Short story saturdays, Z(ombie) style

Kris here,

Remember that one time a long time ago when I wrote the start of what I wanted to make a little mini-series of? The guy with the friend and he was sick, and his friend, well, ate a guy? Yeah that one. Forget all about it! I mapped out a story pretty far, but I wanted to write a different story instead and since it’s about zombies too, well that’s too much zombie. It doesn’t work in stories like in real life; you can’t swarm a reader with zombie stories to eat their brains.

So here’s a different story don’t even worry about it. I stole found a cool idea for a Pathfinder (TTRPG) game and I went for it! Now I’m going to write about it in a hopefully entertaining manner, though even I’m not 100% sure how the story will go.

_____________________

THUD

Fenton Shoemaester nearly jumped out of his skin as something plowed into the other side of his front door. He hastily stowed the sketchbook full of ankles he’d been rifling through and went to the door.

“Yes?”

Dark rimmed eyes gazed through him, the heavy man on the porch breathing heavily a moment. “Kind sir, I need to buy a pair o’ shoes to wear. Do you have any in hand?” Heaving for air, the ragged stranger wheezed into the front sitting room and sat against the wall.

“Oi lad, sure I can cobble something up for you quick enough, how’s about a week from today?”

Those dark eyes widened in alarm. “Can ye do it any faster? My old pop’s funeral is to be today I’m afraid. Passed sometime overnight-” Stopped briefly by a fit of coughing, he spit blood onto the floor and continued. “He passed sometime overnight I’m ‘fraid, the whole family is in a state just like me. We have to do it while we still have the strength. We can’t just leave him in bed for weeks like old ma!”

Lip curled as he eyed the mess, Fenton thought quickly. “Aye, I suppose you’re about what, a seven? A nine? I bet I’ve something I can use to get rid of you with. That you can use I mean.” The old man perused his storeroom for several long minutes during which he desperately hoped the man survived. Finally, he found the pair. “Here we are good man, I believe these will suit you just fine. I take 2 silver for the pair or if ya only got one leg, you get half off! Ah ha! Ahahaha!”

Blearily the other groped his pockets and fished up two silver coins, not even a courtesy laugh the whole while. Another fit of coughing later and he shut the door with an old pair of shoes in hand. Fenton snatched up an old rag ready to be thrown away from a dusty corner and tossed it at the mess on the floor. “There better be plenty of young ladies needing shoes this season, I swear. This shop will be the death of me!” Growling and grumbling to himself, the old man hurled the filth into the early morning streets to be washed away by the river of people that would break through in a few hours.

Noticing the clothier next door to him was sitting on her porch, Fenton invited himself over and took a quick peek down. Ah, that leather-and-lace affair he’d crafted up for her some years ago. Perfection! “Hello Claudia, little early isn’t it?”

“Ah, Mr. Shoemaester it is good to see you. I sleep warmly in my down blankets these cold nights, but a man come and does not read my ‘go away’ sign. He ask me to make a suit for a pittance by this afternoon! Pshaw I tell him, I have nothing for you here, begone! I think he carries a dark sickness in him and I do not want him infecting the spirits of the lace.”

“Oh yeah that would be a real shame. Lace is hard to make! He came over to buy shoes a few minutes ago too and I felt the same way. I didn’t want him in there taintin’ up the soles ya know.”

Claudia slowly leveled her gaze at Fenton while he guffawed himself right off the porch. “Mr. Shoemaester, it is good that you have such a source of laughter. It is a pity you cannot share this with the rest of us.”

The geezer sauntered back over to his shoe shop wiping a tear from his eye, waving goodbye to his old friend until next time.

 

*********

 

“The LORD hath delivered unto ME… a message, my people! A message for YOU! He doth guide me the righteous path of…RIGHTEOUSNESS I say, to protect all of you! All of you powerful common folk who come into his house. I recognize each of you, let me tell you. I know everyone, and we love each of you dearly. Myself that is, and THE LORD above!”

Tess wiped the droplets of sweat from her brow as she finally finished sweeping the nave. How oddly silent it was today. She paused a moment to listen to the sermon before stepping to the front porch to beat out the broom. She could never fathom how dirty the inside of the church could be after being cleaned once a week. Surely someone must be tracking dust in purposefully?

“Miss, can you help my dear mum? She is unwell!”

She was jerked from her daydream by an older woman standing over an elderly woman laying against the steps to the church. “I worry her time has come, but we weren’t able to reach inside the church in time. Might you help me get her inside?”

Tess took a step down the stairs but halted. She’d been caught up in her reverie a few minutes before and had missed the bodies lying in the streets. Glassy eyed and staring to the heavens, young and old alike sat against the close-knit buildings or just lie uncaring in the streets as far as the eye could see. “Dear woman, I’ll gladly help. I’ll lift her arms and chest, be sure her feet don’t drag or catch on the doorframe.”

