mickienotthemouse: (Default)
Well, it's been a long damn while since I've written a dang thing. It feels good to be back in the saddle, although I might be a bit rusty. SO, I'm going to make it a goal to participate in Chuck Wendig's weekly writing challenges. I've done a few of his prompts in the past (two years ago already--OH MY!), but I'm going to strive to make it a weekly ritual to get back on a regular writing schedule. 

Anyway, this week's challenge was to visit They Fight Crime and find a combination of characters to write a 1,500 short story about. These are the ones I chose: 

He’s a sharp-shooting paranormal investigator with a bag full of used knickers.


She’s a mistrustful war veteran from another dimension. 

Together, they fight crime!


 “Look alive, Evie darlin'!”


It was just enough warning to give Evie time to duck before three bullets whizzed past her head. They swished her snow white  hair as they sped ahead, missing her ear by the grace of God, but if this bothered her she certainly didn’t show it.


The thing in the shadows howled with agony and the darkness grew just a tad denser. The bedroom at the end of the hallway was no longer visible and the soft cries coming from it were no longer audible. 


“Weeeeeeee doggy!” Pierre yodeled in his thick Texan drawl. He reloaded quickly, the empty salt-coated shells hitting the floor with musical clinking.  “Hunny, I daresay we dun got ourselves a mighty fine brute on our hands. Mighty fine brute, indeedy!”


“So it would seem,” Evie deadpanned. “The poor thing.”


Her lack of enthusiasm was always a tad disappointing, but Ol’ Pierre couldn’t really blame her now, could he? Evie was a complicated little lady. Hell- her name wasn’t even really Evie.  She had another name entirely back in that other place from whence she came. She told him her real name once-- a long time ago when they first met-- but it was very long and damn near impossible to pronounce.  Pierre, already an old man at the time, couldn’t be bothered to wrap his tongue around the otherworldly sounds. So she became Evie. It sounded exactly nothing like her real name. She just looked like an Evie.  She didn’t seem to mind it. Or at least, Pierre never heard her complain about it.


Her aloofness could be nice at times though, as she handled Pierre’s more eccentric quirks better than most people might.


The old geezer plunged his hand deep into his deerskin satchel and rummaged frantically. After a moment, he withdrew a worn piece of fabric that looked suspiciously like used panties. He buried his face in the suspect garment and inhaled deeply.  A small shiver wracked his withered frame. Evie bared this with indulgent patience. It was his ritual, strange though it might be, and she had to respect that.  


He shoved the garment into the pockets of his white-washed denim, and raised his weapon again: locked and loaded. “Evie, be a doll, do an ol’ man a pretty favor by doin’ what you do best.”


“With pleasure,” the corners of her lips quirked into a dangerous little smirk and she crouched like a jaguar. The next moment she was down the hall with alarming speed, her special knives drawn, pulsing with their mysterious glow. 


Watching her speed towards the inky blackness of pure evil, Pierre’s grin was all gums and dangly teeth. Those exceptional knives of hers, god bless them, were two more reasons he was glad to have Evie around.  He didn’t quite understand them, but they certainly got the job done.


She disappeared into the shadows. A pregnant silence followed. Then, the darkness roared with a deafening intensity. The floorboards began rattling wildly. The ire and hatred was palpable and for a moment it swelled terribly, spreading across the wall, over the picture frames, turning the eyes in the family photographs yellow, red, and all matter of poisonous colors. They reached desperately for Pierre, the oily tendrils turning into a great, smoky hand. In the center of the palm was the slightest suggestion of some great, all-seeing eye.  And within the depths of that fathomless pupil, Pierre could make out the wiry angles and sallow cheeks of his wife. Her gray eyes vacant and lost. She looked at him, without really seeing him. She demanded to know who he was. She had never seen him before in her life. Painful tears pricked his rheumy eyes and all his previous gusto abandoned him. Suddenly he felt a thousand years old. It was a memory stolen from the darkest time of his life, those years of watching his beloved’s mind wither and decay until there was nothing left at all but cobwebs and dust.  


God-forsaken mother fucker, he growled. These things—these wretched nightmares-- played with their victim’s heart. They scoured for the most tender, exposed nerve and put a white-hot iron straight through it.


Before the fingers could wrap themselves around his throat, Pierre fired his weapon. The giant hand dispersed in a plume of smog, but not before Pierre got to see the bullet tear through his wife’s chest.


