WEP June Challenge 2019 Entry

Being considerably occupied with Z Publishing House pieces when last months challenge was going on, I choose not to participate in the April challenge to concentrate my creative energies on those pieces. Knowing I would return for the June challenge instead.

With the challenging theme for this month being “Caged Bird,” I realized I could interrupt that in either a metaphorical way, a literal way, or a combination of them. That being stated, I quickly disregarded my first thought of doing a Faustian style story where the demon acts as the bird. Switching gears to something more imaginative and partly inspired by love of old fashioned science fiction, where unexplored alien worlds are common. Modifying that idea with some more modern thinking shaped by problems like climate change and resource depletion. Crafting a piece of flash fiction I hope you enjoy, titled Hope’s Fragility.


Looking through this self-tinting glass screen, I looked out at this alien landscape. Strange double helix looking trees covered in magenta colored bark, and having deep purple ellipse shaped leaves rested on the western horizon. Their roots obscured by layers of a pale tan soil, that darkened in color as it descended the ragged broken-toothed cliff. Breaking black waves from the adjacent dark sea bombarded the base of the cliff.

I was beginning to slowly stagger forward with caution, attempting to get a sense of any injuries from my forced crash landing on XR-ELP8. The probes I had been sent to retrieve indicated this celestial body had the potential for successful terraforming barring there was a vacancy of sentient, intelligent life. Any proven signs of civilization would cause an uproar in the media if we attempted terraforming in complete disregards to them. While only a few truly understand how our home, had slowly transformed into a rotting cage of increasingly toxic air, corporate control, and rapidly depleting resources.

I was ceasing to move when a high-pitched wail filled my airtight helmet. The noise was immediately drawing my attention to the flexible computer on my right arm that displayed the data it was processing from the endless array of sensors built into my spacesuit. Looking down at the dark screen, I saw that my less than smooth landing had torn three holes in my suit. I was cursing under my breath at my astounding ill fortune, quickly trying to repressurize my spacesuit. Knowing how important it was to maintain a constant internal equilibrium to minimize any changes my body would go through as I adapted between various shifts in gravity in my journey throughout the cosmos.

I managed to temporarily stabilize my suit before heading towards the wreckage of my ship. Stumbling forward into the smoldering crater hoping I had bought enough time to salvage the communication system and send an SOS signal back home. Gravity forcing me to slide downward for a few seconds before I forcibly stopped myself by placing my hands outward. Emitting a brief grunt between my teeth in my pain, as I stood up, stepping over a few pieces of blackened metal alloy plates that slashed through the foreign soil leaving tiny grooves behind.

Feeling briefly grateful when I noticed that the communication panel was still fully intact, and appeared to be in working order. With all the strange circumstances behind the crash, fortune had given me some leeway, giving me some chance I had a way home. Carefully stepping into my seat before connecting my suit’s computer into the ship’s mainframe and running a quick diagnostic to confirm that communications were still operational. Forced to wait in tense silence for a few minutes, thoughts of desperation, panic, and the chance this mission had become suicidal raced through my head. Hearing the steady pulse of my heartbeat begin to accelerate, thumping away in my head like a thousand bass drums being played at four hundred beats a second. Forcing a seemingly infinite amount to pump through my skin and soak my face and armpits.

What felt like a few hours passed but, it was likely it was only a few minutes before three short beeps emitted from the ship’s small onboard speaker. Taking multiple breathes before I looked down at the screen of my suit’s computer. It seems my worst, darkest nightmare had quickly overtaken and consumed any optimism I had left, filling me with a depressing sense of dread. With the primary communication antenna missing and presumed to be in an unknown distant location, I resigned to myself to a grim fate. My protective spacesuit was quickly transforming itself into a doomed cage of nylon, spandex, and synthetic polymers. The high-pitched wailing returning indicating I had inadvertently created more tears in the outer layer of suit. Compromising it beyond any repairs, I could do without proper assistance.

It left this mission that once gave hope to a dying world, into a task that could cost humanity its future. This planet was becoming one elaborate reluctant cage for an Earth-man who only wanted to serve the world. That was my last thought as this alien world fell dark around me.

Critique level: Full Word Count: 705

WEP 2018 December Contest

With the contest theme being Ribbons and Candles for the final challenge of the year, I wasn’t confident about what I wanted to do.  I considered doing a Victorian-inspired holiday celebration with a steam-punk aesthetic. Upon researching some Christmas/Yuletide traditions from the time, I realized it may not have been the best idea to attempt with this particular theme. Clearing the slate so to speak, I also consider doing a small town inspired Christmas through the eyes of a time traveler.  Which I thought would work well but after six-hundred words realized ending the idea without revealing the main character’s secret was impractical. There were just too many questions left unanswered for the ending to feel complete.  Trying to find something that would work within the festive theme,  I stopped thinking about the idea for a couple of days. 

Somehow that managed to shake an idea from my head. Using the 1920’s to imagine a world where jazz filled the airwaves, and the mob ruled entire cities. With that atmosphere in mind, I considered a few ideas before settling on the idea that would become my contest entry which I present below. 


The winter chill had filled the air the snow by the time I entered the speakeasy. Mr. Domino had renovated the place since my last visit. Art Deco laminate tile ran through the entire floor, giving it a hexagonal black and white pattern that reminded me of a piano. Vaulted stone painted white decorated the ceiling. Brass chandeliers hung by silver steel chains were dropped from the ceiling. Bright red and blue ribbons hung across the bottom of every light. The strong scent of tobacco and homemade moonshine filled the air. Brass-heavy jazz was playing from some unseen musicians intertwined with the aromas. Several young flappers were dancing to the music with their fellas.

