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Literature
FFM 2018, July 28 - Dybbuk
I'm writing this as a warning to everyone: if a relative or a loved one, especially one you haven't been close with for a long time or who lives far away suddenly contacts you and wants to talk about Dybbukism, do not talk to them!! Do not meet them, do not return their calls or messages. Block them everywhere, and forget they ever existed. Even if it's your own sister.
Consider my story a warning example. Everything I write here is true.
My sister, let's call her Ann (not her real name) and me were never close growing up: she was ten years older than me, and by the time I started school she had already moved away from home. But we kept in touch, she came to all my graduations and birthdays etc: which was pretty funny, since she was all goth-y, and me and my friends were about as vanilla as you can get.
After I went off to college there were really long times during which we didn't talk at all, mainly because we lived so far away from one another.
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 27 - Closet
Jeanette found the portal to the other world the day her fiancé left her. She had been crying so much she had run out of napkins, and when she went to the closet where she stored the big bag of paper towels, the back of the closet had been replaced with a glowing portal.
The shock of it was enough to pull her out of her depression. She opened her mouth to call for Jason, but then she remembered he was gone. Good. He wouldn't have been able to enjoy it anyway.
The problem with the portal was that she was the only one who could see it. Taking pictures of it only gave her embarrassing photos of the back of her messy closet. She brought her mother to look at her closet using some flimsy pretense, but she clearly didn't see anything. Jeanette was pretty sure her mother thought she'd gone a bit loopy.
And maybe she had? In the end, there was only one way to find out. She took out some of her vacation days from the office (her manager, Marcel, was very understanding),
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 26 - She Saw Everything Clearly
Being a guard in the only place in the world where they stored Unobtainium was, as far as Faith was concerned, just one step below actually being a super-hero. The only problem was of course that no-one could a) know that this was the only place in the world where they stored Unobtainium, and b) super-heroes were presumably paid better? The a) part was really quite a bummer. For example: the storage place was a large industrial warehouse, where they (on paper) stored parts for nuclear reactors, and everyone of her colleagues pretended that this was all they were guarding. She did like to obliquely talk about the content of the forbidden room as "the package", and they totally understood. "Stay out of there, Faith. Seriously." They'd say, as if she needed the reminding.
There was also c) all the weird stuff that happened when you were guarding Unobtanium in a top-secret facility that was in fact so secret everyone pretended it didn't exist. The weirdest thing was the Janitor.
She rounde
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 25 - Blood Brothers
The more detective Meg Battle found out about the victim, the less she wanted the perpetrator or perpetrators caught. The gutting and dismemberment of the body did suggest a personal motive though. The interview with the bastard's daughter had been especially enlightening.
"I accidentally killed a butterfly once." The kid had said (she was maybe 8). "And daddy said 'no more butter for you'. After that I tried killing all the cockroaches I could. It didn't work."
The kid was staying with her much older brother now, and seemed much happier for it. The mother was long dead. She remembered the look of alarm on the brother's face when she'd came with the CPS officers to drop her off: he did look like the kinda guy who might have a few outstanding parket tickets. The fact his hand was bandaged was also one of those things that got stuck in her mind, like a splinter. But both of them had been happy as can be. When she expressed her condolences rotely, the brother had simply said "I hope he ro
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 19 - Ratramentum (Part Two)
The creature that lived inside the body of Solender Vike tried her best not to be affected by the stares of the rag-tag so-called Dead Rats, but it was difficult. When she had first taken over the mercenary contractor's body, Solender Vike had clearly been a man, wearing a man's clothing, with a man's hair and a man's attitude to life. She had tried to emulate that, for a bit, but it had been too hard. So now Solender Vike was as androgynous as they could come and still remain living. Clothes that could pass for robes or a skirt with a particularly long slit; hair braided and formed in ways that defied all fashion and custom, and a carefully curated face, where eyebrows were painted on and eyeshadow was so liberally applied the femininity of it was replaced by ominousness. At least now when she looked in the mirror, she at least saw something she had a hand in creating herself.
"Our goal is kept in a sealed-off section of the dungeons, underneath the palace. No-one knows it's there exc
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 24 - Sting Operation
The sting operation was old hat to Laura Esteban by now. She pretended to be a member of the underground railroad that ferried people to "friendly countries", while her fellow ISA agents waited at every entrance, ready to burst in the moment the target had spilled the beans. Usually they operated out of an old warehouse, in the kind of place that in the olden days would've felt really unsafe. These days, of course, the only unsafe thing about them were the property prices.
"How'd you do it, anyway?" Reyes was donning his ISA-stamped body armour, which Laura thought was a little overkill. But she guessed they liked to look tough when they stormed in.
"Do what?" Laura, by contrast, was putting on her street clothes - her disguise. The bandana usually threw them off: it really instilled that sense of 'freedom fighter'. "Fool the rubes into thinking I'm going to rescue them?"
"Well, naw. More the part where you get 'em to confess."
Laura shrugged. "Just gotta have a little belief, ese."
"S
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 23 - In-between
It was time to break up, but Naomi didn't want to do it through text. But she still had to use text to get in touch with Kenzie.
Hey. We need to talk. Where are you?
33°56'18.5"N 118°26'08.0"W
Naomi sighed. Why couldn't anything Kenzie ever do be normal? She took the coordinates and put them into Google Maps.
You're by the airport? Again? Can we meet somewhere legal?
I'm by the tree.
She took the bus and walked the rest of the way. Above, planes flew in and flew out. Kenzie was obsessed with the airport, and for a while like all of their obsessions, it had felt charming. In the beginning, all of Kenzie's idiosyncrasies had seemed cute, including how they never spoke of their past. Naomi knew Kenzie had parents, and siblings, and friends - they just never talked about them. Maybe it was because they lived across the country.
There was a small, fenced-in embankment surrounded the airport, and if you cli
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 22 - Wonderland
Alice woke up, and found the pack of cards transformed into a flutter of dead leaves on her face, and her older sister's face looking gently down at her. "Why, what a long sleep yo--"
Nope. Nuh-uh. Alice sat up. Sure, the grass rustled innocently in the breeze, sure the cow-bells sounded a bit like the Hatter's tea party, and sure, the cow in the distance mooing sounded a bit like the Mock Turtle's sobs. But it was all too perfectly set up.
"All right, Rabbit. Out of hiding." Alice growled at the grass, and almost to her surprise the little white ears popped up, and then the worried-looking face of the White Rabbit.
"Where's the Queen?" She looked at her supposed "older sister", narrowing her eyes. "You?"
"Meee?"