Memory of your wife. He corrected himself. As real as a mirage in the middle of the Sahara at high noon, and you’d do well to remember it, ol’ pal.”  


The darkness began to recede, like a big black lake being sucked down a drain. The roars died away, replaced by soft, sweet humming coming from the room at the end of the hallway.  It was a child’s bedroom, a little girl’s room by the looks of it, messy too. A slew of Barbie dolls littered the floor in their stylish dresses and fancy sports cars, and Pierre had to step gingerly to keep from treading on any tiny plastic pieces from their little make-believe paradise.


The periwinkle walls were covered with crayon pictures drawn with the fearless, unapologetic strokes which only children seem to be capable of. Pierre stopped in his pursuit of the humming to examine one of the drawings. There was a stick-figure woman, as indicated by the little wisps curling out from the jagged circle of her head. Though her eyes were mere dots and her mouth only a down-turned squiggle, she seemed dreadfully sad. A stroke of red blossomed in the middle of her forehead and spilled down her body and then covered the page with wild, angry lines. The only other place where there was no red was occupied by a much smaller version of the stick-figured woman. The child had big blue tear drops in her eyes and on her face. It seemed impossible that such scant shapes drawn by the hands of a child could convey such terrible sorrow. 


Unable to look at it any longer, Pierre tore himself away and continued. The humming came from a woman resting on the bed, among the pillows beneath the sheer, pink canopy. She had one of those timeless faces that could have either been eighteen or thirty. Her chestnut curls spilled in perfect ringlets over her shoulders. She rocked back and forth rhythmically as she cooed, cradling a little girl protectively against her chest. The child could not have been more than seven and she peered at the woman with loving adoration. Her eyes were very large and puffy.  Wet  tracks ran down the side of her face where tears had recently fallen.


As he approached, the woman eyed his front pocket disapprovingly. Pierre obliged her and shoved the all-but forgotten garment back into his satchel out of respect. The time for crudity had passed. The fight was over. They had won.


He knelt beside the pair. He didn’t dare join them on the bed. He doubted there would ever be a time that Evie did not impress him with her uncanny ability to find such peace in chaos. She had told him before that, where she came from, she had been part of a team of specialists. Dream alchemists. Nocturnal warriors. They had been known by many names.  They took over when bad dreams turned to terrors and the terrors turned the dreamer into something evil. But, the war against nightmares could not be fought with the nightmares of war. So, in instead they were replaced with better, happier dreams. Evie had described it as precise, surgical work. You have to cut out everything that is toxic and sick, she had once said. And then you have to replace it with something healthy and good. Just like a kidney transplant, and just as fickle. Sometimes there is just nothing that can be done. Sometimes the fear is just too great. Her eyes had darkened then, like a seasoned war veteran remembering her time in the trenches.  


When Pierre spoke to the woman, it was barely above a whisper. “Ya really outdone yerself this time, Evie.” His eyes were glistening. “Such a lovely vision to give her. Much better n’ the nasty one.” He thought of the drawing and shuddered. “She deserves a sweet dream of her momma.”


Even through the illusion she wore, Evie looked exhausted. She glanced at the wall covered in pictures with wary mistrust. “I’m afraid this one is far from over. In fact, I’m not sure that it will ever be over for her.” The little girl was sleeping soundly now.


“But it’s over for now, isn’t it?”


“Yes, for now it is over.”


“Then we best be gettin’ home.”


Evie nodded, and then they both woke up.






mickienotthemouse: (Default)

My contribution to Chuck Wendig's weekly  Flash Fiction Challenge. The idea is to take the first 500 words of someone else's story and to continue with the next 500 without finishing the story. Next week, someone else will top off with the ending. Everything in bold was written by Matthew  Gomez  regular text is my own work.

I’m sitting on a rooftop across from a bank robbery in process when I feel that tingle at the base of my spine telling me someone’s trying to get into my head. I brush it off at first, a minor annoyance as I gaze down the scope of my highpowered rifle, mentally daring one of the jokers inside to show their face.

Then the tingle gets more persistent, a buzz in my ear, an itch at the bottom of my foot. The probe is turning into an attack.

“Control, do the tangoes have a ‘path on record?” I don’t have to talk loud, the microphone taped to my jaw will pick up every whisper, just as the camera mounted on my helmet is picking up and broadcasting in high res.

“Negative, Ballista, no ‘path on record.”