Grunting and heaving ensued. The old woman was surprisingly heavy and the two women had trouble just lifting her to the top of the stairs. After a moment, a new voice joined the fray.

“‘Allo madams, might I lend a hand here?”

A strong youth fitted in hard leather and bearing an unlit torch strode in from a side street. He hefted the semi-conscious old woman onto his shoulders easily, setting her inside on a pew near the door.

“Thank you so much for your assistance kind sir.” Tess curtsied and retrieved the broom leaning against the outside of the door.

“My pleasure miss. I’m making the rounds this morning anyway. His Lordship has called for all citizens to make their way to the Eastern church of Vitsuata with all haste. As you’ve noticed, there’s a plague spreading through the city, and the Vitsuata alchemists have devised a cure I’m told. That’s what his Lordship told us all anyway. We’re to gather near the east church to be given the cure. Please inform the Father while I continue my rounds.”

“Of course officer, I’ll let them know right away. Thank you!” Tess escorted the young guard back outside and saw him off, then returned to the marble pulpit at the center inside.

“Dear father, I don’t wish to interrupt you today but I thought you ought to know, -” She delivered the guards’ words to the priest atop the stage and told him her own observations outside earlier.

“So a plague is it? That must be what’s wrong with the crowds today Tess. I was sure of it, not a single cheer for the LORD has been risen today. That hussie of a god Vitsua must be responsible of course, why else would they offer a cure? Bah!” Father Maximus wrung the sweat from his long beard and then used it to wipe his face. “I should have known those good for nothing leeches would cause problems one day, I must obtain an augurie before we leave the safety of our home. Tess, protect our flock!”

With that, the sturdy old man whisked himself to the basement.

Short Story Saturday – Alma 3

Tina Here again with a short story for Saturday.

 

Last time I started off with a telling of my childhood horror. The gateway to my weirdness if you will. Now, I was unsure if I should continue that line or work on something else, and if something else, what? Well Kris suggested that I continue the short story I had started before. Alma. Looking to generate a ‘Doctor Who’ mixed with Sherlock, I wanted a female who knew a lot about a lot of things but she wasn’t quite hip to how the world worked in general. With that I posted two Chapters, loosely called chapters as I just took them to mean single post pages. I think I would like to take this story up again. So, if you haven’t seen 1 and 2, I will link them below then start on 3. I hope you enjoy and I would love any feedback you see fit to share!

 

Alma 1

Alma 2

 

Ro’dan looked around with amazement. The small plain looking doors held behind them a grand amazing place. Pictures, statues, figures and random boxes here and there sprinkled the little library. The room was built with full ceiling to floor bookshelves that seemed to replace the walls and held little knick knacks and stuffed full with books. Ro’dan couldn’t help but spot all the things around the room that just might slip into his pockets. However, he was struck with the feeling of her quick hands and deft strength that had caught him before. Not to mention the odd behavior after making him swear to leave the place whole. He still wasn’t quite sure it mattered but he picked out the 5 small items that he felt might sell quickly and for nice pocket of change. After having marked his targets he switched to become the charming young man just inraptured with this odd mousy girl.

 

Alma strutted into the library and focused her eyes on the far side of the room, making a brisk pace toward the built in fireplace to place an object into a box and lock it with a small key then place it around her neck. She stayed facing the mantel for another moment before she took a breath and turned around. Ro’dan turned his sweet eyes toward her and smiled.

 

“Ah so we got a learned girly here eh? Well how can this poor street boy help ya?” Ro’dan started to walk around the library touching this or that. Picking things up and looking at them then placing them back, careful to make sure they looked just as before he picked them up.

“Oh, well I guess that would be the term used now. Yes, Learned. I am mostly taught by my father and mother but as you see we had no shortage of knowledge at our fingertips. As far as how you can help, I am in need of some more practical application skills.” Alma followed his hands with each object and watched how he looked at them. Ro’dan raised his eyebrows in mock shock. “OH, not in the arts of cutpurse or anything that might fetch legal troubles as such. More in, well,” she paused a moment. “General people skills. You see, I found that my father had plans for me to expand his research and I would love nothing more than to do that, however, as a woman and one that grew up alone for the most part, I am not as skilled in being coy or conventional.” She let out the rest of the breath she had been holding to use as her speech.

 

Ro’dan laughed. “You want a go boy. Someone who can hype you up and teach you how to fool people into trusting you.”

 

Alma shook her head solidly, squeezing her eyes shut as she did, only for a moment. “NO, they get fools to trust, not real people whom I would want to associate with. I need someone who knows of the world to be my experience. I need a partner. So, “ She opened her eyes and smiled, “I would say you are being given a new life choice. I need someone I can trust to look out for me as they would themselves. I need you Ro’dan. I have been watching you for months.”

 

Ro’dan stopped picking things up and looked at her. “Your mental. How did you know what my name was?”