Alice reached up and pulled off her sister's bonnet, and who was in it but the Queen, fluttering out of it and almost catching on to the wind. Her older sister looked abashed, but offered no apology or explanation. Out of the woodworks came the others - the Dormouse, the Hatte
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 21 - Like Dolphins Fly
Ziva had lived next to the Wall all of her life. Her family were shepherds, and their sheep liked to graze in the shadow during the hottest summer days. It wasn't a Wall at all, supposedly, but rather something buried in the ground, but to her - seeing only a small bit of it - it always looked like a Wall. Her father said the King's men came once a generation to study it, but so far no-one was any the wiser. She remembered them coming once, when she was very small.
So far, they hadn't found the Shaking Man.
Her dog, that she liked to call 'the Buzz' for how hyperactive he was for a sheepdog, was always the better shepherd, so when things looked calm and the sheep were grazing peacefully, she would sneak off to see Him. He was well hidden in the moss and grass that grew all over the jagged surface of the Wall, and even if you stood right next to him, you might not see him unless you were looking.
He had no eyes, no mouth, his body naked and green-and-grey like the wall itself, except fo
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 20 - Saccharine
Emma had never been more in love. They could have paired her with anyone during her shift, but it had been with Constantin. For an engineer, he was so clumsy it was endearing: big, slavic, with broad strong shoulders she loved to rest her head on, and an accent to die for. Their job was just routine maintenance in the O2 plant, and it was the kind of job the chief engineer liked to call a yin-yang assignment: "either everything is fine and you can just twiddle your thumbs, or something is wrong and we're all going to die immediately". So far, it had been all yin. Or yang? She wasn't sure which one was the good one.
Everyone always called their love 'so saccharine it hurts my teeth' and 'oh my good the sugar-plum fairies' and 'sweeter than a whole cup of sugar'. She didn't mind.
One day, while she was working on one of the O2 regulator panels, Constanin brought her a donut, one of those sugar-glazed ball-shaped ones. I mean - she didn't really like donuts, but it was the thought that ma
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 18 - The Perimeter
It was now two weeks since Zodwa had last seen a cloud. The wells were drying out, one by one, and the Sun was unrelenting in its onslaught. They had their ways; desalination plants that slowly separated the salt from the drinkable water using the power of the sun; moisture farms that collected even the minutest traces of dew in their giant sails; and a well-regulated recycling program that made sure as little drinkable water went to waste as possible.
But still. Zodwa worried for her children, and their dry lips. They did not complain, but she could see from their hungry eyes when she handed out the rations that they were thirsty. Up high in the towers of Refugee Camp 12, the wind at least gave them some solace from the relentless heat.
The Great Desert was spreading too, despite their best efforts, for without water to irrigate the reclamations the sand would win in the end. She would take to her solarglider and sweep the perimeter of the planted zone, and every day it seemed like th
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 17 - Expectations
We all become shipwrecked from time to time. One day you open your eyes and your bed is floating in the Pacific Ocean, even though you have a meeting at 6 AM with the board.
You wonder how to explain it to the chairperson. Was it because you're a woman? A woman who can't take the stress of being the boss? Was that why you ended up in your rapidly sinking bed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, sheets taking in water, mattress rapidly losing buoyancy?
An albatross lands on your makeshift boat, and you sit up. The pillows are getting wet. Albatrosses mean land. You know not to kill the albatross, too, because you actually read books. Unlike the company founder, who despite his history of illegal, morally corrupt dealings nonetheless somehow managed to secure investment for yet another get-rich-quick scheme, which he then proceeded to run into the ground. Not that that has anything to do with books.
You decide not to look around. Maybe there's a cruiser coming to rescue you. Maybe you're
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 16 - Experimentation
Mabel couldn't stop pulling at the hem of her skirt. Maybe because it was shorter than she was used to. She felt hot all over, and couldn't sit still. Today was the day. The watch on the wall said three-forty. The longest five minutes in the history of the world.
She glanced at Cade, sitting two rows over, next to the wall. He looked cooler than anyone else, his hair slicked back and his jacket on despite being inside. But Mabel knew he was nervous from how he was playing with his pen, twirling it around and around in his hands. As if sensing her watching, he glanced her way, and for one electric moment their eyes met. Today was the day. She felt the heat rise to her face and looked away, tugging at her skirt.
"...and that was the reason the Witchcraft Act of 1604 was overturned by Parliament." Mr. Stinson opened his mouth to continue, but was overruled by the bell. Before it had time to finish ringing the students were gathering their grimoires and spellbooks and ge
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 15 - C.L.A.Y. (2)
"NASC just announced they would boost promotion chances for childless citizens with 1% in the annual lottery." The message came from A-, and as always as text. Despite being the most technically capable of them all, he did have his quirks.
"So?" She wrote back. Dawn was rising, and the arcologies glistened. Downtown another factory was being fabbed, helper-bots swarming around the construction site while crane arms swung to and fro. By tomorrow, it would be ready.
"So, projections say that in just 40 years, the New Arctic-Siberian Conglomerate will have zero human employees. In another 40, no citizens either."
Her skin itched. She wanted to reply: Good. The NASC's CEO-AI probably knew exactly what it was doing; full automation and no need to deal with retirees, children, or those unfit to work would almost certainly mean increased profits in the long run.
"And check this. The SINOs have just halved the budget for medical research
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 14 - Perma-Death
Dawn was coming.
"I bring the sword to bear, to slay my foe!"
She needed a critical hit for a defeat.
Dog-weary eyeballs watched Sibylla's dexteriously thrown dice. She wore the full pageantry of a jester to the table to complement the silliness of her speech.
"Oh cruel is fate, my will un-done to-night!"
The land-rat tore her character to shreds without remorse.
"...are we doing perma-death?"
"Yes!" The answer rang out at once.
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Literature
FFM 2018, July 13 - C.L.A.Y.
Once upon a time she'd had a name. It had begun with L, and she'd lent that initial to the Project. The All-Consuming project, the Project with a capital P, the solution, the answer, the only way out.
But all of that had become so blurry now. She gathered the pieces of herself as best she could, fighting off the other letters. C- and A- and - above all - Y-. Y- who was always there, mocking her. Now she was L again, and perhaps in time she'd remember the rest of her name.
She'd built herself a new body, to replace the one she'd lost - when? what had happened? had it worked? did the project finish? - and it was so easy for her. This hole was brimming with Smartmatter. The only problem was it was corrupted, sick, unwilling to work with her. She had to force it to do her bidding, and it hated it. She could sense in the smartmatter the fragmented mind of a once-powerful CEO, now only a self-contained loop of hate and pain.
But she was in control. She'd
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Activity