Weaving my way through the crowd of dancers, I made my way to the bar. A burly bartender in a tailored three-piece grey suit stood behind the bar. Slicked back greasy black hair stopped at the man’s ear, adding to his clean-shaven face. Deep brown eyes watched the dancers for a few moments before glancing at me.

Asking me “Watcha drinkin tonight,” while his gaze hinted a silent message; either get your drink or leave.

Glancing around at the few other patrons who were standing at the bar, before responding “A Manhattan but first a message for the owner. Tell him Mr. Keys has arrived, he will know who I am.”

The bartender nodded before going to make my drink. My suspicious nature was forcing me to glance around. Looking for associates of the man I was looking forward to seeing. The iron in my pocket was feeling heavy as several men in all black tailored suits began approaching me. A gold domino lapel pin rested on the right side of the jacket of the suit. Black fedoras were tilted just enough to obscure their faces from view. Tommy guns with wooden stocks pressed against their shoulders.

I asked, “Escorting me to see Mr. Domino gentlemen?”

The men nodded in unison before directing the black barrels of their Tommy Guns up. I have enough odd jobs to know what that meant. Giving me little time to stand up before beginning to walk away. Raising myself from the stool, I followed them ignoring the chaos of dancers moving to the music.

The music had grown steadily quieter by the time Mr. Domino’s goons led me his office. They motioned for me to enter the door before taking a watching spot by the door. Finding Mr. Domino was waiting for me, tapping a cigarette between his thumb and forefinger of his right hand. A polished silver Colt M1911A1 was resting on his antique wooden desk, within arms reach if necessary.

Mr. Domino asked, “Is the deed done Mr. Keys?”

I nodded, before producing a vanilla envelope from my pocket. Placing the container down by the gun, knowing the envelope’s contents would sway Mr. Domino’s immeasurable appreciation. Mr. Domino spilled the envelope’s content onto his desk. Ten severed ring fingers rolled onto his office, with their gold rings still attached. Each finger belonged to Mr. Domino’s competition.

Mr. Domino began to grin before commenting, “You have done well, Mr. Keys. These rings will make fantastic trophies for me to inspire fear from anyone else foolish enough to challenge me. As much as I would prefer to keep you around, I’m not foolish enough to cross my sister,” opening his desk and pulling out a small cloth bag. “Take this and my blessing to marry my sister,” standing and grabbing me the collar of my shirt. “Break her heart, and I will break you,” letting go of my collar.

“I know,” grabbing the cloth bag as I remarked.

Mr. Domino nodded once, before allowing me to leave his office. Shoving the money bag inside my pocket, trying my best to hide it from everyone. This money was my way of starting something new with my beloved Margaret. She knew the full extent of my past and didn’t care. Hoping between my reputation and her being the sister of Mr. Domino would be enough to scare any enemies away.

*****

A few hours later I arrived at Margaret’s house, the bag still hidden inside my pocket. She opened the door with a smile before I could knock. Leading me to her kitchen table, where a vibrant red unlit candle sat on a silver tray. A box of matches rested beside it, two of them poking out of it.

Margaret commented “Let’s light this candle and begin our new life together,” handing me a match with a smile spread across her face.

Smiling as I took the match, more than ready to start our new life together.


Word count: 774 Critique level: Full

WEP October 2018 Contest Entry

Struggling to create something for this month’s contest, I considered skipping and rejoining in December. Challenging myself to write something that was a fit for the themes of Deja Vu or Voodoo. Writing a few different ideas but failing to get past a couple of paragraphs with each idea. Which honestly, was incredibly frustrating and annoying for me. Yet, apparently, the pressure from an encroaching deadline was the key to turning the spigot of inspiration on. Inspiring this Tesla-punk themed atmosphere of voodoo and science. Oddly enough the title came easily enough to me, entitling the piece Mad Science.


With thunder and rain making a symphony against the cracked window, I glanced at the massive machine that constructed in the middle of my empty red brick warehouse. Spheres of pure copper rested on top of ten-foot-tall copper wrapped steel beams. The positions of the poles, even the warehouse itself was carefully determined by occultist Aleister Crowley. Ancient and powerful runes etched into the ground around the machine. Etch dusted with copper shavings and white chalk. Bringing in Nikola Tesla himself to design and construct unique Tesla Coils for this project. Making sure the two never knew the plans true aim. This project more akin to technological voodoo. Then it was to either science or the occult. If this worked, I would be reborn into out of this body riddled with a fatal sickness. It didn’t matter if it failed, death would be claiming me soon enough.

Hobbling down the iron staircase, descending with my hand tightly wrapped around the rail. Setting the bottom of my cane on the ground to aid me, before taking my last step off the stairs. Knowing how much I had come to rely on the simple device to move in the past few months. Planning each action on the cement floor with great care, knowing how fragile my ailing body was becoming. Limping to the large steel encased control panel that was parallel to the lowest stairs. Pulling down on the lever to activate the many Tesla Coils simultaneously. Hearing a slight hum as the machines started to warm up. Moments later pure white lightning crackled throughout the warehouse. Striking the ground with growing frequency making the lights glow steadily brighter.