 

Alma smiled, “You took no notice of me in my various looks or costumes. I picked you out from your crew because of your kind heart and choice of targets. Just as I know you would only pick 5 things to take from here because although this office looks rich and full, the rest of my house is sparse and you fear taking too much from me when this is obviously my only care in the world.” Ro’dan’s face watched her carefully as she made her way around the room. Touching the spots that were now void of objects that had once been there.”I even joined your crew for a big job one day. We didn’t talk or anything but I was able to see how you were treated and how other treated you.”

 

Alma walked over to Ro’dan and got uncomfortably close to him, her face smiling into his. “I picked you because I knew that if I could prove myself and earn your trust, you would be loyal to a fault and I would never have to worry.” Alma then slid a small object into his hand and backed away.

 

Ro’dan looked down and opened his hand to reveal a small pearled comb. Tears started to slip out of his eyes. Alma backed away slowly but kept talking. “He said he wasn’t there, but he was. I could feel your guilt at accusing him of such a crime but, you felt in your heart that he was lying to you. I went in search of his things. Something you would never do. I found that, in a hidden hole in his bed, along with other small trinkets that seemed to be long to other women. This was on top.” Alma’s voice lowered and became almost a whisper, “I knew you would never find out unless I told you and even though you had thoughts that he was not telling you something, you would never leave his side again. Even if to protect another girl from harm.”

 

Alma was quiet as she watched Ro’dan grasp the small comb and hold it to his chest, letting the tears fall freely now. He looked up at her with anger in his eyes, not at her, but at the lies he had been told.

 

“You have my attention now miss.”

Short Story Saturdays again part dos

Kris here,

I had an idea for a story this week and was thinking of how I could tell it without throwing 5000 words at my dear readers, when I realized that hey – Tina’s made some two part posts before, maybe I can do that. I’m trying out a few different techniques than I usually use, so feel free to leave comments with any suggestions and I’ll incorporate it into the next one. Let’s call it, Best Friend Surprise.

___________________________

“This is how I die…” Emon held a hand out to his best friend, Delilah. Watching her hover over his prone figure as the world faded to black.

Then suddenly, he was freezing.

“Nooo! I need that!”

He Feebly waved about before helplessly slumping to the floor.

Delilah giggled while she dragged the stolen blanket over the heap of Emon at the foot of the bed. “You’re such an emo, I bet you don’t even have a sore throat. You’re not fooling anyone drama queen. Get up, let’s go.” She rifled through the nearby dresser and tossed a few articles of clothing at him on the floor. She took special care to land the underwear on his head, laughing all the while.

“No I’m a zombie, quick, get out of here before I eat your head.” The young’s arms flung themselves in opposite directions and then lay still. He let himself embrace the tired aches washing over his body for a moment. Cold droplets showered his nose. Jerking open without permission, his eyes locked onto the glass of ice water hovering precariously to one side directly above his body.

“No.”

“If you won’t get up, I’m bringing the shower to you young man.”
***
Two blocks away, Cassandra heard wails of agony drifting in the wind. “It sounds like Delilah used the ice water again. What a delightful young woman.”
***
About ten minutes later, a Jeep both smelling and colored of lavender drove by, carrying the two teens to their destination.

“The least you could do would be to wave to your mom, jeez.”

Emon lay his chair back and covered his eyes. “But I’m blinded by the light, how should I know who’s out there? Probably just another runner in-”

“Don’t you dare talk to me in song quotes!” Delilah reached over and tickled the young man while he was trying to fall asleep.

“Aah!”

“Get your lazy butt out of my car, we’re here.” The two shuffled into the clinic to wait their turn.

“Emon Drudgehurn?”

“Go get ’em tiger, I’ll wait here.” Delilah began to leaf through a Highlights for kids magazine and waved him off.

Dragging his feet across the waiting room, Emon waved at the waiting nurse. “Hey Mrs. Shannon.”

“Emon, I hadn’t seen you this week. I was beginning to worry. What brings you in today?”

He allowed the gentle teasing to pass and described the symptoms as they navigated to a room. “And it all started last night about an hour after a mosquito bit me. I think it might be yellow fever. Or Malaria!”

She chuckled a moment in return. “We went over both of those last year, you know what the symptoms should be. It sounds like you just caught a cold to be honest. They take a few days to manifest. You probably caught it over the weekend; any parties, grocery trips?” She spent a few more minutes convincing the youth that he was going to survive. “I want you to go home, stay hydrated, get some rest. If you see your mom before I do, let her know I really appreciate her advice; my garden is absolutely blossoming!”

Emon grumbled his thanks and made his way back to the front. “I would’ve still been in bed if Delila-OOF!” His arm went numb as he crashed sidelong into the wall under a heavy body. The two rolled over each other before he was pinned to the floor.

SHH! It’ll hear you!”