I'm writing this as a warning to everyone: if a relative or a loved one, especially one you haven't been close with for a long time or who lives far away suddenly contacts you and wants to talk about Dybbukism, do not talk to them!! Do not meet them, do not return their calls or messages. Block them everywhere, and forget they ever existed. Even if it's your own sister.

Consider my story a warning example. Everything I write here is true.

My sister, let's call her Ann (not her real name) and me were never close growing up: she was ten years older than me, and by the time I started school she had already moved away from home. But we kept in touch, she came to all my graduations and birthdays etc: which was pretty funny, since she was all goth-y, and me and my friends were about as vanilla as you can get.

After I went off to college there were really long times during which we didn't talk at all, mainly because we lived so far away from one another. We probably hadn't spoken for, like...six months or so when she got in touch out of the blue.

"Allison!" (not my real name) She said on the phone, sounding way more cheerful than usual. "We haven't talked in ages!"

We chatted innocuously for a bit, and then she invited me over to her and Brad's (her husband; not his real name) place during spring break "because we haven't seen each other for such a long time."

I already had other plans though: me and my friend Marcie were going to go to Vegas, we had our hotel rooms etc. She got quiet for a moment, and then she said: "Oh, don't you worry about that. Dybbuk will take care of it."

"Who?" I asked, but she brushed it off and said she had to go.