Unsteadily walking into the middle of the machine, the few hairs I had left standing on end. The iron chair I had bolted to the floor waiting for me. Polished copper restraints were attached to the chair, waiting to secure me into the chair. Lowering myself into the chair, letting the cold metal force me entirely into the chair. Watching the lights flicker out as a storm of white lightning strengthened around the machine. Focusing itself around the runes, forcing the copper dust and chalk mixture to glow faintly. The glow was steadily getting brighter, while I watched unwilling to move from the storm’s center. Lightning was beginning to strike the chair at random. Feeling the electrical energy work its way through my chest. A sharp and intense pain started to wrap around my body. Screaming into the air, as the frequency of the lightning strikes increased. Within minutes the pain was unbearable, forcing my conscious to fade away slowly.

Looking down on my empty shell of a crippled body, somehow no longer bound to it. My spiritual form forcibly contained to the area by the mixture of science and the occult. Observing helplessly, as the lightning produced the by Tesla Coils rapidly struck at my body. Feeling a slight tremor even though I was no longer attached to my physical body. The quivers were steadily getting stronger, waiting for the machines to finish discharging their energy.

It could have been a few minutes or a couple of hours before the remaining discharge struck my body simultaneously. The final release was powerful enough to forcibly recall my spirit into my physical body in a union of technology and voodoo. My body was tingling slightly as the metal restraints opened. Being filled with a feeling of robustness that I haven’t possessed since my youth. Tossing my cane across the warehouse testing out this new body before standing. Walking out of the mechanization created by creating a union of occultism and science. My once frail body reborn strengthened with the aid of mad science. Eager to not have to deal with constant hospital visits and doctors that restrained so much of my life. With a new-found spring in my step, I was ready to take on the world.


Critque level: Full

Word Count: 653

WEP August 2018 Change of Heart challenge entry

As August continues to unfold, the WEP challenge begins. While they released the themes for each month’s challenge early on in January of this year, I sensed this one would be the most difficult for me. I considered skipping it initially and entering again in the October WEP challenge.

After thinking about the challenge’s theme for the past three weeks or so, I began to have a few ideas. The first idea I scrapped after writing the first few paragraphs. Going back to a blank slate (so to speak), I thought about what I could do with the theme. Realizing I could do a redemption story, with a cyberpunk atmosphere. Keeping the vibrant natural atmosphere of a world heavily dominated by technology. Adding a heavy touch of virtual reality, and oppressive governments to the idea. Along with a slight bit of hacker noir. Managing to stick to my self-assigned “punk” challenge. Please enjoy my entry titled, “One Last Job.”


One Last Job

Various computer monitors illuminated my dark office. The dim neon white light from my keyboard was bathing my twitching fingers that hovered above it. A barely legal altered cognitive bolstering rig was resting precariously on my neck. Interwoven black cable ran from the back of the apparatus into a custom built quantum computer; I designed to keep my digital presence minimal. This task is supposed to my last job before getting out of the increasingly radical hacker group Entropy. Only agreeing to do this job after signing a contract that guaranteed I could leave without retribution from the group and other rival hacker groups. While I still had to worry about consequences from the legal system, this had a slim chance of protecting my new from them. With the impending birth of my first son, I realized I needed a fresh start, not just for me full life Taking a deep breath; I started running my virtual machine. Letting that run for a few minutes before rapidly typing the code that would bounce my entry signal randomly around the world. Scrutinizing the system’s programming code for mistakes before initializing the program. Feeling the pinch of the small needles pierce through the skin on my neck, allowing my mind to enter the digital world.

Mere seconds passed before the digital world appeared in front of my virtual eyes. Neon signs floated through the sky, advertising everything and anything could. Virtual portals connecting to businesses around the planet rested on an everchanging rainbow neon road rested on both sides of me. Lines of avatars were waiting to enter some the portals; others remained empty. Transporting myself through the multitude of unmoving avatars, trying not to attract any attention as I moved through it.

Managing to find a seldom used route obscured by barely functioning portals. Dropping into the entrance on the right, entering the Ultra-net. Seeing the sophisticated and powerful repeating encryption that created a continually changing protective firewall. The authoritarian government believed the firewall was unhackable. For the most part, their assumption was correct. The script had an exploitable weak spot that I could use to enter the mainframe. Now inside the mainframe, I searched for the virtual prison where the minds of people labeled dangerous where hidden. The government using their physical body, as a protection from any retaliation. It was one of their worst kept secrets; they used to create fear among hackers. Being careful to avoid the drones produced by the government’s artificial intelligence with the sole purpose of keeping the Ultra-net safe.

After a few hours of searching, I stumbled into the prison. Making a quick decision to hide in the prison maintenance node to protect me from the roving army of small flying drones patrolled the area. Watching their patrol routes with great care, trying to stay hidden from electronic eyes. Knowing any window, I had to break in without detection would be minimal. Thinking over my methods of hacker attacks I could use to decrease my chance of exposure, as the drones continued to encircle the facility.

With a quick decision to release a split attack on the node. Tapping at the virtual wristlet knowing I had only a few options I could use with such a narrow window of time. Choosing to unleash a complex program I created named Alpha_Breaker against the drones and node. Directing the initial attack wave at the opposite side of the prison, to get the drones attention. Watching the drones rush away before unleashing a robust second attack on the node. The secondary attack worked quickly devouring the protective barrier around the node before creating a small hole in the node. Using the distraction to enter, the weak spot in the node swiftly.

Seeing thousands neon blue ghosts floating around in vibrant digital purgatory, each one lost without its host. Conformist propaganda jpegs covered the virtual walls, silently mocking the prisoners. I would be there only chance of escaping here. Now to figure out how to do that, without killing those I was trying to free. Everything I had read before uploading my conscious to the internet, suggested I had to find a kill switch for the prison. In theory, it should allow their minds to download into their physical bodies. I had some ideas what the kill switch could be, but I would have to complete confident I made the correct choice. There was more at stake than just my new life.