He struggled to wrestle the heavy stranger off of him, but the man was strong. “What are you doing get awa-M HMM MM.” He yelled through the thick hand clamped down on his mouth, but to little effect.

“There’s a man-eating monster about son, you better keep quiet or you’ll bring it down on both of us.”

There was a heavy silence between the two as Emon grasped that something indeed seemed very wrong. The normal sounds of the clinic were completely gone. The two men inadvertently stared at each other, listening to a pair of stumbling footsteps shuffle their way closer behind the door. Then the footsteps stopped. is heart jumped a mile as cold droplets showered his nose from above. His eyes focused on the cold sweat rolling down the older man’s face. He wasn’t sure which of them was trembling, but his vision was shaking uncontrollably.

“Wha-”
SMASH

The thing door exploded inward off the hinges, showering them both in glass. The large man emitted a squeal of terror and the body in the doorway hurled itself at them. The three rolled around the floor in a tangled mess before Emon scrambled clear of the mix. He bolted straight for the door, but hesitated. If there was a way to save the man who’d tried to save him…

Emon turned back and his blood ran cold. Glassy, dead eyes stared hungrily through him as bright red rivulets ran freely down her face. He watched in horror as Delilah took another bite of her newest prey.

Triple S Day, Tina Style!

Triple S = Short Story Saturday, in case you hadn’t picked that up yet. So Kris started Triple S so he could share some of his creative juice with the world. He asked me if I was ever planning on writing something on it.

Nawh man, I didn’t sign up to write more than one post every other week bro! Yet here I am, writing something. *sigh* That man has the sweetest puppy dog eyes. So, a word of warning before you read any more. I tend to write things that are creepy or more adult in nature.

 

Today I would like to bring you into my living nightmares. The dark parts of my life that only I get to experience. The constant worry, caution, and alertness that keeps me from ever getting a full nights rest. You are going to be giving yourself over to me. Letting my eyes become your eyes. Letting me hear for you. Letting you feel the claws that reach out toward you in the night. Let me start by telling you about Bobo. Bobo is in his mid to late thirties. As the name might suggest, he is in fact a clown. Bobo doesn’t have any one hair color, it changes every time I see him. His face is always stark white with the faintest hint of gray blue underneath. His eyes, mouth and nose are accented with a rusted iron red. You know, the color of dried blood. His posture is slumped and he walks in an odd alternating hobble. His voice changes from higher pitched to low rumbling when he gets angry, and he gets angry about everything. I first met him when I was 7 after falling out of a tree. Mom hard rejected the pain meds the ER gave her for me. However, after a full 24 hours of a crying 7 year old in pain, she gave in. That is when I discovered him as I tried to go to my room when I was tired. He stopped me and with his dulled, brown and broken teeth and rotten milk smelling breath, his bloodshot eyes looked me over and he shrugged.

“Alright kid, hand over your fingers. I need to nibble something off.” He wasn’t scary to me at the time, just like one of the adults I was used to dealing with from mom’s work or daycare.

I sat down and tucked my hands into my crossed legs. Being sure to keep my toes hidden as well. “No thank you. Why do you need to nibble something off?”

He looked me over again and sat back. “It’s the rules, I am a cannibal and I have to eat little kids who see me in hallways.” His face seemed shocked, like no one had ever asked him before.

“What is a cannibal? Is it another way to say clown?” I was careful to not shift into the hallway.

“No, I mean, I am a clown but I am a Cannibalistic Clown. It means I eat humans. Mostly little kids. They are the easiest to chew as their bones are still a little chewy.” His voice echoing the ideas that the doctor might have talked about at the ER. I sat there continuing the conversation until my mother realized that I was not in bed and it was now 10 pm. My little brother having long since given up trying to talk to me. The hallway was dark and my mother hesitant to interrupt.

“Christina, why are you not in bed?” She started helping me stand up.

“Because Bobo the Cannibalistic Clown said that even though I am a nice girl he would have to eat me if I went into the hallway.”

My mother stunned at the use of the word Cannibalistic from her 7 year old. Paused for a moment to discover a comeback to my crazy. “Well, how about I walk with you?”

I looked to Bobo for confirmation. “Nope,” I said sadly, “He said that he would just wait til you left and waste my blood on the floor and come after you next, Under your bed.” I struck some cord in her fear as she went white.

“Well, what can we do?” She whispered.

I look to my new friend and seemed to be given an answer. “Well, he says we could sacrifice a chicken, because he is scared of chickens.”

My mother went and got a stuffed chicken, returned and with a satisfied nod I showed it to Bobo. I smiled wide and turned to my mother. “He says even though he is scared of chickens he wants to visit me again. So if I just keep the chicken I will be safe.” And off I walked to bed. My mother did not tuck me in that night. He came back lots of times. Even still. He is the oldest of my vision friends. People only I can see.

What scares you?