I bite the inside of my cheek as the buzz turns into a drill. I smile, scanning the windows. If the ‘path is any good he could be anywhere, even halfway across the city, running overwatch on their gig. Still, I’ve got to wonder what a group of Ascended are doing robbing a bank. Aren’t there better things they could be doing? More profitable gigs? The ‘path they’ve got probably thinks he’s being subtle, but given how long I’ve been at this he might as well be marching a brass band down Main Street.

I start simple, throwing mental images to shock and dismay. Goatse. An exploded head. That time I caught my mom blowing my uncle, along with all the associated hatred and disgust that went with it. Finding out my wife was cheating on me with her best friend. That time I woke up covered in vomit with no recollection of how I got there, but there was dried blood under my nails, and blood on my shoes. All of it.

The drill disappears as rapidly as it started.

“We have confirmation that one of the tangoes is down.” Control’s voice is always the same. Cool, collected, and with as much emotion as discussing this week’s corn futures.

The corner of my mouth twitches up into a smile. Maybe I pushed a bit harder than I should have. Maybe the asshole shouldn’t have gone around poking where he shouldn’t have.

“How many confirmed tangos still standing, Control?”

“Whisper confirms four tangos still active. All are confirmed Ascended.”

Bile rises up in my mouth and I fight to swallow it back down. I should have figured it was the case. They don’t bring us out for your run-of-the-mill robbers. No, we get saved for the special cases. Lucky us.

“Ballista, we have confirmation of movement. Looks like they are coming out the front door.”

I swing the gun around, get a bead on the door. It swings open. I don’t have the best angle where I am, but I bite down on my lip and concentrate. Hostages start walking out, hands on their heads, eyes a bit glassy looking. I curse when I see what walks out next.

It’s her.

What follows is a moment of disbelief and I feel as though I am falling through infinite blackness. Not dead. It’s the only thought I cling to. Not dead, not dead. Then horror-stricken, I am consumed with guilt. How could I have known! It was as if she had been here in this very building for those lost ten years with these psychos, held at gunpoint and waiting patiently for daddy to save her.

Then my heart freezes over as I realize there is no gun to her head. In fact, she cocks a rifle of her own with skinny arms. Her expression, upon which I once placed sweet kisses, was stony and grim. Then there are other things I should have noticed first off— the sharpness of her cheekbones, jutting hard against her flesh, chestnut hair gleaming like liquid bronze. Characteristics of all the Ascended. I groan in despair. Christ, Ixa, what did they do to you?

Her head whips in my direction as if she somehow heard me and I gasp. The blue of her eyes is piercing and I know she sees me through the darkness. Sees me clearer than anyone possibly ever has and I feel weak. My finger loosens on the trigger. She smiles then, a slow and knowing leer and the mental barrage begins again and I nearly collapse from the onslaught of the white noise that fills my head.

Then it stops as quickly as it started and leaves my ears ringing. I look to her again and her face darkens. Her message is loud and clear: She can kill me where I stand. Tears sting my eyes. Baby, please forgive me! How could I have known?

Then, Control over the earpiece, “All four tangoes in sight, please confirm.”

I say nothing.

“Ballista, targets are four adults: three males, one female. All confirmed Ascended. Confirm that you are in shooting range and take the shots.”

I swallow hard, my throat sandpaper. I breathe, “Control, I have reason to believe the female target is Ixa Manning, the subject of a missing persons case.”

I am met with the sound of fingers flying across a keyboard as Control checks the case file. “The case for Ixa Manning was closed nearly ten years ago, Ballista. She was legally declared dead.”

“Fuck that, you think I wouldn’t recognize my own daughter?” I hiss into the mic.

“Ballista...” a hint of warning tinges the cool indifference in the voice. “This is no time to lose your head. That woman is not your daughter. She is a traitor and a terrorist. Now, take. The. Shot.

My mind races. The girl I am sure is Ixa never takes her eyes off me as she grabs a fistful of hair of one of the hostages, a wailing woman shaking so badly she cannot remain on her feet. Unfazed eyes shine challengingly at me as she positions the nose of her weapon beneath her captive’s ear.
mickienotthemouse: (Default)
My eyes were slow to open...probably because the melted cheese I was drowning in glued my eyelashes shut. I sat up with a jolt, half my face wet with pizza grease, and tried to catch my bearings. My Jeep. I was in my cruddy Jeep- passenger side. Who the hell was driving?

"Oh good you're awake," Jewel's voice, sharp and clear, came from beside me. She was gulping down a jumbo sized bright blue slurpee, one hand resting low on the steering wheel, gaze trained on the empty stretch of road before us. "I was getting worried."