Lo and behold, my plans with Marcie did fall through. She called me up about a week before spring break (it was a Monday - important detail), and told me she was sick and couldn't go. The weird thing is she didn't even sound disappointed, though it had been her idea from the beginning. The moment I get off the phone with Marcie, I get another phonecall: Ann.

"Just wanted to tell you everything's ready for you! The tickets are in the mail."

And they were - in that day's mail. As if she'd known this would happen, and had mailed them before the weekend.

So I packed up, and caught my flight. Brad came and picked me up from the airport, and he too was disconcertingly cheerful. I was used to seeing him in black band-t-shirts and long hair in a ponytail. Now he looked more like something out of a 50's commercial for razors. I supposed they'd just grown out of their black metal-goth phase, but it was still weird.

Brad drove for a long time, out of the city. He chatted pleasantly the whole time about his job, the market, the beauty of nature, asked about my studies and grades and if I had a nice roommate. The whole nine yards. At one point, I quipped:

"I never thought I'd see you in a collar shirt. Less living out in the middle of nowhere. What kind of download speeds do you get anyway?" One of his absolute requirements for any domicile was fast internet.

"Oh no, we don't have any internet at all." He replied, smiling.

I'm running out of space, so I'll be a bit quicker on this last part. So...at first everything's fine, except that Ann is no longer my cool-ass gothy big sister, but this 50's housewife. Total 180 for both of them. Their house is impeccable, and waaaay too big for what they could afford, even out in the boondocks. We chat for a bit, I feel kinda nervous, and finally over dinner I ask them what the heck happened. That's when they start talking religion.

"Our lord and saviour, Dybbuk. Let Him into your heart, and He will save you." That kind of talk. I'd never heard of 'Dybbuk', but I could recognize a cult when I saw one.

"He is more powerful than you think. Let us show you." I was alone, I had no cell reception, they were the ones with the car...yeah. I followed them. Into the forest.

This is the part where it gets....weird. Maybe they put something in my food, I don't know, but...when we reached the Shrine to Dybbuk, and they started chanting in this old-ass guttural language I understood nothing of, I'm telling you....that mass of twigs and animal bones and horns...it started moving. I stood there, transfixed, as this...half-man, half-goat, half-fucking-slender-man kinda thing starts to undulate towards me...and I can hear Him in my head, telling me worship will get me all kinds of rewards...

But before he can reach me, Ann is suddenly there, between me and IT. For a moment I can see my old sister in her eyes. She's shaking me, and telling me to RUN. I snap out of it. Behind her that thing is still moving. Brad has picked up a rock, his face entirely expressionless. I fought with myself for a moment, and then I turned and ran. I could hear her cries behind me, and another sound - ancient, evil, not belonging. It was angry.

I know I should've stayed and helped her. But I made my decision, and I hope that she did too. I don't know what 'Dybbuk' is, but I've been googling it since then, and...there are a lot of people around talking about it. Marcie is, too. And I keep seeing people outside my window at night, looking in. I can still hear Him in my dreams too.

I don't think I'll be around for much longer. At least not as myself. So watch out people. Watch out.

FFM 2018, July 28 - Dybbuk

Today was a Nasty Ass Challenge! The elements were:

 Bullet; Red CREATE A RELIGION This challenge requires you to create an entirely new religion or mythology to be referenced in the story. The mythos may be implied, or it may be delved into as deeply as you want, so long as it is clear that it is a theme. --> Dybbukism

 Bullet; Red 
MORAL QUANDARY -  There must be a scene depicting a moral quandary of some sort that can be resolved, or not, by the end of the fic.   --> Abandon Ann.

 Bullet; Red
 
LANGUAGE BARRIER - What's that you say? Within your fic there must be a foreign language present in some way that the protagonist cannot understand. This language can be real or made up, it's up to you, you brilliant soul, so long as it is clear that it cannot be understood by your hero. --> Dybbuk chants.

Bullet; Red
 
CRISIS OF FAITH - FINALLY, please incorporate a crisis of faith; it should be clear that someone (or someones) are clearly and seriously questioning deeply held beliefs and commitments. --> Ann's crisis of faith.

 Bullet; Red  OPTIONAL WORD COUNT

This is entirely optional and not considered part of the Nasty Ass Challenge to qualify; HOWEVER, for an additional challenge, your word count must total to EITHER 555, 666 or 777 words. --> Nope, 1000 words exactly :P
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Jeanette found the portal to the other world the day her fiancé left her. She had been crying so much she had run out of napkins, and when she went to the closet where she stored the big bag of paper towels, the back of the closet had been replaced with a glowing portal.

The shock of it was enough to pull her out of her depression. She opened her mouth to call for Jason, but then she remembered he was gone. Good. He wouldn't have been able to enjoy it anyway.

The problem with the portal was that she was the only one who could see it. Taking pictures of it only gave her embarrassing photos of the back of her messy closet. She brought her mother to look at her closet using some flimsy pretense, but she clearly didn't see anything. Jeanette was pretty sure her mother thought she'd gone a bit loopy.

