100themes38: AbandonedHe doesn't know why he did it. Maybe it was for the bragging rights. Maybe it was because he wanted to know what everyone was so afraid of. Maybe it was because he wanted to prove how brave he was. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because of a little ghost girl, and a years-ago game of tag in the woods.
Whatever the reason behind it was, he's beginning to be not entirely sure that breaking into a supposedly haunted abandoned insane asylum was a very good idea.
For one thing, the place seems as if it's near to falling apart. The floor creaks under his feet, and the brickwork of the walls crumbles away as he runs his fingers along them. There's the occasional sharp cracking noise, as another slate rattles from the roof and smashes on the paving stones of the courtyard, and the wind's whistling through the broken windows, setting the lighter doors squeaking on their hinges.
It's creepy enough as it is, even before he begins to hear the voices.
At first he's not sure what they're saying
Footnote To The ApocalypseThe day after the apocalypse, I read.Footnote To The Apocalypse3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I find a bookshop, one of the only buildings that hasn't been destroyed by the blast. The door is locked, but the front window has a hole in it , and my shirt-wrapped fingers manage to break away enough of the splinters to create some sort of entrance. For the first time in my life, I am thankful for being small.
My hands are bleeding when I get inside. My shoulder is too - there's a sliver of glass buried in it too deep to dig out - and the gashes on my chest have opened up again, but there isn't much I can do about those. I don't want to bleed on the books, that's all.
I don't have any bandages, so I cut up the rest of my sleeves and wrap my fingers in the fabric: not perfect, but it will stop the worst of the staining. Then, I hunt.
It isn't a targeted pursuit - I'm after anything that's unburned, unbroken, and with all the pages intact - but somehow a pattern starts to emerge in the pile I make under the kneehole of the desk (animal
Words like wingsI caught a bird, the other day. Opened my window, leaned out, and there it was, right in front of me. Almost like it wanted to be grabbed. Strange little thing, all bones and breath and that frightened heartbeat thudding against my fingers - and warm, warm as blood.Words like wings8 months ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I cradled it in my hands and, fingers cupped tight around it, pulled my arms back in and tugged the window closed with my elbow. Not locked, mind you - just closed enough it wouldn't fly away the moment I let it go. Not before I'd had a chance to look at it, anyway.
I sat down, back against the wall. Opened my hands.
The bird stood there, balanced on the platform of my overlapping palms, tilted its head on one side and looked at me.
I looked back. It was a strange kind of a bird, all told - unblinking little black eyes, red-tipped claws, and feathers that, once I looked closer, looked more than a little odd.
It tilted its head to the other side, eye fixed on my face. Hopped closer on my palms. Spread its wings
MCitR: Bright Lights, Big CityOnce, he supposes, cities lit up at night.MCitR: Bright Lights, Big City8 months ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He's seen the pictures. Nyok, back before it all came down, every street and house and skyscraper blazing like a torch. Svega, all neon signs and light-up billboards a mile long, more like a fever-dream than anywhere anyone'd actually go to. Lun-over-the-sea, with the Circle lit all round the rim like a targeting reticle. Cuver, Aussin, Scow, you look hard enough and you'll find pictures of 'em all, each as bright and shiny as if they'd had a hundred thousand base-generators powering 'em up.
Nice bright shiny targets, the way he sees it. Not as if there weren't wars back then, either - hell, they'd planes and bombers to spare. Drones, too, and not the crappy tin-cans the Arkei've got scouting the places out neither. Proper NTF-style kit, with twice the money and a good deal more time spent on the tech.
No wonder it all came down. Light yourselves up like that, you're practically shouting your location to the nearest bunch of bastards who want
The Brass MonkeyThe aether-lamp glittered blue through the bottom of the bottle, winking like a trapped palette-swapped firefly. It looked, Clay thought, about as happy as he felt.The Brass Monkey8 months ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Sixteen years. Sixteen bloody years, and what did he have to show for it? A busted hand, a plate riveted across the top of half of his skull, a bionic eye that spent half the time wandering off after whatever particularly shiny thing had caught the mechanism's fancy, and an empty bottle of something that he was pretty sure would have been thrown out of a whorehouse for peddling overly blatant lies about its content and virginity.
