a box procured, and his muffin presented to him in style. He paid for it, pleased with the low price, and walked outside. His mouth watered as he inhaled the warm smell of blueberries and cake, unwrapping the confection as he walked down the street and taking that first satisfying bite.
And then he disappeared.
He was so surprised he nearly dropped the muffin. One second he had been looking at his hand, the next, nothing. But his hand was definitely still there – Jake was fairly certain he would have noticed losing it. And, of course, it was still holding the muffin, the only thing still visible of him. Cautiously, he moved his hand. The muffin moved. As someone’s eyes were drawn to what seemed to be a flying muffin he quickly put it under his jacket, the cake disappearing as it was shielded by his invisible clothes.
Jake was most disorientated.
He rushed to a nearby bench that was reasonably away from the street, and studied the muffin. It was like that movie he’d seen, about the girl called Alice who’d fallen down a rabbit hole. Except it didn’t change his size, it made him see-through. Cautiously, wondering if it would fix him, he took another bite.
He flooded back into the visible world, and sighed as he did so. It was a magic muffin. He would just need to take an even number of bites, and- why was he accepting it? ‘It was a magic muffin’? In all likelihood he’d been drugged. He was seeing things – or not, as the case may be. No wonder the cake had been so cheap, if they cut their flour with all manner of nasty substances.
Disheartened, Jake put the cake back in the box, and resolved to take it in to work the next day.
Jake was a scientist. Specifically, he looked at insects, and other living things. That was his job – sitting in a lab, looking at insects, cutting up maggots, analysing mould. He sat across the room from Tim, who was the drugs man. Figuring this was a sensible line of enquiry, he asked Tim to look into it. He didn’t find any drugs, and by the time the test had come back three days later the muffin had gone quite stale. Tim looked pale, though. Like someone had walked over his grave, or he’d seen a ghost, or another equally morbid metaphor.
The muffin disappeared from the shelf where it had been left, evidence bag and all. There was an internal inquiry, but nobody could find out where the muffin had gone. The incident was hushed up somewhat, the forensics department not needing the bad press.
Tim had vanished, too. An official missing persons report was filed, and his things searched. It didn’t look like he’d left of his own accord.
Confused, Jake went back to the street the next time payday rolled around. He bought a muffin from his usual shop and walked up the road, keeping an eye open for once. There did not seem to be a Curious Cakes anywhere. On the one hand, Jake thought he’d missed out on something, somehow.
On the other, he was fairly sure he didn’t want to disappear forever, like Tim.
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Jun 22, 11 at 9:26pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
Yesterday did not exist due to reality getting in the way. You can all have a little extract from one of my bigger projects after today's prompt, in exchange.
23: Daddy or chips.
You aren’t quite sure when the question became so important.
You don’t even remember when you asked the question in the first place.
Does it matter?
It didn’t back then...
It does now.
Which is it?
Which one did you pick?
Was it who you thought it was, making the offer?
Was there anyone making an offer at all?
“Let’s go through this again,” I began, leaning back in my chair. I’d perfected the smug grin to the point of acute annoyance to the man and the woman sat opposite me. Badges glinted in the bright white lights of the room. They were done playing good cop, bad cop. To be perfectly honest, though, I found it more fun when they both played ugly cop. “You’ve brought me in because you think I killed someone.” The woman, Francis (because she hated me using her first name), ground her teeth audibly, inclining her head once. “But!” And I held up a cautionary finger. “You’ve got, hmm, let’s see... oh, yes. No evidence!” the finger was wagged. “That’s bad form, you know.”
“We’ll get it out of you and the crime scene eventually, you piece of shit,” the man, Detective Dunn (because he was a Colonel), informed me. I liked to think he meant it fondly. “Save us both time and just confess.”
“Now, correct me if I’m wrong, Detective,” I began – ah, there was the flinch – “but I believe attempting to intimidate a suspect into a confession is illegal. Ooh, is this on tape? You did press that red button, right?”
“Fu-” he began, but Francis grabbed his arm before he could finish the sentence.
“What my colleague means is that you have the right to an attorney,” she informed me. “And you would be wise to take it. We’re going to put you through the wringer this time.”