Time for Triple S (short story Saturday)

Hi team, Kris here

My amazing wife hung out with the silly six year old so I could hurry and finish this story she definitely stole and I hadn’t lost earlier this week. I’ve been working on an RPG system that I can use to play some steampunk games with and I had to get the flying airship out of my system somehow before that’s done! Not as much of a kids read as there are some “bad” words, but it’s not too bad.

The Nightwatch
_______________________

Mando’s vision blurred as his eyes sank backward. Hand slipping from its perch, his knees finally gave way and he collapsed.

Face-first into his undisturbed cup of coffee. Steaming black liquid catapulted into his face right as his jaw made contact with the wooden floorboards.

“AAH! OWWW!”
“AHAHAHA”

Mando rolled around the floor clutching his burning face while his partner doubled over laughing, nearly losing his grip on the ladder. The old man gave the wooden floor a hearty punch to distract his mind from his face. “Leeroy you bastard, don’t just stand there and watch!” He removed his greasy shirt and was fanning his face to cool it. Thankfully he’d finally gotten around to shaving.

“Ha! Watch? You’re lucky the coffee did it this time. After the captain’s reaming I took by myself this morning I was about this close to nailing your ass to the nest so you didn’t sleep all night again.” Leeroy’s rippling muscles sprang him lightly onto the platform from the ladder as he glared daggers through the smaller man.

Mando didn’t believe the uptight youth would actually nail him to the tall lookout platform, but sometimes there were risks in life it was best not to argue with. “What’s the big deal? It’s the first time this week don’t be such a-”

“It’s the FIRST day of the week!”

The two watchmen growled at each other a few minutes longer, exchanging accusations and lame excuses.

“Why are you even up this late? I thought you went to bed before the children to get your beauty sleep.” The older man glowered at his peer while sucking on what was left of the bitter brew from his cup.

“You’d go to bed at a reasonable time too old man, if you weren’t sleeping through every shift.” The young man hopped to his feet and went through a brief but vigorous workout to help him wake up. “The geezer said we almost hit a mountain last night, woke up to a goat staring at him through the window. Took me off days and told me to babysit your ass all night.”

Mando chuckled at the mental picture but then frowned. He’d expected to have been taken off the night watch eventually for his neglegent behavior, not to be put in the command of a young punk with a try-hard attitude.

“What about Cow? How many people really need to watch a boat drift along at night?”

Leeroy hopped up to the spotlight above them and shone it into the blackness. Twinkling waves reflected up from the choppy waters far below, but all else was still. “CAL,” he began, emphasizing the pilot’s name, “was relocated to the AM so they could yell at him all day. Honestly you two picked a helluva time to drink yourselves under. Cap abandoned the job since we were too far off to make any money, we’re going to see if we can get some value at the flats instead.”

Mando’s grizzled face broke into grin as he was filled in. “Serves you all right. I’m a poor old man, I need comfort food and soft women to live out my twilight.”

Leeroy thumped onto the deck next to the hatch. “You’re a lazy middle-aged has-been with no useful skills, you can at least watch for danger while the rest of us sleep. If I get back from checking the rounds and you’re asleep I’m throwing you overboard old man. Maybe over the water.” He tossed the hatch up a bit and slid through it, forgoing the slowness of the ladder to drop the 15 feet soundlessly. He made a quick survey of the gauges on the bridge and compared the course log against their current speed and direction. They all looked fine, but he needed physical activity if he was going to survive working these hours.

Running slowly along the deck, each of the float fans was checked for noise and friction meticulously. Leeroy rigged himself to the balloon cage – a series of interwoven thick ropes securing the thick, gas filled balloon that provided most of their buoyancy – and climbed around it looking for holes and checking the patches already in place.

He paused for a few minutes to stand atop the massive inflated balloon to relax. Standing alone in the blackness, twinkling stars overhead. Nothing but the sounds of the wind almost therapeutic swish of the rotors. This was the most peaceful place he could think of during the day, but he never imagined it could be so tranquil overnight. He breathed the night air and let his body relax, just for a minute.

Sighing, he shimmied his way to the fore of the elongated balloon to spy on his counterpart. The old man sullenly stared into the darkness and sipped from a flask, laying over the rail to stay awake. Alright, time to get back to work before I have to make good on that promise. Leeroy quickly made his way to the deck below and finished the above-deck checks. Snapping a glowstick, he descended into the inky blackness of the ballast hold at the very bottom of the ship. Giant, steam pressured tanks all registered an even weight except the few at the fore of the ship. They were a bit heavy so the ship was probably moving faster than they should overnight; he went ahead and leaked the tanks back into the main so the ship would lose a bit of forward momentum over time.

Perfect.

His footsteps rang hollowly as he climbed the wooden ladder to the crow’s nest again. Might as well make peace with the old guy if they were going to be stuck together. Might be able to talk him into doing something useful if he were promised an early release, who knew? Leeroy’s head peeked through the hatch slowly, expecting the slumped figure of a sleeping old bastard. No?