And maybe she had? In the end, there was only one way to find out. She took out some of her vacation days from the office (her manager, Marcel, was very understanding), packed a backpack with what she assumed were supplies, and went through. It was just like stepping through a door, and suddenly she was standing in a musty, dark space, with the portal now behind her.

She fought her way through messy broomsticks and dark cobwebs to the door. Clearly another closet. Jeanette  pushed open the door, and nearly bumped it into the woman on the other side. She was pretty, petite, messy-haired, dressed in pants and a very attractive poofy-armed blouse. She was staring at Jeanette with an open mouth. But then she saw the portal, and when she realized Jeanette had come through it, the relief on her face was palpable.

They didn't speak the same language, but they could still communicate. Apparently she had been in the same situation as Jeanette - she simply hadn't dared pass through. The woman made some fragrant tea, and they tried to share as much as they could about each other's worlds. Her name was Kah, and she lived alone in her apartment after her husband died in the war - she was still in mourning, which apparently meant wearing his clothes. Outside the window were quaint city streets that made Jeanette think of Europe; but the blimps in the sky with the guns told her it was not.

Eventually, Jeanette decided it was time to return. She left Kah with some of the things she'd packed as a sanity check for her, and then fought her way back through the brooms and passed through the portal. Back in her closet, she glanced at the clock on the wall and realized not a single minute had passed. It was as if she had walked into her closet, turned around, and walked right back out. Except she was missing several things from her backpack, and her tongue still tasted of Kah's fragrant tea.

Everything got better after that. Whenever either woman needed some time out, they could visit the other. Jeanette learned Kah's language, Kah learned hers. They looked at travel brochures a lot, comparing places they'd like to visit. They shared recipes. Eventually they could start complaining about men - Kah's husband, although she'd never outright speak bad of him, had been a stiff and traditional man, while Kah wanted to travel and see the world. Unfortunately, she, like most of the women in her world (or, rather, her country in her world) were duty-bound to work long hours in the factories, producing war-blimps and ammunition for the front. Jeanette, in turn, had always been too afraid to travel by herself, and Jason had been far too stingy with money to allow that kind of thing. The solution seemed pretty clear.

They were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, mapping out the route they would take across the world, when Jeanette's mother walked in (she always had had a problem with knocking). Kah gasped and stood up, but it was too late to run off to the closet. She'd already been seen.

Jeanette's mother put down the shopping bag she'd been carrying, eyeing the scene through narrowed eyes.

"So...this is what you've been up to lately. Couldn't give your mother a call? Really. I thought you'd hung yourself in the bedroom!"

Jeanette blushed. She supposed she had been kind of forgetful. They had just had so much fun getting to know one another and one another's worlds. Jeanette quickly introduced her mother to Kah, but when it was time for the opposite, she didn't know what to say, and spluttered. Kah, in her broken English, quickly moved in to patch it up. Only then did Jeanette realize that they had never explicitly talked about how they'd discuss their inter-dimensional travel with others.

"Jeanette...came out of closet. Meet me." She explained, beaming. "Then I come out of closet too."

Her mother didn't ask for any more explanations after that.
FFM 2018, July 27 - Closet

(Yes, I am aware it's August).

The optional theme for today was Otherworldly. So I made a thing which literally only exists for a single pun. Sigh.
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Being a guard in the only place in the world where they stored Unobtainium was, as far as Faith was concerned, just one step below actually being a super-hero. The only problem was of course that no-one could a) know that this was the only place in the world where they stored Unobtainium, and b) super-heroes were presumably paid better? The a) part was really quite a bummer. For example: the storage place was a large industrial warehouse, where they (on paper) stored parts for nuclear reactors, and everyone of her colleagues pretended that this was all they were guarding. She did like to obliquely talk about the content of the forbidden room as "the package", and they totally understood. "Stay out of there, Faith. Seriously." They'd say, as if she needed the reminding.

There was also c) all the weird stuff that happened when you were guarding Unobtanium in a top-secret facility that was in fact so secret everyone pretended it didn't exist. The weirdest thing was the Janitor.

She rounded a corner, and there he was. Again. She'd just seen him - on the other side of the warehouse. She shone her flashlight on him, but he didn't react. He just listened to his music and swept the floors. Old and Mexican. Or maybe not. She'd heard Unobtainium could give all kinds of abilities, including that of a shape-shifter, and teleportation.

"What are you doing there?" She asked. She blinked her flashlight a few times. Really what she wanted to ask, with an excited squeal, was which superhero he actually was. She guessed the rest of the guards, like her, were really just decoys. The Janitor was the actual guard.

"¿Qué?" He took an earbud out and looked at her, shielding his eyes from the beam. "¿Qué me queréis?"

"Can you teleport?" She blurted out.

He just stared at her. Maybe he didn't speak English? Weird.

