Flash: To Do List

Image from the internet Hivemind, adjusted with the symbol of the future military.

He took to the List an anger, a rage, he never felt before. Never before did he have people to protect. His people. Jonathan blazed through the crowded hallways of the Admiralty of the Green Fleet headquarters toward the courtroom where the List of Inquiry would be held, people unconsciously stepped back into the crowd giving him clear passage through the hallways.

“Captain. Captain Fairhurst.”

The voice behind him cut through the red haze driving Jonathan forward. No one would calling him that unless they were from his ship. His steward had given up desperately needed sleeptime to sew the bands on his surviving purples; the dress whites he was presently wearing were picked up from the commissary only an hour ago and were pinned with his last in-station approved rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. So the combat-minted captain paused to look behind while a man taller than he, used the wake Jon had cut through the crowd to close quickly.

Jonathan did not recognize the man, and after the long trip in with the fatally damaged ship he knew his crew. Dropping his eyes to the man’s wrists where the green cuffs decorated the whites and held four thin bands of a full captain and a gold star indicating attachment to an admiral’s council, his more natural state of curiosity reigned in his anger. A captain of the List of the Green. Why would one of the genteel crowd want to talk to him?

Stepping to the side, closer to a wall, monitoring the closing captain and the door to the Inquiry, Jonathan waited. He twitched up his purple cuffs with the single gold band. The ill-fitting monstrosity the commissary had gifted him needed tailoring. The sleeves were too long, the shoulders too tight, and the legs not capable of an airtight seal with his boots if decompression occurred on the port station. The only fit he was sure was the high-neck collar into the purple cap’s emergency mask. The commissary petty officer had searched a precious quarter hour before finding a combination which sealed around his thick neck. A quarter hour he had set aside to arrive at the Inquiry in good order. Now he had five minutes before the Masters at Arms guarding the door to the Inquiry opened up the courtroom.

Glancing at the name tag once the man cleared the crowed, Jonathan acknowledged the thin six-foot, caramel-skinned superior officer with a barely regulation salute. “Captain Torres-Diaz.” His eyes ran over the pins on the whites, nothing from combat and only the single required year in space. Ah, one of those Torres-Diazs.

The other man returned the salute with perfect precision before removing the white captain hat and tucking it under his arm. “I’m to be your advocate for the inquiry.”

Raising his shaved eyebrows in surprised, Jonathan replied. “When an advocate did not show up with the summons, I assumed the Inquiry would be informal.” He hadn’t assumed anything of the type, and felt his rage return, reddening his neck and ears, fortunately mostly covered by the high collar. While the trip had given his twenty-year old temper time to be tempered, he had expected to be safe once in port and not thrown to the wolves. After four years and getting his crew back to human space, he had relaxed until the summons arrived last night two hours after they managed to dock.

Torres-Diaz nodded. “Normally it would be, but with the Green going out for a month of maneuvers tomorrow, they wanted get this done quickly to let your sailors go home without a cloud.”

“I can see that.” Fairhurst smiled. The other captain took a step back, changing his stance. Pushing away thoughts about the less than twenty-four hours summons and what that entailed in breaking the regs, Jonathan rearranged the smile and decided to test how bad the lynch squad waiting on the other side of the doors would be. “Well, I am glad to have you. You have had access to the ship’s log and records we squirted when we got into human space sixteen days ago. What do you want me to do?”

The green captain from a family of lawyers on the well-established colony of Sainte Teresa Avila tried to hide his wince by changing his stance to be more casual. “I received the records when I got the assignment this morning. I also have the List of initial Inquiry.”

Breathing in through the smiling teeth, the combat seasoned captain stared at the older, taller, and senior officer through eyes black with four years of hell. “What did you do to get this?” The lawyer had to have screwed up big time.

Brown eyes broke from his instantly and looked over the Jonathan’s broad shoulders. “The inquiry will start in two minutes.” He tapped the tablet he carried and Jonathan’s buzzed. “Those are the questions. Try to run your answers by me before responding.” Torres-Diaz dropped his eyes back to the black pits before him. “I will try to save you.”

“Sir, may I give you an order?”

The thin lips of the civilized desk-jockey navy man pursed.

“Save my crew.”