Doubting it would be easy to find, I peeled back several layers of code. Managing to see that they had somehow had built a physical server with inside a digital environment. A flat screen and keyboard rested on top of it. Ignoring that something like this shouldn’t be possible, I cautiously approached the machine. Finding the server was exceedingly vulnerable to any hacker shrewd enough to discover it. Tapping on the keyboard brought up layers of exceptionally complex code on the screen. Processing the system the with haste, I realized this was borderline impossible. A single wrong keystroke could alert them to my presence here. With slim hope, I synced my virtual body with the server. Using it as an anchor to create a delayed release of a program named Reckoning. Preparing everything I could think of before erasing my virtual form the Ultra-net.

Feeling a pinch at my neck as my mind returned to my body. Reaching the keyboard, I quickly activated the program. Hoping that my actions wouldn’t come back to haunt my chance for a new life. Hoping that my former colleagues would honor the contract, and wouldn’t have a change of heart about letting me out of the game.


Word Count: 947 Critique level: Full


You can check out the other entries in this month’s contest here:

1. Denise Covey 12. Laura Clipson 23. J Lenni Dorner
2. Nilanjana Bose 13. L.G. Keltner 24. Elephant’s Child
3. Olga Godim 14. Hilary 25. Helen Mathey-Horn
4. desk49 -DL 15. Roland Clarke – DL 26. Dixie Jarchow
5. Sally 16. DG Hudson 27. Deniz Bevan
6. Pat Garcia 17. Jemima Pett 28. Anna
7. Pat Hatt 18. Diane Burton 29. Operation Awesome
8. Toi Thomas – DL 19. Christopher Scott 30. Haresh
9. Corinne Rodrigues 20. Rebecca M. Douglass 31. xmltutorial
10. Tanya Miranda 21. Michelle Wallace
11. Deborah Drucker 22. Rasma Raisters

WEP June 2018 “Unraveling Yarn” Entry Piece

I debated continuing my raypunk inspired piece for this month, but rapidly realized it was difficult for that to fit within this month’s theme. Taking a departure from the aesthetics and retro-futurism of raypunk for this month WEP contest piece, without managing to fail at the self-assigned challenge. Rethinking what I could create within the context of the theme, going towards Greek Mythology.  Taking some inspiration from that, and realizing how quickly I could fuse those elements with the Clockwork Punk ideals. While Clockwork Punk is similar in aesthetics to Steampunk,  the former takes a heavy focus on gears. In addition to that Clockwork Punk works within a great symbiosis with magic and alchemy. Combining all those elements, I began to shape the tale below. A story I titled, “Fixing Fate.”


Fixing Fate

Someone faintly knocked on the door to my workshop, barely audible over the sound of moving gears. With reluctance, I got up to answer the door, curious to know who could be knocking at this late hour. Opening the door a smudge, seeing scrawny women dressed in a tight-fitting white dress. Her face obscured under a thick white veil, held in place with an ornate antique band of gold. The flames from gear powered torch reflecting against her dress.

With a raspy voice, she asked: “I’m seeking Cornelius Flamel, are you he?”

Glancing past the women to make sure she was alone before answering “That depends on who is asking,” since I had decided to hide my family’s name from all but a select few.

She responded “A woman whose existence is older then you can imagine. The Greeks called me Clotho, while your father knew me as Amaryllis.”

My father had told me once of a mysterious woman with the name. He didn’t say much about her, other then she imparted great knowledge to him. Opening my door farther waving her in, knowing that if my father trusted her, she possessed great character. Grabbing a brass lever by the door, rotating it clockwise. Using its mechanical energy to brighten the ceiling lights of my workshop. Locking the door before glancing at the woman, whose eyes seemed to be scanning the room. Now noticing she had brown patchwork clock bag over her shoulder, that was glowing faintly from the inside.

Amaryllis said “While I’m uncertain what your father told you about me, I know he taught you privately. Sharing his vast knowledge on various subjects,” walking over to a big machine hidden under a cloth. Dropping the bag before grabbing the dirty cloth, pulling it off with a flourish. Revealing a steel loom, that was empty of fabric. Intricate gears ran throughout the machine’s interior. Engraved into the metal were alchemic symbols, that had been filled in with white paint. A golden lever ran itself out the center of the body. “While I regret sharing the designs for this machine but, I’m glad it now. While this may appear to be an ordinary loom Cornelius, this one only works on one particular material. I need you to rebuild the strings of fate that are within the bag. This machine will restore their potency, allowing the world to continue it’s onward,” kneeling some and placing something inside the interior mechanical workings.

Walking toward the loom, I could feel a strange power radiating off the machine I couldn’t explain. The energy the device was emitting was forcing a powerful tingling sensation to ascend up through my right arm. Its focal point seemed to be the ring I inherited from my father.

Amaryllis said “It is time for you to get work Cornelius,” stepping back from the machine. Walking out the door, without saying another word.

Reaching into the bag, she left behind pulling out split clean-cut golden threads. Feeling a slight warmth come off the thread as I fed it to the machine. Pressing down on the brass pedal with my right foot, pulling more of cloth into the loom. Watching the machine re-weave the thread as more of fate’s strings were slowly pulled into the loom. The alchemical symbols engraved onto the loom beginning to match the glow of the strange jewel Amaryllis placed it. Somehow the combination was restoring the golden glow of the strings. Being mesmerized by the lights as I worked on the fractured yarn.