She had a few days of leave after that. Usually they called her from the security firm when they had hours for her, but this time it took a little longer. They were always complaining about lack of people and difficulties in filling up the duty roster, so this many days off was unusual. Lying on her back on her mattress watching the cockroaches run across the roof made her realize something: what if the janitor isn't a superhero...but a super-villain? The realization was so shocking she sat up and gasped. She called her boss immediately, who, despite sounding a little annoyed, did admit they actually needed someone for next week. "But no more of that funny business, okay? Leave the custodial staff alone, they're just doing their job." Faith promised, wondering quietly to herself if her boss had been compromised. Super-villains also had mind-control power, sometimes.

In the break-room they were talking about moving "the package". Something about terrorism. There were a lot of guards that night. But Faith knew now what she had to do. She arrived at the forbidden room just as the janitor was about to open the door.

"Hey! That area's off limits!" She barked, and the janitor dropped his broom in a panic. When he turned around and saw it was her, he let out a cry and took his little wheeled bucket thing and pushed it away as fast as his little legs could carry him.

"Yeah, you better run!" She waved her flashlight after him. Should she report it? But what if her boss had been turned? She glanced at the door. Best to just make sure the Unobtainium was still there.

The room was unlocked - the janitor's key still dangling from the keyhole. She shone the flashlight in. It was not a very big room, and was empty aside from the square basin in the middle. Faith wasn't sure what Unobtainium looked like, but it wasn't entirely unlikely it'd be kept in a basin full of water, right? She approached it, noticing the subtle blue glow emanating from below the water. So this was it, huh?

"Faith! What the hell are you doing?!" She gasped and turned around. It was her boss, and the janitor! How had they gotten here so fast? Her boss looked angry. "Step away from the water! You're not supposed to be in here!"

He held something in his hand. A gun? The janitor was explaining something in Spanish, pointing and shouting. Faith stepped back, suddenly afraid. Her shin hit the edge of the basin. She'd always been so very clumsy. And why wasn't there a safety net of some kind? She didn't know the answer to those questions. The last thing she saw was her boss rushing forward to catch her as she fell backwards over into the warm blue embrace of the Unobtainium bath.

She turned around while sinking because she wanted to see what it looked like. Big rods, resting at the bottom of the bath. Bubbling by themselves. The water radiating warmth. The muffled shouts of her boss above. It felt natural to reach out to touch them. She had so always wanted to be a superhero. And everyone knew Unobtainium could turn you into one. Her fingers touched the rods.

And in that moment, she saw everything clearly.



FFM 2018, July 26 - She Saw Everything Clearly

The challenge for today was:

Bullet; Black Your first challenge element is to include three tropes in your story: Applied Phlebotinum, an Almighty Janitor, and an instance of The Guards Must be Crazy.
Bullet; Black Plot twist! One of these elements must be Inverted! The rest you may play with as you desire, but not inverted.

Inverted the Janitor (boringly, he's just a janitor). Subverted phlebotinum...OR DID I?!?!? And kind of played a bit with the guards (I mean, what -really- must go on in their heads after all...)
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The more detective Meg Battle found out about the victim, the less she wanted the perpetrator or perpetrators caught. The gutting and dismemberment of the body did suggest a personal motive though. The interview with the bastard's daughter had been especially enlightening.

"I accidentally killed a butterfly once." The kid had said (she was maybe 8). "And daddy said 'no more butter for you'. After that I tried killing all the cockroaches I could. It didn't work."

The kid was staying with her much older brother now, and seemed much happier for it. The mother was long dead. She remembered the look of alarm on the brother's face when she'd came with the CPS officers to drop her off: he did look like the kinda guy who might have a few outstanding parket tickets. The fact his hand was bandaged was also one of those things that got stuck in her mind, like a splinter. But both of them had been happy as can be. When she expressed her condolences rotely, the brother had simply said "I hope he roasts in hell". Good stuff.

Parts of the victim were found in two different places in town, but that wasn't where he'd been murdered. The victim was kind of a flaky motherfucker, with connections to various gangs, bookies and loansharks, and for a while Meg kinda hoped she could just put a "gang-related murder" stamp on the file and drop it to the bottom of the cold case locker. Maybe if she hadn't been Meg Battle, that's what she'd have done. But no, she had to go digging. The coroner gave her an approximate TOD, and then she looked through noise complaints registered for that period of time. Then she called around to the responding officers, until she got a list of the ones where no-one'd answered the door. And THEN she started going around knocking on doors again.

When the young man opening the door also had his right hand bandaged, Meg knew she was getting close, and she hated that she was. Still, she had a job to do. She flashed the judge's search warrant, and the CSI went to work. They came back with some fibres and some suspicious blood. That's where it got interesting. The fibres corresponded to the victim's clothes. But the blood didn't. The bloodwork came back very confused. She had it tested against the brother and the suspect. The results were inconclusive.