On second thoughts, the firefly looked a hell of a lot happier than he felt. It had the comfort of being fictional and therefore able to stop existing whenever the hell it felt like it. Clay, by contrast, was as real and solid as his namesake - and about as useful in the current world, it was turning out.
Ob-so-lete. He tipped the bottle up, watching the last dregs of liquid ooze down the murky gla
Her BirthdayShe was perfect.Her Birthday1 year ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
But then, that was hardly surprising. He had created her to be.
In scientific terms, she was a marvel of genetic engineering. A manmade wonder, harbinger of a new line of beings who were more than superhuman - they could hardly be called anything resembling human at all. Humans were weak, unreliable, prone to disease and unprofitable mutation. They were slow, practically deaf and blind when compared to any other predator, lacking a sense of smell strong enough to be of any use, lacking the claws and teeth to bring down an enemy when unarmed, lacking and deficient in almost every respect. Soft. Pathetic. Breakable. Prone to unwanted emotion.
She was perfect.
She had not been so when he started work, of course. He had wanted an existing model to base his improvements on, not a test-tube grown creature, and she had fit the bill for that quite admirably. So had many others, at the beginning, but the experiments and augmentation had proven all but her defecti
A Mouthful of SandThere's sand in his mouth.A Mouthful of Sand3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He's not sure why there's sand in his mouth - hell, he's not sure of anything at the moment, beside the fact that he seems to be alive (and even that's up for debate) - but sand in his mouth there most definitely is, coating his teeth and tongue in a gritty metallic-tasting sludge that he realises, with an odd sort of detachment, tastes a good deal more like blood than it would probably be expected to.
So, he thinks, after a moment's hazy contemplation, there's blood in his mouth.
This puts a new spin on things.
For a start, the blood has to come from somewhere (unless it's someone else's, which makes the whole situation suddenly a whole fuckton more problematic).
He probes the inside of his mouth cautiously with his tongue and, to his surprise, finds a definite lack of missing teeth or open wounds. The inside of his bottom lip appears to be split slightly, however, and a tentative attempt to breathe through his nose reveals the source of the re
Sunless Noonday: Part OneIt was hot. The kind of thick, clinging heat that wrapped around you like a sweatsoaked blanket, clammy and stinking of god-knew-what. Even in my office on the top floor with all the windows open, the smell of the city lingered, skulking in the corners like an alleycat on the prowl.Sunless Noonday: Part One5 months ago in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
I'd been communing with the bottle half the evening. It hadn't helped. Neither had the cigarettes - in fact, between the two of them and the stink rising up from the streets, all I was feeling was an intense desire to heave the contents of my stomach out into the wastebasket. Or out the window. It wouldn't have made much difference to the smell.
I closed my eyes, leaning back in my chair and pulling my hat down over my eyes in an attempt to stave off the oncoming headache. Hell of a night. Hell of a month. Hell of a year, come to think of it. Must have been something in the city water, the way things had been going recently. Or maybe everyone had finally got wise to the fact they were living in this shithol
The WalkerThe man with the lantern was tired, bone-tired, tired beyond reason. Yet he walked.The Walker1 year ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He did not remember when he had started his journey. He did not know when, if ever, he would finish it. He did not remember where he had started from, or where he was travelling to, or why it had been so important, so necessary, that he must go. He did not remember his age. He did not remember his name. He did not know who he was, save one detail only.
He was the Walker.
So he walked.
The blood squelched in his boots, running from his rubbed-raw heels to pool under the worn and blistered soles of his feet. Yet he walked. In the day, the sun seared the back of his neck, raising red welts that scratched bloody against his collar. Yet he walked. In the night-time, the cold wind blasted the sand against his face, blinded him with grit, choked him with dust. Yet he walked.
He carried with him three things only: a canteen of water, a pistol with one bullet, and a lantern that never seemed to go out.