The masters-of-arms opened the courtroom doors and the crowd, which had kept conspicuously back from their conversation, moved.

The admiral advisor took his cap from under his arm, dusting the insignia on it thoughtfully. “I can’t save everyone.”

“To the deep with me, give me the words to save them. I got them this far, and I promised them home.”

The Captain of the Green returned his cap to his head and waved Jonathan toward the List of Inquiry.

(Words 942 – first published 9/17/2017; From a prompt – the story had to start with “He took to the list…”)

Flash: Mannequin

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Brandson approached the mannequin cautiously. Too many weird fucking things have happened recently. Things appearing to be alive weren’t, things that shouldn’t be alive were, and we don’t even describe what was happening with the dead things. But to get to the other side of the room … to get to the next door which may lead out of this mad house … he must pass within arm’s reach of the mannequin.

“Because of course the door leading out is located directly fucking behind you.” Brandson commented out loud. “No offense darling, you’re beautiful but I stopped dating blowup dolls a while ago.”

All the room’s illumination pointed to the mannequin, making her plastic face shine. Her arms, covered with long black gloves, wrapped around herself tightly in fear; a feeling Brandson was becoming more and more familiar with. An evening gown stretched downward, wrapping her legs tightly together, before spilling down the small dais located immediately before the door he hoped lead out of wherever he was. Threads flowed out, crossing the only lighted path available.

Behind him, he heard a thump and a wet screech. “Yeah, yeah. I know you’re still there you mother-fucking salad!”

He hoped the last nightmare couldn’t uproot from its planter.

Brandson considered taking a step off the well-lit area to avoid the unraveling threads. He peered into the darkness. The four spotlights, each hovering in seemingly empty air, destroyed any night vision.

He returned to studying the mannequin, and jumped seeing her hands had moved. Instead of hugging herself, she was now trying to pull her hair from around her neck. Her complicated coiffure started in a bun at the top of her head, secured with a few sticks topped with cut gems. Multi-color strands wrapped around her head, behind her nape and then again around her neck.

“Shit, are you alive?” he asked, staring. The plastic face and hands made no movement. The eyes seemed to focus on him, pleading rescue, screaming in fear.

Looking down, to make certain he didn’t step on a thread, he discovered the cloth had pulled back to dressy cocktail length. The hem now skimmed the top of her very sexy, plastic knees and her shapely legs continued down to strappy black heels. Her toe nails were painted the same exact bright shade as her lips.

The mannequin looked a whole hell of a lot better than the blow-up his brother bought him as a joke when he went off to college. Shit, if Old Susie had looked this good he may have stayed away from Psycho Miranda. How long ago was that?

The floor raised into a little meter by meter square for the mannequin to stand on. The lighted path only extended a decimeter either side of the step. He debated looking up again to see what the plastic being was doing, but decided against it.

Muttering “No guts, no glory.” he made a run for it. Keeping an eye on his feet and tapping peripheral vision to watch the black skirt and the dark shadow, he rushed by the podium.

A gloved hand grabbed him as he passed and yanked him hard enough one of his feet took a step onto the platform before he could regain his balance. Brandson looked up to see the mannequin’s hair was wrapped around the arm grabbing him. She had pivoted and now faced the door denied him.

As he watched, the multi-color strands writhed where they separated the fingers gripping his arm.

“Please, sir.” The plastic doll begged. “Leave while you can.”

The woman’s face still shined plastic, but now looked like a clear plastic mask glued over a human face. Her eyes no longer were glass orbs, but bottomless green lakes of fear and concern.

“Is this the way out?” He asked. Brandson tried to take a step back only to find her fingers were not letting go. In addition, something had snaked around the foot located on the dais.

“I don’t know.”

The hair crossed from her fingers and started to wind around his bicep. Brandson  yelped.

“Is This The Way OUT?” He asked, his voice getting louder and louder as he used his other hand to untangle the strands.

Tears pooled, turning her eyes pure jade. “I don’t know.”

He dropped his eyes to his foot and discovered his own jeans hand lengthened to merge into the wood platform. “Then what the fuck do you know?” He asked contemplating how to escape the second part of the trap.

Her voice changed, picking up speed from her previous slow cadence, and a gutter hiss punctuated each word. “Dolly dear in spider web, bite your mate so you can live.”