A few eyewitness accounts, and some CCTV footage from businesses around the places the body parts had been found gave her the possibility of two perps, both young men of medium height, wearing dark clothing. Both with their right hand bandaged. But the time stamps also allowed for just one perp, moving from place to place dumping the pieces. She had the CSI re-check the parts of the plastic bags that had been touched by the bandaged hand, and they found traces of blood that wasn't the victims on both. When tested against the blood found in the apartment, it matched - more or less.

She hated making those arrests, not to mention getting CPS involved again. The kid cried when her brother was taken away, but he seemed oddly calm. The bandage was off by now. Underneath was a long cut. Unlike the victim, Meg wasn't one to bet, but if she was, she'd imagine a similar scar would be found on the other man. She'd already done her research: they'd gone to the same schools and were childhood friends, and both worked at the fish processing plant. They'd have had ready access to the kinds of tools needed to dismember and gut a man as thoroughly as the victim had been.

In the courtoom, it all came down to the blood. It was pretty clear one of the two was guilty, but neither was saying anything. Total stonewall on both sides. Even when the prosecutor started to get nasty with threats of taking the kid sister away, they stayed cool. In private, Meg had offered both of them all the standards get-out-of-jail-free cards for ratting out the other - nothing. When it was her turn on the stand, the prosecutor tried his best to get her to admit the blood was one of theirs. But she could just restate what her lab had told her: that the blood tests were inconclusive. The blood matched in parts, but not in others. It wasn't enough to be definite.

The defendant's lawyer had less of an uphill battle. All she had to do was point out the lack of evidence, the fact that although one of them might be guilty it was impossible to determine which, and besides - considering the victim's character, wasn't it more likely the killing had been done by some gangsters he owed money to? Meg kind of wanted to protest that they'd actually exhausted that avenue pretty thoroughly, but she didn't. The jury deliberated. When they came back, the verdict made the whole room burst out in applause. Not guilty. Meg actually smiled. Yeah, sure. It wasn't exactly justice according to the book, but as far as she was concerned this was as close as they could get.

As the two young men laughed and hugged and clapped each other on the back, and then finally shook hands - scar against scar - Meg couldn't help but go up to them to offer her own congratulations.

"You know the old saying, 'blood is thicker than water'?" She said. They stopped their celebration to stare at her, alarm in their eyes. She laughed. "Just remember that when you're trying to wash it off next time."

She added one last thing to the case file before dropping it into the archives.

Other connections between suspects: Blood brothers

FFM 2018, July 25 - Blood Brothers

Today's optional theme was "blood oath". I am so far behind lol.
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The creature that lived inside the body of Solender Vike tried her best not to be affected by the stares of the rag-tag so-called Dead Rats, but it was difficult. When she had first taken over the mercenary contractor's body, Solender Vike had clearly been a man, wearing a man's clothing, with a man's hair and a man's attitude to life. She had tried to emulate that, for a bit, but it had been too hard. So now Solender Vike was as androgynous as they could come and still remain living. Clothes that could pass for robes or a skirt with a particularly long slit; hair braided and formed in ways that defied all fashion and custom, and a carefully curated face, where eyebrows were painted on and eyeshadow was so liberally applied the femininity of it was replaced by ominousness. At least now when she looked in the mirror, she at least saw something she had a hand in creating herself.

"Our goal is kept in a sealed-off section of the dungeons, underneath the palace. No-one knows it's there except for the Grand Vizier and a few of his most trusted magicians." One of those being a Poyzon addict who had owed the Magistrate more than a few favors. "According to the old city maps, the sewers run right underneath."

She glanced at Randall and Malachi. Which one was the renowned fire mage, again? "I understand you have particular pyrotechnic skills. Good enough to blow a hole through the floor into the room, I should hope, without bringing the whole palace down on us."

The two Dead Rats glanced at each other, then at the necromancer Scarra, and then shrugged. Solender Vike let out a sigh.

"Everyone will need these too." The cache was well-hidden in the brush next to the sewer entrance; a few sealed boxes that she had made invisible with a charm and locked with a hex. She unlocked them deftly, the runes falling off heavily and splashing into the water.

"What're these?" Randall asked, rubbing his broken nose. He took the offered bundle of clothes, and nearly dropped it. "Heavy as fuck!"

Scarra was the one who figured it out first. "Lead-lined hazzuits." She laughed. "Oh shit. The Grand Vizier is hiding a gods-damned teardrop?!" Teardrops were few and far between, the concentrated remains of the magic bombs that had ushered in their current state of near-constant cataclysm.

"I would prefer it if kept your voice down." Solender Vike hissed. She was already wearing hers - much better looking too than the simple waders and long-sleeved tunics the others were getting. Even so, they were properly insulated and the runes were recently applied. They'd at least slow down the radiation enough to give the Dead Rats a chance of walking out of this with all of their limbs, and their sanity, intact. "Don't forget the cap."