Losing track of time as something tapped me on the shoulder. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw Amaryllis had returned. Looking almost revitalized despite the white veil that covered her face. Walking over to the where the loom had collected the restored thread. Placing the bundle inside in a black wooden box with antiqued brass hardware, with great care. The bin was free of any symbols, or carvings that could indicate how the container would hide the restored energy of the string. Slamming the box’s lid down, before vanishing into the dark again. Leaving the strange jewel, she placed into the loom behind. Its glow barely a flicker of what it was previously. Making it appear as if it was nothing more than an ordinary ruby, despite its size. Lifting the ruby carefully, I noticed it was the exact match for small ruby in my father’s ring.

With the ruby in hand, I walked towards an old trunk I had uncovered a few days ago. Setting the jewel on an old cloth I placed on the vault. Patiently wrapping it around the gemstone, before opening the chest. Putting it in the chest, knowing it should be forgotten. My father had inadvertently bound our bloodline with this jewel. For better or worse, I would have to protect the strange jewel as well; even I didn’t want to. It seems I had inadvertently altered my destiny by repairing fate’s string. Wondering if this was something else I inherited from my father’s passing.


Critique: Full Word Count: 840

Febuary 2018 WEP “In Too deep” Challenge

When I first saw the themes for this year WEP challenges, I realized I could do an anthology of sorts. Incorporating various off-shoots of the science fiction ideas of “Steampunk, Dieselpunk, and Cyberpunk.” While the variations on those three concepts are starting to grow in genre knowledge, they each present an atmosphere all their own.  For this months piece, I fumbled around with a few different ideas before setting my mind on a Nanopunk inspired story. Nanopunk is one of two offshoots of the Cyberpunk idea, with a heavy focus on the impact of nanites and nanotechnology.  Unfournatetly writers’ overall tend to favor a negative impact over positive. Taking the extremes of both sides, while exploring the duality of technology use. I humbly present my entry into the first WEP contest of 2018, “Hope.”


Hope

Hearing brief snippets of conversation as the anesthesia began to wear off. Something about “last hope,” and “the resistance failing.” Starting to feel the nanites start their rapid enhancement of my body. Grabbing the corners of the operating table before waking up. Scanning the room to see General MacArthur and Sergeant Jones, standing on the left edge of the metal table. Several scientists with bloodstained green robes and masks stood behind them. Everyone’s gaze focused on me, seeming mentally noting every movement I made.

General MacArthur commented “Welcome back Captain Allen, and it seems the last-ditch hope of the resistance was successful. Which is fortunate, since the losses of the human race have suffered is to deep for it to fail. Get him any gear he requires sergeant. We will be dropping him deep into enemy territory soon. Remember Captain you are no longer just a man; you’re a living weapon.”

Nodding my head in silence, watching the scientists begin to unplug the various tubes and needles from my body. Feeling a slight pinch, before the nanites started sealing the wounds. Staring at the cracked bright lights above me, waiting for them to finish unplugging me. Eager to prove I was the right candidate for Project Salvation.

About twelve hours had passed before I was leaning out the open door of a programmed drone. Dressed entirely in a sleek prototype lightweight mesh armor, designed for high stealth missions. Choosing a tri-barreled energy shotgun, two compact tactical pistols. Along with a curved metal handled plasma sword and various grenades. Making a significant assumption, I could take steal enemy weapons if necessary. Glancing at the radar, tightening the straps on my parachute as the drop zone approached. Jumping out the door, instantly bringing the various factors of the drop onto the air in front of me. Keeping a close eye on the ground radar and altitude level, knowing the minimum height I could open the chute. My body was feeling the wind fighting against along its steady descent. Using my hand to open the parachute with a mighty pull at a little over six-hundred feet above barren enemy territory. Being shot upwards some as my descent began to slow.

Rapidly detaching my parachute after landing, rolling to the ground afterward. Taking cover with by sprinting towards a nearby pile of discarded, obsolete robots. Taking a quick survey of my environment, looking around for the giant water pipe. Managing to find two ITY-2000 guard robots blocking my entrance into the control facility. Unholstering one of my pistols, aiming it swiftly. The nanites in my blood were doing a rapid analysis of their structural weak points. Finding their weak spot was the power coupler on the left side of the neck. Pulling the trigger a few times at each target, knowing the noise from the gunshots would attract attention. Noticing their heads twist from the power coupling separating, before falling into the pool of water below them. Waiting a few seconds after the splash before running onward. Leaping into the large pipe, stretching my body out on the rusting metal. My eyes adjusting to the darkness before crawling forward. Using the nanites to hack into the mainframe. Determined to find the fastest way into the control room, that would shut the killer machines down for good. Using a hacked map to navigate the tunnels.

After a couple of hours of careful navigation, I found the ceiling access panel to the control room. Using both hands to carefully move the panel to the other side of the tunnel before peering downward at the immaculately clean control room. Noticing the small army of ITY-2000s’ patrolling the place. The regiment was guarding the large silver computer near the center of the room. Thick black cables ran upward from the back of the machine, supported by the base of a large gray metal structure. It appeared to be a symbiotic structure that ran to the communications array at the top of the structure. Focusing my gaze on the structure, letting the nanites analyze it. Trying to find its weakness from here. Doubting I had enough firepower to drop down and perform the task more overtly. Minutes passed before the nanites brought up three weak points, I could attack.
Pulling myself forward into the tunnel, feeling the cold metal under my fingers. A large maintenance panel was blocking my path, with a large handle protruding outwards. Wrapping my hands around the metal, before pulling it towards me. Finding several black cables bound together, running uninterrupted by the vents. Separating the cables, before placing a grenade in the interior. Using the nanites to sync three explosives on a five-minute timer before pushing myself backward past the access panel. Letting the nanites calculate the trajectory of both grenades, before tossing them along the projected arc. With the central communication tower rigged to blow, I traveled the tunnels toward the exit. Being careful of the explosives I rigged on my ascent towards the control room.