“What the fuck?” He asked, snapping his head up to look at her face. For a second, he saw hairy legs reach out from the bun on her head. Mulit-faceted eyes blinked once on their stalks before returning to their gem-like camouflage appearance.

He felt her free hand unbuttoning his fly. Brandson’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Help me push them down,” she instructed.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He said as her hand stroked his dick, pushing the jean fabric apart. After a second thought, he started pushing the cloth down. They both worked the tight denim until gravity took over. He was almost ready for the killing kiss as a release by the time they were through.  He started to lean towards her.

“Sir, … I will not free myself at another’s expense.” Her plastic mask moved as her face tensed. Still staring into his eyes, she brought up her free hand and crashed it down on the arm held in place by the spider silk. The plastic shattered.

With the detached hand still gripping his arm, he fell backwards against the door. His jeans remained attached to the dias.

With her remaining hand, the woman was holding an arm ending shortly past her elbow. Plastic goo froze mid-drip from white shards. Her plastic face, returned to looking like a plastic doll, was twisted in pain.  Four feathered boas rose out of her bun as though supported by wires and bent inward to frame her face. Her gown was once again tight around her legs. The trailing loose fringe hem had all the threads stretching towards his jeans and him.

Reaching up, he used the doorknob to help stand. Keeping an eye on the woman and her captor, he whispered to her. “I wish I could help you.”

He opened the door and stepped through to discover what was beyond.

(words 1,096 – originally appearing at Sunday Fun on Breathless Press 4/15/2013, published on old blog on 4/21/2013; republished new blog format 9/10/2017) 

Flash: Running Until Found

Today was a slow, rainy Sunday morning – perfect for snuggling. A day and emotional setting unlike what had driven them together last night and kept them up until the first of the rain hit the tent roof.

Lyle petted Barney’s hair as the watery light shimmered through the nylon canvas. The running will stop soon. He had no idea how far they had run before the car ran out of gas, nor how far they walked after that. Someone would find them.

Today, tomorrow, the next. Until then, he planned to keep Barney as safe as he could. As safe as he should have kept him before they ran.

(words 110 – originally appearing at Breathless Press 5/5/2013 for the 2/19/12 Sunday Fun  – The original photo was of unknown copyright so did not put on my site – published on old blog 05/05/2013; republished in new blog format on 8/13/2017)

 

Flash: Cannot Be Unseen

Photo by Jiří Wagner on Unsplash

Kai stumbled after Aubrey into the Ferry house out of the January weather. The difference between outdoors and indoors felt nearly physical; the old man had upped the protections on his home since his wife gave birth. Even a welcomed friend like himself needed to beware entering uninvited. Kai shuttered to think what would happen if he violated guest rights.  The old man was a first rate wizard.

Today continued the lessons on friction. For third weekend in a row, Kai spent Saturday in the empty ice rink. Kai was certain avoidance spells were possible, though he had only been a student since Thanksgiving when Aubrey had taken him on. But Kai did not think the spell was used to empty the place; after all, who would spend time in an ice rink in January?

He expected that his mentor would be teaching combustion in the middle of July. The old man was quirky that way … or mean, depending on how one interpreted his actions. Today Kai was leaning toward downright malicious. He was sore from the heavy skates on his feet, sore on his butt from falling, sore in his head from trying to grasp the lessons on how to increase and decrease friction, and frozen throughout.

It didn’t help Aubrey was none the worse for wear after nearly twelve hours of torturing him. Yes, Aubrey looked Kai’s age, with stark black hair and solid muscles like he worked side-by-side with Kai landscaping instead of whatever he did as his day job. But Kai knew that Aubrey had to have pushed himself in the rink today, if only to control Kai’s mistakes. Why couldn’t the old man be a little tired?

Struggling to lift his arms to get out of his jacket, Kai watched as Aubrey raced into the living room where his wife was nursing and someone he had never seen before was standing.

“When did you get in child?” Aubrey asked joyfully as he scooped up a stunning redhead and spun her around. “How did you get away?”  A concerned look crossed his mentor’s face as he slid the girl down his body onto the carpet. “And who did you leave in charge?”