"Why was I asleep to begin with?" My head felt like a heavy bucket of dishwater with rotting chunklets of memory floating on the surface. I pressed my temples and looked out the window only to realize I recognized none of the combination of trees and farmhouses passing us by. "Uh- Jewel, where are we?"

"A ways outside Cincinnati."

"Wha-" A numbness settled over me and bile rose in my throat. I did the math in my head. We were approximately three hundred and fifty miles away from our home in White Chapel, Illinois. I gibbered, "We have finals tomorrow!"

"Today. We had finals today. Or would have. We were halfway through Indiana by that time." Jewel handed me a plastic bag from 7/11. "You look horrible. If you're gonna puke, you better do it in this. This car's taken enough abuse."

I took the bag as a precaution and struggled to put my swimming thoughts into words. "Jewel...wha--how?! How long have I been sleeping? WHY ARE WE IN OHIO?"

Jewel's knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel. "About eighteen hours, I'd say. A lot longer than I'd thought. I got you pizza 'cause I thought you'd be hungry when you woke up." She motioned to the sad piece of soggy pizza which now sported a surprisingly accurate mold of half my face. "As for the why of it....why not? We needed to get out."

"Spontaneous road trips are not for the week of senior finals!" I bellowed then regretted it. Sickness crawled up my throat and emptied itself into the plastic bag. When I lifted my head again, Jewel her brown eyes narrowed with worry.

"You okay?" She reached over and felt my cheek which was now slightly clammy. "Shit. You're heating up."

I was. Suddenly it was hotter than Satan's ass crack in this damn car. I cranked the window down and I swear steam escaped out of the window. My eyes screwed shut tightly to fight against a growing dizziness. What the hell was wrong? Something I ate? Then a horrible thought occurred to me.

"Jewel?" I groaned. "Why exactly was I asleep for eighteen hours?"

It was impossible to miss the look of guilt that crossed her face. I swore under my breath,

"Christ Jewel what did you do?"

Desperation doubled the size of her eyes, "Remember Annette's party last night?"

Oh, did I ever. It had been nights of firsts. First shot of tequila, first drunken fall down the stairs, first kiss with Jewel. I looked at her now through half-lidded eyes- her tangled dark hair she refused to brush and dirty fingernails- and remembered the feel of her tongue down my throat. I couldn't remember what happened after that. At one point Jewel had passed me water from a plastic bottle and that was it. Nothing after that. But there was something different about the water wasn't there? Something slightly off.

"Jewel," I breathed in disbelief. "You drugged me."

"...Maybe a little."

Unparalleled betrayal sliced right to my core. I wanted to ask her why. Why was she doing all this? From the moment Pop and I took her in at the start of the school year- just a wandering girl looking for a place to crash for the night- I'd known she was unstable. But this? I could've died! Might be dying. Nausea rose again and I puked my guts into the 7/11 bag. I licked my lips and tasted the salt of my sweat.

"Gotta pull over," I moaned and slumped against the door, eyelids fluttering closed.

"Cory? CORY!" I heard Jewel shout. "Shit, shit shit. Alright, here's a gas station."

We pulled over gravel. The familiar slam of my Jeep's door. Hurried footsteps. Small arms wrapping around me. I don't remember the trip into the gas station or how Jewel managed my dead weight but the next thing I knew I was lying on my back in the middle of the bathroom floor, a flurry of worried voices from strangers sounding incredibly loud. Jewel was trying to reassure them that everything was fine but they were not convinced. One of them threatened to call the police. Oh, Jewel did not like that one bit.

She was at my side then. Her cool hand felt heavenly against my sweltering forehead. "They're calling an ambulance for you. Christ this is not how I wanted things to go. With all my heart I wanted to take you with me." I tried opening my eyes to look at her but the harsh fluorescents above us were like a sharpened blade straight to my occipital lobes. She took my hand and kissed it sweetly. "I can't stay here. People here are already starting to ask questions and soon the police will be involved and I cannot tangle with them, understand?" She made to stand up, but I gripped her hand. The whole thing was surreal. None of this made any sense. She looked down at me with the saddest expression I think I've ever seen. "You've been so good to me Cory. But it's time for me to move on. It was fun while it lasted. I'm sorry I did this to you, but the paramedics will take good care of you, baby." And with one final squeeze of my hand she let go and disappeared of of sight, leaving me to grasp at the air like a helpless infant.