He did no
Aftermath"Get the fuck away from me!"Aftermath2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Comes out of nowhere, the first time. Hits you in the back like the shockwave from a bomb-blast, and it takes you a few minutes afterwards to realise why your jaw hurts and your hands are shaking and there're eight dark crescents gouged into the flesh of your palms. Takes you longer to match that up with how they're looking at you, and it hurts when you realise.
Though it's cut through with anger, even now. Why the hell are they scared of you? What've you ever done to make them think you'd ever hurt them? For crying out loud, you're hardly an unknown bloody quantity (and that gets you thinking back, to faces in doorways and kids hiding behind their mothers and sisters - hard to tell which was which, sometimes - and those wide eyes staring silently at the strange men with guns marching into their villages. That fear made sense. Didn't mean you liked it. But it made sense.)
Gets to the point, though, that you can recognise what sets it off. Make
100themes18:Rainbow"...Why are you standing on your head?"100themes18:Rainbow3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"'cause I felt like it?"
The assassin grinned, kicking one combat-booted foot back against the wall and flipping herself into to a more conventional vertical position. "Never done somethin' just fer the hell of it, Pirate?"
The vampire raised an eyebrow. "Certainly not headstands," he replied, carefully failing to mention what exactly he had done on the spur of the moment. "Why the sudden interest in gymnastics?"
"Saw some kids doin' it in the park on the way back." She ran her fingers through her bright red hair, leaving it standing almost straight up. "Figured I might as well have a try. After all, ain't anyone t'see....well, wasn't anyone 'til y'came along."
"Which means y'don't." She paused for a moment, then looked up at Archer's face, frowning. "Can I ask y'somethin', mate?"
"Of course. I can't make any promises to answer it, though."
"How the hell'd y'deal with it?"
The eyebrow inched up higher. "Deal with what?"
Shifter's Sands"You know," I say, digging through the rubble on the fourth day after the earthquake, "I didn't sign up to this to be a construction worker."Shifter's Sands2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Fourteen rolls his eyes at me (at least, I assume they're his - he and Tag share the same colour irises, but the rest of him looks like Fourteen). "You think we did?" he asks, hefting a piece of rebar and tossing it onto the mountain of junk we've collected. "I thought this was going to be one of those chance-of-a-lifetime deals. You know - the whole 'use your powers for good' superhero schtick?"
"Yeah, yeah." I can hear Finch sniggering to himself, but I keep a straight face. For all Fourteen's a geek and a nerd and everything else you could sling at him, he's hit the nail on the head with that one. "I got the whole 'join up and serve your nation' thing pinned on me. Like the shifter thing was something I ought to be using for the greater good instead of 'wasting'."
I hadn't been wasting it, of course. If anything, I'd been using it better than
The MedicIt's awful bloody hard, when you're coughing on the smokeThe Medic2 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
And your clothes are dripping through with blood and sweat
And it's awful bloody hard when you're half-about to choke
And you're damn near down as low as you can get
But you'll grit your teeth and take it,
And by all the gods you'll make it
And you'll pull some other poor sod through the pain
And you'll swear and snarl and scold him
On the brink of death you'll hold him
Then you'll stagger out and do it all again
For there's no rest for the wicked when the bullets rip the air
And there's always bodies falling up ahead
And we're running low on medics and we've no-one else to spare
So you're out among the wounded and the dead
So you'll slog through dirt and muck
Pulling bodies from the ruck
And you'll try with every ounce of strength you've got
'Mid the stench and grime and gore
And the bloody hell of war
To save the beaten, maimed and slashed and shot
But there's always bodies falling, when the guns begin to roar
And there's some
Come AwayCome away with meCome Away8 months ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
And I will show you
A wellpond of silver
Pulled down from the moon
Come away with me
And I will show you
The sunlight at midnight
The starlight at noon
Come away with me
And I will show you
A kiss from a dead man
Drowned seven long years
Come away with me
And I will show you
A gown from a gallows-tree
Woven of tears
Come away with me
And I will show you
A necklace of rubies
All set in grave-lace
Come away with me
And I will show you
A song with no singer
A love with no face
A door with no hinge and
A time with no place
OmegaIn the hollow of my hand, I hold eternityOmega2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Cupped between dicebox bones and meatslab muscles,
Piano-string tendons and chopstick phalanges,
Shimmering black mercury, meltwater-cold, pools in my palm.