The young woman laughed at his exuberance and replied in an Irish lilt.  “I’ve only been here a few minutes. Mom was just introducing me to the young one. And don’t worry, I’ve left the Trio temporarily in charge. They should be able to keep the peace … among themselves … for a few days.”

Kai watched his mentor look the girl up and down … his daughter? Same strawberry hair and clear white skin, enhanced by a spattering of freckles, as Aubrey’s wife Colleen.  The girl was only a couple inches shorter than Aubrey’s five ten. The girl appeared to be a college freshman, an angelic freshman. Her wispy hair desperately escaping a crown braid creating a halo effect backlit from the kitchen. Her off-the-shoulder white dress had lace insets in all the right places. Less bosom-heavy than the earthy Irish beauty of Colleen, Kai was able to see the girl had inherited Colleen’s coloring and Aubrey’s strong lean frame.

He couldn’t not Look. But Kai did try to talk himself out of it. What is Seen cannot be Unseen. That was the first lesson. Aubrey had found Kai in the middle of his first Seeing; a horrific experience brought on by stupidly trying to fit in at work and joining the guys on a marijuana break. The next month was spent bringing his natural gift under control; the following month has been spent learning friction.

As he hung up his jacket, the nineteen year old closed his eyes and opened his inner one. Turning back to where the conversation was continuing between the old man, his wife and his daughter, Kai slowly opened his eyes and tried to focus only on the girl. He didn’t need to see Aubrey stripped of all the natural assumptions people make so is life more palatable EVER again; that scary shit was firmly cemented into Kai brain for the rest of his life. Kai also had no interest in finding out what could hold its own in marriage to the millennium old magician. He tried to use his recent lessons on focus to look only at the newcomer.

The girl’s hair loosed from its braid to cascade down her back in a riot of curls, a far-deeper red than Colleen’s strawberry. Like staring into the heart of a furnace with blue-white flames dancing out of red-black coals. He could feel the heat sear into his eyes. The crown braid formed into a silver diadem, elegantly wrought like a small ivy branch freshly plucked and turned into ice.

The woman spun as he continued to stare. Her blue eyes were like the blue of volcano lakes, promising the same ice and heat, the same serenity and danger of those isolated paradises. She said something as she stalked towards him, but Kai was focused on Seeing, not hearing. Her fingers stretched into inhuman lengths as they curled around his throat. Her skin was the color of winter ice and summer clouds, the dress falling away into illusion.

Her red lips plumped from unkind hope, curled with merciful despair and he could not resist even has her claws drew blood from his neck. Keeping his green eyes on hers he leaned forward to kiss his life and death. Her eyes spoke her name to his soul, both use and true, as his lips touched hers. Closing his eyes to keep the vision with him for the rest of his meager life he deepened the kiss. He felt her breath escape in surprise and the choking grip lessen.

Unthinking, he turned off his gift that usually took him hours to put back in the box and grabbed the curtain of fire with both hands pulling her naked body against his starving one. His tongue warred for dominance with hers.

(words 1,000 – – originally appearing at Sunday Fun on Breathless Press 1/13/2013 – The original photo was from  Sarah Ann Loreth who retains copyright on her photos, with written permission to reuse. I did not asked for said permission. Published on the first blog on 1/13/2013; republished new blog format 7/9/2017)

Flash: Life Pod

Dallas stretched against the life pod. His back felt so good as the vertebra realigned. The pod was built for the pippin module he had been assigned after the starliner company had overbooked. He had been in a fetal position for five days until the pod landed on the nearest planet viable for pippin.

The human leaned back even further, reveling in the stretch. He didn’t care about the business contract he was going to lose, or the fact he had been in the middle of laundering the one outfit he had when the alarm went off. He chuckled, his luggage, which got lost before the liner’s departure, likely would arrive at his destination before he did.

Since pippin had a smaller environmental window than humans, Dallas was confident he could survive until rescue. He felt a wave wash over his foot.

Enough stretching …. time to get the pod onto solid land, otherwise the homing beacon might wash out to sea.

(words 162 – originally appearing at Sunday Fun on Breathless Press 2/17/2013 – The original photo of a hunky guy stretching over a white shape on the beach was of unknown copyright so did not put on my site – published on old blog 2/17/2013; republished in new blog format on 7/11/2017)