Suddenly plummeting down as the ventilation shaft I was near dropped from the ceiling. My eyes were opening to see lines of the enemy surrounded me. Barrels of their weapons pointed directly at, as their hive mind processed what to do. Massively outnumbered, and outgunned I quickly realized this first mission post augmentation, would be my last. Taking a deep breath, pressing the detonator attached to my wrist. Making peace with myself as the explosions began above me. Hearing them before I could see the orange flames work their way down the building. Watching the fire dance their way down to me before I could feel the heat on my skin. Screaming as my gear caught fire, burning my skin. The nanites were struggling to heal me against the flames rapid consumption of my body. Hearing the shouts of my comrades as I left the burnt remains my body.



Critique level: Full Word Count: 982

Feel free to stop by and check out the other entries for this contest at the link below: http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2018/02/wepff-february-2018-challenge-in-too.html?m=1

 

WEP August 2017 challenge

For this month’s challenge, the theme was “Reunions,” which in my opinion comes in two types; joyous, and tragic. Some could argue that the intentions of the reunion, is how it is perceived. Which in the case of writing this piece, I found to be oddly double sided but, true. Once you read how this piece begins and ends you may understand why I state that. Enjoy my tale, titled The Banished Prince Returns. august2bbadge


Looking past the dungeon’s cell door, I glared at my father. Along with the strange, crippled, ancient being who ordered the guards to put me here. My father appearing more like a ghost of his former self. His hair graying and unraveled, upon a face that I barely recognized. This wasn’t the reunion I anticipated.

With a weak voice, my father said “You shouldn’t have returned my son. The exile I ordered on you, had a purpose you were too young to understand at the time. Even now I have my doubts.”

“Mother told me the truth when I turned fifteen, three years ago. Your servant has poisoned your mind, father,” I said. “Now let me out father.”

My father turned, beginning to walk away before shouting “Never,” not looking back at me. Ascending the stone staircase, followed closely by his strange companion. Leaving me alone, in the dying flame of a torch.

The torch had died before I heard the sound of approaching footsteps. They stopped as a someone said “It is true then, that the prince has returned,” the voice almost recognizable.

“Rshun,” I asked.

“Close prince, Rshun was my father,” it answered, as the footsteps returned. Stopping at my cell door. “Don’t fear prince, loyalists still remain here,” lowering their voice to a whisper. “Unfortunately, I don’t have the key to this cell but there is still a way out. That far back wall opens to a passageway from when they first built this place,” passing something under the cell door. “Your freedom has a price my prince, and the loyalists know what it is. Yet you have a choice. Kill your father, taking your rightful place on the throne, or find your father’s strange follower, and kill him instead. War is coming prince, and the kingdom needs someone strong to lead it. Be safe, and quick if you can my prince,” before walking away.

Reaching around, I touched something soft but cold. Pulling it towards me, felt the crest of my family on this piece of fabric. Slowly unwrapping it, a dim light began to peek through. I quickly realized this was the fabled Illumina. Trying to keep the light hidden I walked towards the back wall. Feeling around for the mechanism that would open the hidden passageway. Managing to find it by accident as leaned on a brick, on the edge of giving up. Being careful I entered the passageway. Trying to make a decision as I navigated the stone passageway, with little idea where I was going.

Only by stumbling around in the system of passageways did I find my way into the higher levels of the castle. Having to peek carefully through several possible openings, before finding both of them in the same room. The stranger leaning towards my father’s ear, whispering something I couldn’t hear. His hand glowing a faint shade of green, in the process. Being cautious, I cracked the door open just enough to let me through before entering the chamber. Staying close to the wall I watched them both. Knowing in my heart, what I was doing was right. Hiding the wrapped blade behind my back I approached. Surprised to see the guards made no moves to stop me. After I got close, I let the fabric fall aside. Plunging the Illumina into the back of the strange man, before it hit the ground. Withdrawing the blade, as I noticed the stranger turned only his head. Looking at me with eyes, darker than the night sky. Startled some, I stabbed the thing quickly. Avoiding his gaze, for this thing’s spell fall on me too. Apparently annoyed with me, the thing pushed me aside. Placing its entire focus on me, seemingly oblivious to the ebony goo falling from his wounds. Approaching me with his hands, slowly turning into talons. Doubting I could do much against this abomination’s true self, I ran towards it. With a twisted grin, it seized my throat. Lifting me into the air with ease. Keeping the best grip I could on the Illumina, I plunged it into the creature’s head. The thing’s grip loosened enough to drop me, as it stumbled backward. It’s head starting to glow from the inside.

I heard my father weakly shout “Kill that thing, my loyal guards.”

From the corners of the room, guards rushed forward, weapons drawn. The strange creature panicked and released a high pitched howl. Yet, the guards didn’t falter, as the first spear was hurtled into the air. Pinning that thing to the ground, as it began to bleed out. Fighting against the guards until it finally died.

Rushing to my father, I watched as the magic effects continued. Looking slightly stronger than before, but still very weak.

My father commanded “Welcome home, my son. Guards the banishment I placed on my son, is lifted. Spread the word to the kingdom, that the prince has saved the kingdom,” before seizing my hand hard. “That was the last of my strength my son. The kingdom is now yours, do me, proud son,” before fading away.