“You said that last time,” I responded, examining my nails idly. They were boring. It had been fun the first few times, but now they were just like a broken record. We know you did it, we’ll get evidence in the end, it would be easier for you to talk now. By now I was of the opinion that they could walk in on me with a light coating of blood and still be unable to conclusively pin anything on me.
Not that I was guilty, of course! Oh, no, no. Little old me would never stoop to something as horrible as what they were accusing me of. They don’t like to talk about it; apparently it makes them ill, or somesuch.
They’ve been calling it the Woodchip Murders. Mystery serial killer with the alias “Mr Chips”. Walks up to you, gives you the oddest and supposedly easiest choice you’ve ever made, right up until you find out it was the wrong one. Then bam, dead. Usually horribly. Bodies disposed of through the aforementioned wood chipper, then delivered in a bag to a random address.
Oh, no, wait. I’m not supposed to know about the question, am I? No witnesses to hear what the victims hear, etc. etc. Busted, you say? Not quite. How do you know I’m not a witness the killer doesn’t know about, hm? Maybe beneath my calm exterior I’m actually terrified.
Well, you’ll never know, will you?
She saw it. Saw the smiling man. He’d seemed far too happy, so she’d hidden behind a large garbage bin and hoped he didn’t see her. Her mommy had warned her about older men who grinned like that, especially if they tried to give her sweets.
He was walking behind a person the girl couldn’t see properly, their face obscured by a hood. He tapped them on the shoulder, making them flinch; the girl cringed as loud, angry words were exchanged.
“Say,” the man remarked, tossing a bottle in one hand, “I got a question for you.”
“Piss off,” the other person growled. The man, oddly, seemed to relax.
“Give it a listen,” he suggested. “Which would you choose... daddy, or chips?” The other person moved backwards, looking confused.
“You’re insane,” they muttered, turning and walking off. The man shrugged.
“Never mind,” he decided. “How about you, little girl?” he added, looking over his shoulder right at where she was crouched. She hid a squeak of terror as he walked over, trying to scramble away. He was faster, though; he took three quick running steps and had her by the collar of her dress.
“L-let me go! I-I’ll call my mommy!” she wailed, twisting in his grip uncomfortably as her dress pulled on her neck.
“Going to answer the question?” he asked. “You’d rather have your daddy, right? I do know where you live, after all.” She made another muted noise of fear. “So, which would you rather?” Nervously, the girl swallowed.
“D... Daddy,” she replied, her voice trembling with fear. The man grinned. It made sense why her mother had warned her about people like him.
“Excellent,” he decided. “Wrong answer.” The bottle cracked against the back of her head and pain radiated out from the site of impact, her vision swimming with colours until she blacked out.
You saw it on the news.
Girl, 11, murdered.
Area near you, right by the back of that restaurant, they thought.
Mr Chips strikes again.
And you can’t help but wonder... was it that man?
The one who asked you that strange question?
Was he the one?
Did you walk away from your own death?
And was it worth it, for the life of one girl?
You don’t know.
Don’t even know if it was that man. Seems unlikely.
Still, the question’s important.
Daddy or chips?
You or her?
You don’t know which one you would have picked.
One last thing I forgot to tell you! So forgetful of me, tut tut, a shame on me and all that. I’m terrible for it, I’ll agree. See, there was never any evidence pointing at me. Never a hair, nothing. It’s funny how easy it is to compromise a crime scene if you go in prepared and know what the courts expect.
So, why was I ever arrested is what I’m sure you’re thinking, assuming you managed the not too-high mental hurdle of realising I’d been arrested. Well, now, that’s what I forget. See, when I first met Francis and Detective Dunn, wonderful, lovely people that they are, I asked them a question. One they didn’t feel at liberty to answer. A funny question, too, different for the both of them.
You know, that gets me thinking. I should ask you a question, too. Fancy playing my game?
No? Fine. Be that way. I’ve got plenty more who’ll play it, anyway. And don’t give me that look.
I told you. I’m innocent.
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Jun 23, 11 at 12:49pm ^re: A Thousand Little Lights (Short story collection) [T] [C&C appreciated!]
Where do you get the prompts from? I like the one with the magic cupcake. Keep writing
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