Here, standing at the rough seam of the world
Feet in the ocean, waves breaking on my knees
I hold a microcosm of realities
Here, where shore meets sea, where sky meets land
Where the stars flicker out, one by one,
Leaving empty night in their wake
And darkness, seeping in through pores and mouth and ears and eyes,
Curls tight and scarring round our bones
Leaving curlicues of black burnmarks,
Like ink from a demented writer's pen,
Scratching the final epilogue to a long-overdue-ending
I stand, and hold an infinite universe between my fingers
And let the world come crashing down.
Snow and AshesIt seems like nothing, at first. A few flakes.Snow and Ashes10 months ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"It's snowing," she says, quietly, voice filled with child-like wonder even in the middle of all this.
He lifts his head, peeling an eyelid open. "No." His voice is rough. Rougher than before, forced out through parched throat and cracked lips. "City's burning, kid. 's ashes."
She tastes the snowflakes on her tongue, and smiles, but her eyes are wet. "Look." She holds a handful out to him. "See?"
The smoke stings his eyes. He turns away, hiding his own tears.
She watches the sunrise glowing over the snow.
He watches the city burn.
Black Roses: Blink: Cycle 1They say that lives can change in the blink of an eye. They say that when a butterfly flaps its wings, there's a storm halfway across the globe. They say a lot of things. Some of them are true.Black Roses: Blink: Cycle 110 months ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It is the past, and Malben hurries down the corridor, satchel of medical kit banging uncomfortably against his wounded leg. He has a hundred and one things that need doing, the time to do about fifty of them, and the ability to deal with about fifteen. Perhaps. If he's lucky. And, if he's very lucky, every one of those fifteen will be a success.
No-one's that sodding lucky.
So, when he sees the butterfly dipping through the glow of one of the newly-installed lights, he dismisses it as nothing more than another bloody distraction. Something useless, pretty, pointless. Something he really hasn't the time to care about right now.
He carries on down the corridor, leaving the fluttering thing sporting the shadows in his wake.
It is now, and Malben sprints up the corridor, ar
MemoryYou're getting used to waking up in darkness.Memory7 months ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
You're not sure 'waking up' is entirely the right word, to be honest. Waking up would require you to have been asleep at some point, and you're pretty damn certain they've no intention of letting you do that in the middle of one of their 'discussions'.
But nevertheless, here you are, face-down on the floor of your cell with the roaring agony of a hundred new and exciting wounds and mutilations racing up your spine like the starting spark of a forest fire. It'll hit you soon enough, you know that much. Always does. But in the brief, ice-cold moment before the pain, one thought stands out.
I don't remember. I don't remember any of this. I don't remember this.
It's becoming a mantra, of sorts. An unlooked-for reminder. A mystery. And not one you're in all that much of a hurry to solve.
Not that you've much of a chance, for now. The brief, blissful moment passes as quickly as it arrived, pushed out by a raging inferno of pain that
Snow-girlShe is ice-cold, my snow-girl. Ice-cold, and snow-white, as beautiful as the frost-rimed spiderswebs lacing our tree. Ice-cold.Snow-girl10 months ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I wrapped her in my coat - see? - but still she holds the Winter in her heart, clings to the ice and the snow and the frost and the steel-surgical-blue of the sky, blue as her eyes (roll back her eyelids, see for yourself. As blue as betrayal, my snow-girl's eyes), and she will not warm herself, no, not for all my asking.
I wrapped her in my coat, and I wound my scarf around her neck three times (you see? Three. Three is lucky. Three threes is magic, but my scarf is not that long), but still she holds the ice and the snow and the frost at the heart of her and she will not warm herself, no, not for all my pleading.