Word Count:847 Critique level: Full

 

WEP October 2016 piece

Given the split theme, choices were “Constellations,” or “Halloween,” it was a difficult choice of where to go. Both are rich areas for creating a short story with a limited word count.  I will admit it would be easier to go over the word count, then to be under it since each area has a vast mythology surrounding them.  Yet each had their own set of challenges because of that as well.  My choice may not be obvious until the end of the story since I did try to make it subtle. Trying to downplay it and use it poetic imagery over being obvious with my theme choice.  I hope you enjoy my entry for this month entitled, “Lost Amongst the Stars.”

 


Lost Amongst the Stars

I never wanted to be part of this war with the Rischi. Yet it was forced upon most medical students all over the world. My family wasn’t connected enough for me to get out. Which gave me an ultimatum, enlist or get a lifetime hitch in jail. I took the former, and now here I sit. Crammed into a small escape alone with my thoughts of my escape. Trying to escape my thoughts, I pressed the play button on my bloodied recorder. The recorder fills the silence as it plays, “My name is Sharo Neva, and I am the last survivor of the medical ship Athena. The Rischi fired on us without provocation, managing to destroy must of the critical systems on board. As the sirens blared and the lights flickered I mercifully killed my own injured patients. Most didn’t even flinch as they pressed their heads against the cold steel barrel of my service pistol. The gunshot managed to drown out the sirens before being the agonizing screams overwhelmed the volume of the siren. I hated doing that but, I knew somewhere deep in my heart it would be less painful than starving to death in a dead ship.

Releasing the play button, I looked out the small round window. Watching the stars float by as I watched the endless sea of darkness pass by. The stars acting as a makeshift system of beacons, reminding of the star-charts I was forced to study in basic. Trying to guess where I was based on the stars. Hoping to find something that was recognizable, like Orion,Taurus, or Ursa Major. This escape pod may not have built for long term use, but if I could get close to one of the orbiting stations I may yet survive this. From what I recall before the battle we had passed Uranus two days before being fired upon. Which meant the station floating above Titania was my best chance to be found if I could manage to get the radio to work. From what I was taught in training there was a short wave radio hidden under the left panel by the window. Struggling to move  in such a cramped space, I did the best I could to get just to the right of the window. The panel didn’t look any different from any of the others, I just hoped I remembered correctly. Reaching over with both hands I reached under both sides of the panel the best I could. With some degree of adjustment, I attempted to pry the panel off. Being cautious not to inadvertently damage my only way of communication I had.

After a few minutes, I managed to get the panel off, revealing a compact and simple looking radio. A linear series of small red, glowing lights showed that it was working. There were no knobs or dials to adjust the range of frequency at all attached to the flat gray surface. Yet from what I could tell there was no external microphone, only two buttons. One labeled response and the other labeled broadcast. Pressing both of them down, I asked, “Can anyone hear me?”

Letting up on the buttons, I waited for a response. Except all I got was the repeating sound of static being played from the internal speaker. Almost mocking me as I attempted to survive before my dwindling supplies were gone. Trying to keep myself from losing myself to loneliness or madness, I decided to sleep. Hoping it would extend my supply oxygen, more than anything else.

Minutes turned to hours, before something striking against the outside of the pod bolted me awake. Struggling to repress the urge to freak-out I looked out the window. Being greeted by the sight of rubble floating around in the vast nothingness of the stars. I couldn’t tell if it was space junk, the remains of a ship, or the remains of the station that floated above Titania. For once I wasn’t sure which possible outcome was worse. Either way, my hope for a rescue was diminished to a point where it border-lined on falling into oblivion.

It was hard to tell how many days passed before I started to feel claustrophobic. The wonderment of watching the stars go by had faded. Even my limited ration supply was starting to dwindle to down to a few days at most. Given how dismal my situation looked, I pressed down the record button on the recorder. Ready to record my will, and last words for my wife, my son, and my soon to be born daughter. Clearing my throat, I said, “My name is Sharo Neva, and this may be the last words you hear from me my loves. To my beautiful and darling wife, Lyorna you gave me a lifetime worth of happiness in just a few years. Blessing me with your hand in marriage, and soon to be two children. I hope you find all the happiness you gave me again, and I love you. To my son, Rysio watch after your mother once you are older. I’m not even sure you will remember me when you grow up, but I hope you know that you are my greatest gift. To my unborn daughter Suri, I may not have ever met you but, your mother will tell you about me. Know that even if you stumble and fall in life, just look up at the sky and know I will be watching you. To both my children, remember I will always love you even if our time was short,” letting go of the record button and letting the tears fall.

I wasn’t sure what caused me to hallucinate rotten food, or oxygen deprivation, or being drunk for the past two days. A ghostly specter of my wife appeared in the escape pod with me. Her form composed of a transparent black shell lit from behind with stars. Each star seemed to shift to form various constellations until they became nothing more than a memorizing spiral of a galaxy. It whispered, “Come join us, my love.”

Her whisper a soft siren song that gave me two things I wanted. My family, and a peaceful death.


Critique level: FCA Word Count:1033

WEP August 2016 Gardens challenge

I feel like a slight preface is required before my entry reveals itself. If you have been following this for awhile, I hope you expect something strange in my writing. Yet, if you have just started following me this may be a good place to start. The “gardens” theme for this challenge, threw me a challenge from the beginning. I was torn from a creative perspective trying to think of a direction that I would allow me three things. The first of course to stick to the contest’s theme. While the second was do I write something more fantastical in nature, or do I go towards more of science fiction setting. Both of them had great potential to work well within the context of the theme. Given the 1000 word limit, the third thing was how do I manage to satisfy myself and the readers, that the story is conclusive. I do feel I managed to do that, within the parameters I wanted. Managing to keep to theme, while giving it my own spin. I appreciate any full critiques or any comments/questions anyone has. Without further delay, I humbly present my entry to you.