The sewers were dark, stinky, and oppressive. Parts of them had been built a millennium ago, parts were nearly brand new. Whenever a street suddenly found itself flooded in offal, it was usually a sign an old tunnel somewhere had collapsed. Sometimes they crawled through tiny tunnels barely large enough to admit a single person, sometimes they found themselves in cavernous halls supported by pillars, carved out during the time of the Empire. Solender Vike had the map in her brain, but as they got closer to the Palace, the details became more vague. Finally, she turned to Scarra.

"Your turn, necromancer. I know you can feel the dead through these walls. Well - feel the dead of the Palace dungeons, and tell us where to go."

Scarra cracked her knuckles and went to work. This was the thing with necromancers: everyone always thought they were just good for raising the dead, when their real skills lay in navigation. The whole world was a world of dead and dying things, and they - when not hung-over or drunk or high - could sense the whole shebang. No doubt the Palace's cellar shone like a beacon for anyone half-skilled at necromancy. That place had seen a lot of death.

"Solender? Can I talk to you for a sec." The necromancer beckoned her over, away from the other two. They were going upwards now, which was a good sign, climbing up a slick incline on water-worn stairs.

"Yes?" She lowered her voice. Randall and Malachi were arguing about the exact adjectives for the smell.

"Listen, I know you're not...you. I don't know what the hell you are, but if I'd wager a guess I'd say an abomination from the Beyond, inhabiting temporarily this skin-suit you choose to call Solender Vike."

The creature that rode Solender Vike looked at Scarra, eyes too-bright. The necromancer looked uncomfortable, but continued nonetheless. "So if you're going to explode out of there with like, tentacles and beaks and...I don't know...all-consuming darkness? Could you give us a head's up first?"

"No." Solender Vike answered. It wasn't the first time she'd come across this particular myth, but it was one that suited her. Better that than they knowing the truth - which had considerably fewer tentacles.

"Ok." Scarra swallowed. "That's...fine...too."

"Are we there soon?"

"Oh, ah, that. Yes. Actually. I can sense there's a...pit...filled with bones just above. It's a huge pit. Massive."

"Good. That is the charnel pit. The sealed-off section will be right next to it." She pointed ahead. "At the end of this corridor."

"Ah yes. On the other side of that door, no doubt."

It was a big, magically sealed vault door. Dammit. There were no sewer lines running under this one.

Solender Vike sighed, again, then turned towards Randall and Malachi.

"Now's your time to shine, whichever one of you it was who knew how to blow things open. Get us into the vault."

A keening wail could be heard coming down the corridor towards them, which made everyone tense up. This had been to easy up until now, hadn't it?

"...and hurry."
FFM 2018, July 19 - Ratramentum (Part Two)
For the FFM Collab challenge (FFM Links - 19 July 2018)

You can find the rest of the collaboration here:
Part One - The-Inkling FFM 2018: Ratramentum (Part One)
Part Two - Wolfrug You are here. I inverted the "abomination" trope.
Part Three - distortified fav.me/dchtjjs
Part Four - joe-wright (still to be posted!)
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deviantID

Wolfrug
P S
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
Finland
Myths, Monsters, MutationsJayHenge Publishing is happy to announce Myths, Monsters, Mutations! Over 300 pages recounting tales of the dark side of fairy tales, macabre mutations, and the monsters that lurk within us all. http://a.co/4bDJ4sF
(It's also available on Amazon UK, as well as other Amazons around the world, and the paperback versions should be available shortly.)
This anthology contains some fantastic Deviants like:
SRSmith 
Memnalar 
Oreramar 
Lugal 
C-A-Harland


I am published again, hooray! Any diligent reader of my deviantArt will of course already have read all of the stories featured (Katabasis, The Sphinx and Reborn, or, The Spider), but maybe you haven't, and maybe you want to read a whole bunch of other stories too about myths and monsters and stuff! Go check it!

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Lady-Pilot Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2018
Happy birthday and best wishes!
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Wolfrug Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks!
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Neiot Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2018
Greetings, stranger! Bunny Emoji-32 (Waving) [V2] 

I've come to you from afar to wish you a lovely day or night, wherever you are on the globe. Keep up the awesome work and stiffen a lip. The world might look like a scary place at times, but there are little pockets of sunshine just waiting to lift up your spirits. Have a beautiful rest of your day!
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Wolfrug Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Um. Thanks? :-D I'll just take this as a genuine, random comment rather than the deed of some strange new form of deviantBot, and wish you all the same, stranger.
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Neiot Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2018
Goodness, no. I'm no bot. Beep boop. :paranoid:
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joe-wright Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2016   General Artist
Happy birthday again, birthday twin!
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Wolfrug Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
:la: Thank you!
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joe-wright Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2014   General Artist
Happy birthday, birthday twin! =D
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Wolfrug Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Omg, I forgot! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BELATEDLY BIRTHDAY TWINNNNNnnnnn!
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camelopardalisinblue Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for the watch! I appreciate the support. :heart:
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