I wrapped her in my coat, and I wound my scarf around her neck, and I covered her feet (you see? Such tiny feet, my snow-girl has. So small. Like doll's feet, china-white), but still she holds the Winter in the heart of her, and she will not wake and
ConversationI envy the people who can talk to strangersConversation2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Jealous of the words flowing from their mouths, like water from a tap
Crystal clear, contained, constant
My own tap's faulty - words happen in drips
Another and then a spray of words, too much information, too many, overloading, watching eyes glaze over and grasping for some way to switch off the water but the words keep happening and then-
I work from a script, when I can
"How are you?"
"Fine, thanks. You?"
Any request for information
Is a veiled desire to talk about themselves
Give short answers, and always ask the question back
Some things are code - words don't mean what they say
If someone asks an opinion, they don't want an honest one
If they disparage themselves, disagree. Compliment.
Give people the answers they want, or need.
If they ask you about your interests, be very very careful
They don't want to know, not really
It's politeness only - a few lines should suffice.
Tread softly, oh so soft
Sethan and Conrad"A curse upon all bards," Sethan muttered, hunching his shoulders against the driving rain, "and a double curse on gullible maidens while we're about it."Sethan and Conrad2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Conrad rolled his eyes. "She's not that bad, Sethi. Just...overenthusiastic, is all. Overenthusiastic, underprepared, overconfident..." He paused, mentally filling in the rest of the description, and shook his head. "You're right, she's awful. What do we do about her?"
"Tie her over a saddle and send her back to her parents? Post a ransom for her and see who picks up on it? Con, we're mercs. There's a hell of a lot we can do about her, and that's just the socially acceptable list."
"I'm not suggesting we harm a hair on her pretty little head, if that's your problem. But she's an entitled brat who wanted to play at soldiers. I'm not inclined to give her a honeycake and send her on her way, and I'll be damned by the Five if I'll let her stay with us."
"You're right there," the taller sellsword interjected. He blew a st
NemesisShe stood on a beach as wide as eternity, and counted her toes.Nemesis2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
There were ten of them, which wasn't surprising - she had ten fingers, after all, and arms and legs had a sort of symmetry about them - and they wiggled in the sand like small pink moles, nosing blindly through the silver grains.
She lifted one foot, noticing the way her balance shifted to compensate, and brought it up just far enough that she could get a close look at the underside. It was covered in small deep lines, like contours on a map, and she traced them over with her fingers, giggling slightly at the tickling feeling the action provoked.
Her toes wiggled more, as if the moles were trying to get away from the tickling, and she stuck her tongue out at them. Silly toes.They didn't even have a proper use - not like her fingers, which could do all manner of things (sometimes without being told), or her eyes, which could see in every colour anyone had thought ever existed and some that they hadn't, or her arms or her le
The extremely short storyI once heard the tale of a man who had the whole universe inside his throat.The extremely short story2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Was he a giant?" someone asked.
I thought for a second.
"No," I said. "He was a storyteller."
RestRest here in my armsRest9 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
And I will hollow out a space for you
In the warm caverns of my chest
In the strong castle of my bones
In the starred nighttime of my soul
Rest next to my heart
Stone Walls and Iron BarsStone walls do not a prison makeStone Walls and Iron Bars1 year ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
Nor iron bars a cage
Trite, sentimental bullshit which
Would make an angel rage.
It's true a clever mind can find
Distraction from its plight
But dreaming's no protection from
The horrors of the night
Tell anyone who'll listen that
They've yet to cage your soul
And listen to them laugh because
They know they've got you whole
Tell stories in your head to prove
You're still the master there
You'll find your heroes mirror-wraiths
In rags and close-cropped hair
And even if they let you go
Your spirit's never free
A shadow of the prison cell
Still clouds the world you see
You'll wake to hear the jeering laughs
You'll flinch at every sound
You'll look over your shoulder though
They're dead and in the ground
Stone walls do not a prison make
When minds can serve as well
You need no iron for cages when
You've fashioned living hell.