Twisting his head this way and that, Leeroy expected for a moment for Mando to leap out and try surprising him, but the leap never came. “Mando? Where you at buddy?” He hopped up into the spotlight seat to check it out, but the night was silent. “Good one man, where’d you get to hiding?” This old son of a… Probably fell asleep and fell out of the nest. Ha, good. Except there’d been no impact, no screaming.

Leeroy finished sweeping the parts of the deck he could reach with the bright light and gave up. The glowstick had a good few minutes left of usable light left so he whipped it out and started looking in the usual napping spots. Not in his bed, not in someone else’s bed, not under the wheel. Hmmm. The old man was getting creative.

“Damn useless garbage.” He tossed the dim glowstick overboard, doing his best not to stomp while crossing the ship to get another. Useless glowsticks. Useless crewmates. Next thing he knew one of the damn float fans woul-

WOOSH

The two fans at the fore of the ship suddenly spun-up madly, jerking the front of the ship upward.

“I take it back!” Leeroy scrambled for a handhold to keep his footing and raced back to the entrance of the ballast hold. He snapped three glowsticks and grabbed an oil lamp, wedging himself into a corner to maintain his balance and hit the wick with a striker. Bursting into a strong yellow glow, the lamp lit quickly. Luckily the ship seemed to have stabilized in angle, but it still made walking difficult. Leeroy ran to the stairs and damn near fell headfirst down them over the unexpected body he kicked in front of the first step.

“Mando? What the hell are you doing!” Setting the lamp carefully to the side, he shook the old man ferociously. The thought of tripping down the stairs and the lamp oil scattering everywhere. The entire ship burning up with the sleeping crew inside. He successfully did not hit his unconscious partner, but it certainly wasn’t off the table. “I’m putting you up for auction the second we hit the flats you forsaken mother of-”

The light of the glowstick twinkled off a stream running down the stairs and caught him short. In a panic he grabbed the lamp to keep the flames away from the stream of oil before he realized he was an idiot – the dark stream was on the far side of the old man from the lamp, there’s no way leaking oil could….Blood? He grabbed Mando and checked for breathing and a pulse. He was alive. His head was gashed in the back and blood was freely running running in a little river down the stairs. Leeroy’s mind raced a moment for the best course of action. The ship came first, he knew.  Mando would have to wait. He rolled the older man into a corner where he wouldn’t slide off into danger and rushed below.

The almost dazzling light of the lamp led him to the ballast hold and he ran to the fore-tanks. Full? He’d just evened these out not thirty minutes ago, there’s no way.

A floorboard creak set his nerves on edge. The flame wavered violently as he about-faced to confront the noise. The eerie quiet of the hold had a different feel than during the day. Almost sinister. He took a few steadying breaths and wiped the sweat from his eyes. First things first he, thought. The hissing steam passed out of the tank with a ghastly screech as it emptied. He reached overhead and did the same to the fan valves, which were similarly set. He let himself fall against the tank as the ship righted, felt the pressure ease up as it slowed.

His narrowed eyes darted as he slowed his breathing and tried to hear something over his drumming heart. Someone on-board had followed him in earlier. Someone had altered these tanks.

There was no way they weren’t staring at him right now.

Leeroy tossed a glowstick to where he’d heard the sound a minute ago. Something flashed out of the way just as the small stick bounced off the wall. Coiled muscles reacted and flung him toward the middle of the ship instinctively, hurlng another glowstick ahead of him before he’d realized what was happening. He caught sight of someone jumping out of the way again, further back this time. Leeroy sprinted to the stairs and chucked his last glowstick at the heavy thudding above, bouncing it against the head of whoever was running away.

“Get back here!” Heaving himself up the stairs two at a time, he caught up to the figure as it busted onto the equipment platform, his massive leg smashing them in the back and sprawling them across the floor. “You better have a damn good reason to be down with the tanks, sailor.” Leeroy’s fingertips sizzled as he put out the lamp. He strode across the room.

Rolling to its feet, the shrouded figure threw a tiny ball at his face. Before he could move out of its way his vision flashed, a sound like a mast snapping but a thousand times louder assailed his ears. He cursed as he clutched at his eyes. He’d been flash-banged before, but not at night.

A heavy thud and loud shouting jerked him back to the situation at hand. He swung a tentative fist at the air, keeping the attacker at bay. The sounds were slowly becoming more clear and yet, further away. Looking around the white spot in his vision, he realized he was alone.

Arms flailing, eyes watering, Leeroy felt his way to the main deck. He caught sight of a greasy bundle of clothes rolling about on the floor. His adrenaline-fueled legs shook with every step. He could see Mando now, wrestling with the mystery person for control of long knife that clattered out of reach. The old man’s face was swollen and bleeding as he took punch after punch. Too late the figure heard his approach, its head dragging the body sailing through the air. Leeroy shook his hand in pain, stomping loudly forward in hopes of waking the rest of the crew.