Guardians in an Atomic Garden

As a child, I had grown up after the first generation atomic gardens had been constructed. All the children had been warned to be careful of the radiation, and the odd mutants that lived inside. My parent’s worked opposite shifts, maintaining the garden in some way. My father was an entomologist, and my mother was a botanist. They always told me about the danger of what they did. Sometimes carrying in odd flowers to show me, that they could study. Other times bringing in small damaged clear containers, filled with horrific looking creatures. Yet the more I aged, I realized how fascinated I was by their work. Watching the tall, domed wall around the atomic garden at any chance I got. Ready, and waiting until I was eligible to start working for the city at the age of sixteen.
Now, after I turned sixteen I was now eligible to work on the atomic garden. Stopping, and getting the potassium-iodide pills from the medical center, I was required to take daily to get even close to the garden. Walking to the transition center ,where all who worked the garden. Waiting for decontamination before entering and leaving the garden. That was the first time, I had seen the bright, silver radiation suits. Complete with the creepy, orange tinted astronaut-style helmet that had an air tight seal. Leaving only two small narrow, clear tubes that led to the oxygen cleaning machine that went on under the suit. I looked at the dingy, scratched mirror before me. Seeing myself in the suit for the first time. It was an imposing sight, in my opinion.
Waiting only a few minutes before I was cleared to enter the atomic garden for the first time. Blinded some by the artificial, intense blue light that greeted me. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust, to light. Taking in the odd variety, of bright polychromatic flowers that filled the garden. Large half mechanical, half organic trees separated the flowers into sections. The trees  possessed a brown and silver bark, with thin lines of blue and, green ran up the bark. Silver, tentacle-like arms radiating outward from the top of each tree, aiding in supporting the dome. Each small section of the tentacle, emitting the bright blue light that fed the plants and illuminated everything.
A few large, mutated dragonflies flew by me, as I walked around. Each had a bright orange color, with green thin banded circles on their sides, seeming to chase each other. Their thin, wings filled with a red membrane under the clear skin of their wings. I smiled some under my helmet, watching them with curiosity. Considering following them, hoping they would lead me to the mysterious women who I was told about as a kid. Trying to stay out of their way I followed with patient steps.
They stopped at the rightmost corner of the garden. Floating above, a section of flowering hybrid plants my parents created. The stem of the plant was a dark, almost black shade of purple, with lines of white up it. On the top of each stem was a wide octagonal flower, that alternated its color depending on the time of day, and its health. Right now its center was a fluorescent shade of violet, encased in alternating colors of red, and white.
I must of hit something as I approached the plot, as I heard a loud click. The next thing I noticed was beginning to descend somehow. Into a vast dark place, that the garden must have been covered up as construction began. Something that had survived the nuclear war, that scorched the planet centuries ago.
A voice echoed in the darkness, “Follow the light,” as weak, glowing white lights begin to turn on. Leading me on a forward path,buried under the garden. Doubting I had much choice, I followed the light.
The light guided me to a large, poorly lit chamber. Various computer screens were mounted on the walls. Each screen showing footage of the gardens from different angles. The screens had white cables pouring out of them, like small rivers. Twisting and warping towards the center of the room. The cables vanished as they entered this strange, person sized alabaster egg. A thin layer of dust covered the egg. Wiping the dust away on my sleeve. I uncovered a block letter engraving. The engraving read, “Project Mithra.”
I started to step back, realizing I should get someone more knowledgeable and return. Something slamming shut, behind me made me stop dead in my tracks, frozen in fear. The voice from before returned, “You cannot leave it,” as something released a loud hiss of air.
The egg was cracking itself open, from within. A large, grotesque, twisted, metallic claw-like hand punched the egg open. Something must have been hit inside the egg, as I watched the egg starting it tilting itself towards the wall. Making itself almost parallel to the wall, with a slight angle revealing something was inside. An opalescent blue liquid started to leak out of the egg. Moving towards me as if it were alive. The more the fluid leaked out, more of whatever was inside revealed itself. A shell of silver protected whatever was inside. Odd round disc shaped protrusions covered the shell, each one having a cable attached it to.
The voice returned, “My body is dying, child. I need a replacement as the guardian for this garden. My time is ending child, and I’m afraid you don’t have much choice,” watching the cables break free and rocket towards me.
I wanted to scream and run away. Feeling the needle tips of the cable began to pierce through the suit, and into my body. Several of the cables had attached to my body, forcing me to walk to the egg. Pulling me in from the back, I watched the egg seal with a hiss of air. Drowning me in a sea of darkness, and blue liquid.


Critique level: FCA Word count: 985

 

 

Late mid-month update

update

What little remains in the month may not be much, but we have reached the halfway point for July. The first part of the month has been productive, My main project Rise (Seasons of Dragons and Death), is finally completed.Anarchy my side project has been pushed aside, to work on my entry in inkitt.com, writing contest. Outside of that, I have reached the high point of the range for Twitter followers, which seems to be gaining everyday or so.  Also I have redrawn a map of Talora, which at the moment is basic. I will add that into a the first draft of Rise once I manage to add in more details, after making several copies of the basic map.

Hmm…..what else. I guess non writing news, is I’m repainting my room. It needs done desperately since the paint is spotted and faded from time. Need to put a second coat of paint on tomorrow and it should be fully done. Than to put my room back together. That’s all for now.