A beautiful face with a huge bruise popped out of the heavy clothing, listing to the side for a second before shaking her head clear. She flung herself to the railing and heaved the rest of the disguise to the ground. Leeroy leaped headfirst and caught a handful of shirt.

“Ah hahaha! This won’t be the last time we meet you beefy mancake.” The silky voice flowed over Leeroy like water.

“Shut your mouth and grab my hand, we can spend some quality time together.” He ground his teeth as he tried getting a better grip, but with a fluid motion, the shirt was cut free and she waved up at him as she was swallowed by the night. The dull snap of cloth in the still air told him a parachute had opened below.

Leeroy grumbled and lumbered over to help Mando to his feet. “You alright old man? You look like hell.”

“Mind your manners whipper snapper, you’d be sprouting knives if not for me!” The old man…smiled? Through the swelling on his face, slobbering all over himself in the process.

“When you’re right you’re right.” Blinking furiously to fix his vision, Leeroy had to admit the lout had probably saved his life. “Don’t let it go to your head, you still got trounced by a girl, after all.”

The two sat in silence. Finally, Leeroy rose.

“Better go wake the geezer, get some rest old man. You definitely need the beauty sleep now.” Leeroy grinned at his partner as the old man guffawed and shambled off to bed.

Short story Saturday but shorter, more Nik’ier

Hi everyone – Kris here

This week I wrote a silly story for Nik to read on our trip to Oklahoma City. But then I also forgot to have him read it. So instead I’ll just paste it here and hopefully he’ll have already read it by now! The story is simple and meant to be read by a hyperactive 6 year old. If you have one of those, see if they can read along!

Tick-Tock’s Great Adventure!

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Tick-tock. Tick-tock. The clock on the wall was very loud. Tick Tock the kid sat on his chair wondering how to get the clock.

“I know!’ He had a great idea. He could use TNT! Old Bob kept some under his desk.

Tick Tock opened the door to his playpen very sneakily, using a screwdriver he had disguised with a mustache. He opened the door to the hallway.

SQUEAK! The door was crazy loud!

Tick Tock dove under a table and froze in place, to make sure nobody had spotted him.

He covered himself with a blanket so he could hide on the go. Looking both ways, he saw the coast was clear and snuck away. He tiptoed down the hallway as fast as a tiger. No! As fast as a dragon!

He flew down the hallway like a dragon, using the blanket for wings. Vrooooom!

OH NO! A grown up! Tick Tock dashed out of sight into the laundry room. No one would suspect a blanket in the laundry room of sneaking about. The old people walked by and noticed the blanket on the floor.

“Say, why is this blanket on the floor?” One of them asked.

“Ah, don’t worry about it, someone will pick it up” the other replied.

Whew! His cover had almost been blown. Tick Tock snuck into Old Bob’s room like a ninja. Like a moving shadow! “Let’s see,” he said. “One stick should be enough, but I better grab extra in case I need it.” Tick Tock packed up ten sticks of TNT and ran back to his room as fast as lightning. Success!

He stuck the TNT into his pocket and climbed up a chair. Then he stacked another chair on top of that chair and climbed it too. Finally he was face to face with the enormous clock. “Okay, now I just have to put the TNT into the tube and it will blast the clock onto my bed.” Tick Tock checked his pockets.

“Oh no, I have nothing to light the fuse!” He sat in his chair to think.

“Maggie has a flamethrower in the kitchen, that would be perfect!”

Tick Tock ran off to another big adventure!

More short story Saturdays!

Hello everyone, Kris here

This is just another silly short story. This week revolves around a supporting character from the actual novel I’m attempting to finish someday whom I wanted to flesh out a bit more.

Starting a garden in Winter’s Edge
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Lesa’s body was frozen.
Well not entirely frozen, not yet at least. The small woman dropped her flint multiple times trying to catch this damnable tinder though. After multiple tries, she was fed up with her useless fingers and decided to cheat, whether or not it spelled her own doom.
“Burn you stupid wood!” Screaming at the small fire pit, the kindling inside was incinerated instantly.
She glared at the glowing pit. Then she punched it!
“Ahh!”
The spike of searing pain brought her back a little from her flirt with insanity. Damn this cold and snow and stupid forest. Damn the shades. Especially damn the members of her order, who sent her on this fool’s errand in the first place. She could almost feel the pollution sliding against her from the other side of the planar barrier. Disgusting.
Mellesanna took several, steadying breaths and focused her mind inward. A little fall in the snow was irritating, but there was no use being angry at the snow. The sharp air bit her nose, she accepted it as punishment for losing her temper.
“Ooooh a kavve tree!” She delightedly peeled the bark from a tree across the small clearing and inhaled its beautifully earthy aroma. “Well if this isn’t motivation for that fire then I don’t know what is.”

Twenty minutes later, the slender floran was sitting next to a cheery fire. It snapped and popped at her, releasing the delicious fragrance of the kavve bark. Sipping from a steaming mug, Lesa smiled to herself and let her muscles relax.
“I suppose any place I can make coffee won’t be all that bad. I hope.”

Lesa camped with her fire overnight, using the opportunity to stock up on the roots and bark with which to make coffee. She’d considered getting an early start to cleaning up the spirits, but prior experience held her back. She’d released her own soul into the middle of too many hairy situations to want to risk that anytime again.
Bags and pockets bursting with seeds and now roots and bark, she set off toward the smell of. Well, the city. She’d managed to cross the mountains without major incident, but the real anxiety was always in anticipating her introduction to a new town.
Well, Winter’s Edge was a big city, she would presumably not be the first floran to show up. The characteristic green tint of her skin wouldn’t be apparent during the winter anyway.
A howling gust of wind ran up her spine with a shiver.
Was it windy a moment ago?
An unnatural chill slowly crept all the way up inside her. Maybe she’d been a bit too careless yesterday.
Mellesanna chewed the acrid edge of a soultrap blossom from her emergency pack and angled her body this way and that, trying to pinpoint the direction the chill was emanating from. It was definitely behind her.
Lesa strained her eyes to catch a glimpse of the sun through the forest canopy for some sense of direction. The trees whispered at her to run, but winter made them weak. She whirled about face from the distant mountain and bolted through the rough undergrowth. Her spine was radiating pins and needles across every surface of her skin, a screaming alert that she wasn’t running fast enough.
Switching tactics, she dragged a stick of incense on the run and then halted in her tracks. Lighting the small stick, she wafted the smoke up and down in a circle to encase herself in it. Lesa kicked her bedroll open while unlashing a secret pocket in her backpack and setting it next to the bedding. The slender woman slid into the sleeping bag and sealed it tightly, incense and all. Forcing deep, slow breaths, the lock around her soul weakened immediately.
Slowly, her eyes closed.

Pitch black silence greeted Lesa as she opened her eyes.
She felt the telltale lightness of her body. She tried to inhale. Nothing. Perfect.
The spiritwalker took a few minutes to calm herself; she needed to assess quickly and get to her bag immediately.
Breath in. Breathe out. In.
Inky blackness swallowed her as she ripped aside the cover and dove to her bags. Lesa’s hand instinctively closed around the small, glassy sphere. Then vicious claws raked across her back like icicles, and she froze from shock for a split second.
A split second too long.
She wailed as knife-like teeth pierced her shoulder, soundlessly screeching into the nothingness. Mellesanna’s mind blanked as she fought her consciousness, trying to swim out of the venom-induced haze enveloping her. Finally coming to, she whirled to face her assailant.
Towering over her, the hulking shadow stared hungrily through her with glowing, rage filled embers for eyes.
She choked down the rising panic threatening to chase out the shred of sanity she clung to. The monster dragged her formless spirit over its head and wrapped its black hole of a mouth around her being. The feeling of her own soul being dissolved imprinted itself into the memory of her soul.
Inch by agonizing inch, Lesa reached her hand into the pit of the shade’s heart. Squeezing with every ounce of strength left, the grenade shattered and shredded the beast from within. It wasn’t possible for sound to carry through this realm, but the silent roars of pain and hatred released in that moment nearly blew her to pieces. Relentlessly the clawed fingers tore through her in its death throws.
An eternity helplessly flailing through the quiet night.

Deafening silence.
Slowly, it became agonizingly clear that she’d survived the encounter. Damn.
Mellesanna started into the void of a sky for a long time. How long was she out? Hours? Days? She cursed her physical body’s weakness. Slowly but surely, Lesa dragged her lifeless form back to her bag. She wriggled into place and re-sealed the barrier, and her world disappeared.

Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. How long she lay awake counting her breaths, it was impossible to tell.
In. Out.
The exhaustion in her arms and gnawing pain in her stomache hinted that she’d been asleep for several days. Judging by the burning throat and eyes, she was probably close to dying.
Should have slept a bit longer.
Lesa reached feebly for her water skin outside the sleeping bag. Frozen. Damn.
She sighed.
She let her hand fall to the ground. With monumental effort, Lesa managed to slap herself in the face with a handful of cold snow. Delightful.

Mellesanna’s drooping eyes watched the sun peek over the edge of the world through the treetops. She wasn’t thrilled. Nor did she enjoy how weak she was going to be for the next week. The supplies she needed to restock. Hopefully no more bastards of that magnititude were hanging around.
She accidentally let a yawn slip through her guard and winced.
She sighed again. This was a splendid start to her secret gardening career and she could not WAIT to get started.